Characteristics of God
Written by Steven Clark Goad
“In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1a)
Some of us can almost wrap our minds around the concept of an eternal God. Those who can’t however, often grasp the concept of “eternal matter” somehow arranging itself into the complex cosmos in which we live. To me that seems to require a great deal more faith than to accept the idea of a cosmic Designer and Arranger Who established the laws of the universe. Design demands an originator of design. Something created must have a creator. God was not created. His eternality is fixed. He could not explain the magnitude of who He is except in human terminology. How could we possibly understand his language, even if we can rightly call it a language? Thus we have the Bible as our biography of Almighty Father God. Rather than get hung up on some of the ways He has chosen to describe Himself and to communicate with us on our level, we should forever be grateful. Here or some of the biblical attributes that constitute our heavenly Father.
God is omniscient! He knows all. He is not constrained by time and space, constructs of His creation. He lives outside these parameters. His ability to know everything is so far beyond our ability to grasp that all we can do is try to struggle with understanding a “Mind” like that. Folks like we are who can’t remember what we had for breakfast find the concept of all knowing to be beyond our abilities to process. When we worry and fret over little matters that concern us, things that often seem to be huge matters, we can rest ourselves in knowing that God knew about them before they arrived at our doorstep. And will not the God of all the earth do right by us and His creation?
God is immutable! We have difficulty imagining someone who is unchangeable.
We go back to our old hometowns and see the old neighborhood has changed.
When I went to my 40th high school class reunion, I discovered that I had gone to school with a bunch of gray-haired old folk. I had forgotten that altogether. Had I saved my 1964 Ford Falcon Futura with the 260 V8 engine, it would have been a rust bucket by now. Why? Because nothing in our world is permanent. God is. His perpetual Godness is another concept we can’t grasp, so He speaks to us in terms we can understand. Father. Children.
Family. Living in a world of constant change and progression/digression drives us, or should, to an attitude of thankfulness for a God who is perpetually the same. With nothing nailed down in this temporary probation period we live in, the constancy and unending stability of God is reassuring. When I was a kid I had the notion that dad could always make things right. He couldn’t, of course, but our Heavenly Father God can.
God is omnipresent! This goes beyond boggling the mind. How can some being, even a being of God’s personhood, be everywhere at the same time? That would require, hmm, eternal and immutable and out-of-this-world qualifications.
How is it even possible? Einstein’s theory of relativity might come into play in helping us understand this concept. Sadly, without a scientific mind and without a proper knowledge of astro-physics, old Goad will hardly be able to explain how it relates. But since time and matter and space are creations of the Creator, He occupies his eternal “beingness” apart and outside such creations. He is not limited by time and matter and space. He is spirit (whatever that might mean to us). When Moses asked God who He was, the voice replied, “I Am that I Am.” This is who God is. I AM is to have always been. It is the alpha and omega of existing. Only created beings need a Creator. God is not a created being. He is God. He is from everlasting to everlasting. Do I understand this? By my feeble attempt at describing God you can see for yourself my limited ability to grasp it. But I believe it as surely as I believe the keyboard that is typing these words. God is not far from any of us. He cares. He monitors. Don’t resent Him for it. Thank Him for it. Take comfort in it.
God is eternal! In a world where 100 years makes us old, to think of a being so different from us as to have always existed is truly beyond human powers of the mind to fully grasp. It is a mystery. Just as the atonement is a mystery even to those of us who accept Christ’s sacrifice, even more so is the idea that Almighty God has always been and will always be. We have often been taught by honest folk that we are eternal beings. We are not.
Eternality has to do with immortality. Scripture tells us that only God is eternal. We are mortals. Even when those in God’s marvelous grace are given immortality at the resurrection, they will not be immortal as God is, for God has always been. We have not always been. We are creatures of the mind of the Creator. And somehow we are made in His likeness/image. That must make us very special to the Father. To catch a glimpse of eternity we must accept the merciful grace of God so that we can receive our gift of immortality (Ref. 1 Corinthians 15).
God is omnipotent! Superman is a gnat’s image of unlimited strength and power. God’s capabilities are unlimited. Well, perhaps it might be right to say that only God could limit Himself in what He could do. For example, we are instructed that God cannot lie. He has apparently set that restriction on Himself. Why would he ever need to lie? Though this may seem a silly example, could God dig a hole so deep that He couldn’t fill it? Or make a square circle? If anybody could, He surely could. God’s potency allows the capacity to create whatever He might imagine in His divine fantasy, if indeed God fantasizes. Surely he does. He thought up the giraffe, the hippopotamus, the platypus, the ant and my face. God is able. What an understatement.
Let’s say you have an artistic bent like my old high school buddy, Jerry Fox. With a pencil and time you can create a face. But what if I told you to create 50 faces? No, I actually need 5,000 faces. Draw them, Jerry. I would think that after about 100 or so he would end up repeating himself. I know I would. What if I needed a billion faces, all different and distinct? How about 10 billion? You get the picture by now, I hope. God’s imagination and variety within his creation is enough evidence for me to drop to my knees and cry out with Thomas, “My Lord and My God!” Okay, forget about my face.