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Cafeteria God

Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”  Jer 9:23-24

I love buffets. I enjoy going to restaurants which allow me to select the food I want, in the quantities I want, and go back as many times as I want. This is why I enjoy going to cafeteria style restaurants. Now it is not as good a deal for me today as it used to be because I have had to cut down on the amount of food I consume. However, I enjoy being able to select more meat, combining various types on one plate, while avoiding the nasty stuff you find at many restaurants, such as okra or beets. Now, I like most vegetables, but how anyone decided okra and beets were edible I will never know.  But I digress.

There are a lot of things in our lives where we have a choice of several options to create a complete package. As I mentioned earlier, our meal at a buffet style restaurant is one of them. If we work at a job that offers insurance, many times we can select what we need and leave out what we do not, thus giving us a package that is tailored to our needs. When we attend college, we often have a selection of electives we can take to round out the number of credit hours required to receive the degree we are pursuing. However, some people use this technique in an area that we do not have a right to pick and choose, and that is our view of God.

Arthur W. Pink was a Pastor and theologian here in the United States and in his home country of Great Britain. He wrote an article in the publication Studies of the Scriptures called “The Attributes of God” somewhere around the early to middle 1900s which has since been published as a book. This book lists 16 attributes that God has, which help us to know Him as He is. Here is the list of these attributes as discussed in his book.

The Solitariness of God. This is the idea that there is no one like God, and no one has added or can add anything to Him to make Him who He is.  He dwelt prior to any creation, alone, in a loving relationship in the unity of His nature. He has no need but does what He desires.

The Decrees of God. This is His purpose or determination with respect to future things. It is based on who He is and not on arbitrary decision.

The Knowledge of God. God is omniscient. He knows everything: everything possible and everything actual; all events and all creatures, of the past, present and future. He is fully acquainted with every detail in the life of every being; past, present, and future.

The Foreknowledge of God. God knows everything that will happen, including who will accept the salvation He has provided through His Son.

The Supremacy of God. God is absolutely supreme. There is no one higher then Him, and no one can trump His decisions and will.

The Sovereignty of God. This is regarding His supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature and everything else. It is His will being actively carried out with no exceptions.

The Immutability of God. God is constant and always has been, is, and always will be the same.  He does not change one small iota.

The Holiness of God. He is completely set apart from all creation. The sum of all moral excellency is found in Him.  He is absolute purity, unsullied even by the shadow of sin.

The Power of God. He is all-powerful. There is no power anywhere equal to or greater than His, and His power cannot be lessened by anything outside of Himself.

The Faithfulness of God. God is True. His Word of promise is sure. In all His relations with His people God is and always has been faithful. He can be safely relied upon in all things. No one has ever trusted in Him in vain.

The Goodness of God. He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else can be for all creatures are good only by participation and communication with God. He is essentially good; not only good, but He is goodness itself.

The Patience of God. It is the attribute whereby He can sustain great injuries without immediately avenging Himself. He is ‘slow to anger’ which is the rendering of the Hebrew of His divine long-suffering.

The Grace of God. It is the saving favor of God exercised in the giving of blessings upon those who do not deserve them, and for which no compensation is demanded from those who receive it.

The Mercy of God. This is the idea that God does not give us what we deserve but gives us what we do not. Also, His mercy is what brought the ability for man to be saved, because when man fell, God immediately invoked a plan to save us, rather than wiping us out of existence.

The Love of God. God’s love is uninfluenced, is eternal and a sovereign choice.  It is infinite in scope; it is unchanging and holy.  In fact, God Himself is love.

The Wrath of God. This is the eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. This is the attribute through which His justice is manifested.

What a wonderful list of attributes. All these and more, make up who God is.  You cannot remove any of these attributes without taking away from His character and person. They are good and reflect the very loving character of God. However, some would disagree. Many focus only on what they consider to be the “good” attributes, while leaving out what they feel are the “bad” ones. They tell the world that God is a God of love; that He will help them through all their problems. They talk about His goodness and mercy. They exalt His grace and patience and faithfulness. And all these things are real. They sometimes mention in passing His omniscience, His omnipresence, and His omnipotence. But many never mention His wrath and judgment. In fact, I have heard people say that the God they worship is not a God of wrath, but only of love.  I fear these people do not know the true God of the universe.

All of the attributes listed above are to be regarded with delight; we should love every one of them. If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then we should love all there is about Him. If God is all good, then every one of these attributes are good. If God is all loving, and is love, then these sixteen attributes are a manifestation of His love toward mankind. And that includes His wrath and judgment. If we worship a God who does not have all these attributes, then we are not worshiping the true God of the Bible but are worshiping a God of our own making. And this is nothing less than idolatry.

Let us look at scriptures that focus on each of these attributes.

Solitariness.Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.  Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.  All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.  To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?”  Isaiah 40:15-18

Decrees.I am the LORD your God; walk in My decrees and keep My ordinances and observe them. Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’” Ephesians 1:7-10

Knowledge.You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.” Psalm 139:2-4

Foreknowledge.For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

Supremacy.The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1. “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” Psalm 135:6

Sovereignty.Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Psalm 115:3

Immutability.Every good gift and every perfect gift are from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

Holiness.Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4. “And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” Isaiah 6:3

Power.He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.  By his power he stilled the sea; by his understanding he shattered Rahab. By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Job 26:7, 12-14

Faithfulness.Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 36:5. “If they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness.” Psalm 89:31-33.

Goodness.You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” Psalm 119:68. “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” Nahum 1:7.

Patience.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.” 2 Peter 3:9. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8.

Grace.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8. ”And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10.

Mercy.Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.” Psalm 116:5. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3.

Love.Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 38-39

Wrath.For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.’  Therefore, I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Psalm 95:11. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Romans 1:18.

The scriptures are clear that each of these sixteen attributes are a part of the character of God. It is not our right to decide which attributes we will accept and which we will deny or forget. Two of my attributes are I am a male and a human being. To deny my maleness is to deny a part of who I am. To deny I am human is to deny a part of who I am.  And if you deny any part of me, or do not accept any of my attributes, then you deny and do not accept me. If you believe me to be something that I am not, whether you call me a female or a platypus, than it is not the real me you know. To reject or ignore God’s wrath or judgment is to reject a part of God’s character, and therefore reject God as He really is.  Moreover, to follow a God that does not have all the attributes the Bible says the true God has, is to follow a God the Bible does not speak of as the true God. As God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24. As I stated above, it is great to go to a restaurant and select only the foods you want to eat and leave out the foods you don’t particularly care for. Selecting certain types of insurance and leaving out those parts you don’t need is a cost effective way of getting the coverage you need without any waste. However, using this cafeteria approach to decide who God is to you is wrong, dangerous, and could lead you astray to worship a God of your own liking and creation. You would be just like the Israelites who fashioned a god out of gold in the likeness of a calf and worshiped it rather than the true God. And that did not end very well for them if you recall.

Published inTheological


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