I have spent recent months studying the miracles as recorded in the four gospel accounts. The miracles of Jesus captured the attention of the masses. Jesus' ministry of miracles was a clear authentication of His claims to be God incarnate are in fact true (cf. John 3:2; 14:11). Since He can be verified that He is from God, we can also authenticate that His message is also true (cf. Mark 16:20). During Jesus' ministry of miracles, He touched the untouchables, He engaged with the outcasts, and He changed the lives of each person that encountered Hiim. The makes clear that "seeing they do not see" (Matt. 13:13). In other words, some observed the physical miracle ministry of Jesus, but they failed to understand what Jesus could do for them spiritually.
I have been working on a book called "Miracles: A Physical Sign with a Divine Purpose." I have identified 40 miracles within the gospel accounts. Through these brief snapshots of the miracles, it has been my desire to examine each miracle with a Gospel-centric lens: a lens that is focused on how each miracle shines on the glory of Jesus and the Gospel. The closer we look at the miracles the better we will understand the four themes of the Gospel: Creation, the Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. Below is my compiled list of 40 miracles (downloadable PDF file). I hope you too will study with a Gospel-centric lens.
He who has eyes, let him see!
We have already examined God’s love as expressed through His Person (i.e. intellect, sensibility, and volition) as well as His Nature (i.e. divine, holy, and spirit). This week, we will examine His love expressed through His character. A person’s character is their moral qualities or attributes.
God’s character is good (cf. Psalm 100:5). God has many moral qualities. We are going to examine three of the most prominent character qualities of God. We can begin with the goodness of God. God is good. I used to be confused by the prayer, “God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.” I was confused because it seemed to me that being “good” was less than being “great.” As if it were a step down in the prayer. However, when I understand that each word is describing different aspects of God, then I understood the prayer more appropriately. For example, “God is great” describes the great power of God’s divine nature. “God is good” describes the moral standard of God’s character. Imagine an all-powerful being (i.e. great) that is not also good. I am thankful that Satan is not all-powerful. God’s goodness means that God is the final standard of good, and all that God is and does is worthy of approval. God expresses His goodness through grace, mercy, and patience. The goodness of God is expressed through grace, which is unmerited favor. I think of it as receiving something you don’t deserve. The goodness of God is also expressed through mercy, which is not receiving something you do deserve. Mercy is often expressed to those in distress or misery. Third, the goodness of God is expressed through patience, which is God’s delay of punishment.
God’s character is righteous (cf. Psalm 119:137). God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard of what is right. In English the terms righteousness and justice are different words, but in both the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT there is only one word group behind these two English terms. Think of God’s righteousness this way… when God takes action, we know that His actions will always be right. Abraham knew that God’s actions in dealing with humanity were always right, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
God’s character is truthful (cf. Psalm 119:160). God’s truthfulness means that He is the true God, and that all His knowledge and words are both true and the final standard of truth (cf. John 17:3; 1 John 5:20). God’s truthfulness is expressed through His faithfulness. God will always do what He has said and fulfill what He has promised (cf. Numbers 23:19; 2 Samuel 7:28; Psalm 141:6).
When we consider the essence of God’s character is love, we are suggesting that every action of God flows from the love of God. Love is not merely an attribute or virtue of God. Love is the very essence of God that is evidenced through His person, nature, and character.
In my previous blog post we examined the idea that God's love is expressed through His Personhood (i.e. intellect, sensibility, and volition). This week, we will examine His love expressed through His nature. A person's nature is their basic or inherent features.
God's nature is divine. In contrast, we have a human nature (God is not human). There are many ways to describe God's divine nature. For our purposes, we will focus on three attributes of His divine nature that He alone possesses. (1) God is omnipresent. God is present everywhere at the same time. We see God's love expressed through His omnipresence in Psalm 139:7-10. "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:7-10). Because God is present everywhere, He is close to His created world. (2) God is omnipotent. God has the power to do anything He wills to do. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. ... For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:16, 20). It is by God's power that we have salvation! What great love is shown through His omnipotence. (3) God is omniscient. God possesses perfect knowledge of all things. God knows all things without effort. Because God is eternal and He is not bound by time and space, He knows all things of the past and future without the need to recall or speculate. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Eph. 1:3-4). God knew we would sin and yet because of His love for us, it was His plan from the beginning for us to be saved through Jesus Christ.
God's nature is holy and perfect. In contrast, we have a sinful nature (God cannot sin). God's holiness means that He is separated from sin and devoted to seeking His own honor. God is a holy being before He wills holiness into action. This means God did not will Himself to be pure, He is pure (cf. Rev. 4:8; Isa. 6:3; Lev. 18:2). Man's holiness is not within self, but through identification with God who shares His nature with His children.
God's nature is spirit. In contrast, we have a physical nature (God is not composed of matter). The term "spirit" when used to define God means that He is not "composed of matter" and invisible. As Spirit, God is not limited by a physical body. "Spirit" means incorporeal being, God is a real Being who does not exist in or through a physical body (cf. Jn. 4:24; Deut. 4:15, 16, 19; Ps. 147:5; Lk. 24:39; Jn. 1:18; Col. 1:15). Jesus told the Samaritan woman, "God is Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24).
When we consider the essence of God's nature is love, we are suggesting that God is Spirit and is intimately close to His creation (omnipresent), He has the power to provide salvation (omnipotence), and He knew from the foundation of the world that He would express His love for us through sending His Son to bring salvation (omniscience). His nature is perfect and therefore He can express His love for us perfectly.
(NOTE: The content of this blog post is exactly the type of subject matter we are studying on Wednesday nights through CLASS 203: Systematic Theology from 6:15pm until 7:15pm.)
Dr. Chris Dortch has been in ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."