Word of the Week

We are continuing our exploration of the attributes of God. Last week’s post on God’s greatness attributes focused on how God transcends us. This post and the next on the goodness attributes of God focus on how God relates to us: how God is immanent with us.

Again, we are following Millard Erickson’s division of attributes, goodness and greatness, from his Introducing Christian Doctrine.

God is holy. In Isaiah’s vision of God enthroned he saw God “high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1). The angels were crying “Holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). God’s holiness refers to his being “set apart” and not like ordinary or normal persons or things. God’s holiness is one of his primary attributes, and his holiness sets him apart from us in nature and character.

God is righteous. God’s righteousness reflects the perfection of his law and his self-consistent actions in accord with his law. The decrees of the Lord are righteous (Psalm 19:9). Erickson defines God’s righteousness as “God’s holiness applied to his relationships to other beings” (Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 99).

God is just. That God is just means that God makes correct and right judgments with regard to his creation. God is just when he judges, and because he is good, he is also the justifier of those who believe in Jesus (Romans 3:26). God’s justness is good news for those in our world longing for justice. While the debates will continue over the proper interpretation of justice in social spheres, the Christian has a ready-made worldview with which to interpret issues of justice: the character and laws of God. God’s justice also means that he must punish sin. We’ll compare God’s justness with with his love, mercy, and grace in the next post.

God is true. God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) and is identified as the “Truth” (John 14:6). God does not obfuscate or obscure. He is the epitome of what is true. His judgments, statements, promises and affirmations are true. This is one of the primary reasons why we can trust the truthfulness of biblical revelation. God is not a liar, and thus what he reveals will be true and trustworthy.

God is faithful. God’s faithfulness is affirmed over and again in Scripture. He is described as the faithful husband to unfaithful Israel (the book of Hosea), and Paul declares that God’s faithfulness assures us that he will accomplish his plans and purposes (1 Thessalonians 5:24). The faithfulness of God grounds our confidence in his promises and interventions.

God’s holiness, righteousness, honesty, justice and faithfulness reflect his glorious interactions with people. While we cannot adopt perfectly these attributes in our own lives, we can relate to them. In fact, these goodness attributes of God are specially important to followers of Jesus because they are relatable.

When we consider the greatness, glory, and wonder of God’s attributes, we should be amazed. He wants us to relate to him as he is, and he invites us to know him.

So on this day as you reflect on these attributes, praise God for these goodness attributes.

  • Imagine the glory of God’s holy splendor in Isaiah’s vision and bow before him in humility.
  • Consider the perfection of God’s righteous standards and declare his righteousness to your own sinful heart.
  • Contemplate the clarity of God’s justice and acknowledge that he alone is the true Judge of action and motive.
  • Meditate on the personality of God’s truth in Jesus Christ and praise him as the only True God.
  • Remember the persistence of God’s faithfulness and thank him that he will never fail you.

Look for next week’s post when we reflect on more of God’s goodness attributes.

Currently, these word of the week posts are addressing the doctrine of God. Today’s post will explore some of the greatness attributes of God.

God’s attributes have been given different classifications, but for these posts, we’re going to follow Millard Erickson’s division of greatness attributes and goodness attributes (see Introducing Christian Doctrine, 85). These attributes below follow Erickson’s list.

God’s greatness is another way of describing God’s nature. But the term nature for God is misleading, because it brings God to the level of nature when these attributes are in reality what makes him distinct from nature. It is important to remember, that these posts are overviews. When discussing the attributes of God, we will leave things out. We can be grateful to know God truly as he has revealed himself in Scripture, but we cannot hope to know God exhaustively. God is far greater than we can imagine.

Following are several greatness attributes of God that reflect God as unique and distinct from his creation.

God is. In a recent post on the Name of God, we reflected that Yahweh is literally translated “I AM WHO I AM.” God’s name is a clear affirmation that God is not contingent on anything else and that if nothing else existed, he alone is and he alone exists. Each of the attributes that follows begins with the essential definition that “God is.”

God is Spirit. God does not have a body, like humans. While God the Son took on human flesh in the incarnation, the Father is Spirit and must be worshiped in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

God is life. Commonly used in the Old Testament, God is the “Living God” (Jeremiah 10:10) and highlighted in the New Testament as the “living and true God,” (1 Thessalonians 1:9), God is great in that he is uniquely living. No other god really exists. God has no rivals and no equals. He is the living God.

God is personal. God introduced himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14 as, “I AM.” This means God is knowable. Humans get their personality by being made in God’s image (Get. 1:27), and because God is personal, we can relate to him. As great and distinct as God is, that he is personal gives us the privilege of knowing him.

God is eternal. There has never been a time when God was not and there never will be a time when God is not. He is from “everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). Our forever in eternity is only possible because God is eternal.

God is omnipresent. God is not limited in scope or space. Erickson states, “God is the one who brought space (and time) into being. He was there before space. He cannot be localized at a particular point” (Introducing Christian Doctrine, 91). See Acts 17:24-25. God as omnipresent is different than him being impersonal force or God being one with all things. God existed before creation and is outside of creation, not one with creation.

God is omniscient. God is all-knowing, immeasurable (Psalms 147:5), and all wise (Romans 11:33). God’s knowledge of all things is a glorious affirmation made in Scripture and the subject of debate when explored in light of election, foreknowledge, and the free-will of man. Nevertheless, God knows all things which is why we can bring our lack of understanding to him seeking for wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).

God is omnipotent. Omnipotence means that God is all-powerful. God does not have limits with regard to his power and ability. Nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:17). While God can do anything, he will not be inconsistent with his character. God cannot sin. Nor can God do something that is logically inconsistent such as make a rock so big that he cannot lift. God’s omnipotence is one reason we pray. There is not a burden or need we have that is beyond the scope of God’s ability to accomplish.

God is the same. He does not shift and move with the winds of situations or time (James 1:17). He is the same today as he was yesterday and will be the same tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). Our situations do not make God afraid or cause him to change his opinion. He is not like man to be swayed by events and circumstances. God, the same, or God constant, means that we can always at all times and in all situations trust him.

These greatness attributes of the Lord remind us to be humble and lead us to worship. They also inspire us to pray and trust in the Lord.