What are the attributes of God? What is God like?
Question: "What are the attributes of God? What is God like?"
Answer: The good news, as we try to answer this question, is that there is much that can be found out about God! Those who examine this explanation may find it helpful to first read through it entirely; then go back and look up selected Scripture passages for further clarification. The Scripture references are completely necessary, for without the authority of the Bible, this collection of words would be no better than man's opinion;
which by itself is often incorrect in understanding God (Job 42:7). To say that it is important for us to try to understand what God is like is a huge understatement! Failure to do so will likely cause us to set up, chase after, and worship false Gods contrary to His will (Exodus 20:3-5).
Only what God has chosen of Himself to be revealed can be known. One of God's attributes or qualities is "light", meaning that He is self-revealing in information of Himself (Isaiah 60:19, James 1:17). The reality that God has revealed knowledge of Himself should not be neglected, lest any one of us come short of entering His rest (Hebrews 4:1). Creation, the Bible, and the Word made flesh (Jesus Christ) will help us to know
what God is like.
Let's start by understanding that God is our Creator and that we are a part of His creation (Genesis 1:1 Psalm 24:1). God said that man is created in His image. Man is above the rest of creation and was given dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Creation is marred by the 'fall' but still offers a glimpse of His works (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 1:19-20). By considering creation's vastness, complexity, beauty, and order we can have a sense
of the awesomeness of God.
Reading through some of the names of God can be helpful in our search of what God is like. They are as follows:
Elohim - strong One, divine (Genesis 1:1)
Adonai - Lord, indicating a Master to servant relationship (Exodus 4:10,13)
El Elyon - Most High, the strongest One (Genesis 14:20)
El Roi - the strong One who sees (Genesis 16:13)
El Shaddai - Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)
El Olam - everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28)
Yahweh - LORD "I Am", meaning the everlasting self-existent God (Exodus 3:13,14).
We will now continue by examining more of God's attributes; God is everlasting, meaning He had no beginning and that His existence will never end. He is immortal, infinite (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). God is immutable, meaning He is unchangeable; this means that God is absolutely reliable and trustworthy (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:26,27). God is incomparable, meaning there is no one like Him in works or being;
He is unequaled and perfect (2 Samuel 7:22; Psalm 86:8; Isaiah 40:25; Matthew 5:48). God is inscrutable, meaning He is unfathomable, unsearchable, past finding out in entirely understanding Him (Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 145:3; Romans 11:33,34).
God is just, meaning He is no respecter of persons in the sense of showing favoritism (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30). God is omnipotent, meaning He is all-powerful; He can do anything that pleases Him, but His actions will always be in accord with the rest of His character (Revelation 19:6; Jeremiah 32:17,27). God is omnipresent, meaning He is ever-present, everywhere; this does not mean that God is everything (Psalm 139:7-13; Jeremiah 23:23).
God is omniscient, meaning He knows the past, present, and future, even what we are thinking at any given moment; since He knows everything His justice will always be administered fairly (Psalm 139:1-5; Proverbs 5:21).
God is one, meaning not only that there is no other, but also that He is alone in being able to meet the deepest needs and longings of our hearts, and He alone is worthy of our worship and devotion (Deuteronomy 6:4). God is righteous, meaning that God cannot and will not pass over wrongdoing; it is because of His righteousness and justice that in order for our sins to be forgiven, Jesus had to experience God's judgment when our sins
were placed upon Him (Exodus 9:27; Matthew 27:45-46; Romans 3:21-26).
God is sovereign, meaning He is supreme; all of His creation put together, whether knowingly or unknowingly, cannot thwart His purposes (Psalm 93:1; 95:3; Jeremiah 23:20). God is spirit, meaning He is invisible (John 1:18; 4:24). God is a Trinity, meaning He is three in one, same in substance, equal in power and glory. Notice that in the first Scripture passage cited that 'name' is singular even though it refers to three distinct Persons-
“Father, Son, Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:9-11). God is truth, meaning that He is in agreement with all that He is, He will remain incorruptible and cannot lie (Psalm 117:2; 1 Samuel 15:29).
God is holy, meaning that He is separated from all moral defilement and is hostile toward it. God sees all evil and it angers Him; fire is usually mentioned in scripture along with holiness. God is referred to as a consuming fire (Isaiah 6:3; Habakkuk 1:13; Exodus 3:2,4,5; Hebrews 12:29). God is gracious - this would include His goodness, kindness, mercy, and love - which are words that give shades of meaning to His goodness. If it were
not for God's grace it would seem that the rest of His attributes would exclude us from Him. Thankfully this is not the case, for He desires to know each of us personally (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 31:19; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:16; John 17:3).
This has been only a modest attempt to answer a God-sized question. Please be greatly encouraged to continue seeking after Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
Recommended Resource: Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
Why does Scripture emphasize the right hand of God?
What are the different names of God and what do they mean?
Why does God refer to Himself in the plural in Genesis 1:26 and 3:22?
Who is God?
What does it mean that God is infinite?
What are the attributes of God? What is God like?