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Characteristics of God       From "Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary"

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Characteristics of God
From "Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary"


God may be described in terms of attributes. An attribute is an inherent characteristic of a person or being. While we cannot describe God in a comprehensive way, we can learn about Him by examining His attributes as revealed in the Bible. The first group is known as the natural attributes of God.

God Is Spirit.

Jesus taught that "God is Spirit" (John 4:24). God has no body, no physical or measurable form. Thus, God is invisible. He became visible in human form in the person of Jesus Christ, but His essence is invisible.

God Is Changeless.

Progress and change may characterize some of His works, but God Himself remains unchanged (Heb 1:12). He does not change; otherwise, He would not be perfect. Thus, what we know of God can be known with certainty. He is not different from one time to another.

God Is All Powerful.

God's power is unlimited. He can do anything that is not inconsistent with His nature, character, and purpose (Gen 17:1; 18:14). The only limitations on God's power are imposed by Himself (Gen 18:25). "Impossible" is not in God's vocabulary. God creates and sustains all things; yet He never grows weary (Isa 40:27-31).

God Is All Knowing.

God possesses all knowledge (Job 38:39; Rom 11:33-36). Because God is everywhere at one and the same time, He knows everything simultaneously. That God has the power to know the thoughts and motives of every heart is evident from many Scripture passages, notably Job 37:16; Ps 147:5, and Heb 3:13.

God Is Everywhere.

God is not confined to any part of the universe but is present in all His power at every point in space and every moment in time (Ps 139:7-12). Thus, God does not belong to any one nation or generation. He is the God of all the earth (Gen 18:25).

God Is Eternal.

Eternity refers to God's relation to time. Past, present, and future are known equally to Him (2 Peter 3:8; Rev 1:8). Time is like a parade that man sees only a segment at a time. But God sees time in its entirety. The second group of attributes is called moral attributes. These refer to God's character, His essential nature.

God Is Holy.

The word holy comes from a root word that means "to separate." Thus, it refers to God as separated from or exalted above other things (Isa 6:1-3). Holiness refers to God's moral excellence. Being holy, God demands holiness in His own children. And what He demands, He supplies. Holiness is God's gift that we receive by faith through His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph 4:24).

God Is Righteous.

Righteousness as applied to God refers to His affirmation of what is right as opposed to what is wrong. The righteousness of God refers to His moral laws laid down to guide the conduct of humankind, as in the Ten Commandments. Righteousness also refers to God's administration of justice. He brings punishment upon the disobedient (Gen 18:25; Deut 32:4; Rom 2:6-16). Finally, God's righteousness is redemptive. In the Book of Romans the righteousness of God refers to God declaring the believer to be in a state of righteousness as though he had never been unrighteous (Rom 1:16-17; 3:24-26). This is possible because of the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf.

God Is Love.

Love is the essential, self-giving nature of God. God's love for man seeks to awaken a responsive love of man for God. Divine love runs like a golden thread through the entire Bible. Nature is eloquent with the skill, wisdom, and power of God. Only in the Bible, however, do we discover God giving Himself and all He possesses to His creatures, in order to win their response and to possess them for Himself. God loved and gave; He loved and sought-just as a shepherd seeks his sheep. God loved and suffered, providing His love by giving His all on the cross for the redemption of humanity. God, in His love, wills good for all His creatures (Gen 1:31; Ps 145:9; Mark 10:18).

God Is Truth.

All truth, whether natural, physical, or religious, is grounded in God. Thus, any seemingly inconsistent teaching between natural and physical sciences and God's revelation of Himself is more apparent than real. Truth is magnified in an absolute way through God's revelation.

God Is Wisdom.

God's wisdom is revealed in His doing the best thing, in the best way, at the best time for the best purpose. Some people have knowledge, but little wisdom, while the most wise at times have little knowledge. But God is "the only wise God" (1 Tim 1:17). In creation, history, human lives, redemption, and Christ, His divine wisdom is revealed. Man, lacking wisdom, can claim God's wisdom simply by asking (1 Kings 3:9; James 1:5).

The believer's understanding of God continues to increase throughout his earthly pilgrimage. It will finally be complete in eternity when he stands in the presence of God.

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

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"When to seek God has become life and to glorify God has become self, then you have truly found God."