A Most Pure Spirit

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Westminster Confession of Faith

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. (John 4:24)

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

God is spirit. In this phrase Jesus gives us something close to a definition of God, a description of what God is: spirit. This is something wonderfully alien to us who cannot quite understand what it is to be spirit, but then that is not surprising. To say that God is spirit is to distinguish him from everything that he has made. The world is physical, but God is spirit. God is distinct from his creation, he is of a different order. He is not a spirit, but is spirit.

As we have already seen, this spirituality of God means that he is infinite and not bound by any physical laws. He is not something made up of component parts, but is a pure and complete spirit. No wonder when asked his name by Moses, he replied “I am” (Exodus 3:14). God is pure being, pure existence. He simply is. We may not be able to comprehend all this, but we can echo the Apostle Paul as he lifted up his mind in praise to “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” (1 Timothy 6:15–16)

God is spirit, and yet we are material. God is infinite, and we are not. So how can we understand him at all? Through worship “in spirit and in truth”. We need to have God explain himself to us, and so we have Christ who is “the truth” (John 14:6). We have the scriptures which transmit that truth to us. To worship God in truth is to put aside speculation.

Yet we are to worship in “spirit and truth”, and so that truth is applied to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to God and strengthens us to live spiritual lives characterised by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).

God is spirit. He is not simply a bigger and better version of human beings. He is other. He is spirit.

The World Changed

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:45–48) - Here then is the resurrection. A physical resurrection, long foretold in the Scriptures. An event which enables those selfsame Scriptures to be truly understood. An event which then puts Jesus - his name - at the core of the unfolding revelation of God, and which sends out the disciples to bear witness to these events. Every church, every Christian that you see today is but an after-echo of that event. The world was changed that day. Will you be changed too?

A Bodiless God

“Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.” (Deuteronomy 4:15–18) - The Israelites were warned not to imagine God as having any form, as being like anything which he has created. What nonsense it is to imagine God as being simply a larger version of something he has created. That would be like imagining Mary Berry is in fact a large Victoria Sponge!

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