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The Attributes of God

The nature and character of our God…

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people have ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.

- A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

The late AW Tozer rightly said that the most important thing before our minds is our conception of God. Who we understand God to be infects every area of life and worship. In this session I want us to discuss the nature and person of our God. We will do this by first discussing what have been called God’s attributes, characteristics of his nature. We will then look at some of the unique works of God as creator, sustainer and redeemer. We will then look at the uniqueness of the God of the Bible as one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Finally, we will look at the unique person of Jesus Christ, God become a human being to reveal God to us fully and accomplish our redemption.

Our God: His Attributes

God is the most amazing thing anyone can think about or even imagine. The God of the Bible is both gloriously transcendent and immanently near to us in love. There are many different ways that Scripture speaks about God and reveals him to us. In various places throughout the story of the Bible God reveals that he is a being of certain attributes or characteristics. There have been many ways that Christians have thought about God’s attributes and categorized them, we will use three simple lists. First are God’s shared attributes, attributes of God that we share with Him as we are made in his image. Second are his unshared attributes, qualities that only God possesses uniquely as God. The difference will become evident as we move forward. Third, will be what I am calling relational attributes or attributes biblically ascribed to God in relationship with his creatures. One note needs to be made; these lists are by no means exhaustive, but only serve as an introduction to the attributes of our great God.

God’s Shared Attributes

  • Love – God is love and his sacrificial action in Jesus Christ gives us a true picture of love. We receive our definition of love from God, not use our own definitions for love and map them upon God. (1 John 4:8-1)
  • Kindness – God is kind and gracious to all that he has made. (Romans 2:4, 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4)
  • Goodness – God is the source of goodness and all that is good is derivative from his nature and creation. (Psalm 34:8, 100:5; Luke 18:19; Titus 3:4)Truthful – The God of the Bible is the one true God and is truthful in all his dealings. He speaks and acts truthfully in all circumstances and is utterly trustworthy in his nature. (Numbers 23:19;1 Samuel 15:29; John 14:6, 17:3; 1 John 5:20)
  • Righteousness and Justice – God is the righteous judge of his creatures and will always do what is right. His justice is ultimate and pure and he acts without partiality or favoritism. (Genesis 18:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 19:8; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9)
  • Knowledge – God knows all things exhaustively and presently. His knowledge has no limit as sees all and understands completely anything that can be known. (Job 37:16; Psalm 139; Isaiah 1 John 3:20)
  • Joy/Delight/Blessedness – God has full delight in himself and rejoices eternally. (Psalms 16:11; Nehemiah 8:10; Zephaniah 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:11)
  • Sovereign Power – God is all powerful and can do anything that can logically be done. His rule over history is final and he accomplishes all his purposes for creation. (Genesis 17:1; Psalm 24:8; Jeremiah 32:27; Daniel 4:32; Ephesians 3:20-21)
  • Freedom – God acts according to his own good pleasure and is not compelled in any way by anything outside of himself. (Psalm 115:3, 135:6; Daniel 4:35)
  • Faithfulness – God is utterly faithful to all his promises and will keep his word fully. He does not abandon his people even when we wander from him. (Numbers 23:19;1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Peter 4:19)
  • Beauty or Desirability - God is the most beautiful and desirable being there is – all that is beautiful in the world derives its beauty from the great artist who designed and made all things. (Psalm 27:4, 42:1, 73:25)
  • Holiness - Holiness refers to God being completely unique and separate all together from anything else so it is rightly said of God alone. Yet it also refers to God’s complete separation from sin and anything evil, so it is a quality we share as well. As such, it forms a nice bridge between God’s shared and unshared attributes. (1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 99:3,9; Isaiah 6:1-4, 57:15; Habakkuk 1:13; Revelation 4:8, 15:4)

God’s Unshared Attributes

  • Independence – God’s being and existence is not dependent on anyone or anything else. God has utterly no needs at all, was not created and has existence in and of himself. (Job 41:11; Psalm 50:10-12; Acts 17:24–25; Romans 11:35-36)
  • Unchanging or Immutable – God’s character and nature is utterly constant and trustworthy. God will not be one way today and then another way tomorrow and his purposes and plans are constant and sure (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 33;11, 102:25-28; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17)
  • Perfection – God is infinitely perfect in all his attributes and is not lacking in any way (Psalm 18:30; Matthew 5:48)
  • Eternity – God is, God has been, God will always be. He created space and time, relates to beings in time and will inhabit the infinite future. (Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 90:2; Romans 16:25-27; 1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 1:8, 4:8)
  • Omnipresence – God is spirit and is present at all places in all times. He is not limited in space and time to one location or epoch of history. (Psalm 139:1-7; Jeremiah 23:23, 24)
  • Glory – God is mind blowing, indescribable and all our talk of him falls short of all that he actually is.When God reveals himself to us, it is full of radiant brilliance that provokes awe and reverent fear. (John 17, Romans 3:23, Hebrews 1:3)
  • Unity – God is not a bundle of conflicting attributes and is not fragmented in his character or purpose. He is a unified and whole being in every way. He is not “part love, part justice, part holy,” he IS these things fully.

Relational Attributes – Attributes expressed in God’s Relationship to Sinners

  • Grace – Grace is God’s positive and unmerited favor towards undeserving and guilty sinners who deserve judgment and wrath. It is an expression of his love towards those who are undeserving. (Exodus 34:6; Ephesians 1, 2:1-10; Titus 2:11-15)
  • Mercy – God’s mercy is an expression of his kindness to people who are hopeless under the curse of sin and death. (Psalm 103:8; Romans 9:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Hebrews 4:16; James 5:11)
  • Wrath – God’s wrath is his stored up opposition and displeasure towards sin and sinners. It is his utter abhorrence of evil and an expression of his holiness and justice. (Deuteronomy 9:7,8; John 3:36; Romans 1:18, 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10)
  • Jealousy – God’s jealousy is his holy desire that his people worship and give their hearts only to him. It is his desire for their good that he wants them to worship and find satisfaction with him. God’s jealousy is not an irrational human jealously but rather his knowledge that he is what is best and most satisfying to his creatures. God’s jealousy is an expression of his wisdom and love for his people. (Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9)