15
Sep
15

Calvinistic Evangelism-Chapter Eight-The Attributes of God

Before we begin to talk to people about God, it is important that we know what the Bible teaches about his nature and attributes. The modern church has almost completely lost touch with the biblical doctrine of God and the evidence of that ignorance is clear in the results it has produced in our anemic doctrinal instruction and in our unbiblical practices. It is my belief that ignorance of God is the root of all error in our doctrine and practice. We will never return to biblical practices in evangelism unless and until we begin to understand something about the attributes of God.

The following is only a brief sketch of what the Bible says God is like. Volumes of no small magnitude have been written in an effort give us a glimpse of God’s glorious attributes, but even the most voluminous of them have scarcely scratched the surface. It is clearly beyond the scope of this study to provide a detailed study of this subject. If you are serious about studying God’s attributes, I would suggest you find and read the following books

A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God,

Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God,

C. H. Spurgon, The Attributes of God

William Bates, A Harmony of the Divine Attributes in the Contrivance and Accomplishment of Redemption

J. I. Packer, Knowing God

God is the Creator of All Things

Early Christians addressed God in this way, “Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, . . . (Acts 4:24).  Not only do the Scriptures teach us that God has made everything out of nothing (Genesis 1:1); they also teach us that he has made everything for his own pleasure. He has made all things for himself. Like everything else in God’s creation, you were created to bring him pleasure. You were made so that, through you, God might demonstrate what he is like.

God Is Spirit

God is a spirit being. He does not have a body like ours. We cannot see him with our physical eyes. He cannot be confined in a single location. He cannot be attacked with physical weapons. He can neither die nor decay.  “God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)

God is Eternal

When the Word of God tells us God is eternal, we are not merely to understand that God will never cease to exist. We must also believe he never began to exist. This is not merely a deep truth; it is an unfathomable truth. Eternity cannot be measured in terms of time. Eternity is an entirely different dimension. God does not dwell in time nor is he limited by time. God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15).

God is an Infinite Being

The Bible teaches that God is an infinite being. By this, the biblical writers intended to convey the idea that God is without bounds or limits. In terms of space, the infinity [limitlessness] of his being translates into immensity. Jehovah, speaking through the prophet, Jeremiah, asked, “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him? says the LORD; Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD (Jer. 23:24). Consider again Solomon’s words during the dedication of the temple. He said, “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built” (2 Chr. 6:18)?

In terms of the duration of God’s existence, infinity translates into eternity. God is without beginning and without end. Not only is God, as an inhabitant of eternity, present at the beginning of time and at the end of time; he is present at the beginning and end simultaneously.

God is Self-Existent

All other beings in the universe owe their existence to God, but he owes his existence to no one.  God is self-existent, self-sufficient and self-satisfied. He does not need anyone to sustain his existence or to add to his happiness. “He does not dwell in temples made with hands; Neither is [he] worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24-25). We are totally dependent on him but, he does not depend on us at all.

God is the Ruler over All Creation

God is not the helpless, old man upstairs many imagine him to be. He is the almighty sovereign who rules heaven and earth. He is the only being in the entire universe who has the absolute right to do as he pleases. No one has the authority to call him into question for anything he has done. The Psalmist wrote concerning him in contrast to heathen idols, “. . .our God is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). After the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, had been humbled before the Most High God, he spoke these words,

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,

And His kingdom is from generation to generation.

All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;

He does according to His will in the army of heaven

And among the inhabitants of the earth.

No one can restrain His hand  Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ (Daniel 4: 34-35).

God Is Unchangeable

God does not change. He is the same today as he has always been and will continue to be the same forever. His nature does not change; his character does not change; his demands do not change; his promises do not change. He cannot change for the better since he is already perfect; He cannot change for the worse since then he would cease to be perfect.

Everything else around us is subject to change, but God remains the same.  The psalmist wrote,

Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and your years will have no end (Psalms 102:25‑27).

He is not like pagan gods who are capricious in their decisions. His eternal plan needs no alteration. No change can surprise him, prompt him to alter his course, or cause him to abandon the blueprint he has chosen for his everlasting government.

Nothing is Impossible for God

God is able to do all his holy will.  Nothing is too difficult for him to accomplish. Through the mouth of his prophet, Isaiah, God asked, “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; he calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing” (Isa 40:25‑26).

God is Everywhere

There is nowhere in the universe where God is not present. It is not simply that some of God’s essence is everywhere; it is that all of his essence is everywhere at once. Concerning God’s omnipresence, the psalmist wrote,

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and our right hand shall hold me (Ps 139:7‑10).

God Knows Everything

We can hide nothing from God. In the Psalm cited in the immediately preceding paragraph, the psalmist wrote,

For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to you (Psalms 139: 4, 11-12).

God knows every word we speak. He knows all our thoughts. Not one of our actions, however cleverly concealed from human observation, escapes his notice. Someone has rightly observed that secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.

God is Holy

When, in the Scriptures, God makes himself known as “the holy one,” he intends us to understand that he is absolutely separate from sin. God is infinitely pure. “As God’s power is the opposite of the native weakness of the creature, as his wisdom is in complete contrast from the least defect of understanding or folly, so his holiness is the very antithesis of all moral blemish or defilement” (Pink, nd., 43)

God cannot sin. He cannot tempt his creatures to sin. He cannot overlook sin or smile with favor on it.  God is loving and gracious, forgiving a multitude of sins, but he cannot forgive sin at the expense of his holiness. Above everything else that God is, God is holy. He makes himself known as “the holy one.”

All God’s other attributes are affected by his holiness and retain the character they possess only because conditioned by it. “Without it, his patience would be an indulgence to sin, his mercy a fondness, his wrath a madness, his power a tyranny, his wisdom an unworthy subtlety” (Charnock, 1971, 451).         

Holiness is the brightest jewel in his crown. Above everything else that God is, God is Holy. “Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy his bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty” (Charnock, 1971, 450).

God is Just

The Scriptures reveal that God is righteous and will always do what is right. By this, they do not mean God conforms himself to a standard of equity imposed on him from outside. It is never right to conclude that God is unfair [unrighteous] because he did not act in a way that meets our standard of right and wrong. God is the standard of right and wrong and has pledged himself always to act like himself.

He cannot deem his creatures righteous unless we conform to the standard of righteousness he has revealed. This standard is strict and unbending; every deviation from it, however slight, must incur God’s displeasure. He will not overlook one sin or fail to punish even one act of transgression of his revealed will. The Bible describes him this way, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; you hate all workers of iniquity” (Ps 5:4‑5).

To the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness . . .” (Romans 1:18).  When we think of God’s wrath, we should avoid the idea that God flares out of control in a fit of rage.  Instead, we need to understand that God’s wrath is his settled indignation against all that fails to conform to his righteous standard.

God is Good

Once again, when the Bible tells us God is good, it does not mean he conforms to a subjective standard someone has imposed on him. In other words, goodness is not what we imagine it to be; instead it is all that conforms to God’s perfection. We know what good is by knowing what God is. God is good.

God’s goodness includes such virtues as love, mercy, graciousness. God acts for the benefit of his entire creation. We sometimes refer to this as the common grace or mercy of God.  Such acts of kindness should tend to bring sinners to abandon their sinful ways and return to God. The Apostle Paul asks sinners a pointed question, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Rom 2:4)?

Due to the defiance that characterizes the human condition, common grace is not sufficient to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of God. It requires a special display of God’s goodness to break sin’s tyrannical reign and introduce sinners to Christ’s kingdom.

God is Faithful

God can be trusted to keep his promises. Faith in God is nothing more and nothing less than a heartfelt conviction that God to keep his covenant promises to those who believe.

This is what the Bible tells us about God. “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Deut. 7:9). Time after time the biblical writers reaffirm this truth to their readers. We can trust God to do all he has promised. He will always be true to his Word.

Pink, A.W. , The Attributes of God, (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, n.d.), p.43.

Stephen, Charnock,  The Existence and Attributes of God, Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1971), p. 451.

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4 Responses to “Calvinistic Evangelism-Chapter Eight-The Attributes of God”


  1. September 15, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    SO many people think puny humans can resist God – especially as regards coming to new life. In their minds, God is puny and must obey all-mighty human who, dead in his sins, bids God raise him up to new life. This is the dominant view where I live, pervading every local church I’ve been to. My soul is grieved by the constant call for spiritually dead men to ask Jesus into their hearts.

    • September 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      Good comment my brother. I never cease to be amazed when I see people twist plain biblical texts in an effort to glorify the potsherd’s autonomy its his rebellion aganist the Potter.

      • September 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        But Randy – a Baptist on LinkedIn told me the potter and clay metaphor was only applicable to nations, not persons.

        sigh

        If God is not my strong tower and ever present help, then I cannot stand. I cannot reply to my creator, “Why have you made me thus?” Oh Lord God, I believe – help my unbelief!

  2. September 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Exactly my point about twisting Scripture. It never occurs to these people that nations are comprised of individuals. Which do the like better, God hating one person or hating a whole nation of persons? Unless I am mistaken, there were only two individuals in Rebekah’s womb. Whatever happened to their progeny, as these two men became a nation, resulted from God’s decision before they were born. Additionally, Moses and Pharaoh were individuals, to one of whom God granted mercy contrary to merit and on the other of whom he executed judgment to the praise of his glorious justice.


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