The Doctrine of the Trinity

Chapter Summary of Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Book One, Chapter XIII – In Scripture From the Creation Onward, We Are Taught One Essence of God, Which Contains Three Persons

It is a curious assumption to think that one should expect to be capable of comprehending God by empirical sense experience alone. The Scriptures teach that he is an infinite, immeasurable spirit. Incorrectly interpreting biblical teachings regarding God’s attributes has been the root of many mis-apprehensions and heresies regarding the nature of God.

While the term “Trinity” is not itself found in Scripture it accurately and helpfully describes the clear biblical teaching of the unity of one essence in the plurality of three persons as the appropriate understanding of God as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Said another way, this doctrine can be said to teach that God is one in nature and three in substance.

In what largely amounts to a non-substantive quibbling over words, misunderstandings of this doctrine have led many dissenters to reject it altogether (Unitarians) and others to reject the term “Trinity” as polytheistic. Regarding the latter, one such group are the Modalists who reject the idea that God is three “persons”. Instead, they explain that the Scriptural instances of God being described as Father, Son and Spirit, are the various manifestations of God in human history based on what was being accomplished in his dealings with man. That is to say, God exists in three different modes depending on his necessary role or function, but ever remains one essence married to one person.

The writer to the Hebrews referred to the Son as “the exact imprint of the Father’s nature (hypostasis)” [1:3]. This statement assumes a distinction of subsistence between the Father and the Son as it would be a foolishness for Paul to state that the latter is the imprint if in fact the nature of both are one and the same. For the Son is a unique person (prosopa) or subsistence who contains the identical nature of the Father – the Word was always with God and the Word was God [John 1:1]. So, what Paul is teaching is that it is the hypostasis of the latter that is made visible in the former, just as he has described the Son not as being the Father’s glory itself, but rather “the splendor of his glory” [1:3].

The foregoing, easily confused, teaching is simply and neatly packaged in the term Trinity. While it is no doubt important to be ever vigilant in our efforts to spot error, to pervert or reject an entire doctrine solely on the basis that the word used to described it is a convention of man is unnecessary, misguided and has led many into the heresy they were so desperate to avoid. In fact, the church has used this very doctrine of the Trinity in particular as a litmus test of orthodoxy; notably in its rebuke of Arianism (that Christ is God but created) and Sebellianism (that there is no distinction at all). It then can be said that this “new” term is not one arbitrarily coined, but rather was “forced upon us by necessity.”

Calvin turns now to Old and New Testament evidences for the deity of Christ. Evidence that the Word is distinct from God and in fact is Christ was spoken of by Peter who proclaimed that the Word, the everlasting Wisdom, resides with God [1 Pet. 1:10-11; 2 pet. 1:21]. Moses teaches that God employed the Word in creation [Gen 1]. John’s well known passage previously noted insists on the coeternal existence of this Word with God from the beginning [1:1-3]. So, Jesus is the Word and has ever been with God. To those who would argue that God added Jesus to himself at the creation of the universe, James would take exception in proclaiming that with God “there is no variation or shadow of change” [1:17]. Jesus himself claims his coeternal glory with the Father in John 17:5.

The Old Testament prophets no less taught of Christ though with less specific illumination. Isaiah foretold the name by which the Mediator would be called, “Mighty God, Father of the coming age” [9:6] and Jeremiah labels this “branch of David” and “Jehovah our Righteousness” [23:5-6]. The fact that God is a jealous God and will share his glory with no other [Isa. 42:8] is further evidence that this “other” one to whom the eternal throne will be bestowed and glory is to be ascribed is God but distinct from the Father.

Frequently in the Old Testament an “angel of the Lord” is seen. This however is no mere angel. This is a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ to whom honor and sacrifice is owed [Judg. 13:16, 18, 20; 22; Gen. 32:29-30; 1 Cor. 10:4; Zech 2:3]. Added to this, throughout the New Testament the apostles interchangeably speak of the attributes of and glory due God and apply them to the Father and the Son. Paul proclaims that Christ “was in the form of God” and is “equal with God” [Phil. 2:6-7; cf. 1 Tim. 3:16; Acts 20:28], and recorded in John’s gospel is the fact that he has been working from the beginning with the Father [5:17]. Not only was Christ affirmed as God by the apostle, he gave demonstrable evidences of divinity through miracles and the power of the forgiveness of sins [Matt. 9:4-5]. As such, salvation is taught in the New Testament to be found in Christ [e.g, John 6:47]. This agrees with Old Testament prophecy regarding salvation in Jehovah [Joel 2:32; Prov. 18:10].

Just as Christ is proven to be coequal and coeternal with the Father, so it is with the Spirit. At the act of creation “the Spirit of God was spread over the deeps” [Gen. 1:2]. By the Spirit men are empowered [Isa. 48:16]. The Spirit, unlike anything not divine in itself, “searches…even the depths of God” [1 Cor. 2:10]. This same Spirit displays divine sovereignty [Cor. 12:11]. He dwells in man as the “temple” of God [1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16]. Paul’s rebuke to Ananias in lying to the Holy Spirit is that his lie was to God [Acts 5:3-4]. Perhaps most significantly, it is blasphemy against the Spirit only that remains unpardonable [Matt. 12:31].

Before moving to heresies regarding the Trinity we can conclude its biblical teaching by way of summary. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one God by whom salvation is founded on one faith and demonstrated by one baptism [Eph. 4:5]. Yes, they are distinct persons made plain by the very names Scripture uses to speak of them. However, this is to be carefully seen as distinction, not division. “[The Son is] in the Father, and the Father is in the [Son] [John 14:10] and the Spirit is shared between them. It is the Father who began the divine activity, the Son who ordered their disposition and the Spirit who provides the power for their accomplishment.

Our understanding of this “tri-unity”, this sameness with distinction, has, since the closing of the canon, been under attack from many directions. In Calvin’s own day Servetus, opposing Trinitarians as atheists, asserted that Son and Spirit contain in themselves a part of God just as does man and the rest of creation, animate and inanimate. This is refuted easily in that the Spirit supported the formless world [Gen. 1:1] and Christ is identified as the very Word of God [John 1:1]. To mingle such attributes, which themselves necessitate deity, with that of the creation is pure foolishness. There can be no antithesis between the Father and the Son. Because he is begotten eternally by the Father and he humbly assumes a subordinate role in his person does not contradict his equality with God; indeed, they are identical in essence.

Scripture is replete with references to Christ as God. Christ himself inquires of the rich young man, “Why do you call me good?”. He then explains that “[n]o one is good except God alone” [Mark 10:18] In this interaction Christ is implying that if he is good it is because he is God and this man needs to recognize this fact. Indeed, says Calvin, “I ask whether the eternal Word of God is good or not.” Paul affirms Christ’s deity in ascribing to him divine characteristics [1 Tim. 1:17; Rom. 16:27; 3:4], being the one who was eternally equal to God before he “humbled himself” [Phil. 2:6-7] and to whom “every knee should bow” [2:10]. It is the uncreated God, including all three persons of the Trinity, in whose image man was made [Gen. 1:26]. Also, the fact that Christ subordinated himself to the Father is no evidence that he relinquished the shared divine essence [Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:7, 9; 1:10] as some assert appealing to John 14:28: “…because the Father is greater than I.” This is rather simply recognition by Christ that in human flesh the splendor of his glory is diminished relative to the Father. John elsewhere explicitly asserts Christ’s deity [John 1:1; 1 John 5:20].

Adversaries of Trinitarian doctrine then appeal to the writings of various church fathers to bolster their dissent. By way of example, they assert such of Iranaeus’ teaching that the Father of Christ is the sole and eternal God of Israel. This objection and those constructed from excerpts of Tertullian, Augustine and many since, are easily answer by the writer themselves if one simply reads further into the theological corpus of each. As for Iranaeus, by his statement he was rebuffing those in his day who argued that the Father of Christ was not the same God that spoke through Moses and the prophets. Tertullian, most particularly in his refutation Against Praxeas, clearly and vigorously upholds a firm Trinitarian understanding. As for Augustine, his writings too clearly take for granted the necessity of the Trinity.

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The Providence of God

Chapter Summary of Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion
Book One, Chapter XVI – God by His Power Nourishes and Maintains the World Created by Him, and Rules Its Several Parts by His Providence.

Understanding God as Creator of his universe necessitates an understanding as well of his divine providence in the continuing existence of his creation. According to the author of Hebrews, faith is requisite for understanding that the creation was “by the word of God” [11:3] and it is he who sustains all he has made [Matt. 10:29]. Paul specifies more particularly also that it is in God that we “live and move and have our being” [Acts 17:28].
Our God being sovereignly providential over all of creation for all time [Aside: He did not wind it up and let it go as if under its own power as the deists insist] has in fact left nothing to chance. The creation order itself suggests this. For God created many of those things (vegetation, etc.) that would require the sun for survival and caused them to flourish before he created the sun itself [Gen. 1:3]. That God chooses various means in the course of his providential care (like the sun) is no confirmation that he could not at any moment abandon their use and do perfectly without them. From man’s limited perspective chance occurrences are often conclusory as evidence of causation is most often lacking. However, man’s inability to identify the nidus of an effect is not proof of its want. We need look no farther than to the secret plan of the one who has numbered all the hairs of our heads [Matt. 10:30].
It is in this assurance of God’s providential care that his children are free to obediently do good, without fear, in the knowledge that they are undergirded by the very power of the Almighty [Jer. 10:2] who decrees all that occurs and nothing occurs outside of his decree. This is contrary to those who would erroneously claim that God’s knowledge of future events is merely based on prescience. For God’s decrees do not simply guide, but rather they direct activities of his creation in general [Ps. 147:9; 146:9], that of man in particular [Jer. 10:23; Prov. 20:24], including the “disposition of [his] heart [and] the preparation of [his] tongue” [Prov. 16:1, 9]. Even the most random appearing occurrences, such as the rolling of dice, obey the commands of God’s will [Prov. 16:33]. Those events commonly attributed to “nature” too reside in his sovereign control – the wind [Ex. 16:13; Num. 11:31; Jonah 1:4], the flaming fires and the clouds [Ps. 104:3-4; Ps. 103:3-4], the waves of the sea [Ps. 107:29], for example. In the affairs of men, he grants children to some women and barrenness to others [Ps. 113:9], provides or withholds “bread” for nourishment [Isa. 3:1; Matt. 6:11; Ps. 136:25], and he numbers man’s days which are fixed by his divine will [Job 14:5].
Having begun to grasp the universality of God’s sovereign providence, we can then say with Calvin [paraphrasing Basil the Great] that “fortune and chance are pagan terms, with whose significance the minds of the godly ought not to be occupied” [italics added]. Indeed, the Philistines took refuge in fortune as it related to the course of the Ark [1 Sam. 6:9] only for this event to providential bear upon the conflict between Saul and David [1 Sam. 23:26-27]. Augustine agrees “that if anything is left to fortune, the world is aimlessly whirled about.” As God is the first Cause, the Cause of all causes, were anything to occur outside of his ordaining it thus, it would necessarily be said to have happened without cause – such thinking defies reason far more than to ascribe causation though not seen or understood.

The Authority of Scripture

Chapter Summary of Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Book One, Chapter VII – Scripture Must Be Confirmed by the Witness of the Spirit, Thus May Its Authority Be Established as Certain: and It Is a Wicked Falsehood that Its Credibility Depends on the Judgment of the Church

It must be resolutely asserted that the authority of Scripture comes from God himself through his Holy Spirit. It is not, as some say, man’s prerogative to question its authority and sit in judgment of its veracity. Mocking the Holy Spirit, men have assumed such a judgment is, and can only be, the rightful role of the church. Quite the contrary, the church itself is dependent on the Scriptures. Paul teaches that the church is “built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles” [Eph. 2:20]. This being the case, their teachings/writings necessarily precede the church and are the authority by which it was founded. Being self-authenticating, the truth of God’s word is not verified, but simply recognized by the church.

An oft quoted phrase of Augustine has been used to refute this understanding in which he plainly said that were it not for the authority of the church he would not have believed the gospel. However, one must remove this statement from its context to come to such a conclusion. In this instance Augustine was speaking of those who as yet have not the illumination by the Holy Spirit that is requisite for belief in the gospel. Instead, here he is speaking of the reverence one may have regarding the consensus of the church that is the tool (means of grace) by which the unbeliever may be first rendered teachable and avail themselves of the gospel. Augustine, specifically in The Usefulness of Belief, firmly holds the position that those so quickened should rely not on the opinion of man to judge what is truth but on that which is solidly certain, namely, the very Word of God itself. This certainty is testified to the inward parts of the believer by that which is greater, more sure, more convincing than any reason or argument of logic, namely, the Holy Spirit. “My Spirit which is in you, and the words that I have put in your mouth, and the mouths of your offspring, shall never fail” [Isa. 59:21 p.]. It is by the Holy Spirit that divine revelation is self-authenticated and is sealed upon the hearts of the elect. This word is subject then only to the Spirit’s moving and not human wisdom. Indeed, “only those to whom it is given can comprehend the mysteries of God” [Matt. 13:11].

Man’s Knowledge of God

Chapter Summaries from Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion


Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Book I – The Knowledge of God the Creator

Chapter I – The Knowledge of God and That of Ourselves Are Connected. How They Are Interrelated
Opening his magnum opus, Calvin takes up the subject of man’s knowledge of God. He asserts three main arguments to this end. First, that without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God. Second, without knowledge of God there is no knowledge and self. Finally, he addresses man before God’s majesty. We will briefly discuss each aspect in turn.

Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God. As man considers himself he must come to the inescapable conclusion that his gifts, talents and abilities are not derived from within, so must be from without. This necessarily turns his thoughts to God, whether he is aware of this or not. This, the knowledge of his blessings, alone however is insufficient to create in him an affinity for God. Rather, he must also become displeased with his own ignorance, infirmity and depravity before he will be led by it to God.

The corollary to the first point is also true: Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self. The deficiencies man sees in himself will ever remain pridefully unseen until lack of such demerit is seen in God. It is this stark contrast, seeing God as ultimately righteous, holy and wise, that permits man to then rightfully perceive his own true “ungodliness”. Until this is perceived man goes on in self-flattery assured of his own goodness.

The sum of the aforementioned truths is that effect of man standing before the majesty of God. As man comes face-to-face with who he is in light of who God is, seeing himself as in a mirror that reflects to him clearly all of his blemishes, then he becomes “undone” (Isa. 6:5; see also Judg. 13:22; Ezek. 2:1; 1:28; Job 38:1ff).
Chapter II – What It Is To Know God, And To What Purpose the Knowledge Of Him Tends

In this chapter Calvin continues with man’s knowledge of God and asserts at the outset that piety is requisite for the knowledge of God. Creation reveals God as Creator but only in Christ does he reveals himself as savior, therefore man must perceive Christ as mediator between God and man through whom reconciliation occurs.

Calvin defines piety as “that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces.”. Until man sees God as the fountain of all good and that supreme happiness will only be found in him, he will never submit himself to him. The basis of this submission to God is trust in God and reverence toward him. It does man little profit to know God if he does not trust God as this simply allows that he will be drawn away from any interaction with God by his own depravity. Knowledge without relationship cannot be the foundation of reconciliation.

The pious man recognizes the trustworthiness of God and does not find his ultimate joy in the blessings bestowed by the God in whom he trusts but rather in God himself. Contrary to the impious man, reverence allows that the pious man finds comfort in his God and joy in obedience to God and advancing his glory such that offense to God is unthinkable and escape from perdition is simply a bonus.

Chapter III – The Knowledge Of God Has Been Naturally Implanted In The Minds Of Men

Here Calvin asserts that all men perceive that ther is a God and his is their Creator. Even the pagan Cicero concurs when he stated that there is no people so savage as to not have a deep-seated conviction that there is a God. The very fact of man’s ubiquitous propensity for idolatry is evidence that he gropes for something greater than that which can be found in himself.

It has been argued that religion is simply an arbitrary creation of men to place simpler men into their subjection. While there has indeed been men who have improperly used religion as a tool by which to accomplish this very thing, it is inconceivable that they could have met with any notable success had there been no indwelling inclination toward a knowledge of God in their subjects. This being the case for their subjects, it is equally unthinkable that these men would be devoid of such inward knowledge themselves.

Quite the contrary, there is no such thing as “godlessness”. As much as the God-hater attempts to refute, turn from and cover-up a knowledge of God, he cannot. For such knowledge is not primarily the fruits of academic inquiry but of spiritual embryology – the infant in his mother’s womb has already an imbued, expert knowledge of God’s existence. It is this fact that renders man higher than brute beasts.

Chapter IV – This Knowledge Is Either Smothered Or Corrupted, Partly By Ignorance, Partly By Malice 
 From scripture Calvin points out that this knowledge, this “seed of religion”, that is planted in all men germinates in very few and ripens in none (Ps. 1:3). Of the larger portion, some are led astray by their ignorance while the others deliberately neglect God. Neither of these groups however are excused as both, as we have noted, have been imbued from the womb an innate knowledge of their Creator. In prideful efforts to fill the void within that remains from having carved God from conscious concern they engage in all manner of ultimately vain speculation and activity that only serves to further distance them from the truth. As Paul proclaims of the wicked, “Striving to be wise, they make fools of themselves” (Rom. 1:22).

It is in the conscious, persistent rejection of God that “ungodly men and fools” (Ps. 12:1; 53:1) become hardened in their sin and unconscious of the existence and truth of God. They deny God and “the fear of God is not before” (Ps. 36:1) them so they revel in their misdeeds assuming there to be no one by whom they will be held to account. But, being worshippers by nature, they craft safe idols made in their own image by which they comfort themselves that they might have some semblance of religion of which they themselves are the ultimate sovereign. “When you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature were no gods” (Gal. 4:8).

This semblance of religion is also motivated by the knowledge written on man’s heart, however far suppressed, that God is and he will stand in judgement of the unrighteous. All the while however their impotent sacrifices [Aside: See Isaiah 64:6] are rooted more in a self-serving risk-mitigation strategy than any love or allegiance to their Creator. Denying glory to God they trust in themselves and their own works for their salvation.

God Reveals Himself To ALL Mankind!

Chapter Summary of Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Book One, Chapter V – The Knowledge of God Shines Forth in the Fashioning of the Universe and the Continuing Government of It 

God has made clear through his creation his existence and has made manifest his glory. Man, for his part, fails to know and worship him and thus falls into superstition and confusion. Persistence in their error leaves man without excuse.

Not only has God imbued man innately with a knowledge of himself, he continues to speak almost deafeningly of his being and glory through the divine majesty displayed in his creation [see Rom. 1:19-20]. The evidence of which Paul speaks is not hidden, rather it is unavoidably witnessed and understood by even the most common of men in nature, the heavens and even their own bodies. Indeed, Aristotle called man himself a “microcosm” as it is the most resounding evidence of the power, goodness and wisdom of God in all creation. Therefore even the deaf, dumb and blind are also without excuse as man need look no further than their own being to be convinced. Knowing the lengths to which God has gone to ensure all men will know of him we, with David, break into doxology and exclaim, “[w]hat is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4)

Though such a response of praise is appropriate and justified man rather, in pride and ingratitude, turns from God. In turning from God, the Creator, they turn to nature, the creation, as the basis on which they see themselves as ontologically superior to the beasts. Because the soul finds physical expression through the body they minimize (or eliminate) the distinction and assume the soul is dependent on the body for its continued existence. In perverted understanding these men suppress the need for God, even the existence of God, from their remembrance.

It is not laudable intellectual inquiry that leads men to discover alternatives to explain the presence of their own remarkable gifts and that of the rest of creation. Rather, their rejection results from purposive, base, wicked suppression of the truth in unrighteousness [Rom. 1:18]. Even still, in God’s government of his creation we see not an immediate “tit-for-tat” correlation between the sin of man and the judgement of God. While he hates all sin as odious he is pleased to punish one with alacrity while demonstrating patience with another, though their will come recompense for all. For it is God alone who is utterly sovereign over the lives of men. While this will be starkly demonstrated in the judgment of men, it is seen universally in the seemingly coincidental occurrence of their daily lives.

Rather than vainly striving to peer into the being and essence of God man rather ought to contemplate his majesty and glory through his works within and without by which he has deigned to communicate with us. In considering his divine excellencies and the understanding of the necessity of the punishment of all sin it is, without extensive investigation, apparent that wickedness must come to an end. That wickedness is not yet at its end we must conclude there to be a work of God as yet unfinished. This logically leads us to an understanding of a life yet to be lived where the unrighteous will have their final punishment and the righteous their reward.

Despite the indwelling knowledge of God, man refuses to “know” God. All of the evidence of creation and providence do nothing to reveal him to the blinded and wicked heart that has inclined itself toward human superstition and philosophies – propagated by his own sinful inclination to suppress the truth, and further still by those “intellectuals” who have taken up the role of illumining the minds of men. So far from reason has man come in his denial of truth that he has made, in his mind, the illogical logical and branded it scholarship [see Acts 17:23, the worship of an “unknown god”]. Worshipping a man-conceived, unknown god is no trivial matter. It is for this reason that God speaks to our minds from the heavens. In nature he calls us to the Creator of all nature. In his divine revelation his speaks to our hearts filling us with “food and gladness” (Acts 14:15-17). Having such general revelation – from without, and special revelation – from within, man is left with no excuse and utterly nothing to mitigate the ultimate evil of his sustained rejection of God.

Knowing God Through Special Revelation

Chapter Summary of Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Book One, Chapter VI – Scripture Is Needed as Guide and Teacher for Anyone Who Would Come to God the Creator

This God, creator of the universe, being perceived by man through his creation, however is by it but only dimly illumined as a pristine book viewed by the presbyopic without his glasses. It was needful that the very word of God come to man that a true knowledge of him be made manifest in their minds. It is out of the mouth of God himself that the special gift of scripture not only reveals the identity of this Creator and Sustainer of the universe but also the inward knowledge that he is the Redeemer of man through his Mediator.

The patriarchs were firmly persuaded that this word from the Creator was the very word of God. It was inscripturated to be passed along to their posterity and to teach of the source and means of the reconciliation between God and man. While the legal content of the scriptures serve their purpose, their greater purpose is the mediation of this reconciliation; indeed Paul exclaims, “Christ is the end of the law” [Rom. 10:4]. It is this knowledge which leads to obedience through which redemption is wrought.

Outside of the assistance of the Word of God, man’s propensity to stray into error is inexorable. Indeed, error is the starting disposition of the fallen heart. This, added to the fact that without the Word the complexities of the divine, “unapproachable” [I Tim. 6:16] God are in-apprehensible. Devoid of an apprehension of the one true God error cannot be excised from the heart of man. It is this divine illumination that communicates to man that which the creation cannot. Consider: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament shows forth the works of his hands, the ordered succession of days and nights proclaims his majesty” [Ps. 19:1–2]. “The law of the Lord is spotless, converting souls; the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones; the righteous acts of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts; the precept of the Lord is clear, enlightening eyes” [Ps. 18:8–9].

God’s Providence in General Revelation

Chapter Summary of Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

Chapter V – The Knowledge of God Shines Forth in the Fashioning of the Universe and the Continuing Government of It

God has made clear through his creation his existence and made manifest his glory. Man, for his part, fails to know and worship him and thus falls into superstition and confusion. Persistence in their error leaves man without excuse.

Not only has God imbued man innately with a knowledge of himself, he continues to speak almost deafeningly of his being and glory through the divine majesty displayed in his creation (see Rom. 1:19-20). The evidence of which Paul speaks is not hidden, rather it is unavoidably witnessed and understood by even the most common of men in nature, the heavens and even his own body. Indeed, Aristotle called man himself a “microcosm” as it is the most resounding evidence of the power, goodness and wisdom of God in all creation. Therefore even the deaf, dumb and blind are also without excuse as man need look no further than their own being to be convinced. Knowing the lengths to which God has gone to ensure all men will know of him we, with David, break into doxology and exclaim, “[w]hat is man that thou art mindful of him” (Ps. 8:4)?

Though such a response of praise is appropriate and justified, man rather, in pride and ingratitude, turn from God. In turning from God, the Creator, they turn to nature, the creation, as the basis on which they see themselves as ontologically superior to the beasts. Because the soul finds physical expression through the body they minimize (or eliminate) the distinction and assume the soul is dependent on the body for its continued existence. In perverted understanding these men suppress the need for God, even the existence of God, from their remembrance.

It is not laudable intellectual inquiry that leads men to discover alternatives to explain the presence of their own remarkable gifts and that of the rest of creation. Rather, their rejection results from purposive, base, wicked suppression of the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Even still, in God’s government of his creation we see not an immediate “tit-for-tat” correlation between the sin of man and the judgement of God. While he hates all sin as odious he is pleased to punish one with alacrity while demonstrating patience with another, though their will come recompense for all. For it is God alone who is utterly sovereign over the lives of men. While this will be starkly demonstrated in the judgment of men, it is seen universally in the seemingly coincidental occurrence of their daily lives.

Rather than vainly striving to peer into the being and essence of God man rather ought to contemplate his majesty and glory through his works within and without by which he has deigned to communicate with us. In considering his divine excellencies and the understanding of the necessity of the punishment of all sin it is, without extensive investigation, apparent that wickedness must come to an end. That wickedness is not yet at its end we must conclude there to be a work of God as yet unfinished. This logically leads us to an understanding of a life yet to be lived where the unrighteous will have their final punishment and the righteous their reward.

Despite the indwelling knowledge of God, man refuses to “know” God. All of the evidence of creation and providence do nothing to reveal him to the blinded and wicked heart that has inclined itself toward human superstition and philosophies – propagated by his own sinful inclination to suppress the truth, and further still by those “intellectuals” who have taken up the role of illumining the minds of men. So far from reason has man come in his denial of truth that he has made, in his mind, the illogical logical and branded it scholarship (see Acts 17:23, the worship of an “unknown god”). Worshipping a man-conceived, unknown god is no trivial matter. It is for this reason that God speaks to our minds from the heavens. In nature he calls us to the Creator of all nature. In his divine revelation he speaks to our hearts filling us with “food and gladness” (Acts 14:15-17). Having such general revelation – from without, and special revelation – from within, man is left with no excuse and utterly nothing to mitigate the ultimate evil of his sustained rejection of God.