17. Perfection. God's perfection means that God completely possesses all excellent qualities and lacks no part of any qualities that would be desirable for him.
It is difficult to decide whether this should be listed as a separate attribute or simply be included in the description of the other attributes. Some passages say that God is "perfect" or "complete." Jesus tells us, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). And David says of God, "His way is perfect" (Ps. 18:30; cf. Deut. 32:4). There is some scriptural precedent, therefore, for stating explicitly that God lacks nothing in his excellence: he fully possesses all of his attributes and lacks nothing from any one of those attributes. Furthermore, there is no quality of excellence that it would be desirable for God to have that he does not have: he is "complete" or "perfect" in every way.
This attribute is the first of those classified as a "summary" attribute because it does not fit well into the other categories that have been listed. Even though all the attributes of God modify all the others in some senses, those that fit in this category seem more directly to apply to all the attributes or to describe some aspect of all of the attributes that it is worthwhile to state explicitly.
18. Blessedness. To be "blessed" is to be happy in a very full and rich sense. Often Scripture talks about the blessedness of those people who walk in God's ways. Yet in 1 Timothy Paul calls God "the blessed and only Sovereign" (1 Tim. 6:15) and speaks of "the glorious gospel of the blessed God" (1 Tim. 1:11). In both instances the word is not euXoYHToq, G2329 (which is often translated "blessed"), but ^aKapioq (G3421, which means "happy").
Thus, God's blessedness may be defined as follows: God's blessedness means that God delights fully in himself and in all that reflects his character. In this definition the idea of God's happiness or blessedness is connected directly to his own person as the focus of all that is worthy of joy or delight. This definition indicates that God is perfectly happy, that he has fullness of joy in himself.
The definition reflects the fact that God takes pleasure in everything in creation that mirrors his own excellence. When he finished his work of creation, he looked at everything that he had made and saw that it was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). This indicates God's delight in and approval of his creation. Then in Isaiah we read a promise of God's future rejoicing over his people: "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you" (Isa. 62:5; cf. Prov. 8:30-31; Zeph. 3:17).
It may at first seem strange or even somewhat disappointing to us that when God rejoices in his creation, or even when he rejoices in us, it is really the reflection of his own excellent qualities in which he is rejoicing. But when we remember that the sum of everything that is desirable or excellent is found in infinite measure in God himself, then we realize that it could not be otherwise: whatever excellence there is in the universe, whatever is desirable, must ultimately have come from him, for he is the Creator of all and he is the source of all good. "Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17).
We ought therefore to say to ourselves, as Paul says to the Corinthians, "What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" (1 Cor. 4:7). "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever" (Rom. 11:36).
We imitate God's blessedness when we find delight and happiness in all that is pleasing to God, both those aspects of our own lives that are pleasing to God and the deeds of others. In fact, when we are thankful for and delight in the specific abilities, preferences, and other characteristics with which God has created us as individuals, then we also imitate his attribute of blessedness. Furthermore, we imitate God's blessedness by rejoicing in the creation as it reflects various aspects of his excellent character. And we find our greatest blessedness, our greatest happiness, in delighting in the source of all good qualities, God himself.
19. Beauty. God's beauty is that attribute of God whereby he is the sum of all desirable qualities. This attribute of God has been implicit in a number of the preceding attributes, and is especially related to God's perfection. However, God's perfection was defined in such a way as to show that he does not lack anything that would be desirable for him. This attribute, beauty, is defined in a positive way to show that God actually does possess all desirable qualities: "perfection" means that God doesn't lack anything desirable; "beauty" means that God has everything desirable. They are two different ways of affirming the same truth.
Nevertheless, there is value in affirming this positive aspect of God's possession of everything that is desirable. It reminds us that all of our good and righteous desires, all of the desires that really ought to be in us or in any other creature, find their ultimate fulfillment in God and in no one else.
David speaks of the beauty of the Lord in Psalm 27:4: "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple." A similar idea is expressed in another psalm: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you" (Ps. 73:25). In both cases, the psalmist recognizes that his desire for God, who is the sum of everything desirable, far surpasses all other desires. This desire culminates in a longing to be near God and to enjoy his presence forevermore. Thus, the greatest blessing of the heavenly city shall be this: "They shall see his face" (Rev. 22:4).
Anne R. Cousin certainly had a proper perspective on heaven, for in the last stanza of her hymn, "The Sands of Time are Sinking" she wrote: The bride eyes not her garment, But her dear bridegroom's face. I will not gaze at glory, But on my King of grace; Not at the crown he giveth, But on his pierced hand: The Lamb is all the glory Of Emmanuel's land.
We reflect God's beauty in our own lives when we exhibit conduct that is pleasing to him. Thus, Peter tells wives in the churches to which he writes that their "adorning" (that is, their source of beauty) should be "the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Peter 3:4). Similarly, Paul instructs servants that by their conduct they should "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior" (Titus 2:10).
The beauty of our lives is so important to Christ that his purpose now is to sanctify the entire church "that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). Thus, we individually and corporately reflect God's beauty in every way in which we exhibit his character. When we reflect his character, he delights in us and finds us beautiful in his sight.
But we also delight in God's excellence as we see it manifested in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Therefore it is right that we feel joy and delight in the fellowship of one another, and that this joy deepens as our conformity to the life of Christ increases. It is right that we long to be in the fellowship of God's people in which God's character is manifested, for when we delight in the godliness of God's people, we are ultimately delighting in God himself as we see his character evidenced in the lives of his people.
20. Glory. In one sense of the word glory it simply means "honor" or "excellent reputation." This is the meaning of the term in Isaiah 43:7, where God speaks of his children, "whom I created for my glory," or Romans 3:23, which says that all "have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." It also has that meaning in John 17:5, where Jesus speaks to the Father of "the glory which I had with you before the world was made," and in Hebrews 1:3, which says that the Son "is the radiance of God's glory" (author's translation). In this sense, the glory of God is not exactly an attribute of his being but rather describes the superlative honor that should be given to God by everything in the universe (including, in Heb. 1:3 and John 17:5, the honor that is shared among the members of the Trinity). But that is not the sense of the word glory that we are concerned with in this section.
In another sense, God's "glory" means the bright light that surrounds God's presence. Since God is spirit, and not energy or matter, this visible light is not part of God's being but is something that was created. We may define it as follows: God's glory is the created brightness that surrounds God's revelation of himself.
This "attribute" of God is really not an attribute of God in the sense that the others were, for here we are speaking not of God's own character but of the created light or brilliance that surrounds God as he manifests himself in his creation. Thus, God's glory in this sense is not actually an attribute of God in himself. Nevertheless, God's glory is something that belongs to him alone and is the appropriate outward expression of his own excellence. It seems right therefore to treat it here immediately after the attributes of God.
Scripture often speaks of God's glory. David asks, "Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!" (Ps. 24:10). We read in Psalm 104:1-2, "O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with honor and majesty, you who cover yourself with light as with a garment " This glory of God is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament.
It is mentioned again in the New Testament in connection with the annunciation of Jesus' birth to the shepherds: "And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were filled with fear" (Luke 2:9). God's glory was also evident at the transfiguration of Christ (cf. Matt. 17:2), and we find in the heavenly city yet to come that "the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb" (Rev. 21:23).
It is very appropriate that God's revelation of himself should be accompanied by such splendor and brightness, for this glory of God is the visible manifestation of the excellence of God's character. The greatness of God's being, the perfection of all his attributes, is something that we can never fully comprehend, but before which we can only stand in awe and worship. Thus, it is appropriate indeed that the visible manifestation of God be such that we would be unable to gaze fully upon it, and that it would be so bright that it would call forth both great delight and deep awe from us when we behold it only in part.
Quite amazingly, God made us to reflect his glory. Paul tells us that even now in our Christian lives we all are being "changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another" (2 Cor. 3:18; cf. Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15). Though we do not now find ourselves surrounded by a visible light, there is a brightness, a splendor, or a beauty about the manner of life of a person who deeply loves God, and it is often evident to those around such a person. In the life to come, such brightness will be intensified, so that as we reign with Christ, it seems that we also will receive an outward appearance that is appropriate to that reign and to our status as image bearers of God and servants of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Prov. 4:18; Dan. 12:3; Matt. 13:43; 1 Cor. 15:43).5
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