Welcome! In this “Journey Together” post we ponder five attributes of God. We can know Him!
Why is it important that we view God as He really is? That we know His attributes?
A.W. Tozer, in his classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy, puts it this way: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Tozer is saying that if we are to truly experience the life-changing power of Christianity, we must hold the view that God is all-powerful, sovereign, holy, just, and merciful. Adds Tozer: “Man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”
Can We Really Know God?
How do we know what God is like? The Bible. The Bible is full of details about what’s important to God. In broad strokes it tells us what He loves (us!), and what He hates (sin). It gets nitty gritty on His guidelines for how we are to love and forgive others, and His stance on stealing, coveting, and thinking. It tells us how to battle our pride. It’s clear on His view of some of our biggest societal issues: porn, abortion, and homelessness.
Quick question: Do you entertain “high” or “low” thoughts about God? Do you know Him as your Creator — or more as a cosmic genie? Do you have a daily relationship with God — or do you seek Him out only when you have a problem?
Let’s look at five attributes of God’s nature. Each of them points us to seeing God correctly: as good, gracious, and reliable. He is who He says He is, not who we try to make Him into.
Attributes: God is All-Powerful
“O Sovereign LORD! You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power. Nothing is too hard for You!” (Jeremiah 32:17)
God enjoys unlimited power; nothing is too hard for Him. God can simply speak something into existence. Everything God wants to happen, will happen; nothing can thwart or prevent His plans. God even has power over life and death. None can challenge Him or His plans. Because God is good, His power reflects His good character. We can trust that God not only holds our crazy world in the palm of His hand, but our hurts and fears and needs as well. We serve a BIG God.
Notes Tozer: “God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creaturehood and all creatures, every plurality and all pluralities, all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feeling, all desires, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell.”
God is all-powerful because He is sovereign.
Attributes: God is Sovereign
“All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He has the power to do as He pleases among the angels of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop Him or challenge Him, saying, ‘What do You mean by doing these things?’” (Daniel 4:35)
God is self-sufficient and self-sustaining. He has no need of anything, including us. Yet He finds it a good thing to work through us to accomplish His master plan. So why are we too often guilty of trying to define God, stuffing Him inside a box we label and think we control? Let’s not kid ourselves. God’s power diminishes any we think we have.
“Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms,” notes Tozer. “We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him. We want a God we can in some measure control.”
God is sovereign because He is completely holy and just.
Attributes: God is Holy and Just
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
God is perfect. Thus His holy presence demands that He reject our sin. But because He loves us so fiercely, He sacrificed Himself on the cross so that we can stand in right relationship with Him. Think about that: only God’s holiness could cover the filth of our sin. God fights for us, but because He respects our free will, He leaves the choice entirely up to us as to whether we will choose Him as Savior. Now that’s a gracious God.
“Justice is not something God has,” notes Tozer. “Justice is something that God is.”
Because God is holy, He is pure love.
Attributes: God is Love
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love, Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can not keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
God’s goodness stems from His loving nature. Not even our gravest sin can minimizes God’s love for us. As Joyce Meyer frequently says, God separates our “who” from our “do.” We may have bad moments, but that doesn’t make us bad people in God’s eyes. Isn’t that amazing?! He instantly forgives us when we ask, and remembers our sin no more. He hears even our softest whisper of remorse!
“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God,” notes Tozer. “He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”
Because God is fully loving, He extends unmeasured mercy.
Attributes: God is Merciful
“The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.” (Psalm 145:8)
God is omniscient; He knows the past, present, and future. He knows every thought and word and action we’ll take today, tomorrow, even next year. He has promised to “never relent from showing mercy to His children.” Thus, he administers His justice to us fairly. God listens to our pleas for mercy, and washes away our transgressions.
“As judgment is God’s justice confronting moral inequity,” adds Tozer, “so mercy is the goodness of God confronting human suffering and guilt. Were there no guilt in the world, no pain and no tears, God would yet be infinitely merciful; but His mercy might well remain hidden in His heart, unknown to the created universe. No voice would be raised to celebrate the mercy of which none felt the need. It is human misery and sin that call forth the divine mercy.”
God promises to never relent from showing His mercy to us. It is instantly given, when we confess our sins.
Increasingly, however, modern society is asserting it doesn’t need mercy because we’re not sinners. We argue that a “good” and “loving” God would never send us to hell. Tozer puts it like this: “The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly, has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”
God Defines His Attributes, Not Us
The truth, of course, is just the opposite. God is who He is, not as we try to mold Him into being. He makes the rules, we don’t. That sounds harsh, until we finally begin to understand His utterly holy and just character.
So, we have a choice: accept and follow Him as He is, to eternally remain in His precious presence. Or refuse to love and follow God, and miss out. I personally can’t wait to be overwhelmed by the majesty and glory of God.
This Tozer quote is utterly fab:
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”
Study God’s attributes above, until you begin to get a solid, truthful view of who God is. He’s kinda irresistible once you open your heart and mind to who He really is.
Catch up: The introductory post to this series.