Tag Archives: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God

“The emotion we find most frequently attributed to Jesus during the course of his earthly ministry is mercy” by Mark Jones

“The emotion we find most frequently attributed to Jesus during the course of His earthly ministry is mercy.

Christ, anointed with the Spirit, “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).

Jesus was often “moved with pity” toward others (Mark 1:41; see also Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 20:34).

But Christ extended mercy not simply toward people in their physical or spiritual suffering (e.g., demon possession); he showed pity toward the whole person (Mark 6:34). He sought ways to be merciful.

Very often in the Christian life, we are too reactionary, always having to respond to situations and then not as we should. One way for us to respond better comes through understanding our holy Savior’s mercy to us and pursuing Christian holiness.

These actions will lead us to show mercy to others and to relieve others of their physical and spiritual misery while treating them as whole people.

The Christian who has received mercy seeks to show it. Knowing includes experiencing. Indeed, Christ issues a rather startling command in his Sermon on the Mount concerning the need for us to show mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Thomas Watson quotes the early church father Ambrose as saying, “The sum and definition of religion is, Be rich in works of mercy, be helpful to the bodies and souls of others. Scatter your golden seeds; let the lamp of your profession be filled with the oil of charity. Be merciful in giving and forgiving.”

Here Ambrose understands our duty to the whole person: body and soul. God’s mercy and our mercy are not mere concepts or ideas but actions toward others.

In expressing spiritual mercy, we must show mercy to those who have sinned against us. Like our Father in heaven, we should be more willing to show mercy than the offender was willing to sin against us. Thomas Watson observes,

Thus Stephen the proto-martyr, “He kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60). When he prayed for himself he stood—but when he came to pray for his enemies, he kneeled down, to show, says Bernard, his earnestness in prayer and how greatly he desired that God would forgive them. This is a rare kind of mercy. “It is a man’s glory to pass over a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11). Mercy in forgiving injuries, as it is the touchstone, so the crown of Christianity. Cranmer was of a merciful disposition. If any who had wronged him came to ask a favor from him, he would do all that lay in his power for him, insomuch that it grew to a proverb: “Do Cranmer an injury and he will be your friend as long as he lives.” To “overcome evil with good,” and answer malice with mercy is truly heroic, and renders piety glorious in the eyes of all.

In sum, ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36).”

–Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 154–155.

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“God’s Name” by Mark Jones

“We can learn about God by understanding the meaning of His name as revealed in Scripture. His name is identical with His attributes in terms of how He manifests them to us in His Word.

God does not need a proper name. His self-appointed name describes Him not as He exists within himself but as He reveals himself and relates to His creatures. Thus, by using names, God accommodates Himself to His creatures and reveals Himself to us.

God’s names function as a synonym for His character, the sum of His attributes (Ex. 20:7; Ps. 8:1). Correspondingly, to know His name is to know Him (Ex. 6:3). While they are anthropomorphic, these names do not originate with humanity, as if we were in any position to name God.

Rather, these names disclose to us God’s personal existence, His attributes, and His glorious being. Although nameless within himself, God in His revelation has many names. We have chosen to focus on just one in this chapter, the “LORD,” or Yahweh (sometimes also referred to as Jehovah or YHWH), which is used roughly five thousand times in the Old Testament.

The etymology of Yahweh has been discussed a great deal through the course of church history, with no firm consensus on all the details. Coming from the root hwy or hyh (meaning “to be, be at hand, exist, come to pass”), the name of God may be understood in light of God’s works rather than the name’s sheer etymology. To ask for God’s name is to ask for His character:

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (Ex. 3:13–14)

With the revelation of His “name,” we must remember that no one name can fully reveal who God is. Nevertheless, this revelation tells us a great deal about God. Yahweh reveals His nature, particularly that He is not only self-existent (“I am”) but also unchangeable (“I will be what I will be”). God’s immutability (i.e., unchangeability) carried no small consequence for the Israelites, who depended on his covenant faithfulness. This proclamation was the high point of God’s revelation up to that time in redemptive history.

In the context of Exodus, the name Yahweh points to His covenant faithfulness: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Ex. 6:7; see also 3:7–9, 13–14; 6:1). His name also reveals His sovereignty and glory: “that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth” (Ps. 83:18). As the Lord, Yahweh is the everlasting, omniscient, omnipotent God:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. (Isa. 40:28)

His name remains synonymous with his eternal being (Isa. 41:4; 44:6). As the Glorious One, Yahweh expresses jealousy for the worship of His people and the glory of His name: “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isa. 42:8).

His name can strike terror in hearts. Yahweh speaks in thunder and shoots lightning across the sky (Ex. 19:16–19; 20:18). He reveals His presence by fire (Ex. 13:21) and controls the elements of the earth, such as the sea (Ex. 14:21). Yet as noted above, Yahweh deals with his people as the God of the covenant. He creates and preserves all things, but in a special way, He sustains His people according to His promises to them. Thus, the name Yahweh is peculiarly significant to God’s people because it represents his covenant-keeping faithfulness toward them.

After Christ fulfilled the work that the Father gave him to do, God bestowed on Him the divine name:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9–11)

The name is not explicitly given, but there is good reason to assume that it refers to Yahweh. Jesus has perfectly represented the Father on earth as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). As such, He has the public authority to receive the highest blessing possible: the name above every name. What name could be higher than Yahweh and all that it means?

Not only Paul but also John uses language from Isaiah that enforces this basic theological point about Christ’s exalted status. In Isaiah we read the following claims by Yahweh:

I, the LORD, the first,
and with the last; I am he. (Isa. 41:4)

I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god. (Isa. 44:6)

I am he; I am the first,
and I am the last. (Isa. 48:12)

Now look at John’s description of Jesus in Revelation:

Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. (Rev. 1:17–18)

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” (Rev. 2:8)

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Rev. 22:13)

As these passages in Revelation show, Jesus’s name speaks to His prerogatives as the immutable, eternal, and living God. The exalted Christ bears the name of Yahweh.

God names Himself to bless his people. He names Himself to instruct His people. God does not need to name Himself, but He chooses freely to condescend in order to give us knowledge of God’s being and his purposes toward us. Remarkably, while God does not need to name Himself, He does name His Son.

The God-man has the peculiar dignity of being recognized as Yahweh. In light of that truth, we can be as sure of Christ’s heart toward us as we can be of God’s heart toward the Israelites when he brought them out of Egypt.

As the exalted Messiah and High Priest interceding in the heavenly places, Jesus is trustworthy. Christ’s purposes, and thus his teachings, remain the same toward believers. He is unchangeable in his purposes. Hence, the author of Hebrews assures his readers of this aspect of Christ’s ministry: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

If God is able to bestow a name on Jesus, he is also able to bestow a name on those who remain faithful to the end like Jesus did. In Revelation 2:17, we are told that believers will receive a new name. This promise extends to all of God’s faithful servants and is not limited to the immediate recipients of John’s letter.

To receive this new name is to receive Christ’s kingly name (Rev. 19:12–16). We are named in baptism, as we enter into a new relationship with God. At the end, we shall also receive a new name that will confirm to us our exalted status.

Without this new name, we will not enter into the new heavens and the new earth.”

–Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 91-95.

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“The Infinite One” by Mark Jones

“The doctrine of God’s infinity gives us great joy because it assures that our sins are forgiven, due to the infinite worth of Christ’s sacrifice. Additionally, we can rejoice that we as finite creatures can never comprehend the infinite.

Far from being a problem, this doctrine is a delight, for we shall one day be given glorious resurrected bodies. As Paul says, ‘Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven’ (1 Cor. 15:49).

In this exalted state, we will be able to perfectly apply our minds to the knowledge of God and Christ by means of the Holy Spirit illuminating our spiritual and intellectual faculties. We shall spend an eternity knowing God, because He is the infinite God.

Yet even for all eternity, we shall never fully comprehend God. Still, this impossibility remains our delight insofar as we have so much to look forward to in what awaits us.

By knowing God, I do not mean merely coming to a greater awareness of who He is but also coming to a greater awareness of all that He has done and will continue to do for us, including our understanding of His attributes displayed in the new creation.

We all, for example, shall be true scientists of the highest order. But we should always remember our established place as creatures. We serve an infinite God, and our praises in this life come so very short of what is due to Him.

But He accepts our praises, despite our weaknesses. The Infinite One stoops and stoops and stoops in order to raise us to places that are undeserved.

Our union with the infinite Son of God puts us in the most privileged place possible for a human being– far more privileged than Adam’s place in the garden. We belong to an infinite God who will satisfy us forever because He alone is in the position to pour out everlasting blessings on His creatures.”

–Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 48-49.

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“The most impressive feature of his preaching” by Mark Jones

“J.I. Packer once mentioned to me what he thought was the most impressive feature of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s preaching: ‘He brought God into the pulpit.’ How many preachers today bring God into the pulpit?”

–Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 212.

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