Tuesday I left off talking about some of the things we learn about God’s essence from the scripture: He is alive, eternal and immense. God is a spirit and a person. These are rather obvious traits for God. Any being without them is hardly a God to be worshipped or served. A dead God can’t help us, and a finite God would be too limited. And if God were not a person, we couldn’t enter into relationship with Him – or even know Him.
As important as these aspects of God are, though, they do not comprise the entirety of who God is. Scripture reveals oh so much more about Him. There are also numerous attributes of God about which we learn from His written revelation, of types that theologian Henry Clarence Thiessen calls non-moral and moral attributes. I’ll speak to the former type first.
God’s non-moral attributes are similar to the characteristics of His essence discussed Tuesday. The first of these is omniscience. When we say God is omniscient, we say basically that God knows everything. This comes through in many places, both in the Old Testament (Isaiah 46:10), and the New Testament (Hebrews 4:13.)
A second attribute is omnipresence. This means He is everywhere. Again, this attribute is described in multiple parts of scripture. Psalms 139:7-10 and Acts 7:48-50 for starters. One key point to note, though, is that (theologically speaking, as I’m sorta tryin’ to do from a lay perspective) God’s omnipresence does not mean that God is limited by space. God inhabits space, but is not bound by it; He is transcendent above it at the same time He is within it.
God is also immutable, which means He doesn’t change. This is important because it helps us to trust His promises. He’s always, immutably, faithful to His word. Neither His love, nor His justice ever change. For those who think the OT God of wrath is superseded by the NT Jesus of love, scripture does not leave this option to us. God is who He was and who He always will be.
And finally (for the purposes of this post) God is omnipotent. This is perhaps the most often misunderstood attribute on this short list. Omnipotence in this context does not indicate that God can do anything. Instead, it means that anything God purposes to do, He can do. God’s nature does not allow Him to lie, for instance. But God can certainly create a universe from nothing (being, as noted above, transcendent above creation) or perform other miracles according to this attribute.
Next come the moral attributes. And that’ll cover multiple posts methinks.