Why is it important to study and reflect upon the attributes of God?
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 of God he has revealed about himself in Scripture.
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.
The Attributes of God
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:24-25).
God’s independence means that he needs no one and nothing. He is the SOVEREIGN, independent one.
He exists completely independently of all things. He was never created and he created all things. He is the sovereign ruler who is over all and needs nothing from his creation.
All things are dependent upon God and look to him for their very existence. If God stopped upholding the world at any point, the world would simply cease to exist.
As it says in Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
Ponder this staggering attribute of God for a moment. Jesus upholds all things by the very power of his word. If he stopped speaking the universe into existence, it would dissolve.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! (Psalm 24:8)
God’s omnipotence means that he has all power. There are zero limits on the power of God. He is able to do everything wants and nothing can stop him.
This attribute of God is absolutely mind-boggling. We are so weak and limited in our own strength. And yet God is completely omnipotent. He is able to do all that he pleases.
Nothing and no one can stand against God. As it says in Psalm 2:2-4:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Kings and presidents may plot against God but he simply laughs at them. Why? Because God is omnipotent.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar (Psalm 139:1-2).
God’s omniscience means that he knows ALL things. This is an absolutely breathtaking attribute of God. Consider all the knowledge that exists in all the books that have ever been written.
Consider all the knowledge that is required to understand how the solar system works.
Consider all that must be know in order to understand every creature in the sea. God indeed does possess all that knowledge because he is omniscient. He knows all things, including every thought we think and every word that we utter. There is nothing outside of his complete and total knowledge.
Compare this to our knowledge. We are so limited in our knowledge and understanding of the world. We are so limited in our understanding of how things work. Not so with God.
His thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. What a glorious reason to praise God.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:7-10).
God’s omnipresence means that he is fully at all places at all times. There is never a time when God is not completely and fully everywhere. Never a time when he is not present everywhere.
This attribute of God is such good news for those of us who know Jesus Christ. He has promised that he will never leave us or forsake. We always have access to the full and complete presence of God, no matter where we go.
Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation can separate us from the loving presence of our God.
Just as God’s presence was with Daniel in the lion’s den and with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago in the fiery furnace, so God’s presence is always with us. This should be such a great comfort to us.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
When we say that God is unchangeable, we mean that he literally never changes. He has always been and always will be precisely who he is today. Nothing ever changes in his character. He doesn’t become more or less of anything.
When you combine this attribute of God with his other attributes, it highlights the true beauty of God’s attributes. He is has always been and will always be completely loving, righteous, holy, faithful, merciful, and gracious.
We don’t have to worry about God changing – about him becoming suddenly less holy or faithful or righteous. He will always relate to us in the same way because he is unchangeable. Just as he related to the saints of old, so will he relate to us.
If he was gracious previous saints, he’ll be gracious to us. If he was faithful to them, he’ll be faithful to us. If he was a shepherd to his people, he’ll be a shepherd to us. He is forever unchanging.
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin… (Exodus 34:6-7).
God’s unity means that he is simultaneously all of his attributes at one time. In other words, he’s not one part loving and one part holy. Rather, he is 100% loving, 100% holy, and 100% of all his other attributes.
You could say that God is not divided into pieces. He is both loving and just, faithful and true. His love goes hand in hand with his justice, and his faithfulness goes hand in hand with his truthfulness. No part of God is separated from any other part of God. Each attribute of God is simply one way of describing the totality of God’s character.
Why is this such good news? Because if God was only partially loving, we would have no guarantee that he would always treat us with love. If he was only partially just, there would be no guarantee that he would punish injustice and work justice for the oppressed.
But God is always 100% of his attributes. He is unified, and that should bring us great joy.
…to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen (Romans 16:27).
God’s wisdom means that he always chooses the best goals and the best ways to achieve those goals. In other words, God always does what is best, what is wise, and what is good. And he always chooses the best way to do the best things.
We can entrust ourselves to our infinitely wise God. Everything he ordains for us is good and right. Every path he leads us on is righteous and true and good.
In his wisdom, God truly is working all things for our God. As it says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Don’t doubt the loving, wise hand of your Father. Whatever you are going through at this moment, you can know that it has been chosen for you by your infinitely wise Father. He doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t accidentally lead us in the wrong direction. He is always wise and faithful.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
God’s truthfulness means that he is the ULTIMATE standard of truth. Every word he speaks and all his knowledge is the complete and total truth. There is no falsehood in him. He is truth itself. He never speaks a word that is even partially false. His words are true and we can rely upon his words as being 100% completely true.
Wayne Grudem says:
To say that God knows all things and that his knowledge is perfect is to say that he is never mistaken in his perception or understanding of the world: all that he knows and thinks is true and is a correct understanding of the nature of reality.
This is such good news and this attribute of God should fill us with joy. We don’t have to wonder whether God’s promises are true. Because God himself is fully and totally true, we can be absolutely sure that all his promises are true.
We can rely upon them completely. We can throw all our weight upon them. Hope in them. Believe them. Live and die by them. There is no falsehood in God, and we can completely entrust ourselves to his glorious true promises.
As it says in Romans 3:4, “…Let God be true though every one were a liar.”
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19)
God’s faithfulness means that he will bring every word he has spoken to pass. This is directly related to God’s truthfulness. He has made many true statements, promises to his people, and he absolutely will bring every one of those promises to pass. Every statement and promise that God makes is completely and totally true.
This attribute of God should be so encouraging to us. God will be faithful to fulfill his promises to you! You can count on God’s faithfulness. He will bring all of his promises to pass and every word he has spoken will prove to be true.
He is not a man that he can lie or change his mind. If he has spoken, he will fulfill it. Don’t doubt the faithfulness of God. Don’t doubt his promises. Trust him, hold fast to him, cling to him. He is a faithful God and will bring all his good words to pass.
Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1)
God’s goodness means both that he is the very definition of all that is good and that everything he does is good. In his very being, God is good. It’s simply who he is. Everything in this world that is good is a reflection of some part of God’s good character.
What a glorious privilege to know the One who is goodness itself. To be in fellowship with the One who is the sum and substance of all good things. There is nothing more good in the universe than God himself, and we get to call this good God, “Father.” Is there any greater privilege than that?
Additionally, everything that God does is good. We can be sure that every action he takes is incredibly good. We can also be sure that everything he does in our lives is good.
I love how Psalm 31:19 puts it:
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
God has staggering, overflowing, abundant goodness stored up for us. And he loves to pour it out upon us. Isn’t that good news? Doesn’t that fill your heart with joy. Our God is good and does good. We can rest in that.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).
This is a breathtaking attribute of God. God. Is. Love. It’s not just that God is loving, which he certainly is. It’s that his very being is love itself. Everything about God is love.
Wayne Grudem says, “God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others.”
What an astounding thing to ponder. God is constantly giving himself to others. Constantly bringing others into his loving goodness.
And amazingly, he pours out that love upon us. God loves us so much that he gave his only Son to die in our place on the cross to rescue us from our sins.
As Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
God doesn’t just say that he is loving, he actually proves it by laying down his life for us. Is there any greater proof that God is love. Is there any greater evidence that God loves you?
Gracious and Merciful
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness… (Exodus 34:6)
When we say that God is both gracious and merciful, we’re talking about two sides of the same coin. Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what we do deserve.
God is gracious by giving us so many blessings that we don’t deserve. Even though we sinned against God and rejected him, he still poured out his grace upon us. He blesses us, gives good things to us, and loves us as his beloved children.
God is merciful to us by not giving us what we do deserve. We deserve to be punished for our sins. We deserve to experience the furious wrath of God for our rebellion against God. And yet God doesn’t treat us according to our sins.
As is says in Psalm 103:10, “He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.”
I’m so grateful that God doesn’t treat me according to my sins. Instead of giving me what I deserve, he pours out abundant goodness upon me. Instead of punishing me for my sins, he gives me the righteousness of Christ and all the staggering blessings that come with that.
These two attributes of God should cause us to bow down before God in both wonder and worship. He is worthy of our praise and adoration because he is gracious and merciful.
Savor The Attributes of God
The attributes of God shouldn’t just be head knowledge. Rather, they should motivate us to worship our God. They should fill us with awe and wonder and praise. They should stir our affections for God and set our hearts on fire.
So savor these attributes of God. Let them be a springboard for worship.