Q. 7: What is God?

A. 7: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

(John 4:24, Job 11:7-9, Psalm 90:2, James 1:17, Exodus 3:14, Psalm 147:5, Revelation 4:8, 15:4, and Exodus 34:6)

EXPLANATION

Since God is the first and chiefest being, and since God has graciously provided His Word that gives us the knowledge that we need about Him as well as how to live for Him. It is important, then, that we know who and what God is. The Baptist Catechism provides a helpful, brief, and packed answer to the question, “What is God?”

Without getting into too much nerdy detail (and trust me, this is really difficult for me!), theologians have regularly divided God’s attributes (or, characteristics, and many other labels) into communicable and incommunicable attributes.

What do these mean? Berkhof helps distinguish these two terms when he writes, “While the incommunicable attributes emphasize the absolute Being of God, the communicable attributes stress the fact that He enters into various relations with His creatures.”[1] So we could delineate these terms further (and possibly simpler) by saying that God’s incommunicable attributes are what make Him God (e.g., infinite) while His communicable attributes are those that we experience (or, demonstrate, e.g. His holiness).

The Catechism, as we have noted, is not exhaustive. It is meant to be a teaching tool, providing the foundation truths of the faith and encouraging further study and contemplation. Even with that, however, the Catechism provides ten answers to the question, “What is God?”

Books have and will be written. The infinity of God provides a never-ending source of materials for study and praise. How can we summarize this important and life-changing question? God, though completely transcendent (i.e., out of our reach), He is also immanent (i.e., close and understandable to a finite degree), has graciously revealed Himself to us. The Scriptures cited above offer a presentation of these ten aspects of God (which include communicable and incommunicable attributes).

APPLICATION

As with all these attributes, we could spend eternity and never plunge its depths. We will, therefore, limit our applicational thought on one facet: God’s holiness. In Revelation 15:4, the individuals who were victorious over the beast (15:2) declare to the Lord, “For You alone are holy” (NASB). God is holy. That is what God is, if you will. There are a variety of ways to describe this, such as God’s separateness from creation and His moral perfection. But how can we apply this knowledge? Peter offers us a helpful and direct way in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy” (NASB). In other words, be like God. Imitate Him, represent Him to others, strive for holiness!

Search the Scriptures for the incommunicable attributes and praise Him for His grace! Study and live the Scriptures as you learn about the communicable attributes and praise Him for His grace. What is God? Our God is unimaginably marvelous!


[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology: New Combined Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1938), 57-58. You can purchase it <a href="http://<iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=librarymusing-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1773563319&asins=1773563319&linkId=77d3318bfa191c37dad7a91e36e72fed&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff"> here.

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