In this articles, I would like for us to begin a study on the Attributes of God. We all have beliefs on the nature of God, but we need to ensure that we are genuinely contemplating the God of the Bible, and not a god of our popular culture, the god of popular t-shirt slogans, or the god of our own creation.
Certainly, fully understanding the attributes of God is a large undertaking. One could spend a lifetime of study, and yet still not fully grasp His awesome power and majesty. However, even though we might not fully comprehend His splendor, it seems a good pursuit to endeavor to each day understand Him better.
We are given two magnificent tools to understand the attributes of God, and they work together, hand in hand. We are given His Word, the Holy Bible, and we are given His Holy Spirit. We need both to understand Him. If we contemplate and study His Word, we can draw on His Holy Spirit to guide us in a more perfect understanding of who He is. The Word and the Spirit work together.
One could start in Genesis, and then read the Bible cover-to-cover and make a list of all the attributes of God. I could give you that long list, but I think it is more beneficial to begin to uncover that list by looking at two verses that reveal to us key aspects of God’s character. We will begin by looking at Jeremiah 9:23-24 and Isaiah 33:22. We will then make a starting list of attributes from these two verses, and then in following articles, we will examine more in depth each of the attributes by cross referencing many other Biblical texts.
We will begin our study in Jeremiah 9:23-24:
23 Thus says the Lord:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.
Note that in the opening lines of this passage, we are told that we are not to glory in our wisdom, might (power) or riches. I think it is wise for each of us to ponder this instruction. If I were honest, I would have to say that I spent my youth in pursuit of wisdom, fame, fortune and power. I always sought the spotlight, more money, more fame and more powerful positions. Eventually I realized the emptiness and shallowness of these pursuits. The more I achieved these goals, the more empty I was left.
Then one day my heart was changed. My passion became to begin to pursue the things of God instead of the things of the world. It was at this point that I truly found peace in my life.
The beauty of this verse is that it instructs us not just in the things NOT to pursue, but tells us what our passion should be . . . “But let him who glories, glory in this, That he understands and know Me”.
The passion of our lives should be to Know God and Understand God.
This passage then goes on to give us a starting point in knowing and understanding God by listing some of His attributes. We can see that God is LORD, God is Love, God is Righteous, and God is Judge.
We can further learn of the attributes of God from Isaiah 33:22, which says:
22 For the Lord is our judge,
the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
he will save us.
In this passage we see that God is Lord, Judge, Lawgiver, King and our Savior.
So, with these two verses we have a pretty good start on studying some key attributes of God.
God is King
God is Lawgiver
God is Judge
God is Righteous
God is Holy
God is Love
God is our Savior
In our popular culture, we have unfortunately chosen to contemplate only two of the attributes of God, God as love and savior. Unfortunately, a focus on only two of His characteristics can lead to serious error, and in fact can create an image of God that might lose the power to save. When we only believe in a god of love and that saves, we are left free to live our lives on our own terms. A god of love is a god that accepts our choices. We make the rules, we live life on our own terms, and god will love, bless and save us. All we have to do is believe in this god we have created, and then he loves and saves us. This indeed is a very attractive thing to believe, but unfortunately, it is not the God of the Bible.
As we begin to get into this study, what I hope you will come to realize is that we can not genuinely understand God as love and God as savior until we first learn just how much trouble we are in. We must first learn of God as Righteous, Holy, King, Lawgiver, and Judge, and only then can we genuinely understand and know the full measure of His love and the magnificent and awesome nature of his Saving Atonement.
This is an analogy I will give. Consider a stoplight. It has three attributes. It can be red, it can be yellow or it can be green. Imagine as you go about your day, you see people always talking about the stop light . . . “The Stoplight is Green”, “Green means Go”, “Go, Go, Go, the stoplight is always green!”. This description of a stoplight is not wrong, it is just incomplete, and this incomplete understanding of a stoplight can lead to deadly consequences. The light is not always green and not understanding that could lead you into a deadly collision.
Similarly with God. Yes God is love. But He is also King, Lawgiver and Judge. Failure to understand these could leave you missing out on the attribute you desire . . . His love.
Since most people grasp the “love” attribute of God already, in this series, I will begin by examining the attributes we tend to ignore. Then as we develop an understanding of God as King, Lawgiver and Judge, then we can more fully appreciate His attributes of Love and Savior.
Next Up: Read Part 2, God is Holy and Righteous.