Calvary Road Baptist Church

December 21, 2014 - 319 West Olive Avenue, Monrovia, California 91016 (626) 357-2711

“YES, EVEN YOU”

Job 7.17; Psalm 8.3-4

There are wonderful times when God visits His will upon us in remarkable ways, bringing about our compliance by means we are sometimes not immediately aware of. I experienced such a visitation from God recently, and it was in the midst of that visitation that my understanding of what was happening to me was illuminated. Sometimes these visitations come in the form of physical suffering, pain that makes it impossible to actually do anything except sit and think, or recline and ponder. Such a time was recently visited upon me, a time of pretty dreadful pain. However, it ended up being a blessed time in which I could do nothing but think upon my God, His enormity, His infinity, His majesty, and then His Son. He blessed me in that way. Others sometimes experience such visitations that are accompanied by far more excruciating pain, of such intensity that they cannot think clearly, but can only pray. Interesting word only. It is much like the word just, in that it tends to diminish what it is connected with when it should not always be understood in that way. Do not think of only praying as if praying is a meaningless exercise or an activity of diminished importance, for that is not the case at all. When I say that someone can only pray, I mean that circumstances have been providentially arranged so that a believer can do nothing besides pray, with prayer being the singular focus of the Christian’s conscious effort to worship and honor God.

I was not in such pain that I could no longer think of many things, and therefore was reduced to the sole activity of praying. However, I was in enough pain that I could only sit still and think. Thus, I was just thinking. Not that thinking is an activity of little importance, but that other activities, more physical activities, were too painful to attempt. Therefore, I chose to sit and think, and my thoughts were directed to my God. It was time very well spent, that likely would not have been spent that way but for the pain. Do you ever focus your attention on the singular activity of thinking on God, thinking only on God, thinking exclusively about God? Perhaps your mind drifts to a contemplation of God when you lie down on the ground at night and look up into the nighttime sky. David spent many a night under the cloudless sky when he was a shepherd boy, and when there is no light pollution from technology or campfires the view can only be described as spectacular.

Perhaps David was reflecting back on his youth and those spectacular views which led him to contemplate God when he wrote Psalm 8.3-4:

3      When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4      What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

As he contemplated the work of God’s fingers, the moon and the stars that God ordained, David began to wonder about God in terms of himself, and in terms of mankind in general. Notice the question asked in verse 4: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” David actually makes use of a typical characteristic of Hebrew poetry here, called parallelism. He is asking the same essential question in two ways, wondering why God, being Who He is, pays any attention at all to us. If a young man’s thoughts in the wilderness at night while looking up into the sky turn to a consideration of God and then to the wonder of why such a God as He is would pay any attention to us, then it is somewhat more understandable to me why an old man in his suffering would wonder the same thing. It was in the midst of his terrible pain that Job’s mind settled upon a question so much like David’s, in Job 7.17: “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?” The question posed by young and fit David had to do with why God has an interest in us, and why He visits us in the ways He does. The question posed by suffering old Job was in essence the same; what is it about us that causes God to pay attention to us, to elevate us in importance, and to set His heart upon us?

     I have no intention of attempting to answer either David’s question or Job’s question this morning. I am not sure there are answers to their questions that are much more than philosophical speculations. However, what I choose to do is comment on the basis of both men’s questions, that God, God mind you, has an interest in us, an interest in you.

     This is a God-centered message from God’s Word, this morning. It begins and ends with God, though you and I are objects of the interest of the One of Whom I speak. Oh, how interesting we are to God, as I hope to make clear as we expand three considerations of God:

First, CONSIDER GOD AS INFINITE

Listen to what Charles Hodge wrote about God’s infinity.

Although God reveals Himself as a personal Being capable of fellowship with man, whom we can worship and love, and to whom we can pray with the assurance of being heard and answered; nevertheless He fills heaven and earth; He is exalted above all we can know or think. He is infinite in his being and perfections. The ideas with which we are most familiar are often those of which we are the least able to give an intelligent account. Space, time, and infinity, are among the most difficult problems of human thought. What is space? is a question which has never been satisfactorily answered. Some say it is nothing; where nothing is, space is not; it is “negation defined by boundary lines;” others, with Kant and Hamilton, say that it is “a condition of thought,” “the subjective condition of sensibility;” others that it is an attribute or accident of God; others that it is that in which real existences can act and move. Notwithstanding these conflicting statements of Philosophers, and the real obscurity of the subject, every man knows clearly and definitely what the word “space” means, although no man may be able to define it satisfactorily. It is much the same with the idea of infinity. If men would be content to leave the word in its integrity, as simply expressing what does not admit of limitation, there would be no danger in speculating about its nature. But in all ages wrong views of what the infinite is, have led to fatal errors in philosophy and religion. Without attempting to detail the speculations of philosophers on this subject, we shall simply endeavor to state what is meant when it is said that God is infinite in his being and perfections.

The Idea of Infinity not merely Negative.

Being, in this connection, is that which is or exists. The being of God is his essence or substance, of which his perfections are the essential attributes or modes of manifestation. When it is said that God is infinite as to his being, what is meant is, that no limitation can be assigned to his essence. It is often said that our idea of the infinite is merely negative. There is a sense in which this may be true, but there is a sense in which it is not true. It is true that the form of the proposition is negative when we say that no limit can be assigned to space, or possible duration, or to the being of God. But it implies the affirmation that the object of which infinity is predicated is illimitable. It is as much a positive idea which we express when we say a thing is infinite as when we say that it is finite. We cannot, indeed, form a conception or mental image of an infinite object, but the word nevertheless expresses a positive judgment of the mind. Sir William Hamilton and others, when they say that the infinite is a mere negation, mean that it implies a negation of all thought. That is, we mean nothing when we say that a thing is infinite. As we know nothing of the inhabitants of the other planets of our system, if such there be, or of the mode in which angels and disembodied spirits take cognizance of material objects, our ideas on such subjects are purely negative, or blank ignorance. “The infinite,” Mansel says, “is not a positive object of human thought.” Every man, however, knows that the propositions “Space is infinite,” and “Space is finite,” express different and equally definite thoughts. When, therefore, we say that God is infinite, we mean something; we express a great and positive truth.

A. The Infinite not the All.

The infinite, although illimitable and incapable of increase, is not necessarily all. An infinite body must include all bodies, infinite space all portions of space, and infinite duration all periods of duration. Hence Mr. Mansel says that an infinite being must of necessity include within itself all actual and all possible forms or modes of being. So said Spinoza, many of the schoolmen, and even many Christian theologians. The sense in which Spinoza and Mansel make this assertion is the fundamental principle of Pantheism. Mr. Mansel, as we have seen, escapes that conclusion by appealing to faith, and teaching that we are constrained to believe what reason pronounces to be impossible, which itself is an impossibility. The sense in which theologians teach that an infinite being must comprehend within it all being, is, that in the infinite is the cause or ground of all that is actual or possible. Thus Howe I says, “Necessary being must include all being.” But he immediately adds, not in the same way, “It comprehends all being, besides what itself is, as having had, within the compass of its productive power, whatsoever hath actually sprung from it; and having within the compass of the same power, whatsoever is still possible to be produced.” This, however, is not the proper meaning of the words, nor is it the sense in which they are generally used. What the words mean, and what they are generally intended to mean by those who use them is, that there is only one being in the universe; that the finite is merely the modus existendi, or manifestation of the Infinite. Thus Cousin says, God must be “infinite and finite together, . . . . at the summit of being and at its humblest degree . . . . ; at once God, nature, and humanity.” Even some of the Remonstrants regard this as the necessary consequence of the doctrine of the infinitude of the divine essence. Episcopius says, “Si essentia Dei sic immensa est, tum intelligi non potest quomodo et ubi aliqua creata essentia esse possit. Essentia enim creata non est essentia divina; ergo aut est extra essentiam divinam, aut, si non est extra eam, est ipsa essentia illa, et sic omnia sunt Deus et divina essentia.” “God is infinite,” says Jacob Böhme, “for God is all.” This, says Strauss, is exactly the doctrine of the modern philosophy.

It has already been remarked in a previous chapter, in reference to this mode of reasoning, that it proceeds on a wrong idea of the infinite. A thing may be infinite in its own nature without precluding the possibility of the existence of things of a different nature. An infinite spirit does not forbid the assumption of the existence of matter. There may even be many infinites of the same kind, as we can imagine any number of infinite lines. The infinite, therefore, is not all. An infinite spirit is a spirit to whose attributes as a spirit no limits can be set. It no more precludes the existence of other spirits than infinite goodness precludes the existence of finite goodness, or infinite power the existence of finite power. God is infinite in being because no limit can be assigned to his perfections, and because He is present in all portions of space. A being is said to be present wherever it perceives and acts. As God perceives and acts everywhere, He is everywhere present. This, however, does not preclude the presence of other beings. A multitude of men even may perceive and act at the same time and place. Besides, we have very little knowledge of the relation which spirit bears to space. We know that bodies occupy portions of space to the exclusion of other bodies; but we do not know that spirits may not coexist in the same portion of space. A legion of demons dwelt in one man.

B. Infinitude of God in relation to Space.

The infinitude of God, so far as space is concerned, includes his immensity and his omnipresence. These are not different attributes, but one and the same attribute, viewed under different aspects. His immensity is the infinitude of his being, viewed as belonging to his nature from eternity. He fills immensity with his presence. His omnipresence is the infinitude of his being, viewed in relation to his creatures. He is equally present with all his creatures, at all times, and in all places. He is not far from any one of us. “The Lord is in this place,” may be said with equal truth and confidence, everywhere. Theologians are accustomed to distinguish three modes of presence in space. Bodies are in space circumscriptively. They are bounded by it. Spirits are in space definitively. They have an ubi. They are not everywhere, but only somewhere. God is in space repletively. He fills all space. In other words, the limitations of space have no reference to Him. He is not absent from any portion of space, nor more present in one portion than in another. This of course is not to be understood of extension or diffusion. Extension is a property of matter, and cannot be predicated of God. If extended, He would be capable of division and separation; and part of God would be here, and part elsewhere. Nor is this omnipresence to be understood as a mere presence in knowledge and power. It is an omnipresence of the divine essence. Otherwise the essence of God would be limited. The doctrine, therefore, taught by the older Socinians that the essence of God is confined to heaven (wherever that may be), and that He is elsewhere only as to his knowledge and efficiency, is inconsistent with the divine perfections and with the representations of Scripture. As God acts everywhere, He is present everywhere; for, as the theologians say, a being can no more act where he is not than when he is not.

The older and later theologians agree in this view of the divine immensity and omnipresence. Augustine says God is not to be regarded as everywhere diffused, as the air or the light: “Sed in solo cœlo totus, et in sola terra totus, et in cœlo et in terra totus, et nullo contentus loco, sed in seipso ubique totus.” Thomas Aquinas says, Deus “est in omnibus per potentiam, in quantum omnia ejus potestati subduntur; est per præsentiam in omnibus, in quantum omnia nuda sunt et aperta oculis ejus. Est in omnibus per essentiam in quantum adest omnibus ut causa essendi sicut dictum est.” Quenstedt says, “Est Deus ubique illocaliter, impartibiliter, efficaciter; non definitive ut spiritus, non circumscriptive ut corpora, sed repletivé citra sui multiplicationem, extensionem, divisionem, inclusionem, aut commixtionem more modoque divino incomprehensibili.” The Bible teaches the infinitude of God, involving his immensity and omnipresence, in the clearest to He is said to fill all in all, i.e., the universe in all its parts. (Eph. i.23.) “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 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. (Jer. xxiii.23, 24.) “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Ps. cxxxix.7-12.) It is “in Him we (i.e., all creatures) live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts xvii.28.) Everywhere in the Old and in the New Testament, God is represented as a spiritual Being, without form, invisible, whom no man hath seen or can see; dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, and full of glory; as not only the creator, and preserver, but as the governor of all things; as everywhere present, and everywhere imparting life, and securing order; present in every blade of grass, yet guiding Arcturus in his course, marshalling the stars as a host, calling them by their names; present also in every human soul, giving it understanding, endowing it with gifts, working in it both to will and to do. The human heart is in his hands; and He turneth it even as the rivers of water are turned. Wherever, throughout the universe, there is evidence of mind in material causes, there, according to the Scriptures, is God, controlling and guiding those causes to the accomplishment of his wise designs. He is in all, and over all things; yet essentially different from all, being over all, independent, and infinitely exalted. This immensity and omnipresence of God, therefore, is the ubiquity of the divine essence, and consequently of the divine power, wisdom, and goodness. As the birds in the air and the fish in the sea, so also are we always surrounded and sustained by God. It is thus that He is infinite in his being, without absorbing all created beings into his own essence, but sustaining all in their individual subsistence, and in the exercise of their own powers.[1]

Is God infinite, limitless, without boundaries? You decide what you think God’s Word teaches. He created the universe and all that herein is, according to Genesis 1.1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is only the first of many such passages attesting to God’s creation of all things.[2] As well, He sustains the universe and all that herein is, according to First Corinthians 8.6 and Colossians 1.16. Thus, He is infinite and limitless with respect to His might, His power, His strength. Consider, next, His eternity. He is the eternal God, Deuteronomy 33.27, who gives eternal life, John 3.15. Therefore, being unbounded by time, not being limited in any way by time, He is therefore infinite with respect to time. I could go on, but you understand my point already. If there is no limit to God’s power, no limit to God’s expanse (which is to say, His immensity, since He is everywhere present), no limit to God’s time (that is, His eternity), you see in God’s Word that He shows Himself to be what we conceive to be infinite.

Next, CONSIDER GOD AS INFINITESIMAL

Though you might not immediately recognize this as a necessary corresponding attribute of God’s infinity, scripture does show that God’s infinity demands that He also be infinitesimal, that His presence, and His concerns, as well as His activities, extend to those minute details that seem to be too small for consideration, too unimportant to merit attention, or far too unworthy to command His interest.[3] Of course, that was what prompted the questions of both Job and later on David. Why would One so immense, so powerful, so measureless, and so utterly incomprehensible as God so very obviously is, from an appreciation of His handiwork, be concerned with small things? Yet, the fact remains that He is. The Bible teaches that God is the God of the very, very large and also the God of the very, very small.

A few days ago, on the recommendation of one of our church members, I rented and watched a sixty-three minute video titled “The Star Of Bethlehem.”[4] In that video an attorney, well-schooled in the rules of evidence, rehearsed his investigation of the star mentioned in Matthew’s gospel that led the wise men from the East to the town of Bethlehem, where they would find the Christ child.[5] Also contained in the movie, he rehearsed how he, during the course of his years’ long astronomical investigation, using state of the art orbital mechanics computer software, came to discover a number of other observable astronomical features that are verifiable by anyone alive today with an interest to do so, but which were recorded in God’s Word more than 3,000 years ago.

Of particular interest to me as it relates to God being the God of the infinitesimal, was the narrator’s observation that if the motions of the sun, the moon, and the rest of the heavenly bodies have been governed since creation by the natural laws that God has established over His physical universe, then the minute precision required to place the star of Bethlehem where the wise men could see it at just the right time, including the Bethlehem star appearing to them to stop and hold its position at just the right time, was the result of orbital impulses activated when those celestial bodies were first created. What astonishing attention to detail. That same God who threw the stars and galaxies into the midnight sky, not only concerned Himself with the infinitesimal details of orbital mechanics that would produce predictable and observable results thousands of years later when a star appeared over the little village of Bethlehem, but He also designed and fabricated a rotating electric motor found in every microscopic bacterium in the world that drives a flagella producing the motion of the bacteria.

Thus, though both Job and David knew that God was infinite, and concerned Himself with the creation and sustaining of this vast universe in which we live, they were unaware as pre technological men what details of existence at the microscopic level illustrated that God is also the God of the infinitesimal, attending to the details of His creation that are much smaller than you or I.

Finally, CONSIDER GOD AS INDIVIDUAL

He is the God of the large. He is the God of the small. However, He is also the God of each individual human being, meaning He is your God and He is my God. Therefore, Job’s and David’s wonder at God’s interest in me, or in you, or in any of us, is part of a pattern that we see with respect to every aspect of God’s creation. So what if we are a few bits of assembled dust on a tiny speck, in what seems to be an utterly insignificant solar system, in the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe?

This is not to deny that God’s interest in you and me is not qualitatively different than His interest in stars and galaxies, and bacteria and DNA, because it is. Keep in mind that God created us in His image and after His likeness, Genesis 1.27. Therefore, though the angels God created before He created Adam and Eve are more intelligent and more powerful than we are, only we, each of us, in some way bears God’s image.

Consider the 139th Psalm. Notice as I read how David’s words apply equally to you and me:

 

1      <> O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2      Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

3      Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

4      For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

5      Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

6      Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7      Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8      If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9      If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10    Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11    If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12    Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13    For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14    I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15    My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16    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.

Do you understand from this that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was for the salvation of individuals? Do you grasp that God’s interest is in you as an individual, and that it cannot be rightly construed by you or anyone else that He has no interest in your welfare? That Moravian pastor knew whereof he spoke when he asked a terrified John Wesley in the midst of a howling storm in the Atlantic if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.

God’s interest is in individuals. God’s interest is in you. Jesus Christ suffered the death of the cross for individuals. That is why the gospel is good news for individuals, because you can be saved from your sins through faith in the Son of God Who left heaven’s glory to provide for the salvation and forgiveness of individuals.

Is God infinite? If by infinite you mean He is limitless as to His eternity, He is limitless as to His power and might, He is limitless as to His size and immensity, He is limitless as to His wisdom and mercy and a whole host of other matters, then yes God is infinite. However, God is also infinitesimal. Job wondered how a God of such immensity could concern Himself with such tiny and minuscule creatures as you and me. David wondered the very same thing. With both men, their wonder found its expression in the form of questions.

“What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

and

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

What neither of those ancient men questioned, however, though what many in our day cannot seem to grasp, is that God is also individual. Job’s dealings with God were individual in that they were personal dealings. David’s dealings with God were individual in that they were personal dealings. However, many today either do not see God as a personal being or do not envision God dealing with them in a personal way.

My friend, God has been dealing with you as an individual since the moment of your conception in your mother’s womb. He has never not dealt with you in an individual way, yet you have never responded to Him in an individual way so long as you refuse to receive His Son, Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. It all boils down to this reality: The great big God, Who also tends to the very small details, has always dealt with you as an individual because He is infinite, infinitesimal, yet always and in every case individual. Yes, even you. Therefore, yes, even you are the object of God’s careful and interested attention, and you always have been. Yes, therefore, even you are the object of God’s loving concern. Will God, then, forgive your sins, adopt you into His family, grant you a place at His table should you come to Christ? Yes, even you.



[1] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Volume I, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Edition, reprinted from the edition originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), pages 380-385.

[2] Psalm 8.3; 33.6; 89.11-12; 102.25; 136.5; 146.6; Isaiah 40.21; 44.24; Jeremiah 10.12; 51.15; Zechariah 12.1; John 1.1-3; Acts 14.15; 17.24; Colossians 1.16-17; Hebrews 1.10; 11.3; Revelation 4.11; 10.6

[3] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 939.

[5] Matthew 2.2, 9-10



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