I’m currently in a Bible study with a group of ladies, studying the attributes of God. We are using Behold Your God, a study written by Myrna Alexander as our guide through an exploration of the character of God. We’re only on Lesson 2, but I already love the study.
A.W. Tozer also wrote a great book on the attributes of God called The Knowledge of the Holy. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT AND BELIEVE EVERY BELIEVER SHOULD OWN A (WELL-READ) COPY!
Consider these words from his introduction:
The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted it for one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. … The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. … The only way to recoup our spiritual losses is to go back to the cause of them and make such corrections as the truth warrants. The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate.
Do you realize that when you rely on what someone else has told you about God, or on your own feelings and interpretations of your own experiences, to define who God is, you might be worshiping a false god? One of your own making?
It is a desire to truly know who God is, based on scripture where He has revealed Himself to us, that drives me to study His word. I don’t want to know about God. I want to know God.
What an exciting journey!
Tozer defines an attribute of God simply as whatever God has in any way revealed as being true about Himself.
An attribute answers our questions:
“What is God like?”
“What kind of God is He?”
“How may we expect Him to act toward us and all created things?”
God has revealed Himself in three primary ways, according to scripture:
Through the majesty of His creation
· Psalm 19:1 – The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Through the inspired, inerrant Scriptures
· John 5:39 – You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about me.
Through the incarnate Son of God, Jesus
· John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’
· 2 Corinthians 4:6 – For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
· Colossians 1:15 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
I love this verse from Hebrews, because it speaks to all three:
Hebrews 1:1-2 – God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets [who wrote the scriptures] and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son [God incarnate], whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world[creation]. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
Tozer warns us that we should not think of God in human terms. For us, created beings who can grow and change, both in a positive or negative direction, our “attributes” or character traits are constantly evolving or diminishing. I can grow in my love for another person, or I can stop loving someone and treat them badly.
But God’s attributes are complete and perfect. They are simply who He is. Tozer gives the example of love:
Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves, He is simply being Himself.
We also understand God in “unity.” There is One God, who has expressed Himself as Father, Son and Spirit. I dare not attempt to explain the Trinity, but in studying God’s attributes, we can apply this concept of unity. God always is who He is. His attributes work in perfect unity. He is love, He is just, He is merciful, He is holy, He is pure. His love is never in conflict with His justice. His purity is never in conflict with His wrath. He is eternal, so His love never ends. He is immutable, so His holiness never changes.
Do you get the idea?
In the coming weeks, I will post some of the “gems” that we discover about God as we study through a partial list of His attributes. But I want to leave you with this prayer of Tozer’s. This..this…is the desire of my heart. I pray it is yours as well!
O Majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee.
I cry to Thee from the dust.
Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no many can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is ineffable.
Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than rubies or the merchandise of fine gold; for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest.