Some Characteristics of God

Ray Ferris
Racine, Wis.

As we preach, teach, and write we often mention God, and what He desires that man should do. I wonder sometimes if it would not be good for us to go back and study more about God Himself; that is, His characteristics and attributes that would cause man to have a desire to do His will. In this article we are going to notice some of the outstanding characteristics of the Lord, and as you read, I am asking you to ask yourself if you really know this God. Is HE one that you converse with often, telling your joys and sorrows; one that you lean upon heavily; one that you walk with intimately? In short, are you a friend of God ?

Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent

First of all, let us notice that God claims to be Almighty. That is, He claims to have the power to do all things. In Genesis, chapter seventeen, verse one, we read these words: "and when Abram, was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfect." There are many ways in which we could illustrate the might and power of God, but what better way than to point to the creation? All of the glories of nature, the mysterious wonder of life itself is enough to show us the might and power of the one who created the "heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that in them is."

The might of God is one of the many reasons why we should have a desire to do as He commands. It should instill our very beings with awesome fear when we think of what such a powerful God could do to us, and it should completely fill us with love when we think that this power was not directed against man, but for man and his good. It is natural for us to adore one who is superior in might, and uses that might for our good.

In Job 37:16 we are instructed that God is perfect in knowledge! Not only is God an omnipotent being, but He has perfect knowledge of man and all other things. Read with me from Psahn 139:1-6. "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, 1o, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it." Yes, the Lord knows even the things which we think that are not pleasing to Him. What a motive to make one strive to do His will at all times!

Now read with me the next six verses of this same Psalm, and we shall see another of the great attributes of God. "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou there: if I make my bed In Hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." In this passage we see that it is impossible for us to flee from the presence of God.

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; having all power, all knowledge, and being present everywhere at all times!

God Is Eternal

In Deuteronomy 33 :27 we read of another of God's attributes that should cause us to desire His will and not ours. "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them." Once again we remember the words penned by Moses; that in the beginning God was already there, and we are reminded that throughout the Bible we are told that God will exist on into eternity. He is an eternal being and has promised us eternal life with Him if we do His will.

Just as these Israelites were told long ago that the eternal God would be their refuge and that the everlasting arms would support and sustain them, even so we, if we strive to live as we are taught, may be sustained by God from all harm. Paul says, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Cor. 10:13. Again he says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. What more could we ask to encourage us to want to do as God commands us to do?

God's Wisdom

Turn with me now to Rom. 11:33-36. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever." Paul here tells us of the infinite wisdom of God; that is, the ability to use all of the power and knowledge in the proper way. In the first chapter of the Corinthian letter he again speaks of this great wisdom, and comes to the conclusion that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men," verse twenty-five. It is no wonder that Isaiah in speaking for the Lord said: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55 :8-9.

In John 4:24 we read that God is a Spirit, which shows us that He is not bound by the limits of a body of flesh. All of these things that we have noticed so far ought to be enough to show us that God is able to do for man that which is best for him. He is eternal, not being limited by time; He is perfect in knowledge, knowing all things; He is almighty, having power to do anything He desires; He is supreme in wisdom, being able to use all of His other qualities in the ways that are infinitely best; He is always present everywhere so that there is no way to escape His discerning power; and He is a Spirit, which makes him free from the bondage of flesh and blood. God can do what is best for us. However, our study would be very incomplete if we did not go on to notice some of the other characteristics of God which show what He has done, and will do for man.

God's Justice

In Deut. 32:4 we read, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." It is not surprising to us that one who, has the characteristics we have noted does perfect work. But what we want to notice is that God is a God of truth and Justice. When God tells us something we need have no fear of it being untrue. When He makes a promise it will be kept. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness," 2 Pet. 3:9. He is just also in every way; so extremely just that He punishes those who fall to obey His commandments, even though He desires that all be saved; so just that it was necessary for His Son to die on the cross to reconcile man back to Him when man could not do it himself. God is just in that He gives the promised reward to the righteous, but also just in that He gives the promised punishment to the unrighteous. Speaking of this attribute Paul said, "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." Rom. 11:22. We see another great motive for man to do that which the Lord commands.

Mercy and Longsuffering

In 2 Chron. 30:9 we read of another of the wonderful characteristics of our God. "For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land : for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him." As we read through the account of the dealings of God with the children of Israel, we cannot help but be impresesd with the mercy which the Lord continually holds out to them in fulfillment of this promise, even though, because of rejecting His commands, they have turned to Him over and over again. God will also bear with us in the mistakes we make just as He did with Israel, if we as God's children are humble enough to confess them and resolve to do better in the future.

Closely akin to this element of mercy is the characteristic of patience or longsuffering. Let us go back again to 2 Pet. 3:9 where we learned the Lord was not slack concerning His promises. We also see that He "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." If I perish, or if you perish, it will not be because the Lord willed that it be so, but because we refused to take advantage of the many opportunities He has given to us to turn to Him.

God Is Love

There are many more things that may be attributed to God; things which show why man ought to want to do his best to live in harmony with what God commands; such things as His goodness, His holiness, etc., but space does not permit us to make a study of all of them. Before we close this study we must notice one more of these attributes. I John 4:8-16 tells us God is love. It has always seemed to me that Paul expressed that love as it was directed toward man, and the magnitude of it, when he wrote to the church in Rome (Rom. 5:6-8). "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Emphasis mine, REF.) That love was so great, that even while man was rejecting God and turning his back upon God, He sent His Son that all who would turn to Him might have life eternal.

Why wouldn't man have a desire to do that which this God commands? He is able to do that which is best for man. He is wise enough to do that which is best for man. He loved man enough to do that which is best for him. These characteristics are everlasting for our God is an eternal God.

In conclusion we ask the soul-searching question: Are you one who really knows this God of whom we have studied? If we are doing the commandments of God then no doubt we do know Him. But, if we turn our backs upon, and rebel against His commandments, then somewhere we have failed to learn of Him all that we should. Note these words of His Son: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." John 6:44-45.

Truth Magazine II:7, pp. 1, 16-17
April 1958