The Communicable Attributes of God
There must be an understanding of the communicable attributes of God as those attributes that God shares with a finite creation, but not as those attributes in us that are God-like, or ways that God is like us. There is a correspondence to God in regards to these attributes, but it is far from 1 to 1.
1. Omniscience: “God knows all things comprehensively, certainly, and immediately, past, present, and future, both possible and actual.” -Bruce Ware
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
(Isaiah 40:13-14 ESV)
“Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.”
(Isaiah 46:8-11 ESV)
2. Omnisapience: God is all wise. God’s actions are always in concert with the infinitude of his wisdom, which can be defined as the godward application of knowledge.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31 ESV)
3. Truth: “God knows all things as they are and his word and revelation are reliable.” -Bruce Ware. God is not merely a being that speaks in truth, or knows truth, but the only being who is the infinitude of truth. He is absolute truth. He is irrefutably the truth.
4. Goodness: The constitution of the character of God as merciful, benevolent and gracious can be summed up in the word goodness.
5. Love: God is unconditionally, selflessly committed to showing favor.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)
6. Grace: Unmerited favor. The favor that God bestows on people is unmerited. We deserve none of God’s favor. This stands in opposition to wages, or payment for deeds done.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… (Romans 3:23-24 ESV)
7. Mercy: The favor of God to those in a hopeless state.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV)
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7 ESV)
When we look to the Scriptures, we see so many attributes of God, some incommunicable, some communicable, but the many facets of the character of God drive us to worship him because of who he is. It is this God, this grand and glorious king who has redeemed us and called us his own through the person and work of his son, Jesus Christ. It is this God who reigns and tomorrow we will discuss his reign under the heading of the sovereignty of God.