Episode 4: Study of God, Part 1- Attributes of God

Peace to Live By Episode 4: Study of God, Part 1- Attributes of God - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Good morning. I hope everyone's day is going good.

       Today I want to discuss the attributes of God. Now, any subject such as this can be very detailed to say the least. Really, there is no way to completely understand the attributes of God in full, or for that matter to understand God at all. We have such a limited knowledge of Him, though from time to time we may think or presume that we know a lot about Him. But herein lies the great temptation, that we presume that we do know a great deal about God. Because in reality, we don't.

       I think it is first, however, important to gain an underlying definition of the attributes of God. When we are talking about attributes, we mean to discuss God's nature. This includes the complete Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that each of these attributes only describe different parts of God, which interconnect together. We should not presume that all of the attributes to our knowledge are the only attributes of God, for we really do not know what further attributes of God there could be. The Bible describes God's relationship with man, and perhaps not God's totality. Therefore, I would say that the attributes cannot totally define God.

       In this lecture, therefore, I do not seek to mean to describe all the attributes of God. Nevertheless, it is beneficial and important to discuss some of them, as time would allow. To name many of the attributes, we would discuss the omnipresence, eternality, holiness, immutability, infinity, love, omniscience, omnipotence, righteousness, sovereignty, truth, and providence of God. Now, I wont have time to discuss all of these, but I will discuss several.

       First, I would like to talk about the eternality of God. Did God have a beginning? Or when was God created? The problem with these type of questions is that they begin with an assumption. The questioner assumes that all things have to have a beginning. The human brain, if it were, is programmed in this way—that is, to think that all things have to have a beginning. But, we learn from the Bible that all things do not have to have a beginning. God is the chief example of that. God was never created, and He lives forever. He always has been, and will never cease to exist. Psalm 90:2 tells us of the God the Father that, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (ESV). As for Christ, John tells us in his first chapter that Jesus was with God in the beginning (1:2). Genesis 1:26 show this, as well as the fact that the Spirit of God was present at the creation events.

       Now that we can see that God is eternal, I would like to examine God's holiness attribute. God is holy, and in Him is no fault at all. He is perfect and has never sinned, as He has never gone against His own Word. As a matter of fact, God expects us humans to holy like Him. In Leviticus 11:45c, it says, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (ESV). Jesus would reiterate this would when He said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, ESV). Speaking of Christ, 1 Peter 3:15a says that, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy,” (ESV). This verse shows us that Christ is indeed holy. We know that God's Spirit is holy, as He is often times referred to in the Bible as the Holy Spirit. Therefore, all three Persons of The Trinity are equal in Their holiness.

       I want to discuss the love of God. Love I believe is an essential attribute to understand. For who themselves would want to love a God if He did not love us? Many false gods seem to be unloving and uncaring, but not the God of the Bible! As for the Father, 1 John 4:16b tells us that “God is love,” (ESV). We also read in John 3:16 that God loved the world, and that He sent his only Son to die for the sins of its people. As for the Son, Revelation 1:5de-6 tells us, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (ESV). This verse tells us that Jesus indeed does love His people. For the Spirit of God, Romans 5:5 says, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (ESV). Therefore, the Spirit fills our hearts with God's love and thereby too shows that He indeed loves us.

       Next, I want to contemplate God's immutability. This means that God is unchanging and consistent in all times. We learn of God the Father's immutability in Malachi 3:6a when God says of Himself, ““For I the Lord do not change;” (ESV). In the New Testament, James would put it this way: “the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17bc, ESV). 2 Timothy 2:13 tells us two things about Jesus Christ. It tells us that Christ remains faithful to us even when we have no faith. And it also tells us that Christ cannot deny Himself. This means, invariably, that Christ would never change what He thinks. John 16:13-15 tells us that the Holy Spirit will lead believers into all God's and Jesus' truth. Therefore, He agrees with both the Father and the Son on truth.

       It is also important to discuss the infinity of God. We know that God the Father cannot be contained in any limited space. For 1 Kings 8:27 says that, ““But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (ESV). Therefore, a place built by Solomon for God cannot even contain him. For Christ, I think a good way to understand his limitlessness is to look at Matthew 26. When Jesus was being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus said to one of his disciples that he could call to his Father who would at once send him 12 legions of angels to rescue him. That is, they would come in an instance. That's pretty powerful. Some theologians estimate this to 72,000 angels. Psalm 139:7 tells us that the Spirit of God is also limitless. The Psalm writer David asks where he could go that would be away from God's Spirit. And he ponders where he could flee to get out of God's presence. And obviously, he could not have.

       Next I am going to discuss the righteousness of God. We believe that God is perfect, and that there is no fault found in Him. We also believe that righteousness is a part of God's character, and God embodies righteousness and tells us what is right. Of God the Father, Psalm 11:7 tells us “For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds;” (ESV). The prophet Daniel would say that to God belongs righteousness. He contrasted the people of Israel being on the opposite end of the spectrum, that they were not righteous (see Daniel 9:7). As for Jesus, He bore witness of Himself that he always did the things that were pleasing to God, thus making him righteous (see John 8:29). Both Hebrews 4:15 and 1 John 3:5 state that Jesus is without and does not contain any sin, thus making Him righteous. And how as Christians are we supposed to act? 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us of Christ that, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (ESV). Therefore, we have been declared righteous by God at the moment in which we were saved, but we also continually seek to be righteous in this life as we still have our inner sin natures. And Romans 8:3 tells us that God has condemned sin in a person's flesh. He did this by having Jesus, being in a body in the likeness of sin, dying on the cross for sin. In Looking at the Spirit of God's righteousness, we also see in Galatians 5 that the Apostle Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit, which are all good, right, and true, which are for the Christian to live by. Paul says that the Christian is to walk by the Spirit, demonstrating those characteristics that he had listed. This, too, indeed shows the Spirit of God's righteousness.

       Now I want to look at the omnipotence of God. By discussing God's omnipotence, we mean God's powerfulness and supremacy. We see in the Old Testament, in Genesis that God referenced himself to Abram the He is God Almighty (17:1). As a matter of fact, Psalm 68:34 states, “Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies” (ESV). Finally, the Apostle John reports in Revelation that, “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,” (19:1, ESV). As for the Son of God, Hebrews 1:3 states that, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (ESV). Remember in Matthew 8 that Jesus was able to rebuke the storm and make it cease from happening. The disciples marveled, wondering how such a man could control the winds and the sea so that they obey him (see Matthew 8:23-26). For the Spirit of God, He also is seen to possess God's power. The Prophet Micah stated that, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord,” (3:8a, ESV). Genesis 1:2 explains that the Spirit of God, as part of the creation even, was hovering over the face of the waters on earth. This is a demonstration of His all-powerfulness.

       Subsequently, now I want to consider the omniscience of God. What we mean by omniscience is that God indeed knows everything. Job 11:7 says that, ““Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?” (ESV). The Apostle John tells us that that God knows everything in his first epistle (3:20). But how does the Son and the Spirit fit into understanding the knowledge of God? Jesus, in his earthly ministry, made God known. This is seen in John 1:18, when it says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known” (ESV). John 14:7 says that if you have known Jesus, then you have known God the Father. For the Holy Spirit, it is written in John 16:13-15 that:

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (ESV)

Therefore, we see from this passage that the Spirit reveals God's truth to the believer. The Apostle Paul would say that, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (2 Corinthians 2:10, ESV).

       Finally, I want to discuss the sovereignty of God. This means that God is the Supreme Being of the universe. Or, one could say that God has the supreme power of the universe. We know that God controls everything, and at no time in His existence is He not in control. When things happen on the earth that makes it look like God is not in control, this is because God has allowed those things to happen as part of His bigger plan. Acts 15 tell us that God makes things that he knew from of old (17e-18). Psalm 135:6 says, “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (ESV). Therefore, God does not have to answer to anyone; He is self-existent and can do what He wants to do. We also know that God is in control of all the details. For Proverbs 16:4 states, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (ESV). That is an interesting verse. It tells us that God is responsible for creating the wicked for troublous days. Paul would touch on this idea in Romans 9. One thing he said was that, “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (ESV). Therefore, salvation for humans is up to the Lord himself, as only He is sovereign. Finally, Ephesians 1:14 says that God is our guarantee of our salvation. He can guarantee anything He chooses to because He is sovereign.

       In conclusion today, perhaps you've been listening to this discussion today—about the attributes of God, about how God is holy, righteous, and good. Perhaps, as you've listened, you've believed that God really is real. Well, no matter who you are, no matter what your status in society is, no matter how important or unimportant you may think you are, I am here today to tell you that God is offering you His free gift of salvation that He offers to anyone who would believe in Him. God wants everyone to accept the truth, to accept Jesus' death on the cross as a payment for their sins.

       It may be today that you feel like there is no way that this God, whom I've talked about, could accept you because, after all, He is holy, perfect, and good, and you may feel that you are quite the opposite. But, you see, He doesn't save you based on your works. You can spend your whole life trying to do things to get God's attention, or make yourself feel good, but, in the end, it's not going to matter. All that matters, in reality, is whether or not a person is in right relationship with God. All that matters is whether you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. You cannot earn God's favor. You can't bargain with God—you can't say, “God, if I do this for you, will you do this for me?” That's not the way it works. You can have much, much more than that.

       If you will come into a personal relationship with God, He will give you eternal life, and a new life, starting today. He will forgive you of your sins, and eventually, as you seek to please Him and follow Him, he will give you, according to His will, the desires of your heart. God wants people to be at peace, to have joy, to be happy. Now, that's very counter to our culture because our culture says that obtaining things or people—whatever it be—that's what our culture says will make you happy. But that's not true. The truth of the matter is what will truly fulfill your life is being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, knowing that your sins are forgiven, and that you are now in right standing with God in a personal relationship with Him.

       God will help you where you need help. It doesn't matter if you're struggling with an addiction or some significant engrossed problem; God has the ability to get you through that issue. Our world's systems are a nice try at best. But God is the only One who can forgive sins, and really help you through whatever it is. God isn't just wanting to save you from hell—though that is very important—God wants to be part of your life. He wants you to surrender your life over to Him, so that He can give you true life. There is nothing to lose, at all, by knowing God. All there is, by knowing God, is gain.

       So, if you believe that you would like to have a personal relationship with God today, and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then follow my lead in this simple prayer:

God, I am a sinner. But today I understand that Jesus died for my sins, and He forgives me of everything wrong that I have ever done. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that on the third day He rose from the dead so that I might have a new life. And I, God, want to surrender my life to you now, so that you may be Lord of my life because, Father, you know what is best for me. Please, Father, come into my life, and start the transformation process, so that I become like you want me to be, so that I become pleasing to you.

       Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, I thank you for today. I thank you for the opportunity to look at your attributes—to study your Word and examine who you are—so that we can have a better understanding of your characteristics and know you more. I pray for those who accepted your truth today, who accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior: I pray that you would help those people to overcome any issues in their lives, and that they would seek to be pleasing to you, in their actions, thoughts, and what they do, so that they can become more like Jesus.

I pray for those of us who are in right relationship with you, that we would be continuing to becoming more like Jesus, that we would not going the other direction, away from you, but that our actions, our thoughts, our deeds, that we would be seeking to align those with your truth. Help us, Father. It can be such a struggle at times, as our inner sin natures tries to pull us away and make us not like Jesus. Help us to look at different areas of our lives in light of what we have learned today about you, and how we can be more pleasing to you, and more helpful and thoughtful of those around us. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton