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Herman Bavinck – God: Knowable, Yet Incomprehensible

24 Apr
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1854-1921. Dutch Reformed Theologian and Churchman. Professor at Free University in Amsterdam.

God’s incomprehensibility, so far from canceling out God’s knowability, rather presupposes and affirms it. The riches of God’s being—riches that surpass all knowledge—are in fact a necessary and significant component of our knowledge of God. The fact remains that God makes himself known to us in the manner and measure in which he reveals himself in his creatures.

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2: God and Creation John Bolt and John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2004) p. 56.

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Geerhardus Vos – What Is God’s Self-Existence?

15 Apr

 

1014321817. What is God’s self-existence?

That attribute of God by which He is the self-sufficient ground of His own existence and being. Negatively expressed, independence says only what God is not. Self-existence is precisely the adequate affirmation here. Proof texts: Acts 17:25; John 5:26.

~Geerhardus Vos~






Reformed Dogmatics ed. Richard B. Gaffin and Richard de Witt, trans. Annemie Godbehere et al., vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013), 13.

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Herman Bavinck – The Cosmological, Teleological, Ontological, and Moral Arguments

10 Apr
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1854-1921. Dutch Reformed Theologian and Churchman. Professor at Free University in Amsterdam.

The cosmological argument attempts to deduce the existence of a cause from the demonstrable existence of an effect. This argument has some validity but fails to tell us anything about the character and nature of the cosmic cause. All we have is a self-existent, first, and absolute World-cause. The teleological argument, proceeding from the world’s order and beauty, takes us one step further to an intelligent cause that must be conscious. However, we still do not know whether this means one intelligent Being or several working in harmony. We are still not nearly at a knowledge of the God of Scripture.

The ontological argument, in its various forms, attempts to infer existence from thought. Our common sense recognizes that this argument is not true when it comes to creatures. Nonexistent beings can be conceived. With God matters are slightly different. Though we cannot convincingly demonstrate the reality of God from our ideas about God, it is true that whenever we do think about God we necessarily think of God existing. The benefit of this argument is that human beings are confronted with the choice of either trusting this necessary witness of their consciousness or else despairing of their own consciousness.

The moral argument infers the existence of a supreme and sovereign Lawgiver from moral phenomena such as human conscience, fear of death and judgment, repentance, and reward and punishment. While these phenomena are powerful witness to the enduring moral nature of even fallen humanity, they are less than a proof for the existence of a righteous and holy God. The same is true for the argument that proceeds from the universal reality of religion. This fact bears powerful witness to the existence, revelation, and knowability of God but cannot as such disprove the claim that it reflects a universal pathology of the human mind, a passing fancy or delusion. Finally, arguments based on the purposefulness of history presuppose what they claim to demonstrate. History is susceptible to different interpretations that are, in the final analysis, a matter of faith, not proof. The heart rather than the intellect is the final arbiter.

That must also be our judgment concerning these “proofs” in general. Even the term “proofs” is infelicitous. The cosmological, teleological, and moral testimony to God is not a matter of logical, mathematical proof but belongs to the category of moral and religious truth.

The proofs may augment and strengthen our faith, but they do not serve as its grounds. They are, rather, the consequences, the products of faith’s observation of the world. The proofs do not induce faith, and objections against them do not wreck it. They are, instead, testimonies by which God is able to strengthen already-given faith.

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2: God and Creation John Bolt and John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2004) p. 55-56.

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Matthew Henry – I Shall Behold Your Face

9 Apr

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgArise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, 14 from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. 15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. – Psalm 17:13–15.

He pleads his own dependence upon God as his portion and happiness. “They have their portion in this life, but as for me (v. 15) I am none of them, I have but little of the world. Nec habeo, nec careo, nec curo—I neither have, nor need, nor care for it. It is the vision and fruition of God that I place my happiness in; that is it I hope for, and comfort myself with the hopes of, and thereby distinguish myself from those who have their portion in this life.” Beholding God’s face with satisfaction may be considered, (1.) As our duty and comfort in this world. We must in righteousness (clothed with Christ’s righteousness, having a good heart and a good life) by faith behold God’s face and set him always before us, must entertain ourselves from day to day with the contemplation of the beauty of the Lord; and, when we awake every morning, we must be satisfied with his likeness set before us in his word, and with his likeness stamped upon us by his renewing grace. Our experience of God’s favour to us, and our conformity to him, should yield us more satisfaction than those have whose belly is filled with the delights of sense. 2. As our recompence and happiness in the other world. With the prospect of that he concluded the foregoing psalm, and so this. That happiness is prepared and designed only for the righteous that are justified and sanctified. They shall be put in possession of it when they awake, when the soul awakes, at death, out of its slumber in the body, and when the body awakes, at the resurrection, out of its slumber in the grave. That blessedness will consist in three things:—[1.] The immediate vision of God and his glory: I shall behold thy face, not, as in this world, through a glass darkly. The knowledge of God will there be perfected and the enlarged intellect filled with it. [2.] The participation of his likeness. Our holiness will there be perfect. This results from the former (1 Jn. 3:2): When he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. [3.] A complete and full satisfaction resulting from all this: I shall be satisfied, abundantly satisfied with it. There is no satisfaction for a soul but in God, and in his face and likeness, his good-will towards us and his good work in us; and even that satisfaction will not be perfect till we come to heaven.

~Matthew Henry~


Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 765.

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Thomas Boston – Three Unions In Our Religion

5 Apr
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1676-1732. A Scottish Church Leader. One of the twelve Marrow Men.

There are three mysterious unions in our religion. (1.) The substantial union of the three persons in one Godhead. (2.) The personal union of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ. (3.) The mystical union betwixt Christ and believers, which is that wherein Christ and believers, are so joined, that they are one Spirit, and one mystical body, 1 Cor. 6:17 and 12:13.





~Thomas Boston~






The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 1, ed. Samuel M‘Millan, vol. 1 (Aberdeen: George and Robert King, 1848), 546.

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Herman Bavinck – Where Proofs For God’s Existence Fit In

1 Apr

1854-1921. Dutch Reformed Theologian and Churchman. Professor at Free University in Amsterdam.

It is important, however, to make some distinction between implanted and acquired knowledge of God. In the former God’s revelation acts upon human consciousness, creating impressions and intuitions. In the case of the acquired knowledge of God, human beings reflect upon that revelation of God and seek by reasoning and proof to rise above impressions and intuitions to clearer ideas. This is the natural human desire to explain the how and why of our knowledge. This distinction must not be restricted to so-called natural theology in opposition to revealed theology. God reveals himself to us in his handiwork of creation, but even Christian believers depend on Scripture and the illumination of the Holy Spirit to truly know God the Creator. We are indebted to Scripture for both implanted and acquired knowledge.



This insight helps us to consider aright the so-called proofs for God’s existence, neither overestimating nor disdaining them. Christian theology accepts the support given to its convictions about God by pagan philosophy but judges these proofs within the doctrine of faith, not as preambles to it. Christian conviction about what can be known about God apart from special revelation is a valid natural theology. However, when this natural theology stands on its own and in a self-sufficient and rationalistic fashion sets aside the need for special revelation, it is an invalid and impious activity.



~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2: God and Creation John Bolt and John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2004) p. 54-55.

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John Calvin – Conviction of Scripture’s Superiority

28 Mar

1. Scripture is superior to all human wisdom
Unless this certainty, higher and stronger than any human judgment, be present, it will be vain to fortify the authority of Scripture by arguments, to establish it by common agreement of the church, or to confirm it with other helps. For unless this foundation is laid, its authority will always remain in doubt. Conversely, once we have embraced it devoutly as its dignity deserves, and have recognized it to be above the common sort of things, those arguments—not strong enough before to engraft and fix the certainty of Scripture in our minds—become very useful aids. What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed; the completely heavenly character of its doctrine, savoring of nothing earthly; the beautiful agreement of all the parts with one another—as well as such other qualities as can gain majesty for the writings.

~John Calvin~






Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volumes 1 & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011) Vol. 1.8.1. p. 81-82.

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Herman Bavinck – The Effort Involved In Unbelief

25 Mar

1854-1921. Dutch Reformed Theologian and Churchman. Professor at Free University in Amsterdam.

Belief in a personal God is both natural and normal; it arises in human consciousness spontaneously and universally. Unbelief requires enormous effort. There is no proof available to it.



~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2: God and Creation John Bolt and John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2004) p. 53.

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Herman Bavinck – The Theater of His Glory

19 Mar

1854-1921. Dutch Reformed Theologian and Churchman. Professor at Free University in Amsterdam.

All knowledge of God rests on revelation. Though we can never know God in the full richness of his being, he is known to all people through his revelation in creation, the theater of his glory. The world is never godless. In the end there are no atheists; there is only argument about the nature of God. The recognition is universal of a power greater than human beings themselves, to whom they owe piety.

~Herman Bavinck~




Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2: God and Creation John Bolt and John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2004) p. 53.

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Geerhardus Vos – God Alone Possesses Ideal Knowledge

17 Mar

It is also true that we do not have an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of God. All our knowledge, even with regard to created things, is in part. This is even truer of God. We only know Him insofar as He reveals Himself, that is, has turned His being outwardly for us. God alone possesses ideal knowledge of Himself and of the whole world, since He pervades everything with His omniscience.

~Geerhardus Vos~




Reformed Dogmatics ed. Richard B. Gaffin and Richard de Witt, trans. Annemie Godbehere et al., vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013), 8.

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