For the past number of weeks, we have considered a number of God’s attributes, looking at scripture and asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand and appreciate our God more and more each day. I must confess that, while we have thought about 13 attributes, this is clearly not an all encompassing listing. I would encourage you to do your own study of God’s attributes; I am confident that it will enrich your relationship with your heavenly Father.
During the time of our study, we have considered:
- Eternality – the attribute that attests to God’s existence from all eternity past as well as future. In short, God has always existed. He is outside of time; indeed, He created time for His creation.
- Mercy – the attribute which we rely on daily as we come to God in repentance and seek forgiveness for the sins which we so readily commit against Him. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, God extends mercy to us because we are covered by His Son’s precious, atoning blood.
- Goodness – the attribute which underlies God’s character. God IS good. We have no way of knowing that which is good apart from what God has revealed to us. Indeed, scripture teaches that there is no one who is good, “no not one”. Goodness belongs to God.
- Omnipotence – the attribute which highlights God’s power. There is nothing that He cannot do. He has “all – power” – He is omnipotent. While it seems that He is powerless at times when horrific evil raises its head, God is watching and waiting to take action in His time and for His purposes. Rest assured, Beloved, God is not powerless – have faith and see what He will do.
- Holiness – this attribute focuses on the “set apartness” of God. He is holy. He is set apart from all that is sinful; from all that is unclean. His holiness is shown in His glory and magnificence. We are called to be holy as well, but our holiness can only come through Him; it is not intrinsic to our nature or our actions.
- Omnipresence – the attribute of God which describes his presence in all places. He is all present. Psalm 139 highlights this attribute beautifully. There is no place where we can go that we will not be with God. He cannot lose us because He is omnipresent. When ask God to be present with us during prayer, we are acknowledging that we desire His presence and it is also a conscious reminder that He is, indeed, with us.
- Immanence – the attribute of God which is akin to omnipresence but wonderfully different. Immanence highlights the fact that He not only is present everywhere, He is working even through the minutiae of our lives to produce a love for and enjoyment of His Word and, in fact, of Himself. God takes an active part in what is going on in His world.
- Immutability – the attribute of immutability means that God will not change His mind when it comes to His ultimate will for His children’s care and protection. God does not change – a characteristic that is totally foreign to us. He is immutable. He is the same today as He was before creation even existed. Therefore, since God does not change, we have confidence that His character will remain the same and that which He has willed, will, in fact, occur.
- Righteousness – this attribute means that God’s character or nature always leads Him to do that which is right. We know that God is holy — righteousness is His holiness in action. We, too, are called to be righteous, but we cannot do so on our own merit. Rather, we rely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
- Omniscience – this attribute is the third of the “all” or “omni” attributes and it refers to God’s all-knowledge. He is all-knowing. There is nothing that takes God by surprise. He knows each person, and even to the extent of knowing the number of hairs on your head.
- Justice – this attribute is tied to God’s holiness. Disobedience, sin, demands punishment because God is holy. In His mercy, however, God provided a ransom for us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. R. C. Sproul said:
The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the Cross. If ever a person had room to complain of injustice, it was Jesus, he was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. If we stagger at the wrath of God, let us stagger at the Cross. Here is where our astonishment should be focused.
R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 121
- Sovereignty – God is sovereign over all mankind or anything that mankind worships, nothing compares to our God and Lord. God’s sovereignty is a tremendous comfort to the believer because it enables him to have confidence that he does not need to fear, God is still on His throne and He is still sovereign – in charge – in control, no matter what might be going on in this temporal world.
- Love – this attribute was called “the sum of all Christianity” by the Puritan Theologian and Pastor, Jonathan Edwards. God’s love, agape love, is total, unconditional and everlasting. We don’t have to do anything before God will love us. The Holy Spirit said it through Paul’s writing: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the example of divine love for a being that can offer nothing … it is supreme love that is contingent not on the person being loved but on the nature of the One doing the loving.
One final thought. We have rather dissected God’s attributes, separating them one from another so that we could consider each of them in their fullness. But, God is not made up of separate parts – these attributes exist in Him and they are all active at the same time, eternally. Dr. Sproul says it like this:
God’s perfection applies to all of His attributes. His power is perfect; it has no weaknesses or any possibility of weakness. His knowledge is not only omniscient but reflects perfect omniscience. There is nothing that God does not know or that He could possibly learn. … God’s love, His wrath, His mercy – all that He is — is perfect. Not only is He perfect, but He is eternally and immutably so. There never was a time when God was less than perfect and there is no possibility that in the future He may slip into any kind of imperfection. What has been with God will be so forever. His perfection is immutable. It cannot change.
R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 198
Beloved, honor this incredible, majestic, holy God and be in reverent awe of Him and of His power, justice, mercy and love. Come to Him and remember His attributes and give glory to Him, now and forever more.
Father, we cannot conceive of Your attributes in their fullness and beauty. We have insufficient words or understanding to comprehend Your nature. But, we bow in humble submission to You and declare Your greatness. Forgive us for our unbelief, for our disobedience, for our refusal to help our neighbor. May we reflect on Your attributes and may we praise Your holy name.