Vol.XVII No.VII Pg.6
September 1980

The Nature Of God

Robert F. Turner

From "Systematic Theology," by Charles Finney; 1846- Abridged and published in 1976 by Bethany Fellowship, Minneapolis.


"Many seem to represent the sovereignty of God as consisting in a perfectly arbitrary disposal of events. They seem to conceive of God as being wholly above and without any law or rule of action guiding his will by his infinite reason and conscience- They appear shocked at the idea of God himself being the subject of moral law, and are ready to inquire, Who gives law to God? They seem never to have considered that God is, and must be, a law unto himself; that he is necessarily omniscient, and that the divine reason must impose law on, or prescribe law to, the divine will...

The sovereignty of God consists in the independence of his will, in consulting his own intelligence and discretion, in the selection of his end, and the means of accomplishing it. In other words, the sovereignty of God is nothing else than infinite benevolence directed by infinite knowledge... God is a sovereign, not in the sense that he is not under law, or that he is above all law, but in the sense that he is a law to himself; that he knows no law but what is given him by his own reason...

"He works all things after the counsel of his own will," in the sense that he formed and executes his own designs independently; in the sense that he consults his own infinite discretion; that is, he acts according to his own views of propriety and fitness. This he does, be it distinctly understood, without at all setting aside the freedom of moral agents. His infinite knowledge enabled him to select the end and means, that should consist with and include the perfect freedom of moral agents. The subjects of his moral government are free to obey or disobey, and take the consequences. But foreseeing precisely in all cases how they would act, he has laid his plan accordingly, so as to bring out the contemplated and desired results. In all his plans he consulted none but himself."


Yes, we are soon over our heads in such a discussion as this, but current discussions of depravity, grace, and "enabling work" of the Holy Spirit, are drawing brethren closer and closer to the "free moral agent" issue — and that will force them to consider the sovereignty of God.

When brethren argue imputation of Christ's life to man they usually do so on a legalistic basis — God must be JUST, and demand PERFECT OBEDIENCE. The very nature of God demands justice, we are told. Sometimes overlooked is the fact that LOVE, MERCY, etc., are also "the very nature" of God. Many a theologian has set up his idea of God, and the demands of what he conceived as "God's nature;" only to become hopelessly entangled in the system of his own making. We believe God is revealed in Christ, via inspired scriptures. The safest course is to accept what is clearly revealed (forgiveness, thru Christ's death, to those who trust Him) rather than lose ourselves in speculative theories.