The Attributes of God: What is God Like?

While there are some things that one might derive about God based on what we can see in the creation, most of what we believe about God as Christians come from the Bible. In this post I want to take a quick look at some of the attributes of God that are found in the scriptures. For a more detailed look at these you might check out a systematic theology book like Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology.

God is a spirit.

He does not have physical form or limitations. He is not limited by physical place or time. John 4:24 most clearly expresses this attribute, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

God has personhood.

He is not some great cosmic force, but has personality, is self-consciousness and capable of having relationships.  That God is a person, not a human, is at least partially expressed by having a name. In Exodus 3:13-14 Moses asks God for his name and God responds with “I Am“. Only one with self-awareness can identify himself with a name. Repeatedly throughout scripture you also see God interacting with people, often expressing a desire for relationship with people.

God has life.

His name “I Am” indicates that he is not dependent on anything else for his life, he is self-existent. That is unlike any other life that we know; all of the rest of us are dependent on him for life.

God is infinite.

In relation to space. Jeremiah 23:23-24 says, “‘am I only a God nearby’, declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.

In regards to time. Psalm 90:1-2 says, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

In relation to knowledge. Hebrews 4:13 says, “nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

In regards to power. Matthew 19:26 says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

God is unchanging.

In Malachi 3:6 God says, “I the Lord do not change.” And in James 1:17 we are told that God, “does not change like shifting shadows.” God is at least unchanging in his nature and in his plans for his creation. He does not have to change his plans because of anything I might do.

God is holy.

He is set apart, or distinct, from all of creation. In Leviticus 11:44 God says, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” He is holy, and calls on us to share in that holiness.

God is righteous.

Psalm 71:19 says, “your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens.” God does what is right and commands us also to do what is right. Repeatedly in the Old Testament his law is praised as being righteous. And in the New Testament, God’s righteousness is given to those who surrender to him.

God is truthful.

What he says and does is in accordance with truth. 1 Samuel 15:29 says, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” We can count on him to do what is right. And we can depend on what he has told us in his word.

God is faithful.

He is dependable and keeps his promises to us. In Numbers 23:19 we find, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

God is love.

1 John 4:16 says, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” God is not loving; he is love. Love is sharing of oneself with another, and God does this for us. John 3:16 expresses this with, “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God is gracious.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor given to an undeserving people. Ephesians 2:6-7 says, “and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

God is merciful.

He has compassion on a poor and helpless people. Romans 9:17, speaking about God’s gift of righteousness, says, “it does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

God is wrathful.

Most of us today don’t like the idea of a wrathful God; it seems so contrary to love, grace and mercy. Yet both testaments have numerous references to God’s wrath. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” His wrath is reserved for those who reject his grace and mercy.

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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