Organic Discipleship - Appendix 6: What is God Like?
Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt
How do we know we are relating to the true God, rather than a god we made up? While we can never fully understand the infinite God, he has revealed important points about his character. Understanding the character of God is important. These features of God, or attributes of God, are all eternal and coequal. We should never stress one attribute of God at the expense of another. Anything we say about God should not contradict any of these attributes. You can study each attribute and read the verses, considering how theologians get these attributes from the passages listed. Then ask how each particular attribute might apply to daily Christian living. Think how an attribute of God might affect your prayer life, your ministry, your attitudes toward him, etc.
- God is omniscient. That means he knows all things actual or possible at once. This includes the past and the future (Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:28).
- God is omnipresent. This means God transcends all limits of space. He can be everywhere at once (Psalm 139:7-10).
- God is omnipotent. That means he can do whatever he wants. God's power is unbounded except by his own nature (Genesis 18:14; 2 Timothy 2:13).
- God is sovereign. This means he owns the creation and rules it, and all of his creatures depend on him. Sovereignty doesn't have to mean God directly causes everything, but nothing can happen without him permitting it. (Psalm 14:1; Genesis 14:19; Acts 7:24-28)
- God is loving or gracious. He treats his creation with love and an attitude of mercy (1 John 4:8,16; Isaiah 30:18-21;49:14-16).
- God is righteous. God's moral character is the definition of goodness (Mark 10:18; Job 34:10; Habakkuk 1:13; James 1:13).
- God is immutable, or unchanging. He is devoid of change with regard to His attributes or promises. Note that this doesn't imply that God never does or says anything different. Only his attributes and promises are unchanging (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17; 1 Samuel 15:29).
- God is truthful and reliable. He tells the truth and cannot lie. He is also faithful (Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:13).
- God is infinite. This means both that he had no beginning, and he is free from all limitations. It also means he holds all his attributes to an infinite degree (Psalm 90:2; Jude 1:25; Isaiah 44:6; Revelations 1:8).
- God is self-existent, or independent. The ground of God's existence is himself. He is uncaused and exists by necessity of his own being. (See divine name YHWH which means “I am.”) This attribute also means God does not need his creation. He meets all his own needs (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58; Isaiah 40:28; Acts 17:25).
- God is just or fair. God cannot ignore evil. He must repay evil or good fairly (Romans 2:1-5; Genesis 18:25; Psalm 19:9.