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Attributes of God

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"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us..." - A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy

The nature of God can be helpfully described in terms of different attributes. An "attribute" can be undertood as something God possesses, or in other words, that which is attributed to him that makes him God.

Classifying the attributes of God

The attributes of God are generally classified into two groups: those that are unique to God, and those that are shared with His creatures.

Eternal

God exists forever, meaning he has no beginning or end (cf. Psalm 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17). He has always existed in the same way: fully and completely as God. "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" (Revelation 4:8)


Immutable

Immutability means that God never changes in his being (who he is) or promises (cf. Mal.3:6; James 1:17; Heb. 6:17).


Impassable

God is without passions. He is not overwhelmed by any emotion, he is not incapacitated or weaked or stifled by any event or any amount of grief or love. Rather, God is totally self-controled. While God does grieve, and does passionately love, he does so completely on purpose.

Infinite

God is not subject to any of the limitations of humanity or his creation.

All-powerful

God has all power. He can exercise dominion over the entire universe, carry out the purposes of his wisdom, govern the hearts of men, and even create things out of nothing.


Everywhere-present

God is everywhere - Jer. 23:24; Psa. 139:7-10; 1 Kings 8:27. "This is not to say that God’s form is spread out so that parts of Him exist in every location. God is spirit; He has no physical form. He is present everywhere in that everything is immediately in His presence. At the same time He is present everywhere in the universe. No one can hide from Him and nothing escapes His notice." [1]

All-wise

God has all wisdom. He works everything out for the good of his people, and for the display and enjoyment of his glory. This involves countless factors and people and events and decisions and all sorts of things that would drown any stategist. But not God. Even when things look the worst, God is carrying out his perfect wisdom. He never fails, never lacks any foresight, and never estimates. He knows all, and plans all, and he loves to display the glory and beauty of his wisdom by accomplishing the seemingly impossible.

All-knowing

God knows all things - 1 John 3:20; Psa.147:5; Heb.4:13. This includes the past, the present, and the future. It includes actuality, and contigencies. That is, he knows what will happen, and he knows would "could" happen. There was never a time when God did not know anything. The greatest and deepest and most fascinating thing that God knows is himself, for his is infinitely deep in character and substance and beauty and wisdom. "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34)

Simple

"The simplicity of God means that God is a unified being – He is one essence. God is not composed of a variety of substances. In this sense he is different from humans who are made up of matter and spirit. Jesus is not an exception to this truth. While he took a human body while here on earth he is still absolute spirit in his essence. The simplicity of God reminds us that God needs nothing else to exist neither did he comes about by a number of forces or substances joining together. This reassuring fact will encourage us to worship him as the unchanging God." [2]

Self-existent

God's self-existence means that he does not need us or the rest of creation for anything. While everything other than God depends on God for everything, God depends on no one for existence. He is absolute reality, with whom we have to reckon.

aseity n. (Metaphys.) independent or underived existence. (f. med. L aseitas L a from + se oneself; see-ITY) The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, second edition, 1984

Self-sufficient

"The Scriptures allude to the fact that God does not need anything that we humans need to survive. He requires no water, air, food, sleep or money. Counselors, supervisors, and advisors of any kind are of no need to Him. He is self sufficient in all capacities, and this is hard for the human brain to consider - the fact that someone does not need what we do to survive." [3]

Immaterial

God is not fundamentally composed of matter, for he is spirit, and he created all matter (and all spirit other than himself). This does not mean that God is absolutely nothing ("immateriality" as a word can sometimes mean this), rather it means that God is nothing physical. "[T]he true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24)

Good

God desires only what is beneficial to all. Every purpose or inclination of God, from creation to the establishment of the New Covenant, was for the good of humankind. Jdgray 13:44, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Loving

"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8 (NKJV) God is concerned for his creatures, and especially his people. He is tender toward them, and does not take pleasure in their suffering or condemnation. He seeks the best for us, and he offered up his Son in love as a substitution for sin. He loves to love people through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gracious

God loves to give us what we don't deserve. He loves to pardon sin and lavish us with his goodness. He takes pleasure in giving gifts to people to display the glory of his resourcesfulness, patience, and mercy.

Merciful

God shows his mercy by not giving us what we deserve: punishment.

Holy

God is "set apart" and "other".

Righteous

God is righteous because He is perfectly right and true. God has no guilt or sin. His perfect righteousness makes Him moral, just and incapable of doing wrong. His Divine Law reflects His righteousness and truth in all things.

Just

God is deeply concerned with making wrongs right. He lets no sinner off the hook without a fitting punishment, or a fitting substitutionary atonement.

Sovereign

See main page: Sovereignty of God

See also

Resources

  • Stephen Charnock & William Symington, The Existence And Attributes Of God (Baker, 1996) ISBN 0801011124
  • A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy (HarperSanFrancisco, 1978)
  • J. I. Packer, Knowing God (IVP, 1993)

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Theopedia-logo This page uses content from Theopedia, which favors a Calvinistic/Reform POV. The original article was at Attributes of God. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion-wiki, the text of Theopedia is under [Creative Commons 3.0 license]

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