How to Know God and His Attributes?
This article covers what it means to know God through the Bible, explains the importance of knowing God, and reviews some of God's attributes.
The Christian Basics series covers the basics of Christianity. This article explains how we can know God and what are the attributes of God.
- Introduction to Knowing God
- Importance of Knowing God
- How Can One Know God?
- The Attributes of God
1. Introduction to Knowing God
“Plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.” (C.H. Surgeon)
The Bible claims to be the special revelation of the one true God. The Bible never tries to prove God. It simply states, “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1)
The Bible speaks that there is only one God, and there is no one like God.
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)
“God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you?” (Psalm 89:7-8)
“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” (Isaiah 43:10)
2. The Importance of Knowing God
“A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.” (A.W. Tower)
There is no greater endeavor in this life than to seek to know God. Jesus equates eternal life with knowing God.
“But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:24)
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
3. How Can One Know God?
The primary way that we can know God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ reveals God when He came to earth.
“Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-9)
“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
Jesus enables His people to know God through His atoning work of salvation.
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)
4. God’s Attributes
An attribute is a quality or characteristic that is true about someone. Study the attributes of God gives us greater understanding of God’s Person. Even though some concepts exceed the limits of our comprehension, our ideas concerning God need to be as true as possible. Here are some of God's attributes.
God’s holiness means that He is untouched and unstained by the evil in the world. he is absolutely pure and perfect.
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” (Psalm 99:9)
“And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)
Because God is holy, we are commanded to be holy. We are to be set apart from sin for God. Our lives are to shine as a reflection of God in an unrighteous world.
“Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
Righteousness and Justice
Righteousness designates the perfect agreement between God’s nature and His acts. Justice is the way in which God legislates His righteousness. There is no action that God takes in relation to man that violates any code or morality or justice.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” (Psalm 89:14)
“Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” (Psalm 119:137)
Sovereign means chief or highest; supreme in power; superior in position to all others. The idea of God’s sovereignty is an encouraging one, for it assures the Christian that nothing is out of God’s control and that His plans cannot be thwarted.
“By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’” (Isaiah 45:23)
“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,’” (Isaha 46:9-10)
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Since God is eternal, there has never been a time when God did not exist. He had no beginning and will have no end. Being eternal, God is not bound by time. Having always existed, He sees the past and the future as clearly as He sees the present. With that perspective, He has a perfect understanding of what is best for our lives. Therefore, we should trust Him with all areas of our lives.
“Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 43:13)
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 43:13)
God never changes in His nature or purpose. The Bible contains numerous promises for those who belong to Him. God can be trusted to keep His Word.
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:17-18)
God knows all things possible and actual. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He knew all of our sins at the time of our salvation. Yet, He still forgave us and received us into His family forever.
“For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps.” (Job 34:21)
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1-6)
God is present everywhere in the universe. It is foolish to think we can hide from Him. However, it also means that a believer may experience the presence of God at all times and know the blessings of walking with Him.
“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. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)
God is all-powerful, having more than enough strength to do anything. God’s omnipotence is seen in:
- His power to create (Genesis 1:1)
- His preservation of all things (Hebrews 1:3)
- His providential care for us (Psalm 37:23-24)
“‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.” (Revelation 19:6)
God is love. His love is unconditional; it is not based on the loveliness or merit of the object. Love expresses itself in action. God is our example. He demonstrated His love for us in sending Jesus to die in our place.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
God is the only true God. God’s truth is above all. he is truthful even if all men are found to be liars. His words and His judgments always prevail.
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” (Psalm 31:5)
“For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:2)
“By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” (Romans 3:4)
God’s great mercy is the practical expression of His compassion to those who have opposed His will. God’s great mercy is contrasted with man’s sin. His mercy is displayed in our salvation.
“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4)
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9)
“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 2:4-5)