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God’s Attributes: His Holiness (4/17/13)

God’s holiness is such a big and important part of who He is that it is often overlooked.  It is taken as a given and we don’t reflect too often on it.  But when we neglect to do so, we rob God of his glory.  We need to continually remind ourselves just how holy He is and just how lowly we are or we will not worship or serve Him in the proper way.

Holiness refers to sacredness or righteousness or perfection.  It means to be separate from sin, and God is fully separate and cut off from sin.  He is set apart from it; He is incorruptible.  Isaiah 6:3 says that God is “holy, holy, holy.”  R. C. Sproul points out that “only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree... The Bible never says that God is love, love, love.”

God cannot tolerate sin, and since we are such sinful creatures we are called to confess our shortcomings and inabilities in His presence (Is. 6:5). His holiness should stir within us an awe and adoration, and at the same time dread.  His holiness is blinding – the seraphim in heaven (who do not have a sin nature) have to cover their eyes in His presence, even! John says that God is “light” and there is no darkness in Him. But even though we can’t match this standard, we are told to be holy for God is holy (Lev. 11:44/1 Pet 1:16).  If He wasn’t holy, there would be no reason for us to strive for righteousness in our lives.  But we can bank on His holiness – we can bank on his separation from sin.  And because of that – we worship, adore, and serve Him.

                                   

God’s Attributes: Omnibenevolence (3/27)

Omnibenevolence is just a way of saying that everything that God does is good.  Every single thing – without exception.  This can be hard for many people to accept, because they see bad things happen in the world and wonder how could a good God let that happen.  We can try to explain away bad things all we want, but the truth is bad stuff does happen.  There is evil in the world.  We do not need to deny this in order to accept that God is good.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

We need to measure the bad things in life by God’s goodness, and not measure the extent of God’s goodness by the bad things.  We need to understand that His ways are higher than our ways, and things that seem awful to us are just part of his perfect, loving, and good plan for all of us.  Psalm 18 says “As for God, his way is perfect.”  We might not understand why something tragic has happened to our family, or our friends, or our nation, but we can trust that God means it all for good.  Martin Luther once said, "If God asked me to eat dung off the streets, not only would I do it, but I would know it was good for me.We can take comfort remembering that God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him - even if they don't seem good at first to us.



God’s Attributes: Omnipresence and Omniscience (3/13/13)

      God’s omnipresence refers to His being all places at all times; His omniscience refers to Him knowing all things.  Both of these attributes should cause us to reflect on what we do when we think we are alone.  We must remember that even when no one is around to see us blatantly sin, God is well aware of our actions. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).  Similarly, even if we think we have tricked others and are getting away with doing something wrong, God knows the truth.  Hebrews says, “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

      But there is not only a negative side to God’s omnipresence and omniscience, but also a positive side, or a side of these attributes that we can take comfort in.  For one, no matter where we are, or how alone we feel, God is always with us.  No matter how removed or separated we are from the rest of our friends and family, we can be assured he is with us to the end. “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).

     We can also be comforted knowing that God understands our deepest needs.  He knows what we are going through and the pains and heartache we are experiencing, even when it seems that no one else understands.  Even the little things that no one else notices, or cares about, God knows.  Matthew 10:30 tells us that “even the hairs on your head are numbered.”  So while these two attributes should cause us to reflect on God’s power and revere Him more, they also can assure us of the intimate ways He cares for us.


God’s Attributes: His Wrath (3/6/13)

God’s wrath is something people don’t often like to talk about.  Not only do they not like to talk about it, some people omit it altogether.  They convince themselves that God has no wrath in Him, that he could never get angry, and that He can only love.  But this is not what the Bible tells us about God’s character.  Romans 1 says “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against the ungodliness of men.”  Here we read that God is angered by the ungodliness of humans.  John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”  Here we read that there is indeed a reward for believing in the Son, but also a punishment for not believing in the Son.  Psalm 7:11 says “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.”  There are many other Scripture passages that point to the fact that God does indeed have wrath or anger in Him.

People like to neglect this attribute because it seems mean and unloving. How can a loving God be angry and punish us also? The same way a parent can love their child and still punish them for doing something wrong.  It breaks their heart to see their child disobey or possibly be in danger, and it is the same with God.  We forget sometimes that anger is not a sin – how we deal with anger is a sin.  Ephesians says “be angry and do not sin.” We can take comfort knowing that in His anger God never comes close to sinning.

A. W. Pink makes the bold claim that, since God is wrathful, if we do not acknowledge His wrath we are not truly worshipping Him.  Instead, we are twisting God into what we want Him to be – which can be nothing short of evil.  Furthermore, to worship and serve God rightly we must revere or fear Him.  Remembering that God is an angry God (Hebrews says an all-consuming fire) will produce a proper fear and respect in our worship of Him.  The wrath of God is a perfection of His character, we do not need to be ashamed of it. We should rejoice that we worship a God who detests sin.  We always take sin too lightly, but He never will.  The more we reflect and remember that God is a wrathful God who hates sin, we will also become more disgusted by it in our own lives.



God’s Attributes: Gracious and Merciful

            What’s the difference between grace and mercy?  Grace is receiving something you don’t deserve; mercy is not receiving something you do deserve.  God is both gracious and merciful to us.  How do these two attributes manifest themselves?

          First, let’s look at His mercy - Because of our sin and rebellion to God we are deserving of death (this was God’s warning ever since the Garden).  But in God’s vast and infinite mercy, we do not get the death we deserve. In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul writes, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”  So we see that not only is God merciful, he is also gracious.  The two are very closely related.  For we are not simply spared from death, but granted salvation.

            His graciousness – His grace comes fully in the act of sending His Son to die for our sins.  “For from his [Christ’s] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16), “For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Romans 5:15), “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

            God’s graciousness is key to our salvation.  Without a gracious God we would be left to our own devices, destined for Hell.  But God must be gracious.  It is part of His nature. In Exodus 34:5-6, we read “Yahweh, Yahweh, the compassionate and gracious God.”  How wonderful that we have a merciful and gracious God.  “His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).  Every day God holds back the awful punishment we deserve (mercy) and grants us blessings upon blessings (grace), culminating in the person of Christ.  How great is our God.



God’s Attributes: Immutability

 

Immutability: unchanging over time or unable to be changed.  Immutability refers to the fact that God is unchanging – He is always the same. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “God is a spirit, whose being, wisdom power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.”   Scripture also affirms this fact about God.  “If we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Tim. 2:13), “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17), “For I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6), “God is not man…that he should change his mind” (Num. 23:19).

Clearly this is not an attribute of God’s that can be denied, nor should it be.  Why is it so important that we remember God’s immutability?  Even at a young age we soon realize it is hard to trust anything in this life.  Our friends betray us, people let us down, our bodies aren’t everything we wish they’d be, we lose jobs… the list could go on.  Where can we turn to in a world like this?  Where could we ever be our trust?  The answer, and the only answer, is God.  When people let us down, and when we let ourselves down, Got keeps His promises. 

And what is His greatest promise?  Paul writes, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19) and “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love… nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).  God offered eternal life through Christ’s death, and once we are in Christ we can be sure that promise will be fulfilled.  The entire Bible is filled with God making promises and keeping them.  Why put your faith and trust in things that change and let you down?  Instead, trust Him who is unchangeable and you will not be put to shame.

 

God’s Attributes: Aseity

 

Aseity: the property by which a being exists in itself, of itself and from itself.  Learn a new word? Cool.  Basically, this means that God is self-existent and self-sufficient.  He was always. He will be forever.  There was no one that came first and created Him, nor does he require anyone or anything to sustain Him.  He simply was, is, and will always be.  Remember His words to Moses: “I AM who I AM.”  Simple, but profound.

            This is important for us as Christians because we need to establish a proper relationship with God.  He is the Creator and we are the creature.  In our sinful state we often take on positions of authority over God.  In our actions, and sometimes even our words, we say “I don’t care if you say you’re in charge, I’m gonna do what I wanna do!”  This is utterly foolish, but we all do it.  We need to constantly remember just how powerful God is and how lowly we are.  It is not just that he is above us, he is above all things.  When an older sibling scolds you, you can still have some satisfaction knowing that they have to submit to your parents still.  This is not the case with God.  He is the final authority on all things.

            Furthermore, He does not need us to exist, be happy, or feel fulfilled.  Acts 17: “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” (vv. 24-25).  Understanding that God never needed us, yet He created us anyway, and gave us life, purpose, and countless other blessing should greatly influence the way we respond to Him.  Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

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