t{squared}: The Attributes of God (Intro)

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The Attributes of God

The Attributes of GodI’ve wracked my brain trying to come up with a fun, cute introductory anecdote for today’s study, but nothing has come to me. So we will just dive right in.

If you look at the creation account, it’s easy to see that God is a God of order. The world was created in an orderly, logical manner (Gen. 1). Similarly, if we observe His creation, we see order. We can trust that the sun will rise each morning, gravity will hold us to the ground, water and sunlight will cause plants to grow, etc.

Similarly, God designed us to desire some sense of order so that we can understand the world around us. We classify thing in an attempt to better understand and study them. Plants are separate and different from animals. Amphibians are different from mammals.

We will use this same classification approach in our study of God. Most theologians classify God’s attributes into two categories. Read the following lists and see if you can determine what each grouping of attributes has in common:

omnipresent (God is everywhere at once), eternal (God as always existed), and unchangeable

love, justice, and mercy

Hold that thought. :)

Let’s jump back to Genesis where God created man. Genesis 1:26-27 reads:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Genesis tells us that we were created in God’s image. In His likeness. This is said of nothing else in creation. Mankind is unique in this aspect. Now look again at the two lists of God’s attributes. Does anything jump out when you consider those attributes in light of our being made in God’s image?

Two Classifications for the Attributes of God

  1. Incommunicable Attributes: This is a fancy term used to describe those attributes that describe God uniquely. He does not “communicate” or “pass on” these attributes to us. Which attributes from the above lists fall into this category? omnipresent, eternal, and unchangeable. Man is only able to be in one place at a time. None of us have existed forever–we all have a birthday! We are all definitely changing (Hopefully into a greater likeness of Christ!).
  2. Communicable Attributes: This term describes those attributes that God has chosen to “communicate” or “pass on” to us. We are able to show love, demonstrate justice, and have mercy on others. This is part of the way that we are made in the image of God. We are able to display His attributes.
As you may have guessed, this is not a perfect classification. There are no incommunicable attributes that are completely incommunicable. For example, God is eternal in that He has existed forever. We demonstrate that somewhat in that we will live forever. Similarly, there is no communicable attribute that is completely communicable. While we are able to show love, we cannot do so perfectly as God does.

Application

Now let’s see if you can apply what you’ve learned. Earlier I talked about God being a God of order. Is that a communicable or incommunicable attribute? Why? List at least one more communicable and incommunicable attribute of God. Share your answers in the comments!
If you were going to classify God’s attributes, how would you do so?

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If you are new to t{squared}, I am using Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine to guide this study! The numbers you see in parenthesis refer to page numbers in this text.

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Photo Credit: Noel Feans

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Comments

  1. I had to pin this Mary Beth. Love to be reminded that I was made in HIS image. It’s just so comforting to me.

  2. Love this! Some of my favorite books about God’s attributes are by Tozer and Charnock. Have you read either of them?

    As per your “assignment” – recently, one of my favorite communicable attributes of God is the ability/desire to create. Especially as a writer, who gets to create with words – it’s thrilling to do that after the image of God creating with the Word, in Genesis 1!

    And lately, a favorite incommunicable attribute has been His perfection. We worship a God who can never make a mistake, never let something happen by accident. He is perfect in all His attributes, which means He cannot change or improve – because there is nothing greater than perfection.

Trackbacks

  1. […] it’s been a few weeks, you may wish to go back and refresh yourself on the definitions of communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. Briefly, communicable attributes are those that attributes of God shares with us in some sense. […]

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