As should be obvious by this point in this study, God is multi-faceted by nature. When asking the question, "What is God like?," no single answer is sufficient. He exhibits many characteristics, none of which contradict any of the others. Rather, they complement one another, presenting the fuller portrayal of God. While He is a God of love, goodness, mercy and grace, He is also a Just God. The fact that God is just does not negate or conflict with any of those other characteristics. They go together perfectly.
A mother's love is special. It may be the best illustration we commonly observe of what agape love describes in scripture. A mother loves her child no matter what. In spite of how many pregnancies are terminated by abortion, a mother's love remains one of the strongest resisting forces against that procedure. A child may be born severely handicapped, but his mother loves him just the same, with all of the same affection and sincerity she bestows upon her children who are not handicapped. In observing her deep love and devoted care, without even thinking about it she serves as a graphic visual example of true, selfless love.
Truth, how elusive it can be! Truth is central to being able to live our lives effectively. We depend upon knowing truth in making decisions that guide and profoundly affect our lives. We assure others that they can trust us because we are truthful. We instill this principle within our children by teaching them to always tell the truth. Yet, as human beings, we struggle with truth.
God is a God of commitment. Making a commitment is making a solemn pledge, and it requires taking responsibility for keeping that commitment. When a person signs any kind of contract he commits himself to the terms of that contract. If somebody is offered a job, and he accepts it, he commits himself to all that doing that job entails.
“What does the crucifixion mean to me?” is about as profound as any question could be. Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ went to the cross and died in order to pay the debt for our sins. We are all sinners (Rom. 3:9-10, 23), and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The scriptures state that God “made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The sense of this verse is that Christ bore all the guilt of all sins for all people for all time on Himself on the cross. What incredible love, what an incredible sacrifice!
How does one adequately explain God’s grace? It’s impossible! A technical definition that has been used for many years defines grace as “God’s unmerited (unearned) favor, His loving kindness toward man.” A popular acronym describes it as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” A succinct statement declares, “All God, no me!” Those are all good attempts, but they still come up short.
Moses asked the question, “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness…” (Ex. 15:11). It’s a rhetorical question; there is no one like God! In Hannah’s prayer, she stated, “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You…” (1 Sam. 2:2). To say, “He is holy” is almost a needless statement, except to give Him glory and praise thereby. God is holy by nature.
For how long will God be merciful? How far does God’s mercy go? How can finite man answer such a question about an infinite God? The depth of God’s love is expressed in the statement “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8, 16). How can we understand God’s capacity to love?
One characteristic of God for which we can all be eternally grateful is the reality that God is merciful! Where would we be, what hope would we have were it not for God’s mercy? When we were spiritually dead in our sins, God’s mercy provided for us an opportunity to be brought back to life (Eph. 2:4-5).
God is good! One day, I received an email that included the statement, “God is good, all of the time.” That statement was more significant in that the email gave a report of a family member who had been diagnosed with cancer. The truth is, God is good all of the time! Even when things seem to be going badly for us, God is still good. Even when we pray to God for deliverance from a difficult situation, and His answer is “No” or “Wait awhile,” God is still good.
Gary L. Hutchens