Scripture begins with the well-known verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1 NKJ) God is not defined or described in that passage; He is assumed. In fact, at the burning bush, when God directed Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses asked God, “Who shall I say sent me?” God responded, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,`I AM has sent me to you.‘” (Ex. 3:14 NKJ) When God said, “I am Who I am,” He implied He is the eternally existent One, who was in the beginning of all beginnings (which is eternity past) and will always be in the future. There is no beginning or end to God. He is.
How do you define God? God would never be known, unless He revealed Himself. He cannot be discovered, determined, or defined, because God is infinite. However, several principles can be explained in an attempt to understand God. First, God is the self-existent One. Moses learned this at the burning bush incident mentioned above. Secondly, God is uniquely sovereign. David wrote in Psalm 18, “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” (Ps. 18:31 NKJ) God IS the Lord. Thirdly, He is the sovereign One over the universe. The sons of Korah wrote, “He is the King of all the earth.” (Ps. 47:7) Fourthly, God is Spirit. John wrote, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 NKJ) And fifthly, He is personal. David wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” (Ps. 23:1 NKJ) God, specifically, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Shepherd of our souls. You cannot define God, but you can accept by faith clear truths about God.
What is God like? God is known only as He reveals Himself. God reveals Himself in General and Special Revelation. General Revelation is revelation that anyone, both believer and unbeliever, can see in the world around him. Special Revelation is that written or non-General Revelation that the Holy Spirit guides the believer to understand.
According to General Revelation, God is powerful, creative and orderly. Paul wrote,
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (Rom 1:18-20 NKJ)
Special revelation is that which would only be known as God revealed it. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets.” (Heb 1:1 NKJ) God revealed Himself:
- Through His voice Gen. 14:18-20
- Through miracles Matt. 11:2-6
- Through dreams and visions Joel 2:28-31
- Through the urim and thumim Num. 27:21
- Through a donkey Num. 24:3-9
- Through prophecy 2 Chron. 9:29
- Through written revelation 2 Peter 1:21
Ultimately, God revealed Himself in Jesus (John 1:1-14). From these revelations we learn many things about God’s attributes or qualities that describe God.
The study of God’s attributes would take a lifetime, because God is infinite. David wrote, “Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” (Ps. 40:5 NKJ) Here are a few attributes or descriptions of God.
First, God is holy. Peter wrote,
15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy. (1 Pet. 1:15-16 NKJ)
Peter gives us immediate application that we should become like God, under His authority. We never will be completely holy, like God, but when filled with the Holy Spirit, we can be like Him.1
Secondly, God is righteousness. God is intrinsically righteous in who He is and all that He does. John wrote, “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.” (John 17:25 NKJ) God is the standard of all things.
Thirdly, God is justice. Because God is righteous and holy, His justice ensures that righteousness is maintained and holiness is protected. He can never be less than just, especially in His dealings with man. Jehoshaphat said, “Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.” (2 Chron. 19:7 NKJ)
Fourthly, God is eternal life. Moses wrote, “Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Ps. 90:2 NKJ) God had no beginning or end. He never grows old, out of date, or feeble.
Fifthly, God is love. This is normally the first attribute people highlight. John wrote, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NKJ) Because God is love, He developed a system in which sinful man could be redeemed and that love sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins that we could be redeemed (Eph. 1:7).
Sixthly, God is all powerful. Some call this omnipotence. God spoke through Jeremiah the prophet and said, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27 NKJ) God is able to do anything according to His will.
Seventhly, God is all knowing. Some call this omniscience. Sometimes in the confusion of life, we are not able to discern conviction from demonic attack. As we trust the Lord, He will reveal what we need to know. John wrote, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (1 John 3:20 NKJ) Additionally, the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13 NKJ)
Eighthly, God is everywhere present. Some call this omnipresence. There is no where anyone can go where God is not. He is transcendent above the universe and beyond any horizon. David wrote,
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (Ps. 139:7-10 NKJ)
Ninthly, God is unchanging. Some call this immutability. Man changes from birth to death. He changes his mind, his ways and his perspectives. God never does. Malachi recorded the Lord’s words, “For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Mal. 3:6 NKJ) He is patient, kind and merciful in all of His ways. His faithfulness is new every morning.
Tenthly, God is truth. Some call this veracity. Moses highlighted His truth just before Israel entered the land, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” (Deut. 32:4 NKJ)
These are only ten attributes, because time and space do not allow us to examine God’s mercy, faithfulness, grace, goodness, unity and perfection. He is.
We should also examine the Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Each of the three members of the Trinity has equal essence or attributes. There is one God, but three members or persons of the Trinity. Moses wrote, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deut. 6:4 NKJ) Additionally, there are three members as Jesus commanded new believers be baptized in “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matt. 28:19 NKJ) The Trinity cannot be fully understood; it must be accepted by faith.
God is not three gods. If a person described each member of the Trinity as a separate God, he would believe in Tritheism, in contrast to biblical teaching. If a person said that God is One and there were three different manifestations of God, he would believe in modalism, in contrast to biblical teaching. There is in the divine being, one indivisible essence. The Trinity is revealed in the Old Testament in shadow form, but is clearly revealed in the New Testament. Finally, we must distinguish between the attributes, or essence, of God and the roles of God.
God is equal in essence. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit all have the same essence. Some call this the ontological Trinity. In other words, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all have the attribute of love. This can be shown with attributes of God for each member of the Trinity.
However, each member of the Trinity has a different role. For example, creation is from the Father, and created through the Son, as Paul wrote, “…yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” (1 Cor. 8:6 NKJ) And the Holy Spirit sustains all things (Gen. 1:2). Creation of the human race was the Father’s plan, executed by the Son and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Peter wrote that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” (1 Pet. 1:2 NKJ) As the equality of the Trinity was called the ontological Trinity, the different roles of God consider God as the economical Trinity.
God made you and loved you. He developed a plan where you could know Him, because He wanted to be known and have a relationship with you. Seek Him in His Word and you will continue to grow in your understanding of God.
1See the following link regarding the believer and the filling of the Holy Spirit: https://shepherdingtruth.com/2013/07/09/question-can-a-christian-who-is-filled-with-the-spirit-be-bored/