Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Practice Delighting In ALL Of God's Attributes

Do you like God? Wait.. Seriously, stop and ponder that question.
Here's another: Do you like ALL of God?

God has revealed himself to us - what he wants us to know about himself - in the Bible. Scripture describes God's self-revelation and gives us many of God's attributes, or characteristics. As I have said in another recent post, many people choose one attribute, or a few attributes of God, that they like and build in their mind an idea of God that is limited to only those traits. They have then made another god who is much less than the true God of the Bible. All of must be careful that we are not doing this!

For example, we could envision a God who is powerful, but not very compassionate. Or a God who is sweet and tender, but cannot stop evil. Or a God who cannot see the future, but is good at quickly cleaning up our messes to make them work for the best. Or a God who is transcendent and omnipresent, but chooses to remain distant from our hearts. Etc, etc.

Maybe it's not all your fault. Perhaps your parents and your pastor failed to teach you about the doctrine of God -  what the Bible says God is like - completely and truthfully. Perhaps they chose to emphasize only a few attributes of God that clicked for them. And now you have an idea of God that is deficient. So when someone describes God with another of his attributes, even some that seem to us to contradict the ones we like, we declare that "MY God would never do that..." At the bottom of all of this is knowing the truth about God himself.

God is good. In all of his attributes, he is good. In the attributes that are difficult for us to wrap our brain around, he is still good! All of his attributes come together to make up his holiness, which R.C. Sproul refers to as 'transcendent purity' (transcendence meaning 'otherliness' and purity meaning no sin). The revealing of this holiness of God is his glory. So knowing God's attributes is seeing a glimpse of the glory of God!

God has commanded us to love him, to delight ourselves in the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:5, Psalm 37:4). We are to treasure and love and delight in God in all of his attributes! How are you doing with this? Do you like all of God? Are you delighting in all of his characteristics, revealed to us in his word?

Below is a test. I will list many of the attributes of God, one at a time, with Scripture references. Go through the list and see which attributes of God you are currently praising him for, and which attributes you are struggling with. Practice delighting in God in each of the attributes (look up the Scripture references if needed). Also, think about what false or dangerous teaching would result from twisting or neglecting each attribute.

If you are having trouble seeing the good in some of the attributes, confess this to God and ask for help. Tell him you want to know him in truth, as he has revealed himself in his word. Study that particular attribute in the Bible and note how the Bible responds to that trait (not how we sometimes respond). Ultimately, trust God and love him.

Feel free to leave a comment about which ones may be easy or difficult for you.

Here we go! May we know God more and love him more!

The Attributes of God
(note: many of these were taken from Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, and J.L.Dagg's Manual of Theology, both of which are very helpful).

1. Unity - There is One God, in three Persons. Deuteronomy 6:4; John 17:3; Matthew 28:19-20

2. Independence - God is self-existent. He does not need anything or anyone, but chooses to delight in his people.  Acts 17:24-25; Job 41:11; Psalm 50:10-12; Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 62:5b

3. Eternity - Time does not limit God (has no beginning or end). He doesn't need to look ahead into the future to learn; but he does act within time. (Galatians 4:4-5). Psalm 90:2, 4; Job 36:26; Revelation 1:8, 4:8; John 8:58; 2 Peter 3:8

4. Perfection - There’s nothing God lacks that would make Him better. You can’t improve God. Matthew 5:48; 18:30; Deuteronomy 32:4

5. Beauty - God is the sum of all desirable qualities. Psalm 27:4; 73:25

6. Freedom - God does whatever He pleases. He is completely free to act in whatever way He deems best, bound by nothing but His own character. Nothing in creation can hinder God from doing His will. No person or power can tell God what He should do. God is under no one’s authority, and never needs man's permission to do anything. Psalm 115:3; Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 4:35

7. Peace (Order) - God is not confused or at unrest. 1 Corinthians 14:33; Romans 15:33; Galatians 5:22; Isaiah 48:22, Romans 8:6, Psalm 121:4, John 5:17

8. BlessednessHe is the source of His own joy! God takes pleasure in the reflection of His excellence in creation. God is the source and root and cause of everything in the universe that is worthy of delighting in. 1 Timothy 6:15; 1:11; Genesis 1:31, James 1:17

9. Immutability - God is unchangeable. Psalm 102:25-27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17b; Hebrews 13:8;
Psalm 33:11, Matthew 13:35, Revelation 13:8, Isaiah 46:9-11, Numbers 23:19

10. Spirituality - God is spirit. His being is not like anything else (therefore He commands us not to make an image of Him to for worship). John 4:24; (1 Corinthians 14:14, 1 Corinthians 6:17, Romans 8:16, Hebrews 12:23)

11. Invisibility - “God’s total essence, all of His spiritual being, will never be able to be seen by us, yet God still shows Himself to us through visible, created things. God took on various visible forms in the Old Testament to reveal Himself to people. In the New Testament we see Jesus Christ as the greatest visible manifestation of God" (Grudem). John 1:18; John 6:46; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16;
12. Glorious - God is infinitely deserving of all honor, praise, worship and fame. Psalm 24:10; 104:1-2; Luke 2:9; (Isaiah 43:7, Hebrews 1:3, Romans 3:23, John 17:5, Revelation 21:23, 2 Corinthians 3:18)

13. Omnipresence (Immensity)All of Him is in all places at all times. Psalm 139:7-10; Deuteronomy 10:14, Jeremiah 23:23-24, Acts 17:28, 1 Kings 8:27, Isaiah 66:1-2, Acts 7:48, Amos 9:1-4, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3, 2 Corinthians 3:17

14. Omniscience (Knowledge) - God knows all things. Job 37:16; 1 John 3:20; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Hebrews 4:13, Isaiah 46:9-10, Matthew 6:8, Matthew 10:30, Psalm 139:1-2, 4, 6, 16; Isaiah 55:9, Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8

15. Omnipotence (Sovereignty)God has all, unlimited power to do all He has willed to do, and uses this power always. Ephesians 3:20; Matthew 19:26; Psalm 24:8, Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17,27; Luke 1:37, Matthew 3:9, Psalm 115:3

16. Wisdom - This has to do, not so much with God’s knowledge of facts, but about the quality of His decisions. He always makes wise decisions. Romans 11:33; 16:27, Job 9:4, Job 12:13, Psalm 104:24, 1 Corinthians 1:21,27, 29; Ephesians 3:10, James 1:5, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10

17. Will - God decides what to do and what not to do. God’s secret will includes everything that happens. God’s revealed will includes what He has made known to us, or commanded us to do. Ephesians 1:11; Revelation 4:11, 1 Peter 3:17, James 4:13-15, Deuteronomy 29:29

18. Goodness - God is always good. He is the standard of what is good. Luke 18:19; Psalm 100:5; 106:1, Genesis 1:31, James 1:17, Romans 12:2, Acts 14:17, Romans 8:28

19. LoveGod gives of Himself to bless others. He has a general love for all of His creation, in that He gives rain and food and other blessings to even His enemies. But God has a special love for His people. It is for His people that Jesus was given, and whose blood covers their sins. 1 John 4:8, 10-11; John 17:24, John 3:35, John 14:31, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20b, Matthew 22:37-38

20. Mercy, Grace, PatienceManifestations of God’s goodness. Mercy is not giving us what we deserve, Grace is giving goodness when we only deserve punishment, and Patience is his withholding of punishment for sinners, giving time for repentance. Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8; 2 Samuel 24:14, Matthew 9:27, 2 Corinthians 1:3, Hebrews 4:16, James 5:11, Romans 9:15, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Romans 2:4

21. Truth, Faithfulness - God is the true God, he speaks the truth and cannot lie. He acts in faithfulness to what he has said. Jeremiah 10:10-11; John 17:17; John 17:3, 1 John 5:20, Deuteronomy 32:4, Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18

22. Justice, RighteousnessGod does what is right. God must punish sin and treat people as they deserve. (Since Christ received the punishment for all who will believe, God can be gracious to believers and still be just). Deuteronomy 32:4; Genesis 18:25b; Psalm 89:14; 19:8, Isaiah 45:19, Psalm 7:11-12

23. Jealousy"deeply committed to seeking the honor and welfare of someone. God continually seeks to protect His own honor. He commands His people not to bow down to idols or serve them” (Grudem). Isaiah 48:9-11; Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9

24. Wrath - God hates sin. If he did not hate evil, he would be evil! John 3:36; Romans 1:18; Romans 2:4; Exodus 32:9-10, Deuteronomy 9:7-8, 2 Kings 22:13, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2:16, 5:9; Hebrews 3:11, Revelation 6:16-17, 19:15; Hebrews 1:9, Zechariah 8:17, Ephesians 2:3, Romans 3:25-26, 2 Peter 3:9-10

1 comment:

Paul said...

I tend to pay the most attention to the attributes of God that connect with me the most. This is dangerous ground because it makes God in my image. Because I'm a man I tend to like the strong victorious worship songs instead of the more tender emotional type. Yet our God, the Lord Jehovah is a tender compassionate God. One gender does not display His glory more than another.

Invisibility-I think that this one is the truth behind all of our idolatry. Unless we see and know God with spiritual eyes we will follow after the things we can see. This is why the church loses the gospel as it rests its hope on physical things like a building, worship team, a budget, or even commanded things like baptism and communion.