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Vos Group #65 — The Nature and Attributes of God

We turn to pp. 238–243 of Vos’s book, Biblical Theology, to speak about the Old Testament prophets and their understanding of the nature and attributes of God. Vos affirms that God is Spirit. This brings into view not that God is immaterial per se, as Vos notes, but rather the “energy of life in God.” This is critical to appreciate. That God is Spirit reminds us that while he is immutable in his being, he is impassible in his actions.

He acts, and his actions condition all that he acts upon, without he himself being mutually conditioned by that on which he acts. That is, God is pure act in the sense that he immutably and sovereignly acts in such a way that he is not acted upon, and in that action, changed by the creation on which and in which his actions terminate. Vos says in his Reformed Dogmatics, there is no time distinction in God, yet his acts fall in time. And they fall in time as the acts of an all-conditioning God, who is living and active, but in a way that he is not acted upon or changed by the creature.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that God is a Spirit, “infinite, eternal and unchangeable.” This helpfully distills the essence of what Vos is after. While immutable, God is active and living and all of his acts express his immutable being and purpose. So, a key here is that immutability and spirituality require one another: God is immutable in his life; immutable in his purposes; and his agency in creation expresses immutable but living and acting Trinitarian persons, who are exhaustively and entirely the one true God.

Isaiah 57:15 is a key text: “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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