God: His Attributes (Part 3)

There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God.  Knowing God is sometimes used of having fellowship with God (e.g. 1 John 2:4 cf. 1:6; 1 John 2:3 cf. 1:7).   Knowing about God may simply refer to knowing certain things said about Him, perhaps the things said about Him in the Bible.  Ultimately, we should want to know Him, and not just know about Him.  However, knowing what the Bible teaches about Him is important – for how can we know Him, if we first do not know something about Him?

It is in some ways difficult for man to understand God.  Kerry Duke writes, “The primary reason we have trouble understanding the precise relationship between God and the world is that we are so unlike Him.  How can we as earthly, finite human beings relate to the infinite creator?  After all, we are mortal, frail beings subject to the limitations of physical existence; God is pure spirit – immortal and immutable.  We had a beginning in time and we judge almost everything in terms of the clock; God is eternal, and to Him ‘one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8).  We live in a world plagued with grief, pain and death, the Almighty dwells in heaven, a place free of such troubles… Where is God?  In heaven, we answer, but what does this mean?  Where is heaven?  …Words such as ‘where’ and ‘place’ have literal meaning only in reference to the physical realm… Reaching heaven is not a matter of traveling far enough in the universe to arrive there.  Heaven is in another realm, not a different place.  Speaking of heaven as a ‘place’ or of God being ‘somewhere’ in appropriate only in an accommodative sense” (Duke, God at a Distance, pp. 3-4).

The purpose or this series is to consider what the Bible reveals about God.  We should want our theology to be correct.  An improper understanding of God can cause many problems (e.g. Psalm 50:21; Isaiah 29:15; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Ezekiel 8:12; 9:9; Acts 17:24-25; 17:29).

7.  God is Faithful.

He is faithful to His word.  Moses proclaimed, “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps (His) covenant” (Deuteronomy 7:9).  Paul proclaimed, “He remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

He is also faithful to His people.  Moses told Israel, “He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8).  God told Joshua, “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).  Christians are told, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  Consider the story of a husband and wife.  When they first married, they sat close to one another on that bench-seat of their truck or car.  However, as time passed, they began to sit farther apart.  The wife, noticing this, said to her husband, “I wish we still sat as close as we once did.”  The husband, who did the driving, replied, “I did not move.”  If there is a distance between the Christian and God, it should be realized that God did not move.  It is the Christian, who needs to return to God (cf. The Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32).

“‘Great is Thy faithfulness,’ O God my Father,  There is no shadow of turning with Thee” (Song: Great is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas Chisholm).

8.  God is Forgiving.

It is amazing that He provides man with so many opportunities for forgiveness.  David said, “You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5).  Micah said, “Who is a God (El – power, authority) like You, pardoning iniquity (Micah 7:18).  Jesus taught that us to forgive “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).  Surely, God is just as forgiving.  He forgave Peter.  He forgave Saul.  He can forgive us.

9.  God is Patient.

We see this in the scriptures.  He gave man 120 years to repent before the flood (Genesis 6:1-3 cf. 2 Peter 2:4-5).  The fact that He has taken so long to judge the world is an example of His patience.  Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  He is “the God of patience” (Romans 15:5).

10.  God is also characterized by Wrath.

He is longsuffering but not forever suffering.  He once closed the door of the ark.  He will, one day, close the door of opportunity for grace.  Judgment is coming.  The wrath of God is spoken of many times in the scriptures (e.g. John 3:36; Romans 1:18; 2:5; 2:8; 5:9; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6).  Charles Hodge has written, “A holy God is a God of wrath.  The word ‘wrath’ appears 189 times in the scriptures.  ‘Wrath’ is used in the Bible even more than ‘grace.’  People today may cringe at the word, but without wrath there is no need for grace.  To lessen judgment is to minimize sin.  God has wrath, fierce wrath, great wrath, and a day of wrath (Hodge, The Agony and Glory of the Cross, p. 112).

Do not delay.  Respond to His offer of grace today.  “And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

“Oh praise the Lord, the Lord for He is good, His judgments just, His mercy doth endure; From Zion’s Hill praise ye the Lord of Heaven, Praise in the heights and all ye stars of light\

He knows our ways, the starry host He numbered, Their paths He laid, He calleth them by name; He lifteth up and helps the meek and lowly, And casteth down, the wicked in their ways\

When I look up into the Heaven’s splendor, The starry host, as far as eye doth see; I see His face in all of Heaven’s glory, And feel the tug, His gentle hand on me\

When I survey Thy wondrous work at Calv’ry, My heart and soul as yet can’t understand: For what is man that Thou didst visit him, Did glory crown set o’er Thy works his hand\ 

Kings of the earth, yes, judges great and small, Great is our God, Great is our God, Ye mountains, hills, ye stormy winds that call, Great is our God, Great is our God” (Song: Great is Our God by Alton Howard).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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