In our day and time, people display a far too familiar attitude towards God. Nicknames such as “The Man upstairs,” “One of the boys,” and “My homie” are used with regularity. Should these types of names identify the Most High God? I think not! He is altogether perfect “Whose judgments are unsearchable and whose ways are past finding out” (Romans 11:33). “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). Christians need to rediscover a holy reverence for the Triune God like our forefathers possessed in years past. This reverence is found to a large degree by studying the character of Almighty God.
Today we embark on a journey into the attributes of God. An attribute of God is whatever God possesses revealed as true of Himself. What we really know of God does not even scratch the surface of all God encompasses. A. W. Tozer puts it this way, “In the awful abyss of the divine being may lie attributes of which we know nothing and which can have no meaning for us, just as the attributes of mercy and grace can have no personal meaning for seraphim or cherubim. These holy beings may know of these qualities in God but be unable to feel them sympathetically for the reason that they have not sinned and so do not call forth God’s mercy and grace.”
God possesses hidden facets of His person wholly unknown and perhaps unknowable by any created being, even angels. These are known only by God Himself. Does that mean we should just throw up our hands and not seek to discover more about this incredible, awesome God we serve? Absolutely not! Part of the joy of serving Yahweh God is discovering more and more about Him. We will continue this process of discovery throughout all eternity! With this in mind, we now consider 21 attributes or perfections of God.
God is Self-Existent
“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me; and they shall say unto me, What is His Name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exodus 3:13, 14
In Exodus 3:13, 14 Moses asks God who he should say sent him to the children of Israel in Egypt. God answers Moses and tells him, “I AM THAT I AM” is His Name. The Hebrew word used here “haya” is basically a shortened form of Yahweh (YHWH). The phrase, I AM THAT I AM actually explains the covenant name of Yahweh. God is saying I AM THE ONE THAT ALWAYS IS. What God communicates to us by this name (with staggering implications) is God exists because He exists! No one created God! Yet He created everything! He is the uncaused cause of everything! God is completely self-existent! He does not depend upon anything or anyone for His thoughts (Romans 11:33, 34), His will (Ephesians 1:5), His power (Psalm 115:3), or His counsel (Psalm 33:10, 11).
A. W. Tozer sums up this attribute of God so well in “The Attributes of God Vol. 2” where he says, “It was in the holy womb of the virgin Mary that the great God almighty compressed Himself into the form of a Babe, and so we honor her and respect her highly. She is blessed among women as the one that God used as the channel to come into this world of ours. But before Mary was, God was! And before Abraham was, God was! And before Adam was, God was! And before the world was – the stars, the mountains, the seas, the rivers, the plains or the forests – God was! And God is and God will ever be. God is the originating Self. God’s selfhood is His holy Being – His unsupported, independent existence!” Amen!
God is Self-Sufficient
“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.” Ps. 50:10-12
Not only does God possess no beginning or ending but He also requires nothing of any kind from anyone for His existence. H. L. Wilmington in his Guide to the Bible, puts it this way, “This means God has never had in eternity past, nor can ever have in the ages to come, a single need for which His own Divine Nature has not already provided.” Creation adds nothing at all to the perfection and happiness of God, nor makes the least alteration in Him.
God does not possess a man-sized hole in His heart that we must fill. There is not one solitary need in His being that must be furnished by His creation. In Don Fortner’s book, The Attributes of God, he writes, “Preachers often portray God as a pathetic being who is in desperate need of man, as one whose will, work, and glory greatly depends upon man. But from the beginning, God revealed Himself as El-Shaddai, God Almighty, and All-Sufficient. God is so infinitely great that He stands in need of nothing and is in need of no one. The Self-Existent God is the Self-Subsistent God. He is perfect, complete, happy, and satisfied in Himself. We can add nothing to Him. And we can take nothing from Him. He is God” (Romans 11:35-36).
GOD IS ETERNAL
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Ps. 90:2
We live in time. Indeed, we measure our existence by time: past, present, and future. God is not limited by time. In fact, God created time so he is not constrained by it in any way whatsoever. We see the past and the present but can only guess about the future. God sees the past and present but He also sees the future because He is already there. Isaiah 57:15 describes God as the “…High and lofty One that inhabits eternity.” You see, God is above our space-time continuum. From His perspective, the future has already happened. Has your mind exploded yet from all this information?
In Ps. 90:2 and also in Micah 5:2 (which speaks of Jesus), God is described as God “from everlasting to everlasting.” A. R. Fausset tells us that, “these terms convey the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable.” John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Greek word eimi translates “was” in this passage. Eimi is in the imperfect tense which indicates continuous action. With that in mind, “In the beginning, the Word already existed” translates the imperfect much better and communicates the eternal nature of Christ more clearly. We see through these Scriptures and many others (Isa. 9:6; John 8:58; Col. 1:16, 17; Eph. 1:4; Rev. 1:8; etc.) that the Bible clearly teaches the eternality of God.
In conclusion of part one of this study, there is one thing we must realize. As incomprehensible as this self-existent, self-sufficient, and eternal God we serve is, He is not unknowable. As vast as the gulf is between God and ourselves, He is not unreachable. Indeed, God sent His Son, Jesus, to bridge that great chasm that sin created between God and man. And by accepting what Christ accomplished on the Cross we are able to cry out like Paul and say, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.”