God’s Character

From the Dean

A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.

Originally Published:
6th June 2008

Tagged: god

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The Bible clearly teaches that there is ultimately only one true God. It should not surprise us that such a God is complex. This is seen in more than his triune nature of being three persons, but one God. It is seen also in his intricate and multifaceted character.

He is the generous God. His creation of the world is not mean and niggardly but abundant and rich. There is almost a prodigal display of diversity in the creatures of the world. The biological world displays a brilliant range of colour. But God also gives to the creatures made in his image the wonders of musical appreciation and of speech and communication.

He is also the covenant God. He gives his word by a formal contract. He makes contracts that have requirements, guarantees and penalty clauses written into them. He does not treat us as mules and horses—guiding us by bit and bridle. He spoke to us. He made promises to us. He bound himself to his word and has fulfilled his undertakings.

He is the faithful and trustworthy God. He speaks the truth and keeps his word. He is not fickle or unreliable. His word can always be trusted: as he can always be trusted to keep his word.

He is the just and angry God. He is not temperamental in his anger. He is always just and righteous. He acts out of his character, which is profoundly just. He acts in accordance with his covenants and contracts. His justice is to give to people what they deserve—both reward and punishment. His anger is only reserved for those who are guilty.

He is the patient God. He is slow to anger. Although he will not leave the guilty unpunished, he does not rush to judgement or punishment. He does not desire the death of a sinner but rather that he may repent and live. So God patiently provides every opportunity for repentance and forgiveness. He patiently endures the rebellion of his creatures.

He is the loving God. This has always been central to his character. In fact it is said of him: “God is Love”. This is in no way contrary to his justice or anger. They are but expressions of his love. The opposite of love is not anger but indifference. It is because he loves that he is so angry. But his love will always trump his anger as his mercy trumps his justice. For out of his love he provides the pardon of his people in the death of his Son. For by his Son's free offering of his life in the sacrifice of Calvary—justice is satisfied, anger is assuaged and mercy is provided.

He is the missionary God. His concerns are worldwide. There is only one God and only on humanity made in his image. All people are provided for in the death of his Son. His concern is for young and old, rich and poor, men and women, democrats, monarchists, republicans and anarchists. He sends his Spirit to preach the message of salvation through his people to all of nations, tribes and groups.

He is the coming God. He keeps coming to us and for us. He came to us in the Garden of Eden. He came to us in the promises to Abraham. He came to us in the rescue of Israel from Egypt. But of course he particularly came to us in the life, death and resurrection of his only Son our Lord Jesus Christ. And the risen Lord Jesus did not abandon us but sent his Spirit who came to us on the day of Pentecost. His Spirit comes to us in the preaching of the Gospel through rebirth when he moves us to respond in repentance and faith. One day God will come again to us in the judgement of the world.

Our God is wonderfully complex but more than that, he is wonderful in fact.