The Attributes of God

NO ONE has seen God at any time! We can know him only as we can discern him in the mighty and wonderful works of creation, and through his written Word wherein he has revealed his purposes toward his human creation. There is no greater attainment for a human than to acquire an understanding of God and of his characteristics, which is accomplished largely through a reverent study of his Word.

Jeremiah 9:23, 24 reads, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”

Through the Creator’s grand design for the eternal happiness of his human creatures we find many facets of his character displayed. We find, for example, that there are four principal attributes of his character: his wisdom, his justice, his love, and his power. There are other aspects of his character which blend beautifully with these principal ones, and our attention will be called to them as we discuss his four cardinal attributes.

God’s Wisdom

In myriad ways God’s wisdom is displayed in his creative works. One of these is the occasional exception to the laws by which all inanimate things of creation are governed. For example, the general law is that substances expand with heat and contract with cold. An exception to this is found in the freezing of water. If water contracted as it froze, ice would then be heavier than water, and the end of winter throughout half of the earth would find the rivers and lakes solid cakes of ice. But God’s exception to this law of nature averts such a catastrophe.

Wisdom beyond our comprehension is displayed in all created things. We are particularly interested in God’s wisdom as we see it in operation in connection with his provisions for man, whom he created in his image, and to be king of earth. One evidence of this is in the relationship of parents to children. God endowed the lower animals with certain instincts which cause them to make essential preparations for their young, and to care for them for a short time after they are born, but this instinct is devoid of lasting interest in, and love for, the offspring.

How different in the case of humans! A human child is helpless when it is born. It needs the loving and tender care of its mother, and usually receives it. The love of both parents for their child usually increases, and continues, and the child learns to appreciate and love its parents. God’s wisdom designed it so, and it is related to the fact that we are created in the image of God. The Creator loves his children, and is pleased when they realize their dependence on him, and out of this there grows love and loyalty.

On this point Isaiah 49:15 reads, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Psalm 103:13 reads, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear [reverence] him.”

Learning by Experience

God’s wisdom is displayed in permitting man to be subjected to temptation while he was in the Garden of Eden. The earth is filled with created things which are compelled to obey the Creator’s law. The stars are given no choice as to the orbit in which they travel, or how fast they will revolve in that orbit. But the Creator was not limited to exacting this sort of obedience. He created man in his own mental and moral image, and gave him a choice between obedience and disobedience.

God’s wisdom enabled him to know in advance that, through lack of experience, man would choose the course of disobedience and thus incur the penalty of death, as had been stipulated. God’s wisdom decreed that all of Adam’s children would share in his death condemnation. By this wise arrangement it was possible for one man—even Jesus Christ, who was made flesh for this purpose—to redeem Adam from death, and also the entire human family, which lost life through Adam.

By this wise arrangement, each generation of Adam’s children has had an opportunity to experience the disastrous results of disobedience to divine law. Thus far few have known the true significance of their plight. But the Creator’s wisdom has arranged their awakening from the sleep of death at a time when the educational program of Christ’s kingdom will be in operation, and then they will learn. Thus they will, by experience, have learned both good and evil, and will be in a position to make an intelligent choice between the two.

God’s Eternal Justice

Throughout the ages of human experience innocent men and women, as well as children, have suffered. Is it just for God to permit an innocent infant to be afflicted with a painful disease, and ultimately to die? There are thousands of situations in which the question of God’s justice is raised. Assuming that God is all-powerful and therefore able to control human experience, why does he permit the innocent to suffer? In the absence of a satisfactory answer to this question, some might well question the existence of God.

The operation of God’s justice in his dealings with his human creatures can be understood only in the light of his plan as a whole. One would properly question the motives of a surgeon who cuts into a human body to remove a malignant growth or a diseased organ, were it not known that the objective sought is the person’s health and well-being. The healthy, unaffected organs of the body might well suffer as the malignancy is being removed, but those involved understand the reason, and are quite willing to have it so.

The Balance of Justice

The principle of justice is well illustrated by the balanced apothecary’s scale. With the scale the illustration is in equality of weight. In God’s relationship to man it is in equality of dealings. The Creator is the source of all life and its blessings, so he has the right to decide the terms upon which these blessings may be obtained and maintained. Adam was God’s creation. He owed his life to his Creator.

Adam also owed obedience to his Creator, and the Creator, in his wisdom, exacted the death penalty for disobedience—not because he was vindictive, but because it would result in the greatest good to Adam and his progeny. Think of the havoc which would be wrought if the earth itself were to disobey the laws of gravitation by which it is kept in its proper orbit! So, if man were permitted to live in disobedience to divine law, there would be no end to the chaos and suffering that would result.

Man was justly condemned to death. Since the penalty for disobedience was death, it meant that if man was to be rescued from the result of the condemnation the demands of divine justice against him would have to be satisfied. The Creator’s wisdom provided the way, which was through Christ, the Redeemer. Jesus became a substitute in death for Adam, and for Adam’s unborn race. The Bible refers to this as a ransom, or corresponding price. Paul wrote, “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—I Tim. 2:5,6

While God’s love is involved in this plan, it is his justice that opens the way for man’s release from sin and death. Meanwhile the human race has continued to suffer, the innocent with the guilty. The just compensation for this will be in the blessed experiences of the enhanced joy which shall be made available to all as they are restored to life in the promised resurrection of the dead.

Then, as they look back upon the experiences through which they have passed during the reign of sin and death, they will thank God for them, for thereby they will have been led to a more profound appreciation of their loving Creator, whom they will then have the opportunity of obeying and serving forever. It will be then that God will wipe away all tears from their eyes, “and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”—Rev. 21:4

The Creator’s Love

The great Creator of the universe dispenses blessings to his earthly creatures with a lavish hand. His love has made provision for his lower creatures as well as for man. He takes delight in exercising his loving-kindness throughout the earth, causing the sun to shine and the rain to fall upon all. (Matt. 5:43-45) These blessings are available even for those of his human creatures who, in their folly, disbelieve in his existence, and oft-times blaspheme him.

Because man is sinful and fallen, and because the command to subdue the earth has not yet been carried out, there are times when human suffering and apparent unbalances in the material world seem to belie God’s loving interest in his human creatures. It is in such circumstances that we need to understand the divine plan for the ultimate elimination of all evil in order to see through the dark circumstances of life.

Man sinned, and brought upon himself the penalty of sin, which is death. God’s love provided redemption from death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) God’s gift of his Son to suffer and to die for the sin-cursed and dying race is a most outstanding evidence of his love. No gift has ever been so great, or so costly to the giver.

While the Scriptures declare that it was God’s love for the world that caused him to send his Son to earth to be the Redeemer and Savior of mankind, our appreciation of that love is enhanced by the assurance given to us in the Bible that a full and complete opportunity is to be given to all mankind to benefit from God’s gift. Only those who believe will receive everlasting life through Christ, but the opportunity to believe is not limited to this present short span of life.

While God’s love is abundantly manifested by the gift of his dear Son, we see a further evidence of his love in his invitation to consecrated believers in the present age to suffer and die with Jesus that they might live and reign with him. Through the Holy Spirit these are made sons of God on the divine plane. This is truly a marvelous manifestation of God’s love.—II Pet. 1:4; I John 3:1-3

It is beyond the ability of our finite minds fully to understand the length and breadth and height and depth of God’s love which provided that a few of the fallen, imperfect members of the human race should not only be redeemed from death through Jesus, but should be called to joint-heirship in his kingdom, to be associated with Jesus in the blessing of the remainder of mankind, who also have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Such love should call forth a hearty response of love and devotion on the part of all whose hearts are opened to receive it.

The Almighty God

It is a self-evident truth that the great Creator of the universe is all-powerful. Job expressed this fact beautifully when he said to God, “I know that thou canst do everything.” (Job 42:2) The almighty power of God is manifested in all his creative works. Life itself is a mighty force beyond the ability of the human mind to conceive.

On this subject we are particularly interested in the power of God as it relates to the outworking of his plan for the redemption and recovery of the human race from sin and death. This plan is motivated by divine love. It is based on the justice of God, and was conceived by the Creator’s wisdom. But the plan itself would have no validity if the Author lacked the ability to carry it out. However, we are assured that God is abundantly able to accomplish every detail of his plan. Isaiah 55:10,11 reads:

“As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper, in the thing whereto I sent it.”

The miracle-working power of God is required for the accomplishment of essentially every detail of his plan of salvation. It was God’s love that prompted him to give his Son to be man’s Redeemer, but the presentation of this gift called for the exercise of mighty power. It was necessary that Jesus be made flesh by the transfer of his heavenly life to the womb of Mary to be born a human.—John 1:14,15

The Holy Spirit, or power of God, sustained Jesus throughout the trying years of his earthly ministry. Finally, when Jesus had given his humanity in death, dying on the cross, the power of his Heavenly Father raised him from the dead and exalted him to his own right hand in divine glory.—Eph. 1:17-23

Throughout the Gospel Age the Holy Spirit or power of God has been working in the hearts and lives of Jesus’ true followers. They have been made spiritually strong in the power of his might. (Eph. 6:10) The truly faithful have experienced the same almighty power sustaining them as was given to Jesus to give him strength to suffer and to die. And then, at the end of the age, these, like Jesus, are raised from the dead to live and reign with him for a thousand years, to restore mankind in general to life on the earth.—Rev. 20:6

Christ and his followers will be the invisible rulers in that kingdom, and will be represented on earth by those ancient servants of God from Abel to John the Baptist. The Bible says that these will be “princes in all the earth.” (Ps. 45:16) And divine power will raise these from the dead as perfect humans.—Heb. 11:35,39,40

But this is not all, for there will follow the awakening from the sleep of death for the billions of the human race who were condemned to death in Adam and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. (I Cor. 15:21,22) To believe this should not place a strain on our faith, for the One who has planned and promised it is the great God of the universe who created life in the first place. Surely this al mighty God is abundantly able to restore life!

And it will not be merely an awakening from death, for all the willing and obedient of that kingdom age will be restored to human perfection just as Adam possessed it before he sinned. This will also call for the exercise of divine power. This will be the restitution of all things which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.—Acts 3:19-21

Truly our God is a great God, a God in whose character the attributes of wisdom, justice, love, and power function harmoniously, to the lasting good of all his creatures. And when this understanding of God becomes universally known, as it will during the rulership of the messianic kingdom, then God’s glory will be revealed, and the people will call upon him “to serve him with one consent.”—Zeph. 3:9

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |