Communicable Attributes of God
Before I even get into this article, I want to suggest that you go back and read “Incommunicable Attributes of God.” In that article, I give a description of what attributes are as well as the two main categories. I am just going to give you a brief description in this article for a refresher. An attribute is a quality or feature that is considered a part of someone or something’s characteristics or traits. They are generally known as your core beliefs or core values. They are those deep, fundamental beliefs that you have that are unchanging even when the world around you does change. Some examples are loyalty, duty, respect, selflessness, honor or integrity. In the first article on attributes I discussed loyalty, but in this one we will talk about integrity. Integrity is just a fancy word for honesty. When you have integrity, that means that you will always be honest and truthful no matter what the circumstances may be. Let’s use Jesus as an example. When Jesus was questioned by Pilate, He remained silent. Jesus was being falsely accused of many different things, mainly blasphemy, but they were all false. The accusations were altered to make Jesus seem guilty when He was in fact innocent. Jesus could have spoken up and cleared his name, but that was not the plan. The plan was to be a sacrificial lamb for all mankind. That act of bravery could actually fall under every core value that I listed above, but we are going to continue to focus on integrity. He knew the plan and stayed true and honest when nobody else around Him was. If you ever find yourself in a circumstance where you are being falsely accused and one of your core values is integrity, then lean on that. Stay true to yourself and trust in the Lord. No matter what is happening in the world around you, you will remain honest and truthful. Even if the chaos and storms seem to be focused on you. If you do that, then the Lord will work out the rest.
In our first article we also discussed the two main types of attributes or characteristics of God. The first article is on the incommunicable attributes of God which is a fancy way of saying the attributes that only God possesses. This article is going to focus on the communicable attributes which are those characteristics that are shared, partially, with us. I will explain that more once when we look at each attribute individually. We are going to look at six different attributes that we can find in scripture, but this is not an exhaustive list nor are they in any particular order. These attributes are:
Just and Righteous
We are going to start by taking a look at two different attributes that follow the same theme. These attributes are the fact that God is just and righteous. Just simply means that God is morally fair and right when making decisions. When we refer to God’s biblical righteousness then we are referring to the fact that God is morally right and just in everything that He does. Do you see the connection? Another way of saying it is that God doesn’t make mistakes. He punishes those that need divine judgment and is forgiving, gracious and loving to those who don’t. We can see this in Deuteronomy 32:4 which states, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” We can see God’s divine judgment all over the Old Testament, but not so much in the New Testament. We have to remember that God sent His only son to die for us. Through that death on the cross, we entered into a new covenant with the Lord. We are no longer under the law of the Old Testament, but under a state of grace. That grace is the reason we are not punished by God in the same manner that those in the Old Testament were. I realize that a huge counter argument could be made against that statement, but we will cover that in a different article. For now, let’s look at why these can be considered communicable attributes.
These fall into the communicable attributes because we too can be righteous and just. We have the ability within us to be fair and moral when making decisions. If you have multiple children, then you have been faced with being righteous and just more times than you can probably count. I can relate because I am entering deeper and deeper into that realm of chaos every day. When your kids are fighting over toys, struggling with the concept of sharing or they just seem to be fed up with each other then you have to be that voice of reason. That voice of justice and morality, and with God’s help, you will hopefully make the right decisions.
What do I mean by God being spiritual? Well, as a spiritual being, God is invisible and everywhere. In our article “Incommunicable Attributes of God” we discussed how God is omnipresent. God can be omnipresent because He doesn’t have a physical body. He can form His spirit into a human-like form, but it isn’t necessary for His existence. God exists outside our understanding of time, space and matter. Therefore, the fact that He is a spiritual being is what allows Him to be everywhere at once in His invisible state. Let’s remember the story of Jesus and Thomas in John 20 when Thomas refused to believe the other disciples that Jesus was alive and appeared to them. When Jesus returned a second time He said to Thomas in versus 27-29, “‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” Jesus is referring to each one of us today. We cannot see the Father, Son or Holy Spirit but that doesn’t mean that they are not with us in our daily lives. Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus and believed, but for all of us who haven’t seen Him, we are also blessed.
You may be questioning how this could be an attribute shared with us, but let’s remember that we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, believe in your heart that He is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for the resurrection of the dead then you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. John 4:24 states, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” This is not only saying that God is spirit, but that we must pray in the Spirit. A Bible study method that I typically use is simple grammar and punctuation. How does that work? I will show you with this last verse that I quoted. Notice that it says, “God is spirit” and the fact that spirit is not capitalized. That is because this spirit is referring to a state of being. As in God is a spiritual being. However, when it says, “we must pray in the Spirit,” then notice that Spirit is capitalized which is referring to the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. That Spirit isn’t just a state of being, but an actual spiritual figure that is God. Which means that God lives within each of our hearts, in a spiritual state, as long as we accept His son Jesus Christ.
Gracious and Merciful
We will put these two attributes together because they fall under the same general principle. In today's society we typically lump these two together as being (or meaning) the same thing. However, they do have different meanings. First we will define merciful which is just a fancy way of saying ‘someone who gives mercy.’ Mercy is the act of forgiving somebody from debt or action when they don’t deserve forgiveness. An example of this would be a law enforcement officer giving you a warning when you should have been given a speeding ticket. The fact that that officer didn’t give you a ticket is an example of mercy. God shows us mercy every single day. In Romans 9:15-16 it says, “‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” This is saying that it doesn’t really matter what we say or do, if God wants to give us mercy then He will do whatever He wants according to His good and perfect will.
Next, let’s look at Gracious. Like merciful, gracious is just the act of giving grace. Grace is similar to mercy, but it goes even a step further. Grace is forgiving somebody when they probably don’t deserve it, but then giving them a gift or reward instead of a punishment. Let’s use that same example of the law enforcement officer pulling you over. That officer should have given you a ticket but instead gives you a warning. Well, that was mercy. Now imagine that officer didn’t just give you a warning, but a $200 gift certificate to your favorite restaurant and tickets to go to a broadway show or sporting event. That act of rewarding you when you deserve punishment is grace. When we sin, we should be punished, but oftentimes we are still given what we pray for even though we don’t deserve it. That is grace. I’m sure you can think of multiple times in your own personal life where you did something you know was wrong, but instead of being punished in that area of your life you were blessed in another area. That is grace. Psalm 145:8 says, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” This grace and love that is referenced in this scripture is the same grace and love that our current covenant is based on, and that covenant was ushered in by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It isn’t as hard to see how we also have mercy and grace within ourselves. In fact, we are charged by Jesus to have mercy and grace in the form of forgiveness. This charge is given to us in Matthew 6:14-15 which says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” If we, as a society, can actually figure out how to use this mercy and grace, given to us by the Holy Spirit, and figure out how to forgive, then this world would be a better place to live. Let’s all take that step and be an example to others of how to live the Christian lifestyle.
Loving is one that probably doesn’t need as much explanation. Most people understand what love is and how it works. I doubt if there are many questions or doubts to the fact that God is loving. Granted, bad things do happen to good people, but God isn’t the one behind that evil. We discuss that in a different article so I won’t go into that here. Instead let’s focus on the fact that God is love and we see that in 1 John 4:7-8 which states, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I hope the weight of those verses really hit you. GOD IS LOVE!!! A few years back my sister went to her heavenly home after losing a long fought battle with cancer. Before she even passed I started to research heaven and death which led me to near death experiences. Then, several months back, my father also passed quickly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. That once again sent me down an even deeper study into heaven and, again, near death experiences. In all of the research that I did, one thing always seemed to be the same in every experience. LOVE. Almost every person who had an experience mentioned that they were overwhelmed with feelings of absolute and pure love. Love beyond our wildest imaginations. God is love, and that love is also inside all of us. So, let’s give everybody that mercy and grace, but let’s make that extra gift that we give with our grace be love.
Faithfulness is another attribute that probably doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. To be faithful simply means to be full of faith, but that applies more to us than it does to God. God IS faithful while we can be faithful but it isn’t always the case. I’m sure everybody can think of multiple stories of unfaithfulness here in this world. Mankind is sinful which, unfortunately, allows us the ability to be unfaithful. God, however, is incapable of being unfaithful. So, how does God show faithfulness? Well, God’s biblical faithfulness comes in the fact that God has all the attributes already explained in this article and in the “Incommunicable Attributes of God” article. Instead of giving another summary of each one, I will just highlight the ones most relevant to God’s faithfulness.
Righteous - God will always do the right thing and make the right decisions in every aspect of our lives.
Merciful - God will always forgive us, even if we don’t deserve it, as long as we seek repentance and give forgiveness.
Gracious - Even when we sin, God will not hold back the blessings that He has for us.
Loving - God will always love us, no matter what.
Sovereign - God has ultimate power and authority over everything.
Immutable - God has never changed, nor will He ever change.
Eternal - God is the same God today as He was in the New Testament and the Old Testament.
Again, how does this show God’s faithfulness? God is faithful because He is unchanging. God is goodness, righteousness and pure love. He always has been and always will be. We can live out our lives
knowing that God will always be there for us, in the good times and bad, through sickness and health, for as long as we live on this earth and then into eternity. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” This scripture, as well as looking at all of God’s attributes that we have already discussed, shows us how God is going to remain faithful to us through all of eternity. Our job is to remain faithful to Him by spreading mercy, grace, hope and love through His good Word to as many people as we can while we are here on this planet. Let’s go out into this world and work together, as Christians, to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. If we can manage to do this, then we can help strengthen God’s kingdom here on Earth, and make it a better place for all of us to live.