Faith Basics: God's Attributes

Faith Basics: God's Attributes
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In this episode Dan Jarms and Chris Tornquist discuss God's attributes—a.k.a. Theology Proper. Topics include God's goodness, wrath, omnipresence, and how all these attributes fit together. 

  • Automated Transcription
  • Dan Jarms 0:00
    Today on faith matters, we're continuing our series on faith basics. And we're talking about the attributes of God with Chris turnquist.

    Dan Jarms 0:13
    I'm Dan Jarms. And you're listening to faith matters a podcast to help update you on matters of faith Bible Church, as well as equip you in matters of the Christian faith.

    Dan Jarms 0:33
    All right, welcome, everyone. We are back in the studio today I have with me, Chris hornqvist. Hey, good afternoon, we are in the middle of another part of our series on faith basics. And we're in the topic theology doing theology. And we're going to talk specifically about theology proper, and, and who God is, are the attributes of God. So Chris teaches our fundamentals of the faith class, and it's just cycles every year. I know, 2530 people seem to go through it every year in are hugely blessed. So thank you, Chris, for doing that. And this is one of Chris's favorite topics, the attributes of God who God is. So let's dive right in Chris. When we think about God, and what he's like, often theologians use the word attributes. So we think of the attributes of God, what are attributes?

    Chris Tornquist 1:24
    Well, that's, we never use that word in everyday language. No, we're not in our we don't, we don't sit down with a friend have a cup of coffee. So as you know, as thinking about the attributes of Fred over there, and it's just not one Yeah. But in ours, what we're talking about is just characteristics of who he is. Sometimes there are things he says about himself. Others, they're things that we draw from, we make a conclusion about what he does. And we read passages in Scripture of he behaved this way he did that, ah, that shows his fill in the blank. And other times, it's just an explicit statement of that.

    Dan Jarms 1:59
    So attributes or qualities, characteristics, traits of

    Chris Tornquist 2:03
    either that he reveals, or we come to a conclusion by what he has said and done.

    Dan Jarms 2:07
    Yeah, yeah, that's really good. So what are a handful of things that we think of when kinds of kinds of things that come up when talking about the attributes of God,

    Chris Tornquist 2:15
    probably the big ones that we think about all the time, or that often come up in messages or sermons or Bible studies, whatever they might be, certainly holiness of God, justice, righteousness, the all the nominees, the omnipresence and omniscience and the immutability, His power, His sovereignty. But I want to suggest there are a lot more than that, and maybe different, just different thinking, and maybe get us a better handle on what those are with where the rubber meets the road.

    Dan Jarms 2:45
    Yeah, yeah, that's good. I think of, of having a daily quiet time. We, that's what we call it. If you've been a Christian for any length of time, we talk we call about devotions, quiet time, time alone with the Lord, we'll use all those. And uh, last time, I did a podcast on just how to have a quiet time. I think the most practical thing for me in doing theology is reading scripture and just seeing who God is, what he's doing, how he's carrying out his plan, just always looking for who is God, what is he doing, and whoever God is in any place in the Scripture, he is today. And, and so you can get a lot out of the Scripture, knowing God, but just looking for what God's doing. Sometimes you don't know what you're supposed to do as a result of it. But you can always see who God is in it.

    Chris Tornquist 3:37
    Sometimes we rush through those, if we get to a verse or passage that describes whose God is, Stop, just stop and just let that one soak in and meditate and pray through that, because that may be the most profound thing you've done for a long time.

    Dan Jarms 3:51
    Yeah, and one of the great passages in Exodus 34, Moses was told that he was going to continue to lead the people of Israel, they were going to be a stiff neck and stubborn people. And Moses says, I won't do it unless you show me your glory. It's interesting for Moses to negotiate with God. But what Moses said is, if I don't have your fullness, and I don't see you who you are, this is going to be an impossible task for me. And so we have one of the greatest self revelations of God, the Lord, the Lord, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, pounding and loving kindness, there's a list of things there. And that's the kind of thing you can get in some really dense sections. But a lot of times there are other places to Chris, since there's there are several theologians will put out lists of something like 15 to 18. And, and, you know, they're trying to consolidate and think about those and so we don't have time to unpack. 1618 But why don't you give me a handful of those attributes, like some of the things that you say, Okay, so when we're talking about attribute we're talking about these things.

    Chris Tornquist 4:59
    Sure. I'm sure what I've been reflecting on for quite a while several weeks now is the goodness of God. And it's really grabbed me because I was thinking just as a way I live my life every day in the way that people live their lives. Sometimes we talk about holiness, or righteousness. from a human perspective, we really can't get our minds around that because it's sinful human beings and brains. But most people have some measure of understanding about what good looks like. Not perfectly good, obviously. But they they can they have an idea? So when I've been thinking about the goodness of God, I've said, you know, if we've got a solid, unwavering, unflinching, totally convicting understanding, and acceptance and belief that God is good, a lot of the other things with the other attributes fall in place, we can go, oh, you know, I don't fully understand that attribute. But I do know God is good. I kind of see it as a jigsaw puzzle, you look on the box and see this beautiful, beautiful picture. And you say, yeah, that's that's a great picture. But if I reach in the box and pick up one little piece, it may look ugly. It's a strange shaped strange picture on it strange colors. But if I have that big picture in mind that I know God is good. And that might be a circumstance in life, that little piece or another attribute I don't quite understand. I'm not sure what that one is. But I know God is good. And that helps us. helps us get through that same made on understand else, but he's told me he's good. And I know this fits in.

    Dan Jarms 6:37
    Yeah, that's, that's really good. Jeff, some examples.

    Chris Tornquist 6:40
    Well, yeah, I go back to go back to Scripture. It's so relevant on this one I, I think of Psalm 34, where he just says he's good. He says, oh, taste and see the psalmist says that the Lord is good. mean, there's just a direct statement of of who he is blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. And then the application of that the psalmist goes on just two verses later, and says the young lions do without and suffer hunger, but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. So the Lord is good. And as a result of that, he gives us what is truly good, good. Thanks. And that just nails it for me. Yeah, that's,

    Dan Jarms 7:21
    that's, that's really helpful and encouraging. So when we think of God's goodness, a question that comes up, when we're talking about the attributes of God, is God more of one thing than another?

    Chris Tornquist 7:37
    Boy, that's a temptation, isn't it? The important thing we all have to recognize is that none is more important than the other. They're all parts of who God is. God is not fractured. Yeah, he's not this. He's not a the person of the Deity, the first person that DD this a little bit this and a little bit that inserted this way, and sometimes this and sometimes that. No, he's a hole. He is that. No, he's that big jigsaw puzzle that's all put together. And there it is. And it's beautiful. And everything fits together. Yeah, it's a mistake to do that. And I've seen that where people have said, well, this is the most important one and everything else flows out of that one. Yeah, well, if they're all characteristics of God, they're all of equal importance. They're all

    Dan Jarms 8:23
    of equal importance. And he is all of those things all of the time. The difference might be what he is displaying those tort. So when there is injustice, it might be wrath. God is always wrathful. But he's not always displaying his wrath, because not all the things that he is responding to, or dealing with deserve wrath. Right. But he, he is never less of one thing and more of another. He has all those things all at the same time. What we experience as humans are different things at different times.

    Chris Tornquist 8:57
    And we fall into that trap, don't we? We will grab on to the one that may be physis at the time, and that's not necessarily bad to concentrate on the one thing that applies to my life right now. But to somehow elevate one above the others is a is a really serious mistake biblically.

    Dan Jarms 9:16
    Yeah. Yeah. And that's why goodness is especially helpful because goodness is moral. And anytime, anytime you're asking, Well, God is God is wrathful. Does that. Does that seem morally good? He's he gets angry at things. Because God is good. When he does exercise anger, it will also be out of an overflow up his goodness. Maybe an example would be God's displeasure with abortion. God might be angry with abortion, because he's good. He wants to protect the lives of the innocent or the life of a child. So for God, he is So all of his attributes, he might exercise anger, but it would always be in a good way for a good thing,

    Chris Tornquist 10:07
    right? There's some things I think that flow out of that as I think about attributes. Yeah, that one that comes to mind and I have some different names for these because sometimes theological words don't mean much to us, or we just go over our heads. What I call companionship. Yes. What the Bible would talk about is Omni presence. And what that really means is that God is my companion is a great comfort. Too often we think about omnipresence. I'm afraid of saying, God has a club and he's watching you watch out. He knows where you are, like the

    Dan Jarms 10:40
    cosmic Santa. Yeah, yeah. If you've been sleeping, he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good.

    Chris Tornquist 10:46
    And what I can't think of, well, it's just a bad it's a misuse of Scripture is the wrong approach. I'm so grateful that he's with me. He can't lose track of me.

    Dan Jarms 10:58
    Yeah, that's, that's a really good, so add goodness. To omnipresence. Yeah, he's always with me. And he's always good.

    Chris Tornquist 11:05
    Yeah. And I just go to Psalm 139. Course one of my favorite songs from anybody, probably, and, and where can I go to escape your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence by climbing to heaven, you're there. If I lie down, you were there. And all of that just goes on and on. And the point is not watch out, I'm going to get you is when life is tough. When you don't know where to turn, when you think no one's around that nobody cares that where are you? God, God says, I'm there. Yeah, I haven't lost track

    Dan Jarms 11:36
    of you. What's good, others what other ones be thinking about?

    Chris Tornquist 11:39
    The other one I think about especially flows out of that is very similar. It's kind of a cousin to it, if you will, is that God is a God of understanding. But we would call theologically omniscient, is he has all understanding of who he is. I, he remembers our frame. He knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust. And it's wonderful thing as well. And again, this is a positive. I don't see any of these as fearful things. Yes. Can they be convicting and remind us of who God is, of course, but I'm convinced the purpose of this is to remind us, Hey, I know you. I've got you. I'm there. And again, it just go back to 139 of the Psalms against this, Lord, you have probed me and you know me. You know, when I sit, you know, when I stand up, You discern my inclinations you scrutinize. You're familiar with all of my ways before I speak, you know about it. He knows us. And we need not fear. Oh, he wouldn't understand. Yeah, no, no, no, he's good. And he is, knows us. And his understanding of us is very, very good. And that's, we should just rejoice in that jump up and down that he, we can never lose him. He can never lose us never lose track of us. And it's never that we can say oh, he just doesn't understand. Oh, yes. Oh, yes, he does.

    Dan Jarms 13:03
    That's really good. So in, that's where attributes of God are really comforting. Oh, really comforting.

    Chris Tornquist 13:09
    I liked what Dr. MacArthur said about this, he, he said that he has to know everything. He has to know my heart. Oh, that gives me confidence. Even when I blow it. His mouth, excuse me, my love is still secured because he knows my heart. He has me confidence even when I blow it, my love is still secure, because he knows my heart. And that's a that's a fabulous reason to rejoice. And he's good. And so he knows me in a good way. He sees me in a good way. He knows where I am in a good way. And we can take great comfort in that when life throws us a loop which it always does.

    Dan Jarms 13:44
    As you and I talked as we were prepping for this, I often keep some things intention, some for fear. And I mean, by fear I typically mean off because I'm a believer in Christ. Perfect love casts out the fear of terror. But certain things keep me in awe, and omniscience and omnipresence also because those because he he searches the heart he knows the heart, which the psalmist applies at the end of Psalm 139 have searched me and know my heart. And that is to keep me also in fear. Because if we, if we think of, let's say mercy, or love, apart from these other attributes, we could kind of think while he's, it doesn't really matter what I think or do because God just He knows me loves me and it's all going to be fine. Well, he's still a good father. So a good father will discipline and a good father will want the best for his children. But I think of how the Word of God pierces to our heart exposing the thoughts intents of the heart, so God knows our heart. Well, that could be for that could that could be for good or for bad, depending on our heart. And so that gives us all and The omniscience I think I think it's an amis. There's this run where Israel thought that they could get away from God and uses the same language. You go to the highest places, go to the lowest places Cover yourself in the deepest part of the earth do you think you're thinking you're going away from the wrath of God? They're rebellious Israel? And you know, the answer was no. And so thinking about God being all the same all the time, if we circle it back that is really good for us. Oh, it is because it reminds us that the God is greater, fearsome in the right way. Glorious in the right way, and keeps us keeps us filled. I always think of all being the kind of thing that scares you, but fills you up.

    Chris Tornquist 15:40
    I think that's a good way to describe it, too. Because yes, I wouldn't suggest in any of these. These are all comfort and, and a soft little blanket. Yeah, it's there when we need that. But it's also the Lord's reminder, hey, don't forget who I am. Yeah. And that, that can be convicting at times when we need it. And, of course, are convicting when we need it, of course, is out of his out of His goodness and love, it's

    Dan Jarms 16:05
    out of his goodness, like that. So we don't split it up into parts. All these things do apply, in in different ways at different times. And God is all of these things at all the same time. So this serves as an introduction for that topic. And one of the things I want to say with Chris here is that he he runs our fundamentals of the faith class, he and his wife, Marty, lead that and care for the people, it functions ends up functioning a lot like discipleship group are a small group with its own community a year by year. But I really encourage you if you have not yet taken that fundamentals class, it's winding down for this year, but another one will come and another year, and it's a glorious opportunity to get really sound teaching. Chris and Marty's giftedness is in taking big concepts and using excellent illustrations and applications. To break it down, make it simple, make it accessible, and people really grow. So Chris, is your fitting guest here for this. Chris, did you have any other comments before? No,

    Chris Tornquist 17:13
    we could go on for hours because it applies with all of these, but it's one of the other things about the fundamentals class that I've mentioned is that it's not a typical, what did you get for number three? And everybody answers? No, we dive into it. We talk about the definitions. We talk about who the Lord is we talk about all the other things that go on in Christian life and doctrine. And that they're applicable, they make a difference in our lives. We have videos, we use music, we use excerpts from other people and preachers to give a little point here and there. And really one of the only places that we have where people can ask a question about something they don't understand. And that sort of an environment. They may hear one of these words in a in a message and say, Well, I don't know what that means. I guess everybody else does. But this is the class say, Hey, I have no idea what that word means. Yeah, yeah, we can do that. It's a wonderful opportunity

    Dan Jarms 18:07
    that's really good. To wrap this up, is talking about quiet times, and how you can learn about who God is. Linda and I meet every so often, with some couples, we were with a couple months, a month ago or so. And this particular couples got several kids and she has battled. The wife has battled, bouts of anger, significant runs of depression. Somewhere I think she she tells a story somewhere last summer, she started reading her Bible and just everyday writing down what she saw about God in the passages of the Bible that she was reading. I don't remember if it was the Psalms or where she was reading, she was just disciplining herself to do that. And that was really good process. And she has kept on doing that. And then in the wintertime, she ran into these bouts of things that were making her angry and spinning her into depression. And she started to just go back and read out loud, those notes about who God was from that. And she said, it was just profoundly life changing for her as she meditated and thought about and reread who God was, because she sees the fullness of God. And what I would say about that is that when when we get dry, spiritually, and we're like a hard sponge that will take anything in and we'll take bad things in. But if we fill ourselves up with the true drink from the Word of God, then bad stuff happens to us. Still, temptations still come if we're saturated in God If we can fight back against a sort of temptations, lusts, you name it. And that just

    Chris Tornquist 20:05
    changes all of theology and specifically, even with these attributes from an intellectual exercise, yeah, so that I've got information on my brain, yes, I can define that I know what that is next to. No, this is impacting my life every day, that it's intensely practical.

    Dan Jarms 20:24
    And then all of this becomes prompts for Thanksgiving, and praise and singing, and worship and obedience. So as we as we know God, who he is, his attributes, as we've been talking about, we, our prayer life has changed. It's enhanced, and our obedience is enhanced. So studying theology is profound for our daily relationship with our Lord and sovereign, our good, our good creator. Thanks, Chris, for joining us. Oh,

    Chris Tornquist 20:53
    you're welcome. Thank you.

    Dan Jarms 21:10
    The attributes of God are one of my favorite things to meditate and think about. So it was great to have Chris in the studio with us, talking about just a handful of them. There are many, but the best way for you to learn about the attributes of God is just to continue to go through the scriptures. And if you want them in the most condensed place, go through the Psalms. The Psalms are a collection of praises to who God is and what he's doing. So I'd encourage you to do that. If you have questions about the attributes of God, how they fit together or specific questions, feel free to email us at info at FB And we'd be happy to answer those or have future podcast episodes on those. Thanks for joining us.

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Chris Tornquist

Chris is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL (M.Div.) and has served as a pastor in churches in the Midwest. Chris and his wife Marty have been married for over 37 years. Chris currently teaches the Fundamentals of the Faith class and serves in the Prayer Ministry here at Faith Bible Church.

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Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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