Attributes of God
THE BEAUTIFUL WAY GOD IS
- 1 A Right Idea About God
- 2 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
- 3 I will get me honor upon Pharaoh
- 4 The chief End of Man
- 5 Meditations
- 6 God's Attributes
A Right Idea About God
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
An attribute is something that is true of someone. And an attribute of God then, would be something that is true about Him. For example we know from Jesus that He is humble, Matt 11:28-30. When Jesus said this, He revealed Himself to us. He made a statement using words to convey to us the way He is. He tells us something about Himself, something about His character and nature and personality. If we know what the word humble means we now have an idea in our minds about what Jesus is like.
This idea in our mind is how we know a person. It is their identity to us. And from this Idea we have, arises our feelings and affections toward them.
The idea we have of a person can be formed in many ways. Such as through others describing them, or through telling a story about them where we see how they act and respond. Or through our first hand observation of the person in life's situations.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
What does the name of God mean?
God revealed Himself in the book of Genesis in the lives of these men. When He says that He is The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob He is intending that we should recall to mind The God we met when we read the stories of the fathers. We remember the acts of God and His character as told in the book of Genesis. Because in those stories we saw God and heard Him speak about himself. We saw how He was gracious and faithful to Abraham, how he gave promises and kept them. We saw His power, His love, His grace in coming to Abram and lavishing upon Him a covenant and all kinds of blessing.
God made Himself Known in their lives and He intends that we get to know Him by reading these God-breathed (inspired) accounts.
I will get me honor upon Pharaoh
God's aim in redemption (all He has done to save His people)
1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
3. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
4. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honored upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
15. And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
16. But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
17. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
18. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
8. And Moses told his father in law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them.
9. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10. And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
11. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
12. And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God.
The chief End of Man
If the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever, then..........
We must know God- O taste and see
We must enjoy God- That the Lord is good
Stay long upon these passages. Look deeply and meditate upon them until you percieve and become familiar with God in them. Know that as you see Him in the Word is how He was and is and evermore shall be. Let His perfections excite your love for Him. Say, Lord, I love you for being this way. Cultivate a love for all of God's attributes, or God in all His excellence. Seek to meditate upon how good each thing about God is. Think long upon why it is an excellent and pleasant way to be.
Stay upon the passage until you are happy and find yourself glad that God is who He is.
This is why you exist, and it is a good use of time
Remember that God knows God with a perfect knowledge, and as He looks upon Himself (in His Son) He is filled with the greatest love, admiration, awe and satisfaction. This same satisfaction that God has in God is both His reason for and aim in, creating the universe and, you.
That is, God seeks to conform you to this same delight and relish He has in Himself. This is how Christ is, and this is what we were predestined to become.(Rom.8)
Omnipotent- All powerful
Power is the capacity to effect or cause. Power brings into being or puts out of being. Power alters, changes and destroys things. Often power is thought of in terms of resistance against it. The greater the resistance the greater the power that overcomes it. These are all aspects of power that God has put into our experience and into Scripture.
God has all power. That is, there is no resistance that could ever resist God. There is no weight greater than God can lift, or trouble greater than God can deliver from. All things are possible with Him.
However, it is important to answer the questions about God's omnipotence that seem to say that God can't do some things.
- Can God cease to exist?
- Can God create a rock so big that he could not carry it?
- Can God make an irresistible force hit an immovable object?
If all things are possible with God aren't these some of all things? Are they possible?
Here it must be seen that these questions all contradict themselves. The trick is in the definition of the words. It is very subtle. Note the term "a rock so big that God could not carry it". The question is can God create that particular item? That particular item is an impossibility. It is logically impossible for their to be anything that an all powerful being could not lift. So this term is a null object. It is like asking "Is their a liar who only ever tells the truth?" There is a hidden contradiction in the very question.
The same goes for the third question. It both affirms and denies the same thing in the same sentence. It affirms that there is an immovable object and then denies it. It does so very subtly and in a hidden manner. The definition of an immovable object is an object for which there IS NO FORCE THAT COULD MOVE IT. Then a force is asserted whose definition is A FORCE THAT CAN MOVE ALL THINGS.
Thus the sentence says that there is a force that can move the object and that there is not a force that can move the object. This internal contradiction inside the question itself is hard to spot but it makes the sentence meaningless.
Now to the first. This is not so immediately apparent as the others. Is it possible for God to cause himself to cease to exist? If he has all power could he do it? Often this question is answered in terms of God's will, that He would never will it and thus it is impossible that it should ever happen because it is impossible that God would ever will to do it. This is true and sufficient, but I think there may be more said to it.
The Bible says that God is immortal, or undying. He does not have the ability to die or to cease to exist. It also says that He is unchanging. Death or cessation would be a change. Therefore it is impossible for God to die or change and therefore, it is not possible for God both to be changeable and unchangeable at the same time. The question contradicts itself.
Omniscient- All knowing
God's knowledge is complete, omnifocal, eternal, independent, absolute.
complete God knows all things knowable. There is nothing not knowable to God.
omnifocal God knows all he knows simultaneously with equal attention, clarity, and focus.
eternal God's knowledge does not increase or decrease. He has known all he knows from eternity.
independent God's knowledge does not depend upon sources outside himself.
absolute God's knowledge is so exact, there is no difference between his knowledge and the thing itself.
Omni-present- Everywhere present
The eternity or eternality of God is his being from everlasting to everlasting. God existed before time. There was when time was not. It is important to give proper definitions of time and eternity in order to use them to describe God.
- The laws of logic state that something either is or is not. This is the law of the excluded middle.
- Any change of a being / object is its going from possessing a particular attribute to its not possessing it.
- Thus it goes from A to ~A (not A)
- The object cannot be both A and ~A at the same time and in the same relation. This is the law of non-contradiction.
- Therefore in order for there to be any change in the universe there must be some sequence such that at one point in the sequence an object possesses characteristic A and at another point it does not.
This sequence is time. It is the logically necessary sequencing for there to be change. Without it, all change would be contradictory. I would be both born and not born at the same point which is impossible. Thus time is the dimensional reference of change. There is no contradiction to say that I am born in 2008 but was not born in 1878. Because I am not simultaneously affirming and denying the same thing.
There are multiple senses of the word eternity.
- The endless future duration
- The whole backwards and forwards entire duration
- A state of there being no time or sequence of events - sometimes 'supra-temporal'
Some see in #1 that it will be a state like #3. This they take from
Revelation 10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: (KJV)
However, this would be better translated "that there should be no more delay". In other words, time is up. Because God elsewhere says that there will be "world without end" Is 45:17, Eph 3:21; and "ages to come" Eph 2:7. Likewise if there is to be any song in heaven or speech, it must be in sequence. For if it is not in sequence, then it is simultaneous. Furthermore, we would become instantaneously infinite. Because we will live forever, and if there is no time, then the equivalent of all the events that would ever happen in all eternity would be simultaneously in our mind at one point. For an infinite quantity of experience to be present in any mind at one point that mind would need to be infinite. Therefore, we ought not to assume that time itself will cease. I don't think that we can make the Bible say that.
Of #2 It has been argued that time itself cannot be eternal backwards. Because an infinite sequence would never arrive at any particular point no matter how fast you traveled along it because it would still be infinitely in the past every time you looked at it. Thus although we often speak in terms of God existing "from eternity" as though that meant, having lived in an infinite backwards series of moments, this is not possible nor true. Rather, there was when time was not. God is perfect and does not change. He does not think in the same serial fashion that we do. Having a thought chronologically prior to another. He does not sit and reason a thing through for a time in order to come to a decision. Rather, God is both omniscient and omnifocal.
Omnifocal: Men are monofocal. That is, we can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Try listening to two sermons at once from different sound sources. You will oscillate between the two, but you will not be able to concentrate fully on both. We are capable of doing more than one thing at a time, but for all intents and purposes our ability to focus our mind is limited to a very small number. However, God is not like man. We have to recall to mind many of the things we know but don't have in the forefront of our consciousness. For example, that the steam engine was a driving factor in the industrial revolution. You were not likely thinking about that when you started reading this article, even though you knew it.
God's capacity of mind is so great that He does not do this. He has everything He knows fully before all His consciousness all the time. He never forgets, nor do things fade from his attention. He is thinking at this moment about every particle in the entire universe with full attention. Indeed it could not be otherwise. God cannot limit His own knowledge. When God says that he will remember our sins no more, he is not saying that he will literally forget that we ever did them. He is speaking in covenantal terms. It means he will not bring them up between us and him any more. God knows all things knowable to the highest degree that they may be known.
From this we know that God does not need any sequence and in him is no succession. We must distinguish between chronological and logical order. They are not the same. One thing may be logically prior but chronologically simultaneous to another thing. For example, regeneration and faith. Reformed theologians believe that God regenerates the souls of men, so that they will be able to come to Christ. Without this new birth, they could not come to him. However, since we are both regenerated by the word and place our faith in the word in order to be justified, these two events, need not be separated by any time lapse. Our faith may act in the same instant that God regenerates us. Often it is said, that faith is the first breath of the new creature.
God has logical order in his mind. Nothing is contradictory or absurd in the mind of God. There is an "ordo salutis" in the mind of God with respect to the plan of redemption. However, we find great difficulty as temporal and sequential beings, to understand what an omniscient being thinks like. He does not need to go from one idea at time t to the next idea at t+1. He knows all ideas in the same "instant". However they are logically ordered. He did not take time to order them, they are eternal. God has had this plan from eternity. There was not when the plan was not. There was not when any of the ideas of God are any different than they are now. For us, our logical ordering of ideas takes place in time as we think from one step to the next. Having thought out our first idea we then take that and build on it to the next idea. We have the first thing first, and the second thing second, in order of our having the thoughts in time. Yet, this is because we are finite, finiscient beings. We take time to learn. God never learns. God does not have to figure out the first step at a time prior to the time he figures out the second step.
He does not need time sequence in order to properly order his thoughts logically. They are that way from eternity. However God does have the chronological order of the events in his mind also. They are not jumbled, they are ordered, but he did not have to take time to develop them that way.
This raises the question of staticity. Is God then static, unmoving, or is he dynamic and active? When we ask this question as humans we feel a sense of philosophical claustrophobia. If we say there is no change in God, then we think there is no motion in God. However, I think that this feeling arises from the utter gulf between finite beings and infinite beings. God's thoughts are all before Him at once in all their glory. This is especially to be said about His knowledge of Himself. He fully knows Himself and sees God in all His glory and perfectly with no diminution. At this same "time" He is fully enjoying all that He sees with the fullest possible, even infinite happiness. He is no less aware of anything because he is super aware of it. He is no less aware of what is going on in this instance in time because he is equally aware of all instances of time.
We only have a problem seeing this because we are trying to fit only some elements of this into some elements of our experience. We imagine ourselves in this unchanging state and think that it would not be an ideal state. However this is because we are finite and imperfect and sinful. We want to get better and thus an unchanging state would be against our greatest hope. However, God cannot get better. It is not possible for God to get any happier than He is, because His happiness is infinite, perfect and eternal. Thus He does not want change in that.
We may never grasp or feel what it is like to be in this kind of state, but we must not distort it by trying to make it fit into a finite beings own experience.
The word holy or holiness has multiple facets in Scripture.
- It can mean morally pure or free from evil
- Set apart for use in the service of God
- Regarded as God-honoring
At the heart of the meaning of the word holy, is the idea of the supremacy of God. If a thing was to be holy to the people of Israel, this meant primarily that it was to be regarded as a God-centered object. It was God-centered and God exalting in its use and not to be used in ways that derogated from that. Men use the phrase "is nothing sacred", to mean, is there nothing which you regard in such a way as to treat it differently than you do everyday things. You do not use an engagement ring to cut glass with or your grandmother's punch bowl to change the oil in your car.
God is to be highly exalted in proportion with his excellence. His excellence is infinite and thus he is worthy of infinite worship, glory and honor from all. For a thing or person to be regarded as holy, meant that they were a walking reminder of the exalted highness and greatness of God. You don't treat something that is associated with God lightly. Rather you treat it like one ought to treat something that is being used in the service of such a glorious and great being.
The very word glory (Hebrew: Kabod) in the Old Testament means weight. It is the same word used when God commands us to "honor" our father and mother. We are to give them due weight and not to treat them "lightly". The same goes for God. We are not to traipse into his presence as though we were anywhere else in the universe. There is nothing comparable to God's greatness. If we are to treat wedding rings and punch bowls with respect, how much more the infinitely glorious God.
This is most eminently shown in the story of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
God killed men because they did not act in such a way to show the supremacy of God. Their actions made God look like one can treat him however they wish and that is not so. Either we will show God to be holy or God will show God to be holy.
The Westminster Confession of Faith
Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.
I. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long- suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
II. God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.
III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.