Tuesday, May 21, 2013

God's Attributes and Deeds

As Christians are we supposed to base our praise for God on who He is (His attributes), or on what He does (His deeds, miracles, provision, signs, and wonders).  It sounds selfish to praise Him for what He does.  It sounds more spiritual to praise Him solely for who He is.  As I’ve been reading through the Psalms I can’t help but conclude that it’s a both/and.  I see the authors of the Psalms (under inspiration of the Holy Spirit) continue to praise God for both His attributes and His deeds.

Psalm 71:14-18 But I will keep on hoping for your help;
 I will praise you more and more.
I will tell everyone about your righteousness.
   All day long I will proclaim your saving power,
   though I am not skilled with words.
I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord.
   I will tell everyone that you alone are just.
O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
   and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.
Now that I am old and gray,
   do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
   your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

In this Psalm we see God praised for His attributes of righteousness and justice, but also for His mighty deeds, saving power, the wonderful things He does, and His mighty miracles.

Throughout Genesis and Exodus God was known more predominantly for His deeds than for His attributes.  In fact, Moses was one of the few (or only) people that seemed to have a personal relationship with God in these books.  Throughout the Gospels people flocked to Jesus more so for what He taught and the miracles He did, than to just enjoy and know Him.  In the book of Daniel God provided for Daniel through miracles (the fiery furnace, the lions den, and more) and as a result, pagan kings came to praise our great God.  Nebudchadnezzar went as far to say “There is no other god who can rescue like this” in Daniel 3:29, and after Daniel being delivered from the lions den king Darius sent this message to people of every race, nation, and language in the world (Daniel 6:25).

Daniel 6:26-27 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.  For he is the living God, and he will endure forever.  His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end.  He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Now, especially in the New Covenant, I think that we definitely need to seek God for who He is, be in personal relationship with Him, and long to know Him more.  But I would also argue that a large part of who God is is revealed through His deeds, signs, wonders, miracles, and what He does.  I would say that throughout the Bible people first encountered and were brought into relationship with Him based off of what He did, but then came to know (and worship) Him for who He is as a result.  We come to know Him as Jehovah Jireh when He provides.  We come to know Him as Jehovah Rapha when He heals.

I would even say that presenting a Gospel solely based on God’s attributes is presenting a partial Gospel.  A large part of the Gospel is His power... the most important part is that He not only died on the cross for our sins because He is loving, gracious, and forgiving, but then was resurrected and conquered death and Satan, and then ascended into Heaven sending His Spirit to us, so that the same power that raised Christ from the dead, the same power through which He healed, raised people from the dead, and cast out demons now dwells in those who have accepted and follow Him.  And when we neglect to praise Him for these things, neglect to know Him in these ways, neglect to seek and experience Him through these acts, then we are only in touch with a part of who God really is.  We then sell the world short on our full representation of Him, and the full experience of His will being done on earth as in Heaven.


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