The Person and Attributes of God
We’re beginning a series of lessons today entitled, “The Person and Attributes of God.” Through Jeremiah, the Lord said, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jere. 29:13).
God is not hiding. He invites us to seek Him and promises that if we do, He will reveal Himself to us. Why is it important to seek after God, to try to understand Him? Because this is why angelic beings and human beings were created — to know God and enjoy Him, to behold His glory and give Him glory.
The highest purpose of any intelligent life is to know and worship God but we must worship Him according to His Self-revelation. Jesus said that the Father wants us to worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Worshipping in spirit means we are led by the Holy Spirit and worshipping from our spirit, from the deepest place of our being. But what does it mean to worship God in truth and whose truth is it? It means that we worship according to the patterns that God reveals to us in His Word. Our worship of God is consistent with His revelation of Himself in holy Scripture. It is God who teaches us who we are worshipping and how we are to worship Him.
It’s important to know the truth about God so that we do not become idol worshippers. An idol is anything that competes with God for our ultimate love and loyalty. But idolatry is far more than bowing down before statues made with gold or wood, more than pagan rituals and false religions, more than the all-consuming pursuit of fame, wealth or power, far more than adoration of the rich and famous. Idolatry at its essence is formulating ideas and theories about God that are false, untrue and unworthy of Him.
Idolatry begins as imagination — imagining God to be something or someone other than the Person whom He declares Himself to be. This can lead to the creation of a god who is not God, recreating God into some human likeness or figment of human or demonic imagination.
Since this is true, then religions, philosophies and even churches which are presenting God as someone contrary to His Self-revelation in Scripture are doing nothing other than calling people to worship an idol. They are not making disciples for Christ but disciples of an idolatrous, blasphemous godless religion.
Then how can we know truth about the Lord? Since God is spirit, He cannot be seen by the human eye. Since God is eternal, He exists independently of time. Since God is infinite, there is an infinite amount of information about Him which we could not possibly understand.
We can only know God as He discloses Himself to us but in His kindness He has done this — the Lord has pulled back the veil and revealed some of the essential qualities of His being. The true and living God is a personal Being and can be known personally.
We call God’s Self-revelation attributes. An attribute of God is something that is true about God which God has revealed to us. God has used three means of revelation: general revelation through nature and conscience, verbal revelation through the holy Bible and personal revelation through Jesus Christ.
1. General Revelation Through Nature and Conscience
Through the created universe, the Lord has revealed some aspects of His being: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1).
The existence of an intelligently designed universe reveals the existence of an intelligent Designer. The atheist would have us believe this absurd equation:
Nothing + Chance Mutation + Time = Everything
How could nothing cause anything to come into being? And if something did come into being from nothing, how could chance mutation result in such a wonderfully complex life form as a human being? The world view of the atheist requires more faith than a Biblically formed world view which declares that there is a Creator and His creation reveals something of His being: “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through that which has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Creation reveals God’s eternal power and His divine nature. Billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, all balanced in perfect symmetry across a universe we cannot measure, reveal the awesome, immeasurable power of God.
The balance of sub-atomic particles held together in an atom by forces beyond our understanding, the vast information contained in a single strand of DNA, these reveal the wisdom of an intelligent Designer. The continuation of the universe hour by hour reveals the faithfulness of God to sustain and uphold that which He created.
God also reveals something of Himself through our moral conscience, “That which is known about God is evident within them” (Rom. 1:19). Though human beings are fallen and the imprint of God in the soul is marred by sin, all people still retain some sense of the difference between good and evil, mercy and cruelty, right and wrong. This reveals a Creator who Himself must be a moral Being.
God’s general revelation through His creation and through conscience is not enough to bring a person to repentance and faith, it is not saving revelation. But it provides enough information to reveal that God exists. The problem is not that God has hidden His existence. The problem is that people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them” (Romans 1:18,19).
To those who are willing to accept God’s revelation that He exists, God will provide further revelation leading to salvation.
2. Through the holy Bible God reveals aspects of His being.
In holy Scripture, the inspired Word of God, the Lord unfolds His holiness, His wisdom, kindness and justice. He reveals His merciful desire to save lost humanity and reveals our Savior. In the pages of the Bible, God reveals His heart and His mind.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The word inspired is theopneustos. The most literal translation would be God-breathed.
The Old Testament prophets continually said, “Hear the word of the Lord” (for instance Isaiah 66:5 and Jeremiah 22:29 among many examples). Jeremiah said, “Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord’” (Jere. 2:1,2a). Hosea said, “Then the Lord said to me” (Hos. 3:1).
God was speaking through the prophets. The Apostle Peter expressed this truth when he said, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20,21).
God is not hiding. He is continually revealing Himself through the writers of the Bible.
3. In Jesus, we encounter God’s Self-revelation in human form.
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son … And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:1,2a,3a).
Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
The Apostle John said, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained (interpreted) Him” (John 1:18).
Jesus said, “No one knows the Son except the Father nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27).
In Jesus we see as much of God’s Self-revelation as we are able to comprehend. He is the “exact representation” of God’s nature.
God is not hiding. He created the universe as a stage on which He may display His glory. He created humanity so that we may behold His glory and praise His glory. God has disclosed His glory in creation and conscience, in His Word and above all, He was born in human form so that we might know His glory, bow before His glory and live to the praise of His glory.
In the following lessons, we will explore various aspects of the being of God. We do so in all humility and gratitude, confessing our limitations and giving thanks for the kindness of a God who invites us to know Him, to worship Him and to enjoy Him forever.
“But just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (I Corinthians 2:9,10).
1. What are three means of revelation which God uses to disclose His attributes?
2. How is our worship impacted as we learn more about the nature of God?
God is Spirit
A good place to begin studying the person of God is John 4:24. Jesus said, “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are not physical beings. They are spirit beings. The Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate in human flesh, born of Mary and given the name Jesus. He lived among us, died an atoning death for our sins, rose from the dead and now exists in a glorified body. But prior to His incarnation, God the Son was also spirit.
When the Bible speaks of the arm of the Lord or the eyes of the Lord, those terms are used so we can better understand the personal nature of God — He touches our lives, He knows us and is aware of the most intimate details of our lives. But those physical descriptions are not to be taken literally any more than when the Bible talks about God’s wings covering us (for instance, Psalm 91:4) — that doesn’t mean that God is a bird. God is not a physical being. God is a spirit being.
That’s why Paul calls Him “the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), who “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (I Tim. 6:16).
In the days of the Old Covenant, God represented or manifested Himself in the light and the fire of Shekinah glory. In the wilderness, Israel encountered God as a pillar of fire by night, a cloud of glory in the day. There was a presence of glory in the Holy Place in the tabernacle and later in the Jerusalem temple. But God was not physically present in the sky above Israel, in the tabernacle or the temple because He is Spirit.
How then do we explain the occasion at Peniel when Jacob wrestled with someone and then said, “I have seen God face to face” (Gen. 32:30). This is what we call a theophany, a preincarnate appearance of Jesus in human form. The same is true in Genesis 18:1 where we read that “the Lord appeared” to Abraham “by the oaks of Mamre.” This was a theophany and there are other possible examples of theophanies in the Old Testament. But a theophany is not a physical encounter with God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. That is not possible in our present form.
In other cases, what people encountered was what we might call a reflection or manifestation of the glory of God. In Numbers 12:5-8 we read, “Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent and He called Aaron and Moses.” The cloud may have contained or included a theophany but more probably was a manifestation of the shekinah glory.
In Exodus 33:18 Moses said to the Lord, “I pray you, show me your glory.” The Lord responded, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Ex. 33:20). But the Lord did allow Moses to see a reflection of His glory.
Of course, in the fulness of time, as we know and celebrate, the Second Person of the Trinity was born in human form. In the Gospel of John we read, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained (declared, unfolded) Him” (John 1:18). John was referring to Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, who existed from eternity in perfect union with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. In His incarnation in human flesh, Jesus explained, declared, unfolded to us the nature of God.
Paul says that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John l4:9). He was not referring to His physical appearance but to His nature. He showed us, revealed to us God’s love and kindness, God’s anger toward sin and mercy toward sinners. He interpreted to us the Being of God.
Jesus now exists in a glorified body but from eternity, God did not exist in a body and therefore was neither male nor female. However, in order that we might relate to Him as a personal God, He revealed Himself to us using a male reference point. God took the form of a man. The purpose of this Self-revelation is so that God can be known personally.
God reveals Himself using personal names: Father, Son, Shepherd, Helper. Personal pronouns are used of God: He, His, Him. The pronoun it is never used to describe God because God is a personal Being — He thinks and acts and feels and speaks. He relates to us and communicates with us on a personal level.
It is wrongly supposed by feminists that the writers of the Bible used male references to God because their imaginations were captivated by male dominated societies which rendered them unable to conceive of God as anything other than male. That is not true. The writers of Scripture were surrounded by cultures which had imagined an incredible variety of demonically inspired false gods, many of them feminine deities — mother and daughter and sister gods.
The men who received God’s Self-revelation in holy Scripture were able to see the spiritual and emotional enslavement, the destruction, corruption and cruelty produced in the surrounding societies as a result of the worship of those imaginary male and female deities. We really do become in the image of whatever we worship. Therefore the writers of Scripture valued the worship of the true God according to His Self-revelation.
These writers used masculine imagery because it is the imagery through which God chose to reveal Himself. Divine inspiration is, after all, the reason that anything is written in holy Scripture. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
We can know nothing of God except as He reveals Himself in creation and conscience, in holy Scripture and in the person of Jesus. If we would know Him truly and truly worship Him, it must be in the way He has made Himself known to us. Failure to do this can lead us to worship the wrong God or worship the right God in the wrong way.
1. Does God the Father have a body?
2. When Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” what did He mean?
God Is Self Existent
“In the beginning, God” (Genesis 1:1).
The phrase, “In the beginning,” refers to the universe, not to God. God has no beginning and no end. Genesis, the book of beginnings, presents us with a God who already exists when the story of creation begins.
If God existed before creation, then He must be Self-existent. The Self-existence of God refers to the truth that God is the uncreated cause of His own being. He owes His existence to no one but Himself. Everything else in the universe owes its existence to something or someone outside of itself. But this is not so of God. He alone is the reason for His own Being.
Uncreated Being must also be timeless, everlasting — there is no time when God did not exist. Time is a piece of God’s creative work but as with all His creation, God exists before, beyond and outside of time.
Uncreated Being must also be Self sufficient, needing nothing outside of Himself. Uncreated Being cannot have any limitations, therefore God is infinite. God’s eternality, Self-sufficiency, and infinity are attributes that derive from His Self-existence and we will discuss these in later lessons.
The Bible offers no explanation for the origin of God because God has no point of origin. Time words and origin words apply to created things but not to God.
If God is the cause of His own Being, and if God existed before creation, then all life must originate in Him and flow from Him, as Jesus said, “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26).
“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (John 1:3,4).
Because God is uncreated, “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
God does not explain Himself to the scientist or to the philosopher. The Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of God. It merely declares Him to be. Moses asked God’s name and the Lord replied, “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14).
He is the Great I Am before and beyond Whom there is no other, “Who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (I Timothy 6:16). Yet in His overflowing mercy, He comes to us, awakens us to Himself, reveals Himself to us, shares Himself with us.
1. Does God have a beginning?
2. Who or what is the cause of God’s being?
God is Self Sufficient
“In Him was life” (John 1:4a).
God’s Self existence reveals His Self sufficiency. Since God is the source of His own being, He depends on nothing outside of Himself for the continuation of His being. If all life flows from God then He needs nothing to be added to Him. He is the Source of all that was and is and shall be. Therefore, what could He need? He needs nothing because He cannot be diminished. He never grows weary because His power cannot be depleted.
All life originates in God and flows from God: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3).
God not only created the universe and all life in it, the molecular structure of the universe and the laws that govern that structure, He also continually sustains all that He created: “He upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Whether bright spinning galaxies or sub-atomic particles comprising an atom, all things consist / hold together in God.
All creatures, all plant life, all living things, are dependent on elements and factors outside of themselves in order to survive — food, water, air. Human beings exist by the will of God and depend on God for continued existence. But God is dependent on nothing, needs nothing outside of Himself.
The Self-sufficiency of God implies His perfect wisdom. A Self-sufficient God must be omniscient, all wise, the source of all wisdom. He receives wisdom from no one and has never lacked knowledge, fact or truth regarding anything. When the Lord asks a question, such as He did to Adam, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9), it is not for the purpose of gaining information. Rather, it is so that we may be accountable to the God who knows us perfectly.
God’s wisdom is unlimited — He knows all truth that could ever be true from before the beginning to beyond the end. He knows all truth that would have been true if something else had been true. Jesus reveals this when He said to the people of Capernaum that if the citizens of Sodom had seen the miracles which they had seen, Sodom would still be standing.
Truly as the Psalmist exclaimed, “Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5).
A Self-sufficient God must be Almighty. Therefore the Bible reveals that God possesses all power, is the source of all power, receives power from no one and His power is never diminished in its exercise, as He revealed through the prophet Isaiah, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable” (Isa. 40:28).
God created the universe to display His glory but God would still be glorious if no one ever beheld His glory. Humanity was created to worship God but if no one worshipped Him, God’s glory would not be diminished in any way.
When we consider the Self existence and Self sufficiency of God, we see that God can never receive anything that He did not first give. The poet was correct when he said,
“We give thee but thine own, what’er the gift may be
all that we have is thine alone, a trust O Lord from thee”
(William W. How, 1823-1897)
The Self-sufficiency of God provides us with an amazing revelation of love. The God who is complete within Himself, who needs nothing outside of Himself, who within the Trinity shares an eternal communion of love, chose to create us, pursue us when we fell from grace, awaken us to His love and redeem us so that we might receive His love and love Him in return.
The Self-sufficiency of God provides us with an amazing revelation of wonder — the God who needs nothing desires our worship, takes pleasure in our worship.
This is life —the living God invites us to share His life, establishes His life in us and releases His life through us. The God who needs nothing from anyone will work through everyone who yields to Him in faith. “For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
1. What does it mean that God is Self sufficient?
2. How does the revelation of God’s Self-sufficiency impact your worship of Him?
God is Eternal
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (Psalm 90:1,2).
When we speak of the eternity of God, we mean that God is without beginning or end, free from all progression of time. We mean that God exists simultaneously before the beginning and beyond the end and is independent of beginning and end. We mean that He exists before time and beyond time and yet meets us in time, all in the same unending moment of His Being.
Because God is Self-existent, uncreated Being, therefore He must also possess endless Being, for it is impossible that He would cease to exist. Nothing can cause Him to not be since He is the cause of His own being and since He preexists any power or force in the universe, and in fact, created all power and force.
It follows that if God is the uncreated Origin of all that is, then He must pre-exist time for time is just another expression of His creative power. God is no more subject to time than He is subject to pumpkins or giraffes or gravity or anything else He created.
As Creator, God contains in Himself the cause of all time. Albert Tozer expressed this truth so eloquently, “God dwells in eternity but time dwells in God” (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 45).
So it is that the four living creatures around the heavenly throne worship the Lord saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).
Moses asked God’s name and the Lord replied, “I Am Who I Am”; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I Am has sent Me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). Every name of God that the Lord has revealed to us expresses some aspect of His being and this name — I Am — expresses the inexpressible timelessness of His being.
The Lord testifies of Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and the Lord uses this term to express the truth that He is the One who began the beginning of time and history and it is He who will conclude the end of time and history. He is not referring to His own existence because beginning and end are time words and cannot apply to God. God never began to exist nor can He ever cease to exist. Rather, all creation has its beginning and end in God.
When God uses time words, they are for our benefit but have no application to God. God has no past and no future — there is no progression of time in God. God lives in the unending moment of now. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done” (Isaiah 46:9b,10a). God declares the end from the beginning because His eternal, infinite being stretches out to contain all that was and is and shall be.
It is not that God sees the end or remembers the beginning. Rather, He is always, continually present beyond the end and before the beginning. He is not simply the Alpha and the Omega. He is Alpha and Omega in the same moment. Beginning and end meet in God.
The God who began time will conclude time, will empty time into the eternity of His being.
There is a time coming when time will dissolve into eternity. Redeemed in Jesus, we are invited to share eternity with God. Eternity is not endless time but the absence of time. Eternal life is the very life of God. This is God’s invitation to the redeemed — that we share His life forever.
We are eternal spirits living in finite, mortal bodies which are subject to death. We see around and within ourselves constant proof of corruption and death. Yet there is within the human spirit an unquenchable longing for more, an instinct that we were created for more than these passing years. We know there is something in us that transcends these few moments of time.
This sense of everlastingness was planted in us by the everlasting God. Created for eternity, living in time, the eternal God is the only safe refuge for time driven pilgrims. This refuge is open to all who will surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. Because He is the source of eternal life, to know Him, to abide in union with Him, is to have eternal life. This is Jesus’ gift to all who believe in Him:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (I John 5:11,12).
I know there are times, living in a fallen world, when we encounter trials and tragedies that are difficult to understand but we know that this eternal God is preparing us for an everlasting relationship with Himself. And we find comfort in these words of Jesus our eternal Savior, who has promised, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).
1. How would you describe the eternity of God?
2. How does the revelation of God’s eternity impact your prayers?
God Is Infinite
At the dedication of the Jerusalem temple, as Solomon prayed, he said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!” (I Kings 8:27).
When we say that God is infinite we mean that He is without boundaries of time or space. The universe cannot contain Him — He transcends all He created.
When we say that God is infinite, we mean that He exceeds all limitations. All that God is, He is without limit. We cannot describe that which has no limits. We cannot say, “This is what infinity is like.” By definition, that which exceeds all limits must exceed the boundaries of language.
Infinity must also surpass our ability to imagine, must exceed the boundaries of our imagination. We cannot imagine what we cannot describe. If we could conceive of God’s infinity, then God could be contained by our minds and words and He would not be infinite.
Because God cannot be contained within any boundary, He cannot be measured. Whatever can be measured is within the realm of our ability to describe with our tools of measurement and that cannot be infinite. Since God cannot be measured, we cannot ascribe largeness or smallness to God. Large and small are words of measurement and God cannot be measured.
Because God is infinite, all His attributes must also be infinite. For instance, the Psalmist declares, “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). We could say the same thing about any other attribute of God — His love or His power.
Because all of God’s attributes are infinite, they cannot be diminished or increased. Therefore, God cannot ever be more or less than He always is.
This means God cannot ever love us more or less than He already does. He loves us with perfect, measureless compassion. His love cannot be diminished though He lavishes His love on a million, million children of the covenant. In His mercy, God plants His measureless love within our hearts so that we may love Him in return. Yet if no one loved Him, God’s love could not be less for it is infinite.
When God exercises His power, His power is never diminished, neither does God become weary nor does He need to rest. It is as easy for God to create a billion stars as it is for Him to create a lily. He shares His power with us in our weakness yet in sharing His power with a million, million children of the covenant, His power is not less.
Therefore we read, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable (unsearchable)” (Isaiah 40:28).
Because God is infinite, He cannot be constrained, obstructed or restricted. He will always accomplish His will. Therefore He says, “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9,10).
Because God is infinite, He cannot be defeated. Therefore, He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).
Jeremiah said, “‘Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jere. 32:17). Indeed, nothing is too difficult for the God who is infinite in all that He is.
The Apostle Paul faced a mountain of challenges and yet he asked, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35). Then he answered his own question, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). The words overwhelmingly conquer are hupernikao. Huper means over and nikao is derived from the word nike — conquest. We have more than a shoe with a swish on it — we have a God who is infinite in all that He is and He is for us and therefore, we overwhelmingly conquer.
Because God is infinite, He must be eternal. He cannot be bound by time or any other aspect of His creation. Yet in His mercy, the timeless God entered time in human form and invites time-bound humanity to share His eternity with Him: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).
Sin destroys all it touches yet even sin has its limits but God’s grace and mercy are lavished without limit on the sinner who cries out to God. Because God is infinite, there is room in His heart and in His heaven for every sinner who will turn to Him in repentance and faith.
1. Does God have any limits or boundaries? How does this impact your prayers?
2. How does the infinity of God impact your understanding of His love, His power, His wisdom?
God is Unchanging
“For I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
This is known as the doctrine of divine immutability. God is never different from who He has always been. He does not evolve, grow or change.
Another way of speaking of God’s unchanging nature is to say that He is perfect. Toward what goal would God grow or change? His wisdom and knowledge are perfect. God has always known everything that could ever be true with perfect understanding. There is nothing God needs to learn or discover.
God perfectly possesses, exercises and delegates all power — He can never be stronger or weaker. The exercise of His power does not decrease nor increase His power. God is always Almighty.
Because God is perfect in all that He is, He cannot be diminished or increased. All that God is, He is forever and cannot ever be less or more or other, which is to say that He is unchanging.
Because God is perfect in all that He is, He is perfect in all He does. Whatever God does is done in perfection and neither adds to nor detracts from His being. For instance, the exercise of His might cannot in any way diminish His might, as we read, “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired” (Isaiah 40:28).
Every expression of God’s being is perfect. For instance, God loves us with perfect love which cannot ever be more or less. When we refuse God’s love and refuse to love God in return, God is grieved, not because He is diminished but because we are diminished. However, if no one ever loved God, His love would still be perfect in every expression.
Because God is unchanging, the purity of His holiness and the perfection of His justice cannot decrease nor increase. God’s perfect holiness requires God’s justice and every expression of judgment is perfectly holy because God is perfect in and of Himself and He cannot cease to be Himself nor can perfection become something less, more or other than perfect.
Because God is unchanging, His truth expressed in His Word can never be untrue. His covenants can never be undone. His promises can never be invalidated. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). The Psalmist said, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).
Because God’s word is eternally true, therefore His purpose cannot be defeated. The Lord expressed this when He said, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10,11).
What God said to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob 4000 thousand years ago is as true today as it was then because God is the same truth-speaking God today as He was then. Therefore we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
However, Genesis 6:6 has caused some confusion regarding God’s perfect, unchanging nature. Let’s begin with the verse before it: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Gen. 6:5,6).
What does it mean that “the Lord was sorry … grieved”? It cannot mean that God changed His mind about His creative work as people change their minds, for it is clearly stated, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).
Well then, what does it mean? When we come across a Scripture that seems confusing or troubling as it relates to the mind or purpose or character of God, it is good to step back and recite what we do know about God.
“As for God, His way is blameless (perfect); the word of the Lord is tried (refined, pure); He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him” (Ps. 18:30).
“The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just” (Deut. 32:4).
“The words of the Lord are pure words (flawless); as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (Ps. 12:6).
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7).
As we have said, since the Lord is perfect, and His perfection is unchanging, then any attribute which He has revealed to us must also be perfect and unchanging in its expression. So Genesis 6:6 cannot mean that God’s creation of man was the result of insufficient wisdom or foresight. The Hebrew word which here is translated sorry (and in the old King James repent) is nacham which means to pity, to be sorry. It is not the same word which Ezekiel used when calling Israel to repent and turn from their idols (Ezekiel 14:6). That word is shuwb and means to turn back, to return to the starting point, to convert. But God does not ever need to turn back, to start over or convert to another way of thinking.
The word nacham — to be sorry — is not so much a way of describing God as it is a way of helping us to understand Him. God is not emotionally unstable as people can be. He rejoices over good and is grieved by evil but is perfectly consistent, unchanging in all His thoughts and ways.
However, the Bible often speaks of God in human terms — the eyes of the Lord, the hand of the Lord — so that we may understand Him with more clarity. But though the Bible sometimes speaks of the Lord in human terms, that does not mean that God is like a man who changes his mind in bad weather. So nacham cannot mean that God looked at His design of humanity and suddenly realized His design was flawed.
Nacham cannot infer that God did not realize or foresee the choices that man would someday make. This is the God who testifies of Himself, “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isa. 46:9,10).
Therefore, nacham — to be sorry — cannot mean that God regretted His creative acts for that would imply imperfect design. It cannot mean that God did not foresee the fall of man, for that would imply imperfect knowledge. It cannot mean that He did not see the consequences of that fall nor can it mean that at any time, God was less than sovereign over heaven and earth.
God perfectly understood everything that would happen as a result of His creation of man. In original creation God declared all that He had made to be good and very good; this includes the creation of man. All that God created was perfect in every way. The Lord created with perfect wisdom and perfect knowledge of every event and circumstance that would ever occur in His creation. He knew that if He created human beings with the freedom to make moral choices, that freedom would be misused.
So when we read that God was sorry and grieved that He had made man, this cannot mean that God’s creative act grieved Him. It was man’s rebellion and disobedience, the sin and destruction resulting from that sin, which grieved the Lord. God was sorry, not as if His design was imperfect, for God has never done anything imperfectly and not as if His knowledge of the future was imperfect. God was sorry that such exalted creatures, so gifted in God-likeness, would take the beauty of His design and the goodness of His gifts and use their freedom to create such disorder and destruction.
The fall of humanity and the resulting centuries of tragedy and chaos, lawlessness and corruption, are the grievous expression of fallen creatures. But the whirlwind born of our fallenness, the continual rise and fall of tyrants and empires, the shifting sands and collapsing foundations of society only serve to drive us into the arms of the unchanging God.
In a world that is in a constant state of flux, decay and transition, we find the unchanging being of God to be a source of great inspiration and hope. In this unchanging God we find the only permanence available to us. This world is passing away but our God changes not.
This unchanging God “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride … The God of Jacob is our stronghold” (Psalm 46:1,2,7). We can be at peace in the midst of calamity for we have an unchanging refuge — the Lord God.
We are like grass of the field which blooms in the morning dew but withers in the heat of the day.
We are alive and dying in a world decaying every moment, surrounded by the corruption of death. With each passing moment, we are changed. Yet God in His unchanging mercy meets us in the brief hours of our living, redeems us and invites us to share His unchanging eternity.
So now we praise God that we are subject to change. In Christ we are changed from slaves to sin to pilgrims of grace. We are changed from sinners dead in our transgressions to saints alive forevermore. We are changed from cursed to blessed, from broken to whole, from stained to holy, from sinking in the miry clay to standing on the Rock of Ages.
We are changed from self centered rebels to God-worshipping disciples, changed from dying creatures under judgment to new creations redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, transformed from glory to glory. We are changed as this corruptible being puts on incorruptible and our brief time on earth flows into eternity.
We no longer groan under the tyranny of change but rejoice in the blessedness of transformation and through this blessed metamorphosis, we arrive finally at everlasting permanence. Our change empties into God’s permanence.
The Apostle Peter reminds us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:3-5).
The same God who drove Adam and Eve from the garden calls us to the cross and there we find an unchanging fountain of grace and an inheritance of salvation that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, reserved in heaven for us, who are protected by the power of a God who changes not.
God’s holy wrath and holy love change not and this is our salvation.
1. Does God evolve or grow?
2. How does the revelation of God’s unchanging nature impact your prayers?
God Is Faithful
“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9)
Since God is unchanging, He must also be faithful. An unfaithful God would be a God subject to change and God cannot change, cannot deny Himself, cannot be other than Himself. He must, then, be always faithful in all He is and says and does.
Since God is faithful, His word must always be true. Therefore the Psalmist says, “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6).
“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).
Since God’s word is always true, His ways must always be true. One of the names ascribed to Jesus is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). What the Lord does is an expression of who He is. God’s works are faithful and true because He is faithful and true.
Therefore the Psalmist says, “As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 18:30).
Since God’s words and ways are always true, His promises must always be trustworthy and the covenants which He establishes can be depended upon to a thousandth generation, which is a way of saying “forever.”
This is the faithful God who testifies of Himself, “My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips” (Ps. 89:34).
This is the faithful God who said to Abraham, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you” (Gen. 17:7).
This is the faithful God who said to Jacob, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Gen. 28:15).
This is the God of whom Paul testifies, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3). God is faithful to His word and His covenant promises and we may rest in His faithfulness.
This is the God of whom it is said, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)
Because God is infinite, without limit, then there can be no measure or boundary to His faithful covenant love. Therefore the Psalmist worships, saying, “Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the skies” (Psalm 36:5).
Jeremiah, even as he mourned the destruction of Jerusalem, rejoiced in the unchanging nature of God, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22,23).
God was faithful to judge Jerusalem because He is holy and just and His justice cannot be violated without consequences. When Israel fell into grievous sin, God patiently warned the nation through the prophets for centuries but the majority of the people had spurned God’s warnings. So God was faithful to judge sinful Israel, pouring out His holy wrath. In judgment, God was faithful to His holiness, to His justice and to His promise to judge sin.
But the Lord also promised to restore what He had destroyed. Daniel was a Jew living in exile in Persia seventy years after God’s judgment of Israel. As he read from the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel realized that the years of judgment were ended and it was time for Israel to be rebuilt. He then had confidence to pray, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Dan. 9:4).
The Hebrew word which we translate lovingkindness is chesed which speaks of faithful, covenant love. Though Israel had violated the covenant with God and had been unfaithful, God was utterly faithful to Himself and to His covenant promises. Faithfulness to the covenant required judging Israel because of unrepented sin. But Daniel also understood that God’s judgment did not nullify His faithful, covenant love for Israel.
Therefore, Daniel prayed to the God of judgment for the outpouring of His restoring mercy for God is always perfectly just and perfectly merciful, ever faithful. As Daniel prayed, a progression of events was set in motion which led to the return of the exiles and the restoration of the nation of Israel. God was faithful to His covenant promises, both to judge and to restore.
Whatever our circumstances, we who have committed to follow Jesus may rest in this confidence, that our God is faithful to complete what He has begun in us. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phlpns. 1:6).
Paul further testifies, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (I Thess. 5:23,24).
David the Psalmist had experienced the faithfulness of God during his many years of persecution and adversity. He was so confident of the faithfulness of God that he sang,
“The Lord is my shepherd, I will not be in need.
He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness
for the sake of His name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life,
and my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23).
May we, confident in the covenant love of our Creator / Redeemer, “Hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
1. How does God’s unchanging nature reveal His faithfulness?
2. How does the revelation of God’s faithfulness impact your prayers?
God is All Wise (Omniscient)
“He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:4,5).
When we speak of the omniscience of God, we mean that He knows all truth that could ever be true and all truth that would have been true if something else had been true. We mean that God knows Himself and all reality and all possibilities perfectly.
The Lord testifies of Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. You arrange the letters of an alphabet to make words. All of the knowledge available to a society can be communicated through the various combinations of letters to make words. In revealing Himself as the Alpha and Omega, God is saying that He is the source of all knowledge, the beginning and the end of all that can ever be revealed as truth.
God’s wisdom and knowledge are perfect, without limit. There is nothing God must learn. There is nothing God may be taught. God has never forgotten anything, has always known all that can ever be known with perfect clarity. Therefore we read, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him is the glory forever!” (Rom. 11:33-36).
God is always able to accomplish His purpose because He knows all facts and all truth at all times that will result in the establishing of His purpose. There is no unknown possibility that might prevent His purpose. His wisdom is so perfect that He can allow sinful, fallen angelic and human beings to exercise free will in rebellion against Him and yet, in the exercise of fallen will, no one has ever prevented the ultimate outworking of God’s purpose. We call this providence — God allowing the exercise of sinful, rebellious human and angelic will and yet still providentially establishing His purpose.
Though the all-wise, all-knowing God understands the future with perfect knowledge and clarity, this does not imply causation or approval. God knows that a crime or tragedy will take place but that does not mean He wills or causes it. He will accomplish all His good purpose in spite of sinful rebellion and the suffering and chaos which that rebellion produces.
The Psalmist said, “For the wrath of man shall praise You” (Ps. 76:10). God is able to weave even the violence and depravity of man into the providential fulfilling of His purpose. Indeed, Paul said, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Though God does not will or approve sin, so great is His wisdom and His power, God is able to cause all things to work toward the ultimate establishing of His purpose, for His glory and for our good.
Therefore God says, “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9,10).
God the all-wise is the source of all wisdom and the revealer of all truth, “He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deep darkness into light” (Job 12:22).
Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom and power; even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, for You have made known to us the king’s matter” (Daniel 2:20-23).
Whatever truth we understand is the result of God’s revelation of truth to us. We are able to speak truth to power, as Daniel did to King Nebuchadnezzar, because the all-wise, all-knowing God shares wisdom, knowledge and truth with those who are His.
Therefore we read “But just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (I Cor. 2:9,10).
God is the source of all truth, the revealer of all truth and the greatest revelation of truth is in and through Jesus Christ, of whom John said, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Paul said that the true knowledge of God’s mystery is Christ Himself, “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Co. 2:3).
The writer to the Hebrews said, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Hebr. 1:1,2).
John said, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18).
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is not only the revealer of truth. He is the ultimate revelation of truth in human form.
Jesus is the great revelation of God’s truth and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, delights in revealing Christ to us. Jesus said, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13).
God is a Self-revealing God who delights in opening as much of His truth to us as we are able to comprehend. Therefore Paul reminds us, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:16). Where do we gain the mind of Christ? In His word of truth, the Bible. And as we pray and open our hearts and minds to the Lord, as we worship Him, as we live before Him with a pure heart, He will teach, instruct and reveal the truth necessary to live to the praise of His glory.
Because God is all wise, all His works are done in wisdom: “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens” (Proverbs 3:19).
God created all things and understands perfectly all that He made. He created the sub-atomic particles which comprise matter and the laws which govern the operation of those particles. He created uncounted galaxies and the laws which determine the symmetry of their orbits and the majesty of their existence. We cannot even imagine the depth or height of God’s creative wisdom, the massive intelligence behind these works of creation but the testimony is this, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).
God not only created all things. He sustains all that He created and enables the continuation of all things according to His predetermined purpose. The Bible testifies, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).
God is moving all of time and history toward His perfect conclusion in His perfect timing according to His perfect wisdom for His glory. Because God is perfectly wise, He is able to accomplish all that He purposes in the most perfect manner. He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).
God “calls into being that which does not exist” (“calls those things which are not as though they are)” (Romans 4:17) because He knows perfectly what He intends to do and knows perfectly how He intends to do it. Nothing can resist His perfect wisdom executed by His perfect power.
Abraham understood this and though God called him to do something humanly impossible — father a son at the age of 100 with a 90 year old wife — nevertheless, Abraham persevered in faith because he was “fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform”
(Rom. 4:21). Abraham trusted that the all-wise God knows what He is doing.
There are instances in the Bible where God asks questions of people. This is not because God lacks knowledge. It is rather to draw people into the truth. When Adam and Eve sinned, they hid themselves, though not from the all-knowing God. The Lord called out, “Where are you?”, not because He needed to discover anything but to give Adam the opportunity to be accountable for the truth of his sin.
David the Psalmist understood God’s omniscience when he said,
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me,
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down
and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it all” (Psalm 139:1-3).
David understood that the all-knowing God had known him perfectly even before his birth:
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret …
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance and in your book were all written
the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them”
Before David was born, God understood perfectly the composition of his being, the purpose for his life and ordained a calendar of days, events and opportunities for David before he had begun to live. David could only praise the Lord in wonder,
“How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them,
they would outnumber the sand” (Psalm 139:17,18a).
To the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jere. 1:5).
The Lord told a prophet named Ananias to go and pray for Saul, who would soon be known by his other name, Paul. The Lord said to Ananias, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15,16). God knew exactly what He intended to do with Paul before he began His ministry, indeed, before he was born. This is why Paul later said, “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me” (Gal. 1:15,16).
Can’t we also say with David, with Jeremiah and Paul, that the Lord in His perfect, infinite wisdom, purposefully designed my life? Truly, our greatest goal should be to discern the Lord’s wise design and commit ourselves to live it.
To those who rebel against God, the fact of God’s omniscience is terrifying. No act of rebellion is unknown and there is no far kingdom to which the rebel may flee for sanctuary. We read, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebr. 4:13).
However, to the redeemed, God’s perfect knowledge and wisdom is a wonderful blessing of peace and security. What storms will we encounter that our God did not foresee, a thousand, thousand years before we were born? What flooded rivers may seem to block our path but God had seven bridges built from eternity? What valleys of darkness will we walk through that the Lord is not present to Shepherd us?
David marveled, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).
David sang in awe, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You” (Ps. 139:7-12).
Jesus said that not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the knowledge of our Heavenly Father, “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
In His kindness, the all-wise God grants wisdom to those who humbly ask, “For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let Him ask of God who gives to all generously and without reproach and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
In His wisdom, He chose to redeem us “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) and He perfectly works out His redemptive purpose in our lives in time and into eternity.
We believe that we are led by a Good Shepherd whose wise, providential shepherding will always express perfect mercy through perfect wisdom, opening before us opportunities and divine appointments that will lead to blessing in our lives and those around us.
We believe that though we cannot see the future more than a few steps at a time, our Creator / Redeemer is working out in perfect wisdom a perfect purpose designed in eternity past. Someone asked, “How can I commit to a purposeful design which I don’t always see or understand?” We don’t. We commit to the God who designed His purpose with perfect wisdom motivated by perfect kindness. It is not necessary that we always understand, only that we trust.
The omniscience of God is our blessing and we rejoice in His promise: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
1. How do you define the omniscience of God?
2. How does the revelation of God’s perfect wisdom impact the way you regard the future?
God is Almighty (Omnipotent)
“Once God has spoken, twice I have heard this, that power belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11).
In Revelation 15:3 the saints are praising God for His redeeming victory in their lives, singing, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty.” God’s works are great and marvelous because God the Almighty possesses the power necessary to accomplish His creative, redemptive purpose.
To say that God is omnipotent is to say that God possesses all power. Because God is infinite, without limits, then His power must also be unlimited, unrestricted by any opposing cause or force. Because God is eternal, His power must be everlasting, unbounded by time. Because all life originates in God, then all power must find its source in God.
Because God is perfect, He can never be less than He is. Therefore, His power cannot be diminished. The exercise of power in creation, redemption, judgment, blessing or any other act, does not cause God’s power to decrease. God delegates power to angels and to people but this in no way diminishes His power.
Although God’s power is infinite and everlasting, God does limit the exercise of His power. We see God’s self-limitation in the following ways:
1. God can do anything that is in harmony with His nature but will do nothing that violates His perfection.
2. God allows angelic and human beings to exercise free moral will, even in sinful rebellion against God’s nature and purpose.
3. God offers saving grace to all but forces no one to accept grace.
Although God Himself limits the exercise of His power, there are no limits on God’s power from outside of Himself. He not only created the universe, He created the laws which govern the universe. But these principles — gravity, electromagnetism, to name two — are merely the footprints of God in space and time. They are expressions of His sustaining power and in no way restrict the exercise of His power.
Because God is Almighty, it is as easy for Him to create a billion galaxies as to create one lily. It is as simple for God to raise the dead as it is to answer a child’s prayer. Jeremiah exclaimed, “Ah Lord God, behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).
Because God is consistent in the exercise of His power, we trust the uniformity of the laws of nature. But behind and within these impersonal principles of nature is a personal God.
We see the exercise of God’s omnipotence in the following ways:
1. God exercises His omnipotence as Creator:
“He established the earth upon its foundations” (Psalm 104:5).
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host” (Ps. 33:6).
2. God exercises His omnipotence as Sustainer of all He creates:
He “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3b).
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (consist)” (Col. 1:17).
3. God exercises His omnipotence as Ruler over the nations:
“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).
“He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away” (Job 12:23).
4. God exercises His omnipotence as Judge of kingdoms and kings:
“When I select an appointed time, it is I who judge with equity. The earth and all who dwell in it melt; it is I who have firmly set its pillars … For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; but God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another” (Psalm 75:2,6,7).
“It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings”
5. God exercises His omnipotence as Judge of sinful humanity:
“Because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
“And He will judge the world in righteousness” (Psalm 9:8).
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it … And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne” (Revelation 20:11,12)
6. God exercised His omnipotence in raising Jesus from the dead.
Paul prayed that the church would know “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:19,20).
7. God exercises His omnipotence as Redeemer of sinful humanity:
In fact, this might be the greatest exercise of God’s power — redeeming lost, hopeless sinners through the apparent weakness of a crucified Savior. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God … But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:18,23,24).
This is why Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).
7. God displays His power through signs and wonders:
Paul said, “And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (I Cor 2:4,5).
“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (I Thes. 1:5).
8. God displays His power through the weakness of those who love Him:
The Apostle Paul was plagued by what he called “a thorn in his flesh.” We don’t know if this was a physical ailment or a reference to persecution or demonic opposition but he prayed to the Lord three times that God would remove this thorn. The Lord refused saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul’s response then was to say, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in me … for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10). In the hands of Almighty God, our weakness becomes a power multiplier.
How marvelous that this God of infinite power also gives strength to all who humbly call upon Him in our weakness: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
9. God displays His power by strengthening us for spiritual warfare:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Eph. 6:10-13).
In response to demonic opposition to the church and to God’s purposeful design in our lives, we lean into the power of God, “Strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
10. God displays His power by enabling us to grow in our salvation and by keeping us in His salvation purpose:
“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Ptr. 1:3).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:3-5).
Our faith in Christ connects us to the keeping, preserving power of God.
11. God will someday display His omnipotence in raising us from the dead:
“Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power” (I Cor. 6:14).
Just before Jesus raised Lazarus frm the dead, He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25,26).
12. God will someday display His omnipotence by concluding history, dissolving this sin-tainted universe and creating a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up … looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10,12,13).
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Revelation 21:1).
The same God who spoke this universe into being by the exercise of His omnipotent will, in His timing, by His power and for His glory, raise us from the dead, conclude history, establish His kingdom on earth and speak into being a new universe. This should be a cause of great fear among those who build their frail empires in rebellion against God, who live as though there is no God mightier than their own passing strength. But they will give an account to the Almighty someday.
For those of us who know and worship this Omnipotent Creator / Redeemer, who have surrendered to the Lordship of His grace, we live toward that day, confident in the care of the Mighty One who said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).
1. How do you define the omnipotence of God?
2. How does the revelation of God’s perfect power impact the way you regard your weaknesses, fears and needs?
3. How does the revelation of God’s perfect power impact your prayers?
God Is Transcendent
When we say that God is transcendent, we mean that He exists above and beyond this universe, above and beyond all kings and kingdoms, before and beyond all ages, seasons and epochs, all that was and is and shall be.
To say that God is transcendent is to say that He is independent of all that He has made. Whereas the pantheist worships God in a tree and in all other created things, declaring the created thing to be divine, we worship the God who created the tree and all things but is not contained in nor bound by anything He has created.
Creation is dependent on God, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) but no created thing restricts or influences the exercise of God’s being. All things are upheld by the continued word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), but God is upheld by Himself alone.
God’s other attributes imply His transcendence:
His holiness speaks of His otherness, His separateness from all He created.
His eternity reveals that time cannot contain God. He was and is and shall be, all in the same moment. Though God meets us in time, He exists before and beyond time, above and beneath time, independent of the passage of time.
His infinity reveals that there is no limit to His being, He transcends all measurements of space and time. Though God is present in all places at all times, neither physical space nor time can contain Him. Therefore calendars, clocks and distance have no meaning when we think of God. Holy, eternal and infinite, God transcends all of created space and time.
When the Temple of Solomon was being dedicated, the glory of God filled the temple and the priests could not stand in the presence of such overwhelming glory (2 Chronicles 5:13,14). Solomon then prayed a prayer of dedication in which He confessed by divine revelation, “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built” (2 Chronicles 6:18).
God filled the temple with the glory of His presence but the temple could not contain God nor can the universe. Creator God is greater than all He has created.
Isaiah encountered the Lord in His glory and said, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted (high and lifted up)” (Isaiah 6:1). That is an attempt to describe God using human language but in reality, God transcends all that is high or low, all heights and all depths.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (I Timothy 6:16). The transcendent God could not be known except that He chooses to make Himself known. Yet He does make Himself known — He is the Self-revealing God. Though the Lord exists outside of time and space, He has revealed Himself in time and space in a variety of ways.
1. God reveals Himself through that which He has made:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom. 1:18,19). There is a revelation of God “within” humanity. Even in the most corrupt culture and even in the most depraved personality, there is a witness of right and wrong, just and unjust which is itself a witness that the Creator of humanity is a moral being.
There is also a witness in creation itself: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1).
2. God reveals Himself through His inspired Word, the holy Bible:
How often the prophets began a message with these words, “Thus says the Lord.” In fact, “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16) for the purpose of revealing His truth, His attributes and His purpose.
3. God revealed Himself through His incarnation in human form — Jesus Christ.
What an incredible event this was — the God who encompasses the entire universe, who transcends all of time and space, chose to enter time and space. Creator became a creature. The eternal God entered time. The infinite God was contained in a womb.
We could not have invented this, yet here is the record:
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:1-3).
The Apostle Paul says, “For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9).
Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b). Jesus is the revelation of God’s character, His heart.
What does Jesus reveal about the heart of the Father? Jesus says He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 29:10). He says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus is the revelation of God’s desire to lavish His redeeming grace upon a world of fallen creatures. And so God meets us as a babe born in Bethlehem’s stable, as a crucified Lamb on a blood soaked hill, as a risen Savior with bread in His hands in a weary sunset.
God met Adam and Eve in the garden of their falling, met Abraham under an oak tree, Gideon at the wine press where the man was hiding. In mercy and humility, this eternal, infinite, glorious God also condescends to meet us in the times and places where we live. The God who transcends time and space has chosen to enter our time and space and when we choose to worship Him in this small bit of time and space which we inhabit, this is profoundly pleasurable to God.
The God who transcends this universe
has come to us, calls to us, awakens us
to His presence among us.
1. What do we mean when we say that God is transcendent?
2. How does the revelation of God’s transcendence impact your worship of God?
God is Omnipresent
When we speak of omnipresence we mean that God is present in all places at all times. There is no time or place in the universe where God is not. This attribute of God follows on His infinity. If God is infinite, unlimited in all He is, then He must also be omnipresent.
This attribute of God follows on His eternity. If God is everlasting, unbounded by time, then He must also be present at all times.
This attribute is the counter-balance to God’s transcendence. Whereas God transcends all times and places, cannot be contained within any created thing, including time or universe, God is also present in all times and places.
David asked, “Where can I go from your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
Where indeed? Heaven and earth cannot contain Him but neither can they exclude Him.
He surrounds the universe but also fills it.
He fills the universe but is not contained by it.
He is before and beyond time but also fills time with His presence.
He is over and above, beneath and inside
ruling over all, sustaining all, filling all.
Creation exploded into light and life
from an unseen Word spoken by an invisible God
whose presence and power uphold what He began.
Paul reminded his listeners in Athens,
“In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
The fountain of all life flows from Him and returns unto Him.
God is there and God is here.
All of our life is lived in His presence.
Every prayer, every act of worship
every step of our daily walk and labor
every breath and every thought
occur in the presence of God.
“‘Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the Lord.
‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24).
The first of our family rejected Him,
rebelled against Him but He came seeking them
in the garden of their rebellion, this God who is present.
He made covenant with Israel,
broke their chains of slavery, led them in a cloud by day
and pillar of fire by night, spoke to them through prophets
and in the fulness of time, was conceived in the womb of Mary,
was born in human form, this God who is present.
He walked the dusty roads of Galilee,
healed the sick and forgave the guilty, this God who is present.
He was nailed to a cross, died for the sins of a dying world
but He rose from the dead, this God who is present.
We could not find Him,
so He came seeking us,
this God who is present.
He knows every truth of our being
knew this before the beginning of time
and is waiting at the ending of our days,
this God who is present.
He will stop at nothing to awaken us to His presence
to enable us to open our heart to Him
that He might redeem us and fill us with Himself,
this God who is present.
He cannot be changed, this unchanging God.
He cannot be overpowered, this Almighty God.
He cannot be surprised, this all-knowing God.
He cannot be contained, this transcendent God.
Yet the least prayer of the smallest child
moves His heart to pour out grace,
this God who is present,
who, unmoved by any power, is always moved by prayer
when prayer is formed of that same truth which heaven breathes as air.
So our prayer will bend the heart of One who never bends
except to pour out blessing from a stream that never ends.
The God who cannot be contained by anything
desires to inhabit our praise and where we gather to worship Him,
there He is in the midst of our song, our dance, our passionate praise,
this God who is present.
1. What do we mean when we say that God is omnipresent?
2. How does the revelation of God’s omnipresence impact your worship of God?