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Attributes of God Part 1
The Knowable, Unknowable God
If you were to ask any number of people: "Who is God?" you'd get all kinds of answers. Every religion has their own understanding of who, or what God is. And, every non-religious person has their own understanding as well. However, those who call themselves Christian believe that God Himself has revealed to us who He is. And we find that revelation in the Bible, the written Word of God. And, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ is "God with us." He has said that "if you have seen me, you have seen the Father" (John 14:9). He is the Living Word. He is God in the flesh.
I. An Attempt to Define God
In explaining the God of the Bible, there is a wonderful definition given in the Westminster Catechism. It states: "God is Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth." Although there are no perfect definitions of God, this one is as good as any in capturing how the Scripture views the Sovereign of the universe.
II. Classification of God's Attributes
Beginning with this article, I'd like to begin a study of the attributes of God. An attribute is a feature which is an inherent part of something or someone. For example, color is an attribute of hair, or skin. An attribute is what makes a person or a thing what or who he, she, or it is.
When talking about the attributes of God we can break them down in many ways, and many theologians have done this. Some have broken them down into attributes which God alone possesses, and those which He has given to mankind to possess. These theologians have termed those only God possesses as incommunicable, meaning those attributes that have not been, or cannot be given to other beings. Self-existence, for example, is an incommunicable attribute. Only God exists apart from any other being giving Him life. And only God is eternal in the sense that He never had a beginning and will never have an end.
Then there are also the communicable attributes, meaning those which we creatures created in the image of God possess, or can possess. For example, the Lord tells us to be holy, because He Himself is holy (Leviticus 11:44 and I Peter 1:15,16).
Others have broken the attributes into different categories such as the non-moral attributes like omnipresence, or being present everywhere, and the moral attributes, like love. But whichever way you choose to classify these characteristics, they give us a picture of just who and what our God is and what He is not.
In this study, we're going to attempt to see God as He has revealed Himself to us. The study of God is not an easy task, but it is one of the most rewarding of all fields. For in knowing God we also get to know ourselves and our purpose for existence a little better. After all, we were created, in His image, for His glory. No one can fully understand life as it was meant to be, without first knowing the creator and sustainer of this life. May God receive all the honor and glory as we see Him through His attributes.