Can God Be Complex and Simple At The Same Time?

We’ve looked at a lot of God’s attributes, so how do they all fit together?

What is God’s relations with His attributes?

He isn’t a being made up of parts but a whole. None of the attributes are more important than the rest. They’re intrinsic to God, not something He can take off and put on again.

1 John 1:5 says that God is light; however, 1 John says He is love with no indication He is part this or that. God is these attributes, not the other way around, as in love is God.

The characteristics from Exodus 34:6-7 describe God as a whole: compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin, yet doesn’t leave the guilty unpunished. Sounds like a parent to me.

God’s whole being includes all of His attributes. Each one is a way to describe one aspect of God’s total character or being. It’s why some theologians say God is simple because He’s not made of parts.

This unity of God may be defined as follows: God isn’t divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God empathized at different times.

Why does Scripture speak of these different attributes of God?

Because we’re unable to wrap our minds around all of God’s character at once. We need time to learn and process it over a period of time called progressive revelation. It’s like from the time you start dating a person to being married for 50 years. You know a lot about them at that point. Now multiply that by infinity.

Except, God doesn’t change over time.

Why does God seem so different compared in the Old and New Testaments?

Keep in mind that He’s not just a God of justice in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New. He’s infinitely loving and just at all times, and everything He does is consistent with His character. God’s justice in Revelation goes beyond anything in the Old Testament but ends in renewal. People are called to be saved because they’re under God’s wrath (Romans 1:17-19). He loves them and provides a way out. It’s the point of the cross.

What actions show different parts of God’s attributes?

Creation shows His power and wisdom. The cross shows His love and justice. Heaven’s radiance shows His glory and beauty.

All of these demonstrate His other attributes. God is a unity and everything He does is an act of the whole person of God.



Doctrine of the Bible Posts
How Did We Get The Bible?
Is The Bible The Word of God and Does It Matter?
Is The Bible Inerrant?
Is The Bible Necessary?
Is The Bible Sufficient?

Doctrine of God Posts
Is There A God? 
How Can We Know God?
What Is God Like?
Does God Depend On or Need Anything To Exist?
Does God Change?

How Can God Be Both Infinite and Personal?

How Does God Relate To Time? 

Is God Everywhere?

 

Sources
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Chapter 11: Incommunicable Attributes of God

What 2017 Taught Me About God and Compassion

My one big thing of 2017 was cultivating compassion. I had to learn what it was, and how to do it, and it involved a lot of studying. On top of God tenderizing my hard heart, this is what penetrated my thick skull and left an imprint.

Jesus, Compassion, and Me

To feel compassion, I have to think of others more and me less. To actually feel for others I have to get out of my head and actually see them. Jesus saw people and had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

That touched people. He was full of pity, sensitive with sympathy for the vague soul hunger and physical suffering around him. He loves and sees the actual potential worth of others and loves them.

Everyone suffers in this fallen world. Sometimes it is their fault, and at other times it’s not. The Garden of Eden shows us what God intended, and the promise of the new Earth lets us know that it won’t stay this way.

If I want to model Jesus, I have to notice people. Immanuel means “God with us”. Because Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, when we sit and empathize with someone God is there sitting with them also.

I learned to act wisely towards others (still a work in progress), making the most of every opportunity. My words should be full of unmerited favor and truth so that I know how to answer everyone.

An important thing I learned was how to compassionately confront. It’s humbly telling someone no while recognizing the evil in my own heart when I confront evil.

Jesus’ Compassion

Jesus was best known for his eyes of compassion. When he saw broken people he knew this was not how it’s supposed to be. A by-product of Satan’s machinations in the Garden of Eden. Now he’s trying to call humanity back to him because grace isn’t fair, it’s generous.

 

What 2017 Taught Me About God’s Sovereignty

2017 taught me who’s in charge, and I’m okay with that. Knowing that God’s running the show, I can see things from a different perspective. A transcendental perspective.

The Plan

Get into the habit of saying “speak Lord”, and being quiet. Anticipate his voice in every encounter. Recognize the divine appointments He sets up, and leave the rest up to Him. Because God’s working all things together for the good of those that love Him according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), He’ll make sure that the good I do will be received by those that need it.

We cannot stop God’s plan. If I’m unwilling, He will use another. We are strategically placed in every moment according to His plan with this mission: to do good and right. All work together for good, He gives us all we need and withholds nothing we need.

He won’t remove anyone that’s needed. If one is called out of a ministry, He’ll put another in their place. A painful truth at the end of last year.

Wrath and Justice

Every year I come back to the issue of suffering and evil. I studied Job, I  read Tim Keller’s book, even writing a post on it. God loves His creation and is angry at anyone and anything that is destroying the people and world He loves. If God is loving and good, He must be angry at evil. Angry enough to do something about it.

A God without wrath has no need to go to the cross and suffer incredible agony and die in order to save us. He took our punishment on Himself. He doesn’t need us but wants us to willingly want Him.

God doesn’t play favorites between me and you, or you and another. That shook me when I realized it.

Still one of His loved enough to die for, but He is just. He also isn’t surprised by anything that happens, and work it for an eternal purpose. Wherever there is a Christian, there is the presence of God, and that should make an impact.