sermon: Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 26-Nov-94; Sermon #158; 70 minutes
The invisible things of God are clearly seen through the things that are made. The numerous scriptural references to angelic beings (experiences of Abraham, Lot, and Daniel and the references to Michael, Gabriel, and Satan (the Prince of Persia) indicate that the spiritual entities have tangible substance. The main proof text of the "no parts, no shape or form" teaching (John 4:24), far from teaching that God has no body, indicates that spiritual substance is just as real as natural substance, except that it is a much higher type of matter, governed by higher laws including refined feelings, emotions, and thoughts. We have abundant testimony from the both the special revelation (God's Word) and the general revelation (the Creation) that God and angels are not universal nothingness floating around in nowhere.
Angels Body Cast down Daniel Choices Feelings Fire Gabriel Hypostasis Invisible force Lot Michael Nature of God Nephesh Power Prince of Persia Purging Reality Spiritual body Spiritual substance Sodom and Gomorrah Tangible
Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them [or to them], for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
The invisible things of God are clearly seen by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead. Godhead is a word indicating divinity or nature, and if you will look in some modern translation that is the way they will translate it. They will translate that word usually nature—the nature of God. The word itself in the Greek means that which is divine and divine in English means relating to God, or in this context it is referring to His nature.
What he is saying in this series of verses is that the creation of God is a constant and natural revelation occurring in nature and therefore it is available to all. If they'll just stop to think about it, they can learn very much about God.
It's not enough of a revelation for God to hold mankind responsible in terms of salvation. That takes a special personal calling and revelation from Him. However, it is enough for God to hold them responsible for much of their conduct and that's what the remainder of Romans 1 beginning in verse 21 is about.
What we're going to do is take a short digression in the same general subject only as it pertains to angels rather than to God. I want to do this because angels, too, are spirit, and so there is a similarity and there are things that we can learn about spirit from them as well.
Let's go to Genesis 18 because there were angels involved in that situation in which God was entertained by Abraham.
Genesis 18:2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground.
From verse 1 we learn that one of them was the Lord. The "he" is Abraham. That leaves two others. In chapter 19:1, if we would read through the whole chapter there would be no break here, it says,
Genesis 19:1 Now the two angels came to Sodom . . .
Those are the other two who were with the Lord when He was entertained by Abraham. So the other two "men" are identified as angels. Here's Abraham entertaining three spirit beings and it is interesting the story begins as though they just suddenly appeared, like one moment he couldn't see them and the next moment there were suddenly three people there. Apparently Abraham was of such experience that he recognized immediately who they were and that he was not nonplussed because he immediately bowed down and worshipped one of those spirit beings because he recognized that One as the Lord.
Genesis 19:2 And he said [Lot says this], "Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." And they said, "No, but we will spend the night in the open square."
We're just going to pick some things out here. They heard what he said. They had ears. They spoke to him. They had a mouth. And I would think we would have to then say that they had the body parts necessary to make and convey sounds.
Genesis 19:3 But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
So they ate. Can we assume they had the other bodily parts necessary for consuming a meal—stomach, intestines? I don't know how far we can carry this, but they did eat human food. Verse 4. This is really interesting.
Genesis 19:4 Now before they lay down...
Doesn't that give you the impression that they had every intention of sleeping? I don't know. Maybe they just faked it. You just don't ordinarily think of angels sleeping, but they were going to lay down there in Lot's house. Let's drop down to verse 10 because we know what happened, a byplay took place between the men of the city and Lot and those visitors that he had in his house.
Genesis 19:10-11 But the men reached out their hands [these men are these angels] and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.
They reached out and pulled Lot in, so they had hands, and those hands were solid enough to yank Lot right into the house. Their hands didn't just pass right through Lot's arm or body or clothing or whatever it was that they grabbed him by. There was substance there and they yanked him right into the house and then they used some measure of a spiritual power because now the door was closed and these others who were trying to get in were on the other side of the door, and they used some of their power to strike those that were outside blind so that they were disoriented and not quite sure what was going on.
Genesis 19:12-13 Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city; take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it."
Lot then dutifully went out and tried to argue or urge his relatives there to get out of the place because God was going to destroy the city. But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking
Genesis 19:15-17 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! [One of the angels said that, apparently the one that was in charge here.] Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed."
Then Lot argued with them.
Genesis 19:19-20 "Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live."
Then the angel spoke back to him and made a decision and told him to go ahead and go there because . . .
Genesis 19:21-22 "...I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
Then the sun rose.
Genesis 19:24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.
We won't examine real closely here, but just think about what is implied in what is said here. These angels had power because they directly said they were the ones who were going to destroy the city. That power and the authority to do what they were going to do had been delegated to them by God. They had authority to get Lot and his family out of the city and they had delegated authority to punish the cities.
What I want you to think about is that God did not script everything out for them. What does that mean to you? It means to me that, like men, they had brains and they had to think things through. Would this be in line with the charge that God gave us? Would this be okay? What are our alternatives here? In other words, they didn't just march into the city, commandeer everything, grab Lot by the seat of his pants and throw him unceremoniously outside of the city. They had the authority to allow Lot choices and that they were to work within the framework of the outline that God had given them.
To me that means that they had brains with which to assemble facts, to think, and to devise alternatives. Sounds a lot like mankind, doesn't it?
Daniel 10:5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man [identified as a man] clothed in linen [so there was clothing], whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!
What did the clothing hang on, if the common conception of spirit is that it is just an essence, that there's not really anything there? You've probably seen cartoons of Casper the Friendly Ghost and he always has kind of a white sheet on him and he goes flitting around, but really there's no form or shape there because that's the common conception that people have of spirit, like there's really nothing there. But there is something there. There is substance there, though they are spirit. He had a waist just like human beings do.
Daniel 10:6 His body was like beryl [like a gem], his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color [highly polished], and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
So he had, as we would describe it today, an iridescent glorious body, blazing eyes and a voice. And this one isn't even God.
Daniel 10:7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
Only one saw this and the others fled in terror and even they were aware of a presence. They knew something was there. You could describe it like the hair on the back of their head stood up on end and their skin got creepy and there was a feeling of dread as though they were in the presence of an awesome power of great magnitude, but it was like they couldn't put their hands or their eyes on it. It was there. A presence was there enough to frighten them, but they couldn't clearly identify it.
Daniel 10:10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.
You can get a picture of Daniel down there like a dog, the palms of his hands down, and on his knees and he was shaking. With the angel, there was a hand there and that hand communicated feeling to him. In verse 14 the angel is speaking.
Daniel 10:14 "Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come."
Here the angel is fulfilling what they were named for. Angel means messenger. This messenger from God was going to communicate an answer to Daniel.
Daniel 10:16-17 And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me [Again feeling, and in this case I'm sure it was, concern. It was an opening of his mind, a release of the fear that he had because he was struck mute up until this point and he said], "My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me."
He was breathless in the presence of this one here who was Gabriel.
Daniel 10:20-21 Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.
We were just witnessing through the words of the Bible an encounter that Daniel had with one of the mightiest of God's created beings. This created being, spirit, said in verse 20 that he had to return and fight with the prince of Persia. Now that prince of Persia could not possibly be a man. Look what happened to Daniel. I mean just being in his presence he became unglued. What man is going to stand against a being of this magnitude?
This other that he was going to fight was somebody who was Gabriel's equal, so strong that Gabriel was going to need the help of Michael, another archangel also named in the book, in order for the two of them to subdue this prince of Persia. I think that we can assume that the prince of Persia was none other than Satan. We have a picture here of angelic beings fighting. That sounds very human too, doesn't it?
From here I want us to go back to the book of Revelation 12:7-9, where we're given a peek back at something that happened much earlier in the history of God's creation.
Revelation 12:7-9 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Look at the language here. Compare it with what we just saw in Daniel the 10th chapter—spirit beings fighting and being cast down, even as when humans fight, people are cast down. Only when humans fight people are cast down in defeat and death. Here with the angelic beings they were cast down in defeat, but there was no death.
I want to ask you, how does somebody cast down essence? I mean the arguments begin to become ridiculous. How do you cast down smoke, if we can think of essence in terms of smoke? The only way I know to do it is for Michael and his angels to get big fans and blow it toward the earth. No, these verses give every indication that these spirit beings are substance. They are spirit but they are substance. They are tangible. Do you know how Webster's defines tangible? This is really interesting. It means capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch.
They touched Daniel (or at least Gabriel did) and he was aware of feeling. A hand touched him on the shoulder. Another time a hand touched him on the lips and he was able to speak. There was substance there. Further definitions of tangible are palpable, substantially real, material.
Job 1:6-7 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. [Where does that take place? We won't really answer that. It will just be implied.] And the Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the Lord and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it."
Was he just telling another fib? He was traveling back and forth on the earth and he described it as walking. When he came before God it was some other place than the earth. Where does God reside? The only place that it names in the whole Bible is heaven. So he came to appear before God where God's throne is. Satan must have left the earth and traveled to be in God's presence because they were not on the earth.
Let's go back to the New Testament now. We saw, in Job 1, Satan free to wander back and forth on the earth.
I Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient....
We saw them, in Revelation 12, cast down. When they were cast down this earth became their prison. We saw Satan free to walk back and forth on it. I am not sure that every demon spirit has that liberty. They may. They may not.
The main thing that I want to get here is that they are capable of being restrained. Let me show you Revelation 20 now. There is really an interesting scripture here.
Revelation 20:1-3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
In Job 1 we saw Satan free to roam the earth, at least free to come before God's throne; therefore free, in all probability, to go to heaven. Then we saw a general statement about angels being restrained in prison. Now we have a very specific statement that Satan is capable of being restrained in a single location and described as being bound, almost like they put the handcuffs on him, put him in the jail, and then put the key in safekeeping somewhere. It mentions a key, doesn't it?
Are all those things just metaphors, just figures of speech, just similes? Look at verse 10. This one is really interesting, the ramifications of it.
Revelation 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
What effect does fire have upon a spirit? It doesn't say exactly there, but does this mean that the God who created these spirit beings also knows a way to utterly destroy them? I don't know.
Fire in the Bible is pictured as the final curse. It is used in the sense of being the symbol of complete purging so that when something passes through fire, then it is clean. It's very interesting to think about the ramifications of that verse.
If we are going to believe God's revelations, then I think that we are going to have to say that angels, those spirits, have substance that is just as real as human bodies. Again the scriptures show that. We're going to go back to the resurrected Christ for just a minute or so here. Let's go back to Luke 24:39. Jesus has just gone through the door and He said,
Luke 24:39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
Here we're not talking about an angel. It is the resurrected Christ, formerly a human. He has gone by means of a resurrection through a transformation and now He is God Spirit and He says, "Feel me. I'm not Casper the Ghost. I am solid." So they felt Him and sure enough He was solid.
I don't think that He would invite them to feel Him if there wasn't substance to Him and I am additionally sure that was put into the Bible so that we would understand what our potential is to be. We're not going to be ghosts. We're going to be like Christ. That's what it says in Philippians 3:20-21. We're going to have a body like His glorious body. And His body has substance to it. Even though it has substance, He apparently went right through the wall. It presented absolutely no problem. He didn't have to open the door to go through.
In Luke 24:16 Christ is on the road to Emmaus. He met and talked with two men after His resurrection and they were traveling to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.
Luke 24:16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
Luke 24:31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and [Poof! Just like that] He vanished from their sight [and was gone.].
In verse 34 these men understood and they ran to the others and said,
Luke 24:34 "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
I don't mean to give you the impression that I understand how He is able to do these things. I only know what the scripture says, that in His changed glorified state He could appear and disappear, go through material substance, cloud men's minds so that some things were withheld from them. Remember when He was first resurrected and Mary Magdalene was there at the tomb. She thought she was talking to the gardener.
We might say maybe it was a little dark and she couldn't quite make him out. That's a possibility, but then again that's an assumption. Maybe she was looking Him full in the face, and because of a combination of unbelief, plus maybe something that Christ might have done to alter His appearance just a little bit, but when He spoke the fireworks went off in her mind. He gave her the ability to perceive who He was. And then she ran and told them and they didn't want to believe her either. I'm sure that they thought at first that she was seeing things.
Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of His glory [that is the brightness of the Father's glory] and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...
For just a moment or two I want us to concentrate on the word that is here translated person. Any of you who have read any of the writings of the WCG are going to be familiar with this word because it's the word hypostasis. It means substance. Do you remember in Hebrews 11:1 where one of the definitions for faith is given, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for"? That word substance here is the same word that is translated in Hebrews 1:3 person.
I find that very interesting. Does this person have substance? Well, we'll think about that. This word hypostasis means what really exists under any appearance. It means reality. It means essential nature of. It is also translated in other places as assurance, confidence, guarantee, boldness, that which leads one to stand under, sub stance.
I'm going to give you a quote on this verse Hebrews 1:3 from the Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 12, Page 14.
The word hypostasis rendered being is difficult. [The reason they rendered it being is because they were using the New International Version Translation and the New International Version translates that word substance here as being. The King James and the New King James translates it person.] It's etymological equivalent in English is substance, that is, that which stands under a thing, that which makes it what it is. The Son is such a revelation of the Father that when we see Jesus we see what God's real being is.
Now hang on to that thought. "When we see Jesus, we see what God's real being is." What we are looking at then in Hebrews 1:3 is a further confirmation of John 14:9 where He said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."
In that context in John 14 He is undoubtedly referring to His conduct. Remember, it was Philip who asked Him, "[S]how us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."
Jesus replied, "How long have you been with Me and you don't know the Father? If you have seen Me you have seen the Father." In other words if you have seen me act, if you have seen Me conduct My life, if you've seen My attitudes, if you've seen Me you have seen the Father. So there in John 14 I am confident that He was referring there to His conduct.
In Hebrews 1:3 the reference is very clear, right in the context, to Him being the character image of God's very being. If you see Christ's character, you have seen the Father's character. He is the mirror image of the Father in the way that He conducted His life. He is the mirror image of His Father in His character.
I think that we also have to give strong consideration to His revelation of Himself to His disciples after His resurrection in which He invited them to touch Him and feel Him, that He was not an essence, and that He was once again in the substance of God, the very substance of God's real being. "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." And in that sense, what He was saying is God has substance. It is Spirit, but it is substance.
That God has a spirit body with parts is proved by hundreds of scriptures. And those scriptures are so clear they don't need any interpretation. They're too clear to misunderstand. All we can do is either deny what the Bible says or believe it.
It makes absolutely no sense to pretend to believe the Bible and then refuse to believe its simple statements about its main character. But that's what these people are doing and God is surely going to hold us accountable for the knowledge of how clearly He has said that he looks like a man. A man looks like Him. What does it matter then if some preachers with "Doctor" before their names refuse to believe? See, we can believe.
Let's summarize what we've covered so far here and I want you to turn with me to John 4:24.
John 4:24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
God is Spirit and nowhere, not even in one passage, does it say that God does not have a body. He is perfect, immortal, infinite, immutable, self-existing, omnipotent, omniscient, invisible, impartial, absolutely holy, just, full of knowledge and wisdom and power unending, and sufficient to provide for His entire creation.
Like any other person He has names, and in His case, many names. And just as your name identifies you as a specific individual, His names identify Him. He has titles by which He is known. Men and women have titles by which they are known.
He has a head, hair, face, arms, fingers, hands, waist, loins, eyes, eyelids, nostrils, ears, mouth, lips, tongue, breath (Surprised about that one?), feet, back parts, and if He has back parts, He must have front parts. Did you know that God speaks of His heart? He rests, but He doesn't get tired. He feels things.
He eats and He drinks and the alcohol in wine, as it says in Judges 9, has an effect on Him. It cheers His heart. He laughs. He gets angry. He speaks in a small still voice. He roars from Zion. As a man, He wept. Sounds just like us, doesn't it? Well it should because we're in His image and likeness.
But there's even more. He goes about from place to place in a body, just like anybody else. He rides in a vehicle. He walks. He plants. He works. He lives in a spiritual place called heaven. Not even one passage has ever been given by the men who write these articles claiming God has no body except John 4:24. But He has revealed Himself in so many different ways that what these men say turns God into a liar who deceives mankind about what He is like.
John 4:24 does not teach that God has no body. It, plus a multitude of passages that we have read or alluded to, expand our understanding about the properties of spirit, about what spirit bodies are like. Spiritual substance is just as real as natural substance, except that it is a much higher type of matter and it is governed by higher laws.
John 4:24 is a statement of fact, but it does not define or analyze spirit. Some of the properties of spirit are defined all over the Bible and those who actually saw and heard God and interacted with Him reported their interaction. Now either they are right, or these modern writers are. They can't both be right because they contradict each other.
Let me share with you yet another way in which man is in God's likeness.
Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."
Did you see what it says? God has a soul. That's written by Him as something He possesses. It is "My soul." Now soul is a word of very wide usage in the Bible and the best brief study on it that I have found is in an Appendix to Bullinger's Companion Bible.
There are two appendices on soul in Bullinger's Bible. The first is in Appendix 13 showing the usages of the Hebrew nephesh, that's translated soul in English. And then in Appendix 110 showing the usages of psuche, the Greek equivalent of nephesh.
Bullinger confirms that the two words are mere images of each other as to their usages and they are translated into a wide variety of English words, especially nephesh, because it appears in so many different contexts in the Old Testament. Now Bullinger says that nephesh is used of man in ten different ways, but he should have added that it is also used of God.
Three of these ways are particularly interesting and they are these. It is used of man as an individual and when it is used that way it is usually translated person, man, any, or soul. Now the second way is man exercising certain powers. We're going to look at one so that you'll see what I mean and this in Genesis 27:4. Now there it says (Isaac is the speaker and he's speaking to Esau),
Genesis 27:4 "And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die."
That's an example of nephesh being used showing a man exercising a power. Isaac had the power to bless his son. He wanted to eat before he did that. He wanted to feel good. He wanted a certain meal, and so he said, "that my soul may bless you."
The third is man exercising certain mental faculties. This one is very interesting because it's the one most likely to be used of God. You have undoubtedly in your reading, in your studying, run into this usage so often that you're likely to overlook it and not even notice that soul is being used in reference to God, just like we read there in Hebrews 10:38. "My soul shall have no pleasure in you."
But it will say things like, either in reference to God or man, "My soul longs (desires)," or, "My soul loathes (that is, hates), or abhors, lusts, desires, thirsts, knows, faints, rejoices, humbles, chastens, delights." An interesting aspect of this that we're on right now is that one of the usages of nephesh rather than being translated soul, man, or person, will sometimes be translated heart. Do you realize fifteen times the word nephesh is translated heart? Fifteen times it is translated mind. Four times it is translated will, like "I set my will". I set my nephesh is what it actually says. But will fits the context in which it appears. It's even translated into the English word desire five times. As an overview it is used as the seat of either mental faculties, or passions, feelings.
Let's go, with that little prelude, to Leviticus 26. Leviticus 26 ought to ring a bell. That's the blessings and cursings chapter. Who's speaking here? God is speaking.
Leviticus 26:11 I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.
His soul, the seat of His feelings, will not abhor you. In verse 30, this is on the other side, if they are not obeying them.
Leviticus 26:30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you.
God speaking again. How about Judges 10:16?
Judges 10:16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul [the Lord's] could no longer endure the misery of Israel.
He was engulfed in pity. But His soul . . . isn't that interesting? Does the Bible ever say that a man has a soul? Yes, it does—oodles and oodles and oodles of time. It has no reference to anything immortal in us at all. Depending on the context, it might mean life. At other times it means the seat of the passions, most often, the feelings.
Isaiah 42:1 "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One [referring to the Messiah] in whom My soul delights!"
If we would take what these men who write these things that man really isn't in the likeness of God to its logical conclusion, then God would be reduced to nothing more than a piece of cardboard, something without feeling. He's plastic. He's cold. He's immovable. He's a block of ice. The Bible doesn't show that at all.
He is a being, a person, an individual, who is in one place and He has deep feelings, and He's pained when people sin. It hurts Him that a relationship that He is establishing is going on the rocks. We ought to know what that feeling is like. We ought to be able to relate to it. Where did that feeling come from? Where did the possibility for that kind of a feeling come from? It came from Him, because He created us with the ability to duplicate what He is capable of being and doing.
Nobody's ever going to say to me that these expressions are figures of speech. If you look you will find God expressing feelings of grief, repentance, sorrow, jealousy, anger, hate, love, pity, mercy, joy, peace, long-suffering, graciousness, compassion, gentleness, goodness, meekness, kindness, pleasure, delight. Does that sound like us? Who is the model for the right use of all of these things?
Do you know what? In the same manner that God speaks of "My Soul," something He possesses, He also speaks of "My Spirit." That is as though it were a personal possession. That's not at all unusual either if we think of it in terms of reference to mankind.
I Corinthians 2:10-11 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit [Notice that—His Spirit.]. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
There is a human spirit in which all of mankind shares. It is what, more than any other component of what we are that, enables us to be in God's image, and yet each person is a different personality. We are distinct from each other so that each person's spirit is also distinct. It is his own. Your spirit is yours, and my spirit is mine.
My spirit projects John Ritenbaugh. It projects my personality. It projects my mind. It projects my attitudes. It projects my knowledge, my understanding, my wisdom, and my discernment, things that have come to me as a result of my experiences. And yours is exactly the same way.
What is it that goes back to God when we die? Is the spirit that goes back to God from you when you die going to be different from the one that goes back to God from me when I die? Of course it is. Mine is mine and yours is yours. I'm saying this in reference to God. His Spirit is Holy Spirit, but it is uniquely His. Are not He and the Son distinct from one another? They are.
That's the way it is with God. I want you to turn with me to Isaiah 30. This is one which in one sense there are a lot of references and in another sense there are very few. This one is in some ways a little bit more difficult to discern than the thing about "My soul."
Isaiah 30:1 "Woe to the rebellious children," says the Lord, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit . . ."
The word Spirit is ruach. It is used in the sense of invisible force, or power, and thus ruach, depending on the context, is used to express intelligence, will, truth, hope, faith, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, omnipotence, omnipresence, infinity, invisibility, holiness. You'll notice the words there are different from the things in reference to His soul. Those things in reference to soul had mostly to do with feelings, with emotional qualities. Here we are talking about things that have to do with mind power.
Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
It is spoken here, His Spirit, as being a personal possession.
Psalm 143:12 In Your mercy cut off my enemies, and destroy all those who afflict my soul; for I am Your servant.
Exactly the same sense with servant as with spirit. As the author of the Psalm was God's personal servant, the Spirit was also God's personal Spirit, that which emanates out from Him. Again there is a likeness with mankind. The difference being that God's Spirit is holy. It is perfect, infinitely more powerful and loving where ours is lacking and barely developed toward its potential.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Here the reference is to man's spirit and the advice, the counsel, is coming to man from God. But the usage is similar to Psalm 143:10. The spirit is shown as the personal possession of an individual person, that person who is contrite. Is everybody contrite? No. That person who is humble. Is everybody's spirit humble? Does everybody's spirit need to be revived? No, He's talking about specific individuals.
The references to God's spirit are not as frequent as the references to God's soul, but we did just see two of them and there are others. Again, ruach's fundamental meaning is invisible or power.
John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Ruach translated wind in the Old Testament. Here the word is pneuma and it is the mirror image of the Hebrew ruach and it means an invisible force or power. He used the illustration in reference to wind. You cannot see air, but it is real, isn't it? Absolutely. And its molecules can be packed so solidly, so close together, that they will lift a huge airplane right off the ground. You can't see the molecules. You can't see the electrons. You can't see the neutrons, but they are there. There are other invisible forces or powers that we deal with on a daily basis, but they are there, like electricity, like light.
That is the essence of the meaning of spirit. No one would argue that air with which wind is constituted is not real, and though it is invisible it is made up of particles too small for the unaided eye. I think we have seen enough testimony from the Bible to see that God and angels are not universal nothingness floating around in nowhere. God is not universal mind, conscience, or goodness. He is not an abstract power filling the whole of space, and except for the vast differences in power and potential, the only difference between men and God is that mankind is earthly flesh and bone whose life is in the blood, and God's body is also flesh and bone, but is Spirit and immortal.
This has practical ramifications that must be explored because it means that God cannot be omnipresent in the body. Everything that we have seen by way of description of God shows Him at one place at one time and He is generally seen managing or participating in His creation. We see Him sitting, standing, walking, talking, eating, drinking, commanding, etc., in specific locations. Nowhere is there any mention of size and therefore the conclusion must be that He is of ordinary size, and when He became a man, the scriptures says, there was nothing notable about Him except His character and His powerful teaching.
In Part 4 we will explore the ramifications of this last thing that I have just mentioned of Him being located in one place at one time, and how does that line up with, agree with, Psalm 139 where it says that there is nowhere in creation that you can be out from under His observation?