God: Utterly Unique, Yet Imaged

Read Psalm 102:25-28

God: Utterly Unique, Yet Imaged

“God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” (WSC, #4)

“There is but one [God] only, the living and true God.” (WSC, #5)

Two weeks ago we saw that humanity’s purpose for existence is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. This requires God instructing us in what pleases Him, but also instructing us in who He is; there is no praising or enjoying of someone until we know them. Last week we thought about the Bible, in which God reveals Himself to us. We will attempt (very briefly) here to consider what it is that God reveals about Himself.

God is Unique

Scripture reveals to us a God who is utterly unique and other than us. His unique attributes include independence, immutability and infinity.

God is independent. He is the only self-existent being. All else only exists because of God, but God existed before time, and apart from anything or anyone else. He is the Cause without a cause. He not only is independent in His existence, but in His continuance. God alone has no need for anyone else, and nothing else, to continue existing. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,” John 5:25-26, and “by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16-17. We have our existence only because God created us, and we continue to exist only because He sustains us; we are dependent upon His sovereignty.

God is immutable. That is, He never changes. His very being has no need of improvement and will never deteriorate, (Romans 1:23). He is what He is, and that will never change; this is precisely what He said to Moses at the burning bush, Exodus 3:14; it is the essence of His covenantal name, YHWH. This unchangeableness extends to God’s knowledge, plans, and moral principles. We try to redefine right and wrong, we change allegiances and go back on our word; but God does not and this is good news for us. “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob,” Malachi 3:6.

God is infinite. He is free from all limitations. By this we do not mean what some modern theologians suggest, that God’s infinity is extending. That is, that God began expanding at the beginning of time (the cause of the big bang), and He continues to expand, causing the cosmos to expand. This view makes God dependent and tied to creation, rather than unique from it. When we say God is infinite we mean absolutely beyond limits, not expanding the limits. He is infinite in absolute perfection, eternity (time) and immensity (space). 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:1-12.

God is Imaged

Although God is utterly unique and other than us, Scripture also reveals that God created humanity in His image. There are certain communicable attributes which we can imitate. These include wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. But it is important to realize that, while we imitate these attributes of God, we cannot separate the way that God is any of these from His uniqueness. In other words, when it comes to each of these attributes, God has that attribute independently, immutably and infinitely. We do not. Let us just consider two of these attributes.

God is wise. When we say God is wise, we confess that He is wise in and of Himself. He did not acquire wisdom from another, nor need to learn it in any way. He always was, and always will be perfectly and infinitely wise. We on the other hand must learn wisdom, and are dependent upon God for this wisdom. In fact, when we seek independence by denying God, we display our foolishness (Psalm 14); when we try to say we have a wiser understanding or approach to God than He has revealed, we display our foolishness (Psalm 115:3-8). Our wisdom is fickle, changing and temporary. We imitate the wisdom of God, but only as we rely on Him for that wisdom.

God is holy. He does not gain this holiness from another, but is holy in His very being. He cannot become more holy, nor earn more holiness. This is why we sing, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.” Adam was created righteous, but in him we have lost that in Paradise. We have no holiness in ourselves, but “all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment,” Isaiah 64:6. We are called to be holy in imitation of Christ, (1 Peter 1:16), but this we can only have as it is imputed to us by faith in Christ and as it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit.

Study the Scriptures and you will find this to be the case with all of the communicable attributes of God. God is always just, He doesn’t shift on right and wrong, and will not allow the guilty to go unpunished. We on the other hand make excuses for those we like and for our own unjust lives, then grow enraged at lesser faults in others. Justice is an attribute in which we must grow. Love too. God’s love never fails. But we are fickle and selfish in our so-called “love.” We only truly love, when we have first experienced God’s love for us (1 John 4:19).

Even where we imitate God, God remains utterly different from us. At best we are reliant and increasingly, yet changeably, display God’s attributes.

Scripture displays this astounding God. It reveals Him not only in these (and other) attributes, but through His names and actions. The Bible reveals to us a God who is infinitely above us, infinitely worthy of our obedience, adoration and praise. And in our sin, the Bible reveals to us the God who Redeems, bringing all the perfections of His attributes to the talk of pardoning us and calling us His children.

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