Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God Lecture Notes, Chapter 12: The Communicable Attributes Of God

Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God[1]

Lecture Notes[2] Chapter 12: The Communicable Attributes Of God

6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”


(Exodus 34:6-7)


In his “Systematic Theology” Wayne Grudem states, “To look at God changes us and makes us like Him.”  We need that and that is what we have been doing over these last few weeks.  We’re covering the communicable attributes of God and we’re asking the question:

How is God like us in His Being and in His Mental and Moral attributes? 

Two weeks ago, Dylan instructed us in the spirituality and invisibility of God’s Being.  This week, we will try to grasp God’s Mental and Moral Attributes.

B.  God’s Mental Attributes


Definition:  He is the true God, and that all His knowledge and words are both true and the final standard of truth. 

I want to concentrate on this last part that His words are both true and the final standard of truth. 

Numbers 23:19 (ESV)
19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

This means that we can depend on Him NEVER to be unfaithful to His promises.  God will ALWAYS do what He has said and fulfill what He has promised.

This attribute apply to us in numerous ways:

1.  When we promise to pray for others

2.  When we say we will be at a certain place at a certain time

3.  When we exaggerate events to make for a more exciting story

4.  be faithful in what we have said in our business commitments

5.  Reporting what someone else has said.  Not twisting their words.

C.  God’s Moral Attributes

1.  LOVE

Q.  What is “Love?”

Definition:  God ETERNALLY gives of Himself to others. 

From God’s perspective, “This eternal love of the Father for the Son, the Son for the Father, and of both for the Holy Spirit makes heaven a world of love and joy because each person of the Trinity seeks to bring joy and happiness to the other two.” (Wayne Grudem)

From our perspective, Grudem also said, “It is one of the most amazing facts in all Scripture that just as God’s love involves His giving of Himself to make us happy, so we can in return give of ourselves and actually bring joy to God’s heart.”  And of course we are to give of ourselves to others eternally.


Definition:  God’s goodness in withholding of punishment toward those who sin over a period of time. 

This requires a minute by minute trust in God to fulfill His promises and purposes in our lives AT HIS CHOSEN TIME.

Exodus 34:6 (ESV)
6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

There are 8 other times in the OT we see this verse.  We desperately need to thank God for His patience towards us.  We take it for granted.  And the proof that we take it for granted is seen in how IMPATIENT we are with others.


Definition:  God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard for what is right. 

When both Job and Jonah asked whether God had been righteous in His dealings with them, God did not give an explanation that would allow them to understand why God’s actions were right, but expressed His own majesty and power!!  God does not need to explain the rightness of His actions to anyone, for God is the creator and man is the creature.

Romans 9:20-21 (ESV)
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Job 40:2, 8 (ESV)
2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

8 Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?


Definition: God continually seeks to protect His own honor.

Some might not think of this as a desirable attribute. Isn’t this a sin? Jealousy is used negatively in our part of the world, but it does have some positive aspects to it.  If we’re jealous over something or someone we DON’T have, then that’s wrong.  If we’re jealous over our own honor, it’s wrong.  But if we’re jealous over something or someone that DOES belong to us, then that is right.  If we’re jealous over someone else’s honor, that is acceptable. In 2 Cor. 11:2, Paul said he was jealous for them with a Godly jealousy.

We do not deserve honor that only belongs to Christ.  It is absolutely right for God to seek His own honor.


Definition:  God intensely hates all sin.  God’s wrath is not only found in the OT as many believe.

John 3:36 (ESV)
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Paul writes in Rom. 1:18 that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. We could quickly cover at least 11 other verses that show us this wrath that God possesses.  It is a great thing that God hates sin.  If He delighted in it, or at least was not troubled by it, He would not be worthy of our worship.  Have any of us seen the affects; or FELT THE AFFECTS: OF SIN?  Sin is worthy of being hated.  WE should hate sin more than we do.

Romans 3:23-25 (ESV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Jesus bore the wrath of God that was due to our sin.


Gal. 5:22-23 is what these communicable attributes should look like in our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


Let us allow our Father the last words on this issue.

2 Peter 3:9-18 (ESV)
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.






[1] Based on and various Quotes from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Zondervan

[2] All Scripture from ESV Bible, Crossway

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