The Attributes of God
Introduction to the Attributes of God I came across a book called The Knowledge of the Holy written by Arthur W. Tozer, which changed my life. I was struck with the importance of “Why we must Think Rightly about God.” My behavior was a result of an incorrect concept of God. I needed to correct my understanding of The Knowledge of the Holy. In his book Tozer presented an orderly discussion about the attributes of God. An attribute is something true about a person or a thing. When we talk about a person we describe him physically and then we talk about his personality. An individual is the sum of his parts, traits, qualities or attributes. We might say that Katrina is a very kind and honest individual. Kind and honest are words which attribute something to Katrina. WE HAVE MISCONCEPTIONS As He wrote his book Tozer encountered two problems in his book. The first problem involved dispelling the many misconceptions that people have about God. Because we cannot see God, our imagination often does a number on us. Left to ourselves we tend to make or exchange God into the likeness of our imaginations.
(20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.(22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (23) And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.Romans 1:20-23, KJV)
How do these misconceptions develop? We are born into this world with a blank slate about everything. As we grow, we develop we become a product of our environment, education and experiences. A person’s past experience and education give a word its’ meanings. For instance, the word father or mother may bring back memories of happiness or memories of sadness depending on our experiences. A person experiencing a bad relationship with his father probably thinks the same of His Heavenly Father. If you read the Harry Potter series of books, you might think that God gives you the power to hex, vex and curse people. These misconceptions must be dispelled with the Truth. The Truth is the Word of God. If we go through bad experiences, we come up with incorrect general conclusions about life. This incorrect conclusion becomes a misconception. WE MUST USE A LANGUAGE RESERVED ONLY FOR HIM The second problem Tozer faced was that some attributes have no human counterparts or parallels in the English language. He had to teach or create spiritual concepts formerly, unknown. For instance, the concept That God is Holy and righteous is foreign to most people! A picture is worth a thousand words. How do you describe something you cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell? How do you describe to a man who has blind all his life the color of the sunset? A large portion of the words found in our English dictionary would become meaningless to a person who lost a few of their five sense. Words are containers, which are chock full of meanings, sometimes these containers hold misconceptions. If the word God contains misconceptions, they must be exchanged with Truth. Scripture calls this process of exchange “the renewing of your mind” or meditation. Describing God requires that the writer draw a picture using words, which do not involve adjectives of the five senses and man in general. He must paint a picture using no physical analogies. This writer can only hope that each analogy that he uses is accurate and is not misconstrued . Thank goodness! We have the word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to reveal himself and dispel misconceptions. To understand or gain “Knowledge of the Holy” We must develop a new vocabulary. The vocabulary used to describe God must be reserved and placed in a special category. Most of our dictionary contains words used by man and for man. Words used by man to describe man other created beings can not and should not be used to describe God. For instance, because God is a Spirit. Words used to describe what we experience in our body would be useless in describing God. To describe God we would need to develop or invent a list of new words. GOD MUST REVEAL HIMSELF One day I was walking down the hallway of a care home and a nurse’s aid asked me whether I was doctor. I laughed and said no. I replied I was just a visitor. Perhaps because I wearing a white jacket, she assumed that I was a doctor. Now if she did not stop to ask me she would have continued to hold on to her misconception. Her misconception was corrected because I revealed myself. Perhaps in the past she met many doctors wearing a white jacket, of Asian descent, with salt and pepper hair so she assumed that I was doctor. . Most misconceptions can be corrected by the person revealing himself. Observation and prior experiential knowledge is not enough to make a correct conclusion. We must dispel misconceptions about an invisible God and come to a true “knowledge of the Holy”. To reach a true “knowledge of the Holy” God must reveal himself. He has done this through his Word. I recommend this book “the Knowledge of the Holy” by Arthur Tozer and “Your God is too Small” by J. B. Phillips. LIST OF ATTRIBUTES Tozer a made a list of about eighteen attributes used to describe God and defined them into two groups. Those that have human counter parts and those that have no human counterparts. Knowledge of these attributes solidifies our faith. Understanding is basic to trust. The more we understand a person the more we trust that person. Those we trust, we do not question. Once we understand these attributes, we can then discuss the relationships of the attributes to faith, trust, tribulation, trials, sickness, service and prayer. Once we understand His attributes we can begin to pray. These prayers flow out of the nature of God The following is the list under both categories which we will discuss one by one. All attributes are tempered by all other attributes. We cannot hold to or overemphasize one attribute to the exclusion of the other attributes. His nature demands that he cannot incongruent or inconsistent with himself Because He is infinite and without limit, His power, knowledge, love is without limit. It is part of a book I am writing.
A List of God's Attributes 1. Communicable Attributes- Attributes we can relate to a. The Faithfulness of God b. The Goodness of God c. The Truth of God d. The Justice of God e. The Mercy of God f. The Grace of God g. The Love of God h. The Wisdom of God 2. Non Communicable Attributes-Attributes we cannot relate. They must be revealed. a. God is Self-Existent b. God is Self Sufficient c. God is Eternal d. God is Infinite e. God is Immutable f. God is Perfect g. God is Transcendent h. God is All Present or the Omnipresence of God i. God is All Powerful or the Omnipotent of God j. God is All Knowing or the Omniscience of God