Mister Richardson’s
Bible Doctrine Class


Chapter 4: The Character of God (Incommunicable Attributes)


Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the Heavens are the work of Your hands.
They will perish, but You will endure; yes, all of them will grow old like a garment;
like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed.
But You are the same and Your years will have no end.

- Psalm 102:25-27

A. The Existence of God
  1. Humanity’s inner sense of God - All persons everywhere have an inner that God exists. Romans 1:19; Psalm 14:1.
  2. The evidence in Scripture and nature - Acts 14:17; Psalm 19:1-2.
B. The Knowability of God
  1. He is incomprehensible - unable to be fully understood - Psalm 145:3; 147:5; Romans 11:33.
  2. Yet we can know God truly - John 17:3, Hebrews 8:11, 1 John 2:13.
God’s Attributes
  1. Incommunicable attributes - Attributes God does not share, or communicate, with others. Examples - eternity, unchangeableness, omnipresence.
  2. Communicable attributes - Attributes God shares, or communicates, with others. Examples - love, knowledge, justice.
D. Incommunicable Attributes
  1. Independence - God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation glorify Him and bring Him joy. Also known as self-existence or asiety (from Himself). Acts 17:24-25; Psalm 90:2. God did not create us because He was lonely.
  2. Unchangeableness - God is unchanging in His being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet He does act and feel emotions, and He acts and feels differently in response to different situations. Also known as immutability.
    • Evidence in Scripture - Psalm 102:25-27; Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19.
    • Does God change His mind? Exodus 32:9-14; Isaiah 38:1-6; Jonah 3:4-10.
    • The question of God’s impassibility - Does God have emotions?
    • God is both infinite and personal - In many religions, the opposite is true.
    • The importance of God’s unchangeableness - If God could change, it could possibly be for the worst.
  3. Eternity - God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in His own being, and He sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.
    • God is timeless in His own being - Revelation 1:8; Psalm 90:2; Ephesians 1:4.
    • God sees all time equally vividly - Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8; Isaiah 46:9-10.
    • God sees events in time and acts in time - Galatians 4:4-5.
  4. Omnipresence - God does not have size or spatial dimensions, and is present at every point of space with His whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.
    • God is everywhere - Jeremiah 23:23-24.
    • God does not have spatial dimensions - 1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1-2.
    • God can be present to punish, to sustain, or to bless - Amos 9:1-4; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3.
  5. Unity - God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times.
    • We are not able to comprehend all of God’s attributes at once.
    • Some of God’s attributes may seem more prominent at different times.
    • One attribute cannot be singled out as more important.

TERMS
Asiety, communicable attributes, eternity, immutability, incommunicable attributes, incomprehensible, independence, infinite, infinite with respect to space, infinite with respect to time, inner sense of God, knowable, omnipresence, self-existence, unchangeableness, unity.

REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can we truly know a God that is incomprehensible?
2. What is the difference between incommunicable and communicable attributes of God?
3. What does Scripture mean when it speaks of God changing His mind?
4. Does time have any effect on God? Explain.
5. If God is present everywhere, how can He be in hell?
6. Is God’s love more important than any other attribute? Explain.

WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
Q4: What is God?
A4: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

ARTICLES
The Nature and Attributes of God - New Advent
God Without Parts - Paul Helm
What is Hell? - R C Sproul
The Immutability of God - Credo Magazine

RECOMMENDED READING
The Existence and Attributes of God - Stephen Charnock
The Attributes of God - A. W. Pink
All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism - James Dolezal
Knowing God - J. I. Packer

QUOTES
No intellectual pursuit will prove to be more rewarding ultimately than the acquisition of a knowledge of God and of his ways and works.
- Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith

Any change in God, even a nonessential one, would introduce new being or actuality into Him. The Christian who believes that God experiences a change of any sort is no longer able to say with the older theologians, “All that is in God is God.” He instead conceives that God’s being is a mixture of divinity and the new qualities of being by which His divinity has been augmented. From the viewpoint of classical Christian orthodoxy, such outcomes are unacceptable, for they undermine the very absoluteness of God’s life and existence and so, by extension, the believer’s utter reliance upon God.
- James Dolezal, All That is in God


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