The Attributes of God (Part Fifteen)

The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8 CSB).

To be loved by the Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, is truly awesome. For this reason, we ought to know as much about it as possible. Next, let’s consider the characteristics of God’s love.

  • God’s love is uninfluenced or uncaused by motives apart from God himself. God’s love is spontaneous, flowing out from his loving nature. God traces his love for his creatures, not to their goodness, but to his (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Anything that he does proceeds from his purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9). The expression of God’s love toward his people came from his decision to make the riches of his glory known to them (Romans 9:23-24). In fact, our love for God comes from his love for us (1 John 4:19).
  • God’s love is eternal. God did not develop love when he created. No, God has always enjoyed love within the Persons of the Trinity (John 17:24). But what is even more amazing is that God from eternity set his love upon his people (Jeremiah 31:3) and predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-6).
  • God’s love is infinite. It is not measured by our puny ability to calculate or imagine its true glory. Instead, it is as great as God himself (Ephesians 3:18-19). It is a love of such power that it can overcome the greatest obstacles (Ephesians 2:4-5) and move God to give the greatest gift, his one and only Son (John 3:16).
  • God’s love is immutable (Romans 8:35-39). As it springs forth from eternity, so nothing can stop God’s love. It keeps a strong hold on all those on whom God sets his heart (John 10:27-29). This ought to produce great confidence in Christ’s followers, even during the darkest hours and in the face of the worst evil. At all times, we are “brothers loved by God” (1 Thessalonians 1:4). Since God’s love comes from his loving nature, it cannot be changed by our failure to love or trust or obey God.
  • God’s love is sovereign. We have yet to consider God’s sovereignty, but we must know that God loves whom he will. He is under no obligation to love any. All that any human deserves is justice. If we receive mercy instead of condemnation, it is not something that we can control or force God to extend. It is completely a gift of free grace, proceeding from God’s good pleasure (Luke 10:21). A clear example of this is God’s declaration about Jacob and Esau (Romans 9:10-13). “There was no more reason in Jacob why he should be the object of Divine love, than there was in Esau. They both had the same parents, and were born at the same time, being twins; yet God loved the one and hated the other! Why? Because it pleased Him to do so” (Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 93] “God set his love upon Jacob purely as an act of his sovereign will… To most people this is an unpopular teaching, but it is the only way things can be if God is truly to be God. Assume the opposite: God’s love is regulated by something other than his sovereignty. In that case God would be regulated by this other thing (whatever it is) and would thus be brought under its power. That is impossible if he is still to be God. In Scripture no cause for God’s love other than his electing is ever given” (Boice, God the Redeemer, p. 217]

Someone once thought about John 3:16 and the greatness of God’s love and wrote about “Christ—the Greatest Gift”. I have modified a few words to present the idea more accurately.

God: the greatest Lover
so loved: the greatest degree
the world: the greatest wonder
that he gave: the greatest act
his one and only Son: the greatest gift
that whoever: the greatest offer
believes: the greatest simplicity
in him: the greatest attraction
shall not perish: the greatest promise
but: the greatest difference
have: the greatest certainty
eternal life: the greatest possession

Grace and peace, David

The Attributes of God (Part Fourteen)

The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8 CSB).

God has revealed his glory as God in all his attributes. The living God wants us to know the whole truth about who he is, and not merely a part of the truth. When we think of the truth that God is love, we ought to realize that many people tend to misuse this one truth to construct a false idea of the true God. When done in ignorance, this causes people to fail to give God the honor that is due him for all that he is. And it leads people into various theological and practical problems, such as, “If God is love and he loves me, why am I suffering?” When done deliberately, it is actually the worship of a false god created by a person’s sinful imagination. An example of this would be, “Since God is love, he would never condemn a person and send him or her to hell.” Therefore, we need to approach this subject with humility and a teachable spirit.

In our time, professing Christians have only a surface acquaintance with the Bible. It is not unusual for a pastor to see blank stares when he refers to most of the main teachings of the Bible that are beyond the simplest gospel references or verses misused by prosperity teachers, for example, Jeremiah 29:11. “There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which so generally prevails, but also from the low state of spirituality which is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better we are acquainted with His love—its character, fullness, blessedness—the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him” (Pink, The Attributes of God, pp. 90-91).

Part of the problem that people have is a misuse of the texts that say, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Clearly both texts are teaching that God is love; that is, he not only loves, but love is an essential part of his being that he expresses even toward unworthy, guilty sinners! The error that many people fall into is assuming that John is teaching that love is God’s basic attribute, because he says, “God is love.” However, that assumption fails to notice that John also says, “God is light (1 John 1:5) previously in the letter, and that he records the statement of Jesus that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). There is no reason to deduce from any of these texts the priority of one or the other of these three statements to the other. As we have already discussed in the section on God’s holiness, there is much more reason to say that holiness is God’s basic attribute. Perhaps we should remember at this point what love is according to the Bible. Love is setting one’s heart on seeking the good of the one loved, to the point of self-sacrificial giving for the one loved. Therefore, the teaching that “God is love” is tremendously encouraging to human hearts! The Maker and Preserver of all things, the God who is unlimited spirit with unmatchable holiness and justice is also love. He sets his heart on what he created to seek its good (Psalm 145:13,17). But the question asked by inquiring minds is this. If God is love, as the Bible says, then why is there suffering in creation and why do some suffer eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46)? This question deserves to be answered, and more importantly answering it will lead us to a deeper appreciation of the glory of God. We will invest some articles on the love of God. First, we will think about the characteristics of God’s love, then of his love in a general sense, and then his love in saving his people from their sins. Finally, we will consider how the truth of God’s love ought to affect us and the way we live.

Grace and peace, David

The Sufferings of Christ on the Cross (Part Two)

We are pondering what our Lord and Savior suffered on the cross when he died to save his people, those given to him by the Father, from their sins to eternal glory. This rescue required an almighty deliverer. In the previous article, we thought about the physical pain and death he went through on the cross and the horror of the Holy One bearing all the sins of wicked people like you and me. Now, let us focus on two other aspects of what he endured to save us.

Third, the dearly loved One of the Father knew abandonment

  • Christ faced the suffering of the cross alone, abandoned by humans. His disciples fell asleep when he asked them to pray with him (Mark 14:35-42). When arrested, everyone deserted him and fled (Mark 14:50). Compare this with his great love for them (John 13:1). His enemies mocked him and insulted him (Mark 15:25-32).
  • Far worse was that Jesus the Son of God was forsaken by the Father (Mark 15:33-34). He had enjoyed fellowship with the Father from all eternity, sharing in his glory (John 1:1; 17:5, 24). But on the cross, the Father left the Son to suffer alone.

Christ Jesus bore the wrath of God.

  • Another time, we will take about propitiation, where we will see that in his atonement Christ satisfied the wrath of God. In short, by being our substitute he satisfied and took away God’s righteous anger against our sins.
  • We should observe that in other places the Scriptures say that Christ was stricken and afflicted by God (Isaiah 53:4-5; Mark 14:27); yes, God crushed his Servant Christ and caused him to suffer (Isaiah 53:10-11). Who can tell what it meant for the Omnipotent Father to crush his dearly loved Son for us? Only an equally Omnipotent Son could have borne up under the stroke of holy justice. Without explanation, the Spirit tells us of the suffering of the Servant’s soul (Isaiah 53:11), because who could understand how terrible that suffering was? Here, we would do well to weep and praise the Savior!

Here are some reflections on Christ’s sufferings on the cross.

  • He made a complete payment for what we owed. If we suffered for our own sins, we could never pay the penalty, and we could never attain a perfect righteousness with God. But Jesus, the Son of God was able to pay the penalty in full (John 19:30), so that the Lord declares that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). When Christ died for us on the cross, he paid for us in full once for all (Hebrews 9:25-28).
  • What is the importance of the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19)? It is clear evidence that he died a violent sacrificial death (cf. the classic work by Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross). The shedding of blood is clear evidence that his life was given as a judicial execution. The shedding of his blood clearly connects his death as the fulfillment of all the types and shadows of the sacrificial system of the law or old covenant.
  • The atonement that Christ accomplished should be considered a “penal substitution”. He paid the penalty we owed as our substitute.

Let us bow and give thanks to our wonderful, merciful Savior!

Grace and peace, David

The Sufferings of Christ on the Cross (Part One)

As we start a busy week at work, let us think of how Jesus the Messiah accomplished our redemption that we might be right with God. There are four kinds of suffering he endured for our sake. We will look at the first two of these today.

First, Jesus suffered physical pain and death.

  • Crucifixion (Mark 15:24) was a horrible and cruel death, but the Bible never claims that the death of Christ on the cross was the most physically terrible death ever suffered. The focus of the Bible is simply not on his physical suffering in any of the accounts in the Four Gospels (Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37). Any reader in the ancient world would understand the horrors of crucifixion, but the Bible neither goes into elaborate details about it nor encourages meditation on the stages of our Lord’s physical pain and suffering.
  • However, the Bible does stress the reality of Christ’s physical sufferings and death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Galatians 3:13; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:14-15; 10:10). Our salvation was secured in space-time history by the real death of Jesus on the cross. It is not merely a moving story; it is a true, historical event where a real man suffered and bled and died.

Second, Jesus the Son of God experienced the pain of bearing sin.

  • Far more awful than any physical suffering was the anguish and suffering of Jesus Christ the Righteous One bearing the guilt of our sin. Since he is also Son of God, he fully shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit total hatred of sin. Rebellion and transgression and trespass and missing the mark and twistedness and everything else that makes sin “sin” contradicted everything in his holy person. “Taking on himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled created deep revulsion in the center of his being. All that he hated most deeply was poured out fully on him” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 573).
  • Consider the Biblical testimony that our sins with their guilt and liability to punishment were put on Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:6; John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24).
  • How could our sins be put on Christ? They could be put on Christ in the same way that Adam’s sin was put on us—by imputation, by considering or crediting them as actually belonging to him. The Bible’s teaching of the imputation of sin and righteousness is at the core of the gospel. Apart from this truth, we have no possibility of salvation.
  • How could God do this? As the Lawmaker and Judge, he has the authority to set up principles of justice in the universe he created. One of these principles is representation and substitution; another is the imputation of sin or righteousness. Since God is holy, righteous and wise, he only does what is in conformity with his character. In addition, the Persons of the Trinity agreed in this plan of salvation. Christ, God the Son, was a willing sacrifice for sinners given by the willing Father.

Grace and peace, David

 

The Attributes of God (Part Thirteen)

To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen (Romans 16:27 NIV).

God is wise. God has infinite ability and skill to do what is best for the glory of his name and the good of his people. “Knowledge and wisdom, though often confounded by careless thinkers, are different. Wisdom always has respect to action… Our knowledge and moral principles have much influence in directing our conduct, and that man is considered wise, whose knowledge and moral principles direct his conduct well. Wisdom is therefore regarded as consisting in the selection of the best end of action, and the adoption of the best means for the accomplishment of this end. God is infinitely wise, because he selects the best possible end of action. What the end Jehovah has in view in all his works, we cannot claim to comprehend” (Dagg, pp. 86-87).

God only is wise (Romans 16:27), and his wisdom is profound (Job 9:4), since his wisdom has no limits. We cannot take all things into view at once (or at all!), but he can. That is why wisdom belongs to God (Job 12:3). This is difficult for us to comprehend. We see others make unwise and destructive plans and choices and even, perhaps grudgingly admit, that we also have the same failures. This hinders us from acknowledging God’s wisdom.

However, God makes known his wisdom to us in the scriptures. In wisdom, God made the universe (Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12). God works out his purposes of displaying the glory of his wisdom (Ephesians 3:10). If he works to bring disaster on the wicked, such works proceed from his wisdom (Isaiah 31:2). In his sovereign rule over all nations, his wisdom guides all his choices (Daniel 2:20). In salvation, the Lord works through his wisdom to save his chosen people (1 Corinthians 1:21, 24, 2:7; Ephesians 1:7-8). We need to remember the great word of the doxology in Romans 11:36. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (NIV). Everything is under the direction of the all-wise, holy, and sovereign Lord of the universe. When there are matters beyond our understanding, we can trust his wisdom. If we lack wisdom, we should ask God (James 1:5), since he is all-wise. When we comprehend something of his wisdom, we ought to bow in worship him as wise (Revelation 7:12).

In all the events and turns of our lives, we must trust the infinite wisdom of God (Romans 11:33). When we lack comfort or suffer, he has a wise reason (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). If our body fails, we can be assured that he has something better in store for us (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). If we lack worldly riches, God may be keeping us from a trap (1 Timothy 6:9). If we lose our dearest in life, he remains worthy of our faith (Job 13:15)! God’s wisdom provides a basis for peaceful rest when our world seems to be going crazy.

How can we acquire wisdom? We must reverently fear God (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33) and receive his word (Psalm 119:97-100), but above all, wisdom is found in the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:2-3)!

Grace and peace, David

The Attributes of God (Part Twelve)

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain (Psalm 139:1-6 NIV).

Each of the “omni” attributes can be very unsettling to humans, and it is good to be disturbed, if this disruption leads us to draw near to God and to worship and trust him. God’s omniscience means that the Lord knows everything. He knows all that has happened, is happening, and will ever happen (Genesis 15:13-16; Isaiah 42:9; Daniel 2:22; Matthew 6:8) in the whole universe. God knows what could happen, though it does not (Genesis 20:6). God does not acquire knowledge; he does not need to be taught; in fact, he cannot learn because he already knows. Such knowledge is far beyond human experience, since we know so little and are always learning new information.

The classic passage setting forth God’s omniscience is Psalm 139:1-6, but God tells us that he is all knowing in many ways (1 Samuel 2:3). God has perfect knowledge (Job 37:16; Romans 11:33; Hebrews 4:13), and it is beyond our feeble understanding (Isaiah 40:28). God knows the hearts (inner personal beings) of all people (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 7:9; 94:11; Proverbs 15:11; Jeremiah 17:10; Ezekiel 11:5; Acts 1:24; 1 John 3:19-20; Revelation 2:23). He knows where we are (2 Kings 19:27; Job 23:10), what we do (Psalm 33:13-15; Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; Hosea 7:2), how we suffer (Exodus 3:7), and what we desire (Psalm 38:9). He fully understands what we do in secret (Psalm 90:8; Matthew 6:4, 18). He knows all about his creation (Matthew 6:8, 32; 10:29-30), including all that is beyond our discovery (Psalm 147:4-5). God’s has perfect knowledge of future events and so he can perfectly predict what will happen (Isaiah 44:7-8, 24-28). This all-knowledge is clearly related to God’s sovereign purpose (Isaiah 46:9-11)

“Neither the darkness of night, the closest curtains, nor the deepest dungeon can hide any sinner from the eyes of Omniscience. The trees of the garden were not able to conceal our first parents. No human eye beheld Cain murder his brother, but His Maker witnessed his crime. Sarah might laugh derisively in the seclusion of her tent, yet it was heard by Jehovah. Achan stole a wedge of gold and carefully hid it in the earth, but God brought it to light. David was at much pains to cover up his wickedness, but ere long the all-seeing God sent one of His servants to say to him, ‘Thou are the man!’ And to writer and reader is also said, ‘Be sure your sin will find you out’ (Numbers 32:23)” (Pink, Attributes of God, p. 14]

What about prayer? Should we pray if God knows everything? What reason do we have for prayer, if we are not informing God of our needs? To ask such questions is to misunderstand the nature of prayer. True prayer is a believer’s communication with God (Psalm 54:2; etc.). In prayer, we do not inform God, but we do express our needs and desires to him. Prayer is not an attempt to change the mind of the Omniscient One, but it is a true means through which God works his purposes.  In fact, “here is an encouragement to prayer. There is no cause for fearing that the petitions of the righteous will not be heard, or that their sighs and tears shall escape the notice of God since He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is no danger of the individual saint being overlooked amidst the multitude of supplicants who daily and hourly present their various petitions, for an infinite Mind is as capable of paying the same attention to millions as if only one individual were seeking its attention” (Pink, p. 15).

At this point, we should say something about God’s foreknowledge. This word occurs only five times in reference to God (Acts 2:23; Romans 8:29; 11:2; 1 Peter 1:2, 20). In each case, it does not mean simple foresight, but it expresses the love or purpose of God in choosing his people or planning the work of salvation in Christ.

The doctrine of God’s knowledge should produce reasons for joy in God’s people (Boice, The Sovereign God, pp. 178-182, his emphasis).

  • “First, because God knows all things, he knows the worst about us and yet he has loved and saved us…”
  • “Second… he also knows the best about us, even though that best may be unknown to any other person.”
  • “Third, God knows what he is going to make of us…”
  • “Finally, we can be encouraged in difficulties… All that is needed is that we take these truths down off the high shelf of theology and put them to work as we live our daily lives.”

Grace and peace, David

The Attributes of God (Part Eleven)

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way (Psalm 25:8 ESV).

Another aspect of God’s holiness is his righteousness, yet it is an attribute that people are very uncomfortable with, since we are unrighteous by nature and accountable to God for our unrighteousness. God is righteous (Ezra 9:15; Psalm 7:9; 25:8; 129:4; Isaiah 30:18; Zephaniah 3:5) and always does what is righteous (Genesis 18:25; Nehemiah 9:33; Psalm 145:17; Luke 18:7-8). He loves (Psalm 11:7; 33:5: Isaiah 61:8) and delights in what is right and just (Jeremiah 9:24), and he hates what is evil (Psalm 5:5; 11:5; Romans 1:18). If we examine the Lord’s rule of all things, we find that all that he does as Ruler rests on the foundation of justice (Psalm 45:6; 89:14; 97:2). All this means that there is no wickedness in the Lord (Psalm 92:15). Whatever imperatives God gives to people are righteous commands, since they come from the righteous God (Psalm 119:137). God is called the Judge (Genesis 18:25; Judges 11:27; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 12:23). When God judges people, he judges as the righteous Judge (Psalm 96:13; Acts 17:31; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 16:5).

“God’s justice is the rectitude of his nature, whereby he is carried to the doing of that which is righteous and equal” (Watson, A Body of Divinity, pp. 87-88). He sets forth six positions about God’s justice.

  • “God cannot but be just. His holiness is the cause of his justice.”
  • “God’s will is the supreme rule of justice; it is the standard of equity.”
  • “God does justice voluntarily. Justice flows from his nature.”
  • “Justice is the perfection of the divine nature… To say God is just, is to say, he is all that is excellent…”
  • “God never did nor can do the least wrong to his creatures.”
  • “God’s justice is such that it is not fit for any man or angel to expostulate with him, or demand a reason of his actions.”

“God’s absolute justice is technically defined by theologians as the general rectitude of character, intrinsic in His own will. His relative justice is the acting out of that rectitude towards His creatures. His distributive justice is the quality more precisely indicated when we call Him a just God, which prompts him to give to every one his due. His punitive justice is that phase of His distributive justice which prompts Him always to allot its due punishment to sin” (Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 166). By the constraint of his own character, God must do what is right, seek what is right, tell his creatures what is right, and uphold what is right because of its great value and significance.

Since the righteous God rules the universe, he must judge his creatures in a righteous manner, and this is what we find revealed in the Scriptures. God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25), but his justice always expresses retribution—rendering to everyone what he or she deserves (Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Matthew 12:36-37; 16:27; 24:45-51; John 5:29; Romans 2:2, 5-10).

So then, the great question is, “Since God is righteous and all humans are sinners (Romans 3:9-20), how can anyone be right with God?” The one and only answer to this question is through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross, he satisfied the demands of God’s justice when he died as a propitiation for our sins. Then God was able both to be just and to justify those who believe in Jesus (Romans 3:24-26). This is the good news of the gospel of Christ that we proclaim. When we trust in Jesus the Messiah as our Lord and Savior, God fills our hearts with a glorious and inexpressible joy! Do you know this joy? It may be yours today when you turn from your sins and trust in the Savior.

Grace and peace, David

The Attributes of God (Part Ten)

I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he (Deuteronomy 32:3-4 NIV).

God is trustworthy. God is truthful or incapable of deceiving (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Whatever God says must be accurate and true, and so his word is truth (Psalm 12:6; Isaiah 45:19; John 17:17), just as he is truth (Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16; John 7:28; 8:26; 14:6, 17; 17:3; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 3:7) and his ways are true (Revelation 15:3).

God’s veracity or trustworthiness is “an attribute of his nature, which, like his power, exists, and makes him what he is, even though there be no outward relation to it. By virtue of it, he is the source of all truth, not moral only, but even mathematical” (Boyce, Abstract of Theology, pp. 98-99). In other words, truth exists in the universe, because the Creator is the God who is true in all his actions and revelations. In this way, God’s truthfulness becomes the foundation of human confidence in knowledge, “whether by intuition, observation or reason” (Boyce, p. 99). For this reason, we have a foundation for human rationality.

“The truth of God is a great pillar for our faith. Were not he a God of truth, how could we believe in him? Our faith were fancy; but he is truth itself, and not a word which he has spoken shall fall to the ground” (Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 101). Since God is true, his words “are the index of reality: they show us things as they really are, and as they will be for us in the future according to whether we heed God’s words to us or not” (Packer, p. 102). Therefore, we are wise when we seek the true God to guide and teach us (Psalm 43:3; 86:11).

Closely related to God’s trustworthiness is his faithfulness. God is dependable and can be trusted to perform what he has promised. God is faithful in his character (Exodus 34:6; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 36:5; 86:15; 146:6; Isaiah 49:7; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23), actions (Psalm 33:4; 91:4; 138:8; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3), and words (2 Samuel 7:28; 2 Chronicles 6:15; 2 Corinthians 1:18-20).

“In all His relations with His people God is faithful. He may be safely relied upon. No one ever yet really trusted Him in vain. We find this precious truth expressed almost everywhere in the Scriptures, for His people need to know that faithfulness is an essential part of the Divine character. This is the basis of our confidence in Him. But it is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a Divine truth, it is quite another to act upon it. God has given us many ‘exceeding great and precious promises,’ but are we really counting on His fulfillment of them? Are we actually expecting Him to do for us all that He has said?” (Pink, Attributes of God, p. 60)

God’s faithfulness demands certain responses on our part. We should praise God for his faithfulness (Psalm 92:1-2; Isaiah 25:1), commit ourselves to his care (1 Peter 4:19), and seek forgiveness from his grace (1 John 1:9).

Grace and peace, David

The Attributes of God (Part Nine)

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1 ESV)

God is Good. “In one aspect of this word, it is merely equivalent to holiness… On the other hand, the goodness of God may be spoken of as kindness, benevolence, or beneficence towards others, in which it is seen to terminate outside of himself. Thus we speak of him as being very good to us.” (Boyce, Abstract of Theology, p. 93). God wants to act for the benefit of others; he desires that others enthusiastically share in the joy and peace of all that he is (Exodus 33:19; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 30:18; Psalm 25:7-8; 31:19; 52:9; 100:5; 119:68; Nahum 1:7; Matthew 19:7). Out of this desire flows goodness toward his creation (Psalm 145:7, 9, 15-16; Lamentations 3:25; Acts 14:17; James 1:17). In fact, since the creation came by the power and will of the One who is good, all that God made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

God’s people should rejoice in his goodness (2 Chronicles 6:41; Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1), and we should seek to experience the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8). And we find that God in his goodness reaches out to his people (Psalm 73:1; Matthew 7:11; Romans 8:32; 2 Peter 1:3). God is “essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is his essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him” (Manton, quoted by Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 65).

“When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same” (Spurgeon, quoted by Pink, p. 69).

God’s goodness motivates God’s people to act for the good of others. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone (Titus 3:8 NIV). Since we have experienced the goodness of God, we should act for the good and benefit of our neighbors. In this way, we are instruments of his goodness in the lives of all around us.

Grace and peace, David

The Attributes of God (Part Eight)

Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy! (Psalm 99:9 ESV).

God is holy. The truth of God’s absolute, total and pure holiness is extremely crucial to a proper understanding of God and his attributes. Though we shrink from ranking God’s attributes in an order of importance, it is clear that the word “holy” is not only central to what God is, but the word can be used as a modifier or qualifier of all God’s other attributes. For example, God is worshiped unceasingly for his holiness (Revelation 4:8; cf. Isaiah 6:3). When the question is asked, “Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?” the answer is presupposed that all must reverence him, “For you alone are holy” (Revelation 15:4). Holiness is more often joined to God’s name than any other name or quality. You never read of God’s mighty name or his wise name or his loving name, but you do read of his “holy name” (Leviticus 20:3; 22:2, 32; 1 Chronicles 16:10, 35; 29:16; Psalm 33:21; 103:1; 105:3; 106:47; 111:9; Ezekiel 36:20-21; Luke 1:49).

The idea of God’s holiness is that he is “set apart” from everything else. God is set apart or holy in his being. He is Creator, absolute, and unlimited. Everything else is created, dependent, and finite. God is holy or set apart from sin (rejection of God as God, refusal to love God supremely, and rebellion against God and his ways; cf. Habakkuk 1:13; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5). God cannot sin because it would be contradictory to all that he is and destructive of his majestic glory.

“There are some attributes of God we prefer, because of our interest in them, and the relation they bear to us: as we esteem his goodness before his power, and his mercy whereby he relieves us, before his justice whereby he punisheth us; as there are some we more delight in, because of the goodness we receive by them; so there are some that God delights to honor, because of their excellency… Power is his hand and arm; omniscience, his eye; mercy, his bowels [emotions]; eternity, his duration; his holiness is his beauty (2 Chronicles 20:21)….” (Charnock, The Attributes of God, Vol. 2, pp. 112-113).

God intends for us to live holy lives in conformity with his holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16), though in the fullest sense, only God is holy (Revelation 15:4; Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2). God is forever perfect in his holiness (Revelation 4:8). “Goodness, truth and justice are moral attributes of God. Holiness is not an attribute distinct from these; but a name which includes them all, in view of their opposition to contrary qualities” (Dagg). We must show the fame of God’s name by acting, choosing, thinking, and talking in conformity with God’s holiness. This will mean that we walk in truth and in love. How are our passion for God’s holiness, truth, and love being shown in our gatherings for worship and fellowship? May you see God exalted for his holiness as you meet with your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Grace and peace, David