Different Kinds of Attributes
When we talk about the attributes of God, we distinguish between incommunicable and communicable attributes. Incommunicable attributes are the attributes that God does not share, or communicate to others. These are the attributes of God that we can’t fathom, for we have no way to relate to them. Communicable attributes are those attributes that God has shared or communicated with us. While God is infinitely greater than us, we can understand certain specific attributes as they correlate to our own human existence. Today we will focus on a few of God’s incommunicable attributes and then tomorrow we will address those attributes of God considered communicable.
God of Wonders
When we speak of the incommunicable attributes of God we mean those attributes that are in no way shared with humanity, so we will see ourselves as distinct and different from God in these specific areas.
1. Self-Existence (Aseity): God’s existence in and of himself.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
(Isaiah 40:28 ESV)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)
2. Self-sufficiency: “God possesses within himself all that is required for being God.”-Bruce Ware. God needs nothing.
3. Infinity: There are no limitations to God. He possesses all of his attributes to an infinite degree. It is not just that God is loving, but that he is the perfect, unfathomable, infinite expression of love.
“Can you find out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
Its measure is longer than the earth
and broader than the sea.
(Job 11:7-9 ESV)
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
(Psalm 147:5 ESV)
4. Omnipresence: This describes God’s infinitude in relationship to space and the present. Thus he is not confined to space and can be everywhere at once.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalm 139:7-10 ESV)
5. Eternity: God is free of relationship to time. This attribute is an expression of God’s infinitude in relationship to time. “God is in himself non-temporal, yet can be in every time present with creation.”-Bruce Ware
6. Immutability: God cannot change.
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.
(Psalm 102:25-27 ESV)
Why are these attributes incommunicable? Because we are nothing like this. We are not self-existent. We are not self-sufficient, though we might think that we are. We still need air, food, water, etc., to survive. God needs none of those things. We are finite, not infinite. We can only be in one place at a time, we are always captive to time, and we are always changing. God is nothing like us! He is the great God and we are finite, limited and weak. We acknowledge our finitude before the glories of our God and find ourselves in need of his mercy and kindness which we will examine tomorrow.