Read Part 1.
As we contemplate God’s perfections, we need to pay attention to what God has disclosed about Himself, linking these qualities together as they are linked together in His person. The perspectival aspect that is so important to grasp when we are dealing with the attributes should be remembered.
Millard Erickson actually criticizes the great Puritan Stephen Charnock for seeming to compartmentalize the attributes of God. When we are dealing with the perfections—whether it be the power of God, the presence of God, the holiness of God, or His patience, love, justice, grace, mercy, truth, eternality, immutability, omnipotence, etc.—we should see the attributes wrapped up in each another; that they are different perspectives on the unity of the one God, not parts of God, but rather perspectives on God.
We have been saved by God’s grace and mercy and love and power and truth and justice, so this places us under an obligation to glorify Him. I Corinthians 10:31 declares,
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
But how can we do that truly if we have not made ourselves familiar with the way God has disclosed Himself in the Bible?
Psalm 29 reminds us to,
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. (Psalm 29:2)
John Calvin’s treatment of Psalm 145 offers some great ruminations about the attributes of God. The psalm can be broken down into three parts:
Verses 1-3 are David on his own speaking of the greatness of God celebrating God’s praise.
Verses 4-9 speak of David bringing in the people of whom he is king and bringing them to praise and prompting them to consider God’s greatness and goodness.
Verses 10-21 he brings in the whole of creation; he is not satisfied with just himself praising God or with Israel praising God, but he wants the whole of God’s creation to do what it ought to do, which is to look at the revelation of God that He has given and to respond in worship and praise to Him.
Calvin deals with Psalm 145 he speaks of his comments on verse one: “since God is constant in extending mercies, it would be highly improper in us to faint in his praises.” He continues by saying that even when David was in his ascendancy he did not permit his royal trappings to “interfere with the glory due to God” (John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 145:1).
It doesn’t matter what we are in this world, God is far above us, God is transcendent, God is King over us, and our proper position is of worshipers. Calvin then refers to being overwhelmed by “the immensity of His power.” Calvin means that we are brought out of ourselves and our condition by our ruminations upon God and His wonders.
The simplicity of Paul’s ethical mandate for believers is unmistakable in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever then you eat or you drink or whatever you do—all unto God’s glory you are to do.” In that context Paul challenges the Corinthian believers specifically to handle freedoms pertaining to eating and drinking in a such a way as to contribute to the purpose for all activity: to glorify God.
If God’s own purpose in His activities is His own glory (e.g., Eph 1:6, 12, 14), then it should come as no surprise that the stated singular purpose in our activities is that we should likewise glorify Him. This is the ought of Christian ethics: that we should glorify God, and it is important that we also understand the is upon which the ought is grounded.
A man went to a psychiatrist with a problem.
“Doc,” he explained, “I keep being plagued by two recurring dreams. One is a dream that I am a wigwam. In my other dream, I dream I am a teepee. Doc, you gotta help me. Am I going crazy? Is there something wrong with me?”
“Relax,” consoled the psychiatrist. “There is nothing wrong with you. You’re just two tents.”
The subject of tents was something Paul the Apostle took seriously. He was a skilled tentmaker by trade. Because tents were not far from Paul’s mind, he was in familiar territory when he compared life’s temporary nature to tent dwelling.