Why is it important to study and reflect upon God’s attributes?
In The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer said,
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
When we go through hard times, what we believe about God shapes how we respond to them. The attribute of God’s sovereignty assures us he is in control. The attribute of God’s love assures us he cares for us and will be good and faithful.
When tempted to sin, the attribute of God’s holiness produces healthy, godly fear. The attribute of God’s omniscience reminds us that he sees us and knows all we do and think. It is important that we know our God and believe the attributes he has revealed about himself in Scripture, because:
What are the attributes of God?
An attribute is something that belongs to someone. A quality or characteristic or trait. Attributes of people may be intelligence or humor or diligence. You might say that someone is hard-working, or kind, or generous. Attributes of God are his traits or characteristics. Some examples are: God is eternal, infinite, holy, loving, merciful.
“The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. And unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped.” –A W. Pink
Knowing God, and knowing his attributes brings us great joy, delight and peace of mind. The more we know God the more we enjoy him, worship him, and experience his peace when going through hard times. The more we know God, the more we will fear him, turn from sin and spare ourselves the consequences of sin. The more we know God, the more we will trust him with our lives.
Apart from knowing God, we won’t understand sin, its consequences, or how to be freed from it. We won’t know what Jesus has done to redeem us from sin’s punishment and power.
Knowing and meditating on the following 3 attributes of God particularly changed my life: God’s sovereignty, God’s wisdom, and God’s love.
PEACE-PRODUCING ATTRIBUTE #1: GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
God’s sovereignty is his complete and absolute rule, control, power over all things. This attribute means that God has decreed all that has ever happened and ever will happen and ultimately brings about all he has purposed.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
Our God is sovereign. That means there’s no such thing as luck. Anything that happens to you, good or bad, must pass through His fingers first. There are no accidents with God. I like the story of the cowboy who applied for health insurance. The agent routinely asked him, ‘Have you ever had any accidents?’ The cowboy replied, ‘Well no, I’ve not had any accidents. I was bitten by a rattlesnake once, and a horse did kick me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while, but I haven’t had any accidents.’ The agent said, ‘Wait a minute. I’m confused. A rattlesnake bit you, and a horse kicked you, Weren’t those accidents?’ ‘No, they did that on purpose.”
? Tony Evans
“The sovereignty of God means that He has total control of all things past, present and future. Nothing happens that is out of His knowledge and control. All things are either caused by Him or allowed by Him for His own purposes and through His perfect will and timing… He is the only absolute and omnipotent ruler of the universe and is sovereign in creation, providence and redemption.” www.GotQuestions.org
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3
There is not one single grain of sand outside God’s absolute sovereign rule and control. Not one molecule, not one atom in the whole universe. God directs every single lightning bolt, every single snowflake every single fish in the sea, every insect, etc.
God is Lord over history. God has determined all that will happen and decreed all that will happen. He knows the beginning from the end.
God has a perfect timing for everything he does:
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:9-10
God has a perfect timing for each person he saves. He saved me in my 20’s – I’m so grateful. I have seen him save others on their deathbeds – God’s sovereign timing!
God will accomplish all his purpose for our lives!
Before the creation of the universe God had determined when we would be born, what country we would be born in, what language we would speak, what talents and skills we would have, what church we would be in, what would happen to us in our lives, who are parents would be, etc. I’m so grateful for the parents God gave me.
If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. –R.C. Sproul
God works all things according to his own perfect purpose:
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, Ephesians 1.11
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36
How Knowing the attribute of God’s sovereignty blesses us:
Knowing God is sovereign produces humility in us
We aren’t in control, but God is. In humility we should bow before him, seek his will for our lives, humbly accept his will even when it’s hard to see how it could be good. Humility leads us to seek his word and his promises, and to seek him in prayer. Humility also helps us to submit to God’s will in our lives whether we understand it or not.
Knowing God is sovereign helps us trust him
Over and over Scripture tells us to trust God with our lives. To trust him to guide and protect us, even when we can’t see anything hopeful. We can trust God because we know he has everything under control, and he has a good plan for our lives that no one can thwart. This brings us peace and security in our lives.
Knowing God is sovereign brings us hope
Knowing God is sovereign means he can change anyone; for no one can resist God. This gives me hope to pray for family members and friends to be saved. Knowing God is sovereign gives me hope that God will change me. Hope that he is in control of every challenging situation I face. God will accomplish every single one of his purposes.
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42.2
The second attribute of God that gives us hope and joy is…
PEACE-PRODUCING ATTRIBUTE #2: GOD’S WISDOM
God’s wisdom is his perfect knowledge and complete understanding of all things. He always makes infinitely perfect decisions, for he knows the perfect actions to take, the perfect words to speak, what blessings to give and withhold, and what he must do to bring about all his will.
God is wise in heart, that is, he is most wise. God only is wise; he solely and wholly possesses all wisdom; therefore he is called, ‘the only wise God.’ I Tim 1:17. All the treasures of wisdom are locked up in him, and no creature can have any wisdom but as God is pleased to give it out of his treasury. God is perfectly wise; there is no defect in his wisdom. Men may be wise in some things, but in other things may betray imprudence and weakness. But God is the exemplar and pattern of wisdom, and the pattern must be perfect. –Thomas Watson
We see God’s wisdom in the creation:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1.1
We see God’s wisdom in the laws of physics, in the seasons, in the boundaries of the oceans, in the way the whole creation works together, in day and night, summer and winter, etc.
We see God’s wisdom in the creation of the human body:
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139.14
Our eyes, ears, brain, nervous system, memory, touch, smell, etc. all declare God’s wisdom
We see God’s wisdom in salvation:
No one could have ever thought that God would become man, live a life of perfect obedience, then take our sins upon himself and pay for those sins on the cross, so that when we turn to him in faith he gives us salvation and righteousness as a free, undeserved gift. That is a wisdom we could never fathom.
How does knowing God is infinitely wise help us?
No matter what we go through we can know that God, in his infinite wisdom has designed it for our good. In his wisdom, it is the very best thing for our lives, though we may not understand how.
God always knows what to do in every situation. He is never taken off guard, never unsure of the best course of action. He exercises his perfect wisdom in his children’s lives. He knows exactly what we need to be conformed to Jesus. He knows exactly what to give and exactly what to withhold. He never makes a mistake.
We should trust God’s wisdom for our lives, and obey his word even when it does not make sense to us. Knowing that God is infinitely wise should motivate us to give him thanks and not complain or grumble. A 3rd faith-building attribute of God is:
PEACE-PRODUCING ATTRIBUTE #3: GOD’S LOVE
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
God is love. For all eternity, the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit loved one another infinitely. And then God poured out his love and created us, and despite our rejection of his love, he so loved us he sent his Son Jesus to save us.
God loved us from all eternity:
…when Israel sought for rest,
3 the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. JE 31.2-3
God loved us before we ever loved him:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.6-8
God’s love will keep us to the end:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.35-39
How does the attribute of God’s love give us hope and joy?
God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son. ~ Jerry Bridges
Knowing that God loves us is a comfort in trials. Whether we feel it or not, God loves us, and never ceases to love us. All he does in our lives he does in love. Whatever we are going through it is the most loving thing.
Even when our Father disciplines us it is because he loves us:
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12.5
Now combine these three attributes! What joy and peace this yields!
Together, the attributes of God’s sovereignty, wisdom and love make a bedrock for us to stand on. If God were only sovereign, but not wise or loving, that would be a scary universe. If he were wise or loving but not sovereign that would be scary too. But because he is sovereign, wise and loving, we can have great peace and confidence that he will guide, direct and work all things for his glory and our good.
Note: Though it has been a number of years since I read it, many of the ideas in this post were inspired by “Trusting God” by Jerry Bridges. I highly recommend it.