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The Character of God

Summary:  (top)

God is independent, unchangeable, eternal and omnipresent. He exists as a spiritual being, having no form or dimensions, and is omniscient (all-knowing), wise, truthful, faithful, good, loving, merciful, graceful, patient, holy, at peace, righteous and just, jealous for His own honour, wrathful towards sin, perfect in every way, beautiful beyond comprehension, and is glorified through the revelation of Himself.

Introduction  (top)

Since I am listing aspects of the character of God, I feel that it is firstly important to underline that they are listed in no particular order. Each aspect of the character of God is equal in its characterisation of Him. For example, John can say in 1 John 1:5 that "God is light" and then go on to say that "God is love" in 1 John 4:8 & 16.

Also, as is rather common in this subject, the divine attributes have been divided (roughly) into "incommunicable" and "communicable" attributes. Here, "incommunicable" simply refers to those attributes which He has not passed on (or "communicated") to us either in ourselves or in creation. The "communicable" attributes, on the other hand, refer to those divine attributes of which we should have some form of personal experience and understanding.

Finally, the verses listed below are not the only evidence for the attribute being presented, these are just a selection.

The Biblical Teaching

Incommunicable Attributes  (top)

These are those aspects of God which we don't share with Him, and are likely to have trouble comprehending. However, as you read these, try thinking about what each attribute means to you, as someone in a relationship with God. For example, the first, Independance, tells me that even though He doesn't need me, He chooses me to live in a relationship with Him. That's pretty amazing!

   Independent/Transcendant  (top)

God does not need any of His creation for any reason, but we (and other creation) can please and glorify Him.

  • "God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.'"" (Ex. 3:14)
  • "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." (Acts 17:24-25)
  • "As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." (Is. 62:5)

   Unchangeable  (top)

God does not change in any way, and although he always acts in proper response to every aspect of His nature.

For example, Though He may have seemed more loving in sending Christ and more wrath-filled in preparing for Judgement Day, in every way He acts, He is always true to every aspect of His character simultaneously. His love is shown more prominently in sending Christ, to be sure, but He was not acting counter to His very real hatred of sin in sending Christ. In fact His hatred of sin (wrath) together with His complete justice and love prompted Him to send Christ.

Similarly, the Day of Judgement seems to show the wrath-filled aspect of God most prominently, but it too is a balance of all His attributes - his justice and wrath (hatred of sin) demands that a Day of Judgement occur, His love and mercy demand that He give ample opportunity for people to repent, hence Judgement Day is set sometime in the future.

  • "In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." (Psalm 102:25-27)
  • "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." Malachi 3:6

   Eternal  (top)

There was no time when God was not. He has no beginning or end, and does not live "in" time as we do: He sees all time equally yet discerns the place of events in time, and acts at specific points in time.

  • "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Ps. 90:2)
  • "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'" (Rev. 1:8)
  • "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (1 Pet. 3:8)

   Omnipresent (is everywhere)  (top)

God does not have size or shape that can be measured. He exists everywhere but can and does act in different ways in different places.

  • "To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it." (Deuteronomy 10:14)
  • "'Am I only a God nearby,' declares the LORD, 'and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?' declares the LORD. 'Do not I fill heaven and earth?' declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:23-24)

Communicable Attributes  (top)

   Spiritual  (top)

God is a being that is not made of matter, has no parts or dimensions and cannot be perceived by any of our bodily senses.

  • "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24)
  • "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Tim. 1:17)
  • "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." (John 1:18)

   Omniscient (all-knowing)  (top)

God is perfect in knowledge: He knows all things simply and perfectly.

  • "For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (1 John 3:20)
  • "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16)

   Wise  (top)

In all circumstances and situations, God knows best.

  • "To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his." (Job 12:13)
  • "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Rom. 11:33)

   Truthful & Faithful  (top)

Not only is God the true God, but His words and knowledge are true, and are in fact the standard by which truth is judged.

  • "...a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time..." (Titus 1:2)
  • "God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged." (Heb. 6:18)

   Good  (top)

Again, God not only is good, but is the standard for goodness.

  • "'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good - except God alone.'"(Luke 18:19)
  • "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Ps. 100:5)

   Loving  (top)

God's love means that He continually gives of Himself to others

  • "...God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)
  • "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)

   Merciful  (top)

God is good towards those in misery and distress

  • "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness..." (Ex. 34:6)
  • "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort..." (2 Cor. 1:3)

   Graceful  (top)

God is good towards those who don't deserve good.

  • "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:23-24)
  • "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Pet. 5:10)

   Patient  (top)

God is 'slow to anger'

  • "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." (Ps. 103:8)
  • "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." (1 Tim. 1:16)

   Holy  (top)

God is separate from sin.

  • "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." (Is. 6:3)
  • "Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy." (Ps. 99:9)
  • "Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy." (Lev. 19:2)

   Wrathful  (top)

God hates sin and indeed cannot not hate sin, for He is holy.

  • "'I have seen these people,' the LORD said to Moses, 'and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.'" (Ex. 32:9-10)
  • "Remember this and never forget how you provoked the LORD your God to anger in the desert. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the LORD. At Horeb you aroused the LORD's wrath so that he was angry enough to destroy you." (Deut. 9:7-8)
  • "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

   Peaceful  (top)

God is separate from all confusion and disorder.

  • "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." (1 Cor. 14:33)
  • "The God of peace be with you all. Amen." (Rom. 15:33)

   Righteous and Just  (top)

God is always totally fair and everything that He does is just and right.

  • "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he." (Deut. 32:4)
  • "I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, `Seek me in vain.' I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right." (Is. 45:19)

   Jealous  (top)

God seeks continually to protect His own honour.

  • "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." (Ex. 20:5-6)
  • "Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Ex. 34:14)

   Perfect  (top)

God possesses all good qualities and does not lack any, nor does He have any qualities that are not good.

  • "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt. 5:48)
  • "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." (Ps. 18:30)

   Beautiful  (top)

God in His being is the sum of all desirable qualities.

  • "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." (Ps. 27:4)

   Glory-filled  (top)

"God's glory is the created brightness that surrounds God's revelation of Himself" (definition from Grudem, Sys. Theol., p. 220).

  • "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23)
  • "Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty - he is the King of glory." (Ps. 24:10)

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