Reflections on the Holy Scripture

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The character of God is a study topic all in itself, known to theologists as Theology Proper. Every person can be characterized as having certain traits, personalities, and abilities. Just as we can characterize each other, God also has key attributes which are spelled out in the Bible. The major difference is that, while our minds change with time through maturity or experience, God is "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), unchanging and forever dependable. Since we are commanded to be like Him (Romans 6), we must know how He is; furthermore, by knowing His character, we can only come to love Him more.

Attributes

God's attributes are those qualities that distinguish Him from everything else. They are what make Him "God". The list below shows how God is not merely a human, or even an advanced angel: He is God. Each quality will be broken down into what it is with relevant Scripture. Controversies for each of these can be found on their relevant pages.

Trinitarian

Main Page: The Trinity

God being Trinitarian is a fancy way of describing The Trinity. In a nutshell, there is only one God; however, He exists in three different persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are not three separate gods, but they are rather three manifestations of the same God, each equally important. This idea of the Trinity is an important theme throughout the Bible, comparing to our own threefold being of soul, body, and spirit. The Trinity is evidenced by references to all three persons such as in Matthew 28:19, God referencing Himself as plural in Genesis 1:26, and the three persons conversing in Psalm 2.

Omnipotent

Generally, having infinite ability. In the context of Christianity and God, omnipotence of God is limited to His nature. (See Character of God) Omnipotence, in general, is the possession of infinite ability. God in the Bible is called Almighty in several places, including Genesis 17:1, throughout Job, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Revelation 1:8, and more. Perhaps the greatest display of His power was when He created all that we know, the Universe:

1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

~ Genesis 1:1 KJV

Therefore, God is Almighty, capable of doing anything including speaking the Universe into existence. Jeremiah in Jeremiah 32:17 shows that nothing is too hard for God.

However, in Christianity the idea of omnipotence is not unlimited. God's power has the following limitations:

  • He cannot go against His own Word
  • He cannot contradict His nature
  • He cannot do something that would make Him not Almighty

Throughout the Bible, God makes promises. When God makes a promise, He does not break it, even when He prepares a situation that may seem to contradict His promise, as Paul demonstrates in Romans 4:13-25. Next, God cannot go against His own nature. For instance, as God is Truth, He cannot lie. Finally, God cannot cause Himself to not be Almighty. As Augustine had argued:

For He is called omnipotent on account of His doing what He wills, not on account of His suffering what He wills not; for if that should befall Him, He would by no means be omnipotent. Wherefore, He cannot do some things for the very reason that He is omnipotent.a

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This may seem to contradict the idea that God became Man to be killed. However, He had control of the situation the entire time, showing that such was within His will.

Because God is omnipotent, we can always depend on Him in times of trouble and for daily upkeeping. Nothing is too difficult for God to handle. Even if a certain situation seems impossible for us to bear, we can know that God is able to deliver us, and He will if we put all of our trust in Him. Always know that God can do anything, and if you put your trust in Him, He will aid you beyond your expectation1.

Omnipresent

Omnipresence is the concept of existing everywhere simultaneously, or scientifically having no locality. Only God is attributed with this quality, though He can select where He is not, such as Hell. He promises to exist everywhere otherwise. See Character of God. Omnipresence is the idea of God existing everywhere at every time. In other words, God can do multiple things at one time in different places. More importantly, though, the ramifications of His omnipresence are how He can truly dwell within all Christians and affect each of our lives without having to switch between individuals as we humans would have to (Psalm 33:13-14).

God's omnipresence stems from His very essence. For us as physical beings, we are bound by nature in our bodies. Whatever we may do, our consciousness cannot extend beyond our body, and hence we cannot be omnipresent. God is different. He has no physical limit; in fact, He describes Himself perfectly to Moses in Exodus 3 (emphasis added):

13Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

NKJV

God simply is. You cannot point to some object (no matter its enormity) and say, "This is God." He just exists, permeating His entire creation and beyond. No physical quantity can describe Him. Therefore when Moses had asked for God's name, God simply answered with who He truly was, since He is not bounded by the very Creation He brought forth. One cannot escape the influence of God, as the book of Jonah demonstrates.

There are a couple of pointers to make, though:

  • God can select special instances in which He demonstrates Himself through His presence
  • The idea of being out of God's presence exists

In the first point, while God exists everywhere, there are particular cases in which God especially reveals Himself. In other words, there can be a stark difference between experiencing God's presence and not. For example, individuals in worship tend to physically feel God's presence more than when performing daily tasks, like cleaning the house.

Naturally, the question arises: if God exists everywhere, then why does such a noticeable difference exist? It is actually pretty similar to what we people may do in dicussion groups. Perhaps in a small group Bible study, you have noticed the few individuals who only sit back and listen. They are present, but not especially active; yet, if they did contribute to the discussion, they would be present but more noticeably so. God's omnipresence works similarly, though in all cases He is active; He is just more active in others, and it is always associated with a special purpose. Because of this, and because He is omnipotent, God can interact with more than one part of His creation, making Him even more incredible.

While God is omnipresent, there is such a concept as being completely separated from God, or being in a "place" where God isn't. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 shows that those who fail in the Final Judgement of Christ will have to suffer being permanently and utterly separated from the Lord. In today's world, God is everywhere, and nobody can be considered out of God's technical presence. Though after the Final Judgement, those who do not know Christ will not even exist in God's ambient presence, resulting in the ultimate torture: no hope.

Omniscient

Omniscience is the capability of knowing everything. This attribute is only given to God, as He knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. See Character of God. Omniscience is the idea that God's capacity of knowledge is infinite. God allegedly knows everything, from all that has happened, to all that is happening, to all that will happen. His understanding protrudes beyond the extent of the Spiritual world and even beyond that; God knows every one of our hearts and their intents (Genesis 6:5). God is constantly aware of everything happening, including the actions which we may perceive to be secret or hidden from Him. Jonah had attempted to escape God's presence, but God knew that He would flee His instruction, and so God directed Jonah's path. Just as He knew Jonah back then, He knows everything that we do now, and hence we must always be weary of how we live our life.

God, as the Creator, is by nature omniscient. Because He created all that we see, it would make sense that He could indeed know everything about His creation. Acts 15:18 supports this:

18Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

KJV

The Bible clearly makes the point that God knows all things. The idea of prophecy in the Scripture similarly display's His existence outside of Time. However, this raises some interesting questions.

  • Did God create knowledge?
  • Does God's omniscience contradict our free will?

If God created knowledge, then that would mean that He didn't have the knowledge to create in the first place; but, if He didn't create knowledge, then that would mean He didn't create all things. But then, we must consider who God is. God Himself is not a creation; He simply exists. Therefore, God being omniscient can have all knowledge which isn't created and still create some of that knowledge which is accessible by created beings.

The biggest question, though, is whether or not God's omniscience contradicts free will. According to free will, we have the choice whether or not to accept Jesus as our Savior. However, if God knows all things, He would know what our choice would be, and hence we wouldn't have that free will. The debate is large enough to be discussed on its own separate page on Free Will. Generally, at Life's Handbook we believe that we have free will and God is omniscient, and that the two ideas do not contradict each other but rather illustrate how well God knows us.

God's omniscience puts Him above everything. Knowing that He cannot lie and that He knows all things, we can be sure that His Word, the Bible, is 100% inerrant and true. We can have confidence that all the Scripture that has not yet been fulfilled will come to pass. Furthermore, we must acknowledge that as God knows everything, we cannot keep secrets from Him. He knows every intent whether good or evil, and he knows every sin whether secret or blatant. We are always accountable to Him and cannot hide from His knowledge.

Eternal

God is considered to be eternal. Eternity is the concept of timelessness, or the oblivion of time itself. Things that are eternal simply don't have lots of time but are outside the dimensionality of time, not being bound by it. Eternity is commonly misunderstood to mean lots of time, or stretching the timeline out to positive and negative infinity. However, when we say that God is eternal, we mean to say that He is timeless, not being bound by the dimensionality of time. God always has existed, is existent, and will be existent forever, as shown in Revelation 1:8, and called eternal in countless other verses.

8“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

NKJV

The above verse indicates that God at least exists throughout all of time, since the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5) to the end of the world (Revelation 21). However, the Bible implies that God exists beyond this, even outside of time. To Him, time is nothing, as Peter demonstrates in 2 Peter 3:8. He created time, since He existed even before Creation, and hence he is outside of its dominion. God gives to us prophecy, as He can actually see the beginning to the end, knowing all things. God, thus not being bound by time, does not grow old or weary as we do, and this furthermore adds to His immutability.

Holy

Finally, God is Holy is a word to describe the utmost state of purity. In the Bible, it is used to describe a state of sinlessness or sanctity. holy. By this, we mean that God is perfectly pure and separate from sin, as He represents what sin isn't. His holiness shines partly from His righteousness. Because of our sin, we cannot be with the Lord eternally, as He cannot tolerate sin, for He is holy and sin is against His very nature. Because He is holy, we too must become holy to properly serve Him, which thanks to Jesus's sacrifice, is possible. Because of His holy nature, we also know that God is perfectly right and just.

Personality

Like us people, God also has a personality. The difference between the personality of God and His attributes is that He chooses to be the below, whereas His attributes simply are. God by nature is loving, however, He didn't have to be. While this seems to be a little fickle, as if God could at will change His personality, we know that He won't because He tells us He won't, and He cannot go back on His own promise. The below characterize His perfect personality, much of which is responsible for His decision to save us and the justification for the method He used to do so.

Loving

Our God is a loving God. More than anything, God loves every one of us, including both frequent sinners and devoted disciples. Neither race nor ethnicity nor language nor custom causes Him to love us any more or any less, for we were made in His image (Genesis 1:26-28). It is for this love that we give God praises today (Psalm 63:3).

Graceful

Merciful

Just

Righteous

Immutable

Scripture: James 1:17, Malachi 3:6

God Cannot…

God, as discussed earlier in this article, is omnipotent, meaning He has all power. However, while God may have control over everything and may know everything, there are some things that God cannot do or does not know. These things, though, do not subtract from His glory; rather, they add to His character and serve as testaments to God's lovingkindness.

Lie

One thing God cannot do is that He cannot lie. Understandably, this may seem rather obvious, being that lying is sinful, and God hates sin. However, the Scripture specifically emphasizes that it is impossible for God to lie, not just that He won't. Hebrews 6:17-18 says this:

17Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

NKJV

The Scripture emphasizes that God cannot lie so that we can be aware of how sure we can be of our salvation and inheritance. God cannot lie because everything He says must come to be. If God said the sky was red, then it would turn red because He said it to be. Inasmuch, because God said that we may be heir in Him like His Son, and because He cannot lie, we can be sure in our inheritance if we are dedicated to Him (Romans 8:14-17).

Scripture: Titus 1:2

Break a Promise

There are times in the Bible when God swears an oath. For instance, the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:10-13 shows God promising David that the Messiah would establish an eternal kingdom from his line. We know, therefore, that the Messiah will rule eternally based on the fact that God cannot break His promises. God delights in keeping His promises, and so He did keep His promise to David, as Jesus descended from the tribe of Judah (Acts 13:22-23).

God cannot break a promise because it is against His nature. Our God is not one who is fickle; rather, He is the most trustworthy being to exist. In this, we can be confident that His Word is the eternal truth and that all the prophecy will be fulfilled as it has been written. Paul tells us clearly in 1 Corinthians 1:20:

20For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

Never once has God broken His promise. Abraham trusted God's promise that he would father a great nation so much that even when God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac, he knew that God would at least be required to resurrect Isaac so that He could keep His promise (Hebrews 11:17-19). Asaph in Psalm 77:8 commended His trustworthiness. Indeed, even though Israel in the Old Testament repeatedly rejected their God, God was obligated to fulfill His promise in Isaiah 11:11 to restore them so that His Name may be kept, so that the people may see how trustworthy He is (Ezekiel 36:22). God kept this promise in 1948, when Israel was recognized as an official nation of the world.

We can be sure, therefore, that God will keep His many promises for us. His Son's sacrifice covers our sins, and because of that, we will have eternal life, if only we choose to accept Him as our Savior. Furthermore, because He is perfectly faithful, we must also follow His example and be faithful to our promises.

Find an Alternative to His Son

References

a. City of God, Book 5, Chapter 10. Augustine.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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