Tag Archives: Attributes

God’s Sovereignty and Why It Doesn’t Contradict Man’s Freedom

Where you learn that God’s sovereignty means the absolute rule, authority and government of God over all His creation…including man’s freedom.

Supreme. Superior. Chief. Foremost. Highest. Preeminent. Superb. Superlative. Ultimate. Utmost. Predominate. Unsurpassable. Ruler.

These are all words used to describe sovereign. And they apply to God’s sovereignty.

God’s sovereignty means the absolute rule…the absolute authority…and the absolute government of God over all His creation.

But in order for God to be sovereign there has to be a uniqueness to His being. He alone has to be God. In other words, He doesn’t share his rule with anyone–or anything.

Deuteronomy declares:

To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. 

Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. 

See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me. 

The consequences for us if God is sovereign:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 

The first rule of worship is this: worship God alone.

God Is Alone in His Sovereignty

Not only are there no other gods, but He’s the only God of every nation, culture, race, philosophy and language.

He is the only one who reigns over men and women, blacks and whites, the dead and the living, the born and the unborn.

He lords it over every Christian, Jew, Mormon, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Baha’i, Buddhist, atheist and agnostic.

Every insect, mammal, bird and plant are under His control.

That is to say, God possess all. He has the right of dominion over all. The earth is His. All it contains. All who live in it.

We owe God for our existence. Our movements. Our lives. And not only does he possess all, but he governs all.

God Is Alone in His Government

He governs the world. And what He declares is determined and accomplished without apology or error.

But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such decrees are with Him. 

No purpose of his is restrained. Any purpose at odds with Him is frustrated. And He will execute his will regardless of man.

That’s why His sovereignty requires that He be absolutely free. He must be free to do whatever He wills anywhere at anytime–to carry out His eternal purpose in every single detail. Without interference. Including creation.

God Is Alone in His Creation

The creation of the universe–and everything in it–was by a fiat of God. It was his breath–the symbol of his almighty creative will–that brought us to life. His words.

And His words alone.

Eight times Genesis says “God said.” God spoke, and created. Psalm 33 recognizes this:

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. 

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. 

Only the highest power could bring something from nothing. Somebody from nobody.

God alone.

Furthermore, all of creation must rest within the supreme dominion of God. Nothing is outside of it. Anything independent of God denies the sovereignty of God.

Paul appealed to God’s single and solitary dominion over subordinate beings when he argued with the Athenians:

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 

God Is Alone in His Providence

As Creator, Governor and Lord, He rules over all events, men and morals. This is seen in three ways.

1. All ordinary events are under his power: the burrowing of the worm, the pounding of the waves, the formation of the mountains, the orbit of the planets and the birth of the universe. He surmounts these events like Mt. Everest surmounts a mole hill.

2. He rules, establishes, judges and overthrows the authority of all men–whether Christian or not. Corrupt governments and criminal leaders are under God’s sovereign purpose.

3. God respects good and evil. Sins of men come with the scope of his role and provider. “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” 

 God creates light and darkness, peace and evil.  that He kills and makes alive, wounds and heals.  if evil is found in a city wasn’t it appropriate to say God did it?

We say God approved of evil’s purpose to accomplish His goals. The same way God is actively at work in the .

Every step of it.

God foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies and glorifies. He owns every step of salvation. He’s elected those whom he loved beforehand to receive grace because that–in his incorruptible and flawless wisdom–is what He decided.

And without argument the grandest example of God’s sovereignty as it respects wickedness and goodness is found in the crucifixion:

This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 

God is just in all his way. Holy in all his works. So God does not contract evil because He allows it. He can’t be accused of evil. Responsibility remains with the man.

Divine retribution must not be divorced from the sinful, perverse condition of the heart. God may foreordain evil–He may will it–but he certainly doesn’t live it.

In the Bible this is obvious and paramount: God blinds the minds of men and hardens their hearts as part of his judgment against them. He lets them sin.

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 

Which brings us to one of the most perplexing questions when it comes to God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom.

Why God’s Sovereignty Doesn’t Contradict Man’s Freedom

So, if God rules His universe the way he wants to rule it, then how is it possible for man to have any freedom?

More to the point, how can God hold anyone accountable for sins they commit if God determined that’s their fate?

This one stumps many people. But here’s the best way to explain it.

God determined that man should be free to choose between good and evil. And from the beginning, man’s fulfilled that decision by making his choice between good and evil.

In fact, we live under the foolish myth–just like Adam and Eve–that we are our own gods. That we declare right and wrong. That we live by our own standards.

God didn’t decide which choice we would make. What he determined was that man should be free to make it. And the live by the consequences of those choices.

Certain things have been decreed by the free determination of God. And one of these is the law of choice and consequences.

He said that all who love darkness and continue in rebellion against the high authority of heaven shall remain in a state of spiritual alienation and suffer eternal torment.

That is the consequence for rebellion.

He said that those who love the light, obey His commands and believe and trust in the substitutionary power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ shall enjoy living in his kingdom of heaven forever.

That is the consequence for obedience.

There is freedom to choose which side we want to be on. But there is no freedom to negotiate the results of the choice once it is made.

Our choices are our own. But the consequences of those choices have already been determined by the sovereign will of God.

From this there is no appeal. Share your thoughts. Brutal and all.

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

A Portrait of God as Judge

Where the picture of God as a righteous, good, omnipotent Judge couldn’t be more clear.

When Ben Stein asked Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins what he’d say to God if given the opportunity–as seen in the movie –Dawkins, quoting 20th Century philosopher Bertrand Russell, replied: “I’ll ask why did he hide so well.”

At some other time and place atheist  said: “If I face God on Judgment Day, I will tell Him to go to hell.”

More common objections to God…but no less accusatory…sound like this: “You have not done enough” or “One way to salvation is not enough.”

These objections accuse God of being narrow minded. Exclusive. Harsh.

Or, as in Barker’s case, make him out to be a laughable caricature: God as a puny man leaning away from his fury.

Finally, some people will simply plead by saying, “If I’m found guilty before God, I’ll ask him to forgive me. He’s a loving, forgiving God.”

The Problem with Statements Like These

Implicit in all these comments is the idea that God would somehow standby and allow someone to speak. Furthermore, that when in the face of God they’d EVEN be able to speak.

See, the Bible unmistakably describes God as a judge. A judge who is to be respected and feared.

In the Old Testament, God judged Adam and Eve, the corrupt world of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, Israel’s Egyptian taskmasters and those who worshiped the golden calf.

God also judged Nadab and Abihu for illegal fire, Korah, Dathan and Abiram for rising up against Moses, Acah for sacrilegious thieving and Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar for their impiety.

Judgement Not Isolated to Old Testament

In the New Testament, judgment falls on the Jews for , on Ananias and Sapphira for lying to God, on , on Elymas the magician for his .

God even brought  at Corinth.

The thought throughout all these Scriptures is that the Mosaic Law is handed down by a just judge who will not hesitate to swiftly, supernaturally and sovereignly punish people who break his law.

The picture of God as an incorruptiblerighteousomnipotent judge couldn’t be more clear.

So, if that’s the case, then why do so many believers and non believers fight the thought of God as a judge to be feared? Good question.

Martin Luther said:

God is called a fire because he utterly destroys the godless and leaves them nothing; nor is there anything that can resist his wrath….The wrath of God is real, not fictitious, not a jest. If it were false, then mercy would be fictitious; for as the wrath, so the mercy which forgives…Christ most assuredly took upon Himself the wrath of God and bore it for us….God punishes in a two-fold manner. In the first place, he does so in grace, as a benevolent father; and the chastisement is temporal. In the second place, He punishes in wrath as a strict judge; and this punishment is eternal.

, “The entire New Testament is overshadowed by the certainty of a coming day of universal judgement and by the problem thence arising: How may sinners get right with God while there is yet time.”

In other words, the Christian view of judgment means that history moves to a goal.

The Essence of Jesus as the Judge

Not only does the New Testament look on to the Day of judgment, the day of wrath, the wrath to come, but it also proclaims Jesus, the divine Savior, as the divinely appointed Judge.

Therefore, the New Testament main authority of final judgment is Jesus Christ.

And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

Jesus constantly affirmed that in the day when all appear before God’s throne to receive the abiding and eternal consequences of the life they have lived, he himself will be the father’s agent in judgement and his  will be decisive.

In fact, the Gospels of Jesus Christ spend a good deal more space preaching judgment than they do predicting the Messiah and his kingdom.

Consider :

And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

This is a spiritual statement. A moral statement. A statement not to be confused with physical healing.

It’s only appropriate that these are spiritual and moral statements, because the Jesus of the New Testament, who is the wold’s judge, is indeed, the world’s Savior, someone who will come to heal our lawlessness.

Think about it: Who could be a better Savior other than the judge and the executioner?

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

Does God Have a Body?

Where you take the Name That Heresy quiz to learn more about the doctrine of God as spirit.

Let’s play a game. It’s called “Name That Heresy.”

Here are your clues:

1. God has flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.

2. He is limited in what he knows, can do and can be.

3. He is only one of many gods.

4. He at one time was not God.

5. And because of his flesh and bones, he can’t be everywhere at all time.

Got any guesses?

If you guessed Mormonism, you’re right. This is exactly what current Mormon doctrine teaches about God.

A Heretical View of God?

So, why is this heresy? Let me explain.

Mormons rely on three sources for their doctrine of God: inspired scripture, Joseph Smith’s words and Mormon leaders.

For instance, the  taught there is more than one God.  preached that Adam was the God of this world. And  reasoned that man’s basic intelligence is as old as God himself.

Moreover, Mormons teach that all three sources carry equal weight when it comes to describing the existence and attributes of God.

So, Mormons believe God has a flesh-and-bones body. But this is wrong.

The Orthodox View of God as Spirit

So, what does the Bible say about God as spirit?

The orthodox description of God is that he is invisible, which implies God is without body. Just spirit.

No one has seen God at any time. 

For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 

In addition to biblical authority, we also have historical proof that God is a spirit.

Three Historical Proofs God is Spirit

You and I should understand, said  in his , that God is not walled off in heaven by a boundary.

 said that “God is a Spirit, not pervading matter, but the Maker of material spirits and of the forms that are in matter; He is invisible, impalpable, being Himself the father of both sensible and invisible things.”

And  argues that matter crowds out other matter from the space it occupies. So, “That which is impenetrable obviously is not ubiquitous.” Instead, because he is spirit, God penetrates and inhabits all material bodies.

Now, someone might argue, if you take Calvin, Tatian and Dabney at their word, you are falling into the same trap that Mormons fall into when they exalt the words of their leaders.

There’s one major difference: We don’t believe Calvin, Tatian and Dabney because they speak. We believe them because their words align with Scripture.

Philosophically, It Makes Sense That God Is a Spirit

You and I have potential to change. Just like dirt. Just like parents. Just like suns. God, on the other hand, can’t change.

He cant’ change because he is self-existent. Thus, he can’t be made of matter. Dirt, parents and suns are imperfect because they are made of matter.

In a lot of ways, you might think there isn’t any difference between an  and a dead god.

But there is a difference.

For one, He’s personal.  “God, therefore is not to be thought of as being either a body or as existing in a body, but as an uncompounded intellectual nature….” That intellectual nature is how he relates to us.

Furthermore, God is infinite and simple, without parts or units. Infinity and simplicity imply spirit.

Finally, God is beyond the universe, time and space. He is eternal. And if he is eternal–not limited by time–he is an invisible spirit.

The universe, on the other hand, is visible, bound by time, space. And dying.

Beyond the Laws of Thermodynamics

God created the universe in a perfect state. But after the Fall, the universe started to decay. The  support this.

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy is not made. The second law of thermodynamics says we are running out of that energy.

Matter is subject to the second law of thermodynamics–pain, decay and death. God, because he is spirit, is not subject to pain, decay and death. But to say God is flesh and bones is to subject God to pain, decay and death.

Now, James says that man is . And Jesus Christ, who was flesh and bones, is the image of God. So how does the New Testament see man as in God’s likeness if God doesn’t know pain, decay or death? The following paragraphs explain.

The apostle Paul, when speaking about the resurrected body in , says:

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

: “Paul is not contrasting a fallen body with a redeemed body, but a natural body with a spiritual body.”

Our flesh and bones will be buried so that our spiritual, incorruptible, bodies may blossom in the image of God–the heavenly spirit.

Why Should We Care That God Is a Spirit?

American Methodist theologian  said we scorn this doctrine when we disobey the –do not worship idols. You you can hear the full meaning in Jesus’ words: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and truth.”

In other words, if flesh and bones is all there is, then we have nothing to compare ourselves to and rise above pain, decay and death. Man becomes the true measure of man, the idol that we worship.

Blatant sin.

To avoid this we have to look on God as Martin Luther did: “In a word, God is an inexpressible Being above and beyond everything that may be said or thought.”

Think about this: If God were flesh and bones, we must relate to him the only way two lovers relate…close proximity at all time.

But Aquinas said we are not excluded from his spirit because of our bodies.

The very fact that he is spirit means he can fill every place. Thus, he fills every being. So, while we may never taste, see, touch, smell or hear God, we see and feel him at work in his creation, especially our minds and spirits.

It’s safe to say that the doctrine of God as spirit explains how God can be the the God who is ever near. Which is perfect comfort in times of pain, decay and death. Wouldn’t you agree?

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

God’s Transcendence: Why You Should Care


Where you discover the surprising reason for America’s dramatic dive into immorality.

Let me ask you a question: How do you explain America’s spectacular moral slide?

I mean, we’re just over 200 years old and it seems like the boat capsized.

Is there anything else like it in history? Possibly.

But in such a short time? And how do we explain this dramatic dive into immorality?

I think I might have the answer. Let me explain.

Astounding Reactions

When men encounter God, the result is always the same: an abrupt and acute kowtow. There is no second guessing:

Isaiah  the confrontation with God: “Woe is me, for I am ruined!”

Saul, struck blind, : “Who are you, Lord?”

Daniel : “Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.”

What caused these reactions? God’s transcendence.

What Does Transcendence Mean?

When we say that God is transcendent, we are saying that God is exalted far above the created universe. So far above that human thought can’t touch it.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

We’re not concerned with location. Nor altitude. We’re concerned with life. A person. A being who’s essence is existence.

Using an Imagined Monster to Explain Existence

There is something about objects of worship–whether man, self or sun–that we miss: something had to create the objects.

Nothing can not create something. So, the universe as we know it can’t be eternal. It needs a cause.

But that which caused it has to be something entirely different from that which was created. This is where Thomas Aquinas was headed in “.”

From our existence we can know something about God, namely, that he exists. He has to, otherwise where did humans, the earth or the universe start? We’ll think like a theist when we say, if God created us, then his essence must be something entirely different from us.

How is it different? In people, essence and existence are two different things.

What do I mean by that? Just because a child can imagine a fierce, thick-boned, child-hating monster doesn’t mean that the monster is real. It’s existence is separate from what it is–its essence.

God’s essence, on the other hand, is existence. In other words, he is self-existent.

And God can’t create himself, because that implies that nothing [which is the state of God before he created himself if he once never existed] can create God.

Because of this distinction, God is utterly different than you or I. We are different–our existence and essence is separate. Why? We can die. God can not. In other words, God is transcendent. He is the Other.

But he’s involved in this universe. He sustains it. The ultimate culmination of God’s presence in this universe is Christ. Christ provides the bridge between God and man. Between the limitless and the limited.

The Controversy Over the Mind

Naturally, not all people agree God exists–let alone transcendent. And some materialists will object to the idea that a mind could exist separate from the body.

I disagree. Here are four proofs that the mind does exist apart from the body:

  • No real proof that my mind is a function of my brain.
  • Just because my mind and brain work together doesn’t mean they’re identical.
  • We commit the  when we reduce my mind to my brain.
  • How could I know I was more than my brain unless I was more than it?

Imagine if your child got lost in a crowded mall. I bet you would abandon every single shopping bag to find that child.

The bags full of stuff can’t love or laugh or speak or pray. It is the child’s quality of being that gives it worth. It is soul that gives significance to matter.

Which brings me to my original question: how do we explain America’s moral slide. The answer is easy. We’ve lost the fear of God.

What the Strangeness of God Can Do for Us

Contemporary men have found that in order to indulge themselves in their vices, they need to do away with God. Moreover, the history of evangelism has made that shift easy.

In the early 20th Century the Gospel of the Cross was abandoned for the Gospel of Life Enhancement: Jesus will make your life easier. Lost in translation is God’s transcendence–his strangeness to us.

That strangeness comes to us as a healthy respect of our Creator, a healthy worship for our redeemer and a healthy fear of him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. We’ve lost the value of God’s eternal wrath. We acknowledge his . This makes it easier for us to dismiss God.

Finding Comfort in God’s Transcendence

, “The infinitude of God, so far as space is concerned, includes his immensity and his omnipresence…He is equally present with all his creatures, at all times, and in all places. He is not far from any one of us.”

God’s transcendent holiness is biblically balanced with the teaching of his immanence. This means God is wholly present in his being and power in every part and moment of the created universe.

This is seen especially in relation to humans. The Holy One who lives in a high and holy place also  with the “contrite and lowly in spirit.” And this is seen in the very physical visit to his creation in the person of Jesus Christ.

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

Infinity: The Never-Ending Abyss of God’s Being

Why it’s impossible to measure God. He is neverending. Incomprehensible. Infinite.

Picture this: You’re at the Equator on a boat anchored in the Pacific Ocean. You pull anchor and raise your sails. The wind drives you east.

Somehow, after 24,901 miles, you are able to sail around the earth in a straight line and arrive back at port.

That’s NOT infinity.

Now, imagine you are in the Space Shuttle. You’ve just launched from Cape Canaveral.

If you traveled in a straight line through the universe would you reach your starting point, earth?

Not if the universe is ever expanding and you couldn’t fly faster than the rate of expansion.

In that case, you would never reach the earth–even if you had forever to do it–since the starting point would be receding away even as you traveled toward it.

This should give you an idea of infinity.

What Is Infinity?

Properly speaking, infinity can’t be applied to the universe. Or a boat. Or us. Only God.

God knows no bound. He can’t be measured by degrees, pounds, miles, volume, amps, decibels, hertz or numbers.  it best:

Our concepts of measurement embrace mountains and men, atoms and stars, gravity, energy, numbers, speed, but never God. These tell of degrees. There is no degrees in God.

To say God is infinite is to say God is without limit in his being. God is neither a series of moments. He is actually without end and cannot be added to in any way.

The Intriguing Consequences of an Infinite God

Infinity means limitlessness. Thus, God is unlimited, even in his attributes…meaning there is more to God than his love, mercy, anger or justice.

And once you’ve exhausted all known attributes, what else is there? God still exists in ways we can’t imagine. We are only scratching the surface.

Every time we think about one aspect of his being, one million more could multiple in that space of time. What we are tying to do is imagine something altogether foreign to us.

Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea. 

God is greater than our minds. “Greater than all languages,” said Tozer, “and no statement can express him.” And “In the awful abyss of the divine being may lie attributes of which we know nothing and which can have no meaning for us.”

The side of God we can’t know is like the far side of the universe: We know it is there, but it has never been explored. Therefore, it has no meaning for us.

Crude Ideas about God

However, sloppy doctrine does not a true God make.

Christianity is a cognitive religion. We need to understand God not only in our hearts, but in our minds, too. Hence, we need to . . Otherwise, out of these weak and lazy minds, poor ideas about God grow.

Ideas like God has a lap for us to sit on. Or hovers over our homes. Or has a . As , “We deny that God is such a long, broad, thick, high, low Being.”

Because God is an eternal, infinite and immutable spirit, we have to deny such speculation. But we wouldn’t know these things about God unless we became students of God.

Infinity Follows Other Attributes

Studying God, we know this: God is without beginning. Or end. He is also all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present. That is why he is spirit. :

If God were not a spirit, he could not be infinite. All bodies are of a finite nature…reason therefore tells us, that the most excellent nature as God cannot be of a corporeal condition, because of the limitation and other actions which belong to every body.

Norman : “A gallon jug is limited by its size to hold only one gallon of water.” Likewise, the expanding universe is limited by its expansion to hold only the expanding universe. God, on the other hand, is limitless.

Like eternity and immutability, infinity touches every other attribute. That’s why the  says, “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

How This Incomprehensible Doctrine Can Comfort Us

Despite our efforts, we can’t have a suitable conception of God. It is beyond our limits. Yet, that alone should soothe us: We can turn to a God whose nature, love and mercy have no limits.

For those who don’t know Christ, time grinds away at them. On the other hand, for those who know Christ, who are “sons of the new creation,” time is a gentle, rolling stream on which they ride because we share in God’s own infinite life as born-again believers.

The mercy of God is infinite, too. And not only academic. Just ask the army of men who know stomach-wrenching guilt. Limitless grace is the hope of mankind.

Finally, love is part of God. Therefore, it has no bounds. Furthermore, it is the essential nature of God. It is something that he is. And because he is infinite, his love is infinite and can envelope you, your boat, the ocean and the expanding universe…and have room for one hundred thousand more.

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

The Problem with God’s Righteousness


In which you discover if God’s righteousness is inadequate, overbearing, ethically challenged or merely misunderstood.

Four classic problems plague the nature of God’s righteousness: evil, vindication, corruption and ignorance.

Evil: Some claim that God can’t solve the problem of pain–if God is good, then why does evil still exist?

Vindictive: Other people claim that God is a ruthless tyrant who leans on wholesale massacre to punish the smallest slight.

Corruption: Still others see God’s righteousness–revealed in his use of infinite punishment for finite crimes–as a gross abuse of power.

Ignorance: And finally some simply don’t know what God’s righteousness is. Or how it is related to the theological principle of propitiation.

Let’s look at this attribute and discover the truth about God’s righteousness.

What Is God’s Righteousness?

Righteousness means purity of heart, just, agreeable to the law. Used in Scripture and theology, it’s nearly equivalent to holiness. Righteousness includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue.

Applied to people, it denotes someone who is holy and obedient to the laws of God. Applied to God, it means the perfection or holiness of his very nature.

The Perfect Index for Righteousness

The first thing to know about God’s righteousness is that he’s the ultimate standard for righteousness. God’s righteousness comes from within his self-existent being. It’s the reason .

That’s why his ,  are righteous: whatever comes out of his mouth is holy and just.

This righteousness is anchored in God’s morality and immutability. That makes God morally consistent and perfect, meaning he can’t bear iniquity. This is seen in  and  where God enumerates a long list of blessings and curses.

Calvin says in the threats we see God’s spotless purity. In the promises, his infinite love of righteousness. Charnock says in the threats “his irreversible justice manifested that all those that commit sin are worthy of death.” In the promises, “his purity did sparkle.”

Since he is infinite and eternal in essence he is also infinite and eternal in righteousness. His righteousness has no limits and shall endure forever:

But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.” 

Thus, God does no injustice. His nature can do no wrong. He is simply acting like himself:

The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame. 

Anything we consider good conforms to God. Anything we consider evil fails to do so. Without God’s righteousness we wouldn’t even understand what evil is.

Christ the Righteous Judge

He is . And –rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. Shall not the judge of the entire earth do right? Again, he simply acts like himself, immune to any outside influence. Theophilus said:

For he is a chastner of the godly, and the father of the righteous, but he is judge and punisher of the impious. (TA, 1.3)

He . This is what Theophilus meant when he said “Yes, He is angry with those who act wickedly, but he is good and kind to those who love and fear him.”

Don’t see this as a “plea for personal vengeance,” says A. W. Tozer, “but as a longing to see moral equity prevail in human society.” Retribution is the inescapable moral law of creation.

Retribution means that God will see that each person sooner or later receives what he deserves–if not here, then hereafter. That is righteousness–not vindication.

Therefore, anger is an appropriate reaction to wickedness. Would a God who did not react adversely to evil in his world be morally perfect? God is not God when he does not punish sin.

God’s Righteousness Means You Get What You Deserve

Think about this: Justice equals moral equity. Iniquity is the exact opposite. The only thing wicked men can expect from God is retributive judgment–if you are under divine rage then God doesn’t owe you anything accept punishment.

And no one has an excuse, because his righteousness is revealed in the law of God:

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” 

The point?

Instead of shunning him and disobeying his law and behaving like outlaws who fear his return, we should long for his return–because  to one day reward us.

Like Anselm concluded, “He who is good to the wicked by both punishing him and sparing them is better than he who is good to the wicked only by punishing them.” Anselm’s thought can be echoed 800 years later in the words of Martin Luther:

But whoever is a christian should attribute justice to God and injustice to himself, should consider God holy and himself unholy. (WLS, 555-556)

And what can’t be missed here is that goodness without justice is evil. God spares us because he is good, but he could not be good if he were not just. He punishes the wicked because they deserve it. He spares the wicked only because he is good. Thus, he is free from every ounce of corruption.

God’s Righteousness Climaxes in Christ’s Propitiation

Why would he spare the wicked? Any wicked? And how could he do so and still remain just? The answer is found in the theological term propitiation.

Propitiation means to appease wrath and gain the favor of someone you have offended. In Christianity, propitiation is the  on the cross.

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin. Jesus satisfied God and obtained for his people forgiveness. It’s also a promise–because God is all powerful, demonstrated in Jesus’ resurrection–that evil will be defeated in the future.

In justice God abandons sinners to their wicked ways (the divine penalty for rejecting God). In mercy God withholds or modifies deserved judgement. In grace God freely gives undeserved benefits to whom he chooses.

In the end, the cross of Christ is the culmination of God’s righteousness. All three–justice, mercy and grace–are applied and satisfied.

**Part of The Nature of God.**

The Nature of God: A Quick and Dirty Guide


Mercy. Wrath. Jealousy. Just three of the 25 attributes of God we explore in this fast and easy guide on the nature of God.

One of my original motives for launching this blog was to dig deep into the foundations of my faith…to understand whom I worship…what I believe.

I could’ve done this by tackling an MA in theology. But I thought better…

Yes, the reason why I blog is so I can learn. But the other reason I blog is so I can instantly share my knowledge with you.

Listen: ever since my conversion all I’ve wanted to do is pour myself out for Jesus. And ever since I launched Fallen and Flawed all I’ve ever wanted to do is pour myself out for you as well.

So any fiber of my being I can give to help you nurture your passion for God in the midst of the daily grind…I want to give it.

Thus this blog. Thus this series on the nature of God.

Wrong Thoughts about God: 5 Dangerous Conclusions

Seven Ways of Looking at God’s Wrath

A Crude, Skeptical Curmudgeon Looks at God’s Love

Do You Want to Live Forever? Exploring God’s Eternality

Six Ways of Looking at God’s Omniscience

What Can Leo Tolstoy Teach You About God’s Jealousy?

The Thoroughly-Painless Guide to the Doctrine of God’s Trinity

Omnipresence: Does God Lounge Like a Man Lounges?

Omnipotence: Can God Defeat Evil?

10 Biblical Illustrations of God’s Self-Sufficiency

A Simple, Straightforward Guide to the Justice of God

Does God Suffer? An Argument for God’s Emotions

Can God Die? Nitty-Gritty Guide to Self-Existence

God’s Grace: The Essential Meaning

Does Evil Point to God’s Perfection?

Holiness: A Headlong, Under-the-Hood Look

Truthfulness: A Cure for Your Anxiety and Angst

Sovereignty and Why It Doesn’t Contradict Man’s Freedom

The Problem with God’s Righteousness

Infinity: The Abyss of God’s Being

The Case for God’s Immutability

God’s Transcendence: Why You Should Care

Does God Have a Body?

4 Characteristics of the Impeccable Author of Justice

A Portrait of God as Judge

Mercy: The Unsurpassable Attribute of God

Note: These are in order of date published. And let me know if there is an attribute of the Christian God you’d like to see on this list.

God’s Grace: The Essential Meaning

How the presumption, promise, purpose, predestination, prosecution, preservation and passion of God explains his grace.

In a nutshell, grace is God’s desire to be good to his unruly children–children who don’t deserve squat.

That means, grace involves mercy over misery. Favor over futility. Access over alienation. Reconciliation over rejection.

In a minute we’re going to explore the presumption, promise, purpose, predestination, prosecution, preservation, passion and our response to God’s grace…

But first, a little history.

Brief History of God’s Grace

The history of God’s grace begins with Abraham’s election–a national blessing that extended to all the families on the earth.

After Abraham’s election, the nation of Israel then ushered in Moses. Moses received the law of God.

With the law in place, those who broke the law deserved punishment, even if it was God’s chosen people. We need this because grace without law is meaningless and what I say below won’t make any sense.

One of the ways God’s grace worked in the Old Testament was through animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices satisfied God’s wrath towards those who broke the law.

Therefore, in the New Testament, Jesus’ death–another type of sacrifice–satisfied God’s wrath towards those who broke the law.

Now, justification through grace is by faith in the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Justification makes us children of God. In other words, repentant sinners are adopted into the church.

So, to make a long story short, Abraham and the nation of Israel were simply the mechanism to God’s long-range goal.

Presumption of God’s Grace

There are four crucial truths in which the doctrine of God’s grace takes for granted.

1. Man is totally depraved.

2. God is not true to himself if he does not punish sin.

3. It is beyond our power to mend our relationship with God.

4. God is not obliged to love us or help us.

Only when you see that your destiny depends on whether or not God resolves to save you from your sins can you begin to grasp the biblical view of grace.

Promise of God’s Grace

What does God’s grace promise? Grace promises salvation and eternal life.

Grace brings justification by faith through grace: God can declare us just and include us in his eternal purpose. We become adopted, children of God.

Salvation finds fulfillment by , so Abraham’s physical and spiritual descendants could experience God’s grace.

Purpose of God’s Grace

On the macro level, this is what all the work of grace aims at: an ever deeper and closer knowledge of God. A thick relationship.

On the micro level, grace narrates the truly dramatic transition from condemned criminal awaiting a terrible sentence to that of an heir awaiting a fabulous inheritance.

Bottom line, the purpose of God’s grace is to reconcile a rebellious people.

Predestination of God’s Grace

Salvation is no accident. In the book of :

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

And since it is executed by sovereign power, nothing can thwart it.

Prosecution of God’s Grace

God wants to overwhelm you. He wants to create in you a sense of inadequacy.

That’s why we aren’t shield from the turbulence and terror of life. We are exposed to the world, the devil and the flesh. And we are cold-cocked by our own temperament.

God wants you to feel your way through life, rugged and roughshod, so that you shed your own self-confidence and rely on him. And him only.

Preservation of God’s Grace

 we are “protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

You don’t need to torment yourself with the fear that your faith may fail. Since grace led you to this faith–so grace will keep you believing until the end.

Passion of God’s Grace

God’s grace is the limitless capacity to forgive and bless in the face of endless rebellion and rejection.

Why would he do this? He delights in mercy as a  towards his children. It is part of his nature.

God removed our banishment–not because of anything we’ve done–but through the virtues of Christ’s atoning death. Yet, none has ever returned to the divine favor except through the sheer, passionate goodness of God.

Our Proper Response to God’s Grace

The irreducible condition for receiving God’s grace is . God works through repentant sinners.

And once we repent, we become missionaries. Missionaries in our neighborhoods, workplace and churches. Full time missionaries. We : I repented because I saw I was dead in sin. We see the tragic state of the lost and mourn for them.

In other words, our proper response to God’s grace is, as , “to live hour by hour in the forgiving, justifying, all-supplying grace of God, and then bend it out to all the others in your life.”

What has been your response to God’s grace? Let me know what you think.

**Part of The Nature of God series.** 

Can God Die? Nitty-Gritty Guide to Self Existence

Where you take a deep, under the hood look at why the doctrine of God’s self-existence is as practical as the latest surgical technique.

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”

Those words were written by Friedrich Nietzsche in his book  over 100 years ago.

Many believe Nietzsche and those words heralded in secular atheism.

In the 1960s this atheism peaked in the “death of God” movement…a movement that quickly blossomed in pulpits and the press…but sunk just as fast.

The scope of this movement can be judged from its four best-known advocates: Altizer, van Buren, Hamilton and Vahanian.

A Short but Sensational History of the Death of God

In a 1966 Time article called , Emory professor Thomas J. J. Altizer said, “the transcendent God of the Bible had died when he became Jesus, whose incarnation made God man for all time.”

By contrast, Paul van Buren, who fought the God-is-dead theologian label despite his book The Secular Meaning of the Gospels and article “Christian Education Post Mortem Dei,” gloomily . Language that could not be empirically proved, through the five senses, was meaningless.

In an essay called “Thursday’s Child,”  that after the death of God, all we have left is love.

While Altizier, Van Buren and Hamilton proclaimed the death of God with emotion, sociologist of religion Gabriel Vahanian calmly : our idea about God is the product of primitive Christianity’s encounter with Greek philosophy.

Many critics complained that this movement did nothing more than reduce Christianity to just another kind of Jesus-inspired humanism. Next to Barth’s 14-volume , the theology was really thin stuff. And because of it’s shock value, it died off quick.

Yet the question remains: Did God really die?

The Single Attribute That Separates God from All Other Beings

The short answer is no, God did not die. On the other end of the stick, we have this: God was not born.

The fact is, no one made God. He’s always been. He’s always existed. He simply is. This is the essence of God’s self-existence: he was never born, will never die and will always exist.

To say that God is self-existent is to say He has “aseity.” He is “from himself.”

Classical theologians refer to aseity as the thing about God that makes him God. Aseity separates him from other beings. He is the Supreme being. We are the human beings.

You and I can suffocate to death. Starve to death. Drown to death. You and I can catch the bird flu and die. We can suffer from a stroke, cancer or mental illness. But God cannot. He will neither die nor decompose.

Self-Existence Means Perfection and Power

The Catholic Encyclopedia frames  this way: “The nearest approach we can make to a definition is to call Him the Actus Purus. It is the name God gives to Himself: ‘I am who I am”, i.e., I am the fullness of being and of perfection.”

In other words, He is the being who is “from himself.” The being who cannot die, but simply exists. Augustine said, “Not only has God his own essence…but he is also his own existence.”

“His presence in the world,” says John Frame in the article , “is an implication of his universal power and authority. Wherever we go, we cannot escape from him. God’s presence is inescapable, unavoidable, and therefore not dependent on the will of creatures.”

Why God Is Necessary for Man’s Existence

Furthermore, we get our life from God. We are dependent on his existence. We are dependent on his life. We are contingent beings. He is a necessary being.

A necessary being is a being on which the ground of all other beings exist but needs no other ground for his own being.

, “The first argument to prove that the world as a whole is not self-existent and eternal, is that all its parts, everything that enters into composition, is dependent and mutable.”

God is independent and immutable. He is changeless.

And He is necessary because we are contingent. We depend upon something else to survive. Speaking to the men of Athens , “He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else…. For in him we live and move and have our being.”

In other words, if we exist, something like God has to exist.

The Unthinkable Thing about God

Some argue that the universe is eternal. However, the universe cannot be eternal since it is running down. It is mutable: Snow melts. Mountains shift. Stars explode. Everything is subject to change and disorder.

God, however, is eternal and changeless. He is the being that has power in himself.

John Calvin in his  said “From the power of God we are naturally led to consider his eternity, since that from which all other things derive their origin must necessarily be self-existent and eternal.”

He is the being that cannot not exist. He exists independently of humans, time and matter.

Physicists tell us the universe is made up of time and matter. Who made the universe? God made the universe. , “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

He made the universe because he is outside and independent of the universe.  “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

And if God made the universe, he existed before the universe.

But Who Created God?

Like an inquisitive 3-year old, the skeptics favorite question to the  is, “So who created God?”

The answer can’t be God created himself. Nothing can create something. For something to create itself would be that it would have to exist before it existed. And that is absurd.

God is the uncaused Cause of all else that exists. He exists pure and simple.  “God has no origin.”

But we have origin, which makes it necessary for something out there to not have origin. Namely, the First Cause.

Why We Must Think about God’s Self-Existence

Thoughts about God means thoughts about a being without a beginning or an end. Thoughts about humans means thoughts about beings with definite beginnings and definite endings.

It’s hard to think about God.

We prefer to think about how to build a 40 foot slip for our 40 foot boat. Or how to pay to have our noses sculpted.

However, thinking about the self existence of God, as A. W. Tozer pointed out in , is essential, “because we are the handiwork of God, it follows that all our problems and their solutions are theological.”

That means we will never know anything about ourselves until we understand something about God.

For this reason the self-existence of God is not a, “dry wisp of doctrine, academic and remote; it is in fact as near our breath and as practical as the latest surgical technique.”

Meditating on this humbles us. Our own inadequacy, smallness and sinfulness emerges as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory. And in the end, all the problems we have would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God.

Christianity Hangs on God’s Self-Existence

In fact, Christianity pivots on the thought that God is everything and man is nothing. That is why man has always struggled throughout the centuries with Christianity.

God gave us moral choice. And one of our first exercises of that moral choice was to deny God and assert ourselves. But the assertion of self over God and the  is rebellion and sin.

Christianity is, therefore, the story of God redeeming a rebellious people. And it rolls back to God being our self-existent Creator.

To speak of God dying, absent or non-existent is to speak of a monastic religion…a religion obsessed with humankind, injustice and self. A decomposing and dying self.

Back to Nietzsche

On January 3, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche suffered a mental breakdown. Seeing a horse whipped, he ran to the animal, threw his arms around its neck, then collapsed to the ground.

From there it was all down hill–asylum and all–until late August 1900 when he suffered and died from his third and final stroke.

It is dreadful when we assert another man’s ideas over God. When we do, we find ourselves relying on a broken, narrow and wicked mind. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that that level of ,  is steadily rising in our nation.

The history of man in every civilisation is the steady decline of man. He’s always rebelled against God, denied His existence, and even outright tried to kill him…which is nothing more than suicidal.

That’s why we need the security that comes with knowing God, and what He is like. Seek him then, and be at peace.

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

A Simple, Straightforward Guide to the Justice of God

Ever wonder how we got the notion of justice–that abuses should be corrected and the oppressed taken care of? Wonder know more. 

In short, God’s justice means He will correct the abuses of the oppressors and meet the needs of the oppressed.

Let’s see how we got to this point.

What Is Justice?

The  is twofold.

1. Justice is giving to society and the needy the basic rights and benefits they require to survive.

2. Justice is punishing those who exploit, oppress and withhold basic rights and benefits from society and the needy.

Who are the needy?

The Bible explains the needy as , resident aliens, wage earners, the poor, .

What are the basic rights and benefits? , ,  and .

God’s Justice Restores People to Community

Events like the  are symbolic notions of justice–it demonstrates God’s desire for people to be in community.

In the Jubilee Year, which occurred every 50 years on the Hebrew calendar, slaves were to be released from their masters…debts were to be canceled…and property taken due to foreclosures was supposed to be returned.

The point: everyone and everything that’d been separated could now return to their families.

God’s Justice Restores the Oppressed and Punishes the Oppressor

The prohibition against interest on loaned money was another notion of God’s justice. He didn’t want people to get buried by debt growing out of control through interest.

In addition, those devastated by natural disaster, the economy, old age or disease were also looked upon by God with compassion. Restoring them was part of his justice.

And finally, the part of justice that we commonly understand is the punishment handed out to exploiters. The  decries the injustice of depriving people of economic and material needs–or taking advantage of them.

God’s Justice Is Seen in the Due Process of Law

In America law,  is a concept of fundamental fairness.

Due process ensures someone isn’t deprived of life, liberty or property without fair opportunity to defend themselves. It also demands equal protection to all persons–no matter race, religion or sex.

The basic concept of due process–and it’s connection to righteous judgment–can be seen in  where perversion of justice, partiality or bribes are prohibited.

Any of these things subverts the cause of justice.

God’s Justice Makes Him the Defender of the Oppressed

As the independent and sovereign creator of the universe, God is just. :

The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

God becomes the defender of the oppressed, savior of the humble and the hero of orphans and widows. Thus, justice is universal and becomes the source of all human justice.

The Human Agent of Justice

The most prominent human agent of justice is the ruler. Whether king or president, …and is a channel for it.

Furthermore, –Christian or pagan–that he care for the needy groups of society.

In fact, this is true for anyone who bears the name of God–we must show justice through such acts like obedience to the commandments.

Your Turn

So, tell me, are you being just? Are you reflecting the nature of your God? In a nutshell, are you obeying God’s commandments?

Hard questions, for sure. But worthy of examination. Especially since non-Christians tend to reject Christianity because of hypocrisy.

Let me know what you think.

**Part of The Nature of God series.**