The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). It does not just say that “God loves” or that “God is loving.” It says, “God is love.” Because God’s very essence is love, we can know God’s love for us only to the extent that we know God as he really is.
God is all His attributes expressed together in one glorious display. All God’s attributes are in perfect agreement and alignment with the others. When we see God as He really is, we see a true picture of His love.
Much as colors blend together and offset each other in natural beauty, God’s attributes mix together and highlight each other to give us a true and vivid display of who He is. In nature we see the sparkling blue-gold of moving water, tinted with the golden-orange of the sunset as they highlight the reds and browns of the rocks in the stream bed. With God we see wrath and justice, offset with grace and mercy, balanced together with truth and holiness. And in seeing these attributes together, we see God as He really is—full of love for us.
If God’s nature could be summed up in one word it would be “Love.”
We often think that love is nice and kind. We may see it as even-tempered, not wanting to offend, accepting and non-judgmental. But God’s love is not reduced to tolerant, mushy weakness. In God’s attributes, we see a vast, fierce, and uncompromising, personal, gentle, and unconditional love.
The All-Power of God
God possesses the power to do whatever He chooses. Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah, LORD God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and out-stretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”
Because God is love, He uses His power to rule the earth with kindness and compassion. His power demonstrates His love. We see His power in the majesty of mountains, the vastness of seas … in the eternal life He freely gives. Second Peter 1:3 tells us, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
God is the only One who can limit His power. He limits His power by abiding by the laws He established to govern His kingdom in love. God limits His power by giving us free will. He could have made us like robots—beings who were obedient to His every command. But He chose instead to limit His power and give us free choice. Love, by definition, cannot be forced. You can’t force someone to love you, neither can God. God loves you, and He limits His power so you can of your own free will choose to Him in return.
The All-Knowing of God
God understands the intricate workings of creation as only the Creator can. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” Job describes God as being “perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16).
God knows you. He knows how you developed in your mother’s womb. He knows when you lie down and when you stand up. Every hair on your head is numbered. He knows your heart and your desires. In 1 John 3:20 we read, “God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” Even though He knows your sins, anxieties, worries and shortcomings, He loves you.
God is all-knowing, but at the same time He gives us free will concerning how much we know Him and how much He, in turn, can share Himself with us. Despite His desire to know you, He will not force Himself upon you. Patiently, eagerly He waits for you to share yourself with Him. In Psalm 139:23 David invited God to know him by praying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties.”
The Sovereignty of God
God in His sovereignty is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. As the supreme authority, He is free to do as He pleases. Absolute right to govern His creation, according to His own good pleasure, belongs to Him. First Chronicles 29:11 says, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all.”
Because God is love, He expresses His sovereignty by ruling according to what is supremely good for His creation—according to what is supremely good for you. Although it may not seem to be what is best at the time, in His sovereignty God causes “all things [to] work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
In any area of your life, you can choose to reject God’s sovereignty, but that does not make Him any less sovereign. Similarly, you can choose to reject His love, but that does not make Him love you any less. It only means that you have chosen to separate yourself from who He really is.
The Holiness and Righteousness of God
God in His holiness is perfect in purity. He is light without any darkness at all. His very essence is completely and wholly good. Around His throne in heaven creatures proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8).
In His holiness, God is completely separated from sin. Yet, the Son of God put aside God’s holiness and became sin for us. As Jesus hung on the cross, tortured and despised by those He had become sin for, the holy Father turned His face away. He could not look upon the sin His Son had become. God separated from God. There could be no greater anguish. Oh what sacrificial love holy God showed to us when He became sin for us.
Because of God’s holiness, He can only do what is right. God’s righteousness is His holiness expressed in action. Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect … righteous and upright is He.” God expresses His holiness to us humans by dealing righteously with us. His thoughts and actions toward us are perfectly pure and holy. Everything He thinks toward us, does for us, or allows to happen to us is based on what is eternally best for us.
The Faithfulness and Truthfulness of God
God’s faithfulness means that He will always do what He says He will do. All His promises will come to pass. Psalm 119:90 says, “Your faithfulness endures to all generations.”
God is true to His word. He is honest and cannot lie. If God were not truthful, He could not be faithful. Faithfulness and truthfulness go together. In Revelation 19:11, God is called “Faithful and True.”
Without God’s faithfulness and truthfulness, it would be impossible to trust Him and know that He loves you. Without faithfulness and truthfulness, love could not exist.
The Justice and Wrath of God
God is a God of justice. He will judge between right and wrong. He will administer justice perfectly; He is completely unbiased and fair in all His judgments. Romans 11:33 tells us, “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out.”
God’s wrath is His anger toward sin. Because God is love, He is fiercely protective of His children. Sin hurts us and will be judged and punished with the full furry of His wrath. In Romans 1:18 we read, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
God’s wrath is in perfect accord with His other attributes. Yet, He does not want us to experience it. When we accept Christ, we accept the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf and God’s wrath passes over us. First Thessalonians 5:9 says, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Mercy and Grace of God
God shows us mercy by not giving us what we deserve. When we become part of His family, He extends mercy to us by withholding the penalty for our sin. Ephesians 2:4–5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
Grace is closely tied to mercy. God, in His mercy, withholds the judgment and wrath we deserve; God, in His grace, gives us good things that we do not deserve. In His grace, God freely gives us the air we breathe, the beauty of a sunset, the caring of family … eternal life. The story of the Lost Son in Luke Chapter 15 gives a beautiful picture of God’s mercy and grace.
It is easy to see how mercy and grace are components of God’s love. Because of His mercy, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Instead, because of His grace, He gives us full life—in His love.
The Unity of God
God is a God of unity. He is perfectly One. There is no division or disagreement within or between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is never at odds or conflicted with Himself; all His attributes agree and complement each other. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
Unity and relationship are at the core of God’s nature. God made us to be one with Him so no separation exists between us. He shares Himself with us … so that we can be in unity with Him … so that we can live in His love. In John 17:23 Jesus prayed to His Father: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
God’s love keeps us in unity with Him and binds us together with our brothers and sisters—making us one, united family of God. Colossians 3:14 says, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
The Unchanging of God
God does not change. His nature is absolutely fixed. The attributes He possessed before the foundation of the world are the same attributes He possesses today … and the same ones He will possess tomorrow. His essence cannot change. Malachi 3:6 reminds us, “For I am the LORD, I do not change.”
God’s nature does not change. However, the way He relates to His people can and does change. Under the Old Covenant, God could not express Himself fully to humanity because our sin stood in the way. But, in the New Covenant, Jesus took our sin and the wrath of God upon Himself. Jesus showed us God’s hands, not as clenched, angry fists, but as open, nail-pierced palms.
In the New Covenant, God revealed Himself as the God of Love.
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