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Some Attributes of God

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(By Mark Fontecchio)

Have you ever found yourself gazing into the dark sky on a clear and cold winter night? Away from the city lights we are able to look up and get a glimpse of God’s creation. From the naked eye we are able to see planets, stars, meteorites, and the northern lights. In all its majesty, the display of God’s creation is spectacular. Yet, it goes without saying that what we are witnessing is but a small fraction of God’s entire creation. It is beyond our ability and comprehension to understand the totality of what the Creator has done. Much in the same way, a similar situation arises when we discuss the attributes of God. We become deeply impressed by what we know from the Scriptures about our God, even though it does not begin to fully describe the greater fullness of who God is. The glory of the Lord is beyond what can be put into words.

The attribute of God I am probably the most thankful for is His love. One of the premier passages from the Bible that describes this love is found in 1 John. There we read, “For God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:8b-10). Love is, “intrinsic to the character and nature of God” (Walvoord 1985, 1 John 4:8). This attribute of God moved Him to send His Son to die on our behalf. The Apostle John was clear; this was not done in response to our love. Instead, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This unconditional love from God came when He chose to send His Son to die in our place, even though we most certainly did not deserve such mercy. Charles Ryrie does an exceptional job of summing up the application of this love when he states, “God who is love allows Himself to love sinful people. That is grace (Eph. 2:4–8). That love of God has been poured out into the believer’s heart (Rom. 5:5). In trials God shows His love toward His children (Heb. 12:6)” (Ryrie 1999, 44).

We live in a world where everything is constantly changing. Thankfully, we can rest assured that our God is immutable. Our perfect God simply cannot change. Malachi 3:6 teaches, “For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” We are reminded, “A promise is only as good as the person who makes it. God will keep His promise to the nation of Israel—it will not change—because His Word, like Himself, is immutable” (Walvoord 1985, Mal. 3:6).

Another significant passage concerning the immutability of God teaches us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). The unchanging nature of God the Son had already been directly revealed in Hebrews 1:12. The intention of Hebrews 13:8 was to remind believers that even though the false doctrines of men may change, Jesus Christ continues to remain the same.

James, the half-brother of our Lord, gave a powerful testimony of this attribute of God by writing, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, James contrasted God with the sun and moon. The orbits of the sun and moon give variation in our light, but there is absolutely no change in how God deals with His people. The physical light on earth shifts, but the God who created it does not!

In our world of constant change, people are continually switching jobs, homes, and friends. This has become a normal part of life. Values in our culture shift with popular opinion. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. The lack of acceptance of universal truth leaves men and women grasping for a standard that does not shift. Praise God that we can take confidence in Him and in the promises of His Word.

Our confidence in God also rests upon another one of His attributes taught in Scripture, and that is the teaching that God is self-existent.  This means God is independent in His being. He is dependent upon no one and nothing else. Everything else in the universe depends on God. The Apostle Paul taught about Christ, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17). Jesus Christ is the Creator and Sustainer, and does not depend on us.

Another inspiring passage that speaks of the self-existence of God can be found in Isaiah. There we read, “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?” (Isa. 40:13-14). The obvious answer that was expected to these questions was that no person had done these things. The reason is simple; God is independent of His creation.

The self-existence of God could easily be overlooked as an important attribute. However, unlike the religions of men, the God of the Bible is not beholden to those He created. God is independent and free to exercise His other attributes, including His love, sovereignty, and justice. I draw great comfort and strength from knowing that the God I serve is worthy of my trust! Let us remember the words of Scripture, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD” (1 Cor. 1:31).

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The Holy Bible: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999.

Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

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