God’s Mark of Excellence – His Image

The soul is precisely the one that was sealed with the mark of excellence of our Triune Creator God, because it was made in His image:

“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27).

Wernher von Braun, in fact, recognized the human soul as God’s masterpiece. And it is in the human soul that God has impregnated the image of Him:

“Scientists now believe that in nature, matter is never destroyed. Not even the smallest particle can disappear without a trace. Nature knows no extinction, only transformation. Would God have less respect for His masterpiece of creation, the human soul? Every person receives the gift of life on this earth…The knowledge that man can choose between good, and evil should bring him closer to his Creator…” (Federer 2016)

As true as Von Braun’s analysis is, great theologians and scholars throughout history have seriously and deeply studied what concerns the “image of God.” And the Word itself gives us some portions in both the Old and New Testaments.

We have previously quoted Genesis 1: 26-27, which fundamentally have to do with God’s intention to create the human being and, in fact, with His concrete action.

Also, in Genesis 9 we find another verse where the “image of God” is alluded to, thus:

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God is man made.” (Genesis 9:6)

Erickson comments that in Genesis 9 murder is prohibited on the grounds that the human being was created in the image of God. Although this passage does not mention that humans still bear the image of God, it is clear that what God has done before is still in effect, even after the fall.[1]

TongueLet us now quote a passage from the New Testament where the subject in question is also referred to; and through which the Scriptures evidence that the human being is created in the image of God, even after the fall.

“[The tongue] with it we bless the God and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.” (James 3:9)

Erickson in his book “Christian Theology” presents some views about the nature of the image of God. However, he concludes by indicating that, since there are various interpretations, this is an indication that there is no direct statement in the Scriptures on the subject. Therefore, reasonable inferences must be drawn from what little the Bible says on this subject. And here we share the most relevant, according to Erickson’s analysis:[2]

  • The image of God is universal within the human race. If the passages Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9-10 are analyzed; we observe bans on killing and cursing, respectively. And these prohibitions apply without limitation to all mankind, on the basis that mankind was created in the image of God.
  • The image of God has not been lost as a result of sin or specifically the fall. Thus, returning to the analysis of the prohibitions on murder and the curse, they apply to both sinners and pious believers. Thus, the presence of the image and likeness in non-believers is assumed. If this is the case, it means that the image of God is something that is inseparably connected with humanity.
  • There are no indications that the image is present in one person to a greater degree than in another. Superior natural endowments such as a high level of intelligence; it is not evidence of the presence or of a certain degree of the image.
  • The image refers to the elements in the human composition that allow the fulfillment of human destiny. It is about the powers of the personality that somehow make humans like God, that is, beings capable of interacting with other people, of thinking, reflecting and having a will. God’s creation had a definite purpose: Humans were destined to know, love, and obey God, and to live in harmony with other human beings. And Erickson emphasizes that humans are most fully human when they are active in these relationships, fulfilling God’s purpose. He mentions here also that the attributes of God which are sometimes referred to as the communicable attributes constitute the image of God. And he points out:

“Humanity as humanity has a nature that encompasses everything that constitutes the personality or the self: intelligence, will, emotions. This is the image in which humans were created, allowing them to have the divinely intended relationship with God and with other humans, and exercise dominion. (Erickson 2003)

  • It is interesting that Erickson also mentions the thought of Karl Barth, who says that the image is present in the human as long as it is human. And he looks at the image of God not only consisting of the vertical relationship between the human and God, but also horizontally between human beings. The image is related to the fact that God created a being who, like Himself, can be a partner.
Mischievous boy covered with paints

As this boy is dirty, covered with paints; so does sin in us, the image of God. 

It is good to highlight here a synthesis of the study by Miguel Núñez, who states that the image of God has not been lost. Yes upset, disfigured, trampled, distorted; but it definitely has not been lost. By definition, he says, the image of God cannot be lost because God exists permanently. What distorted it is sin. As human beings we have a mind with which we think, just like God; emotions we feel; one intelligence, one spirit, existence, all this just like God. And in terms of soul destruction, we are not going to die, just like God. The human being will go to hell or to the presence of God, depending on whether he is a believer or not; but he will continue to exist, just like God. So, what distorts the image of God is the sin that entered man. The sinful nature affected as long as the mind was darkened, it distorts the perception of the reality of what the human being sees. Likewise, the feelings were affected, the human being has become egocentric, tries to satisfy his own needs selfishly. Before the fall, we would have lived in the presence of God, and we would not have had the deviations that we now have.

Dr. Núñez refers to two biblical passages that were also mentioned earlier in this chapter, Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9. Both passages, he says, occur after the fall. And God continues to affirm through them about the existence of the image of God in man. The image of God remains in us, and the seriousness of a crime, domestic violence or abortion basically lies in the fact that human beings are bearers of the image of God; if it were not in us, we could die just like the animals and nothing would have any consequence, he concludes.[3]

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 519.

[2] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 519-533.

[3] Miguel Núñez, “¿Es el hombre pecador aun la imagen de Dios?” Edificando,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaKE_9n-G_M

Excellence Begins in the Heart of the Human Being – Introduction

“Everything that God is and does is marked by excellence.”

Andreas Köstenberger

As always, first, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/05/15/la-excelencia-comienza-en-el-corazon-del-ser-humano-introduccion/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited.

So now, let me begin by sharing that a few years ago, I had the opportunity to venture a submarine trip in Hawaii. A short but surprising journey to the bottom of the sea, where the wonders of the marine realm only seen on the small and big screens, became a beautiful reality. This incredible experience simply confirmed me that wherever we are, we will always be surrounded by beauty and magnificence.[1]

But not only that, it was an extraordinary experience, as it led me to an unfathomable reflection. Just as even in the depths of the sea the Triune Creator God left His mark of excellence; likewise, the Triune Creator God left that same mark of excellence and even superior, in the depths of the heart of the human being, the pinnacle of His creation.

Andreas Köstenberger, in his book “Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue” states:

TE-Andreas Köstenberger-eng“Systematic theologies generally do not list excellence as one of God’s attributes…however, for excellence can be viewed as an overarching divine attribute that encompasses all the others. Everything God is and does is marked by excellence.” (Köstenberger 2011)

And as we have also noted in the previous articles, the mark of God’s excellence is present in all of creation, consequently in humans.

Wernher von Braun, the renowned German scientist who brought us into the space age, laid the groundwork for cell phones, satellite radio, the Internet, GPS, and Doppler radar. But not only that, especially he held a firm belief in the Creator God of the Bible. And we precisely quote Von Braun because after his conversion to Christianity he was a strong proponent of the Christian faith and creationism, thus defending that creationism was a feasible scientific theory for the origin of the universe, life, and man.[2] He stated:

“To be forced to believe…that everything in the universe happened by chance—would violate the very objectivity of science itself. Certainly, there are those who argue that the universe evolved out of a random process, but what random process could produce the brain of a man or the system of the human eye?” (Bergmann 2014)

Science with all its advances is still amazed at the extraordinary structure, composition and functioning of the human body, as it is the case of those who study the human brain and all the complexity that it entails, which, without a doubt, continues to leave tremendously astonished those who tirelessly, advancing in investigation after investigation, do not stop until they specify the magnitude and depth of this organ.

According to an article from the “Institute of Creation Research,” researchers found the rosehip ethereal neuron, and Sherwin, its author, says:

“…in postmortem samples and in sections of brain tissue from surgical procedures. Interestingly, this newly discovered neuron is not found in mice. They are unique to humans, and rosehip neurons can activate a unique set of genes in that single type of brain cell.” (Sherwin 2018)

TE-Human BrainExtraordinary as the brain is, although small in its physical structure, just 3 pounds if we talk about the brain of an adult, it manages the information of 1000 supercomputers. The brain is like a communication center, and it has a computer, a library, and a video camera all in one. And the more the brain is used, the better it becomes![3]

Isn’t it fascinating? But there is still something much more fascinating in the human being, something highly impenetrable. His soul! Why? Because the soul represents the very being of a person.

Coming soon “God’s Mark of Excellence,” an extraordinary topic.

[1] Cecilia Yépez, “Excellence Stems from the Heart – Part 1”, Blog “Towards Excellence”, https://towardsexcellence.org/2017/02/28/excellence-stems-from-the-heart-part-1/

[2] Jerry Bergman, “Wernher von Braun: The Father of Space Flight,” Institute of Creation Research, https://www.icr.org/article/wernher-von-braun-father-space-flight

[3] Donald B. DeYoung, “Thinking about the Brain,” Institute of Creation Research, https://www.icr.org/article/thinking-about-brain/

THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – Communicable Attributes

“If God’s genuineness is a matter of His being true and veracity is His telling of the truth, then His faithfulness means that He proves true…God’s faithfulness is demonstrated repeatedly throughout the pages of the Scripture. He always fulfills what He has said He will do.”

Millard J. Erickson

As for the study of incommunicable attributes, we will now follow the classification proposed by Nyenhuis for communicable attributes; of course, including contributions from other scholars, so that it allows us to have a broad and properly supported idea for each attribute.

But as always, first, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/04/10/los-atributos-de-dios-atributos-comunicables/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited. Most Bible verses are from ESV unless otherwise indicated.

So, communicable attributes, Nyenhuis points out, instead give us knowledge of God’s being, while we experience an analogy of His virtues. It should also be noted that the incommunicable attributes qualify the communicable ones; so that these in essence are different in God and different in the human being. God, for example, is infinite and immutable in love, in justice, in wisdom.[1]

And so, Nyenhuis specifies:

little-girl-closed-her-eyes-praying-in-a-field-h-2021-09-01-13-46-02-utc

“What we find in the human being is an echo or reflection of the attribute and is not, in this sense, the original attribute. Echoes and reflections are often weak and disfigured; however, they give us a basis for a knowledge of the reality of God.” (Nyenhuis 1990)

Let us focus then, in the study of the following nine communicable attributes.

  1. God’s Love

God’s love, says Nyenhuis, is the most central attribute of God. In fact, this attribute qualifies all the others, but it must be understood that the others also qualify love.[2]

Chapter 4 of 1 John brings us even more clarity to understand this attribute of God, thus:

“…God is love”. (1 John 4:8)

Dr. Miguel Núñez points out that the Bible not only affirms that God loves us; but also and especially emphasizes that “God is love”. And when the Word says that “God is love”, it means that God is going to love us forever.[3]

By saying that “God is love” we are declaring that this is its essence; therefore, it will not change under any circumstances.

And perhaps the most extraordinary and at the same time humanly incomprehensible of this attribute is that the love of God is giving and sacrificial. John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 explain it very well. It is truly incomprehensible and difficult to accept that, since we are sinners, God the Father sends his Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place, to give us salvation and eternal life in His presence. Inconceivable in human parameters, but a profound spiritual truth!

And Jesus also said:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Erickson here highlights that Jesus did indeed die for His friends, who surely loved Him and appreciated what He did for them. But He also stresses that Jesus died for His enemies, who despised and rejected Him.[4]

And this is what makes the big difference between the application of this attribute by God and by us, the human beings. God’s love is totally selfless and seeks the good of his creation; not his own. On the other hand, we human beings, imperfect, often seek our own good and not that of our neighbor.

Erickson illustrates this very well, taking the case of an employer and his employee. The employer is surely interested in the good health of his employee because that way he will produce more and better for him.[5]

  1. God’s Grace

Grace, then, is nothing other than the unmerited love of God towards the human being lost in sin. The grace of God, says Nyenhuis, is His benevolent and undeserved attitude towards the sinner.[6]  Which and if the sinner accepts it, comes to a happy end, that is, the salvation of his soul.

And this is where the attributes connect, or qualify each other. Nyenhuis says:

“One of the most remarkable characteristics of grace is that it is unmerited…God loves the sinner even though he cannot provoke love. God loves because God is love. (Nyenhuis 1990)

It is well here to remember the truth of Ephesians 2:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God’s grace is definitely an unmerited gift from Him to His creation. And when this gift, the gift of the forgiveness of sins, is received by the sinner; there is absolutely nothing to boast about. The greatest thing, the salvation of his soul and everything else that goes with it, is an unmerited gift from his Creator.

  1. God’s Mercy

There are two important terms to consider: Racham, in Hebrew; and Eleemon, in Greek; both mean to have compassion. Therefore, God’s mercy can also be called compassion.[7]  In other words, it is God’s love towards the one who is suffering the consequences of sin; in a sense, mitigating the pain caused by sin.[8]

Here are two biblical texts that help us better understand this attribute:

“The Lord passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, ´The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”  (Exodus 34:6)

 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17)

Exodus 34:6 and Hebrews 2:17 illustrate the concept of this attribute very well; and by the way, the meaning of the original terms (Hebrew and Greek) above, in relation to the compassionate heart of our God.

  1. God’s Patience

The patience of God also called long-suffering. This is seen in the fact that God “endures” the wicked and those who challenge Him. God postpones punishment, so He gives sinners a chance to repent. Examples of God’s patience are found in the following texts: 2 Peter 3:3-9; Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34.[9]

  1. God’s Sovereignty

God’s sovereignty is limited solely and exclusively to His own will. This also entails the absolute superiority and omnipotence of God. In other words, God is accountable to no one; He just plans it and executes it. This is how Nyenhuis describes it and emphasizes that it is above the law. In fact, the law in the broad sense is an expression of the will of God.[10]

And as Chris Poblete says and illustrates:

“Sovereignty speaks of the divine control that God has over everything that happens. There is nothing beyond the control of His loving hand: neither the designs of the wicked (not even the plans of the evillest dictators in history), nor the way the earth works on itself apparently against the lives of men (like earthquakes), not the workings of demons (or even Satan), and not my own free will.” (Poblete 2011)

Certainly Romans 8:28,38-39 are a clear affirmation of the sovereignty of God. Everything, absolutely everything helps the children of God for good, according to His purposes; and not only that, but there is nothing beyond the control of the sovereign hand of God. This is how Poblete understands it.[11]

  1. The Truth of God

God is true and God is true in the revelation of Him. If God were a liar, Nyenhuis explains, humanity’s existential situation would be chaotic and desperate. This attribute is what allows us to distinguish the true God from idols, which, as Psalm 115:3-8 points out, have eyes and do not see; they have ears and do not hear; They have a mouth but they don’t speak. And a tremendous aspect of truthfulness is God’s faithfulness, which is the basis of our trust.[12]

In fact, other scholars classify faithfulness itself as an attribute, let’s see what Erickson says about it:

TE-MErickson-english“If God’s genuineness is a matter of His being true and veracity is His telling of the truth, then His faithfulness means that He proves true…God’s faithfulness is demonstrated repeatedly throughout the pages of the Scripture. He always fulfills what He has said He will do.” (Erickson 2003)

In the book of Numbers, we find a very inspiring portion that suits the theme:

God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has He said, and will He not do it?
    Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?”  (Numbers 23:19)

God always does what He has said He will do; and this is what brings complete peace, to those who have put their trust in Him.

  1. God’s justice

Nyenhuis in his analysis points out that justice is God’s perfection insofar as he complies with all the standards that God sets for Himself. In fact, there is no standard or guideline above God. God is the one who pronounces the sentence on His own acts.

Nyenhuis also highlights God’s remunerative justice. This refers to the fact that God rewards and rewards according to the conditions and promises that He Himself has established. A clear example of this is the Word found in 1 John 1:9.

On the other hand, Nyenhuis continues in his analysis and presents retributive justice. This has to do with the punishments that God imposes because of sin. Justice is an expression of God’s wrath against sin. God is undoubtedly just that He does not overlook the sins of His people and therefore, in His place, He punished His Son Jesus. The application of justice is fundamental to our salvation. Surely, God’s justice must be satisfied through Christ, or through the sinner.[13]

Now, Erickson points out that as far as justice is concerned, God not only acts in accordance with His law, but also administers His kingdom in accordance with it. It also means that God administers His law fairly, never showing favoritism or partiality.[14]

  1. The Holiness of God

According to the study of Dr. Miguel Núñez, “holy” means separated and free from corruption. God is free from corruption, he emphasizes. And he also highlights that God is a being apart from the rest of creation. God has set apart for Him those who are His children, he affirms.[15]

Thus, the essential idea of ​​God’s holiness, says Nyenhuis, is His moral excellence or perfection, that is, the infinite distance between Him and all impurity, sin, or contamination. If one thinks about concepts like honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, trustworthiness, purity, dignity, and others; put all this and more, including when one refers to the holiness of God.[16]

  1. The Wisdom of God

According to some thinkers, wisdom is considered to be a kind of intelligence. Thus, the wisdom of God is that intelligence of God through which He determines all things and leads them to Himself.

Nyenhuis stresses that wisdom is evident in creation, providence, and redemption. And indeed, the Psalmist praises God’s wisdom when he considers His works.[17]

Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)

And in this line, Dr. John MacArthur invites us to reflect on the depth of God’s wisdom, thus:

“Consider creation, from the unlimited number of galaxies in the universe to the distinctive structure of a single atom; from the grandeur of a blue whale to the intricacies of countless microscopic creatures that live in a pond. One attribute of God stands out above all others in the display of creation: His wisdom.” (MacArthur 2011)

Each element of creation was certainly brushed with the wisdom of the Creator God.

Now the number of God’s attributes varies somewhat according to the study of theologians or scholars who present it. And in the comparative studies that the reader may do, he will find slightly different proposals, although established on the same basis that has been used in this research. In fact, analyzing the character of God is a vast, endless, and fascinating subject, and from this side of eternity we will hardly understand who God is in its entirety.

On the other hand, throughout this study, it has also been seen that the incommunicable attributes qualify the communicable ones; and also some attributes, especially among the communicable ones, qualify each other. So, the number of attributes can surely vary.

But what matters here is not the number of God’s attributes as such. What matters is that, through the study of them, we have the understanding about who the Triune Creator God is and the depth of His nature, the depth of the nature of His Being.

Certainly, the study of the character attributes of the Triune Creator God takes us to a higher level. Having gone through the different moments of creation; and even, having looked at a few wonders of the natural world that surround us today; we have no choice but to stop for a moment, raise our gaze to infinity and recognize that in every brushstroke of creation the Triune God is present.

Infinitely extraordinary, infinitely perfect! The Creator is infinitely perfect! And as great and magnificent as the universe looks, how much more will the Maker of it be! The Creator does not depend on anyone for His existence at all; however, every microparticle in the universe depends on an order from the Creator for any movement.

But we do not depend only on a great telescope to realize the immensity of the Triune Creator God. Yes, He transcends space and time because He simply made them and is not confined to them.

But, descending to Earth as such, we observe that, just as the Triune Creator God breathed life into the first human being – Adam; likewise, he has breathed the breath of life into his present creation. Every time we get up, after a pleasant night of rest, we can do nothing but thank God for a new dawn, full of life and health! How self-evident it is here to recognize that God’s perfect love is indeed infinite, beyond our comprehension!

At this point, it is worth remembering here the Word of James 1:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no change, no shadow of variation.” (James 1:17)

The signature of excellence of the Triune Creator God is stamped throughout the universe; and although some have wanted, but no one will be able to eliminate it:

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and You preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships You.” (Nehemiah 9:6)

[1] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 93.

[2] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 94.

[3] Miguel Núñez, “Los atributos comunicables de Dios,” Coalición por el Evangelio, https://www.coalicionporelevangelio.org/articulo/los-atributos-comunicables-dios/

[4] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 319.

[5] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 319.

[6] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 94.

[7] Miguel Núñez, “Los atributos comunicables de Dios,” Coalición por el Evangelio, https://www.coalicionporelevangelio.org/articulo/los-atributos-comunicables-dios/

[8] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 94.

[9] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 94.

[10] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 114.

[11] Chris Poblete, “The Attributes of God: Sovereignty,” Blue Letter Bible, https://blogs.blueletterbible.org/blb/2011/10/28/the-attributes-of-god-sovereignty/

[12] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 115.

[13] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 116.

[14] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 314-315.

[15] Miguel Núñez, “Los atributos comunicables de Dios,” Coalición por el Evangelio, https://www.coalicionporelevangelio.org/articulo/los-atributos-comunicables-dios/

[16] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 136.

[17] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 138.

THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – Incommunicable Attributes

“Making God the same as the universe is simply talking about Pantheism…”

Gerald Nyenhuis

Based on the articles previously shared in this Blog and established then that the Triune God is the Creator God of the universe as exposed by the Bible; let us now know in depth His character, a character that by the way is revealed from the very creation of the universe.

But, first of all, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/03/06/los-atributos-de-dios-atributos-incomunicables/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited. The Bible verses used are mentioned below.

In fact, the universe itself speaks, as we have already analyzed it earlier (see previous articles), of the existence of an intelligent being behind it. As Francis A. Schaeffer puts it, the universe openly exposes what God is; and not only that, but it does so in four areas.[1]

The four areas that Schaeffer mentions from the perspective of the universe are: (1) The universe speaks of the existence of Being. The universe is there, existence is there, God is there. (2) The universe has order. It is not chaos. This is evidenced in Genesis 1, as it relates that God made all things to produce after its own kind. Nothing is chaotic or random. (3) The universe speaks of the character of God. Likewise, and as described in Genesis 1, everything that God made is good. Therefore, God is good. (4) The universe speaks of God as a person. In Genesis 1:27, God creates the human being in His own image. Here it is evident that the Triune God who communicates and loves has created the human being, who reflects His personality, His communication and His love.[2]

Thus, and to enter properly into the study of the attributes of God’s character, it should be noted that scholars have classified them into two large groups: the communicable and the incommunicable.

TE-God does not changeThis classification allows us to denote that God is immanent and transcendent. As it was before explained (see previous articles), this means that God is present and active in His creation (immanent); and, on the other hand, God is superior and independent of His creation (transcendent).

Making God the same as the universe is simply talking about Pantheism, emphasizes Gerald Nyenhuis. And, furthermore, he asserts that through an attribute the nature of God is revealed to us. An attribute of God is everything that God has revealed in His Word as a true characteristic of Him. He also points out that incommunicable attributes speak of God’s transcendence; and on the other hand, the communicable ones speak of His immanence.[3]

On his part, Dr. Miguel Núñez points out that, in the study of theology, regarding the study of the Triune God, it is important to know that the incommunicable attributes are those that belong only to God.[4] And, on the other hand, the communicable attributes are those that God is somehow going to form in us, human beings.[5]

And as Millard J. Erickson expresses it well, when we speak of attributes we refer properly to the qualities of God, which constitute what He is. Attributes are permanent and intrinsic qualities, which cannot be lost or gained. They are inherent and essential dimensions of His very nature, he emphasizes.[6]

With this in mind, we will analyze each of the attributes, both communicable and incommunicable, step by step. In this article we will focus first on the “incommunicable attributes”.

Incommunicable Attributes

As Nyenhuis says, these attributes are those that highlight the transcendent greatness and absolute differentiation of God.[7]

And although not all theologians or scholars agree on the number of attributes; for this study we are going to take Gerald Nyenjuis’s analysis as the main reference, thus we will talk about four incommunicable attributes.

  1. Independence of God

When one speaks of the “independence of God,” one simply speaks of the fact that God exists by the necessity of His own being and that for His existence He does not depend on any external thing.[8]

“Aseity,” from the Latin word aseiti which means “of oneself”, is another term with which this attribute is also known, and which simply means that God is independent, self-existent and has no needs of any type, says Dr. Miguel Núñez.[9]

TE-Acts17For this purpose, it is important to share two biblical quotes that support what has been said, insofar as God has life in Himself; and, on the other hand, that He is not served by human hands, that is to say that He has no needs, nor does He depend on anything or anyone; on the contrary, all of His creation is the one who depends on Him.

“For as the Father has life in himself…” (John 5:26a  – NIV)

“Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:25 – ESV)

  1. The Immutability of God

The truth of this attribute is evidenced in some biblical passages; for the case, we will refer to Psalm 102, thus:

“But you are the same, and your years will not end. (Psalm 102:27 – ESV)

Likewise, similar references to the immutability of God are found in Malachi 3:6; Psalms 33:11; James 1:17 and Hebrews 13:8.

Just as God is independent, so to the same degree, God is immutable, Nyenhuis analyzes. If He depended on any created thing for sure He would be subject to change.[10]

This “divine constancy,” as Erickson calls it, involves a couple of aspects: (1) There are no quantitative changes. He cannot grow because He is already perfection. He cannot decrease, because if He did, he would cease to be God. (2) There are no qualitative changes. His nature is not subject to change. God does not change His mind, plans, or actions, no matter what happens.[11]

  1. The Infinity of God

The infinity of God, according to Mark Jones, means that there is no limit to God’s perfections. This qualifies the other attributes and qualifies them as intensely and qualitatively infinite. The infinity of God is the highest sense of perfection.[12]

In fact, according to Nyenhuis, this attribute shows several aspects, as follows: (1) Absolute perfection, as we have already said, qualifies the other attributes. God is infinite in His knowledge, goodness, justice, power, in all that He is. (2) His eternity, that is, in relation to time. God transcends time and owns the totality of what we call time or history. God is not limited by the categories of past, present, or future. (3) His immensity, this in terms of His relationship with space. An important aspect with His eternity is His omnipresence. That is to say, God is present in every place and every space; but it does not mean that He is distributed, but rather that He is totally present everywhere. So declares His Word, in Psalm 139: 7-10.[13]

  1. The Simplicity of God

God is absolute, which means that there are no distinctions within His being.[14]

The simplicity of God or unity as it is also known means that God is not divided into parts. What God is, says Miguel Núñez, is all the time and in all His being. And he provides an interesting example:

“God is not divided into parts, as if He were 10% love, 10% power, 10% faithfulness, etc. Instead, God is 100% love, 100% infinite, 100% faithful, 100% just, etc. His attributes are distributed throughout His whole being.” (Núñez, What are the incommunicable attributes of God? 2018)

Nyenhuis says, some theologians use the expression of the “unity of God”, that is to say that God cannot be divided among many beings, or otherwise, it is not possible for several beings to share His nature. And he cites a good example of this concept throughout Deuteronomy:[15]

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4 – NKV)

In other words, Nyenhuis stresses, God’s simplicity implies uniqueness.

Coming soon – “The Communicable Attributes”!

[1] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 244.

[2] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 244.

[3] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 70, 71, 91.

[4] Miguel Núñez, “Los atributos comunicables de Dios,” Coalición por el Evangelio, https://www.coalicionporelevangelio.org/articulo/los-atributos-comunicables-dios/

[5] Miguel Núñez, “¿Qué son los atributos incomunicables de Dios?” Coalición por el Evangelio, https://www.coalicionporelevangelio.org/articulo/los-atributos-incomunicables-dios/

[6] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 291-292.

[7] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 91.

[8] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 91.

[9] Miguel Núñez, “¿Qué son los atributos incomunicables de Dios?” Coalición por el Evangelio, https://www.coalicionporelevangelio.org/articulo/los-atributos-incomunicables-dios/

[10] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 91.

[11] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 304.

[12] Mark Jones, “10 Things You should Know about God´s Attributes,” Crossway, https://www.crossway.org/articles/10-things-you-should-know-about-gods-attributes/

[13] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 92.

[14] Mark Jones, “10 Things You should Know about God´s Attributes,” Crossway, https://www.crossway.org/articles/10-things-you-should-know-about-gods-attributes/

[15] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 93.

The Excellency of God’s Character – In the Beginning

“Jesus was there not only before matter; He was there before time. He did not come into being; He just was.”

John Piper

The Intelligent Design Theory by itself will not necessarily lead us to determine the God to which it refers, to determine who is specifically the Designer that is being talked about – a topic addressed previously. Therefore, it is very important that Science works hand in hand with Theology.

That is why throughout the development of the preceding articles section, we worked in parallel presenting the evidence of science, research and biblical support that the case deserves. This is how we conclude that the Designer spoken of in the Intelligent Design Theory is the Creator God of the Bible; in other words, the Triune God (Father, Son Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit), who intervened as the author of creation.

And it is precisely the Triune Creator God and His character, a topic to which we will dedicate space to expound during this and the next articles that we will publish.

Again, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/02/06/la-excelencia-del-caracter-de-dios-en-el-principio/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited. The Bible verses used are from NKJV.

In the beginning

The clear manifestation of the Creator God is observed in Genesis 1. And in this same chapter, it is elucidated who the Creator God is. Let us then quote Genesis 1, in the New King James version:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2)

In both verse 1 and 2, it is clearly seen that this portion refers to “God” and “Spirit of God”, respectively. Dr. Charles F. Stanley comments in “Life Principles Bible – NKJV”, thus:

“Look closely at Genesis 1:1,2 and you will notice that the Bible refers to ‘God’ and the ‘Spirit of God’ without making the slightest distinction between the two. Use the two terms equally. Have you ever wondered why? It is because the two are one! This is the first allusion to the doctrine of the Trinity in the Scriptures.” (Stanley 2005)

And Dr. Stanley adds that later in the account of creation, there is even a second reference to the Trinity, like this in the version of New King James:

Man strive hand to a God

“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26)

And likewise, the version of the Textual Bible, IV Edition (Spanish) is noted as a reference:

“And Elohim said: Let us make a man in our image, according to our likeness…” (Translated from the Textual Bible IV Edition 2018)

Who was God speaking to? And to whom did this mysterious “let us make” refer? These are key questions asked by Dr. Stanley. The other beings that existed at the time, Stanley says, were animals or angels. And we are clear from the study of the Scriptures that none of these beings took an active part in the creation process. But happily, in the very next verse, we are given the answer.[1]

“So, God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27 – NKJV)

Without a doubt, that mysterious “let us” refers to God; that is, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, emphasizes Stanley.[2]

And here it should be noted that the name Elohim is plural, but as noted in Genesis 1:1 for example, in the original Hebrew, this name is used followed by a singular verb. This occurs, as Don Stewart points out, when referring to the true God. It denotes unity and diversity as part of the nature of God, which is revealed in the Scriptures as the doctrine of the Trinity.[3]

Now, to correlate this initial portion referring to the creation and the participation of the Triune God in it; it is important that we refer to the Gospel of John, also in the New King James version:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

As a reference, we will also quote the version of the Textual Bible, IV Edition (Spanish):

“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was before God, and God was the Logos. This one was in the beginning before God. Everything existed for Him, and without Him, nothing that exists existed. (Translated from the Textual Bible IV Edition 2018)

Interestingly, we observe that the transcendental passages of the doctrine of Creation appear at the beginning of the Bible, consequently at the beginning of the Old Testament; but it is interesting that also at the beginning of the New Testament; honoring precisely the “beginning” as the starting point for the creative work of the Lord – “In the beginning…” (בְּרֵאשִׁית – bə rê šîṯ), in Hebrew, in Genesis 1:1; identical phrase also in the Greek, which is reiterated in John 1:1 (Ἐν ἀρχῇ – En archē).

Theologian and teacher R. C. Sproul, in his commentary on John 1:1, notes:

“In this important passage, the Logos is distinguished from God (‘was with God’) and, at the same time, is identified with God (‘was God’). This paradox has great influence on the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, whereby the Logos is seen as the Second Person of the Trinity. (McDowell 1999)

Jesus the Son is a Person distinct from the Father, but is one in essence with the Father; as expressed in John 10:

“I and My Father are one…  If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:30, 37-38)

And it is timely now that we share some passages, which clearly demonstrate once again that Jesus is God and that He was present at creation, as stated earlier in John 1:3:

“But Jesus answered them, ´My Father has been working until now, and I have been working. ´ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” (John 5:17,18) Jesus is one with the Father, He is God.
Jesus said to them, ´Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM´.” Jesus already existed before dwelling on Earth, He is Eternal God.
“And He said to them, ´I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven´.” (Luke 10:18) Jesus, God the Son, already existed before the creation of the world.
For 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) Jesus, God the Son, actively participated in creation. In fact, “everything was created through Him,” thus corroborating John 1:3.

In short, and as John Piper beautifully describes it:

TE-JPiper-ENG“Jesus was there not only before matter; He was there before time. He did not come into being; He just was.” (Piper, Desiring God 2017)

In this analysis and comparison between Genesis 1:1-2 and John 1:1-3; and its correlation with the famous phrase “In the beginning…”, we clearly see that the Trinity was present at creation.

Don Stewart defines the Trinity, explaining that within the nature of one God there are three eternal Persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[4]  In fact, Jesus testified of all three Persons of the Trinity in Matthew 3:

“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  (Matthew 3:16-17)

And, thus, creation is the work of the Triune God, as Gerald Nyenhuis affirms, in his study of the Creator God.[5] Both Old and New Testament texts testify that God, or rather that each Person of the Trinity had an active part in creation, here are some examples:

The Father as Creator Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 40:28; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Isaiah 42:5.
The Son, Jesus as Creator John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2,10; John 1:10.
The Holy Spirit as Creator Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30; Isaiah 40:12-13

Thus, this discussion of understanding God the Creator as the Triune God sets the stage for a detailed study of God’s character attributes.

We look forward to meeting you soon as we upload new articles!

[1] The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible – NKJV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 3.

[2] The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible – NKJV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 3.

[3] Don Stewart, “What does the Hebrew Term Elohim mean?,” Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1303.cfm

[4] Don Stewart, “What does Genesis 1:1 Tells us about the Creation of the Heaven and the Earth?,” Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_681.cfm

[5] Gerald Nyenhuis and Dr. R.C. Sproul, El Dios que adoramos (Miami, FL: Logoi, Inc., 1990), 236.