STUDY 1: GOD’S ATTRIBUTES OF BEING
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
GOD’S attributes may be divided into two categories – those of His being and those of His character. In this series we will consider His main attributes of being. Naturally, the first one that comes to mind is God’s personality. By personality is meant the quality of being by which one thinks, feels and wills; for personality resides in the intellect, sensibilities and will. Anything without these does not have personality, and cannot be a person. God has the quality of personality which is present in Him as a sentient being; and He is a person.
The Scriptures are filled with proofs of God’s personality; for they attribute to Him intellectuality, feeling and volition. We will mention one example of each. That He has knowledge is proven by: (Joshua 22: 22); that He has sensibilities is proven by: (Psalm 103: 13); and that He exercises volition is evident from: (Matthew 6: 10).
The next attribute of God’s being is corporeality. This term means that God has a body, for it is a great mistake to think of God as a great mind without a body. When Jesus said that no man hath at any time seen God’s “shape” (John 5: 37), He definitely implies that God has a body. The same thing is implied in God’s statement that no man can see Him and live (Exodus 33: 20-23); for this Scripture implies that He can be seen by man, though such a beholder would die. The fact that God has a body, implies an organism. This is implied in the statement, “God is a Spirit” (John 4: 24); for St. Paul definitely tells us that spirit beings have bodies (1 Corinthians 15: 44-49). All the Scriptures that speak of heaven as His abode imply the same thing (Psalm 73: 25), (Matthew 5: 16, 45; 6: 9), etc. This is also apparent from the Scripture that tells us that Jesus now is the express image of the Father’s person (Hebrews 1: 3).
But God’s body does not consist of matter; such is not the substance of His body. Also, when it is said that His body is an organism, that does not mean that His body has all the same organs as ours. He would have no use for many of the organs that we have, such as those adapted to food, respiration, wastes, blood, etc. (1 Corinthians 15: 50). Because literal Scriptures ascribe corresponding acts to Him, we may reasonably assume that He has organs adapted to sight, sound, smell, touch, work, locomotion; and doubtless some other organs of which we do not have.
“God is a Spirit”
The third attribute of God’s being is spirituality, that is, that God is a spirit. The Scriptures teach this by contrast with natural things (Acts 17: 29). They also expressly say this in John 4: 24: “God is a Spirit.” God’s mode of existence is that of a spirit being with a spiritual body, which consists of a spiritual substance or substances. There are material substances such as water, earth, iron, wood, etc., and there are spiritual substances such as vitality, fire, light, heat, etc. Seemingly angels, who are spirits, have bodies that consist of fire (Hebrews 1: 7, 14). Perhaps some of the higher orders of spirit beings, like cherubim and seraphim, have bodies that consist of other spiritual substances. The Scriptures are silent on the nature of the substance of which God’s body consists, although it would not be surprising if it should turn out that God’s body consists of life principle. This is not unreasonable for the Bible teaches that God is immortal, that is, has “life in himself” (John 5: 26).
Self-existence is the next attribute of being in God. By this is meant His independence from all beings, all conditions and all things for His being. It implies that he owes His existence to no one, that no one originated Him and that no one sustains Him. Nor does He owe His existence and continuance to any condition or thing. It is a part of His nature to exist. In this He is totally different from any other being. All other beings have been dependent on some one else for their coming into existence. Even our Lord and the Little Flock who have attained immortality owe the conferring of this quality to God. All other beings have not only had to depend on Him for their coming into existence, but their continued existence depends on Him. The following Scriptures also teach this: (Exodus 3: 14) (Deuteronomy 32: 40) (Isaiah 44: 6).
“From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”
Closely related to God’s attribute of self-existence is another attribute of His being – eternity. The Scriptures teach that eternity is time without beginning and without ending. Both reason and Scripture teach that God is eternal – without beginning and without ending. That reason teaches this is evident from the fact that it teaches that God is the first cause, therefore causeless, and therefore eternal. The Bible consists of numerous testimonies on this subject, such as: (Psalm 90: 1, 2) (Isaiah 57: 15) (Revelation 4: 8, 9). Eternity affords God abundance of time for the display of His character and works throughout the universe.
Somewhat related to God’s self-existence is another attribute of His being – self-sufficiency. By this is meant His independence from every person, thing or condition for his continued existence, happiness and well-being. God is dependent on nothing. He needs nothing to support His existence. He would have been happy and would have been in well-being had He never created anyone or anything. He is thus in and of Himself sufficient for existence, happiness and well-being. His reason for bringing creation into existence was not His need of creation, but His desire to bless creatures. We see this in the following Scriptures: (Acts 17: 25) (Job 35: 6-8).
An attribute of God’s being somewhat related to His self-existence and self-sufficiency is His immortality. Immortality is a death-proof condition – a condition in which death is impossible. It stands in contrast with mortality, which signifies a condition in which death is possible. Mortality does not mean a condition that must result in death, but a condition in which one can die – a dieable condition. The fact that Adam died is surest proof that he was not immortal, but that he was mortal. But while mortal in his creation, he could have lived forever, which he would have done had he continued to eat of the life-preserving foods in Eden (Genesis 3: 22). Several Scriptures prove that God is immortal, a few of which are the following: (John 5: 26) (1 Timothy 1: 17).
So far we have considered seven of God’s attributes of being, and they surely help us better to understand what a wonderful and great being God is. Their devout study greatly enhances our appreciation of Him, and leads us to venerate Him as worthy of the fullest adoration, praise and worship of our hearts. The greatness of these attributes of being are in varied details beyond our ability to grasp; but they all incite us to stand in reverence and awe before Him who is infinite and perfect in all His attributes. And the fact that this great Being condescends to offer to fellowship with us and to draw us to Him is the highest possible honor that could be conferred upon us, and surely should stir us up to reciprocate in the same spirit. “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker” (Psalm 95: 6); for it is comely so to do; and praise is fitting to the upright.
(to be continued)
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