The Five Solas and how do we understand them?

The Five Solas and how do we understand them? by Jack Kettler

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)

This study is an overview of what are known as the “Five Solas.” How are we saved, who is gets the glory, and what is the believer’s binding doctrinal authority? Prayerfully, these questions will be clarified and answered in this theological synopsis.

Definitions from two sources:

Five Solas

Literally, the “five alones,” the “five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers’ basic beliefs and emphasis in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day “consisting of sola scriptura (scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), and soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone). *

The five Solas are five Latin phrases popularized during the Protestant Reformation that emphasized the distinctions between the early Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church. The word sola is the Latin word for “only” and was used in relation to five key teachings that defined the biblical pleas of Protestants. **

1. Sola Scriptura: “Scripture alone.”

2. Sola Fide: “faith alone.”

3. Sola Gratia: “grace alone.”

4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone.”

5. Soli Deo Gloria: “to the glory of God alone.”

From Scripture:

Sola Scriptura

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Sola Fide

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)

Sola Gratia

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Solo Christo

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Timothy 2:5)

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Soli Deo Gloria

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)

Comments; Sola Scriptura still at the Center of the Divide and Why:

Some Roman Catholics have alleged that the Bible does not teach Sola Scriptura. Some former Protestants, now Roman Catholic, apologists, have said that Sola Scriptura means “the Bible plus nothing else.” Alleging that the Protestant position is “the Bible plus nothing else” is a straw-man argument and is false. Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is the final court of appeal, not the only court of appeal. To the Roman Catholic, we ask, “Where does the Bible direct God’s people to an outside authority structure such as a ‘sacred oral’ tradition?” The force of this question should not be dismissed. We see that Sola Scriptura is taught all over the face of Scripture and that the traditions of men are condemned by Christ repeatedly. In essence, the critics of Sola Scriptura are saying that the Protestant must accept, as the final authority, whatever is stated by the Roman or Eastern Orthodox Church.

However, if the church is always correct, why did Christ attack the religious authorities of the Old Testament Church? Christ did this using the most forceful terminology, such as hypocrites and vipers. The fact is that sometimes even the church will err in its doctrine. If the Old Testament Church erred, why should anyone deny or be surprised at the fact that the church in the gospel age can and has fallen into error as well? What happens when the church misinterprets the Bible? Can the believer challenge the misinterpretation? As Protestants, we say yes to the last question, but this does not mean by doing so we are disregarding or repudiating the church. It means that we have to test all things in light of Scripture. Testing all things in light of Scripture includes even the rulings and doctrine of the church. If this is necessary, it should be done in humility. The faithful church sees that the Scriptures always stand as the final infallible authority above it. Christ is the head of the church. He speaks through the Scriptures. The faithful church should always be reforming and checking itself in light of Scripture.

How can error creep into the church? The leaders in the Old Testament covenant nation did not want the people to misinterpret and break God’s law. Trying to prevent misinterpretation of Scripture and the breaking God’s law is a worthy goal. Who would want that to happen? To prevent this, the elders of Israel built walls and fences created with man-made regulations to go around God’s law. These man-made laws are found in the Talmud. These additional laws would allegedly keep the people from even getting close to breaking one of God’s laws. Did this work? What were the consequences of this? These man-made laws produced ignorance in Israel regarding God’s law. The traditions of the elders became confused with the word of God. They, in fact, became a significant burden for God’s people. Not only were these traditions of men a burden, but they also made the commandments of God of no effect (Mark 7:13).

Likewise, the Roman Church did not want people to misinterpret Scripture because it is God’s Word. This ostensibly sounds good, since it is wrong and sinful to misinterpret God’s Word, and it would bring judgment upon those who did so. What was the Roman Church’s attempted solution to this possibility of misinterpretation? The Roman Church placed the Bible on its list of forbidden books! If the people did not have the Bible to read, then they would not be able to misinterpret it. The logic may be correct, but it is perverse. Eventually, the people in the Roman Churches were not able to recognize the difference between the church’s laws, traditions, superstitions, and heresies, and the pure Word of God. In fact, these strategies by ancient Jewish leaders and Romanists produced a greater ignorance of the law of God and the Scriptures. These strategies to keep the people of God from breaking God’s law or misinterpreting the Bible were noble on the surface, but in reality are evil, since they produce ignorance among the people of God.

Does the theory of “sacred oral tradition” invalidate the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura? How do we know if sacred traditions are true? Is it because the church says so? How do we know the word of the church regarding a particular sacred tradition is true? Is it because it is in agreement with sacred tradition? If this is the case, then we would seem to be going in a circle.

In Eastern Orthodoxy and Romanism, tradition is elevated on a par equal with Scripture. So it needs to be asked: Has God revealed all his revelation now? Otherwise, is the body of revelation, i.e., “sacred tradition” still expanding? If it is still expanding, how long will these alleged traditions continue to expand or grow? If the sacred oral traditions are written down, what becomes of them? Are they now considered to be equivalent to the Old and New Testament writings? If so, why not revise the Scriptures by adding them to the Bible? Is there a sacred book of traditions? Are there commentaries that explain these “sacred traditions”? If so, are these commentaries inspired? Can every-day men read them? Alternatively, do we need a special leader to decipher the meaning?

Does this expanding body of revelations or traditions ever contradict each other? It should be noted that Roman Catholic theology is still evolving because of the influence of these traditions. The development of Mariology is an example of this. One would have to be dishonest to deny that there are contradictions between the different traditions. For example, Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholics have traditions that contradict each other at various points. The role of “feasts,” “fasts,” “festivals,” the “filoque,” “papal claims,” “original sin,” “purgatory,” the “immaculate conception” and the use of “icons” are examples of different, contradictory traditions. Moreover, there is much debate and disagreement upon precisely what some traditions mean in the first place.

The Eastern Orthodox Church first acted on a fundamental principle of Protestantism by breaking with the Roman Church in 1054 over the filoque controversy. The filoque controversy erupted when a Roman Catholic Pope, outside of a church council, changed the Nicene Creed. The fact is, there are serious theological differences between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, which include divisions or factions among themselves, as well as with new age mysticism, liberalism, and outright humanism, manifesting themselves in a variety of ways.

In defense of Protestantism, it needs to be explained how someone may look at the Reformation doctrine of Sola Fide (by faith alone) and say this is not what the Bible teaches. They might say, “The Bible says we are saved by grace.” Yet the Latin phrase that highlights this Protestant doctrine does not even mention grace, it only speaks of faith. Such statements would reveal an appalling amount of ignorance. Sola Fide, or “by faith alone” must be understood in its historical context. The debate that was raging at the time concerned faith as the means through which a person was saved or justified. Both positions had the doctrine of salvation by grace in their formulas.

Although the Roman Church uses the word “grace” in its formulation of justification, their religious sacramental system has subverted the biblical doctrine of grace and turned it into a system of works. The Protestant battle cry was “by faith alone” in contrast to the Roman Church, which was essentially saying “faith plus works.” Understanding the historical circumstances of the debate clears up any misconception about the Protestant use of the formula “by faith alone,” which did not leave out grace at all. Soli Gratia or “by grace alone” went right along with Sola Fide.

The Romanist position essentially said that faith plus works produced justification, which placed a man in a tenuous state of grace. In the Romanist view, a man could fall from this state of grace. The Protestant position in contrast to this said that it was “faith alone” (the result of God’s imputing grace) that produced justification, thus saving a man. If Sola Fide is taken out of its historical context, it can be made to appear to conflict with Scripture. The Latin formula is a phrase drawing attention to the difference between the Protestant and Romanist positions on justification. The Protestant position did not reduce it to “faith only,” minus grace, as the surface meaning of the Latin might appear. An objection like this is nothing more than a clever ‘straw-man’ fallacy that capitalizes on the ignorance of modern readers.

Likewise, the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, if taken out of its historical context, can be made to appear to be unconvincing. The debate surrounding Sola Scriptura was a debate over ultimate authority. The Roman Church claims that it, the church, was the infallible final court of appeal. If time is taken to study the debate during the Reformation, it is clearly seen that the Protestants were claiming that the Bible the only infallible rule of faith and is the final court of appeal. They were not saying, “The Bible plus nothing else.” An ignorant person in the twentieth century looking at the Latin formula just on the surface may get this impression. If they believe this is the Protestant position, it is the result of their ignorance. To correctly understand the Latin formula used by the men of the Reformation, one must understand the context of the debate at the time.

The Protestants were not claiming that a person was forbidden to use commentaries or to refer to church history, or to have church synods and assemblies to help settle disputes. To illustrate, John Calvin produced a commentary set on the Bible that is still the standard against which all others are measured. Philip Schaff, a noteworthy Protestant historian, wrote a valuable eight-volume church history, a three-volume work on the creeds of Christendom, and edited the thirty-eight-volume church fathers set.

It is beyond dispute that Protestantism has produced a rich tradition of scholarship. Does this violate its stated position? Of course not! The Protestant position is not some simplistic “the Bible plus nothing” theory. Those who allege this are dishonest or ignorant. Since the Scriptures are the Word of God, Protestants have always maintained that there could be no other authority to which they may appeal. It should be noted that Protestants are not against traditions. Reformation Protestants are merely against traditions that are contrary to Scripture. Protestants believe firmly in the church’s role in the interpretation of Scripture. The Regula Fidei or what is known as the ‘Rule of Faith’, guards against the danger of the individual setting himself up as the ultimate interpreter of Scripture.

Radical individualism in the area of interpretation of Scripture is akin to anarchy. It should be noted that the Reformation Protestants strongly condemned the radical individualism of the Anabaptists of their day, which sought to overthrow all authority. The Ecumenical Creeds serve an essential role in understanding the Rule of Faith. In Protestantism, debates on the meaning of Scripture take place in the church. In Reformed Churches, in particular, there are courts of appeal to guard against the possibility of error at any level of the debate. Protestants claim that the Bible is the infallible final court of appeal in settling debates. The Bible being the final court of appeal is the meaning of Sola Scriptura. ***

A Contemporary Restatement of the Solas:

The Cambridge Declaration of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Formulated April 20, 1996, by a group of conservative evangelical theologians and pastors, The Cambridge Declaration of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is a call to recover the historic Christian faith. The Five Solas of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation form the outline of the declaration.

The text

Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.

In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word “evangelical.” In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the “solas” of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word “evangelical” has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.

Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority

Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church’s life, but the evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far more to say about what the church wants, how it functions and what it offers, than does the Word of God. Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.

Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of consumers, we must proclaim the law as the only measure of true righteousness and the gospel as the only announcement of saving truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church’s understanding, nurture and discipline.

Scripture must take us beyond our perceived needs to our real needs and liberate us from seeing ourselves through the seductive images, cliché’s, promises and priorities of mass culture. It is only in the light of God’s truth that we understand ourselves aright and see God’s provision for our need. The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the preacher’s opinions or the ideas of the age. We must settle for nothing less than what God has given.

The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be disengaged from Scripture. The Spirit does not speak in ways that are independent of Scripture. Apart from Scripture we would never have known of God’s grace in Christ. The biblical Word, rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth.

Thesis One: Sola Scriptura

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Solus Christus: The Erosion of Christ-Centered Faith

As evangelical faith becomes secularized, its interests have been blurred with those of the culture. The result is a loss of absolute values, permissive individualism, and a substitution of wholeness for holiness, recovery for repentance, intuition for truth, feeling for belief, chance for providence, and immediate gratification for enduring hope. Christ and his cross have moved from the center of our vision.

Thesis Two: Solus Christus

We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.

We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Sola Gratia: The Erosion of the Gospel

Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature. This false confidence now fills the evangelical world; from the self-esteem gospel, to the health and wealth gospel, from those who have transformed the gospel into a product to be sold and sinners into consumers who want to buy, to others who treat Christian faith as being true simply because it works. This silences the doctrine of justification regardless of the official commitments of our churches.

God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace.

Thesis Three: Sola Gratia

We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

Sola Fide: The Erosion of the Chief Article

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. This is the article by which the church stands or falls. Today this article is often ignored, distorted or sometimes even denied by leaders, scholars and pastors who claim to be evangelical. Although fallen human nature has always recoiled from recognizing its need for Christ’s imputed righteousness, modernity greatly fuels the fires of this discontent with the biblical Gospel. We have allowed this discontent to dictate the nature of our ministry and what it is we are preaching.

Many in the church growth movement believe that sociological understanding of those in the pew is as important to the success of the gospel as is the biblical truth which is proclaimed. As a result, theological convictions are frequently divorced from the work of the ministry. The marketing orientation in many churches takes this even further, erasing the distinction between the biblical Word and the world, robbing Christ’s cross of its offense, and reducing Christian faith to the principles and methods which bring success to secular corporations.

While the theology of the cross may be believed, these movements are actually emptying it of its meaning. There is no gospel except that of Christ’s substitution in our place whereby God imputed to him our sin and imputed to us his righteousness. Because he bore our judgment, we now walk in his grace as those who are forever pardoned, accepted and adopted as God’s children. There is no basis for our acceptance before God except in Christ’s saving work, not in our patriotism, churchly devotion or moral decency. The gospel declares what God has done for us in Christ. It is not about what we can do to reach him.

Thesis Four: Sola Fide

We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.

We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion of God-Centered Worship

Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason: our interests have displaced God’s and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God’s centrality in the life of today’s church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest too inconsequentially upon us.

God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or our own private spiritual interests. We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern must be for God’s kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.

Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

Call to Repentance and Reformation

The faithfulness of the evangelical church in the past contrasts sharply with its unfaithfulness in the present. Earlier in this century, evangelical churches sustained a remarkable missionary endeavor, and built many religious institutions to serve the cause of biblical truth and Christ’s kingdom. That was a time when Christian behavior and expectations were markedly different from those in the culture. Today they often are not. The evangelical world today is losing its biblical fidelity, moral compass and missionary zeal.

We repent of our worldliness. We have been influenced by the “gospels” of our secular culture, which are no gospels. We have weakened the church by our own lack of serious repentance, our blindness to the sins in ourselves which we see so clearly in others, and our inexcusable failure adequately to tell others about God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.

We also earnestly call back erring professing evangelicals who have deviated from God’s Word in the matters discussed in this Declaration. This includes those who declare that there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ, who claim that those who reject Christ in this life will be annihilated rather than endure the just judgment of God through eternal suffering, or who claim that evangelicals and Roman Catholics are one in Jesus Christ even where the biblical doctrine of justification is not believed.

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals asks all Christians to give consideration to implementing this Declaration in the church’s worship, ministry, policies, life and evangelism. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

ACE Council Members the ACE council members at the time of the declaration were:

See below ****

In closing:

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason-I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other-my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.” – Martin Luther

“Holy Scripture is the highest authority for every believer, the standard of faith and the foundation for reform.” – John Wycliffe

“The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.” – Immanuel Kant

“The Bible is the only force known to history that has freed entire nations from corruption while simultaneously giving them political freedom.” – Vishal Mangalwadi

“It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” – Horace Greeley

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Jesus.” – St. Jerome

“I know not a better rule of reading the Scripture, than to read it through from beginning to end and when we have finished it once, to begin it again. We shall meet with many passages which we can make little improvement of, but not so many in the second reading as in the first, and fewer in the third than in the second: provided we pray to him who has the keys to open our understandings, and to anoint our eyes with His spiritual ointment.” – John Newton

“I want to know one thing, the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end he came from heaven. He has written it down in a book! Oh, give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be: “A man of one book.” – John Wesley

“I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books, and praying over, if possible, every line and word. This proved meat indeed and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh life, light and power from above.” – George Whitefield

“The Bible has always been regarded as part of the Common Law of England.” – Sir William Blackstone

“I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it…. What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and….not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.” – George Müller

“The Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering, and the most comfortable way of dying.” – Flavel

“The Bible as a book stands alone. There never was, nor ever will be, another like it. As there is but one sun to enlighten the world naturally, so there is but one Book to enlighten the world spiritually. May that Book become to each of us the man of our counsel, the guide of our journey, and our support and comfort in life and in death?”- A. Galloway

“The more you read the Bible, the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished by it.” – Charles Spurgeon

“The Bible is the light of my understanding, the joy of my heart, the fullness of my hope, the clarified of my affections, the mirror of my thoughts, the consoler of my sorrows, the guide of my soul through this gloomy labyrinth of time, the telescope went from heaven to reveal to the eye of man the amazing glories of the far distant world.” – Sir William Jones

“The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” – Augustine of Hippo

“Let us therefore yield ourselves and bow to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, which can neither err nor deceive.” – Augustine of Hippo

“I exhort and entreat you all, disregard what this man and that man thinks about such things, and inquire from the Holy Scriptures all these things.” – John Chrysostom

“The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed.” – Patrick Henry

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes:


CARM theological dictionary

And at:

*** My comments adapted from the book: The Religion that started in a Hat.

CH Spurgeon and the Five Solas of the Reformation

The Five Solas of the Reformation by Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D.

**** The ACE council members as the time of the declaration were:

Dr. John Armstrong

Rev. Alistair Begg

Dr. James M. Boice

Dr. W. Robert Godfrey

Dr. John D. Hannah

Dr. Michael S. Horton

Mrs. Rosemary Jensen

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Dr. Robert M. Norris

Dr. R. C. Sproul

Dr. G. Edward Veith

Dr. David Wells

Dr. Luder Whitlock

Dr. J. A. O. Preus, III

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Battle of Worldviews

Battle of Worldviews by Jack Kettler © 2018

In this article, my goal is to provide believers with ammunition for the battle against the worldview of non-believers.

The following article was written after a recent online debate about worldviews and what a worldview can tell us. Many Christians who are active in witnessing for the Christian faith have experienced similar encounters. Hopefully, the believers who read this will relate to what is shared and benefit from it. There will be some repetition of thought to drive home the points made. Sometimes in debates, points need to be repeated and reemphasized.

This recent debate started when I challenged the legitimacy of a prostitute/porn person’s character who has been in the news lately and has filed a defamation of character lawsuit. I simply asked, what character? My post then started a lengthy thread that went on for a week, both day and night. I was interacting with several individuals.

I was challenged regarding my standard for making the judgment about the prostitute/porn person’s character. I was upfront and responded by saying the Bible was my standard. This was met with ridicule. I subsequently asked the detractors, what basis they had for judging my criteria and also asked what their criteria were for condemning mine were since they too were making judgments. No intelligent response was given. Some ad hominem replies were directed my way.

I asked the detractors to identify their worldview, was it Materialism? Non-Christian mysticism? Eastern philosophy? Empiricism? Rationalism? Irrationalism? UFOology, space beings or gods from a different planet? Again no response was forthcoming. I asked the detractors whatever their worldview was to provide me an explanation how their worldview could substantiate the use of logic and ethics. Counter responses were nothing more than begging the question.

The detractors were outraged that I could even ask such a question about their worldview. For them, the use of logic and talking about ethical positions seemed self-evident, at least to them anyway. I have never said that non-Christians do not use logic or ethics I have said their worldview does not provide any justification for such activities.

The detractors made adamant statements that my judgment was wrong. Based on what standard were they referring to I asked? No response was given. I was just wrong, was the standard reply. It was interesting that these non-Christian detractors were using absolutist assertions within an unnamed worldview structure. If the unnamed structure provided the authentication for logic and ethics, then fine. If the unnamed worldview was Materialism, for example, it has no basis for making such a claim. Materialism is starting from rocks or matter. What can you arrive at starting with rocks? Rocks or matter do not speak. It can be said unequivocally, material or matter is silent!

A common problem for Non-Christians as noted is that they are notorious for using absolutist terminology when their worldview precludes it. You cannot function without absolutes, yet most non-believers are inconsistent in their denial of biblical absolutes. They do so when saying that it is wrong to murder or steal. So the non-believer inconsistently appeals to absolutes when their system excludes it. This will be fleshed out more as we proceed. The detractors also manifested elements of atheism and agnosticism. Both atheism and agnosticism will be scrutinized as we proceed.

For example, most Christians have encountered the following self-refuting assertions from encounters with nonbelievers along with our rejoinders:

“Only knowledge that can be empirically verified is true.” Can you empirically verify that statement?

“There are no absolute truths.” Is that statement true?

“All truth is relative.” Is the supposed truth you just asserted relative?

“You should be skeptical of everything.” Should we be skeptical of that statement?

“You ought not to judge.” Is that a judgment you just asserted?

We can say, it problematic for non-believers, when they assert moral absolutes and omniscient statements within the framework of a materialistic system that does not allow absolutes. When a finite man without biblical authority asserts moral absolute omniscient statements, it is indefensible. Likewise, it should be correspondingly noted the absurdity of atheism’s claim when asserting, “There is no God.” The absurdity is this; it is impossible to prove a universal negative. And furthermore, when the atheist asserts that “there is no God.” When using the second question of the Socratic technique, “how do you know that?” reveals rather quickly the failure of this unverifiable claim. The detractors at one point said it was the Christian God who did not exist. I wished them the best in trying to prove that universal negative also.

With that, we can dismiss the non-believer’s demand for verification, which they always demand of Christians. Incredibly, the agnostic claims for himself ignorance concerning the existence of God. It should be noted that this claim of ignorance is not an argument against the existence of God. Rather, it is a sign of epistemological bankruptcy and what could be described as a deficiency of knowledge.

Problems with the non-Christian’s demand for verification:

“Modern science boldly asks for a criterion of meaning when one speaks to him of Christ. He assumes that he himself has a criterion, a principle of verification and of falsification, by which he can establish for himself a self-supporting island floating on a shoreless sea. But when he is asked to show his criterion as it functions in experience, every fact is indeterminate, lost in darkness; no one can identify a single fact, and all logic is like a sun that is always behind the clouds.” (1)

In the debate when it was asserted the Christian God did not exist, the detractors taking on the characteristics of omniscience. In this online debate, I put forth a positive presentation of a Christian worldview. I quoted some of best apologists whose writings can be assessed online.

For example, on Scripturalism, the following is a paraphrase or summation of the Christian’s starting principle by Gordon H. Clark:

Scripturalism (all knowledge must be contained within a system and deduced from its starting principles, in the Christian case, the Bible). (Yellow highlighting for emphasis mine)

An irrefutable conclusion that can be reached from this principle:

The Bible contains the Christian’s starting principles or presuppositions. God speaks to us in the Scriptures (special revelation) with human language utilizing logically structured sentences in which He tells us the difference between right and wrong. Consequently, the strength of the Christian worldview is seen by the impossibility of the contrary. The impossibility of the contrary can be asserted because as of this day, no non-Christian anywhere has shown how their worldview can account for the use of science, logic, and ethics.

Now it can be said, that philosophers of the stature of Plato and Aristotle tried to account for ethics within their worldview. For example, Plato tried to ground truth in the world of ideas. The world of ideas interpreted the temporal world of Plato’s forms. The temporal forms were imperfect replicas of the eternal, perfect ideas. One problem he ran into was perfect dung and filth existing in the world of ideas. Did Plato and Aristotle succeed in developing and justifying an ethical system in their worldview? Has anyone heard of an appeal to a body of Platonic or Aristotelian ethical laws lately? Biblical ethics, on the other hand, has undergirded the Western legal system and are with us today. Has anyone heard of the 10 Commandment, not to murder, steal, bear false witness, and commit adultery and rights of appeal? I rest my case.

Why is the un-believer unable to articulate a coherent theory of knowledge? Because as said, the non-Christian worldview has no basis or explanation for the use of science, logic, and ethics. The non-Christian uses logic and talks about ethics. They do so without justifying or demonstrating how their worldview can account for these things. In other words, as said, they beg the question. And mind you, when you point out this question-begging on their part, you will experience many ad hominem attacks which serve as a smoke-screen to cover-up the bankruptcy of their worldview. Also, the non-Christian steals from the Christian worldview that can explain and justify the use of such things to attack the Christian’s presuppositions. When informing the non-believer of their theft, get ready for emotional responses or ad hominem attacks.

The next two references caused the detractor’s a particular amount of emotional excitement.

Gordon H. Clark: The Axiom of Scripture:

“Every philosophic or theological system must begin somewhere, for if it did not begin it could not continue. But a beginning cannot be preceded by anything else, or it would not be the beginning. Therefore every system must be based on presuppositions (Require as a precondition of possibility or coherence. Tacitly assume to be the case) or axioms (An accepted statement or proposition regarded as being self-evidently true). They may be Spinoza’s axioms; they may be Locke’s sensory starting point, or whatever. Every system must therefore be presuppositional.

The first principle cannot be demonstrated because there is nothing prior from which to deduce it. Call it presuppositionalism, call it fideism, names do not matter. But I know no better presupposition than “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the word of God written, and therefore inerrant in the autographs.

If the axioms of other secularists are not nonsense, they are nonetheless axioms. Every system must start somewhere, and it cannot have started before it starts. A naturalist might amend the Logical Positivists’ principle and make it say that all knowledge is derived from sensation. This is not nonsense, but it is still an empirically unverifiable axiom. If it is not self-contradictory, it is at least without empirical justification. Other arguments against empiricism need not be given here: The point is that no system can deduce its axioms.

The inference is this: No one can consistently object to Christianity being based on an indemonstrable axiom. If the secularists exercise their privilege of basing their theorems on axioms, then so may Christians. If the former refuse to accept our axioms, then they can have no logical objection to our rejecting theirs. Accordingly, we reject the very basis of atheism, Logical Positivism, and, in general, empiricism. Our axiom shall be that God has spoken. More completely, God has spoken in the Bible. More precisely, what the Bible says, God has spoken.” (2)

“Logically the infallibility of the Bible is not a theorem to be deduced from some prior axiom. The infallibility of the Bible is the axiom from which several doctrines are themselves deduced as theorems. Every religion and every philosophy must be based on some first principle. And since a first principle is first, it cannot be “proved” or “demonstrated” on the basis of anything prior. As the catechism question, quoted above, says, “The Word of God is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify Him.” (3)

Back to my comments on the online debate:

In the recent debate, the charge against my position was that of circular reasoning. I pointed out that this only holds water if non-believer can explain how the non-Christian position, namely, starting with oneself as an authority ending with oneself as an authority could escape the same charge. My opponents never articulated a response to my counter charge. When you start with your self-authority and end with as the final criterion, how is this not circular?

The next four citations also received no responses.

Epistemological problems for the non-believer raised by Cornelius Van Til:

“If he [the unbeliever] is asked to use his reason as the judge of the credibility of the Christian revelation without at the same time being asked to renounce his view of himself as ultimate, then he is virtually asked to believe and to disbelieve in his own ultimacy at the same time and in the same sense.” (4)

“If we first allow the legitimacy of the natural man’s assumption of himself as the ultimate reference point in interpretation in any dimension we cannot deny his right to interpret Christianity itself in naturalistic terms.” (5)

Van Til notes how the non-believer is caught in an impossible contradiction.

Cornelius Van Til speaking of Agnosticism says:

“[Agnosticism] is, in the first place, psychologically self-contradictory upon its own assumptions. Agnosticism wants to hold that it is reasonable to refrain from thorough epistemological speculations because they cannot lead to anything. But in order to assume this attitude, agnosticism has itself made the most tremendous intellectual assertion that could be made about ultimate things. In the second place, agnosticism is epistemologically self-contradictory on its own assumptions because its claim to make no assertion about ultimate reality rests upon a most comprehensive assertion about ultimate reality. . . . the alternative is not between saying something about ultimate reality or not saying anything about it, but that the alternative is rather between saying one thing about it or another. Every human being, as a matter of fact, says something about ultimate reality.

It should be noted that those who claim to say nothing about ultimate reality not only do say something about it just as well as everybody else, but they have assumed for themselves the responsibility of saying one definite thing about ultimate reality. They have assumed the responsibility of excluding God. We have seen again that a God who is to come in afterward is no God at all [i.e. a God that is not sovereign over all existence – M.W.]. Agnosticism cannot say that it is open-minded on the question of the nature of ultimate reality. It is absolutely closed-minded on the subject. It has one view that it cannot, unless its own assumption be denied, exchange for another. It has started with the assumption of the non-existence of God and must end with it. Its so-called open-minded attitude is therefore a closed-minded attitude. The agnostic must be open-minded and closed-minded at the same time. And this is not only a psychological self-contradiction, but an epistemological self-contradiction. It amounts to affirmation and denial at the same time. Accordingly, they cancel out one another, if there is cancellation power in them. . .

Incidentally, we may point out that, in addition to being psychologically and epistemologically self-contradictory, the agnostic is morally self-contradictory. His contention was that he is very humble, and for that reason unwilling to pretend to know anything about ultimate matters. Yet he has by implication made a universal statement about reality. He therefore not only claims to know as much as the theist knows, but he claims to know much more. More than that, he not only claims to know much more than the theist, but he claims to know more than the theist’s God. He has boldly set bare possibility above the theist’s God and is quite willing to test the consequences of his action. It is thus that the hubris of which the Greeks spoke so much, and upon which they invoked the wrath of the gods, appears in new and seeming innocent garb.” (6)

Van Til goes on to say:

“We must point out that reasoning itself leads to self-contradiction, not only from a theistic point of view, but from a non-theistic point of view as well… It is this that we ought to mean when we say that we reason from the impossibility of the contrary. The contrary is impossible only if it is self-contradictory when operating on the basis of its own assumptions has been stated. The various opposing posts have not once articulated a coherent theory of knowledge. If so, send a copy a previous post where my challenge asking for any worldview to provide a justification or basis for language, logic, ethics or science that has been met or explained. To this challenge, there has been nothing but dodges or additional assertions or accusations.” (7)

Problems for Materialistic Empiricism:

A popular contemporary form of empiricism that derives from John Locke is known as the theory that the mind at birth is a blank tablet (tabula rasa) and then assimilates knowledge through sensations. This theory could be called the “blank mind theory” of knowledge.

The Positivist School boldly asserted as its starting principle that they would only accept what can be verified empirically. The positivists would accept a statement like “some cars are red,” because this could be verified empirically. A color-blind person would have to take this statement by faith. A statement like “God exists” would be rejected since God cannot be brought into a science laboratory and inspected. Once upon a time, someone asked, “How does the positivist school verify its starting principle empirically?” With that question, the empirical, positivist school collapsed. There are still those who promote elements of this philosophically discredited theory, not realizing that in doing so they have become an irrationalist, or guilty of inexcusable ignorance. Positivism collapsed because, as in all non-Christian philosophy, it contains its own internally self-refuting contradiction. This positivist contradiction is in the same category as with those who assert “there is no truth.” Supposedly, this assertion is true. Many non-Christians hold to a materialistic, atheistic worldview.

Another big problem for materialistic empiricism:

Empiricism historically argues that knowledge comes through sensations in the following order: (a) sensations, (b) perceptions, (c) memory images, (d) and the development of abstract ideas. In this system of interpretation, perceptions are inferences from sensations. How does the empiricist know valid from invalid inferences? Given this uncertainty, how can the empiricist be sure of anything, let alone what type of matter he may be trying to examine?

Problems for Materialist Rationalism:

Many are not epistemologically self-conscious, including some Christians, and therefore are unaware that they have presuppositions, which govern their interpretations. In particular, fallen a man generally refuses to acknowledge that he has presuppositions and that his presuppositions govern interpretations of matter or anything else. Too many, what is put forward as evidence and interpretation seems self-evident; but in reality is nothing more than a subjective evaluation. Escaping from subjectivity is no easy task. Does non-believing philosophy enable man to get beyond his subjectivity? Can non-believing man’s rationalism (reason alone using logic) save him? Can the laws of logic within the framework of a non-believing worldview accomplish this? How can they, since the laws of logic cannot even be explained or justified within the framework of this philosophy?

For example, where did these laws of logic come from? Are they universally interpreted in the same way? The laws of logic within the framework of non-belief are nothing more than a philosophical construct, which ends up collapsing into irrationality. The rational man, in other words, has no basis for his rationalism. The earlier statement “matter is silent” should be understood in contrast to a statement that God is not silent. This second assertion is the Christian solution to obtaining knowledge. God has spoken through the Scriptures to mankind. We have a biblical foundation for seeking knowledge and obtaining it. God-given revelation is objective. Ungodly men reject biblical revelation; they suppress the truth that God has revealed to them through creation (Romans 1:18). God has spoken in the Scriptures, i.e., God’s special revelation to man concerning what is required of him. The suppression of God’s revelation by fallen man is evidence of his epistemological rebellion (Romans 1:18-20). Again, we can ask the non-Christian, what standard are you using, identify your worldview and its basis for predication? *

In addition to numerous philosophical problems regarding fallen man’s interpretation, it should be clear that matter or material has nothing to say within the framework of non-believing philosophy. What could it say? Within this framework, material or matter is ultimately an accident and therefore meaningless. In addition to this problem, all men have a priori commitments, which are at work and from which truth or falsity is deduced. The question is not does man have a priori commitments, but what are they? Do these commitments acknowledge God in the reasoning process? If one starts with non-Christian premises, it is impossible to arrive at the biblical truth. For a conclusion to be valid it cannot contain information not stated in the premises. The non-believer cannot have accurate knowledge because his presuppositions, starting premises, or axioms, which govern interpretations, are false.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. (Proverbs 26:5)

One Johnny come lately to the debate person started off by accusing me of being of a moron. To this I replied, you started off with an ad hominem, and since you started with this rudimentary logical fallacy, maybe you are the moron.

The One and Many Problem:

The “One and Many Problem” is another dilemma for non-believers. Is reality ultimately one or many? If reality is ultimately one, this can manifest itself as communism. If reality is ultimately many, this can lead to political anarchy. Eastern philosophy comes down on the side of the one. And consequently, has never produced a system guaranteeing individual rights. Communism answered the question as noted in favor of the one or s total state and it likewise never produced any protection for property rights or individual freedom.

The Christian worldview, on the other hand, has produced a balance of individual freedoms and a basis for the state and church authority. This is accomplished because of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Christian God is the ground and explanation of all reality. God is one and yet more than one, with a plurality of persons within the one God. Politically and religiously this manifests itself by giving due authority to the state or church and a proper place for individual rights and the basis for appealing abuses of the state or church. The reader should see The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy by R.J. Rushdoony.

In closing:

In essence, fallen man has erected a closed system. His system is closed to God. He does not allow God to speak. Since man rejects the Creator, he has nothing within his closed system that he allows to speak with ethical certainty. He is left to himself. As long as fallen man excludes the biblical God from his system, he cannot know anything with certainty. The non-believer’s thought has no basis for absolutes. He has plenty of arbitrary social conventions. If there are no absolutes there can be no meaning attached to anything since everything could be said to be true and not true at the same time, which is unacceptable nonsense.

Thus, fallen man is left with an endless matter, unintelligible sensations, or his atheistic apostate reason. This is the bankruptcy of atheistic, materialistic humanism. It is only the Christian that has a rational basis for knowledge. This is because we allow God to speak to us in creation and Scripture. The non-Christian will not allow room for the God of the Bible to speak in their system. Their system is closed to God’s revelation. Our system is not closed like the non-Christian. The Bible tells us about general revelation and man’s requirement to worship the creator. The Bible tells us the specifics on how to worship the creator. It is only because we have biblical, i.e., God’s revelation that an intelligent conversation on these matters can be carried on.

It would be impossible to have a discussion about these concepts without God’s special revelation the Bible since biblical revelation is where the concepts appear. Clearly, without special revelation, there would be no discussion of ethics, science, and logic with any certainty. As a quick aside, what about Islam and its moral code? Does this contradict what I have just argued for regarding the Christian worldview as the only worldview that can account the preconditions of knowledge? No, I would say that Islam is essentially a Christian heresy. This means the Islamic worldview has stolen and corrupted the biblical ethical code. This is similar to universal flood stories that appear in the ancient literature. The Babylonian flood story, for example, is simply a corruption of the biblical account.

Philosophically unbelief vacillates between two positions of knowing and not knowing. These two opposite poles of allegiance constitute a never-ending dilemma, thus revealing the futility of non-Christian epistemology. Does any of this affect the non-believer? No, the philosophy of non-belief presses on irrationally, certain of its uncertainty, oblivious of the self-refuting contradiction being advanced. To illustrate, for example, some non-believers claim absolutely that there are no absolutes. The philosophy of non-belief contradicts itself when it claims not to know (uncertainty, agnosticism) and to know (certainty, atheism). Both atheism and agnosticism are two sides of the same coin. Fallen man’s contradictory uncertainty and certainty are manifestations of his epistemological and ethical rebellion against God.

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:20-22)


1. Cornelius Van Til, Christian-Theistic Evidences, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1978), pp. 147-48.

2. Gordon H. Clark, In Defense of Theology, (Fenton, Michigan, Mott Media, Inc. Publishers, 1984), pp. 31-33.

3. Gordon H. Clark, What Do Presbyterians Believe? (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed 1985), pg. 18.

4. Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, ed. Scott Oliphint, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian & Reformed 1955), p. 107.

5. Cornelius Van Til, The Defense Of The Faith, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian & Reformed), p. 93.

6. Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company 1970), pp. 213-214.

7. Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1970), p. 204.

8. Jack Kettler, many of my comments are adapted from Appendix One and Two from the book, The Religion That Started in a Hat.

* My comments in the above article should NOT be understood as being original with me. I am indebted biblically and philosophically for the above comments to Francis A. Schaeffer, Gordon H. Clark, Ronald H. Nash, Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen and R.J. Rushdoony! I have attempted to re-state the biblical and philosophical genius of the above named!

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

The Gordon H. Clark Foundation

The Trinity Foundation

Alpha & Omega


Cornelius Van Til information

Van Til Diagrammed

* Predication: attaching a predicate to a subject; hence, making an assertion. Van Til says that only the Christian world view makes predication possible.

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Aseity, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes

Aseity, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes by Jack Kettler

The incommunicable attributes of God are those that belong to God alone. For example, such attributes as omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence are incommunicable. These attributes are distinct from God’s communicable attributes such as knowledge, creativity, love, forgiveness. Man can share in the communicable attributes whereas the incommunicable attributes, he cannot.

In this study we will focus on God’s Aseity. How can aseity be defined?

God’s perfection whereby he is self-sufficient, self-existent and independent, existing “from himself”; his possession of life in himself so that he needs nothing from anything outside of himself, but rather is the source and sustenance of everything that exists.*

The aseity of God is His independent, self-existence. It is another word for His non-contingency. If God is self-existent and depends on nothing else for His being, then He is necessarily without cause and eternal. **

Aseity comes to English from the Latin. God’s aseity is the attribute of independent self-existence. God’s eternality (never-ending, everlasting) and immutability (unchangeable) are connected to His aseity. God’s existence has no source other than itself. God is not dependent on any part of creation for His existence. Before the creation of the space time universe, God had existence. He is self-existent!

From Scripture, God’s Aseity is seen in the following verses:

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14)

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2)

“Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.” (Psalm 93:2)

“I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.” (Psalm 102:24-25)

“Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” (Habakkuk 1:12)

“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26)

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)

“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24-25)

“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelations 4:11)

An Old Testament passage from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Psalms 93:2 we learn:

Thy throne is established of old – Whatever might occur, the throne of God was firm. That could not be moved. It had been set up from all eternity. It had stood through all the convulsions and changes which had occurred in the universe; and it would stand firm forever. Whatever might change, that was immovable; and as long as that is unchanged we have a ground of security and hope. Should “that” be moved, all would be gone. The margin here is, as in Hebrew, “from then:” but it means “of old;” from the most ancient times; that is, from the period indicated by the next clause, “from everlasting.”

Thou art from everlasting – From all eternity; thou hast always existed; thou art ever the same Psalm 90:1. (1)

A New Testament passage from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on John 5:26 we learn:

(26) Hath he given to the Son.—Better, gave He to the Son also.

Life in himself.—The Son has spoken of the dead hearing His voice and living, but this giving of life to others can only be by one who has in himself an original source of life. This the Father has, and this the Son also has. To the Son in His pre-existent state it was natural, as being equal with the Father. To the Son who had emptied Himself of the exercise of the attributes which constituted the glory of that state (comp. again Philippians 2:6 et seq.), it was part of the Father’s gift by which He exalted Him exceedingly, and gave Him the name which is above every name. It was, then, a gift in time to One who had possessed it before all time, and for the purposes of the mediatorial work had relinquished it. It was a gift, not to the Eternal Son, but to the Incarnate Word. (2)

From Herman Bavinck we learn more about aseity:

“We begin our discussion of God’s attributes, therefore, with aseity or independence, a fact more or less recognized by all humans in the very definition of “God.” If God is to be truly God, he must be sufficient unto himself. He is dependent on nothing, he needs nothing; rather, all that exists depends on him. He is the only source of all existence and life, of all light and love, the overflowing fountain of all good (Ps. 36:10; Acts 17:25), the Alpha and the Omega who is and who was and who is to come (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12; Rev. 1:8). He is the perfect, highest, the most excellent being, “than whom nothing better can exist or be thought.” All being is contained in him. He is a boundless ocean of being. “If you have said of God that he is good, great, blessed, wise or any other such quality, it is summed up in a single word: he is (Est). Indeed, for him to be is to be all these things. Even if you add a hundred such qualities, you have not gone outside the boundaries of his being. Having said them all, you have added nothing; having said none of them, you have subtracted nothing.”32 Roman Catholic and Reformation theologians follow this Scholastic affirmation, with the Reformed eventually coming to prefer the term “independence” over “aseity.” While aseity only expresses God’s self-sufficiency in his existence, independence has a broader sense and implies that God is independent in everything: in his existence, in his perfections, in his decrees, and in his works. Accordingly, while in the past theologians mostly used the name YHWH as their starting point, in later years God’s independence occurs most often as the first of the incommunicable attributes.33 We must conceive of God’s independence not only as God having being from himself but also as the fullness of being, the inclusion of other perfections. They are given with the aseity itself and are the rich and multifaceted development of it. It is this attribute that vividly and plainly marks the immeasurable distinction between the Creator and creature. There is, nevertheless, a weak analogy in all creatures also of this perfection of God. Pantheism, indeed, cannot acknowledge this, but theism stands for the fact that a creature, though absolutely dependent, nevertheless also has a distinct existence of its own. Implanted in this existence there is “a drive toward self-preservation.” Every creature, to the extent that it shares in existence, fears death, and even the tiniest atom offers resistance to all attempts at annihilating it. Again: it is a shadow of the independent, immutable being of our God.” (3)

In summary of our studies on God’s incommunicable attributes, the reader will benefit immensely from the following:

The Divine Attributes by Gordon H. Clark

ATTRIBUTES, THE DIVINE. The divine attributes are, in the language of ordinary conversation, simply the characteristics or qualities of God. As water is wet and fire hot, so God is eternal, immutable, omnipotent, just, holy, and so on. Perhaps these divine characteristics are quite numerous; but usually it is only the more comprehensive terms that are discussed.

Beneath this simplicity lurk some of the most intricate problems and some of the most futile discussions ever attempted by theology. Taking their start from Aristotle’s confused theory of categories, theologians have analyzed God into an unknowable substratum, called his substance or essence, on the surface of which lay the knowable attributes, much like a visible coat of paint on a table-top that could never be seen or touched. Luther and Calvin made a great advance when they buried this scholastic rubbish, though it has been dug up more than once since.

ASEITY is a barbarous Latinism to indicate God’s absolute independence. He depends a se, on himself. He is self-existent. Sometimes, on the assumption that every reality must have a cause, God has been said to be the cause of himself. In this case he would also have to be the effect of himself; but the terms cause and effect must be stretched beyond any ordinary meaning, if only a single reality is in view. It would be more intelligible to say that God is the necessary Being — a phrase used in the ontological argument for God’s existence. In some imaginary polytheistic system there might be several self-existent beings and no creation ex nihilo; but in its biblical context the aseity of God and the doctrine of creation are inseparable. Certainly creation ex nihilo presupposes God’s self-existence.

The ETERNITY of God also seems to be involved in his aseity. The two appear to be in reality the same thing. If God does not exist in virtue of some external cause, but is self-existent, he could not have come into being; for it is inconceivable that a pure nothing should suddenly generate a self-existent God. Furthermore, if time is a function of the created mind, as St. Augustine said, or a function of moving bodies, as Aristotle taught, and is therefore an aspect of the universe, it follows that God transcends temporal relationships.

IMMUTABILITY follows upon aseity and eternity. Time and change are together denied of God. “They shall be changed, but thou are the same” (Heb. 1:12). If self-existence should change, it would become dependent existence; eternity would become time; perfection imperfection, and therefore God would become not-God. Cf. Num. 23:19, Ps. 33:11; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17.

INFINITY is hardly different from the preceding. Infinite means unlimited. What is self-existent must be unlimited. Infinite has sometimes meant indefinite or imperfect, from which is has been concluded that an infinite God could not have the limitation or definiteness of personality. This ancient usage is not what is intended. God is not the vague “boundless” of Anaximander; he is thoroughly definite. Etymology to the contrary, his definite attributes are in-finite. Nothing limits his power, wisdom, justice, and so on.

OMNIPOTENCE means that God can do all things. See the entry on GOD. Sophistic objections are sometimes brought against divine omnipotence by raising pseudo-problems. Can God create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it? Can God draw a square with only three sides? These questions involve self-contradictions, are therefore meaningless, and set no real problem. With omnipotence should be joined sovereignty. God is the Supreme Being.

OMNIPRESENCE, Ubiquity, and Immensity refer to God’s relation to all space. To put it simply, God is everywhere. Cf. Ps. 139:7. Instead of saying God is everywhere in the world, it might be better to say that everywhere in the world is in God; for “in him we live and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). The difficulty is that God is not an extended, spatial being; God is a Spirit; and the preposition in cannot be used in its spatial sense. There are non-spatial senses: note the second in in the preceding sentence. Omnipresence therefore means that God knows and controls everything. It hardly differs from omnipotence.

OMNISCIENCE means that God knows all things. Why should he not? He made all things and decided their history. He works “all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11).

Theologians have argued whether these attributes are really distinct and differ in God, or only seem different to us. Both positions have been defended. Some theologians have tried to straddle the question by saying that the attributes are not really different, nor merely apparently different to us, but are virtually different. It is hard to attach a meaning to such a vague expression. The short account above might suggest that the attributes are not only the same in God, but with a little thought they appear to be the same to us too.

Distinguished from these previous attributes, sometimes awkwardly named the natural attributes, is a second set called the moral attributes: WISDOM, JUSTICE, HOLINESS, GOODNESS, and the like. Neither group has a logical principle of derivation, and therefore there is no fixed number. The moral attributes are not too easily defined, but are better described by the scriptural passages that refer to them. With respect to wisdom one might cite: “The Lord is a God of knowledge” (I Sam. 2:3); and “His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5). As for justice: “All his ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4); and “to declare at this time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Holiness is sometimes thought of as a synonym for justice and righteousness; it has also been given a root meaning of separate, from which the inference has been drawn that holiness is not an “attribute” but an effect of the attributes: the attributes separate God from all else.

At first sight these moral attributes seem more distinguishable among themselves than the natural attributes are, and still more distinguishable from the natural attributes. Yet justice is easily interpreted as a particular form of wisdom, and this merges with omniscience. Similarly righteousness is an expression of God’s sovereignty in maintaining the divine legislation, and this is an exercise of power and knowledge. The unity of the attributes therefore is a thesis that cannot be thoughtlessly dismissed. (4)

In closing, John 8:58 has much to say about Christ’s aseity. A short entry from Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary captures this perfectly:

58. Before Abraham was, I am—The words rendered “was” and “am” are quite different. The one clause means, “Abraham was brought into being”; the other, “I exist.” The statement therefore is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did (as Arians affirm is the meaning), but that He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, existed before creation, or eternally (as Joh 1:1). In that sense the Jews plainly understood Him, since “then took they up stones to cast at Him,” just as they had before done when they saw that He made Himself equal with God (Joh 5:18).

hid himself—(See on [1814]Lu 4:30). (5)

God is self-existent as the Scriptures declare:

“They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Psalms 102:26-27)

The goal of this study is to help us magnify the Lord God for his marvelous grace that made us children of God through no merit of our own. It is my prayer that this goal has been attained.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Nothing in us caused or merited this supreme act of love on God’s part!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p.1514.

2. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, John, Vol.1, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 419.

3. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker), pp. 186-187.

4. Everett F. Harrison, ed., Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House. 1960), pp. 78-79.

5. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 1047.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes:


The Aseity (Self-Existence) of God

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Omnipresence, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes

Omnipresence, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes by Jack Kettler

The incommunicable attributes of God are those that belong to God alone. For example, such attributes as omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence are incommunicable. These attributes are distinct from God’s communicable attributes such as knowledge, creativity, love, forgiveness. Man can share in the communicable attributes whereas the incommunicable attributes, he cannot.

In this study we will focus on God’s Omnipresence. How can omnipotence be defined?

That perfection of God whereby he is infinite with respect to space, with his whole being present everywhere all the time, yet he cannot be contained by space.*

An attribute of God alone. It is the quality of being present in all places at all times (Jeremiah 23:23.4). He is not bound by time and space. This does not mean that nature is a part of God and is, therefore, to be worshiped. Creation is separate from God, but not independent of Him. **

Omnipresence is the presence of God everywhere at the same time.

From Scripture, God’s Omnipresence is seen in the following verses:

“But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee: how much less this house which I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18)

“Wither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalms 139:7)

“Thus Saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)

“Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24)

“Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.” (Amos 9:2)

“He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.” (John 3:31)

“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:24-28)

The Triune God and Omnipresence:

All three members of the triune God have the attribute of omnipresence. For example, all three are everywhere-present. The Father in Matthew 19:26. The Son in Matthew 28:18 and the Holy Spirit in Psalm 139:7.

Commentary Evidence from the Old Testament passage of Jeremiah 23:24:

Jeremiah 23:24; from Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord,…. If a man should hide himself in the most secret and hidden places of the earth, and do his works in the most private manner, so that no human eye can see him, he cannot hide himself or his actions from the Lord, who can see from heaven to earth, and through the darkest and thickest clouds, and into the very bowels of the earth, and the most hidden and secret recesses and caverns of it. The darkness and the light are both alike to him; and also near and distant, open and secret places:

do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord; not only with inhabitants, and with other effects of his power and providence; but with his essence, which is everywhere, and is infinite and immense, and cannot be contained in either, or be limited and circumscribed by space and place; see 1 Kings 8:27. The Targum is,

“does not my glory fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord;”’

both of them are full of his glory; and every person and thing in either must be seen and known by him; and so the false prophets and their lies; in order to convince of the truth of which, all this is said, as appears by the following words. (1)

Commentary Evidence from the New Testament passage of John 3:31:

John 3:31; from Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:

He that cometh from above, Meaning Christ; not that he brought his human nature with him from heaven, or that that is of a celestial nature; but he came from heaven in his divine person, not by change of place, he being God immense and infinite, but by assumption of human nature; which he took upon him, in order to do in it his Father’s will, and the work of our salvation.

Is above all; above John, before whom he was preferred, for he was before him; above the prophets of the Old Testament, and even above Moses, the chief of them; yea, above all the angels in heaven, being God over all, blessed forever: wherefore all glory is to be given him; no honour is to be envied him, or detracted from him.

He that is of the earth; as John was, and all mankind are, being descended from Adam, who was, made of the dust of the earth; and who dwell in houses of clay, and in earthly tabernacles, which are at last resolved into their original dust:

is earthly; of an earthly nature, frame, temper, and disposition; see John 3:6. Men naturally mind earthly things; and it is owing to the Spirit and grace of God, if they mind and savour spiritual things, or have their affections set on things above, or their conversation in heaven; and even such, at times, find that their souls cleave unto the dust, and are hankering after the things of the earth:

and speaketh of the earth; of earthly things, as in John 3:12; and indeed of heavenly things, in an earthly manner, in a low way, and by similes and comparisons taken from the things of the earth; not being able to speak of celestial things, as in their own nature, and in that sublime way the subject requires: but

he that cometh from heaven is above all; men and angels, in the dignity of his person; and all prophets and teachers, in the excellency of his doctrine, and manner of delivering it: and therefore it is not to be wondered at, that he should be followed as he is; but rather it should seem marvellous, that he has no more followers than he has; in the Apocrypha:

“For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to his floods: even so they that dwell upon the earth may understand nothing but that which is upon the earth: and he that dwelleth above the heavens may only understand the things that are above the height of the heavens.”’ (2 Esdras 4:21) (2)

OMNIPRESENCE from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:



1. Non-Occurrence of the Term in Scripture:

Neither the noun “omnipresence” nor adjective “omnipresent” occurs in Scripture, but the idea that God is everywhere present is throughout presupposed and sometimes explicitly formulated. God’s omnipresence is closely related to His omnipotence and omniscience:

That He is everywhere enables Him to act everywhere and to know all things, and, conversely, through omnipotent action and omniscient knowledge He has access to all places and all secrets (compare Psalms 139). Thus conceived, the attribute is but the correlate of the monotheistic conception of God as the Infinite Creator, Preserver and Governor of the universe, immanent in His works as well as transcendent above them.

2. Philosophical and Popular Ideas of Omnipresence:

The philosophical idea of omnipresence is that of exemption from the limitations of space, subjectively as well as objectively; subjectively, in so far as space, which is a necessary form of all created consciousness in the sphere of sense-perception, is not thus constitutionally inherent in the mind of God; objectively, in so far as the actuality of space-relations in the created world imposes no limit upon the presence and operation of God. This metaphysical conception of transcendence above all space is, of course, foreign to the Bible, which in regard to this, as in regard to the other transcendent attributes, clothes the truth of revelation in popular language, and speaks of exemption from the limitations of space in terms and figures derived from space itself. Thus, the very term “omnipresence” in its two component parts “everywhere” and “present” contains a double inadequacy of expression, both the notion of “everywhere” and that of “presence” being spacial concepts. Another point, in regard to which the popular nature of the Scriptural teaching on this subject must be kept in mind, concerns the mode of the divine omnipresence. In treating the concept philosophically, it is of importance to distinguish between its application to the essence, to the activity, and to the knowledge of God. The Bible does not draw these distinctions in the abstract. Although sometimes it speaks of God’s omnipresence with reference to the pervasive immanence of His being, it frequently contents itself with affirming the universal extent of God’s power and knowledge (Deuteronomy 4:39; 10:14; Psalms 139:6-16; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:23,24; Amos 9:2).

3. Theories Denying Omnipresence of Being:

This observation has given rise to theories of a mere omnipresence of power or omnipresence by an act of will, as distinct from an omnipresence of being. But it is plain that in this antithetical form such a distinction is foreign to the intent of the Biblical statements in question. The writers in these passages content themselves with describing the practical effects of the attribute without reflecting upon the difference between this and its ontological aspect; the latter is neither affirmed nor denied. That no denial of the omnipresence of being is intended may be seen from Jeremiah 23:24, where in the former half of the verse the omnipresence of 23:23 is expressed in terms of omniscience, while in the latter half the idea finds ontological expression. Similarly, in Psalms 139, compare verse 2 with verses 7, and verses 13. As here, so in other passages the presence of God with His being in all space is explicitly affirmed (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; Isaiah 66:1; Acts 17:28).

4. Denial of the Presence of the Idea in the Earlier Parts of the Old Testament:

Omnipresence being the correlate of monotheism, the presence of the idea in the earlier parts of the Old Testament is denied by all those who assign the development of monotheism in the Old Testament religion to the prophetic period from the 8th century onward. It is undoubtedly true that the earliest narratives speak very anthropomorphically of God’s relation to space; they describe Him as coming and going in language such as might be used of a human person. But it does not follow from this that the writers who do so conceive of God’s being as circumscribed by space. Where such forms of statement occur, not the presence of God in general, but His visible presence in theophany is referred to. If from the local element entering into the description God’s subjection to the limitations of space were inferred, then one might with equal warrant, on the basis of the physical, sensual elements entering into the representation, impute to the writers the view that the divine nature is corporeal.

5. The Special Redemptive and Revelatory Presence of God:

The theophanic form of appearance does not disclose what God is ontologically in Himself, but merely how He condescends to appear and work for the redemption of His people. It establishes a redemptive and revelatory presence in definite localities, which does not, in the mind of the writer, detract from the divine omnipresence. Hence, it is not confined to one place; the altars built in recognition of it are in patriarchal history erected in several places and coexist as each and all offering access to the special divine presence. It is significant that already during the patriarchal period these theophanies and the altars connected with them are confined to the Holy Land. This shows that the idea embodied in them has nothing to do with a crude conception of the Deity as locally circumscribed, but marks the beginning of that gradual restoration of the gracious presence of God to fallen humanity, the completion of which forms the goal of redemption. Thus, God is said to dwell in the ark, in the tabernacle, on Mt. Zion (Numbers 10:35; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; Psalms 3:4; 99:1); in the temple (1 Kings 8; Psalms 20:2; 26:8; 46:5; 48:2; Isaiah 8:18; Joel 3:16,21; Amos 1:2); in the Holy Land (1 Samuel 26:19; Hosea 9:3); in Christ (John 1:14; 2:19; Colossians 2:9); in the church (John 14:23; Romans 8:9,11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Ephesians 2:21,22; 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 10:21; 1 Peter 2:5); in the eschatological assembly of His people (Revelation 21:3). In the light of the same principle must be interpreted the presence of God in heaven. This also is not to be understood as an ontological presence, but as a presence of specific theocratic manifestation (1 Kings 8:27; Psalms 2:4; 11:4; 33:13; 104:3; Isaiah 6:1; 63:15; 66:1; Habakkuk 2:20; Matthew 5:34; 6:9; Acts 7:48; 17:28; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3). How little this is meant to exclude the presence of God elsewhere may be seen from the fact that the two representations, that of God’s self-manifestation in heaven and in the earthly sanctuary, occur side by side (1 Kings 8:26-53; Psalms 20:2-6; Amos 9:6). It has been alleged that the idea of God’s dwelling in heaven marks a comparatively late attainment in the religion of Israel, of which in the pre-prophetic period no trace can as yet be discovered (so Stade, Bibl. Theol. des Altes Testament, I, 103, 104). There are, however, a number of passages in the Pentateuch bearing witness to the early existence of this belief (Genesis 11:1-9; 19:24; 21:17; 22:11; 28:12). Yahweh comes, according to the belief of the earliest period, with the clouds (Exodus 14:19, 20; 19:9, 18; 24:15; Numbers 11:25; 12:5). That even in the opinion of the people Yahweh’s local presence in an earthly sanctuary need not have excluded Him from heaven follows also from the unhesitating belief in His simultaneous presence in a plurality of sanctuaries. If it was not a question of locally circumscribed presence as between sanctuary and sanctuary, it need not have been as between earth and heaven (compare Gunkel, Gen, 157).

6. Religious Significance:

Both from a generally religious and from a specifically soteriological point of view the omnipresence of God is of great practical importance for the religious life. In the former respect it contains the guaranty that the actual nearness of God and a real communion with Him may be enjoyed everywhere, even apart from the places hallowed for such purpose by a specific gracious self-manifestation (Psalms 139:5-10). In the other respect the divine omnipresence assures the believer that God is at hand to save in every place where from any danger or foe His people need salvation (Isaiah 43:2).


Oehler, Theologie des A T (3), 174; Riehm, Alttestamentliche Theologie, 262; Dillmann, Handbuch der alttestamentlichen Theologie, 246; Davidson, Old Testament Theology, 180; Konig, Geschichte der alttestamentlichen Religion, 197.

Geerhardus Vos (3)

In closing we will look at a Gem from Louis Berkof:

The Infinity of God by Louis Berkhof:

The infinity of God is that perfection of God by which He is free from all limitations. In ascribing it to God we deny that there are or can be any limitations to the divine Being or attributes. It implies that He is in no way limited by the universe, by this time-space world, or confined to the universe. It does not involve His identity with the sum-total of existing things, nor does it exclude the co-existence of derived and finite things, to which He bears relation. The infinity of God must be conceived as intensive rather than extensive, and should not be confused with boundless extension, as if God were spread out through the entire universe, one part being here and another there, for God has no body and therefore no extension. Neither should it be regarded as a merely negative concept, though it is perfectly true that we cannot form a positive idea of it. It is a reality in God fully comprehended only by Him. We distinguish various aspects of God’s infinity.

1. HIS ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. This is the infinity of the Divine Being considered in itself. It should not be understood in a quantitative, but in a qualitative sense; it qualifies all the communicable attributes of God. Infinite power is not an absolute quantum, but an exhaustless potency of power; and infinite holiness is not a boundless quantum of holiness, but a holiness which is, qualitatively free from all limitation or defect. The same may be said of infinite knowledge and wisdom, and of infinite love and righteousness. Says Dr. Orr: “Perhaps we can say that infinity in God is ultimately: (a) internally and qualitatively, absence of all limitation and defect; (b) boundless potentiality.”[Side-Lights on Christian Doctrine, p. 26.] In this sense of the word the infinity of God is simply identical with the perfection of His Divine Being. Scripture proof for it is found in Job 11:7-10; Ps. 145:3; Matt. 5:48.

2. HIS ETERNITY. The infinity of God in relation to time is called His eternity. The form in which the Bible represents God’s eternity is simply that of duration through endless ages, Ps. 90:2; 102:12; Eph. 3:21. We should remember, however, that in speaking as it does the Bible uses popular language, and not the language of philosophy. We generally think of God’s eternity in the same way, namely, as duration infinitely prolonged both backwards and forwards. But this is only a popular and symbolical way of representing that which in reality transcends time and differs from it essentially. Eternity in the strict sense of the word is ascribed to that which transcends all temporal limitations. That it applies to God in that sense is at least intimated in II Pet. 3:8. “Time,” says Dr. Orr, “strictly has relation to the world of objects existing in succession. God fills time; is in every part of it; but His eternity still is not really this being in time. It is rather that to which time forms a contrast.”[Ibid. p. 26.] Our existence is marked off by days and weeks and months and years; not so the existence of God. Our life is divided into a past, present and future, but there is no such division in the life of God. He is the eternal “I am.” His eternity may be defined as that perfection of God whereby He is elevated above all temporal limits and all succession of moments, and possesses the whole of His existence in one indivisible present. The relation of eternity to time constitutes one of the most difficult problems in philosophy and theology, perhaps incapable of solution in our present condition.

3. HIS IMMENSITY. The infinity of God may also be viewed with reference to space, and is then called His immensity. It may be defined as that perfection of the Divine Being by which He transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with His whole Being. It has a negative and a positive side, denying all limitations of space to the Divine Being, and asserting that God is above space and fills every part of it with His whole Being. The last words are added, in order to ward off the idea that God is diffused through space, so that one part of His Being is present in one place, and another part in some other place. We distinguish three modes of presence in space. Bodies are in space circumscriptively, because they are bounded by it; finite spirits are in space definitively, since they are not everywhere, but only in a certain definite place; and in distinction from both of these God is in space repletively, because He fills all space. He is not absent from any part of it, nor more present in one part than in another.

In a certain sense the terms “immensity” and “omnipresence,” as applied to God, denote the same thing, and can therefore be regarded as synonymous. Yet there is a point of difference that should be carefully noted. “Immensity” points to the fact that God transcends all space and is not subject to its limitations, while “omnipresence” denotes that He nevertheless fills every part of space with His entire Being. The former emphasizes the transcendence, and the latter, the immanence of God. God is immanent in all His creatures, in His entire creation, but is in no way bounded by it. In connection with God’s relation to the world we must avoid, on the one hand, the error of Pantheism, so characteristic of a great deal of present day thinking, with its denial of the transcendence of God and its assumption that the Being of God is really the substance of all things; and, on the other hand, the Deistic conception that God is indeed present in creation per potentiam (with His power), but not per essentiam et naturam (with His very Being and nature), and acts upon the world from a distance. Though God is distinct from the world and may not be identified with it, He is yet present in every part of His creation, not only per potentiam, but also per essentiam. This does not mean, however, that He is equally present and present in the same sense in all His creatures. The nature of His indwelling is in harmony with that of His creatures. He does not dwell on earth as He does in heaven, in animals as He does in man, in the inorganic as He does in the organic creation, in the wicked as He does in the pious, nor in the Church as He does in Christ. There is an endless variety in the manner in which He is immanent in His creatures, and in the measure in which they reveal God to those who have eyes to see. The omnipresence of God is clearly revealed in Scripture. Heaven and earth cannot contain Him, I Kings 8:27; Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48,49; and at the same time He fills both and is a God at hand, Ps. 139:7-10; Jer. 23:23,24; Acts 17:27,28. (4)

Final thoughts:

God is also immanent. This means that God is within or near His creation. Immanence is intimately related to God’s omnipresence, in that God is always present within the universe, though separate from it. God is within the universe and is its sustaining cause.

Surely, man cannot claim to share this attribute!

“They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Psalms 102:26-27)

The goal of this study is to help us magnify the Lord God for his marvelous grace that made us children of God through no merit of our own. It is my prayer that this goal has been attained.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Nothing in us caused or merited this supreme act of love on God’s part!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Jeremiah, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 376.

2. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, John, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, pp. 111-112.

3. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘OMNISCIENCE,’” “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2090-2092.

4. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1979), pp. 59-61.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes:

** CARM Theological Dictionary:

On God’s Omnipresence by Stephen Charnock

The Omnipresence of God by Thomas Watson

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Omniscience, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes

Omniscience, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes by Jack Kettler

The incommunicable attributes of God are those that belong to God alone. For example, such attributes as omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence are incommunicable. These attributes are distinct from God’s communicable attributes such as knowledge, creativity, love and forgiveness. Man can share in the communicable attributes whereas the incommunicable attributes, he cannot.

In this study we will focus on God’s Omniscience. How can omniscience be defined?

God’s perfection “whereby He….knows himself and all things possible and actual in one eternal and most simple act.”*

An attribute of God alone. It is the quality of having all knowledge (Isaiah 40:14). Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience represent the nature of God concerning His relation to the creation. **

Omniscience is having total knowledge. The Creator’s unique distinction of knowing everything exhaustively. In contrast, the creature, man’s knowledge is finite and dependent upon the Creator’s revelation to man

From Scripture, God’s Omniscience is seen in the following verses:

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalms 147:5)

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.” (Isaiah 41:21-24)

“With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:14)

“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18)

“… And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)

“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knowest all things.” (1 John 3:20)

The Triune God and Omniscience:

All three have the attribute of omniscience. The Father in Romans 11:33, the Son in Matthew 9:4, and the Holy Spirit we see in 1 Corinthians 2:10.

Commentary Evidence from the Old Testament passage of Psalms 147:5:

Psalms 147:5; from Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Great is our Lord, and of great power, “Our Lord” is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the whole earth; the Lord of his own people by creation, by redemption, by marriage, and by the conquest of his grace, and their voluntary submission to him; he is “great” in his person, offices, and grace, and therefore greatly to be praised; see Psalm 145:3; and particularly his “power” is very “great”, as appears in the creation of all things out of nothing by him; in the sustaining and support of the world and all things in it: in the redemption of his people from the hand of their powerful enemies; in beginning, carrying on, and perfecting a work of grace on their hearts by his Spirit and power; and in the preservation of them unto eternal life, through a thousand dangers and difficulties: at his resurrection all power in heaven and earth were given him as Mediator; and in the latter day he will take to himself his great power and reign; and in the last day will raise the dead out of their graves;

his understanding is infinite; it reaches to all things, not to the stars of heaven only, as in Psalm 147:4, but to the fowls of the air, to the beasts of the field, and cattle upon a thousand hills; to all on the surface of the earth, or in the bowels of it; and to the fishes of the sea: it reaches to all men, and to all the thoughts of their hearts, the words of their mouths, and the actions of their lives; it reaches to all things past, that have been, to everything present, and to whatsoever is to come; it includes not only the knowledge of all things that are, or certainly will be, but of all things possible, or which he could bring into being if he would; it is concerned not only with the quality and nature of things it perfectly understands, but with the quantity of them; even all things in creation and providence, which are without number and past finding out by men; and so his understanding is without number, and cannot be declared, as the word signifies. (1)

Commentary Evidence from the New Testament passage of Romans 11:33:

Romans 11:33; from Matthew Poole’s Commentary:

In this and the following verses is the conclusion of all that he had delivered, especially in this and the two preceding chapters. He had spoken of many profound mysteries, and answered many critical questions; and here he makes a pause, and falls into an admiration of God, his abundant wisdom and knowledge. He seems here to be like a man that wades into the waters, till he begins to feel no bottom, and then he cries out:

Oh the depth! and goes no farther.

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! i.e. the unmeasurable, inconceivable abundance of his wisdom and knowledge. Some distinguish these two; others take them for the same: see Colossians 2:3.

How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Some distinguish betwixt the judgments and ways of God; by the former, understanding his decrees and purposes concerning nations or persons; by the latter, the methods of his providence in his dealings with them: others think the same thing is meant, by an ingemination, which is familiar amongst the Hebrews. He says of God’s judgments, that they are unsearchable; therefore not to be complained of, censured, or to be narrowly pried into; and of his ways, that they are past finding out; the same in sense with unsearchable: it is a metaphor from hounds, that have no footstep or scent of the game which they pursue: nor can men trace the Lord, or find out the reason of his doings; as none can line out the way of a ship in the sea, or an eagle in the air, &c. Some restrain the sense to the ways of God in disposing and ordering the election and rejection of men. (2)

Omniscience from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:



The term does not occur in Scripture, either in its nominal or in its adjectival form.

1. Words and Usage:

In the Old Testament it is expressed in connection with such words as da’ath, binah, tebhunah, chokhmah; also “seeing” and “hearing,” “the eye” and “the ear” occur as figures for the knowledge of God, as “arm,” “hand,” “finger” serve to express His power. In the New Testament are found ginoskein, gnosis, eidenai, sophia, in the same connections.

2. Tacit Assumption and Explicit Affirmation:

Scripture everywhere teaches the absolute universality of the divine knowledge. In the historical books, although there is no abstract formula, and occasional anthropomorphic references to God’ staking knowledge of things occur (Genesis 11:5; 18:21; Deuteronomy 8:3), none the less the principle is everywhere presupposed in what is related about God’s cognizance of the doings of man, about the hearing of prayer, the disclosing of the future (1 Samuel 16:7; 23:9-12; 1 Kings 8:39; 2 Chronicles 16:9). Explicit affirmation of the principle is made in the Psalter, the Prophets, and the chokhmah literature and in the New Testament. This is due to the increased internalizing of religion, by which its hidden side, to which the divine omniscience corresponds, receives greater emphasis (Job 26:6; 28:24; 34:22; Psalms 139:12; 147:4; Proverbs 15:3,11; Isaiah 40:26; Acts 1:24; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:23).

3. Extends to All Spheres:

This absolute universality is affirmed with reference to the various categories that comprise within themselves all that is possible or actual. It extends to God’s own being, as well as to what exists outside of Him in the created world. God has perfect possession in consciousness of His own being. The unconscious finds no place in Him (Acts 15:18; 1 John 1:5). Next to Himself God knows the world in its totality. This knowledge extends to small as well as to great affairs (Matthew 6:8,32; 10:30); to the hidden heart and mind of man as well as to that which is open and manifest (Job 11:11; 34:21,23; Psalms 14:2; 17:2; 33:13-18; 102:19; 139:1-4; Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; Isaiah 29:15; Jeremiah 17:10; Amos 4:13; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:23). It extends to all the divisions of time, the past, present and future alike (Job 14:17; Psalms 56:8; Isaiah 41:22-24; 44:6-8; Jeremiah 1:5; Hosea 13:12; Malachi 3:16). It embraces that which is contingent from the human viewpoint as well as that which is certain (1 Samuel 23:9-12; Matthew 11:22, 23).

4. Mode of the Divine Knowledge:

Scripture brings God’s knowledge into connection with His omnipresence. Psalms 139 is the clearest expression of this. Omniscience is the omnipresence of cognition (Jeremiah 23:23). It is also closely related to God’s eternity, for the latter makes Him in His knowledge independent of the limitations of time (Isaiah 43:8-12). God’s creative relation to all that exists is represented as underlying His omniscience (Psalms 33:15; 97:9; 139:13; Isaiah 29:15). His all-comprehensive purpose forms the basis of His knowledge of all events and developments (Isaiah 41:22-27; Amos 3:7).

This, however, does not mean that God’s knowledge of things is identical with His creation of them, as has been suggested by Augustine and others. The act of creation, while necessarily connected with the knowledge of that which is to be actual, is not identical with such knowledge or with the purpose on which such knowledge rests, for in God, as well as in man, the intellect and the will are distinct faculties. In the last analysis, God’s knowledge of the world has its source in His self-knowledge. The world is a revelation of God. All that is actual or possible in it therefore is a reflection in created form of what exists uncreated in God, and thus the knowledge of the one becomes a reproduction of the knowledge of the other (Acts 17:27; Romans 1:20). The divine knowledge of the world also partakes of the quality of the divine self-knowledge in this respect, that it is never dormant. God does not depend for embracing the multitude and complexity of the existing world on such mental processes as abstraction and generalization.

The Bible nowhere represents Him as attaining to knowledge by reasoning, but everywhere as simply knowing. From what has been said about the immanent sources of the divine knowledge, it follows that the latter is not a posteriori derived from its objects, as all human knowledge based on experience is, but is exercised without receptivity or dependence. In knowing, as well as in all other activities of His nature, God is sovereign and self-sufficient. In cognizing the reality of all things He needs not wait upon the things, but draws His knowledge directly from the basis of reality as it lies in Himself. While the two are thus closely connected it is nevertheless of importance to distinguish between God’s knowledge of Himself and God’s knowledge of the world, and also between His knowledge of the actual and His knowledge of the possible. These distinctions mark off theistic conception of omniscience from the pantheistic idea regarding it. God is not bound up in His life with the world in such a sense as to have no scope of activity beyond it.

5. God’s Omniscience and Human Freewill:

Since Scripture includes in the objects of the divine knowledge also the issue of the exercise of freewill on the part of man, the problem arises, how the contingent character of such decisions and the certainty of the divine knowledge can coexist. It is true that the knowledge of God and the purposing will of God are distinct, and that not the former but the latter determines the certainty of the outcome. Consequently the divine omniscience in such cases adds or detracts nothing in regard to the certainty of the event. God’s omniscience does not produce but presupposes the certainty by which the problem is raised. At the same time, precisely because omniscience presupposes certainty, it appears to exclude every conception of contingency in the free acts of man, such as would render the latter in their very essence undetermined. The knowledge of the issue must have a fixed point of certainty to terminate upon, if it is to be knowledge at all. Those who make the essence of freedom absolute indeterminateness must, therefore, exempt this class of events from the scope of the divine omniscience. But this is contrary to all the testimony of Scripture, which distinctly makes God’s absolute knowledge extend to such acts (Acts 2:23). It has been attempted to construe a peculiar form of the divine knowledge, which would relate to this class of acts specifically, the so-called scientia media, to be distinguished from the scientia necessaria, which has for its object God Himself, and the scientia libera which terminates upon the certainties of the world outside of God, as determined by His freewill. This scientia media would then be based on God’s foresight of the outcome of the free choice of man. It would involve a knowledge of receptivity, a contribution to the sum total of what God knows derived from observation on His part of the world-process. That is to say, it would be knowledge a posteriori in essence, although not in point of time. It is, however, difficult to see how such a knowledge can be possible in God, when the outcome is psychologically undetermined and undeterminable. The knowledge could originate no sooner than the determination originates through the free decision of man. It would, therefore, necessarily become an a posteriori knowledge in time as well as in essence. The appeal to God’s eternity as bringing Him equally near to the future as to the present and enabling Him to see the future decisions of man’s free will as though they were present cannot remove this difficulty, for when once the observation and knowledge of God are made dependent on any temporal issue, the divine eternity itself is thereby virtually denied. Nothing remains but to recognize that God’s eternal knowledge of the outcome of the freewill choices of man implies that there enters into these choices, notwithstanding their free character, an element of predetermination, to which the knowledge of God can attach itself.

6. Religious Importance:

The divine omniscience is most important for the religious life. The very essence of religion as communion with God depends on His all-comprehensive cognizance of the life of man at every moment. Hence, it is characteristic of the irreligious to deny the omniscience of God (Psalms 10:11, 12; 94:7-9; Isaiah 29:15; Jeremiah 23:23; Ezekiel 8:12; 9:9). Especially along three lines this fundamental religious importance reveals itself:

(a) it lends support and comfort when the pious suffer from the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of men;

(b) it acts as a deterrent to those tempted by sin, especially secret sin, and becomes a judging principle to all hypocrisy and false security;

(c) it furnishes the source from which man’s desire for self-knowledge can obtain satisfaction (Psalms 19:12; 51:6; 139:23,24).


Oehler, Theologie des A T (3), 876; Riehm, Alttestamentliche Theologie, 263; Dillmann, Handbuch der alttestamentlichen Theologie, 249; Davidson, Old Testament Theology, 180 if.

Geerhardus Vos (3)

In closing; we will look at selections from the brilliant exposition on Omniscience by Gordon H. Clark:

Omniscience by Gordon H. Clark

…In the previous chapter, where the aim was to show that God created all things, the first step was to indicate that God had created this, and next that, and so on until we exhausted the list and could conclude that God created all things. Here too one could list the items that the Bible says God knows, and finally conclude that he knows all things. This procedure has some advantages. I had a devout and humble aunt, who when a girl had served a term as a missionary to the Mormons. Years later she advanced some theological opinions to her young nephew. God, she said, took care of the important things in the world, and even was attentive to the work of a young missionary; but God does not know what I am doing in my kitchen, she said, for this is too insignificant for him to notice. Undoubtedly this was humility; she did not think of herself more highly than she should. But her Arminian concept of God was far from what the Bible teaches. Humble she was; but she was humiliating God by supposing that he was so limited in his span of attention that he could not attend both to the important things and to the unimportant things as well. If, now, we should list the things the Bible says God knows, we could find out whether he knows what women do when they are in their kitchens.

But there is a better way to proceed, and the details will fall into place just the same. The procedure will be to show how the doctrine of creation relates to God’s knowledge, and how omnipresence and providence relate. With this information the nature of God’s knowledge can then be discussed.


There is a story about a visitor to Henry Ford’s auto plant in the early days. Mr. Ford himself escorted the visitor around. They stopped a moment to watch a foreman work on some interesting procedure. The visitor with Mr. Ford’s obvious approval asked the foreman some questions, which he answered satisfactorily. Then the visitor asked, how many separate parts are needed to complete a car? The foreman with slight disgust replied that he could think of no piece of information more useless. Mr. Ford moved on and quietly said, There are 927 (or whatever the number was) pieces.

If now a human inventor and manufacturer has an accurate knowledge of his product, is it surprising that the divine artificer should have an even more accurate knowledge of what he has made? Since God has created all things, we infer that God has a perfect knowledge of all his creation.

Though this is so plausible in itself, we need not rely on Mr. Ford for our theology. Analogies are sometimes deceptive, and we always need Scripture. There is Scripture to cover this point. In Psalm 139:2, 15, 16 David acknowledges that God knows him because God made him. The verses have other implications too, but here attention is directed to the idea that David was made, fashioned, curiously wrought, and all his members were catalogued. The verses are: “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest me though afar off. . . . My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. . . Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

Take another verse. Psalm 104:24 says, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all?” The construction of the parts of the universe is incredibly intricate, far more so than a Model T Ford. The wisdom and knowledge exhibited in these manifold works are beyond our imagination. Creation is then evidence of God’s omniscience. The same idea is found in many other verses. For example, Proverbs 3:19 says, “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up.” Again, Jeremiah 10:12 reads, “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.” No doubt there are dozens of such verses. These should be enough to show that the doctrine of creation presupposes the doctrine of divine omniscience. If some humble missionary aunt denies the latter, she must in consistency deny the former.

Next comes the idea of omnipresence. There may be some verse in the Bible that speaks only of God’s omnipresence; but all the others combine it with some other doctrine. Therefore, instead of giving a separate proof of the former, we shall combine omnipresence and omniscience in one set of references. The two omni’s go together.

The prophet Jeremiah says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (23:24). The reason that no one can escape the attention of God is that God is everywhere. He fills heaven and earth. What is present to him, he knows. And while the verse mentions only human beings who might wish to hide from him, the implication is that God knows everything because he is everywhere.

Although we often say that God is everywhere in the world, it might better be said that the world everywhere is in God. Acts 17:24-28 refers to creation, omnipresence, and by implication knowledge when it says, “God that made the world and all things therein . . . dwelleth not in temples made with hands”; and then when it adds that “in him we live and move and have our being,” we can infer that the “all things” of the earlier verse also have their being in God. Obviously God must know whatever is thus present to him or thus in his mind.

The well-known verses of Psalm 139 use the idea of omnipresence to enforce a lesson concerning God’s knowledge. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit . . . if I make my bed in hell, thou art there.” Not only in hell, but if I fry bacon and eggs in the kitchen, “even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

The same combination of ideas is found also in Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

As omnipresence and creation support omniscience, so also does providence. Creation and providence are combined in Nehemiah 9:6, where the next to the last phrase is, “Thou preservest them all.” Psalm 36:6 reads, “O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.” Speaking particularly about creeping things and beasts both small and great, Psalm 104:27 continues, “These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.” Other verses on providence will later be used more closely in conjunction with predestination; but here only one will now be added. In Matthew 6:32 Jesus says, “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”

This last verse which ties providence to knowledge is most appropriate. How could God exercise providence over all his creation unless he knew it all? Since the providence of God concerns the particulars of life, God must know these particulars. The word providence refers to God’s governance and control of the conditions under which man and beast and creeping things live; but etymologically providence is a matter of seeing or knowing.

If God’s governance of the world covers the distribution of eternal rewards and eternal punishment, though no verses will be quoted on this right here, and if merit and sin depend in part on the thoughts and intentions of the heart, that is, on men’s secret motivations, then this governance depends on God’s knowledge of men’s inmost thoughts. The Apostle tells us that “the Lord . . . will bring light to the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (I Cor. 4:5). All such considerations enforce the doctrine of omniscience.

An example of this is Peter’s confession, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17). This verse is particularly to the point. Christ knows Peter’s heart because he knows all things. The condition of Peter’s love was not just some accidental bit of information that Jesus happened to have. Jesus was Lord, Jehovah, God, and he knew Peter’s love because he was omniscient. With this one may compare John 2:24-25, “He knew all men, and needed not that anyone should testify of man, for he knew what was in man.” These last two quotations are often used to prove the deity of Christ; but note that they do so on the basis that God is omniscient.


The various considerations now set forth can be summarized and enforced by other verses of general application. The Scriptures teach that God is a God of knowledge. The words of I Samuel 2:3 are, “The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is the Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.”

In case a reader thinks that all this belabors the obvious, it is to be noted that some ministers and theologians have become so confused about predestination that they have denied omniscience. It may be that later on this reader will be tempted to suppose that there are some things God does not and cannot know. Attributing ignorance to God enables us to escape some objections to predestination; but this escape costs the sovereignty, the omniscience, the wisdom, even the deity of God. Therefore the purpose of “belaboring the obvious,” of heaping up the scriptural material on God’s knowledge, is to prevent any such disastrous misunderstanding of predestination. The reader should ask himself, Does not the preceding material, plus the details about to follow, show fully and completely that God knows everything?

It is hard to say whether people who have difficulty with predestination are more troubled with God’s foreknowledge of the thoughts and intents of man’s heart or with his knowledge of non-human details. The latter are not so important to us as the former, but nevertheless one paragraph at least should be inserted somewhere to show God’s knowledge of inanimate particulars. One such item is God’s knowledge of the starry host of heaven. This knowledge is mentioned several times in the Bible. For example, God brought Abraham into the open and said, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them” (Gen. 15:5). What Abraham could not do (for Jeremiah 33:22 says, “The host of heaven cannot be numbered” by man at any rate) God can do, for “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). To this verse, add “He calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power” (Isaiah 40:26).

It is interesting to note in this last phrase that God’s knowledge seems dependent on his power. In the next sub-section on the nature of God’s knowledge, this will be discussed. At the moment it is sufficient to end this short summary by concluding that the Bible most clearly teaches that God knows all things.


In the discussion on providence, just above, it was said that the word etymologically refers to seeing things, and more definitely refers to seeing things ahead of time. John 6:64 says, “But there are some of you that believe not; for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” The phrase “from the beginning” might mean only from the time these people began to follow him. Or, it might mean from the beginning of man’s history. Or it might mean from eternity, in the same sense in which the Apostle says, “In the beginning was the Word.” Since the Old Testament prophesies that Christ should be betrayed, it would seem that this knowledge antedated Judas’ birth. When compared with other verses, this one most probably means that Jesus knew from all eternity. God’s knowledge is eternal.

If God’s knowledge were not eternal, then he must have learned something at some time. And if he learned it, he must have previously been ignorant of it. And if he had been ignorant and learned something, why could he not forget some things after a while?

However, God neither learns nor forgets. “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). I Corinthians 2:11 says, “What man knows the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” This verse indicates, what is otherwise not surprising, that God knows himself; and if God is eternal and uncreated, the original Self Existent, then his knowledge of himself must be eternal.

The phrase that refers to God as “declaring the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10), and the verse “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18) indicate the eternity of divine knowledge. If anyone should insist that the words “from the beginning of the world” push back God’s knowledge only to the date of creation, a reply has already been noted in God’s knowledge of himself and in his eternal freedom from ignorance. Another reply will be given at the beginning of the next chapter.

Perhaps a verse should be included to show that God is eternal. If he were not eternal, then of course his knowledge would not be eternal. Now, the doctrine of creation ex nihilo presupposes the eternity of God, but a particular verse is “The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” (Isa. 57:15); as also Genesis 21:33, “the everlasting God”; Psalm 90:2, “even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God”; Psalm 102:26-27, “They shall perish . . . but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end”; and I Timothy 1:17, “the King eternal.”

At the end of the last sub-section there was a verse connecting God’s knowledge with his power. He knows because he is omnipotent. In fact, there are several verses that connect God’s knowledge and his power. This is to be expected if we keep in mind that God and his power are eternal. When as yet there was nothing, and only God existed, God knew all things. Obviously this knowledge came out of or resided in himself. He could not have derived it from anything else, for there was nothing else. It was really self-knowledge, for his knowledge of the universe was his knowledge of his own intentions, his own mind, his own purposes and decisions.

In philosophical language this means that God’s knowledge is not empirical. He does not discover the truth. He always has the truth. The point is rather important, and it has important bearings on predestination. Let us say it over again for one more paragraph.

If God is indeed as the Bible describes him, with eternal self-knowledge, by which he creates and controls every particular in the world, obviously God’s knowledge depends on himself and not on created things. God’s knowledge is self-originated; he does not learn from any outside source. Note that Proverbs 8:22 says, “The Lord possessed me from the beginning of his way.” And the idea is repeated and reinforced in the immediately following verses. This shows that God did not learn about me from observing me. It does not say that God knows me from the beginning of my way, but from the beginning of his way. So too Isaiah 40:13 says, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel and who instructed him . . . and taught him knowledge.” Therefore God is the source of his omniscience. He does not learn from things: his knowledge depends on himself alone and is as eternal as he is.…

This simple escape is simply an escape from God and the Bible. The verses selected for this chapter are only a few that could have been used to show that God knows everything; but they are more than enough to make the point. No one can now deny that the Bible teaches God’s omniscience. But as has just slightly been seen in the last paragraph, these verses yield further implications, which with the help of additional passages will take us the next step on our way. It has to do with God’s eternal decree. (4)

Gordon H. Clark, at the time he wrote this article, was professor philosophy at Butler University, and since 1945, head of that department. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and earned his Ph.D. at that institution, continuing his graduate studies in the Sorbonne, Paris. Prior to his appointment at Butler University, Dr. Clark taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Wheaton College.

Dr. Clark’s major publications include: A Christian Philosophy of Education, A Christian View of Men and Things, What Presbyterians Believe, Thales to Dewey, James and Dewey (Modern Thinkers Series), The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God, Peter Speaks Today, Karl Barth’s Theological Method, and Religion, Reason and Revelation. In 1968, Ronald H. Nash edited The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark, a Festschrift in his honor. Dr. Clark is the editor of the University Series (Philosophical Studies) of the Craig Press.

A web site dedicated to Gordon H. Clark is listed below and well as the Trinity Foundation that published many books by Gordon H. Clark.

Surely, man cannot claim to share this attribute!

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (Psalms 147:5)

The goal of this study is to help us magnify the Lord God for his marvelous grace that made us children of God through no merit of our own. It is my prayer that this goal has been attained.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Nothing in us caused or merited this supreme act of love on God’s part!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1650-1651.

2. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 520.

3. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘OMNISCIENCE,’” “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2191-2192.

4. Gordon H. Clark, Predestination chapter on Omniscience, (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 1969), p. 31-46.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes:

** CARM Theological Dictionary:

Omniscience by C. H. Spurgeon:

The Omniscience of God by John Gill:

The Gordon H. Clark Foundation

The Trinity Foundation

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Omnipotence, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes

Omnipotence, a study in God’s Incommunicable Attributes by Jack Kettler

The incommunicable attributes of God are those that belong to God alone. For example, such attributes as omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence are incommunicable. These attributes are distinct from God’s communicable attributes such as knowledge, creativity, love, forgiveness. Man can share in the communicable attributes whereas the incommunicable attributes, he cannot.

In this study we will focus on God’s Omnipotence. How can omnipotence be defined?

That perfection of God whereby he has the power to execute his will; his infinite power by which he has the ability to do everything that is possible except for those acts that are contrary to his nature.*

An attribute of God alone. It is the quality of having all power (Psalms 115:3). He can do all things that do not conflict with His holy nature. God has the power to do anything He wants to. **

From Scripture, God’s Omnipotence is seen in the following verses:

“I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” (Job 42:2)

“These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” (Psalms 50:21)

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” (Psalms 90:2)

“For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.” (Psalms 96:5)

“They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Psalms 102:26-27)

“Ah Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee. (Jeremiah 32:17)

“I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter the city.” (Hosea 11:9)

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

“All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3)

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

The Triune God and Omnipotence:

All three members of the triune God have the attribute of omnipotence. For example, all three are all powerful: the Father in Jeremiah 32:27. The Son in Matthew 28:18 and the Holy Spirit in Romans 15:19.

Digging deeper from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

Omnipotent * For OMNIPOTENT (Revelation 19:6) See Almighty

[1, G3841, pantokrator] almighty, or ruler of all” (pas, “all,” krateo, “to hold, or to have strength”), is used of God only, and is found, in the Epistles, only in 2 Corinthians 6:18, where the title is suggestive in connection with the context; elsewhere only in the Apocalypse, nine times. In one place, Revelation 19:6, the AV has “omnipotent;” RV, “(the Lord our God,) the Almighty.” The word is introduced in the Sept. as a translation of “Lord (or God) of hosts,” e.g., Jeremiah 5:14; Amos 4:13. (1)

Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 4 focuses on God’s power or Omnipotence:

Q: What is God?

A: God is a Spirit, 1 infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, 2 wisdom, 3 power, 4 holiness, 5 justice, 6 goodness, 7 and truth.8

1. John 4:24. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

2. Psalm 90:2. From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God; Malachi 3:6. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore are ye sons of Jacob not consumed; James 1:17. The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ; 1 Kings 8:27. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? ; Jeremiah 23:24. Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord. ; Isaiah 40:22. It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.

3. Psalm 147:5. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. ; Romans 16:27. To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

4. Genesis 17:1. And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. ; Revelation 19:6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

5. Isaiah 57:15. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. ; John 17:11. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are. ; Revelation 4:8. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they werefull of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

6. Deuteronomy 32:4. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

7. Psalm 100:5. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. ; Romans 2:4. Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

8. Exodus 34:6. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. ; Psalm 117:2. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord.

Point number four is highlighted because it lists the scriptural proof texts for God’s Omnipotence.

Commentary Evidence from an Old Testament passage:

Jeremiah 32:17; from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:

Ah Lord God! Which the Vulgate Latin version repeats three times, “Ah, ah, ah”, as being greatly distressed with the trouble that was coming upon his people; and, it may be, not without some doubts and temptations about their deliverance; or, at least, was pressed in his mind with the difficulties and objections started by the Jews that were with him in the court:

behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm; with great propriety is the making of the heaven and the earth ascribed to the mighty power of God; for nothing short of almighty power could have produced such a stupendous work as the heavens, with all the host of them, sun, moon, and stars, the terraqueous globe, the earth and sea, with all that in them are; and all this produced out of nothing, by the sole command and word of God: and with great pertinency does the prophet begin his prayer with such a description of God; both to encourage and strengthen his faith in him touching the fulfilment of the above prophecy, and to stop the mouths of the Jews, who objected the impossibility of it: wherefore it follows,

and there is nothing too hard for thee; or “hidden from thee” (z); so the Targum; which his wisdom and knowledge did not reach, or his power could not effect: or which is “too wonderful for thee” (a); there is nothing that has so much of the wonderful in it, as to be above the compass of his understanding, and out of the reach of his power, as such things be, which are beyond the power and skill of men; but there is no such thing with God, whose understanding is unsearchable, and his power irresistible; with him nothing is impossible; and who can think there is that observes that the heaven and earth are made by him?

(z) “non est absconditum a te quicquam”, Pagninus; “non potest occultari tibi ulla res”, Junius & Tremellius. (a) “Non mirabile est prae te ullun verbum”, Schmidt; “non est ulla res abscondita a te, sive mirabile”, Calvin; “non mirificabitur a te ullum verbum”, Montanus. (2)

Commentary Evidence from a New Testament passage:

Revelation 1:8; from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

I am Alpha and Omega – These are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, and denote properly the first and the last. So in Revelation 22:13, where the two expressions are united, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” So in Revelation 1:17, the speaker says of himself, “I am the first and the last.” Among the Jewish rabbis it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Thus, it is said, “Adam transgressed the whole law, from ‘Aleph (א) to Taw (תּ).” “Abraham kept the whole law, from ‘Aleph (א) to Taw (תּ).” The language here is what would properly denote “eternity” in the being to whom it is applied, and could be used in reference to no one but the true God. It means that he is the beginning and the end of all things; that he was at the commencement, and will be at the close; and it is thus equivalent to saying that he has always existed, and that he will always exist. Compare Isaiah 41:4, “I the Lord, the first, and with the last”; Isaiah 44:6, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God”; Isaiah 48:12, “I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” There can be no doubt that the language here would be naturally understood as implying divinity, and it could be properly applied to no one but the true God. The obvious interpretation here would be to apply this to the Lord Jesus; for:

(a) it is he who is spoken of in the verses preceding, and

(b) there can be no doubt that the same language is applied to him in Revelation 1:11.

As there is, however, a difference of reading in this place in the Greek text, and as it can. not be absolutely certain that the writer meant to refer to the Lord Jesus specifically here, this cannot be adduced with propriety as a proof-text to demonstrate his divinity. Many mss., instead of “Lord,” κυρίος kurios, read “God,” Θεὸς Theos and this reading is adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, and Hahn, and is now regarded as the correct reading. There is no real incongruity in supposing, also, that the writer here meant to refer to God as such, since the introduction of a reference to him would not be inappropriate to his manifest design. Besides, a portion of the language used here, “which is, and was, and is to come,” is what would more naturally suggest a reference to God as such, than to the Lord Jesus Christ. See Revelation 1:4. The object for which this passage referring to the “first and the last – to him who was, and is, and is to come,” is introduced here evidently is, to show that as he was clothed with omnipotence, and would continue to exist through all ages to come as he had existed in all ages past, there could be no doubt about his ability to execute all which it is said he would execute.

Saith the Lord – Or, saith God, according to what is now regarded as the correct reading.

Which is, and which was, – See the notes on Revelation 1:4.

The Almighty – An appellation often applied to God, meaning that he has all power, and used here to denote that he is able to accomplish what is disclosed in this book. (3)

The Best Gem for last:

OMNIPOTENCE from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:


1. Terms and Usage:

The noun “omnipotence” is not found in the English Bible, nor any noun exactly corresponding to it in the original Hebrew or Greek

The adjective “omnipotent” occurs in Revelation 19:6 the King James Version; the Greek for this, pantokrator, occurs also in 2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:15; 21:22 (in all of which the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) render “almighty”). It is also found frequently in the Septuagint, especially in the rendering of the divine names Yahweh tsebha’oth and ‘El Shadday. In pantokrator, the element of “authority,” “sovereignty,” side by side with that of “power,” makes itself more distinctly felt than it does to the modern ear in “omnipotent,” although it is meant to be included in the latter also. Compare further ho dunatos, in Luke 1:49.

2. Inherent in Old Testament Names of God:

The formal conception of omnipotence as worked out in theology does not occur in the Old Testament. The substance of the idea is conveyed in various indirect ways. The notion of “strength” is inherent in the Old Testament conception of God from the beginning, being already represented in one of the two divine names inherited by Israel from ancient Semitic religion, the name ‘El. According to one etymology it is also inherent in the other, the name ‘Elohim, and in this case the plural form, by bringing out the fullness of power in God, would mark an approach to the idea of omnipotence.


In the patriarchal religion the conception of “might” occupies a prominent place, as is indicated by the name characteristic of this period, ‘El Shadday; compare Genesis 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:24,25; Exodus 6:3. This name, however, designates the divine power as standing in the service of His covenant-relation to the patriarchs, as transcending Nature and overpowering it in the interests of redemption.

Another divine name which signalizes this attribute is Yahweh tsebha’oth, Yahweh of Hosts. This name, characteristic of the prophetic period, describes God as the King surrounded and followed by the angelic hosts, and since the might of an oriental king is measured by the splendor of his retinue, as of great, incomparable power, the King Omnipotent (Psalms 24:10; Isaiah 2:12; 6:3,5; 8:13; Jeremiah 46:18; Malachi 1:14).

Still another name expressive of the same idea is ‘Abhir, “Strong One,” compounded with Jacob or Israel (Genesis 49:24; Psalms 132:2, 5; Isaiah 1:24; 49:26; 60:16). Further, ‘El Gibbor, “God-Hero” (Isaiah 9:6 (of the Messiah); compare for the adjective gibbor, Jeremiah 20:11); and the figurative designation of God as Tsur, “Rock,” occurring especially in the address to God in the Psalter (Isaiah 30:29, the King James Version “Mighty One”). The specific energy with which the divine nature operates finds expression also in the name ‘El Chay, “Living God,” which God bears over against the impotent idols (1 Samuel 17:26, 36; 2 Kings 19:4, 16; Psalms 18:46; Jeremiah 23:36; Daniel 6:20, 26). An anthropomorphic description of the power of God is in the figures of “hand,” His “arm,” His “finger.”

See GOD.

3. Other Modes of Expression:

Some of the attributes of Yahweh have an intimate connection with His omnipotence. Under this head especially God’s nature as Spirit and His holiness come under consideration. The representation of God as Spirit in the Old Testament does not primarily refer to the incorporealness of the divine nature, but to its inherent energy. The physical element underlying the conception of Spirit is that of air in motion, and in this at first not the invisibility but the force forms the point of comparison. The opposite of “Spirit” in this sense is “flesh,” which expresses the weakness and impotence of the creature over against God (Isaiah 2:22; 31:3).

The holiness of God in its earliest and widest sense (not restricted to the ethical sphere) describes the majestic, specifically divine character of His being that which evokes in man religious awe. It is not a single attribute coordinated with others, but a peculiar aspect under which all the attributes can be viewed, that which renders them distinct from anything analogous in the creature (1 Samuel 2:2; Hosea 11:9). In this way holiness becomes closely associated with the power of God, indeed sometimes becomes synonymous with divine power equals omnipotence (Exodus 15:11; Numbers 20:12), and especially in Ezk, where God’s “holy name” is often equivalent to His renown for power, hence, interchangeable with His “great name” (Ezekiel 36:20-24). The objective Spirit as a distinct hypostasis and the executive of the Godhead on its one side also represents the divine power (Isaiah 32:15; Matthew 12:28; Luke 1:35; 4:14; Acts 10:38; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:4).

4. Unlimited Extent of the Divine Power:

In all these forms of expression a great and specifically divine power is predicated of God. Statements in which the absolutely unlimited extent of this power is explicitly affirmed are rare. The reason, however, lies not in any actual restriction placed on this power, but in the concrete practical form of religious thinking which prevents abstract formulation of the principle. The point to be noticed is that no statement is anywhere made exempting aught from the reach of divine power. Nearest to a general formula come such statements as nothing is “too hard for Yahweh” (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17); or “I know that thou canst do everything?” or “God …. hath done whatever he pleased” (Psalms 115:3; 135:6), or, negatively, no one “can hinder” God, in carrying out His purpose (Isaiah 43:13), or God’s hand is not “waxed short” (Numbers 11:23); in the New Testament:

“With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27); “Nothing is impossible with God” (the Revised Version (British and American) “No word from God shall be void of power,” Luke 1:37). Indirectly the omnipotence of God is implied in the effect ascribed to faith (Matthew 17:20 “Nothing shall be impossible unto you”; Mark 9:23 “All things are possible to him that believeth”), because faith puts the divine power at the disposal of the believer. On its subjective side the principle of inexhaustible power finds expression in Isaiah 40:28: God is not subject to weariness. Because God is conscious of the unlimited extent of His resources nothing is marvelous in His eyes (Zechariah 8:6).

5. Forms of Manifestation:

It is chiefly through its forms of manifestation that the distinctive quality of the divine power which renders it omnipotent becomes apparent. The divine power operates not merely in single concrete acts, but is comprehensively related to the world as such. Both in Nature and history, in creation and in redemption, it produces and controls and directs everything that comes to pass. Nothing in the realm of actual or conceivable things is withdrawn from it (Amos 9:2, 3; Daniel 4:35); even to the minutest and most recondite sequences of cause and effect it extends and masters all details of reality (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7). There is no accident (1 Samuel 6:9; compare with \1Sa 6:12; Pr 16:33\). It need not operate through second causes; it itself underlies all second causes and makes them what they are.

It is creative power producing its effect through a mere word (Genesis 1:3; Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalms 33:9; Romans 4:17; Hebrews 1:3; 11:30). Among the prophets, especially Isaiah emphasizes this manner of the working of the divine power in its immediateness and suddenness (Isaiah 9:8; 17:13; 18:4-6; 29:5). All the processes of nature are ascribed to the causation of Yahweh (Job 5:9; 9:5; 3948/A>; Isaiah 40:12; Amos 4:13; 5:8, 9; 9:5, 6); especially God’s control of the sea is named as illustrative of this (Psalms 65:7; 104:9; Isaiah 50:2; Jeremiah 5:22; 31:35). The Old Testament seldom says “it rains” (Amos 4:7), but usually God causes it to rain (Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:17; 1 Samuel 12:17; Job 36:27; 6548/A>; Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17).

The same is true of the processes of history. God sovereignly disposes, not merely of Israel, but of all other nations, even of the most powerful, e.g. the Assyrians, as His instruments for the accomplishment of His purpose (Amos 1:1-2:3; 9:7; Isaiah 10:5,15; 28:2; 45:1; Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10). The prophets ascribe to Yahweh not merely relatively greater power than to the gods of the nations, but His power extends into the sphere of the nations, and the heathen gods are ignored in the estimate put upon His might (Isaiah 31:3).

Even more than the sphere of Nature and history, that of redemption reveals the divine omnipotence, from the point of view of the supernatural and miraculous. Thus Exodus 15 celebrates the power of Yahweh in the wonders of the exodus. It is God’s exclusive prerogative to do wonders (Job 5:9; 9:10; Psalms 72:18); He alone can make “a new thing” (Numbers 16:30; Isaiah 43:19; Jeremiah 31:22). In the New Testament the great embodiment of this redemptive omnipotence is the resurrection of believers (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24) and specifically the resurrection of Christ (Romans 4:17, 21, 24; Ephesians 1:19); but it is evidenced in the whole process of redemption (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Romans 8:31; Ephesians 3:7, 20; 1 Peter 1:5; Revelation 11:17).

6. Significance for Biblical Religion:

The significance of the idea may be traced along two distinct lines. On the one hand the divine omnipotence appears as a support of faith. On the other hand it is productive of that specifically religious state of consciousness which Scripture calls “the fear of Yahweh.” Omnipotence in God is that to which human faith addresses itself. In it lies the ground for assurance that He is able to save, as in His love that He is willing to save (Psalms 65:5, 6; 72:18; 118:14-16; Ephesians 3:20).

As to the other aspect of its significance, the divine omnipotence in itself, and not merely for soteriological reasons, evokes a specific religious response. This is true, not only of the Old Testament, where the element of the fear of God stands comparatively in the foreground, but remains true also of the New Testament. Even in our Lord’s teaching the prominence given to the fatherhood and love of God does not preclude that the transcendent majesty of the divine nature, including omnipotence, is kept in full view and made a potent factor in the cultivation of the religious mind (Matthew 6:9). The beauty of Jesus’ teaching on the nature of God consists in this, that He keeps the exaltation of God above every creature and His loving condescension toward the creature in perfect equilibrium and makes them mutually fructified by each other. Religion is more than the inclusion of God in the general altruistic movement of the human mind; it is a devotion at every point colored by the consciousness of that divine uniqueness in which God’s omnipotence occupies a foremost place.


Oehler, Theologie des A T (3), 131, 139; Riehm, Alttestamentliche Theologie, 250; Dillmann, Handbuch der alttestamentlichen Theologie, 244; Davidson, Old Testament Theology, 163; Konig, Geschichte der alttestamentlichen Religion, 127, 135, 391, 475.

Geerhardus Vos (4)

In closing:

Surely, man cannot claim to share this attribute:

“They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Psalms 102:26-27)

The goal of this study is to help us magnify the Lord God for his marvelous grace that made us children of God through no merit of our own. It is my prayer that this goal has been attained.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Nothing in us caused or merited this supreme act of love on God’s part!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), p. 40.

2. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Jeremiah, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 520.

3. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Revelation, p. 4980-4981.

4. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘OMNIPOTENCE,’” “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2188-2190.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

For more study:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes:

** CARM Theological Dictionary:

Omnipotence by Herman Bavinck

The Omnipotence of God by John Gill

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Glorification, a Study in God’s Grace

Glorification, a Study in God’s Grace by Jack Kettler

In this study we will look at the doctrine of the glorification of the believer. The doctrine of glorification and the resurrection are closely related. Everyone at the last day will be resurrected. Not everyone will be glorified.


The final step in the experience of the salvation process and in the application of redemption to believers, in which, at the return of Christ, the bodies of those believers who have died will be raised and reunited with their souls, and the bodies of all those believers still living will be transformed into resurrection bodies like the resurrection body of Christ, so that all believers will be perfectly conformed to the image of the risen and glorified Christ.*

Scriptural Hope:

“Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)

There are three things to note about Romans 8:30. First, the believer is “called” (through the preaching of the gospel). Second, the believer is “justified” (or declared righteous in Christ). Third, the believer is “glorified” (or transformed). Glorification is still in the future. Like, calling and justification, glorification is an act of God’s grace, meaning unmerited.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible is also helpful on this text:

“Moreover … – In this verse, in order to show to Christians the true consolation to be derived from the fact that they are predestinated, the apostle states the connection between that predestination and their certain salvation. The one implied the other.

Whom he did predestinate – All whom he did predestinate.

Them he also called – Called by his Spirit to become Christians. He called, not merely by an external invitation, but in such a way as that they in fact were justified. This cannot refer simply to an external call of the gospel, since those who are here said to be called are said also to be justified and glorified. The meaning is, that there is a certain connection between the predestination and the call, which will be manifested in due time. The connection is so certain that the one infallibly secures the other.

He justified – See the note at Romans 3:24. Not that he justified them from eternity, for this was not true; and if it were, it would also follow that he glorified them from eternity, which would be an absurdity. It means that there is a regular sequence of events – the predestination precedes and secures the calling; and the calling precedes and secures the justification. The one is connected in the purpose of God with the other; and the one, in fact, does not take place without the other. The purpose was in eternity. The calling and justifying in time.

Them he also glorified – This refers probably to heaven. It means that there is a connection between justification and glory. The one does not exist without the other in its own proper time; as the calling does not subsist without the act of justification. This proves, therefore, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. There is a connection infallible and ever existing between the predestination and the final salvation. They who are subjects of the one are partakers of the other. That this is the sense is clear,

(1) Because it is the natural and obvious meaning of the passage.

(2) Because this only would meet the design of the argument of the apostle. For how would it be a source of consolation to say to them that whom God foreknew he predestinated, and whom he predestinated he called, and whom he called he justified, and whom he justified “might fall away and be lost forever?” (1)

In the next text from Corinthians, the Apostle Paul informs us of the nature of the resurrection. This instruction from Paul is regarding believers:

“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)

The writer of Hebrews give assurance that all of the godly will be resurrected into glory:

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Job confesses his faith in the resurrection and meeting the redeemer:

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27)

The Apostle Paul says this:

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary is edifying on this passage:

This change will be on the sudden, in a moment; either upon the will and command of Christ, which shall be as effectual to call persons out of their graves, as a trumpet is to call persons together; or rather, upon a sound made like to the sound of a trumpet, as it was at the giving of the law upon Sinai, Exodus 19:16. We read of this last trump, Matthew 24:31 1 Thessalonians 4:16. There shall (saith the apostle) be such a sound made; and upon the making of it, the saints, that are dead, shall be raised out of their graves; not with such bodies as they carried thither, (which were corruptible), but with such bodies as shall be no more subject to corruption; and those who at that time shall be alive, shall one way or another be changed, and be also put into an incorruptible state. (2)

As said at the beginning, not everyone that is resurrected will be unto glory:

“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2

Confessional agreement:

From The Heidelberg Catechism, Question 57:

Question 57. What comfort does the “resurrection of the body” afford thee?

Answer: That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head;1 but also, that this my body, raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.2

(1) Luke 23:43. Phil 1:21-23. (2) 1 Cor. 15:53, 54. Job 19:25-27. I John 3:2.

From The Heidelberg Catechism, Question 58:

Question 58. What comfort do we have from the article of “life everlasting”?

Answer: That, inasmuch as I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,1 I shall after this life possess complete bliss, such as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man,2 therein to praise God forever.3

(1) 2 Cor. 5:2, 3. (2) 1 Cor. 2:9. (3) John 17:3. * Rom 8:23. * 1 Pet 1:8.

The reader is encouraged to look up and read the scriptural proof texts for the answers of questions 57 and 58.

From The Apostle’s Creed:

“I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Note: the creed is called the Apostle’s ‘creed not because the apostles wrote it, but because it summarized the apostles teaching. At the end of the Apostles Creed it is proclaimed “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” This formulation contains in short the essential component of the Christian’s confidence about the resurrection of the body.

In closing:

How can the teaching of glorification and the resurrection be explicated and summarized? The Scottish theologian John Murray will help.

From Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray:

1. Glorification is associated and bound up with the coming of Christ in glory. The advent of Christ visibly, publicly, and gloriously does not appeal to a great many people who profess the name of Christ. It appears to them to be too naive for the more advanced and mature perspective of present-day Christians. This attitude is quite akin to that of which Peter warned his readers: “there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the Fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:3, 4). It is the same kind of unbelief which entertains doubt respecting the virgin birth of our Lord or denies the substitutionary atonement or spurns the thought of our Lord’s bodily and physical resurrection which can be indifferent to the glorious advent of our Lord on the clouds of heaven. And this unbelief becomes peculiarly aggravated when it scorns the very idea of a return of the Lord bodily, visibly, publicly. If that conviction and hope do not stand at the centre of our perspective for the future, it is because the barest outlines of our frame of thought are destitute of Christian character. The hope of the believer is centred in the coming of the Saviour again the second time without sin unto salvation. Paul calls this “the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13). The believer who knows him whom he has believed and loves him whom he has not seen says, “Amen, come Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). So indispensable is the coming of the Lord to the hope of glory that glorification for the believer has no meaning without the manifestation of Christ’s glory. Glorification is glorification with Christ. Remove the latter and we have robbed the glorification of believers of the one thing that enables them to look forward to this event with confidence, with joy unspeakable and full of glory. “But rejoice,” Peter wrote, “inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:13).

2. The glorification of believers is associated and bound up with the renewal of creation. It is not only believers who are to be delivered from the bondage of corruption but the creation itself also. “The creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it” (Rom. 8:20). But “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). And when will this glory of creation be accomplished? Paul leaves us in no doubt. He tells us expressly that the terminus of the groaning and travailing of creation, groaning and travailing because of the bondage of corruption, is nothing other than “the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). This is just saying that not only do believers wait for the resurrection as that which will bring the liberty of their glory but the creation itself is also waiting for this same event. And that for which it is waiting is that in which it will share, namely, “the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” This is Paul’s way of expressing the same truth which is elsewhere described as the new heavens and the new earth. In Peter’s words, “We according to his promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13). And Peter associates that cosmic regeneration with that which believers look for and hasten, “the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements being burned up shall melt” (2 Pet. 3:12) (3)

From the (old) International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE):


glo’-ri-fi: The English word is the equivalent of a number of Hebrew and Greek words whose essential significance is discussed more fully under the word GLORY (which see). The word “glorious” in the phrases “make or render glorious” is used most frequently as a translation of verbs in the original, rather than of genuine adjectives In dealing with the verb it will be sufficient to indicate the following most important uses.

(1) Men may glorify God, that is, give to Him the worship and reverence which are His due (Isa 24:15; 25:3; Ps 22:23; Dan 5:23; Sirach 43:30; Mt 5:16, and generally in the Synoptic Gospels and in some other passages of the New Testament).

(2) God, Yahweh (Yahweh), glorifies His people, His house, and in the New Testament, His Son, manifesting His approval of them and His interest in them, by His interposition on their behalf (Isa 55:5; Jer 30:19; The Wisdom of Solomon 18:8; Sirach 45:3; Jn 7:39, and often in the Fourth Gospel).

(3) By a usage which is practically confined to the Old Testament, Yahweh glorifies Himself, that is, secures the recognition of His honor and majesty, by His direction of the course of history, or by His interposition in history, either the history of His own people or of the world at large (Lev 10:3; Isa 26:15; Ezek 28:22; Hag 1:8). (4)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Romans, p. 2205.

2. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 598.

3. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wm. B. Eerdmans. 1955), pp. 177-178.

4. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. “Definition for ‘GLORIFY,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (ISBE), (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1915), p. 1235.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks. Available at:

For more study:

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at:

Rebecca Writes:

Those Whom He Justified He Also Glorified by John Piper

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