"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight" (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
A famous British judge, known for his strong belief in God, sometimes encountered people who said they didn't believe in God. He always asked them to describe the god they didn't believe in. After listening to their reply, he would tell them that he did not believe in the god they had just described either.
How few truly know and understand God today! In the words of one theologian, "Modern men often search for God in vain."
The main reason is that most people receive their concepts of God from other people rather than from God's inspired Word, the Bible. That is why their view of God almost never accurately matches the biblical revelation of what God is like.
Another reason is that many religious teachers have never accessed the real key that opens up the knowledge of God. That key is the gift of God's Holy Spirit—accessible to all those the Creator calls and who are willing to acknowledge who and what we are in relation to Him (Isaiah 66:1-2). And that gift of God's Spirit is only "given to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32)—a biblical requirement ignored by far too many theologians.
The apostle Paul explains the only way that limitation in human understanding can be overcome: "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us [Christ's true followers] through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, emphasis added throughout).
Without God's Holy Spirit, human beings are helpless in seeking to comprehend the things of God: "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
So how do we go about discovering the things of God? Becoming better acquainted with the marvels of the creation and our awesome universe itself is one helpful key. "The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship," declared King David (Psalm 19:1, New Living Translation).
Yet the Bible itself is the one overriding key to knowing and understanding God. As it states, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Let's briefly look at 10 major attributes and qualities of God that His Word teaches (realizing, of course, that there are many more).
1. God is our Creator
God is the Supreme Creator of everything. Yet in the last century and a half the theory of evolution has become a big barrier to belief in God as Creator. This atheistic line of thought dominates the thinking of the world's intelligentsia. In fact, much of modern higher education is based on an irrational belief in a series of lucky accidents—mindless evolution.
God the Father accomplished the creation by and through His Son Jesus Christ. Notice what the apostle Paul tells us: "God . . . created all things through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:9). He expanded this wondrous truth to the church at Colosse: "For by Him [Jesus Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16).
Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two broad principles: love of God, “the first and great commandment,” and love of neighbor. The Ten Commandments constitute a law of love.
Christ is the Creator! The book of Hebrews confirms this truth: "God . . . has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The awesome creation account in Genesis 1 is confirmed and complemented by the opening verses of John's Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:1-3). Verse 14 tells us that "the Word" through whom God created all things is Jesus Christ.
2. God is supreme Lawgiver
The apostle James, the Lord's brother, reminds us that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17). One of the greatest gifts God has given mankind is His spiritual law. This apostle then refers to it as "the perfect law of liberty" (verse 25). He also calls it "the royal law" (James 2:8).
One noted British professor of law wrote: "Law is all-pervasive. It exists in every cell of life. It affects everyone virtually all of the time. It governs everything in life and even what happens to us after life . . . It governs the air we breathe, the food and drink that we consume, our travel, sexuality, family relationships and our property" (Gary Slapper, How the Law Works, 2007, p. 1).
Why, then, do so many religionists believe and teach that God's law is a yoke of bondage? How they have distorted God's Word! The entire universe operates under the laws of physics. We can absolutely count on Halley's Comet appearing in the sky at a specific time. Our civilized world suffers enormous harm when the forces of anarchy gain the upper hand. Without law, human civilization could not long endure.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that "the Lord is our Lawgiver" (Isaiah 33:22). James states that "there is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy" (James 4:12).
Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two broad principles: love of God, "the first and great commandment," and love of neighbor (Matthew 22:36-39). The Ten Commandments constitute a law of love. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).
3. God is love
The word love is probably the most misused, misapplied term in the English language. Lustful desire to possess another person most certainly is not real love. Love is so often confused with lust in the TV and movie world. Many are misled into sin by countless fantasy films promoting illicit eroticism. (Stories of how wholesome relationships develop into true romantic love are rare in the entertainment media.)
The New Testament was originally written in Greek, which has the distinct advantage of having different words for different kinds of love. Agape is the term that best describes God Himself. It generally expresses altruistic, outgoing concern for others.
The apostle John explains, "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8, New Living Translation). Our Creator continually teaches human beings to love both God and neighbor.
Love is the first and foremost expression of God's Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is the first gift of God that every Christian should seek.
The apostle Paul tells us how love should function in a spiritually transformed person: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity [sin], but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
What is the ultimate, perfect expression of God the Father's love for human beings trapped in their sins? The Bible gives us the answer: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
4. God is full of justice and mercy
God's love embraces both justice and mercy. He is a God of justice as well as abundant mercy. It is because of the divine attribute of justice that the penalty for our sins—our transgressions of God's law (see 1 John 3:4)—had to be paid. But it is through divine mercy that Christ died for our sins. Since "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), the sinless Christ suffered a cruel death in our place so that the God of justice could also show us His great mercy—thereby freely forgiving our sins so He could give us everlasting life.
The Bible takes sin seriously! Sin constitutes rebellion against God, who opposes all forms of evil. Cheap grace has never been part of the Father's plan and is absolutely contrary to His divine character. We have all broken His spiritual law, and true repentance is the first step on our way back to Him.
Yet reconciliation to God the Father could only be made possible by the steepest price imaginable—the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. As the apostle Peter expressed it, "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
When Jesus returns to reign on the earth, He will bring order to the whole world—"and establish it with judgment and justice" (Isaiah 9:7). Also notice that "with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth" (Isaiah 11:4).
We should never overlook God's justice and His judgments, which are generously tempered by great mercy. James wrote that "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). Paul wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3).
5. God is eternal
Jesus Christ prayed shortly before His agonizing suffering that would end in His death, "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (John 17:5). The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to Titus about the "hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus 1:2). God existed before everything!
Remember that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The glorified Christ stated, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, . . . who is and who was and who is to come" (Revelation 1:8). "The Alpha and the Omega" is an idiomatic Greek expression denoting "the eternal creative existence of God" (The New Bible Dictionary, 1974, p. 26).
Hebrews 7:3 speaks of One who has "neither beginning of days nor end of life." This is the High Priest Melchizedek (verse 1), the One who later became Jesus Christ. (For the biblical evidence, see our free booklet Who Is God? ) Indeed, Christ's existence is "from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).
The prophet Isaiah recorded this awesome truth about God: "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy . . ." (Isaiah 57:15). God the Father and Jesus Christ (the Word) have always existed. They are divine spirit beings (John 4:24). No one created Them. They were present before the beginning of the creation — before time began. They are eternal!
6. God is a family
The apostle Paul exclaimed, "I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Ephesians 3:14-15).
God is not a closed Trinity, but an expanding family. Concerning the Trinity doctrine, The Oxford Companion to the Bible 's opening words under the article "Trinity" are enlightening:
"Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the New Testament. Likewise, the developed concept of three coequal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the [New Testament] canon" (Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, editors, 1993, p. 782, emphasis added).
The word later here is a vital key in understanding why general Christian belief became burdened with the Trinity doctrine. It wasn't until long after the Bible was written that theologians originally came up with the doctrine, and others added to and elaborated on it down through the centuries.
Regrettably, the Trinity doctrine has been a major barrier to clear comprehension of the biblical truth that God is a divine family.
The God family is headed by the Father and presently consists of God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ. Their plan and desire is fully focused on "bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory" (Hebrews 2:10). This has been planned from the beginning.
Jesus Christ is "the firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18)—"the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). These passages mean that many more are going to join the family as divine spirit beings like the Father and Christ at the first resurrection, when the righteous are raised to everlasting life (see 1 Corinthians 15:49-54; 1 John 3:1-2; Revelation 20:6).
Those who are truly converted and have received God's Holy Spirit are already reckoned to be a part of the family (again, see Ephesians 3:14-15). They await the final step at the second coming.
At that time Jesus "will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21). Then it can be said in its fullest sense, "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Even this supremely important step involves only the firstfruits of God's salvation, as He will eventually add countless others to His family.
7. God is the great Healer
In spite of all the wondrous achievements and advancements in medical science, mankind is still plagued by diabetes, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, a host of harmful addictions and unending chronic ailments. Certain medicines can aid the healing process, though sometimes with serious side effects. Human beings still desperately need divine healing.
Over time our Creator has made it possible for doctors and researchers to gain marvellous insights into how our bodies function. Jesus Christ never spoke against the physicians of His day. On the contrary He said on one occasion, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" (Matthew 9:12). Luke, who travelled extensively with the apostle Paul and wrote a large portion of the New Testament, was called "the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14).
All that properly said, most Christians do not realize that the Bible describes God as our healer. "I am the LORD who heals you," He says (Exodus 15:26). Yet His miracle-working power does not always find much favor in our largely secular society. Even in a local area of the Holy Land some 2,000 years ago, the Bible states that Jesus "could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief" (Mark 6:5-6).
Nonetheless, He healed many during His earthly ministry: "Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matthew 9:35). Still, many today are suspicious of divine healing, with even religious people assuming the day of miracles has passed into history.
A noted British theologian rightly contradicted this common assessment: "To deny even the possibility of miracles, whether from theological prejudice or scientific secularism, borders on the absurd. Since we believe that God is the sovereign Creator of the universe, he is certainly able to intrude into his own world. We have no liberty either to lock him up into one of our neat little boxes or to dictate to him what he is permitted to do" (John Stott, Evangelical Truth, 2003, p. 124).
Many Christians are not even aware of the Bible's instruction when they become ill: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14). What is expected to happen? "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up" (James 5:15). But we should leave the way and the time to God's determination, as James 5:16 indicates.
Jesus said, "According to your faith, let it be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29).
8. God is the ultimate planner
All human beings are important in God's eyes. The first man and woman were the crown of His physical creation. After all, He made them in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27), and we are their offspring.
Jesus Christ said, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth [referring to His crucifixion that would soon take place], will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 12:32). The first step in God's plan for humankind was the sacrifice of His Son so our sins could be forgiven. But His divine plan doesn't stop there.
Notice what Paul told the Christians of Ephesus: "He made known to us his secret purpose, in accordance with the plan which he determined beforehand in Christ, to be put into effect when the time was ripe: namely that the universe, everything in heaven and earth, might be brought into a unity with Christ" (Ephesians 1:9-10, Revised English Bible).
In this present age, much remains in chaos and confusion. "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now" (Romans 8:22). But it won't always be this way. Read the next verse: "Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption [or full rights of sonship], the redemption of our body [at the time of the resurrection]" (Romans 8:23).
A little earlier Paul had written that "the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19). God is going to straighten everything out with the help of His resurrected saints. That is why He is calling the firstfruits of His family during this age of man. Many more will be called to salvation in due time.
God will complete His great purpose in the step-by-step order revealed in the Bible. Our Creator has revealed all seven steps of His majestic divine plan through the observance of the annual biblical festivals.
9. God reveals the future
No human seer or prophet could have accurately predicted the remarkable rise and fall of nations, leaders and people foretold in the Bible. God counsels us all to "remember the former things of old [the things He has already accomplished], for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done" (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Our Creator "calls those things which do not [yet] exist as though they [already] did" (Romans 4:17). He has the power, foresight and wisdom to bring things to pass according to His great plan and purpose for mankind. "Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will do it" (Isaiah 46:11).
God not only foretells a wondrous future world of prosperity, peace and plenty, but also a time of horrifying catastrophes that man will first bring on himself. Although our expanding modern technology, growing exponentially, lavishes on us many labor-saving devices our forefathers could only dream of, it has also produced incalculable means of self-destruction threatening our security.
Meanwhile crime and violence, sickness and disease, famine and starvation, poverty and unhappiness are accelerating just as God prophesied in His Word long ago. He is a living God of love and mercy, justice and compassion—and He will intervene to save humanity from itself (Matthew 24:21-22).
If God did not exist, truly our fate would be tragically sealed and all human life doomed. But He is our living, intervening God. He is quite aware of present world trends and is deeply concerned about our own self-inflicted plight. Humanity is caught in a destructive trap of rebellion against our Creator—and we are completely helpless to deliver ourselves out of it.
That is why God the Father will send His Son Jesus Christ back to earth to save us from ourselves (Revelation 11:15). Christ, with His glorified followers from this age, will personally and directly rule over humankind for a 1,000-year period of incomprehensible well-being (Revelation 20:4-6). During that millennial period many billions of people will be brought to real repentance through the word of God going to all nations from Jerusalem.
10. God cares for you
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997), brought caring and compassion into the forefront of the public mind. Noted British historian and journalist Paul Johnson wrote, "She had the most princely gift of making the most insignificant person feel important to her, the recipient of her undivided attention, no longer excluded and ignored but brought into the warm circle, welcomed, cherished, made much of."
Caring and compassion is one divine attribute that people sometimes overlook in considering our Creator. But King David didn't. He exclaimed: "But You, O LORD, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth . . . You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me" (Psalm 86:15-17).
In the Gospels we read that "when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14). The apostle James later wrote that "the Lord is very compassionate and merciful" (James 5:11).
This sinning world in which we live inevitably creates much anxious worry in many people. But the apostle Peter tells us to exhibit true humility and trust in God in "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7). God is the ultimate caregiver!
David beautifully expressed our Creator's care and concern for you: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:2-4).
One passage in the book of Ephesians sums up what God wants His people to know and understand about Him. Paul told the Christians he wrote to that he prayed for them with this in mind: "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power" (Ephesians 1:17-19).
Our prayer likewise is that you will seek understanding of your Creator, receive what He reveals and experience the power of Him working in your life!