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May 2021 - The Attributes of God

Some years ago, I saw a black and white photograph of our former PM Lee Kuan Yew, blowing bubbles with his then three young children, with Mrs Lee beside him. It was a huge contrast to what Singaporeans often saw of him – a fiery, blunt and tenacious statesman. But of course both sides were true: he was a no-nonsense politician and he was also a loving father to his children.

We often perceive of God as loving, gracious and merciful mainly because those characteristics stand out when we read or hear about salvation and forgiveness. In particular when we read the Gospels, we see our Lord Jesus who mercifully healed the sick, exorcised the demon-possessed, raised the dead and performed miracles. These acts showed His compassion, love and mercy particularly during Holy Week.

But there are other attributes which we don’t speak about as often. Christian writers speak about God’s “communicable” and “incommunicable” attributes, by which “incommunicable” means those attributes he does not share with any humans, and “communicable” attributes are those which He does. For example, only God is omnipotent, omnipresent, sovereign, eternal, infinite, immutable (unchanging), holy (totally pure and righteous), self-sufficient and self-existent. Attributes such as loving, merciful, forgiving, wise, faithful, just, good and gracious – we may share with Him but obviously to a far lesser degree.

Therefore we should learn to praise God for His incommunicable attributes more often, working them into our prayers at Sunday worship as well as our personal or small group prayers. Even though Bible passages we read tend to focus on one or two attributes of God, we have to appreciate God for ALL that He is, not just those attributes which are relatable because of our salvation. We must avoid a “truncated” or “incomplete” view of God. May God be known and loved for all He is and does, not just what we perceive and appreciate.

Ps Graham


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