Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Atonement & all it means (part two)

Objective ideas on God's Character

Understanding the very nature of God allows us to see why some sort of atonement was necessary in the first place. From the start we need to acknowledge these attributes of God's nature are permanent qualities.  They don’t change and they can't be added to, because they have always been who God is.  God's character exists outside of our own perceptions of who he is. They are what are known as objective qualities. It doesn’t matter what we think, or how we choose to interact with God, we cannot change who God ultimately is. Our belief has nothing to do with it.  These objective attributes give us a baseline to refer back to on the theology of atonement.

The Greatness of God
  • Spirituality
Firstly God is a spirit so he has none of the limitations we associate with a physical body. Exertion, exhaustion, obstacles, injury or space don’t have any affect on God. All through the Bible God is continually contrasted with the other gods of the people who are all made up of idols (physical objects which are worshiped). God cannot be contained within those objects.
  • Personality
He is not a nameless deity who is disconnected from his creation, because God himself tells the people his name. The Old Testament is filled with the words of God which characterise his personal side, we see emotion in the forms of love, warmth, anger, sadness and resolution.
  • Life
The very name Yahweh – I AM – gives an inherent characteristic of being alive and living. This is again constantly in contrast with the other gods of the other nations in the Old Testament. They are dead idols, inanimate objects.This life of God is also completely self reliant. We need him to live, but He doesn't need anything but himself. In himself he is completely functioning, completely fulfilled and totally resourced.
  • Infinite
Because his life is constant with everything he needs, God exists infinitely.  God isn't old, he is simply the same as he has always been, and always will be.  Time is unrelatable to him.  So is location, he is omnipresent - able to be everywhere at once. We know there is nowhere we can hide from God.  God's wisdom is also infinite - He knows everything (omniscient). God is also omnipotent - his power is completely infinite.
  • Constancy
Although God has existed infinitely, he is also completely unchanging.  He is the same now as he has always been, and will always be.  God cannot change because his nature is already perfect (you can't improve, learn or grow from perfection to something better).

The Goodness of God
  • Purity
God is completely good. His holiness means he is totally set apart from anything evil in the world.  He cannot tolerate anything which is not good.  His righteousness displays how he must interact with other beings, because he is holy he must apply that holiness to his relationships, insisting that they are righteous. He also holds all of his creation accountable to his purity, and in that he is completely just.  His justice shows that the laws received by Israel in the Old Testament are an honest reflection of God's character and his purity.
  • Integrity
God is 100% genuine. He is who he says he is. We can know all these things are correct attributes of God because he says these things about himself in his Word and he is genuine. God is also truthful so we can believe all he says because what he says is always true. Finally, God is faithful. God will always do what he says he is going to. He keeps his promises.
  • Love
In many ways this is the glue that holds all of God's other characteristics together. His love means that He is genuinely concerned with our welfare. Why else would he bother to make promises to us in the first place? His love is completely unselfish. The cross is our greatest example of this, and the very reason he would choose to offer atonement.

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