The Attributes of God: A seven week Discipleship Hour class at Ascension Presbyterian Churcn, Lynnwood, Wa in the Winter of 2016. Taught by Barry McWilliams
Resource Devotional: The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer
Trying to cover a subject such as the Attributes of God in just seven 45 minute classes is a real challenge. Tozer's book has twenty-three chapters. A. W. Pink's Attributes of God has seventeen - and the two books don't simply overlap. To get into the matters of proofs for the existence of God, or the doctrine of the Trinity would require a lot more time, as would arguments for Special Revelation through the Scriptures. To even begin to deal with the many Scriptural references would be difficult in this time frame. And I would have liked to spend even more time on the conceptions of God found in other religions and philosophies as well.
So I decided to start with some basic assumptions. God exists and has revealed Himself both through creation and more importantly, through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. And He has revealed Himself to be a personal God, with three persons in the Godhead.
- Two Weeks on the Incommunicable Attributes - Those that set God apart from His Creatures
- Three Weeks on Gods Attributes expressed towards Creation, The Fallen, The Redeemed
- One Week on what man has done with God and His Glory.
- Week 1 An Overview: What we are not going to cover: Basic assumptions and some definitions - [Powerpoint]
So The Class began with a number of basic assumptions:
Some Definitions of "Attribute"
- That the One Triune God exists and has revealed Himself to us in Creation, Scripture and in His Son.
- That God is one and all of his attributes are always there and equally in the three persons of the Trinity.
- That we have "finite human" and moral limitations and need faith and the Holy Spirit.
"That He is, what He is Like and what we as moral beings in His image must do about Him." - A. W. Tozer
Assignment: Chapters 1 & 3 of Knowledge of the Holy - Westminster Standards - A Class Handout
- "The Characteristics of God which distinguish Him as God"
- "Whatever God has in any way revealed as being true about Himself"
- "It is also something that we can conceive as being true of Him. An attribute, as we can know it, is a mental concept, an intellectual response to God's self-Revelation"
- "An attribute is not a part of God, it is how God is, and as far as the reasoning mind can go,it is what God is."
- "They are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures."
So the Next Two Weeks we dealt with God's nature as distinct from Creation and Mankind:
- Week 2: The Perfect and Incomprehensible God: The Solitary God
Attributes: Self-Existence; Self-Sufficient; Eternal; Incomprehensible - [Powerpoint]
Assignment: Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7 of Knowledge of the Holy
- Week 3: The Perfect and Incomprehensible God: What God is Not!
Attributes: Infinite, Immutable, Transcendence, Omnipresence - - [Powerpoint]
Assignment: Chapters 8, 9, 13, 14 of Knowledge of the Holy
Then we deal with God in relation to Creation, The Fall and Redemption:
- Week 4: The Sovereign Creator
God's Attributes in relation to His Creation: Omniscient, Wisdom, Omnipotent, Sovereign - [Powerpoint]
The class started with a slideshow of dramatic pictures of weather, mountains, forests, stars, the sea, etc.
Assignment: Chapters 10, 11, 12, 22 of Knowledge of the Holy - Westminster Standards on Creation and Providence
- Week 5: The Holy One God in Relation to the Fallen: His Holiness and Moral Character
God's Attributes in relation to the Fallen: Faithfulness, Goodness, Justice, Holiness - [Powerpoint]
Assignment: Chapters 15, 16, 17, 21 of Knowledge of the Holy - The Effects of the Fall on Mankind a chart
- Week 6: The God of Love, Mercy and Grace
God's Attributes in relation to the Redeemed: Love, Grace and Mercy - [Powerpoint]
Assignment: Chapters 18, 19, 20 of Knowledge of the Holy
Finally, and the time was much too short to finish the powerpoint - the ways mankind has misunderstood God - by over-emphasizing or neglecting various of His Attributes.
- Week 7: The Glory of God How do we respond to God : God's Glory - [Powerpoint]
Assignment: Chapter 23 of Knowledge of the Holy - Domains of Worldviews
The Outer Ring represents those Attributes unique to God (sometimes called the Incommunicable Attributes ; The inner ring represents those Attributes that are reflected to some degree in man's image of God (sometimes called the Communicable Attributes.) Various religions emphasize or deny various attributes resulting in their misconceptions of God.
The Shorter Catechism offers a good decription of God and His Attributes
The five aspects of the Love of God: Eternal, Provident, comPassionate, Particular and Provisional. (See Carsen's book) and the good news of the Gospel are seen here.
Besides Tozer's Books on the Attributes of God. in particular, The Knowledge of the Holy, and A.W. Pink' The Attributes of God, Boice's Foundations of the Christian Faith, as well as Berkhof's and Reymond's Systematic Theologies, a number of other resources were quite helpful.