What are the most important things to understand about the nature of God?Question: "What are the most important things to understand about the nature of God?"
Answer: The most important element of God’s nature is His holiness. Holy means “set apart,” and God is clearly separate from His creation based on His nature and attributes. Holiness is the foundation of all other aspects of God’s character. Revelation 15:4 says of God, “You alone are holy.” Revelation 4:8 describes the four living creatures who sing to God day and night, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” It is God’s holiness that makes Him the “consuming fire” that will judge all sin (Hebrews 12:29). Beautiful doxologies exalting God’s holiness are found throughout Scripture, including Psalm 99:9; Psalm 33:21; Psalm 77:13; Psalm 89:18; Psalm 105:3; and others.
It is also important to understand that God is an eternal spirit (John 4:24). He is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) who has always existed as three distinct Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He does not have a physical body (although the Son became incarnate). A doctrine is false if it denies the Trinity, views God the Father as a man, or denies the humanity and deity of Christ (see 2 John 1:7).
God is also, by nature, sovereign. He is judged by no one and has absolute authority over the entire universe and everything in it. His sovereignty is expressed in many ways, including His omnipotence. All of His ways are right (Psalm 145:17), and whether mankind believes God’s ways to be “fair” is irrelevant. The Lord God is not constrained by time or place. He has a plan, He has had it from eternity past, and His purpose will be accomplished (Daniel 4:37; Psalm 115:3).
Another key aspect of God’s nature is His immutability. He does not change, being the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He states outright in Malachi 3:6, “I the LORD do not change.” Because of His unchanging nature, we can depend on His blessings: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
The Almighty’s sovereignty speaks to His right to do whatever He wishes, and His omnipotence speaks to His ability to do so. He also knows everything, from eternity past to eternity future, everything we think, do, and say. He has personal knowledge of every person who has ever lived or will live, knowing them intimately in every way. It is encouraging to hear God’s words in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
We must not overlook God’s wrath, based on His holiness. He has a righteous anger against sin (Psalm 7:11), and, because of God’s impending judgment, mankind needs the gospel message of grace and salvation. It is also God’s nature to love (1 John 4:16), and in His love for the world, He Himself came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ to redeem us (John 3:16). Nothing less than a perfect sacrifice would do.
Love is more than an attribute of God; He is literally the essence of love. This is stated clearly in 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God’s love is eternal. Because He is immutable, His love never changes. His love is perfect and holy.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).
Recommended Resource: Knowing God by J.I. Packer
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