This post is a chapter from Dr. Timothy Tennent’s book, 30 Questions: A Short Catechism on the Christian Faith available for purchase from our store. This resource makes for a great teaching tool in local churches, especially for catechesis purposes. We’re featuring a chapter each week in hopes of encouraging you to pick up the book and share it with others as well.
God is a personal being, infinite in love, knowledge, and power. He is perfect in wisdom, goodness, righteousness, justice, holiness, and truth. God is both the creator and sustainer of the universe. He is the final goal and judge of the universe, infinite and perfect in all his attributes.
The Jewish/Christian understanding of God is unique among all the religions of the world. Hinduism remains uncertain whether we can know that God is personal, or infinite in his perfections. Islam affirms that God is infinite in his perfections, but is uncertain if God can be personally knowable. Buddhism is officially nontheistic, denying all first causes, including God. In contrast, Christians affirm that God is personal and knowable.
To say that he is perfect in all his attributes is to declare that every attribute of God is enjoyed by him in its perfect state. He is infinitely pure, infinitely holy, infinitely righteous, infinitely loving, and so forth. Because we only know these attributes in fragmentary and distorted ways, we cannot fully comprehend how all these attributes are held perfectly and infinitely by God. Sometimes we may look at circumstances and not be able to discern how the justice or the love of God is manifest in certain situations. We do find comfort, however, in knowing that in the end, we shall see him as he truly is, and that he will make all things right. In the meantime, we can put our full trust and confidence in God’s nature and character.
If you ever go to London you will probably visit Trafalgar Square. It is in the heart of the city and is a well-known tourist attraction. The most prominent feature in the square is Nelson’s Column. It is a tribute to Lord Nelson’s sea victory over the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navy in 1805. Although Nelson died in the conflict, the British fleet prevailed and this victory confirmed the superiority of the British navy. The problem is that the statue of Nelson is so high above the square (170 feet) that no one can see what he looked like. He is high and exalted above the square, but he is also removed from the people.
This is analogous to the Christian proclamation about God. He is exalted above all creation. He is perfect in his attributes. But until Christ came we could not fully understand or know what God is like. The Christian view is that in Christ—and only in Christ—is the glory of God known or understood. In Christ, God came down and lived among us, showing us his life and character in intimate detail. In the face of Christ the full glory and grace of God has been made known.
1 Chronicles 29:10–13
2 Chronicles 20:6
1 Corinthians 1:30
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