Attributes of God, Part 1
God has several attributes that the Bible provides us. These attributes are broken into two different categories: those we can also possess and those we cannot. These are called the “communicable” and “incommunicable” attributes of God.
In this post I am going to focus on the incommunicable, those qualities that we cannot ever hope to share with him. He alone holds these qualities.
The first of these is His holiness. God is perfect in His character. He is completely without sin, without flaw. He alone holds the definitions of mercy, justice, love, and goodness. We, on the other hand, are flawed. We sin. We distort the definitions of love, mercy, and others to suit our own needs.
Isaiah 6:3 – And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Next, God is infinite. God cannot be measured. There is nothing that can restrict how infinite He is or can be. Humanity is finite. We have only a limited scope of what we can do or become. We can never attain infinite attributes in a finite creature.
Psalm 90:2 – Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Some other attributes are that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Big words. But they basically mean that God all powerful, in all places and dimensions simultaneously, and all knowing. Humans are none of those.
Psalm 33:9 – For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
Jeremiah 23:24 – Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.
1 John 3:20 – If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
God does not change. The essence of God has been, and will always be, the same. Humans are fickle. We change our minds more than we change our underwear. Just look at humanity today. We have drifted so far from traditions of old, some for good reason and others for not. But it goes to show that we are constantly second-guessing ourselves and thinking there is a better way. God’s way is perfect. There is no reason to change. Scholars call this attribute of God “immutability.”
Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
God is both self-existent and self-sufficient. God is the uncaused cause. He is infinite and has always existed. Along those same lines, God requires nothing outside Himself to exist. God does not need us in order to exist. He created us because of love. Humans were both created and require outside forces beyond our control for maintained existence.
Revelation 1:8 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Psalm 102:25-27 – In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
God is sovereign. God answers to no one and has the right to do with His creation as He pleases. While humanity likes to put ourselves on top of the throne of God, including many in Christian circles, we are clearly not the top of the heap. God has created us, not the other way around.
Isaiah 46:10 – I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
God is spirit. He has no human form. I understand this can be very confusing, especially when we think in terms of the Trinity. But God exists without form. This is also going to be important as we look at next week’s post about the communicable attributes of God. We are not talking about being made in God’s physical image, but His spiritual image.
John 4:24 – God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
God is not dependent on space or time. God transcends space and time. This is the relationship between God’s total essence and His creation. This also means that God is not affected by space or time. Humanity is affected by it. The physical laws of the universe do not apply to God, but they sure do apply to us. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to transcend space or time. I don’t care how much Star Trek tries to make you think you can, it simply is not possible.
Psalm 139:7-10 – Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Finally, God is unique. There is no one else like God. God is completely “other.” Humanity, while craving to be unique, always follows the crowd. Just look at the popular causes for today. Some are completely inane and stupid, yet we follow them. How much of social media is filled with people who think they are being different than the other person but who are simply following lock step with the crowd?
Isaiah 44:6-7 – “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let them foretell what will come.
So these qualities that I have discussed here are what make up God. These are attributes that He cannot and does not share with others as it would dilute his essence of God. Next week, I will begin to discuss those attributes that we share with God, the communicable attributes.
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