God's attributes, What's God like?, Who is God? Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd Jones

The Warnings and Comforts of God’s Attributes

We continue our study of Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ). Last time, we looked at the existence of God, and this week we’ll study chapter 6, “The Attributes of God’s Absolute Personality.”

MLJ begins by making a case for why we need to study God’s attributes. In John 4, Jesus tells the woman of Samaria, “You worship what you do not know…” (v. 22). He then instructs her that true worship of God is done “in spirit and in truth” (v. 24). MLJ comments:

And that is really the reason for our considering the great doctrine of God, because unless we understand what the Bible tells us about God, our worship can never be real…though we may say that we believe in God and believe that we are worshipping Him, we are not of necessity doing so. (57).

MLJ has emphasized throughout this study that knowing doctrine isn’t just an academic exercise. The point of our knowledge of God is worship and obey him. These doctrines, though deep at times, are immensely practical.

As we seek to know the Lord, we must be aware of his attributes. Omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, and immutability are discussed in this chapter. According to MLJ, each of these attributes provides both a comfort and a warning.

God’s Omnipresence

God is everywhere. David says in Psalm 139:

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (vv. 7-10).

Comfort and Warning: It’s a comfort to know God is always with us; even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Whatever you are going through, be encouraged that if you are a believer, the Lord is with you. But, it’s a warning that when we sin, we are doing so in his presence. There’s nowhere we can escape his all-seeing eye.

God’s Omniscience

God knows everything. As we read in Psalm 147:5, “his understanding is beyond measure.” He knows the number of stars and gives them all a name (Psalm 147:4). Even a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without our Father knowing (Matt. 10:29).

His knowledge isn’t just about nature; he knows us as well:

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. (Psalm 139:2-4)

Comfort and Warning: Even before we say a word, God knows it. This is comforting because God knows and cares about everything going on in our life. When his people were being mistreated in Egypt, he knew about their affliction (Ex. 3:7). He knows ours as well.

It is also a warning. There is nothing you can hide from God. You may hide secrets from others. You may be able to disguise your motives, hide your emotions, or keep your thoughts to yourself, but God knows. Hebrews 4:13 says, “…all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” The one we will give an account to already knows all that we do, feel, and think.

God’s Omnipotence

God is all-powerful. He will bring to pass all according to his sovereign will and none can stop him. There is nobody who can rise up against God and thwart his plans. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. When God said ‘let there be light,’ there was light. He asked Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14).

Comfort and Warning: This is comforting for the believer because everything will come about as God has said. He doesn’t make empty promises that he can’t keep. There is no hardship in our life, no enemy we face that is too difficult for the Lord.

However, it’s a warning for those who are deceived by their own power. In Psalm 2, the kings of the earth join forces against the Lord, yet he the Lord saw it laughed. He wasn’t intimated. You cannot fight against God and win.

The Immutability of God

God never changes. James 1:17 says in him there is “no variation or shadow due to change.” While people and events in our life change, the Lord “in His absolute perfection is always the same” (60).

Comfort and Warning: This is comforting because God will act according to his revelation of himself in Scripture. I don’t have to worry about him changing his methods; he is the same yesterday, today and forever.

The warning is that God has revealed his ways and his standard will not be lowered on judgment day. There’s opportunity to repent now and receive the mercy of Christ, but once we stand before him we be will judged according to his word.

Conclusion

MLJ ends by reminding us that studying these truths about God should not lead to intellectual smugness, but rather worship:

And unless we are at this moment more anxious than ever before to fall at His feet, to yield ourselves utterly and unreservedly to Him, realizing that the greatest privilege that has ever come to us to worship Him and to commune with Him, then we have spent our time in vain. We have been looking at the blessed God who dwells in that light that is unapproachable (1 Tim. 6:16), whom no one has seen or ever can see, and who has been graciously pleased to tell us about Himself. So let us thank Him and worship Him. (68).

Next time, we’ll look at chapter 7, “The Moral Attributes of God.”

Other posts in the “Great Doctrines of the Bible” series:

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