1. John 4:24: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
- God is the ultimate reality. Therefore, the ultimate reality is spiritual.
- God does not want us to think about him in as a material "thing". This is why He forbids man from making idols (cf. Exodus 20:4 - “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”).
2. Luke 24:39: (Jesus said), "a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have”).
B. God (the Father) is Invisible
3. I John 4:12: "No man hath seen God at any time" (The visible appearances of God in the Old Testament are preincarnate appearances of Christ—see Exodus 24:9-11, 33:20).
4. I Timothy 6:16: “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”
To say that God is Spirit is to consider the form of existence (or essence) which God has. We may say that in His essence, God is spiritual. He is not material and possesses no parts such as material things have. He lacks such material qualities as shape, size, weight, divisibility, or ability of increase. These are all qualities that apply to things. God is not a thing. Yet on the other hand, do not equate spirit with the vagueness of a pantheistic belief system.
We live in a day when materialism seems to be the measure of all things. We tend to live for the present. We are impressed by "things" even though we don't want to be. As a result, if we are not careful, we end up sacrificing the permanent (the eternal, spiritual) on the altar of the immediate (material, now). Perhaps one reason dying is so hard for Christians is not because they are uncertain that Jesus is on the other side, but because they have made so much of life's investments here and have so little on the other side. The truth of the matter is, Christ redeemed both the spiritual (man's soul) and the material creation.
C. God is to be Worshiped.
1. Matthew 4:10: Jesus said, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only."
This verse teaches that worship is not optional. Everyone is required to worship God.
2. John 4:23: "But the hour cometh, and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him"
God is actively seeking for worshipers.
3. Luke 11:2: "And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." (Matthew 6:9-10 is parallel)
Prayer is to begin with worship. Jesus provides a model for prayer. He teaches us that the first thing that should occupy our attention when we pray is our relationship with God ("Our Father which art in heaven").
a. The privileges we have when God is our Father are those of position, power, intimacy, community, and family.
God is not everyone's Father. The unsaved have the devil as their father. Jesus said in John 8:44: "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do."
b. The perfection of God as well as (to a limited degree) the place of God's abode are signified in the phrase, "which art in heaven."
Heaven is said to contain the throne of God. Yet we are not to circumscribe or limit God's presence to heaven. He is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12) and yet He is said to be "more" present some places than at others. God is more present in the Divine Liturgy than at a football game. The fact that God is "in heaven" signifies that He is not limited to earthly resources. He has heavenly resources. Further, "heaven" speaks of perfection and reminds us that God is the perfection of Fatherhood and is always available to His children.
Concern for God’s "reputation" is the second thing that should occupy our attention when we pray ("hallowed be Thy name"). God's "name" refers to His character and his reputation. To pray, "hallowed be thy name" is to express concern that in all our thinking, asking, and doing we have as our main concern that which will bring honor and glory to God. We hallow God's name by living holy lives. As God shines out through us, God's reputation is enhanced before the world. The reverse is also true. Romans 2:24 teaches that the name of God was blasphemed by the Gentiles because Jewish professors of faith did not live lives that properly showed God's holiness. Remember, by our words, our lives, by being reflectors or detractors from the greatness and the glory of God and of His glorious attributes, we either "hallow" or profane God's name.
The rule and reign of God is the third thing that should occupy our attention in prayer ("thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"). Before we plead for our needs, we must learn to share in God's concerns for His kingdom: its expansion on earth through the saving of souls, the return of His Son, and the enabling and enforcing of His will on earth as it is in heaven. We have no right to ask for anything that will either dishonor His name, delay His kingdom, or disturb His will on earth.
God's Natural Attributes
When one discusses God's "natural" attributes he speaks of those qualities which are distinctly God's and are not communicated to man (incommunicable attributes). We must always remember that an attribute describes how God is. He does not possess them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures.
A. God is One (a compound unity).
1. Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!"
The is the famous "shema" that is recited by Jewish people everywhere. It is the classic Scripture used to defend the unity of God. Please note that the word "one" (echad) is not a numerical singular. It is the same word used to indicate the unity of a husband and wife when they become "one" flesh (Gen. 2:24). It is a composite unity. There is one God eternally existing and manifesting Himself to us in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. Isaiah 44:6: "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
4. 1 Timothy 2:5: " For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
Though God is revealed as the Holy Trinity, God’s substance is indivisible. He has no parts but is single in His unitary being. No contradiction between His attributes can exist. He does not suspend one attribute to exercise another, for in Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does. He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being. He is holy in all He does.
B. God is Infinite.
1. Psalm 145:3: "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable."
2. Psalm 147:5: "Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite."
3. 1 Kings 8:27: "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?"
God is limitlessness and therefore impossible for a limited mind to grasp fully. Whatever God is and all that God is, He is without limit, unbounded. He is without growth or addition or development. Nothing in God is less or more, or large or small. Because God's nature is infinite, everything that flows out of it is infinite also. His resources never run out. His resources are not diminished by His generous giving nor is He enriched by withholding. He has unlimited resources of grace, love, mercy and more for His children. If we take the concept of infinity and apply it to creation, we may derive others aspects of God's being. He is infinite as regards time (eternal), infinite as regards power (omnipotent), infinite as regards knowledge (omniscient), infinite as regards space or presence (omnipresent).
C. God is Eternal (self-existent).
1. Deuteronomy 33:27: "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them."
2. Exodus 3:14: "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM."
3. Psalm 90:2: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God."
4. Psalm 93:2: "Thy throne is established from of old; Thou art from everlasting."
5. 1 Timothy 1:17: "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."
God exists in Himself and of Himself. God had no beginning and will have no ending. He always was, always is and always will be. He is unaffected by time or motion. He is everywhere while He is nowhere, for "where" has to do with matter and space, and God is independent of both. In eternity there is no succession of events. Therefore God exists in the eternal present. He is beyond time. The God who leads me through today knows my tomorrows. And because He has gone through my tomorrows already, He also knows what I need today. Because of His eternity, He can give all of Himself all of the time to anybody He chooses. Do not think of God's eternity as simply a state of existence. God is not static. God is eternally "Be-ing". He is the living God and as such has life in Himself (John 5:26). Various names, such as LORD communicate that He is "the self-existent one" and He is the One who "causes to be." He is the eternal "I Am." His life did not come from another source nor is He the generator of His own life. He is not "in process" in the sense of growing or increasing in any manner. Due to the fact that God has life in himself, nothing is necessary to God; therefore no one is necessary. God seeks us but does not NEED us. We seek God because we need Him, for in Him we live, and move, and have our being. God gives all that is given, but who Himself can receive nothing that He has not first given. He has a VOLUNTARY relation to everything He has made, but has no NECESSARY relation to anything outside of Himself. His interest in His creatures arises from His sovereign good pleasure, not from any need those creatures can supply nor from any completeness they can bring to Him who is complete in Himself. And since His is the Being supreme over all, it follows that God cannot be elevated
D. God is All-Powerful (Omnipotent, Sovereign).
1. Genesis 17:1: "The LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
2. Revelation 19:6: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
3. Jeremiah 32:27: "Behold I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?"
4. Psalm 115:3: "But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased."
5. Ephesians 1:11: "Who works all things after the counsel of His will."
6. Matthew 19:26: "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
7. Acts 4:28: "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."
God can do anything that is consistent with His character. For example, because He is Truth, He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Because He is God and not man, he cannot repent (1 Samuel 15:29). God's ability to do what is consistent with His character can be called either "omnipotence" or "sovereignty."
Sovereignty and omnipotence go together. One cannot exist without the other. God can do anything as easily as any thing else. All His acts are done without effort. He expends no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for Him to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being. He has delegated power to His creatures, but being self- sufficient, He cannot relinquish anything of His perfections and, power being one of them, He has never surrendered the least iota of His power. He gives but does not give away. All that He gives remains His own and returns to Him again. Forever He must remain what He has forever been, the Lord God omnipotent.
The exercise of God's sovereignty and omnipotence is guided by His own wise and holy and loving will. God can do anything that is consistent with His character and reveals to us that He chooses to do only what infinite wisdom, holiness and love dictate. He therefore sovereignly chooses to operate on three levels:
1) His decretive will;
2) His desired will; and
3) His permissive will.
God sovereignly chooses to give mankind the ability to resist His "desired" will. He "permits" mankind to reject His offer of salvation. No one or nothing, however, thwarts His decretive will. Psalm 75:6-7 reminds us: "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." Isaiah 46:9-10 says, "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (see also Isaiah 45:5-7).
The Scriptures not only reveal God to be sovereign, they also tell us how He exercises His sovereignty. Psalms 89:14 says, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before Thee". In His absolute sovereignty, God has chosen to have rule according to righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, and truth. As a result, He has sovereignly decided to have mercy upon the lost (Romans 11:32). In addition, God has sovereignly enabled mankind to accept or reject His offer of salvation and thereby determine the eternal destiny of his own life.
To define God's sovereignty to mean that God personally decides every minute detail or circumstance that ever has or ever will take place is to contradict Scripture and to arbitrarily place restrictions upon His sovereignty. God is no less sovereign in choosing to establish laws or operations which shall bring certain results and then enabling mankind the ability to choose which results he desires for himself. For example, God has established the means whereby a person can be saved. He says, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). Through the exercise of His sovereign grace He also has enabled mankind to accept or reject those means. Those who choose to accept the means of salvation God has provided are saved. The choice to accept God's offer of salvation is not a meritorious work (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is simply the result of meeting the conditions already chosen by the sovereign God. This is no less the exercise of sovereignty than the idea that God must control every choice a person makes.