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Archive for the tag “Attributes of God”

The Attributes of God, Part 2

Last week I looked at those attributes of God that are not transferable to humanity. They are qualities that make up the essence of God. He alone can claim them.

This week I would like to look at those attributes that caused God to proclaim in Genesis that are made in His image.

Genesis 1:27 – So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

I am sure I will leave out some qualities. There really are too many to count. But I want to touch upon those qualities that God has provided us. Now keep in mind that just because we have a quality that God has it does not mean that we use it properly. More often than not we muddy God’s image in the way we behave and act out.

These are also attributes that we need learn to imitate God if we expect to be called a Christian.

Genesis 1:3 – And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

The first of these qualities is the ability to communicate. We know that God spoke, and speaks. Genesis 1:3 is a great example of that. God’s communication is filled with both truth and power. Unfortunately, as humans our communications is often filled with half-truths, lies, and weak statements. We spend our time getting into Facebook arguments, listening blindly to people with agendas, and hurting those we love most with our words.  Christians should learn to speak with truth in love and to command the power that God gave us. In Genesis God tells us that we will rule over everything. Rulers don’t speak with wimpy mumbling. Rulers command respect and their words are filled with truth and power.

1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Psalm 11:5 – The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.

Next, God both loves and hates.

Whoa Fred! God is love! How can He hate?

Well, our human definitions of love and hate just are not big enough to encompass those qualities in God. We know God is and shows love. He did that through Jesus Christ. We are able to express love as well, even though it is tainted by sin. No matter how deeply you love your spouse or child it will never be as deep as God loves His children.

Now what about hate? When we think of hate, we usually think of someone who is filled with ignorance about a situation or person. For example, there may be a person at work that completely gets under your skin. You cannot stand working with them. They might be abrasive toward you or demeaning toward you. If you were to come up to me and say that you hate that person, I would ask you if you have considered what they might be going through. Perhaps you remind them of someone who hurt them deeply. Maybe something you did or said inadvertently upset that person and they can’t get over it. But God is not like that. In last week’s post we discussed how God is omnipresent and omniscient. This means he sees all and knows all that people are going through. He looks directly to the heart of a person. At the risk of sounding reformed in my theology here, I want you to imagine Hitler. During his time of killing the Jewish people and waging a war that killed many more, I am going to go out on a limb and say that during that time God hated Hitler. Now let’s look at something that most likely didn’t happen, but if Hitler stopped killing, repented of his ways as best he could, and completely turned around, working for the ways of God and justice, then God’s heart would change toward him because Christ’s blood would have covered him. God loves His children. He hates those who crave violence and destroy justice.

Isaiah 30:18 – Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Another couple of attributes of God is both justice and mercy. We share in those with God. God provides us mercy. He has done everything to allow us the opportunity to get out of what we rightfully deserve. We do exhibit mercy to people. At my church we have a program called Overcomer’s Outreach. Many of the people in there deserve a lot of bad things. Most have had several bad things happen to them already, but they have stopped short of killing themselves or others. Our church steps in to prevent them from hurting themselves further. Even though they don’t deserve it, and sometimes don’t even want it, we help them to get out of their messes. But humanity is imperfect. We don’t always show mercy perfectly as Christ has.

God always does what is perfectly right according to the law. That is called justice. While we have the ability to be lawful, we are imperfect in our execution of justice. This is seen in how we create laws in our country. Recently our country elected a new president. This president is doing what is right in his eyes. Unfortunately that has upset quite a few people who don’t see justice the same way he does and we have seen rallies and demonstrations because of it. This is an example of our imperfect view of justice.

1 John 3:20 – If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

James 3:17 – But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

The next set of attributes of God that is also available to us is wisdom and knowledge. God knows all. He is omniscient. We have knowledge, but only in part. To go along with that, we are able to show wisdom, which is the proper use of knowledge.  Wisdom is used properly when it is used in light of Scripture. God has perfect wisdom and is able to determine the best course of action for accomplishing His decisions.

Acts 26:25 – “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.

To go along with wisdom and knowledge, God is also rational and He gives us the ability to be rational as well. Everything God possesses in His wisdom and knowledge comprises His perfect thought. We have the ability to be rational, but our decisions are not always right. Since we don’t have perfect knowledge and are affected by sin, we cannot have perfect rationality.

Titus 1:2 – in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

Truth is where words or actions reflect what is actual, and it is a quality possessed by God. We can be truthful, but we are never perfectly truthful. We exaggerate or tell small lies so that people don’t get hurt by our words.

Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

The final attribute of God that is communicable is goodness. Being good can only be understood with relationship to God and His character. Humanity is able to be good with one another, but our standards of goodness are very subjective. No one sees everything the same way when it comes to goodness. true goodness can only be understood in relation to God and Scripture.

Now I am sure I missed a lot of qualities. All of Galatians 5 comes to mind. But Galatians 5 can be described through one or more of the above attributes.

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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