We can solve some problems intuitively. As an engineering major I was often faced with complex problems in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other engineering disciplines that required much thought to solve.
I was often guided by my intuition, a kind of problem-solving method best describe by the phrase: “AH-HA, now I see it.” Many of us were often able to see the answer without consciously thinking through the problem. Of course, we had to go back to the beginning, reason through our answer and provide a proper line of reasoning to get credit for the problem on an exam.
The “AH-HA method” guided me through many problems and exercises. It guides me through many decisions I make today as a manager. Of course, I have to go back to data and facts derived from observation and careful thinking to make my case. I must still justify my actions to others.
Does this mean the “AH-HA method” is inferior? Yes, it does in a least one way. Decisions should be made based on facts.
We must explain the real world as we find it. However, do not tell me intuition has no place. Thousands of problems over the course of an undergraduate and a graduate degree in engineering tell me otherwise.
I freely admit that my initial solution to the question of God’s existence was fully intuitive. I just knew, from a big-picture assessment, that the Christian concept of God and salvation explained my world. The concept itself was convincing.
Of course, in a period of self-doubt and insecurity at about age 20, I reasoned through the problem. It was a pure “AH-HA method” to begin with, but I found many reasons to believe the “AH-HA” solution was accurate.
I want to give you an overview of this concept of God that led me to say “AH-HA.” The best short definition of God’s attributes, the things we can know about His being, is illustrated by a quote from one Christian definition: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 4).
God is a Spirit. His very being is not physical or dependent upon a physical component. His being is not divided. His being cannot be split up into parts. Louis Berkhof puts it like this, “…He is not composed of various parts, such as the body and soul in man, and for that very reason is not subject to division.”
God is infinite. He is not limited by anything: not His physical universe, not His knowledge, not His location, and not His situation. He can do anything He wants.
Is there anything God cannot do? Yes. He cannot do anything that He does not choose to do, and there are some things He will never choose. He will not lie, fail to be just, do something unrighteous, or do anything else that is inconsistent with His character. His promises can be counted on.
God is eternal, or unlimited by time. He has always been there. He never came into being in any sense, and He never will come to be any other way than He is now. A quote from the theologian Louis Berkhof illustrates the eternal nature of God when he says, “For Him there is only an eternal present, and no past or future.”
God is unchangeable. His being cannot change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has always been who He is and never will be different. To quote Arthur W. Pink: “God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations.”
The part about God not changing His determinations bothers some people. How then can the Bible say that God “repents?” God’s reactions will be consistent with His own attributes.
He chooses to react in a certain way toward another being when that being acts one way, and then changes His reaction to that being when that being changes. He will forgive the repentant. He will turn His anger against the unrepentant. He is both loving and just as appropriate. The changes are in us, not in Him. God is a being with Whom we can relate.
These facts govern everything else about Him. God’s “being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth” are all “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.”
God is not limited with respect to knowledge. He knows everything that has happened, everything that will happen, and everything that could have happened but did not.
His knowledge means He will never be surprised by the problems we face, and that he knows the ultimate solutions to those problems. He also knows how to communicate with creatures like us.
God is not limited with respect to His power. He can do anything He wants. Nothing or no one can stop Him. The standard way to say this is “God can do all His holy will.” Nothing can stop His wrath against sin. Nothing can stop His mercy and grace towards the repentant.
God is holy. R. C. Sproul quotes the old children’s table blessing for a picture of God’s holiness: “God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for this food.” God’s holiness is His greatness and His goodness. He is different from anyone or anything else. God always does the right thing. He is most worthy of worship.
God is just. He cannot do anything that is unjust to another. He cannot wrong someone. He must see that justice is done.
He is the only perfect judge of all people, everywhere. This explains my conscience. God in His wisdom has placed within me an intuitive conviction that certain things are wrong.
God is good. There is another aspect to this truth. God shows mercy. He is gracious to His creatures. The just God who requires a penalty for sin provides the payment for that sin in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
This gives a solution for the real guilt I experience. I am not talking about guilt feelings, but actual guilt for actual sins. God offers mercy and grace in the face of His ultimate justice.
God is truth. He always tells the truth. He reveals Himself and His will in His creation and in His revelation in the Bible. I can count on the promise of salvation He makes.
By intuition, this idea of God can convincingly explain the world we live in. I will give arguments to back up this idea in the chapters ahead based on philosophy and history. The historical arguments will be based on the person and work of Jesus Christ, the only teacher and example worth following.
Our next post will discuss what God has done in His creation.