Question: "What is the character of God?"Recommended Resource:
The pages of the Bible reveal a detailed portrait of the character of God. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of God’s character is that He is a loving Father to all believers (Ephesians 1:2; Galatians 1:1; Colossians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:3).
God, by His nature, is wholly good (Mark 10:18; 1 Timothy 4:4). His goodness is unmatched, and because of it, we can trust in Him: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7; see also Exodus 33:19; Psalm 25:8; 34:8; Matthew 19:17; 2 Peter 1:3). In His goodness, God always has our best interests at heart: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, CSB; see also Genesis 50:20; Jeremiah 29:11; Lamentations 3:25). Everything God does is an expression of His goodness and designed to benefit His people.
God’s holiness is unequaled: “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2; see also Leviticus 11:44–45; 19:2; Isaiah 6:3; 43:15; 1 Peter 1:15–16; Revelation 4:8). There is no stain of evil or impurity in God: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5; see also Psalm 12:6; 19:8).
Another defining characteristic of God is His righteousness, meaning He exists in a state of moral perfection: “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25–26; see also 2 Chronicles 12:6; Psalm 33:5; Isaiah 45:21).
God is also just; He is perfectly upright and fair in how he treats His creation: “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18; see also Deuteronomy 32:4; Zephaniah 3:5; Acts 17:31; Revelation 16:5–6).
Loving, compassionate, gracious, kind, and merciful are all central descriptions of the character of God (Nehemiah 9:31). So kindhearted and caring is He that Scripture says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). The psalmist describes God as “compassionate and gracious” and “abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). So great is God’s love for us “that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; see also 1 John 4:9–10). Because of His great love, Christ died for us, even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8; see also Titus 3:4–5). God’s mercy and compassion never fail; they are renewed continuously toward us day in and day out (Lamentations 3:22–23).
Part of God’s character is faithfulness: “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9; see also Isaiah 49:7 1 Thessalonians 5:24). In our struggles and failures, God is faithful to forgive us when we confess our sin and return to Him: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). In times when we stumble and fall, it is immensely encouraging to know that God will never abandon us. Even when we are utterly unfaithful, God remains faithful and true because that is who He is; it is God’s character to be faithful (2 Timothy 2:13; see also Revelation 19:11).
God is truthful, and His Word is true: “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20; see also John 17:17). God and His Word form a trustworthy foundation for life (Psalm 12:6; 26:3; 33:4; 43:3; 86:11). In Him is no falsehood, lies, or deception (Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 45:19; Romans 1:25; Hebrews 6:18). What God says is absolutely reliable (Jeremiah 10:10). His Word is consistent with His character and His revelation of Himself (John 7:28; 8:26). Because of God’s character, we can count on Him to fulfill His promises (Psalm 31:5).
Patience and longsuffering are attributes of God’s character. He is “slow to anger,” dealing patiently with rebellious sinners (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15;). God was patient in delaying the flood in Noah’s time while the ark was under construction, giving sinners plenty of time for repentance (1 Peter 3:20). Likewise, the prolonging of Christ’s return is not an indication of slowness or hesitation on God’s part, but of His longsuffering, as He does not want anyone to die without the opportunity to repent, be saved, and enter into His family (2 Peter 3:9–10). At the heart of God’s character is His desire to be a Father to all who draw near to Him (Psalm 68:5; 103:13; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Ephesians 4:6; 1 John 3:1).
The more deeply we dig into the Scriptures, the more we will uncover new and beautiful facets to the character of God. And the longer we spend time with Him and in His Word, the better we will know and understand His nature. We will discover that God never changes (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and always present everywhere (Psalm 139:7–10; Hebrews 4:13). He is perfect (Matthew 5:48), and He is three in one. We can spend a lifetime seeking after Him and still only scratch the surface of comprehending the depth of our heavenly Father’s character.
What is the character of God?
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
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