Edward E. Dudek
God the Father has many qualities or attributes. These virtues show His distinct characteristics. They appear to be the basis of the manifestations that His creation sees. They are not so much His acts, such as to create, guide or preserve, as they are indications of who He is. As mentioned by Joseph Osawa in the “Father Heart of God’s Love” class, the whole earth is full of His lovingkindness (Ps.119:64).
This paper seeks to understand in a deeper way the heart of God the Father. It will study His qualities that are revealed to humankind in the scriptures. It appears to this writer that these distinct characteristics are the same for each person of the Trinity. This will also be briefly discussed.
Elaborating the Father’s various qualities should in no way lead the reader to think that the author believes that these attributes are in some way separate parts of a composite God or that they are some kind of fragmented segments of Himself. They are simply His perfections that are being revealed in His works of creation, providence and redemption.
I. God Is a Trinity
A. Christ as God
If there were no Trinity, Christ would not be God, and He would not absolutely know or be able to perfectly reveal God the Father. Only He has truly revealed the Father. Besides that, Christianity would not be the only full and final revelation, but simply one of the many conflicting and competing religious.
B. Basic Truths Regarding the Trinity
Though difficult to define, the truths relating to the Trinity are basically three-fold: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God (Dt.4:35,39), manifest in three distinct Persons (Jn.3:16-17)and each Person is fully God.
C. The Personhood of God
It is generally recognized that the word “person” is an imperfect expression of the personhood of God. In other words, when the term “person” is normally used, it is understood to mean an individual, a rational being, who exists by himself or herself and who has his own individual rationale and moral qualities. But when referring to each member of the Trinity as a Person, they do not exist as three individuals like Peter, James, and John who are at each others side and separate from each other. The essence of John is not the exact same essence of Peter. Each is a human being but each one possesses only a fractional part of Adam’s specific human nature.
D. The Qualities of One Are the Identical Qualities of the Other Two Persons
In God there is personal self distinction. Each Person of the Trinity has the exact same nature or essence and the exact same identical attributes. Each Person may differ in function, however, e.g., the Father sent the Son who died for humanity, and the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost. Yet there is no difference in the quality or makeup or substance of their perfections. In other words, the love of One is exactly the same identical love that the Other possesses. The Father’s love was manifested in sending His Son to die for humanity. The Son’s love is exactly the same identical love but was manifested by dying on Calvary.
It is certainly beyond the scope of this paper to attempt to delve into the mysteries of the Trinity. But the reason for elaborating the above is to establish a basis for using various scriptures to explain the qualities (and not necessarily the functions) of the heavenly Father, though that quality may be referring to another member of the Trinity in a particular scriptural context.
To help clarify further, the writer submits two verses that were pointed out in class: In a response to Philip’s wanting to see the Father, Jesus told him that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father (Jn.14:9). Teaching His disciples, Jesus said that He had loved them just as the Father had loved Him; so He wanted His disciples to remain and continue in His love (Jn.15:9).
II. Attributes that God the Father Does Not Share with Humankind
There are qualities in God of which there is nothing analogous or alike in His creatures. These attributes belong exclusively to Him. There is nothing in degree or quantity that corresponds to them in any human being.
A. God the Father is Present Everywhere
1. No Absentee Father
Jer.23:23-24, “‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” The Father is always present with the individual. As seen later in this paper regarding His other attributes, the Father is not subject to absenteeism by workaholism, divorce and separation, alcoholism or drug addiction, mental illness or coldness of heart like earthly fathers.
2. No Limitation to Space
If a human being is in one place, then he or she cannot be in another place at the same time. But the Father is not contained in limited space nor does He have dimension. It was God who brought space (and time) into existence, therefore He is not limited by them. He is present in every place at the same time. There is no place in the universe where He cannot be found. Pr.15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
3. No Division of Self
The Father does not divide or multiply Himself in order to be in every part of the universe. He is present at the same time in every place. He Himself is in the prison cell with the tortured Christian in China as He is fully with the mother in her apartment in Singapore. At the same time the Father is not limited or imprisoned to the universe as the pantheist believes. In fact, one could say that the universe is limited to God.
4. Encouragement and Warning
The scriptures give the Christian encouragement as well as warning regarding God being everywhere. The Father can give protection to everyone which is a source of comfort and joy (Ps.23:4 & Mt.28:20). He is with the believer no matter where he is and so He can watch over him, guide him and take care of him (Ps.37:23-24). The same One who is sustaining a missionary in New Zealand is the same One who is with the Christian who is suffering a car accident at the same time in another part of the world.
That the Father is everywhere also infers a warning. No one can escape or hide from Him (Heb.4:13). It certainly serves as a caution to avoid sin.
The Father’s presence can also encourage prayer. Any person in any place on earth at any hour can speak directly with the Father. He also doesn’t have any difficulty in dealing with problems or necessities that come up in different places–Jonah even prayed from the belly of a big fish and God heard him (Jonah 2). If one receives a blessing in a certain place, for example, and then moves to another locale and things do not go well, one could be tempted to think that God isn’t there, but He is.
B. God the Father Never Changes
1. Scriptural Support
The Father’s nature, attributes, purposes, will and counsels will never change (Ps.102:24 28; Isa.46:9 10; Heb.13:8). He Himself is never subject to change; in Him there is no variation (Ja.1:17b). The Father simply does not change (Mal.3:6). The scriptures show that there is an unchanging nature of the Father’s purposes (Heb.6:17-18; Job 36:5). His plans stand firm forever and the purposes of His heart through all generations, the psalmist writes (Ps.33:11). His faithfulness continues forever (cf. Ps.119:89). He is the same after creation as before it.
It follows that if the Father never changes, then He cannot become better or become worse. For example, He doesn’t show favoritism now and He never will (Rom.2:11). He always does what is truthful and what He promises; He never lies (Num.23:19). If God could become better than He is, then He would not be as good or righteous or faithful to His word as He presently could be. He’s not subject to any process of development or self betterment. Therefore, His character is not subject to change.
2. God’s “Repentance” Explained
Though there are scriptures that seem to infer that God does change His mind or purpose of conduct (I Sam.15:11,29; Jer.4:28; 18:8; Joel 2:13 14; Amos 7:3,6; Zc.8:14) it appears to this writer that the Father being unchanging means that He will always do right and adapt His dealings with humankind in accordance with people’s variations in character and conduct. In other words, although there is never a change in God’s character and attributes, He does, however, change the way He deals with people in accordance with their responses and actions. For example the wages of sin is eternal death but God will forgive and grant eternal life to one who repents and puts his or her faith in Christ. Though it may appear that the Father’s purpose has changed, yet according to His perspective nothing has changed with Him or in Him.
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