Previously, we saw the dynamic nature of God Himself by briefly considering the creation account. Part of that account involved the creation of human beings. This early narrative affords many foundational insights regarding God, human beings and their relationship.
Aiming to be brief and cautious of becoming too overwhelmed with detail (of which there is much). I will endeavor to highlight certain outstanding, foundational ideas.
The first consideration, often taken for granted, is that the design of human beings is patterned after God (“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”). This is the most important thing about human beings and there should be an ongoing effort to appreciate what this means. I offer the following as a starter.
Though it is rarely considered (at least as my research has proven), the basic natural attributes Scripture reveals God to possess, also pertain to human beings in some measure and on some level. God, possessing certain natural attributes and choosing to create an order of being in His own image, had to include finite expressions of his infinite nature in such a being. It is important to understand that attributes of an infinite, eternal Being shared with a finite being must manifest themselves in modified forms and expressions.
The rest of this article will be taken up with natural attributes, followed by a future post considering moral character.
- Sovereignty – God is the supreme governing authority over the universe. Of course, you could quickly respond by saying, “Then human beings cannot have the same attribute of being the supreme governing authority,” and you would be right. But, like God, man is a governing authority. Unfortunately, the idea that sovereignty refers to the exercise of meticulous control over everything has created confusion in this area of thought. Sovereignty has to do with authority over a realm but not meticulous control over all things within that realm. Scripture teaches that God has chosen to give human beings a realm of authority. It is not a place of supreme authority, but it is, in some measure, genuine authority.
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” (Ps.103:19)
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” (Gen 1:26)
- Eternality – God has always existed and always will exist. Again, a response pointing out that this is not true of human beings is understandable. However, “eternity” is not a place where God exists (as it sometimes seems to be thought) but a description of His duration – “the Lord shall endure forever” (Ps.9:7, KJV). This, as we saw when evaluating God’s experience in creating the universe, must be governed, one must decide what will be done with each moment of existence. Human beings also have duration to manage. This is one aspect of government that is associated with moral character. In other words, if a person spends massive amounts of time playing video games or viewing pornography, this is moral character reflected in one’s use of time, time that one will never have a chance to regain.
“…the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment…” (Ps.9:7)
“…be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ep.5:15-16)
“…these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Mt.25:46)
- Omniscience – This is a mental capacity for knowledge. In a future post, we will consider, more fully, the fascinating function of the mind. In God’s case, He has complete knowledge of everything that is knowable. Once again, when comparing finite beings to God, we find that He is supreme in knowledge but both God and human beings have a similar mental capacity for knowledge. One is not virtuous simply because of possessing such a capacity nor because they have a lot of knowledge. Virtue (moral character) is based on what one does with this capacity, and the knowledge associated with it. As we will see, this necessitates the possession of yet another natural attribute known as a “will.”
“…God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” (1Jn 3:20)
(God) “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Ti 2:4)
- Spirituality – God’s existence is in the spiritual realm, beyond and not dependent on the material, biologic aspects of life with which we associate. However, along with the physical, material, biologic dimension of existence, human beings possess spiritual capacities that allow for genuine, dynamic, personal relationship with God, that affords us a spiritual dimension of life.
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn.4:24)
“But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.” (1Co.2:15)
- Trinitarian – Again, the way we communicate the triune nature of God can lead us to see it as something utterly contrary to the nature of human beings, however, this is a relational component to God’s nature. God did not eternally exist as a single person but as a being consisting of a relational trio. Human beings, created in God’s image, are created as relational beings, designed for relationship. Even the early statement, “it is not good for man to be alone” signals this.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (Jn.17:22-23)
- Omnipotent – This is a word that speaks of the power God possesses and indicates He is “all powerful,” almighty or as I prefer, supreme in power. This does not mean He is the only being that has power as having created human beings in His own image, he included this natural characteristic in their design.
“God also said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you.'” (Ge.35:11)
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2Ti.1:7)
- Omnipresent – As the last attribute to be considered in t his post, it is defined as “the existence of a person or thing in a certain place; opposed to absence – from the Latin proesentia; proe, before, and esse, to be. God, in some measure, though He can concentrate His presence in a varied measure from place to place is present at all places. Human beings possess a finite manifestation of presence with greater limitations associated with our physical existence.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Ps.139:7)
“I shall pay my vows to the LORD, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the LORD’S house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!” (Ps.116:18-19)
The goal of this present consideration is to lay a foundation upon which we can consider the moral realities in our world; moral agency, moral law, moral character and moral government.
 The “omni” designators are common in classical theology, but not always present Scripture. Though it appears the wording and the handling of the concepts they represent are often more indicative of Greek philosophy, I will use the terms with enough explanation to provide clarification. A general approach that I find to be more helpful when dealing with Divine attributes is to avoid the “omni” concept and use the concepts of “supreme.” For example, instead of stating that God is omniscient, it affords more flexibility to state that God is supreme in knowledge.