My first exposure to the study of God occurred in my early teens at the prompting of the youth director at the Presbyterian church we attended. Our assignment was to answer the 107 questions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Amazingly, two stuck all these years. You couldn’t ask for anything more key to knowing God than number four:
“What is God?
God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable,
in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, and truth.”
And so we begin this conversation about the attributes of God with Infinite.
My understanding of the infinite nature of God all those years ago was a little like my 5-year-old grandson thrusting his Buzz Lightyear saber into the air: “To infinity and beyond!” But then, I’m relegated to the finite. I can see, taste, touch, or in some way get my mind around only what is fixed. The infinite explodes in all directions.
That’s exactly what it is about God—explosive like fireworks, unable to be controlled or defined.
Oh, we have a dictionary definition: limitless, endless, impossible to measure or calculate. New Unger’s Bible Dictionary tells us this essential attribute of God, His infinitude, is “in relation to duration, as His omnipresence is His infinitude in relation to space…from His infinite nature all other attributes stem.”
And we have the insight of Moses in Psalm 90:2: Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. After all, God Himself told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM…the LORD…this is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered” (Exodus 3:14-15). Look it up in Strong’s: the Hebrew haya is “to exist”, from hava, “to be”, and the LORD, yhwh, means “self-existent or eternal”. God always has been and always will be.
Good news: it is not God’s intent that we get lost in the weeds of definition. His is a gradual revelation, a dawning, an ever-brightening sunrise. He’s there, everywhere in creation. He’s in worship. His Word invades the recesses of the mind.
For from him and through him and to him are all things,
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
In the beginning God (Genesis 1:1)
And so the Word of God informs us that the great, infinite “Uncaused Cause” began, in the beginning, to create the finite: the heavens and the earth, light in the darkness, living creatures of the land and the seas, the birds and the bees and all the berries and the trees they would feed on, and finally man in His image, ex nihilo—"out of nothing”. Not anything new, out of nothing, would ever be created again. No matter how creative you are, you began your work of art with something.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
Of course, God the Father was not in this alone. The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2). Then John 1:1-2 fleshes out the Trinity with God the Son: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Son was not a created being, nor was the Spirit. They were all there in the beginning, in on the process of creating ex nihilo.
“I AM WHO I AM”
As God the Father identified Himself as the great “I AM”, so did Jesus multiple times:
“I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:35).
“I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12).
“I AM the Gate” (John 10:9).
“I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11).
“I AM the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25-26).
“I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life” (John14:6).
“I AM the True Vine” (John 15:1).
And every time Jesus used an “I AM” the Pharisees squirmed. They knew exactly what He was saying: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be” (John 8:28).
The incredible thing for us is that God—"infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being”—loved us so much to grant the Son authority to “give eternal life to all those you have given him” (John 17:2). There’s not a smidgeon of the infinite in us, but eternity is ours as we believe. And that’s not a thing of the future only: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). It is ours for the taking on a daily basis.
And so we dive in, to intimately know the wonders of the Infinite.
As to that number one question and answer from the Shorter Catechism that I remember from my youth, it is the only way to respond to the full nature of our incredible, infinite God:
“What is the chief end of man?
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:17
In His presence, that’s where we need to be to enjoy Him forever:
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
All Scripture quotations are from the NIV 1973, 1978, 1984, unless otherwise noted.