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OUR GOD IS ONE
Attributes of Our God
An attribute is a quality, a characteristic, an inherent, “built-in” part of someone or something. An attribute of God is an aspect of who God is “in himself”, for all eternity. When we look at various attributes, we should not think of them as “pieces”—as if God were partly holy, partly love, and partly infinite. All of these attributes describe God’s total being. For example, God is totally and completely holy, powerful, and loving in every way, all the time, forever. Many theologians have referred to God’s attributes as “perfections”, because God, in his every attribute, is perfect, or complete, in every way, for all eternity. Richard Lovelace says, “All of God’s qualities or attributes are different in the same mysterious way. God is not beautiful; he is beauty itself, the fountain from which all beautiful creatures draw their excellence. God is not loving; he is love. His attributes are the infinite standard against which all limited perfections are measured.”
Our God: Unity and Uniqueness
BFM: There is one and only one living and true God.
1. Our God is One.
a. Moses encapsulates all of the Old Testament with a single statement, the Shema (from the Hebrew for “hear”): “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut 6:4). The entirety of the Bible, Jewish faith, and Christian faith assumes and proclaims the truth that there is only one God. Many would impose supposed deity upon man-conceived beings, but the Scripture says, “All the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens” (Ps 96:5).
b. This unity is important to remember as God reveals more of himself and the “multiplicity” within his being.
2. Our God is Unique.
a. Scripture shouts out all over the place: “There is none like our God!” 1 Samuel 2:2 is just one example: “There is none holy like the Lord / there is none besides you / there is no rock like our God.”
b. Scripture is not naïve; it acknowledges that others, imposters, would claim god-hood. But they differ from the one true God: he is God; they are not.
Our God: Self-Existence
BFM: He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe.
God is self-existent. People who like Latin call this God’s “aseity.” God does not depend on anyone or anything for existence. He thundered to Moses from the bush of flame: “I AM” (Ex 3:14), “I have no beginning or end; I exist from all eternity; I was not born, I was not made, and I will not die. I AM!” We see that likewise of the great I AM:
1. God is intelligent. As we will see below, God knows all things in all times and places. But he is also a God all and “only wise” (Rom 16:27), always applying his perfect knowledge in perfect wisdom, accomplishing his perfect purposes in perfect ways.
2. God is spiritual. Jesus said, “God is spirit” (John 4:24). Most broadly, this means that God is not made up of physical “stuff.” His fundamental existence is spiritual; everything physical and material is created.
3. God is personal. This does not mean that God is material, or physical, or human. It means that he is a Person. This is difficult for us sometimes, because we tend to think of personhood as a physical phenomenon. However, if we stop and consider the most important aspects of being a person, we realize that personhood and personality are mainly non-physical. For example, rational thoughts, anger, commitment, anxiety, hope, fear, and love all are non-physical experiences and capabilities that makes us persons. As persons, we were made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), in the image of the ultimate and fundamental Person. One theologian has said that the universe is fundamentally personal, because the fundamental reality of the universe is a Person, the Triune God Almighty. John Frame says, “God relates to us as a whole person, not as a collection of attributes. The attributes are a kind of shorthand for talking about that person. Everything he says and does is good, right, true, eternal, wise, and so on.”
Our self-existent God reveals himself in two primary ways:
1. God is the Creator. The first statement in the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). This introduces the most important distinction of existence: the unbridgeable gap between the Creator and the Creation. Creation, all of it, from galaxies to giraffes to clouds to children depends on God for existence; all of creation is fundamentally dependent. God is fundamentally independent. This ties into the BFM statement that God is Ruler of the universe. He created it, so he owns it and rules over it. He is the Lord.
2. God is the Redeemer. God reveals himself to be the loving, kind, sovereign “fixer” of his rebellious creation. As Creator, he owes no debt to his Creation. But in his infinite mercy and wisdom and love, he decided to set his plan in motion, promising to send a Redeemer (Gen 3:15). He tells his people, “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” (Is 41:14). This connects to his role as Preserver, and actually “one ups” it. He preserves his creation, but more wonderfully, he redeems it.