Majestic God

From The Thirsty Theologian:

I was reminded, as I read the passage that follows, of what David Wells has written on the imminence vs. the transcendence of God. That God is a personal, relational God is emphasized much these days. But what of his greatness and glory, his majesty?

packer_jiMajesty is a word which the Bible uses to express the thought of the greatness of God, our maker and our Lord. “The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty. . . . Your throne was established long ago” (Ps 93:1–2). They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works” (Ps145:5). Peter, recalling his vision of Christ’s royal glory at the transfiguration, says, “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet 1:16).

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In Hebrews, the phrase the majesty twice does duty for God; Christ, we are told, at his ascension sat down “at the right hand of the majesty in heaven” (Heb 11:3; 8:1). The word majesty, when applied to God, is always a declaration of his greatness and an invitation to worship. The same is true when the Bible speaks of God being on high and in heaven; the thought here is not that God is far distant from us in space, but that he is far above us in greatness, and therefore is to be adored. “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise” (Ps 48:1). “The Lord is the Great God, the great King. . . . Come, let us bow down and worship” (Ps 93:3, 6). The Christian’s instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God.

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But this is knowledge which Christians today largely lack: and that is one reason why our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby. We are modern people, and modern people, though they cherish great thoughts of themselves, have as a rule small thoughts of God. When the person in the church, let alone the person in the street, uses the word God, the thought is rarely of divine majesty.

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. . . We are poles apart from our evangelical forefathers at this point, even when we confess our faith in their words. When you start reading Luther, or Edwards, or Whitfield, though your doctrine may be theirs, you soon find yourself wondering whether you have any acquaintance at all with the mighty God whom they knew so intimately.

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Today, vast stress is placed on the thought that God is personal, but this truth is so stated as to leave the impression that God is a person of the same sort as we are—weak, inadequate, ineffective, a little pathetic. But this is not the God of the Bible! Our personal life is a finite thing . . . But God . . . Is eternal, infinite, and almighty. He has us in his hands; we never have him in ours. Like us, he is personal; but unlike us, he is great. In all its constant stress on the reality of God’s personal concern for his people, and on the gentleness, tenderness, sympathy, patience and yearning compassion that he shows toward them, the Bible never lets us lose sight of his majesty and his unlimited dominion over all his creatures.

—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 82–83.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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