Week Eleven: Can we ever be just like God?
Have you ever been around someone with a cold? You might see someone with a red nose, watery eyes, and a wadded up tissue in his hand. You can tell he’s sick just by looking at him. When he comes toward you, what do you want to do? Run! Why? Because you could catch his cold. Colds are contagious. So are measles, mumps, and bad attitudes.
Another word for “contagious” is “communicable.” Germs can “communicate” or “transfer” a cold from one person to another.
When people talk about God’s character qualities, sometimes they mention his “communicable” qualities and his “incommunicable” qualities. In other words, some of God’s qualities can be passed on to us so we can be more like him. But other qualities can’t be passed on to us no matter what. Why? Because God will always be God and we will always be created beings and less than God. This “uncontagious” qualities are the things that make God . . . God.
Next week we’ll talk about his “contagious” qualities, but this week we’re going to look at qualities that belong to God and God alone. Nothing else in all of creation shares these qualities with God.
God is independent. As an infinite being, he doesn’t need anything or anyone to survive.
We like to think of ourselves as independent people, but even the most independent person needs air to breathe and food to eat. We needed parents to bring us into the world. We need shelter and clothing. When it all comes down to basics, we needed God to bring us to life. We need him in ways we can’t even imagine. Even in heaven, we will depend upon God to enjoy the eternal life he gives us.
But God doesn’t need anything or anyone. He didn’t need anyone to create him, because He has always been—in fact, he created time itself. The Bible says, “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is the Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need” (Acts 17:24-25).
Some people think God created humans because he needed us so he wouldn’t be lonely. Afraid not. God has always had the other members of the Trinity for company. And he could also talk to the angels. God did not need to create us, but he chose to so that he could delight in us. In Isaiah 43:7, God tells us, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.”
God is unchanging and unchangeable. Don’t you love family reunions? You walk through the door and your grandma or aunt rushes over and says, “My, how you’ve grown! I wouldn’t have known you!”
Human beings change constantly. We grow quickly, and even after we stop growing, we continue to change. We learn things, so we grow smarter. Sometimes we get our hearts broken, and we grow sadder. We can get sick. We can get tired. We are constantly changing.
God, on the other hand, never changes. The Bible says, “Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. But you are always the same; you will live forever” (Psalm 102:25-27).
God himself said, “I am the Lord, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
The good thing about serving a God who does not change is that we know he will always be there and he will always keep his promises. You can trust him.
God does not freak out. God has emotions, and the Bible tells us a lot about them. We know God rejoices, he loves, and he feels anger. But God is not driven by his emotions the way people are. He is not happy one minute and sad the next. Because he does not change, his emotions do not veer off in unexpected directions. The concept is easy to grasp if you remember this: God always loves what he loves, and he always hates what he hates.
That means he will always hate sin. But he will always love you.
God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful. He is able to do everything he is willing to do.
No human or creature is omnipotent. No human can do everything he or she wants to do. I’d like to fly, but I can’t. I’d like to be able to swim underwater without oxygen, but I can’t do that, either. I depend on God for even the air that I breathe, but God doesn’t depend on anyone or anything.
“Omnipotence” doesn’t mean that God can do anything at all. For instance, he can’t sin. He can’t tell a lie. But he can do everything he wants to do.
God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all the time. So you never have to worry about being all alone in some strange place—God is always with you. Not just a part of him, but all of him.
Look at Psalm 139:7-12: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.”
Finally, God is omniscient—he knows all things. Everything, even the secrets buried in your heart. Even the things you think no one else knows.
The smartest man or woman in the world will never be omniscient. The biggest computer in the world will never be omniscient, because it only knows what its programmers feed into it. When we get to heaven, we’re going to know a lot more than we do now, but we’ll never know everything. We’ll never be omniscient. We’ll always have the thrill and adventure of learning new things about God, about creation, and about the universe.
Memory verse: “I am the Lord, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
1. Read the following verses and talk about which godly quality each verse describes: God’s independence, unchangeableness, emotional steadiness, omniscience, omnipotence, or omnipresence.
· 1 John 3:20: “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
· Psalm 50:9-10: “But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.”
· Matthew 6:8: “Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him.”
· James 1:17: “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”
· Revelation 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
· Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.”
· Psalm 139:1-2,4: “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away . . . You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.”
2. Think hard—can you think of a single human being who is truly independent? Who doesn’t need anything?
Now imagine the most powerful person in the world. How does his (or her!) power compare with God’s? Think of your favorite super hero. Are any of them truly all-powerful? (Even Superman has to deal with Kryptonite!)
3. Read Psalm 139:16: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
God has a plan for each of us. Because he is all-powerful, nothing can destroy or mess up his plan for us. How does knowing that God is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere-present) help you to trust him more?
Next week we’ll talk about character qualities we can “pick up” from God.