Monday, February 23, 2009
Bible Doctine Series-The Attribute of Greatness
The attributes of God are the qualities, characteristics or properties which are inherent in and manifest the being or essence of God. They are sometimes called the “perfections” or the “excellencies” of God. The Attribute of Greatness. The self-existence of God (sometimes called His aseity). Definition—the ground or source of God’s existence is in Himself; He is independent of all things external to Himself. God is uncaused (man is caused). The only alternative is the eternity of Matter. Biblical Proof of the Self Existence of God. John 5:26; Psalm 36:9; Exodus 3:14. The Infinity of God. Definition—God is without limitations. He has only the self-imposed limits of His nature and will. Biblical Proof. Psalm 147:5; 40:5; 1 Kings 8:27; Romans 11:33. The Omnipotence of God. Definition—By His exhaustless power, God can do all things consistent with His character and will. God can do all that He wills, but He will not do all that He can. He can make children of Abraham from stones, but He will not, Matthew 3:9). God cannot make a past event not to have happened; He cannot make a stone too great for Him to move; He cannot make a shorter than a straight line between two points, and other such nonsensical things. Self-restraint is a mark of true power. God was not under internal or external necessity to limit Himself; i.e., He has power over His power. Biblical Proof. Genesis 17:1; Jeremiah 32:17; Job 42:2; Isaiah 40:28; Revelation 19:6. The Manifestations of Omnipotence. 1) The material world—Psalm 147:4. 2) The animal world—Matthew 10:29. 3) The spirits of the dead—Job 26:6. 4) The world of mankind—Matthew 6:8; Psalm 139:21; Acts 1:24. 5) Past and future events—Isaiah 46:9-11. 6) All possibilities—Matthew 11:21, 23; 1 Samuel 23:11, 12. The Nature of God’s Omniscience. 1) It is perfect—Job 37:16. 2) It is complete—Hebrews 4:13. 3) It has moral purpose—Proverbs 15:3; Malachi 3:16; Hosea 7:2. God’s knowledge is not just like as computer; He knows how to put His knowledge to good ends. The Omnipresence of God. Definition—God is in the universe, everywhere present at the same time, and fills every part of it with His whole being. Biblical Proof. Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:24. Explanation. 1) This does not mean that God is everything and everything is God. 2) This does not mean that part of God is in one place and part of Him is in another. He is everywhere present in His whole being. 3). this does not mean that God is everywhere present in the same sense. He does not dwell on earth as he does in heaven; He is not in animals as He is in man; He is not in the wicked as He is in the saved, etc. Manifestations of God’s Omnipresence. God has chosen to manifest Himself permanently in heaven (1 Kings 8:30), but He also manifests Himself at certain other times and places. His presence is everywhere, but He does not manifest Himself everywhere. Values of God’s Omnipresence. 1) God is always near at hand. 2) God can live in our hearts by His Spirit—John 14:23. The All-Wisdom of God (Omni-sapience). Definition—God applies His knowledge in such a way that the best means are employed to achieve the highest ends in order to glorify Him the most. Biblical Proof. Romans 16:27; 11:33. Manifestations of God’s Wisdom. 1). in creation—Psalm 104:24. 2). in providence—Romans 8:28. 3). in redemption—Ephesians 3:10. Time is marked by succession of events, movements, etc. God is above time in that sense. Man is above time in a feeble sense; he can aspire, remember, etc. Biblical Proof. Psalm 90:2; Deuteronomy 33:27; Hebrews 1:2; Job 36:26; Isaiah 57:15. The Immutability of God. Definition—God is changeless in His person, attributes and purposes; and He is incapable of growth or decay in any respect. God has not learned anything, has not changed His mind about anything, and has not lost any power. He is neither more nor less merciful, loving, wise, truthful, etc., than He ever was. Biblical Proof. James 1:17; Ezekiel 24:14; Malachi 3:6; Psalm 102:27. Problems—texts which speak of God “repenting” (1 Samuel 15:10-11; Exodus 32:14; 2 Samuel 24:16, etc). Answer: God’s immutability does not mean immobility. God changes His dealings with changeable men in order to remain changeless in Himself. E.g., God treats the righteous differently than the wicked. A good illustration would be of one bicycling against and with the wind. Practical Values. 1) It guarantees to the believer that God cannot fail. 2) It guarantees to the believer that God keeps His promises—Malachi 3:6. 3) It is a stern warning to the unsaved that their rejection will bring inevitable judgment. The Incomprehensibility of God. Definition—God cannot be completely known by a finite mind. Biblical Proof. Psalm 145:3; 147:5; Job 11:7-9; Isaiah 55:9. Clarification. This does not mean that God is unknowable as Neo-orthodoxy teaches. A finite mind can know absolute truth about God, and he can have absolute knowledge of God Himself, but he cannot know all the absolute truth there is about God. The Attributes of Goodness. The love of God. Definition—that in God which moves Him to give Himself and His gifts spontaneously, voluntarily and righteously for the good of personal beings regardless of their merit or response. God is eternally moved to self-communication. Biblical Proof. (The Bible is the only source of God’s love; it can’t be found in nature). John 3:16; 1 John 4:8. The Character of God’s Love. 1) Voluntary—1 John 4:10. It is under no compulsion and does not wait for as response from its object. 2) Righteous—John 3:16. It does not condone sin; it always acts according to right. 3) Eternal—1 Corinthians 13:8. God is eternally self-giving, although not always to the same objects. The Objects of God’s Love. God loves personal beings. He does not love the “rocks and the rills.” Although God is tender toward animals, He does not love animals. 1) Jesus Christ His Son-John 17:24. God loves Jesus because His character is perfectly reproduced in Jesus. 2) Believers; those who love His Son—John 16:27. God loves believers because His character is manifested (even though imperfectly) in them. 3) Israel—Jeremiah 31:34. God loves Israel because His character will be manifested in them, particularly in the end times. 4) Sinners—John 3:16. God loves sinners because they are persons in His image. Manifestations of God’s Love. 1) In His benevolence toward all men—Matthew 5:43-48. 2) In the gift of His Son for sin—1 John 4:9. 3) In making believers His children—1 John 3:1. 4) In chastening His children—Hebrews 12:5-8. 5) In His election of believers to eternal life—1 Thessalonians 1:4. Practical Values. 1) It demands a response of love from Christians—1 John 4:11, 19. 2) God’s love producing love in us is an evidence of the new birth—1 John 2:10; 3:14; 4:7. The Holiness of God. Definition—Holiness means being set apart, or simply the idea of separation or apartness. God’s holiness is seen in two realms: (1) His apartness from all that is earthly or created; and (2) His apartness from all that is morally unclean—His moral purity. Explanation. The Biblical idea of holiness originally meant set apart from common use (qodesh in Hebrew) and had no moral connotations. For example, the word for harlot (qedeshash—Genesis 38:21) comes for the word meaning set apart. In this case the person was set apart for immoral purposes. Objects in the tabernacle were set apart (Exodus 40:11); houses and fields could be set apart (Leviticus 29:14, 16). From this idea the transition was made to the idea of separation from uncleanness, or the idea of moral purity. Biblical Proof. 1) God’s apartness from that which is earthly—Psalm 99:1-3; Isaiah 55; 15. 2) God’s apartness form moral uncleanness—Isaiah 6:1-5; 1 Peter 1:15-16. Holiness is God’s Fundamental Moral Attribute. 1) The Bible makes holiness basic. Isaiah 6:1-3; 57:15; Psalm 47:8. 2) All God’s acts are acts of holiness. Revelation 4:3, 8; Psalm 47:8. The Relation of God’s Holiness to Love. God’s holiness conditions His love. Holiness is God’s self affirmation. God eternally wills His own moral purity; it is not delegated to Him. Love is His self-giving. Before God can give there must be something to give. God’s love is basically His desire to give holiness. The Manifestations of God’s Holiness. 1) In His works—Ephesians 4:24 (Creation); Psalm 145:17. 2) In His laws (morality)—10 Commandments; cf. Rom. 2:14-15. 3) In His hatred for sin—Habakkuk 1:13. 4) In His love of righteousness—Hebrews 1:9. 5) In the Cross of Christ—Psalm 22:1; Isaiah 55:10a. Practical Values. 1) It makes us aware of our sin—Isaiah 6:5. 2) It demands holiness in God’s people—1 Peter 1:16. 3) It forms the background to divine judgment—Revelation 20:11. The Righteousness of God (including His justice). Definition—God’s righteousness is that phase of His holiness by which He demands conformity to perfect right; it is His demand for moral perfection. Righteous come from the Hebrew word having the idea of straight (tsadiq). God’s justice is that phase of His holiness by which He rewards such conformity and punishes non-conformity. Biblical Proof. Psalm 92:15; 11:7; 145:15; Deuteronomy 32:4. The Manifestations of God’s Righteousness and Justice. 1) In His requirements for men—Leviticus 19:35-36. 2) In punishing the unrighteous—Revelation 16:4-7. 3) In rewarding the righteous—Hebrews 6:10. 4) In chastening His people—Daniel 9:14. 5) In the cross of Christ—Romans 3:25. 6) In the forgiveness of sins—1 John 1:9. The Truth of God. Definition and Biblical Proof—the truth (trueness) of God is seen in three dimensions: 1) God is the only true or genuine God—John 17:3. He alone is all that God should be. 2) God is the truthful God in that the knowledge, declarations and representations of God eternally conform to His being—Psalm 19:9; John 17:17. 3) God is the source and basis of all truth—Psalm 31:5. The Faithfulness of God. Definition—God’s faithfulness is His transitive truth; His trustworthiness to act or perform in accordance with His promise. The words for faithfulness in the Bible (aman; pistos) mean to be firm; hence steadfast, reliable, dependable, trustworthy. The idea is that if God is true in Himself, He is faithful to others. Biblical Proof. Lamentations 3:23; Psalm 119:90; Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13. The Manifestations of God’s Faithfulness. 1) In keeping His promises—Hebrews 10:23. 2) In preserving His people in temptation—1 Corinthians 10:13. 3) In forgiving sin—1 John 1:9. 4) In answering prayer—Psalm 143:1. The Grace of God. Definition—Grace comes from the Old Testament idea of stoop or bend; i.e., condescending favor. God’s grace is the undeserved, unearned, unrecompensed and unwanted favor of God toward guilty sinners. Biblical Proof. Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:17. Manifestations of God’s Grace. 1) In justification—Romans 3:23, 24. 2) In regeneration—Ephesians 2:8, 9. 3) In the formation of the New Testament Church—Ephesians 2:8; 3:7, 8. The Church is the highest display of the grace of God—the greatest trophy of grace ever. This is because of the ministry of Christ (John 1:17) and the union with Him produced by Spirit baptism. 4) In sanctification—Titus 2:11, 12. Note the contrast with sanctification by Law; one cannot be made holy by Law-keeping (Galatians 1:6; 3:3). The principle of Grace is that it acts on the basis of prior blessings received (1 John 4:11, 19). Law says, “This do and you will live” (Leviticus 18:5). The Mercy of God. Definition—God’s mercy is His compassion, pity sand gentleness toward miserable sinners. Biblical Proof. (80% of texts on mercy are in the Old Testament; the New Testament is full of the idea of mercy). Deuteronomy 4:31; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Psalm 86:5. The difference between God’s Mercy and Love. Mercy is the outworking of God’s love in the practical realm. Love is what God is, mercy is what He does. Cf. Ephesians 2:4-6. The difference between Mercy and Grace. Grace is God’s attitude of favor toward the guilty or the law breakers; it is in the judicial realm. Mercy is God’s attitude of pity toward the miserable or those in distress; it is in the practical realm. The Manifestations of God’s Mercy. 1) In saving lost sinners—Ephesians 2:4-8; 1 Timothy 1:13. 2) In caring for His creatures—Psalm 145:9, 15-16. 3) In helping His people—Nehemiah 9:17-21, 27-32. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.