“An attribute of God is whatever God has in any way revealed as being true about Himself.” – A.W. Tozer
This is the third article in a series called The Knowledge of The Holy in which each article will be based around a chapter from A.W. Tozer’s book of the same name (my review). This is a journey worth taking because not only is Tozer’s book a classic in the spiritual world, but the subject matter is God’s character.
So far in this series, Tozer has guided us through why we must think rightly about God, and showed us just how tricky that endeavor is since God is incomprehensible. Now we come to more nuts and bolts information which helps us see how we receive information and revelation about God.
How God reveals Himself
We all have questions about God, or at the very least questions about the divine.
“To these questions God has provided answers; not all the answers, certainly, but enough to satisfy our intellects and ravish our hearts.”
These “answers” God has given us come to us from God through three means: nature, the Word of God, and the person of Jesus. The heavens and all creation declare the glories of God (Psalm 19:1). The Word of God recorded in Scripture is how we are taught, corrected, rebuked, and encouraged in the ways of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And in Jesus we see the full realization of God’s character and glory and majesty (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15).
These might seem straight forward, but that doesn’t mean understanding God is simple.
“Though God in this threefold revelation has provided answers to our questions concerning Him, the answers by no means lie on the surface. They must be sought by prayer, by long meditation on the written Word, and by earnest and well-disciplined labor. However brightly the light may shine, it can be seen only by those who are spiritually prepared to receive it.”
The light that shines is displayed in the unity of God’s character and divinity, namely in the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Tozer sums up God’s divine unity this way:
“Between His attributes no contradiction can exist. He need not suspend one to exercise another, for in Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does; He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.”
God’s attributes tell us more than information
God is always being God. He cannot be anything else. And His “God-ness” expresses itself through the unity of the Trinity. This is a mystery which we can never fully comprehend. We cannot fully know everything about God because His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). A God which could be fully understood would be a very small God indeed, and not one worth kneeling to.
So then, as Tozer writes, God’s attributes are not simply a part of God, but who He is. God’s attributes — his holiness, omniscience, omnipresence, etc. — tell us not simply about God, but inform us as to who He is and what He’s like.
“The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God. He does not possess them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures. Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself.”