Communicable Traits (Part 1)

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What attributes of God are more shared with us?
(How is God like us in His being and in mental and moral attributes?)
How finely do we want to divide God’s attributes? For example, are God’s goodness and love two attributes or one? But does it really matter how we treat these attributes if we think of God in the whole, entire, integrated being in whom we are talking about. The divisions of the attributes do not increase or decrease the doctrinal significance of God.
This week, we will try to categorize individual attributes into 5 categories.
What are the five major categories of God’s “communicable” attributes?
Attributes Describing God’s Being:
Attributes Describing God’s Being
Mental Attributes
Moral Attributes
Attributes of Purpose
“Summary” Attributes
Tonight, we will be discussing the attributes of God’s Being and His mental attributes.
Why are God’s communicable attributes important for us to imitate in our own lives?
Ephesians 5:1 ESV
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
We are called to be imitators (follow as a model) of God, so if His attributes are what HE possesses, then shouldn’t WE possess and imitate those same attributes?
So, it we should be imitators of God’s attributes (a quality or feature regarded as characteristic or inherent. Concise Oxford English dictionary), then shouldn’t we know and study those attributes?

Attributes of God’s Being


What are the physical descriptions of God? What is He made of?
John 4:24 ESV
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God is spirit (the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character, the real meaning or intention of something as opposed to its strict verbal interpretation. Concise Oxford English dictionary). God’s spirituality means that God exists as a being that is not made of any matter, has no parts or dimensions, is unable to be perceived by our bodily senses, and is more excellent than any other kind of existence. Nothing can, does, or will exist that can ultimately mimic God.
Exodus 20:4–6 ESV
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Define God’s spirituality:
So we know God has no physical body, and He is not made of any “matter” such as our physical body or anything else in creation. He is not just an “energy”, “element”, or even a “spirit” like or own as we are limited (one place at one time, etc), but instead He is His own Spirit. The best summary I could find is how Grudem describes it “God is spirit. This kind of existence is not less real or less desirable than our own existence. Rather, it is more real and more desirable than the material and immaterial existence of all creation. Before there was any creation, God existed as spirit. His own being is so very real that it was able to cause everything else to come into existence! So building from last week, we can define God’s spirituality to mean God exists as a being that is not made of any matter, has no parts or dimensions, is unable to be perceived by our bodily senses, and is more excellent than any other kind of existence.”


Now comes a wonderfully complicated description of the invisibility of God. God’s spirituality definition shows us he does not exist in any matter or form - He is invisible. However, we see visible ways in which God manifests Himself.
Define God’s Invisibility:
God’s invisibility means that God’s total essence, all of his spiritual being, will never be able to be seen by us, yet God still shows himself to us partially in this age and more fully in the age to come.
John 1:18 ESV
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
So, we do not see God with our physical eyes or in physical form, but we can see the effects of God. Think of wind. We do not see wind, but we see the effects of the wind, feel the breeze, etc. He shows something of Himself THROUGH visible, created things.
When God reveals Himself through visible, created things, we refer to that as theophany, or an appearance of God.
Burning bush
Angel of the Lord
Cloud during day / Fire at night
Temple cloud
So, while we do not see God Himself, we see Him in His creation.
Exodus 33:20 ESV
20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
One of the best theophanies is in the person of Christ Himself.
John 14:9 (ESV)
9 ...Whoever has seen me has seen the Father...
Jesus is “the image of the invisible God”
Colossians 1:15 ESV
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
How will we see and/or know God in heaven?
It is not clear what we will be able to see of God, and will not be fully understood this side of heaven. HOWEVER, we will see Him as He is, face to face.
1 John 3:2 ESV
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So, the easiest answer I can give is we will know Him when we see Him, as He reveals Himself, and we shall see Him as He is.

Mental Attributes

Knowledge (Omniscience)

Define God’s knowledge:
God fully knows Himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.
Omniscience is knowing everything. “All knowing”.
1 John 3:20 (ESV)
20 ... and he knows everything.

God knows Himself

1 Corinthians 2:10–11 (ESV)
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

God knows all things actual

(all things that exist and all things that happen), every tiny detail.
Hebrews 4:13 ESV
13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Psalm 139:1–4 ESV
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

God knows all thing possible

There are instances in Scripture where God gives information about events that might happen, things that could be created, and things that would take place. How?
Psalm 139:6 ESV
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Isaiah 55:9 ESV
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We may not understand how God knows all things, but we must have the faith and understanding that He does. Honestly, we could drive ourselves crazy trying to think of the infinite knowledge God possesses, and at times must resign ourselves to knowing we may never understand this concept fully.

God is aware of everything

God knows the number of hairs on our heads, and cold even tell us the number of grains of sands or stars in the sky if He desires. How? Because He created it all!
Have you ever been around someone who seems to be able to recall almost anything they have ever seen, read, or heard? Some things may be useful, some useless, but regardless they are full of knowledge. They amaze us, right? But do they know everything?
God, already knows everything. His knowledge can never change or increase. For all eternity, God has known all things that would happen and all things that would be done. So, can God forget? Isa 43:25 “25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Notice this verse says He will not remember our sins, they will not be brought back to His recollection, not that He forgets that they were ever done.

Open Theism (Free Will): Does God know Future Human Choices?

While the future may not be fixed for certain based on our own decisions, it does not mean that God does not know.
This train of thought (free will/open theism) risks the WHOLE deity of God. God’s knowledge is not dynamic, changing as we change our minds. God is unchangeable. However, there are some who would argue God does not know our future decisions and changes His will/way according to our actions/reactions.
This completely erodes and undermines God’s omniscience, and how narrow minded humans are to think in this manner. It again points to man trying to confine God to their understanding. If we cannot believe in God’s perfect all-knowing nature, then what can we believe in?

If God knows our future choices, how can they be free?

So, what is free will? We are free to choose what we most want to do, but it does not mean God does not already know what our choices are. Once we understand God is the all powerful Creator, we can reasonably conclude He preserves and governs everything including the path for our lives.


What is the definition of God’s wisdom?
God’s wisdom means that God always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals.
Not only does this include the all knowing nature of God, but it points to the results of God’s knowledge always bringing about the best results according to God’s will/way/perspective and will bring about the results He desires.
Psalm 104:24 ESV
24 O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
God’s wisdom can be seen from the beginning of creation, and in the plan of redemption. Knowing led to the wise choice of Christ’s earthly ministry, death, and resurrection leading to the redemption of mankind. What we know as the “simple” gospel message shows the divine knowledge and wisdom of God from the very beginning of creation. Every day of our lives, we may quiet our discouragement with the comfort that comes from the knowledge of God’s infinite wisdom: if we are his children, we can know that he is working wisely in our lives, even today, to bring us into greater conformity into the image of Christ. We can ask God confidently for wisdom when we need it, and He promises to give it.
James 1:5 ESV
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.


What is the definition of God’s truthfulness?
God’s truthfulness means that he is the true God, and all his knowledge and words are both true and the final standard of truth.
We might ask what it means to be the true God as opposed to other beings who are not God. It must mean that God in his own being or character is the one who fully conforms to the idea of what God should be: namely, a being who is infinitely perfect in power, in wisdom, in goodness, in lordship over time and space, and so forth.
So, whose idea of God is this? This cannot be OUR ideas that conforms God to OUR train of thought, as we cannot define what the true God must be like. God himself has the only perfect idea of what the true God should be like. Therefore, we must conform OUR ideas of God to align with God’s perfect idea of who He is!
Job tells us that God is “perfect in knowledge”. To say that God knows all things and that his knowledge is perfect is to say that he is never mistaken in his perception or understanding of the world. All that he knows and thinks is true and is a correct understanding of the nature of reality. Since God knows all things infinitely well, we can say that the standard of true knowledge is conformity to God’s knowledge.
In addition to the fact that God is faithful to his promises, we must also affirm that all of God’s words about himself and about his creation completely correspond to reality. That is, God always speaks truth when he speaks. God’s words are not simply true in the sense that they conform to some standard of truthfulness outside of God. Rather, they are truth itself; they are the final standard and definition of truth.
Furthermore, we should imitate God’s truthfulness in our own reaction to truth and falsehood. The commandment not to bear false witness against our neighbor (Ex. 20:16), like the other commandments, requires not merely outward conformity but also conformity in heart attitude.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020. Print.
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