We continue our journey through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Today we find ourselves in Chapter 12 talking more about the character of God. Last week we examined the incommunicable attributes (attributes we don't share with God), specifically His unchanging nature. Today we examine the aspects of God that we share...kind of.
These attributes that we share are called communicable attributes. The reason we “kind of” share them is that we possess this attributes in a humanly way and God possess them in a Godly way. There is literally an infinite difference between the attributes we have and those same attributes God has.
In our verse above, Exodus 34:6-7, we see words used to describe God that we can relate to: mercy, grace, anger, love, faithfulness, forgiving. These words are used to reveal to us the God who is.
For example, God is a merciful God. What does it mean to have mercy? The Hebrew word for mercy is rachuwm, and it is only used to describe the mercy of God. But it means to have compassion when you have the power to destroy. In the context of this world, and our experiences we commonly exercise this attribute. One area is in parenting. We are constantly showing our children mercy, when perhaps they deserve punishment. When we do this we are imaging forth a communicable attribute of God.
Likewise, lets look at forgiveness. To know God is to know forgiveness. Forgiveness is like mercy, but deeper. It is not just relenting and showing compassion, but it is absolving of penalty related to the transgression. The way that God forgives is through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness does not exist in a vacuum, but in the reality of the Cross. We, as humans, are also creatures that have the capacity to forgive. Once again commonly seen within the family setting. My wife constantly forgives me for my quick anger, pride, and self-centeredness. When she does so, she shows me an immense amount of grace (another attribute listed above, 'gracious”). This forgiveness and grace is what holds our marriage together. Without this forgiveness and grace, our marriage would be in pieces. Every act of her grace towards me is a imaging forth of her Creator.
Other communicable attributes that Grudem lays out include: spirituality, invisibility, knowledge, wisdom, truthfulness, goodness, love, holiness, peace, righteousness, jealousy, wrath, will, freedom, power, perfection, blessedness, beauty, and glory. Time does not permit us to unpack how we echo each of these attributes of God, but seeing the list is helpful to connect more of our daily moments with the things of God.
Ultimately, however, it should be our goal as God's creatures to mimic Him perfectly, for God is obviously the perfection of each of these attributes. This is what makes him God. However, it should be understood that the only way that this can be “achieved” is through faith in Jesus Christ. Upon believing in Jesus, we are adopted into God's family and he begins to change us to make us look more like a chip of the Old Block. This upward transformation is what begins at the moment of conversion and continues until we see Christ face to face.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. “ - 1 John 3:2