Lesson 3 - The God of Scripture





What exactly do you believe about God?  The following is an excerpt from the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.


There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.


Most orthodox Christian groups have a statement that is somewhat similar to this one.  However, how did we get to this understanding?  What exactly does scripture say about God?  

To answer this question requires a very detailed examination of God’s word using techniques from both Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology.  Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that takes a given topic and examines all of scripture from Genesis to Revelation in order to establish a full and complete picture of the bible’s teaching on that topic.  By contrast, Biblical Theology is a branch of theology that takes a given topic and examines how scripture reveals truths to us about that topic through time from creation through today.  This lesson will attempt to use both of these branches of theology to examine the full counsel of scripture in order to understand what it teaches us about God. 


Biblical and Early Concepts of God


As mentioned in one of our earlier lessons, our orthodox concept of the Trinity was not fully developed and affirmed until the 3rd Century AD.  That, however, does not mean that the idea of the Trinity was man-made or that it does not appear in scripture.  However, the truth of the Trinity is one that took thousands of years to be fully revealed and understood until it was ultimately affirmed at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD.


Old Testament Concepts of God

In the Old Testament, there was no explicit understanding of the Trinity.  The  faithful saints of the Old Testament were all monotheistic – meaning that they believed in only ONE GOD – just as we do today.  However, they had no concept of the Trinity.  This belief in only one true God came directly from God himself and his revelation of himself to Old Testament saints such as Abraham and Moses.  For example, one of the primary Hebrew statements of faith and prayers comes from Deuteronomy 6:4, which says “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”

God revealed himself and his name to Moses in the burning bush.  At that time, he called himself Yahweh (or Jehovah), which means “I AM THAT I AM” or “I AM THE ONE WHO EXISTS”.   However, fearing that they may inadvertently take his name in vain, the Hebrews would never actually speak the name Yahweh, choosing instead to say “LORD”. 

In general, it was believed that God could not be seen without dying – and in general God would not reveal himself except through things such as the burning bush or a pillar of fire or a pillar of smoke.  However, there were occasions in which it appeared as if mankind saw some semblance or form of God.  For example, in Exodus 33:11 it says that “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”  And there are other similar instances of appearances of God in the Old Testament.  These appearances are often called THEOPHONIES, and include such appearances as God revealing himself to Abraham by the tree of Mamre before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah; the “fourth” person in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and the visions of both Isaiah and Ezekiel.

However, who was this Yahweh God?  Was it God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, or something else altogether?  If God could not be seen, who was being seen in these incarnations and visions?

Jesus himself gives us a clue as to the answer to this question through the Apostle John in John 1:8 which says “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”  And then Jesus himself said in John 6:46 “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.”

This suggests that Jesus was claiming that, as God’s Son, he was Yahweh of the Old Testament and that only he could see God the Father.  Hold onto that thought and we will address this again in a moment.  However, in the early part of the Old Testament, the concepts of God the Father and God the Son were not fully developed yet.  Such concepts only began to develop in the later prophets.  Consider what is said in Isaiah 7:17 and 9:6


Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.


This verse prophesies the coming birth of Jesus, who will be given the name Immanuel – which means “God with us.”


Isaiah 9:6 - For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.


This verse, which also prophesies the birth of Jesus, clearly indicates that the “son” that will be given will himself be called the “Mighty God.”

Similarly, the concept of the God the Holy Spirit was even less developed, but was by no means non-existent. “The Spirit of the Lord” appears in numerous places, but its description is typically presented in such a way as to appear to be an extension of Yahweh rather than a separate “person” of the Trinity.  The exact name/phrase “Holy Spirit” appears only twice – in Psalm 51:11 and then again in Isaiah 63:10-11.  However, The most significant prophesy about the Holy Spirit occurs in Joel 2:28, which says “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”

So while the concepts of Father, Son, and Spirit are not fully developed in the Old Testament, they do exist.  Even the very concept of the One God has some interesting indications towards the existence of the Trinity.  For example, consider what the One God says in Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” [emphasis added]  But then in Genesis 2:18, Yahweh God (that is, God the Son) says “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” [emphasis added]  In Genesis 1:26, the generic word for God was used, but in Genesis 1:26, it specifically refers to Yahweh, whom we have already identified as Jesus before he was born in Bethlehem.  Even the Hebrew word for the One God itself, elohiem, is in the Hebrew plural form, even though God is referred to in the singular.


New Testament Concepts of God

In the New Testament, the fuller understanding of the three persons of the Trinity begins to unfold, and it was Jesus who did the most to unfold it.   At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jews still had an “Old Testament” understanding of God.  Jesus, however, began to introduce his disciples to God the Father and in John 6:45 says that the Father has never been seen by any man. 

On many occasions, Jesus presented himself as the Son of God with God being his Heavenly Father.   He also presented himself as being equal with God the Father.  But he did more than this.  He then identified himself as the Yahweh of the Old Testament – the Great I AM.  In the Old Testament, Yahweh was NOT the Father, but rather was Jesus.  The OT incarnations and visions of God were all Jesus.  If this were not the case, then Jesus’ words in John 6:45 would be false.

The Apostle John made this fact more compelling at the very beginning of his gospel.  In John 1:1 he says that the Word (that is, Jesus) was both WITH GOD and also WAS GOD.

It is also in the New Testament that the concept of the Holy Spirit was more fully developed, rounding out the full picture of the Trinity.  As Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended from God the Father and landed on Jesus and a voice was heard saying “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.”  All three persons of the Trinity were present at that time.  Additionally, Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit and himself gave that gift before he ascended.  The fullness of the Holy Spirit was then realized when that gift came down in full power at Pentecost.


Early Church Concepts of God

Unfortunately, the fact that no one in canonized scripture explicitly outlined the concept of the Trinity created some problems for the early church.  Even though Jesus very clearly identified all three in the Great Commission – saying to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – errors crept into the church with false concepts about God.

Some early heretics, like Marcion, determined that the God of the OT and the God of the NT were two different deities.  The implications to his teaching being that there is more than one god – but we know there is only one God.  Others, like Arius, believed that Jesus was a deity, but not THE God – again implying there is more than one god.  Still others believed that the one God, Yahweh, took one of three forms (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) as occasion demanded.  However, this idea was disproven at Jesus’ baptism when all three persons of the Trinity were present at the same time.


The Trinity


The fully developed concept of the Trinity was first established in 325AD at the council of Nicaea in response to the above, and similar heresies.  At that time, the Trinity was defined as follows:

God is three persons.

Each person is fully God.

There is only one God.


However, it was not until the church published the Athanasian Creed (probably in the 6th century) that the fullness of the doctrine of the Trinity became strictly enforced in orthodox teaching.  A copy of the Athanasian Creed is attached at the end of this lesson. 

The Trinity is without question the most difficult concept in Theology to understand – in fact, it could be argued that we can never fully understand it; we can only come to accept it.  Think about it this way, however. Do you really want to worship a God that your imperfect, limited mind can understand?  If we truly could understand God, then he is not the all-powerful, transcendent God we believe him to be.  The best that we can hope to do is discuss and attempt to understand each of the three persons of the Trinity – and how they relate to each other and to us - to the best of our abilities.


God The Father

The Father is the first person of the Trinity.  He is distinct from both the Son and the Holy Spirit in role and function, but he is not different in essence.  The Father is fully God, containing all the characteristics and attributes of God.  The Father is the head of the Trinity, ultimately holding all authority.  Consider these verses: (Matt 28:18; John 17:1-2)


Matthew 28:18 - And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.


John 17:1-2 - These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.


It is the Father who gives Jesus all of his authority, but it is ultimately the Father who holds that authority.  1 Corinthians 15:28 tells us that when all is accomplished, Jesus will return that authority to God the Father. 

Because he has such authority, the Father sits forever on the Throne of God.  Consider these verses:


Psalm 45:6 - Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.


Psalm 47:8 - God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.


Rev 3:21 - To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.


Finally, the Father has three primary roles.  First, the Father ORIGINATES the word of God.  When God speaks – as in creation or in the declaration of the will of God, it is God the Father who authors that word (see Psalm 50:1).  Second, the Father commissions and sends the Son, granting him all authority and power.  Throughout his ministry on earth, Jesus repeatedly said that he was sent by the Father (for example, see John 5:23, 36-37).  And third, the Father sends the Holy Spirit in the name of the Son.  Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come, but it is the Father who sends him (see John 14:26,15:26).


God the Son

The nature of Jesus Christ as the Son of God will be discussed more fully in Lesson 5. 


The Son is the second person of the Trinity, distinct from both the Father and the Holy Spirit in role and function, but not different in essence.  The Son is fully God, containing all the characteristics and attributes of God.  The Son was not created by God, but begotten in eternity past by God.

As the Son of God, Jesus has a number of roles.  First, the Son submits to the will of the Father by BEING the LIVING INCARNATION of the Word of God (see John 1:1).  In addition, the Son also SPEAKS the word of God to men. John 3:34 says “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.”   The Son is also sent by the Father to be the Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and King.  Without him, we have no salvation (Acts 4:12).  And while it is the Father who actually sends the Holy Spirit, it is the Son that gives the Holy Spirit to the world to do his bidding (John 16:13-14).  Finally, the Son sits at the right hand of God the Father on his throne (Rev 3:21).


God the Holy Spirit

The nature of God the Holy Spirit will be addressed more fully in Lesson 1 of Basic Theology Part II.


The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, distinct from both the Father and the Son in role and function, but not different in essence.  The Holy Spirit is fully God, containing all the characteristics and attributes of God.  The Holy Spirit has many roles, but primary in those roles is the fact that the Holy Spirit submits to the will of the Son by EMPOWERING and CARRYING OUT the word of God throughout creation (Gen 1:2; Rev 5:6).   The Holy Spirit – as Counselor - speaks the words of Jesus to all believers (John 14:26).  And the Holy Spirit is always before the throne of God (Rev 4:1,5).


When it comes to understanding the Trinity, there are simply no pictures or analogies that are sufficient.  Our minds are simply too small to understand the concept beyond a few defining words that seem to our minds to be somewhat contradictory.  We may try to understand, but our efforts will be futile.  Some analogies that have been used to try to explain the Trinity – but which are insufficient – are as follows:

Three-leaf clover.  The Trinity cannot be compared to a three-leaf clover because a clover is a single thing, with each leaf being only a part of the whole.  Each person of the Trinity is 100% fully God.

Tree: roots, trunk, branches.  This analogy is like the three leaf clover.  Each represents only a part of the whole.

Ice, Water, Steam. The Trinity cannot be compared to water, ice, and steam because each represents a different form of the same thing.  The three persons of the Trinity are not different “forms” of God – each is distinct and each is fully God.

Man: Father, Son, Husband.  This analogy does not work because it simply represents the different roles that a single person may fill at different times.  God is not one person filling three different roles, but three people that comprises one God.

Intellect, Emotion, Will.  This analogy also fails because each represent only a portion of the individual and not the full individual – nor are they identical in characteristics.  The three persons of the Trinity are identical in characteristics.

As tempting as it is to our human nature to do so, we ought to refrain from trying to find analogies like these to describe the Trinity.  They will all fail in their attempts.  At the end of the day, the Trinity is simply a mystery that we must take by faith, but it is an essential doctrine of Christianity that CANNOT be compromised.


The Characteristics of God


The characteristics of God can be divided into those characteristics that ONLY God holds for himself and those characteristics that God has chosen to share, in part, with man.  Those that God keeps for himself are called incommunicable attributes and those he shares with man are called communicable attributes.  Different theology books may list various different characteristics because there are a number of ways in which God’s character can be described.  This discussion represents only one way in which we might describe the characteristics of God:


Incommunicable Attributes

God’s Independence. God is independent from creation because he has no need for creation.  Although we can worship and glorify him, he is completely above us and does not depend upon us for anything (see Acts 17:24-25; Job 41:11).  Ask yourself this question: Why is it important that God be independent of his creation?  The answer is quite simple: If God is not completely independent, then he cannot be Sovereign.  This of course begs yet another question:  If God does not need us, why did he create us?  That answer is fairly simple also: Because he loved us.  God was completely satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity, and yet he still chose to create us in order to lavish his love on us.  This truth of God’s independence is very important to us.  Because God is independent and has no need of us, we can say with confidence that nothing man can do or say will deter God from accomplishing his purposes.

God’s Unchangableness  or Immutability (see Psalm 102:25-27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).  Even though God acts and feels differently in response to various circumstances, God does not change.  To suggest that God changes would suggest that in some way he was not perfect, because if he truly is perfect then there is no need to change.  God does not change his purposes and he does not change his promises.  Does this mean that God never changes his mind?  There are, of course, a number of scriptures that explicitly state that God changed his mind.  However, in each of these situations, we must understand that the story is being told from man’s point of view.  From man’s perspective, it merely appeared that God had changed his mind.  In reality, God was executing his sovereign plan. What appears to us to be changes in direction associated with God’s plan are often explained in human terms as a “changing of the mind” or a “repentant” attitude on the part of God, but they are not.   The truth is that God’s plan and purpose did not change, but rather God brought man to a point where he would pray and seek God’s will.   It may seem to be a change in plan, but there is great comfort in knowing that the end result was always God’s original purpose to begin with.  We can have great comfort in knowing that God will never change, because if he could change, then we have no certainty that his promises will be kept.

God’s Eternity (see Psalm 90:2; Job 36:26; Rev 1:8).  We often speak of God in terms of being everlasting – with no beginning and with no end. That concept, however, is somewhat insufficient to describe God’s eternity.  That approach assumes that God experiences the ebb and flow of time the way that we experience the ebb and flow of time.  Such is not the case for God.  God created time in the same sense that he created everything else in the universe.  He is “above” time and uninfluenced by it. God sees and experiences all of time – from eternity past to eternity future – simultaneously as if it were all happening right now.  God is, right now, at creation; but God is also, right now, at the cross; and he is, right now, at the return of Christ.  As creatures of time, this is difficult for us to understand, but we must remember that God actually created time for our benefit, not his.  While he may interact with us within our time, he is himself independent of time and not limited by it.  All other creatures – man, angels, animals, even Satan – experience life in a sequential, time-dependent manner.  God does not.

God’s Omnipresence (see Jeremiah 23:23-24; Psalm 139:7-10). God is not limited to any particular place.  In fact, he exists and is present in all places at all times. When we think of the majesty and the sheer size of the universe, it is almost impossible to fully understand how that can be possible.  Truly God is bigger and greater than we could ever comprehend.  However, it may help to know that God does not act the same in all places.  Most of us think of God’s presence in terms of our personal relationship to him.  In that sense, God is “present to bless.”  Psalm 15:11 says “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  God’s presence in our lives is a great comfort – especially in times of difficulty.  However, God is not present in that sense everywhere in the universe.  In many places, God is merely “present to sustain.”  Colossians 1:17 says “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”  It is God’s presence everywhere in the universe that holds the universe in place.   But there is still yet another way in which God is present.  Consider HELL itself.  Is God present in Hell?  It has often been said that Hell is the absence of God’s presence, but that would mean that God is not actually present in Hell.  If God is not present in Hell, then he is not omnipresent.   The truth is that God is present in Hell, but not in the same way that he is present with us and not even in the same way he is present to sustain the universe.  In Hell, God is “present to punish” – and that is a concept that we may have difficulty comprehending.  Even here on earth, there are times in which God’s presence is to punish and not to either sustain or bless.  Consider Amos 9:1-4:


1      I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said,

         Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake:

         And cut them in the head, all of them;

         And I will slay the last of them with the sword:

         He that fleeth of them shall not flee away,

         And he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.

2       Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them;

         Though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:

3       And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel,

         I will search and take them out thence;

         And though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea,

         Thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:

4       And though they go into captivity before their enemies,

         Thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them:

         And I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.


These are indeed difficult words to hear and do not seem like expressions of a God of love.  However, God is also a JUST God and so there comes a time when his presence is not to love and to bless, but rather to bring justice. So it is with Hell.

God’s Unity.  The last attribute that God keeps only for himself is his unity, which not only means that the three persons of the Trinity are in complete unison, but also means that even though we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times, he is not divided into parts.  God is not more loving than he is just.  God is not more wratherful than merciful.  God is complete in each of his characteristics.  He is perfectly loving, perfectly wrathful, perfectly merciful, and perfectly just.  Never in scripture is one attribute of God emphasized as being more important or more present than any other attribute.  Our misconceptions of God’s character often come because we assume that one attribute of God is more important or more present than others.  That is not the case.  All are in perfect harmony.


Communicable Attributes

God’s communicable attributes are those attributes that God at least partially shares with mankind.  This is the result of the fact that God has created mankind in his own image.  However, to whatever extent God may share these attributes with us, it is God who is the author of those characteristics; and he holds the ultimate perfection in them.  Additionally, as a result of sin and the fall, mankind has corrupted all these attributes to some degree and no longer displays them in the manner God originally intended – even under the best of conditions.  There are many, many attributes that could be included in this list, and some may be a surprise to you.

God’s Omnipotence (see Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26).  God’s omnipotence is what we think about when we consider God’s power, authority, and sovereignty.  Essentially, God’s Omnipotence means that he is fully able and capable of doing his complete holy will.  The term sovereignty means the authority to act in accordance to one's own will or desire without being accountable to anyone but oneself. God is ultimately sovereign over all things. He answers to no one. God shared a portion of this authority with man when he placed him in authority over the earth and gave him the ability to think and make choices.  One of the silliest questions asked about God regarding his omnipotence is whether or not he can make a rock so big that he cannot lift it.  This is simplistic thinking that understands neither God nor the meaning of omnipotence. Omnipotence does NOT mean that God can do ANYTHING; rather, it means God can do anything that is doable.  There are a number of things God cannot do, including:


·      God cannot do that which is contrary to his nature (e.g. Hebrews 6:8)

·      God cannot do that which is a logical contradiction (e.g. make a square circle)

·      God cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13)

·      God cannot be tempted (James 1:13)


We must have a proper understanding of what omnipotence means to avoid silly controversies or pointless arguments with those who simply want to argue for the sake of argument.

God’s Omniscience – that is, his Knowledge (see Job 37:16; 1 John 3:20).  God knows not only himself, but he knows all things – not just actual things, but all possible things.  God knows all that can be known.  Like God, we have also been given the gift of self-awareness and self-determination.  However, unlike God, we do not automatically have such knowledge.  We must learn in accordance with the grace and intelligence that God has given us.

God’s Spirituality (see John 4:24). God exists as a being that is not made of any matter, has no parts or dimensions, is unable to be perceived by our bodily senses, and is more excellent than any other kind of existence.  Until we go to be with him, we cannot fully understand his spiritual existence.  We also have a spiritual soul, but that soul is dead until it is made alive by Jesus Christ.  Our comprehension of it is limited in our current, imperfect form.

God’s Invisibility (see 1 Timothy 6:16; Romans 1:20): God’s total essence, all of his spiritual being, will never be able to be seen by us. Yet God still shows himself to us everyday through visible, created things.  Psalm 19:1 says “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament sheweth his handywork.”  At the same time, however, God has manifested his character in physical form so that we can know him.  God’s entire being and existence has been revealed to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Likewise, we have a spiritual being that is also invisible, yet we are manifested in a physical body. 

God’s Wisdom (see Job 12:13).  God is more wise than any of us could imagine.  He knows what is best and what is good.  That is the basis for God’s holy will.  God always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals.  God has given man the gift of wisdom as well, but to a much lesser degree.  Furthermore, that wisdom has been corrupted and dimmed by sin.

God’s Truthfulness (see John 17:3).  God is a true God; all his knowledge and words are both true and the final standard of truth.  Truth is not relative as many today would argue.  Instead, God himself establishes truth.  We were gifted with an understanding of this truth, but that was corrupted at the fall.  Jesus restores us to truth.

God’s Goodness (see Psalm 106:1). God is good – all the time – and all the time – God is good.  It is a worthy statement.  God is the final standard of good; all that God is and does is worthy of approval.  God created us with that same goodness, but it was corrupted at the fall.  When our bodies and souls are glorified, we will be returned to that state of perfect goodness.

God’s Love (see 1 John 4:8).  God is love.  We say that as if we understand what it means.  We also say that as if his love has more weight than any of his other characteristics, but remember God’s unity – none of his characteristics have any more weight or importance than any other characteristic.  When we say that God is love, it means that God eternally gives himself to others.  God is worthy of all worship and honor and glory, yet he humbled himself and gave himself to save us (see Philippians 2:6-8).  God demonstrated that love by giving us Jesus to die for us (Romans 5:8).  God created us with that same capacity to love as God loves, but that capability has been partially corrupted by the fall.  Without Jesus (and perhaps sometimes with Jesus when we are not fully in communion with him) we are incapable of loving as God loves.

God’s Holiness (see Lev 19:2).  To be holy means to be separate and apart.  It means to be different, unlike any other, and set aside from all others.  God is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor.  There is none like God and so there are none as holy as God, which is why we cry out that he is holy, holy, holy – holy in the third degree.  God made mankind in his image – different than all other creatures in creation.  Because of that, man was created to be holy.  Man’s holiness was corrupted at the fall, leaving him to be more like the creation than the creator.  In many respects, the further away from God that we get, the more like the animals we become.  That was not how we were created.  This corruption, however, is being restored through sanctification and is why we are commanded to be holy. 

God’s Peace (see 1 Corinthians 14:33).  In God, there is no confusion or disorder.  He does all that he does in a well-ordered, fully controlled, manner.  That is the essence of peace.  Peace is a fruit of the Spirit and so it is expected of us to also live in peace.   Instead, mankind’s mind was darkened by the fall and so we live in a state of confusion, fear, and disunity.  God’s desire for us is to live in peace – peace with God (Roman 5:1), peace with one another (Romans 12:18), and peace within ourselves (Philippians 4:7).

God’s Jealousy (see Exodus 20:5).  As humans we tend to think of jealousy from a negative perspective, and human jealousy typically is wrong because it is self-centered and does not seek the good of the other person.  However, there is a sense in which jealousy is good.  Because he is God and deserves all glory and honor, there is a Godly jealousy that continually seeks to protect his honor.  While it is often a sin for us to be jealous, it is not a sin for God to be jealous for our good and his glory.  We are to delight in the glory and honor of God through worship.

God’s Justice or Righteousness (see Deuteronomy 32:4). God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.  It is for this reason that God will ultimately punish all evil because it would be unjust to allow evil to remain unpunished (Romans 6:23).  Through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, we are given the Righteousness of God by grace at salvation.  We are commanded to act in a righteous and just manner at all times.

God’s Wrath (see John 3:36).  Throughout the Old Testament, we see God’s wrath being kindled because of Israel’s unbelief and sin.  Throughout the New Testament, we see the demonstration of God’s love – until we get to Revelation where God’s wrath is again poured out against all of unbelieving mankind.  Even through his love to us, God’s wrath is still present.  His wrath is ever present when he allows mankind to continue to spiral out of control (see, for example, Romans 1:18). God intensely hates all sin and his wrath is kindled against all forms of unrighteousness.  It is for this reason that God poured out his wrath on Jesus at the cross, so that his wrath might be satisfied but yet still be able to offer us forgiveness of sin.  Jesus taught us that our anger was sinful.  It is sinful because it is rooted in selfishness and sin.  God’s righteous anger is rooted not in selfishness and sin, but rather in his distain for unrighteousness.

There are numerous other attributes or characteristics of God that could be discussed, such as his mercy, his perfection, his blessedness, his beauty, his glory, etc.  We could go on forever and never fully explain or exhaust our ability to describe God.  That is because his is so infinitely more than anything we could ever imagine or contemplate.  These characteristics, however, are some of the key ones we should know and understand.




Lesson 3 Addendum – Anathasian Creed


The Anathasian Creed says more about God and the Trinity than any other established creed from church history.  It was attributed to Anathasia of Alexandria, who in the fourth century defended the Nicene creed.  However, a number of scholars believe it was actually written in the sixth century.


Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.


Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living[16] and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.