Attributes of God
by Bea Edwards
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The attribute of God that I, personally, find the most empowering, as well as comforting, in my day to day Christian walk is His attribute of omnipotence. Omnipotence simply stated is God’s overwhelming power and control of His entire creation and everything that occurs in it. This is means He is in control of each breathe we take, the phone call with the critical diagnosis, and the traffic jam that causes us to be late for work. The ‘Good, the Bad and the Ugly’-as the old Clint Eastwood western movie title went.
I was recently listening to a podcast in which Charles Stanley with his unique manner addressed God’s omnipotence. He questioned (I’m paraphrasing to a certain extent from memory) “why would an all-powerful Creator God not get rid of evil and eliminate bad things such as hurricanes etc. if in fact He was in complete control.” Then he answered his question with another question. Basically asking “if God wasn't in control as the deists claim, and if He was not all-powerful then wouldn't there have to be a being with more power who was in control of evil and disasters?” What a great point!
Subsequently since God is omnipotent and in control, He must have a purpose for pain, evil, and disasters, etc. In fact, Scripture clearly states that adversity and suffering builds a believer’s character, as evidenced in Romans 5:3-4 ESV – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,” 4) “and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”, also in the book of James 1:2-4 ESV – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” 3) “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” 4) “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
As we are being conformed into the image of Christ, it follows that God will use whatever means necessary to perform this transformation. This verse in Romans 8:28 ESV – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”, gives us assurance of the promise that our all-powerful, omnipotent God is in control, overseeing all the details of our lives as well as the lives of all humanity everywhere throughout all time. Whether for noble or ignoble purpose according to Romans 9:21-22 ESV – “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” 22) What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?”
Putting our faith in anything other than God’s omnipotence potentially holds dire consequences leading down all manner of rabbit trails and as a result influences people in the direction of false doctrines and the deception of the numerous man centered religions. According to Proverbs 16:2 ESV – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.” Also Proverbs 16:9 ESV – “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps”, indicating our tendency to think we know the right direction to follow as well as demonstrating our arrogance in trusting in our own limited knowledge. There are many things in the Christian walk that we must accept by faith and realize it is a mystery far too great for us to understand or comprehend. Hebrews 11:6 ESV states “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” God purposefully keeps us in the dark, which is His prerogative and His obvious will. I believe it is in order to exercise our faith in His omnipotence. As fallible, sometimes easily deceived human beings, it’s alright to not have all the answers and know everything because we can put our faith in the rock solid fact that our Creator God has good plans and intentions for us. The well-known and frequently quoted Old Testament passage in Jeremiah 29:11 promises us this very thing- “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for our welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God’s immutability or His permanent and unalterable unchangeableness runs a close second on my reassurance meter. Hebrews 13:8 ESV – states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Because our God is the one constant in our existence, we can trust and have unlimited confidence in all of His attributes. His Love, Mercy, and Grace towards us who believe, and His Holiness, Righteousness, and Justice towards all who do not. We have promised salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ and we have full assurance through His promises that if we seek first His righteousness Mat 6:33 ESV – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”, He will take care of all our needs. Not necessarily our wants but our needs, although He does also promise in Psalm 37:4 ESV – that if we “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Perhaps why Jesus advises us to seek, ask, and knock in both Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9.
Furthermore we can take comfort in the fact that it is unnecessary to seek justice, revenge, or retribution for the wrongs perpetrated against us, our families, friends and society as a whole. We can have confidant assurance that God will take care of those who hate Him and subsequently those who hate us and seek our harm. We don’t have to concern ourselves with circumstances and situations that are unjust and evil. The immorality and wickedness that are seemingly running rampant in this world will one day be rectified. The magnificent, inflexible Creator and His attribute of Justice will impartially determine the end result. As the following verses both from the Old and New Testament attest- our immutable, unchanging God vows that He will right all the wrongs and He will make sure that everyone is accountable for what they did in this life. For those who leave this reality without Christ as their savior and the propitiation for their sins He promises: Deuteronomy 32:43 ESV - "Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people's land." Romans 12:19 ESV – “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 2 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV –“in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Also in Hebrews 10:30 ESV – “For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."
Nevertheless for those of us who have appropriated saving grace, His amazing attributes of Love, Grace and Mercy will continue to overshadow and direct the pathways of our lives. We have the incomparable promised salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
Additionally God’s immutability, having eternal consequence for us believers, also informs our reliance on the specific promises which He has given us in His word throughout the Bible. When Jesus promised that -He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him- in John 14:6, we can abide in the knowledge that by following and believing in Him we are following the Truth and will one day be reconciled to our Creator for eternity. Again the unyielding promise that if we seek first His righteousness (His way of living in this world and His glory) all these things (food, shelter clothing) will be added (provided) to us in Matthew 6:33, is rock solid promise delivering the most powerful security we could ever hope to receive. Though we may have our own designs and preconceived ideas of how we would like the food, shelter and clothing to be manifested, and there is nothing wrong with asking in prayer for specific aspects of these blessings, trust comes by faith that everything is a gift through His unmerited grace. We must appreciate the numerous ways He provides for our needs with the knowledge that He will continue to give us exactly what we need and what He has planned for us since before the beginning of time in His divine providence. Another promise in Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV – “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” God chose us!
Our God’s providence is linked in some ways to His attributes of omniscience and omnipotence. Because He knows all things (omni-all and science-knowledge) past, present and future and because He is God almighty and has all power (omnipotence –all power) and authority, He will bring His plan to pass according to the purpose of His will as just referenced above in Ephesians 1:5. Also His promise in Philippians 1:6 ESV – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Finally as an example these are a few of my favorite verses concerning God’s omniscience and omnipotence found in Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, 2) for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” and Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding 6) “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
God has a plan that is all encompassing and timeless and in His majestic sovereignty and wisdom will work it out to completion. Jesus promised in Luke 24:44 ESV – “Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Notice Jesus our Lord stating that everything written in the Bible must be fulfilled! We as His creation must simply trust and rely on the many promises contained in His word. Leading me into two of His other attributes: He is True and He is Holy.
What comfort! Our God who is True, is our God who can always be depended upon to fulfill His (estimated 3000) promises in the Bible. Our God who ensured those words would be preserved throughout history, written for us His creation to read, trust and appropriate. This not primarily for ourselves but serving also as a testament to His goodness and immutability when we examine all the promises He has kept in History. We can look at His specific promises to the prophets and to His chosen people Israel and see time after time how He fulfilled exactly what He had spoken. Even secular history verifies Biblical accounts of the preservation of God’s people and battles raged and won by His chosen people Israel. Of course there are the accounts of battles lost and captivity maintained however these too were a result of God’s immutability and His clear promises of punishment for His people not heeding His commands.
On a bit of a side note, much atheistic argument abounds regarding God’s commands to His people to go to war and wipe out various people groups. They wonder how a God of love could command this wholesale slaughter of men, women, and children. What is misunderstood is that God’s attributes of Love and Justice cannot be separated. They are both sides of the same coin, so to speak. It is purely who God is. Therefore it was because of His love for the innocent children who were being offered as living sacrifices through fire in those societies that He sentenced the purveyors of that evil to death at the hands of the armies of Israel. Similar to the judgment I believe we in our world are under due to the millions of unborn children that are sacrificed to the god of convenience by abortions worldwide. God’s hand of grace is slowly being withdrawn as it always has been when his people are disobedient.
Back to one of the many significant occurrences of fulfillment of God’s promises which can be seen in the execution of blessings and curses that fell upon the peoples of the nation of Israel. Chosen as God’s people, the Israelites had the promise from God that they as Abraham’s descendants would be heirs of an everlasting covenant and be part of “a multitude of nations” in Gen 17:4. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey in Exodus 3:8 which was to become their homeland, the nation of Israel. Although persecuted for its entirety and eradicated completely as a nation for almost 2000 years, it is now again a country as promised. Detailed also in Deuteronomy 1:10 ESV – “The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven.” For instance God clearly outlined the specific blessings and curses He would effectuate dependent upon their choices in Deuteronomy chapter 28. My paraphrase -if you obey what I have told you to do, blessings will overtake you; you will be blessed everywhere you set foot; everything you put your hand to will prosper; your enemies will be defeated against you; and you will be leaders in the land. However the people were also warned that if they did not follow God’s instructions, curses would be the result for them in: where they set their feet; how they accomplished their work; and becoming slaves under their enemy’s authority. This occurred as promised and as a demonstration of God’s immutability when the nation of Israel went into Babylonian captivity for approximately 70 years and losing everything, their freedom as well as their homeland.
Moving on to God’s eternal, omnipresent, and infinite nature, we can rest on the logical argument that God, as the originator of time has to exist outside of our concept of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years. He therefore must be infinite and eternal in His very essence as well as being everywhere (omnipresent) at the same time. God, existent before and apart from time, created in one spectacular moment our limited existence within time, to fulfill His purposes which remain in part a mystery to us His creation.
Lastly God is True, Good, and Holy! O what inconceivable, unimaginable attributes! The One Holy, True and Good creator of everything we see is also the One who knows the amount of hair on our head and holds our tears in a bottle….He is the One we can rely on to ‘have our back’ so to speak and we can trust that no matter what happens it is seasoned with His Truth, Goodness and perfect Holiness. No matter what comes our way we can (and must) search out His nature through His written, inspired word for the answers to the direction we must follow and ultimately the meaning of our lives which is first and foremost to bring glory to our King!
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Very interesting and well worth the read. You certainly have made a thorough piece here! Will keep this for a while to feed upon. Thank you, Bea. Good writing and Shalom.
Hi, Bea. I love reading about God's attributes. Your article gives us lots of good things to remember, especially that there is purpose in suffering, and God isn't punishing us, just sanding us down to get the burrs off. It is very important to remember that He is all-powerful...and when He doesn't step in to change something, it is because He is also all-knowing and all-wise. Good stuff to remember! Thanks! Peace, Sylvia
Hello Bea! I really enjoyed your article on Attributes of God. You said, "Subsequently since God is omnipotent and in control, He must have a purpose for pain, evil, and disasters, etc." The above is seldom considered carefully by the atheists who attack the God of Christianity. They try to fit an all knowing, all powerful God into a box of their own creation not realizing that God's thoughts are not our thoughts neither are His ways our ways. Even many professing Christians get confused when confronted when daily obstacles and challenges/problems because they do not consider the attributes of God which make for a better understand of how God acts according to His character, i. e. who He is. I'd like to see more of your writing. Here are two books I can recommend to you on The Attributes of God: 1. Stephen Charnock- Definitive work, long and indepth study and 2. A. W. Pink- shorter more concise and easier to follow Here are some comments now regarding that Stockton Record Article of mine. That was a time when I was a hard core Conservative Republican who was pretty well versed in theology but who was leading a sinful life while justifying myself that I was a true believer. When I first professed Christ back around 1972 I never had any doubts as to my assurance because I was told I was saved and believed that God had answered my prayer of calling upon Him for salvation. Later in life however I came to realize how very wicked I was. Much worse than I had been previously before my profession but now it was worse because I claimed to be a Christian. After moving to Hollywood with what I thought were good intentions I realized more than ever the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 and that I was truly misinformed and deceived. Now I'm trusting I was converted back around July of 2011. This was when I changed course and direction in my life for what appears to be better. Matthew 7:21-23 also haunts me in light of my past and that on judgment day many will cry "Lord, Lord" who thought they were saved but who were pronounced by Jesus as "workers of iniquity." May it never be said of us. May God keep you and me in His love and care, Carlton
I think you did such a nice job of stating your message and backing it up with just the perfect scripture. I remember when I was young and I first saw the word omnipotent. My first memory was that I thought it was a wonderful definition of God and a slightly less accurate of mothers. My second thought when I hear that word makes me blush a bit because for years I pronounced it the way my young brain read it om-ni(like the old car made my Dodge)po-tent. Later when I heard how to pronounce it correctly, the sound felt like music to my ear. What a beautiful sounding word. I think it's sound is so thrilling for me because at about the same time I learned to pronounce it correctly, my kids began to show me that as a mom I was anything but omnipotent. Only God can claim that. Since you state you would like critique on this, I thought I'd be brave and jump in the deep end, knowing you will know these words only come from a place of love. You don't need your first line or more accurately, your first few words. You don't need to tell the reader how you will begin because if we keep reading we will know how you are beginning. Instead I'd suggest just start with this: The attribute of God that I, personally, find the most empowering, as well as comforting, in my day to day Christian walk is His attribute of omnipotence. (You might notice I switched the punctuation around just a tiny bit.) This may not sound like much of a change, but for me it feels more like a powerful statement. When you had the first few words, I felt more like you were nervous about speaking to a loud crowd. I can't quite find the words to explain it, but the second way, to be feels like a stronger statement. You may want to consider double spacing between the paragraphs to give the reader that all important white space. The last suggestion I have is a hard one because the fact that it is true is sad. The people who need to hear your message the most may be overwhelmed by all the scripture. You may want to consider just focusing on two or three verses as not to scare off some readers. If someone who is new to the faith or feels unsure, that many verse are likely to overwhelm them causing them to either skim the article or skip it altogether, which would be so sad because you explain things in such a wonderful way. Perhaps you could pick the most meaningful verses to you and quote them, then at the end add a footnote that says something like If you need more proof that God is omnipotent and omniscient check out these verses. I love your explanation why God keeps us in the dark over certain things. I think many Christians get asked questions like that--"Why didn't God tell me to go to the doctor sooner, when they could have had a chance of eradicating the cancer?" There are reasons like you explain. Probably the biggest reason is our tiny human brains can't even begin to understand the question, let alone the answer. I've stated one of God's greatest gift is not telling us what will happen tomorrow. Had I known Mom would die on August 24, 1993 I wouldn't have been able to save her. Every time we talked we told each other we love you. I only would have made me scurry for a way to save her instead of enjoying the time spent with her. God provided several tools to help me cope. I couldn't see them in the middle of my grief, but now I look back and can point out time after time where he prepared us both. Your love for God and your passion to spread his word is evident in every line of this piece. When I finished reading it, I could feel God's loving arms around me. This is a powerful bit of writing and I have been blessed by your obedience to God when he nudged you to write and post it. Thank you. :)
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