Principle No. 1 — The Infinity Principle
By Clifton L. Fowler
Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923
The presence of this principle in God's Word is clearly stated. This is not the case with all of the principles. Some of them are determined by the observation of a mass of testimony from the Word, the cumulative effect of which is the demonstration of the existence of the principle under investigation. In the case of the Infinity Principle, however, we will have little difficulty in satisfying our minds because direct statements occur in the Bible declaring the existence of the principle and indicating its sphere of activity.
We shall make no effort, as we study these principles, to prove that the Bible is inspired. Indeed the Bible itself makes no such effort, but everywhere from Genesis to Revelation, the assumption and open claim is that the Book as it stands is God's own message to us men. So decided and pronounced is this claim that to question the Bible's divine origin is to accuse it of oft repeated falsehood, and hence to instantly classify it as utterly unreliable, indeed downright wicked. We believe that unquestioning faith does not stultify, but deepens and broadens Christian life.
We accept the Bible's claim concerning itself, without argument. Although the study of the Eighteen Principles is in no wise a study of the proofs of the inspiration of the Scriptures, yet the result to the individual believer is invariably a closer walk with God, a fuller faith in the authority and integrity of the Bible, together with a larger love and sympathy in the sufferings and problems of every man who is facing the battle of life.
The study of the Eighteen Principles will rid the soul of the struggles and perplexities which Satan, through the unproved imagining of the evolutionary theory has produced in many a young life.' This variety of "Bible study, (i. e. the study of the Eighteen Principles) will set before the man who is facing the great questions of eternity, an open door whereby he can step forth from the prison house of exaggerated human knowledge upon a wide platform of simple faith in the message God has given. Only through the Word may a young man cleanse his way, and emancipate his soul from the bondage of the muddled minions of modernism.
The definition of the Infinity Principle is, —
THE INFINITY PRINCIPLE IS THAT PRINCIPLE OF DIVINE REVELATION.
This principle is not an invention but has been resident in the Bible from the hour when the first word was "God-breathed." It grows out of the very natures of God and man. The definition rests upon Scripture evidence. In 1 Cor. 13:9-10 we find these significant words, —
Here the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul, is making the contrast between the present and the future. Now we know IN PART, but in the future that handicap shall be DONE AWAY. In other words, now we are FINITE and consequently held constantly within the limits of the finite. But the apostle does not stop there, he carries us on by faith into a wondrous future when the finite limitations shall be "done away."
However, for the present we are still finite. We still "know IN PART" and only "in part." When the Holy Spirit has so distinctly set before us this dictum, it is folly indeed to seek to understand the INFINITE.
Here is where the Infinity Principle is of such value to puzzled men. When an intrepid soul, reaches out seeking the explanation of some problem in the realm INFINITE, the Infinity Principle says plainly, 'tis useless for the mind to grope' in that direction, for the Bible says:
"WE KNOW IN PART" (1 Cor. 13:9)
and three verses farther on,
"WE SEE THR0UGH A GLASS DARKLY" (IN A RIDDLE)
"NOW I KNOW IN PART." (1 Cor. 13:12)
This is God's own declaration. He has set the bounds for the mind of man. Everything within those bounds is human, finite. But all that is outside those bounds is INFINITE. It is God's own word which has set this boundary line. It is God's own word which has defined this line of demarkation between the finite and the infinite. He says to the finite mind, "Thus far and no farther." It is God's love which prompts Him to say with such clearness to His creatures, "Ye know only in part." He would save them the agony and disappointment of stretching forth for an understanding of the infinite when He knows the finite mind is incapable of APPREHENDING that which is beyond the dead-line He Himself has laid down.
Failure to observe this principle has been the spiritual downfall of many a soul. In spite of God's warning words, — -"ye know in part" they have pushed forward to know fully, here and now. Their efforts couldmeet with naught but disaster. In seeking to intrude their finite minds into the realm of the infinite they were ignoring the fact that God has said in His Word:
God declares that the things in the infinite realm are PAST FINDING OUT. This should satisfy the mind of man, but in most cases it simply causes man to be more determined to invade this forbidden territory. The fruitless age-long efforts of science to find the secret of life is a striking and convincing confirmation of the truth of these words, — "His ways are past finding out."
The prophet Isaiah saw this truth and directed by the Holy Spirit spoke clearly of it in Isa. 55:89,—
The Psalmist also declares that God's works and 37 thoughts are beyond our understanding, our apprehension, and our numbering, —
That which is beyond numbering is INFINITY.
Note the plain declaration of the Psalmist. He frankly admits that he has acquired knowledge which he does not and cannot "attain unto" or understand. But in spite of his handicap, he believes. This is the very gist of the Infinity Principle. Under this principle God gives to us in His Word revelations concerning a host of truths which are "TOO WONDERFUL" for us because they are so "high." We are allowed to know the truth, but we are compelled to confess with the Psalmist, "I cannot attain to it."
When God sets forth in the Bible a truth which is within the ken of the mind of man. Pie supplies explanation and corroboration. But when God declares some stupendous mystery of the Infinite, lo. He explains nothing. An explanation of the Infinite must of necessity be an infinite explanation. An infinite explanation to a finite mind is an absurdity. God does not indulge in the absurd. He openly declares the majestic truth in all its infinite splendor and then says to us "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." Infinite truth is beyond the mind of man, but grace has placed victorious faith within the reach of all.
The Apostle Paul sees this fact that the finite mind may receive the revelation of, but cannot understand, the infinite. To this fact Paul adds a truth which brings deepest consolation to the naturally restless soul of 11. an. He tells of his prayer-burden for the Colossians saying that he yearns for them,
There is a remarkable example of the explicitness of the Bible. The Holy Spirit never fails in maintaining the logical distinctions which make the Bible the marvelous Book that it is. In this passage the apostle is not desiring that they "understand to the acknowledgment of the mystery," but that they shall enter "the full assurance of understanding." Alas, how greatly God's people need to learn this lesson. On every hand are unhappy, discontented souls striving to "UNDERSTAND." That which develops real strength and growth is not UNDERSTANDING, but by His grace resting in the "ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING" before the understanding comes. Perplexed Child of God, abandon thy quest for understanding of the mysteries of God! Instead of vainly intruding your fleshly mind into realms which God says are "past finding out," desist thy vain and empty efforts and REST, joyously rest in the "assurance of understanding" in God's good time. Although we can only say "Now I know in part" we shall one day say, "I know even as I am known." Thank God for such a thrilling "assurance."
The fact that I cannot now fully understand the things of God is an immeasurable blessing to my soul. If I could fully understand Him, I could no longer worship Him. A God whom my finite mind could completely apprehend is not infinite, but finite. If He is only my equal He is not my God.
Let us try out this principle. Let us see if it has any value in bringing the mind to a clearer attitude toward Bible questions over which doubt has hung for years. Let us use at least two familiar doctrines involving some old, much-discussed perplexities. Let us first investigate the activity of the Infinity Principle in the doctrine of
Does God hear and answer prayer? Does prayer change things? The answer of the Word of God is a decided affirmative. The Bible teaches that God hears and delights to answer the cry of His child. "Whatsoever ye ask in My name that will I do." Prayer does indeed change things.
But this truth has raised many questions in the minds of men. How can God allow Himself to be influenced by man? Does man's prayer change God's mind? Is the divine power subjected to human caprice? These questions plunge us at once into the realm of pure faith and bring us face to face with one of the Bible's most striking examples of the great need of a correct understanding of the Infinity Principle.
Wherever the infinite and the finite meet in the working out of the plan of God, there is found truth which balks the human understanding and which is an imperative call to simple faith in God's Word. Man's reason may work with exhilaration and delight in the realm of the finite but the human mind is incapable of logical operation in the realm infinite. Prayer is one of the truths of the Book of Books, which calls, not for understanding, but for simple trust in God. The infinite wonder is declared by Jesus, — "Whatsoever ye ask in My name I will do it." If I were to seek the explanation of God showing such tenderness to my soul I would but stagger before the marvel of infinite condescension to a sinner saved by grace. I do not need an explanation! I need faith! "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." Our Lord simply states the facts concerning prayer. Some of those facts are too big for the mind to understand. But our Lord Jesus offers no elucidation when God sets forth a declaration and offers no explanation. His declaration becomes the subject for my acceptation without question. This conclusion is the happy product of applying the Infinity Principle.
Let us apply this principle to the study of another line of truth found in God's Word.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH, AND THE PERFECT DUALITY OF JESUS.
The modernist does not accept the virgin birth of Jesus. His difficulty is that he does not accept the Infinity Principle, as a result, he is cast back on his reason instead of faith. Reason is helpless in the face of the infinite. Faith finds joy. in what God has revealed, be it finite or infinite.
A well-known modernist recently said, "I know Jesus was man. If I accept the doctrine of the virgin birth, then I must believe that Jesus was God also. I cannot conceive of anybody being both God and man."
If that man would but start believing his Bible instead of picking it to pieces, he would soon find the solution of his difficulty.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is man. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God. In fact in the first chapter of Hebrews, God the Father calls Jesus God.
"But unto the Son He saith, THY THRONE, O GOD, is forever and ever." (Heb. 1:8.) And in John 10:30 Jesus declares His own unity with God,
"I and the Father are one." Seeming contradictions arising from the perfect duality of Jesus may be found scattered through the Bible. A few of these seeming contradictions will reveal the sort of passages which Satan uses in stirring up and perplexing many souls on the subject of the duality of Jesus.
In Isaiah 40:28 it is declared of God that He fainteth not, neither is weary. But in John 4:6 He was so weary He rested on Jacob's well while the disciples went into the city for meat.
In Psa. 121:4-S He is declared to be the Holy One of Israel who Slumbers not nor sleeps, but in Matt. 8:24 we find 'Him fast asleep.
In 1 Tim. 2:5 after He ascended into heaven He is called "man," but in Heb. 1:8 God Himself addresses Jesus as God.
Yes, it is an inexplicable mystery to the finite mind as to how He can be both God and man. The modernist quoted said he could not conceive of Jesus being both God and man. He is right. If he seeks by human logic to conceive of the redeeming duality of Jesus, he will seek in vain for an eternity. But if he will recognize the limitations of the finite mind, cease from his fruitless strivings, and believe God, his difficulties will be at an end. The puny modernists fumbling at the bolted gateway of Infinity are like the blinded Sodomites groping at the door of Lot.
What is the result of applying this Infinity Principle? What is the product in a man's soul when he has faced some Bible question recognizing this principle in the Book? The result is always the same. The recognition of the Infinity Principle produces FAITH,— faith that takes God V at His word. The Infinity Principle reveals that where reason staggers, faith may reveal.
Thank God for the blessing which the acceptation of the Infinity Principle brings to the mind of the eager student of God's Book. Once fully received, this principle inducts the mind into satisfaction and peace. The result of an acceptance and use of this principle in Biblical interpretation is sanity instead of fanaticism and faith instead of skepticism.
Copyright 1923, Clifton L. Fowler