All righteous attributes of character dwell in God as a perfect and harmonious whole. In Christ we behold the image of the invisible God. I and my Father are one. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
When we study the divine character in the light of the cross we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with fairness and justice.
Our whole spiritual life will be molded by our conceptions of God’s character. Furthermore, by beholding we may become partakers of the same virtues and glory.
We see the true character of God in the light that shines from Calvary. It appears to us beautiful and attractive in its gracious manifestations.
Thus we comprehend the significance of that adorable title – our Father.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9.
Furthermore, we see mercy, tenderness, and parental love blend with holiness, justice, and power.
Who (Jesus) being the brightness of his (God’s) glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:3.
The mystery of Christ’s incarnation, His suffering and crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension show to us the marvelous love of God.
The attributes of God were made known through the life and works of Christ. Thus He represents the divine character.
Great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1 Timothy 3:16.
God sent His Son into the world to reveal, as far as could be endured by human sight, His personality and the attributes of His character.
Christ reveals God’s Personality
All created things testify to God’s power, wisdom and love. Yet not from them we can learn of God’s Personality as it was revealed in Christ.
As a Personal Being, God has revealed Himself in His Son. Christ came to teach human beings what God desires them to know.
The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ. They show the personality and individuality of each.
Therefore, all who are capable of discerning spiritual things pronounce Jesus – the Son of God.
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. John 14:31.
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. This commandment have I received of my Father. John 10:15, 18.
Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh, clothing His divinity with humanity, in order that He might bring before the world the perfection of God in His own character.
Jesus portraits God, not as a stern judge, but as a loving father.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.
God is love. This is the great truth that Christ declares to our world. Satan so misrepresents the character of God, that mankind stays remote from Him.
In contrast, Christ displays to us the Father’s attributes, representing the express image of His Person.
How God describes His own character
The Bible says that the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. Exodus 33:11.
Moses asked God:
Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. Exodus 33:13.
Moreover, Moses desired to understand the character of God. Therefore, he prayed: I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. Exodus 33:18.
God said: I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. Exodus 33:19.
On the next day, Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai…And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.
And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty. Exodus 34:4-7.
Another example is when Philip asked Christ to show them the Father. Jesus said: He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. John 14:9.
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. John 14:10, 11.
Jesus proclaimed Himself as the perfect representation of the Father, and invited the love and confidence of the world to be centered in the Father.
Light of God’s glory (character)
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of believers.
By implanting in their hearts the principles of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit develops in humans the attributes of God.
The light of His glory – His character is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they glorify God.
Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee. Revelation 15:3,4.
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:3.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the image of the invisible God. Colossians 1:14, 15.
Thus God has revealed himself to humanity.
Those who don’t see in Christ the divine character are in the shadow of Satan’s misrepresentation of divinity.
The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Corinthians 4:4.
In Christ’s prayer offered just before His crucifixion He declared:
I have glorified Thee on the earth. O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name. John 17:4, 25, 26.
So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the darkness of the world. The light of God’s glory – His character is to shine forth in His followers.
God is love
Yes, the tongue cannot utter it and the pen cannot explain it. The apostle cannot find words to describe it. He calls upon the world to behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1.
This is the language God has chosen to express His love toward us: Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Isaiah 49:15.
The law of love is the foundation of God’s government. Therefore, the service of love is the only service acceptable to heaven.
Like rays of light from the sun, love and light and joy flow out from Him to all His creatures.
It is God’s nature to give. His very life is the outflow of unselfish love.
God has granted freedom of will to all. He endowed mankind with capacity to appreciate His character. Furthermore, with ability to love Him, and to choose His service.
As long as created beings worshiped God, they were in harmony throughout the universe. While love to God was supreme, love to others abounded.
As there was no transgression of the Law of God, which is the transcript of His character, it was no discord in the celestial harmonies.
Our heavenly Father is made known as the God of love through:
- His Son
Learn of Me
The whole Bible tells of Christ. From the first record of creation – for without Him was not anything made that was made, to the closing promise – Behold, I come quickly, we are reading of His works and listening to His voice. John 1:3; Revelation 22:12.
Scriptures gives knowledge and understanding of the character and attributes of God and His government. The Lord is:
- glorious, loving, merciful, forgiving
- gracious, just, forbearing, joyful
- long-suffering, faithful, holy
- trustworthy, uncompelling, compassionate
- serving, creative, listening
- humble, pardoning, perfect
- benevolent, attractive, giving
- gentle, truthful, sacrificing
- wise, foreknowing
- peaceful, righteous, sympathetic
Moreover, the gift of God to save the guilty and ruined race, alone reveals the infinite depths of divine tenderness and compassion.
God’s character is summed up in the following verse: He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:8.
The law of God is a transcript of His character
It is truth – unchanging, eternal truth. It is holy, just and good and reflects the principles of His government.
God is love, and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God and mankind.
Love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:10.
It is the standard of Christian character. God’s precepts are consistent with His attributes and His will.
In them God shows to mankind the perfection and holiness of His character. When Moses asked God: Show me Thy glory, the Lord answered: I will make all My goodness pass before thee. Exodus 33:18, 19.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. . . . But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:1, 2.
Christ came to our world to declare the character of God as it is represented in His holy law. He was both the law and the gospel.
Furthermore, the life of Jesus was manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:11. This life will produce in you the same character and manifest the same works as it did in Him.
Thus you will be in harmony with every precept of His law.
For the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. Psalm 19:7. Through love the righteousness of the law will be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:4.
God’s law looks into the secrets of the heart
The law is unchangeable as God Himself. Therefore, He provided a means of salvation for the law-breaker.
It does not in the least detract from the dignity of the character of God, since the penalty of mankind’s transgression was borne by a divine Substitute.
The Father himself suffered with the Son.
God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19.
Therefore, people cannot know God if they turn away from His Law or trample the commandments under their feet.
Failing to understand the Law of God, they also fail to know the individual who discerns the attributes of the character of God revealed in His law.
This is why people are:
- Filled with prejudice against the truth of God
- Inspired with the spirit of the great adversary of God
- Bearing false reports and fabricating lies
- Making such decided efforts to turn away the people from the Law of God.
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 1 John 3:6.
If the humans knew the principles of the laws of God’s government, if they obeyed His commandments, they would discern the character of God in the law, and would no longer be at enmity with God.
But turning from the Law of God, people have no means of discerning His character, and the attributes of the character of Satan are cherished and cultivated.
After Jesus told His disciples what manner of treatment they might expect from the world, He said: These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. John 16:1.
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. John 16:2.
Why is it that people reach this state of deception?
Jesus answers: And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. John 16:3.
The plan of salvation
This is the mystery of redemption – the love of God for a world that did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love which passeth knowledge? Ephesians 3:19.
Mankind had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him or her, in themselves to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness.
But Christ redeems humanity from the condemnation of the law. Furthermore, He imparts divine power to unite with human effort.
Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ the fallen children of Adam through the grace of the Holy Spirit become sons of God. 1 John 3:2.
If the love of God fails to call forth a response from the human heart, there is no reserve power through which to influence the sinner.
Heaven’s richest gift has been freely offered for our acceptance.
No greater manifestation of God’s love can be given than that which was given on Calvary’s cross.
The mystery of the cross
I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3.
Christ has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Surely He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.
Isaiah 53:4, 5.
His sacrifice has revealed to the universe the true character of God. His love for mankind, far surpassing all human love, has lifted the Law of God to its own eternal dignity.
The effects of the sacrifice on the cross are still felt. Thus all who would be saved must themselves have an interest in the crucified One.
The mystery of the cross explains all other mysteries. Mercy, tenderness, and parental love are seen to blend with holiness, justice, and power.
While we behold the majesty of His throne – Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, we see God’s character in its gracious manifestations.
Thus we comprehend as never before the significance of that endearing title – our Father.
Justice has been sustained in the sacrifice that met the penalty of the law.
Moreover, mercy has been provided in the only begotten Son, in order that mankind might have another probation.
Furthermore, another opportunity to be obedient through Christ’s grace to the law of God’s government.
The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance. Romans 2:4.
Our sins have pierced and our sorrows have burdened the Author and Finisher of our faith. While looking upon Jesus we will see cause for gratitude and praise.
Reconciling the world unto Himself
It is the assurance of God’s love that prompts the sinner to return to God. This imparts a power to the truth as it is in Jesus.
God was to be manifest in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19.
Only as we contemplate the great plan of redemption we can have a just appreciation of the character of God.
Moreover, the gift of God to save the guilty and ruined race, alone reveals the infinite depths of divine tenderness and compassion.
While the law of God is maintained, and its justice vindicated, the sinner can be pardoned.
The dearest gift that heaven itself had to bestow has been poured out that God according to Paul:
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Romans 3:26.
Matchless mercy reveals to us a Father, infinite, dwelling in light unapproachable, yet receiving us to Himself through the merits of His Son.
Thus Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15.
For as Christ illuminates our souls, He gives light and life.
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6.
By beholding we become changed
The restoration of the original loveliness in us begins through the grace of Christ. Thus we may become new creatures, created after the likeness of His own character – having purity and perfection.
The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted to us, and the image of the divine begins to shine forth.
We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18.
It is plainly stated that a change takes place in the character of humans.
On the other hand, when people put God out of their knowledge and worship the creatures of their own imagination, they became more and more debased.
They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. Psalm 115:8.
It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Humankind will rise no higher than his or her conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness.
The worshipers of false gods clothed their deities with human attributes and passions. Thus their standard of character was degraded to the likeness of sinful humanity. They were defiled in consequence.
God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. Genesis 6:5, 11.
We love God with an intensity proportionate to the knowledge we have of His attributes and the value we place on the object of which we are in pursuit.
To love God with all the heart is to obey His law with pleasure and meditate upon the eternal excellence of His character.
Satan’s misrepresentation of the character of God
The Son of God came to our world with an overflowing heart of love for the fallen humanity. He was the express image of God and equal to God in character.
Moreover, He was the brightness of His Father’s glory and the express image of his person.
Jesus clothed His divinity with humanity. He came without parade or display, that He might be accepted, not because of outward attractions, but because of His heavenly attributes of character, as revealed in His words and works.
He came to meet and conquer His adversary – Satan, who desired to place his throne above the throne of God.
Satan causes people to cherish false conceptions of God, so that they regard Him with fear and hate, rather than with love.
At the same time the cruelty in his own character he attributes to the Creator. It is embodied in systems of religion and expressed in modes of worship.
Furthermore, many were led to believe human sacrifices are necessary to secure the favor of Deity. Thus horrible cruelties have been committed under the various forms of idolatry.
Additionally, as uniting the forms of paganism and Christianity in the Dark Ages there were instruments of torture to compel to doctrines – the stake for those who would not accept the Romish Church claims.
In rejecting the truth, people reject its Author. In trampling upon the Law of God, they deny the authority of the Lawgiver.
It is as easy even today to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone.
He challenged the truthfulness of God
Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4, 5.
Satan represented God as a deceiver, as one who would debar His creatures from the benefit of His highest gift.
Moreover, he represented God as possessing his own miserable attributes.
He had pictured Him as a being full of revenge, who had no forbearance, mercy, patience, or love.
Through Satan’s suggestions and temptations, the Father had been represented as a being:
- Of a stern and unforgiving nature and full of revenge
- Who watches His creatures with jealous eyes and spying their errors
- Lawgiver whose law is beyond the power of people to keep
- Delighting in punishing them by the severest discipline.
Additionally, that there could be no peace or joy in God’s service. Furthermore, the Christian life had been represented altogether too much as a life of hardship and sorrow.
Many have been living in an atmosphere of doubt, and it seems almost impossible for them to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel of Christ.
Thus the minds of people are blinded, and Satan secures them as his agents to war against God and His Law. All this led to a rebellion against God.
Satan had claimed that it was impossible for mankind to obey God’s commandments. It is true that we cannot obey them relying on our own strength.
By His perfect obedience Christ proved that when humanity and divinity are combined one can obey God’s precepts.
As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. John 1:12.
This power is not in the human being. It is the power of God which saves and restores. When a soul receives Christ, he or she receives power to live the life of Christ.
The Great Controversy
The rebellion against the law of God has begun by Satan in heaven. He is the first transgressor of God’s holy law. Thus sin was brought into existence.
He declared the divine law to be arbitrary. Moreover, to be detrimental to the interests of the heavenly universe, and in need of change.
Satan desired to set aside the law of God, whose precepts could not be altered any more than could God’s character or his throne.
Throughout his rebellion he has sought to represent God as an unjust, tyrannical being. The same hatred and policy of deception may be traced in all the history of the past.
Satan and his followers threw the blame of their rebellion wholly upon Christ. They declared that if they had not been reproved, they would never have rebelled.
Thus strong-willed in their disloyalty they were seeking to overthrow the government of God.
Continue reading: The Great Controversy
Rebellion on earth prompted by the same spirit
Satan’s enmity against Christ has been manifested against His followers.
He has continued with the human race the same policy which he pursued with the angels. His spirit now reigns in the children of disobedience.
Like him they seek to break down the restraints of the law of God and promise men and women liberty through transgression of its precepts.
Reproof of sin still arouses the spirit of hatred and resistance. When God’s messages of warning are brought home to the conscience, Satan leads individuals to justify themselves and to seek the sympathy of others in their course of sin.
Instead of correcting their errors, they excite indignation against the person reproving them, as if he or she were the sole cause of difficulty.
From the days of righteous Abel to our own time such is the spirit which has been displayed toward those who dare to condemn sin.
Thus error has made to appear as truth. Moreover, human laws were substituted for the law of God and people were led to worship the creature rather than the Creator.
Satan confuses the minds of the people, hoping they would put God out of their knowledge. Thus he obliterates the divine image in humankind and impresses his own likeness upon the soul.
Do you know the only true God as He is revealed in His Word and nature through His Spirit?
God has sent His Only begotten Son to our world to manifest His character attributes – compassion, tenderness, love, benevolence, mercy, long suffering and forbearance.
The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…Exodus 34:6, 7.
Moreover, justice and mercy are the attributes of His throne.
God has given men and women affections and intellect that they may appreciate His character as it was revealed in the life of Christ.
Thus Christ would have His followers delighted with God through the knowledge of His paternal character. Everyone who receives Christ as a personal Savior is privileged to possess them.
The crowning glory of Christ’s character traits is His holiness. The angels bow before Him in adoration exclaiming, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.
In believers’ reverence and homage for the character of Christ they will reproduce it on their own, thus testifying to the attributes of the Father.
Study the character of God. By beholding Christ, by seeking Him in faith and prayer, you may become like Him.
For our whole spiritual life will be molded by our conceptions of God’s character.
Though He delights in showing mercy and forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet He will by no means clear the guilty. Exodus 34:7.
Why Wait Longer?
Your Creator And Redeemer Longs For You – Take Him At His Word
Learn to trust in God’s love and His power to save and restore His moral image in you. The Spirit of God is pleading with you to seek for those things that alone can give you peace and rest – the grace of Christ and the joy of holiness. Give to Christ your guilt and fear today. He can satisfy the craving of your heart. Believe the Son of God. He will receive you. He welcomes you.
His hand is stretched out still. Why wait longer?
- 4SP 469; ST, Apr 1898; 3SP 259; 8T 265; CT 402; RH, Mar 1897; ST, Aug 1893; COL 414; ST, Dec 1895; GC88 652; ST, Sep 1889; MH 419, 421; ST, Apr 1895; YI, Oct 1895; ST, Aug 1894; ST, Dec 1889; PP 469; RH, Sep 1908 – The Ellen G. White Estate
- King James Bible Version (KJV