5 Min Read


God is the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of the entire universe. He is distinct from that creation (transcendent; Isa. 55:9) and yet active in it (immanent; Gen. 1). He is the one and only true God who subsists in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is ever blessed, thrice-holy, eternal in the heavens (Isa. 6). Theologians generally look at three main areas of study when seeking to know God: His triune nature, His attributes (or characteristics), and His works. None of these areas can be properly studied without great humility (recognizing that we are not God) and great doxology (since everything about God is so eminently praiseworthy).


The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith, since it is difficult to know how God can be one in essence and yet three in person. Each person of the Trinity is truly God, and these three persons are one God, as They eternally share one essence. The doctrine of perichōrēsis (a Greek term; Latin is circumincession), meaning the mutual indwelling of the persons, is used to help explain that the three persons share the one essence (John 17).

The doctrine of the Trinity is not a contradiction, though unbelievers claim it is. The way God is one (in essence; Deut. 6:4) is distinct from the way God is three (in persons; Matt. 28:19). Nevertheless, God is not composed of parts (theologians call this the simplicity of God); nor is His essence impersonal. There remains much that is mysterious about the doctrine of the Trinity. This is, however, what we should expect about a God who is so much greater than human beings are. The term Trinity, while an invention of the early church, describes the biblical reality that the Father is God (Gen. 1), the Son is God (Rom. 9:5), and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3–4), and yet there is only one God (Deut. 6:4). None of these persons is subordinated to the others. Their eternal relations, however, are defined as follows: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son.

The attributes, or characteristics, of God are the descriptions of the essence of God. God is His attributes. The attributes are not parts of God but ways of describing the whole essence of God in a manner that we can understand. Theologians generally divide these into two categories: the incommunicable attributes (those that find no counterpart in humanity) and the communicable attributes (those that can, to some degree, exist in a creaturely way in humans). There are at least five incommunicable attributes of God:

  1. His eternality: He has no beginning and no end, since He exists outside of time (Ps. 90:1–2).
  2. His omnipresence: He exists everywhere at once (Ps. 139:1–12).
  3. His immutability: He does not change (Num. 23:19.
  4. His simplicity: He is not made up of composite parts but is an indivisible whole (Deut. 6:4).
  5. His aseity: He exists of Himself, completely independent of all other beings, with no one making or creating Him (Rom. 11:36).

None of these five attributes finds any correspondence in any created being.

The communicable attributes are those that find a correspondence in humans and angels. However, it should be noted that the incommunicable attributes also constitute the way in which God possesses the communicable attributes. This is the definition of the Creator/creature distinction. In simpler terms, for example, God’s wisdom is eternal, omnipresent, immutable, simple, and in accord with His aseity. A human’s wisdom, on the other hand, is temporal, local, changeable, composite (made up of parts), and derivative (comes from someone else). Other communicable attributes include:

  1. Being: God and humanity/angels both exist, though in different ways.
  2. Power: God has all power, and creatures have limited power.
  3. Holiness: God can give holiness to human beings and angels, though it will never be exactly the same as God’s own holiness.
  4. Justice: God acts according to what is right. Humans can as well.
  5. Goodness: God is in every way the way He should be. Humans can also possess goodness, albeit imperfectly in this life.
  6. Truth: God is reliable and sees things as they really are. Humans can also perceive truth rightly and communicate truthfully.

God possesses all these characteristics in the way of the Creator, whereas humans and angels possess these characteristics in a creaturely way.

The works of God include His decrees and the outworking of those decrees in creation and providence. An important rule of thumb in considering the works of God is that they are all Trinitarian in nature. The Latin phrase omnia opera Trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa communicates the truth that “all the external works of the Trinity are indivisible,” meaning everything our Trinitarian God does outside Himself is something the entire Trinitarian Godhead does. The decrees of God are God’s eternal and secret will, by which He determines everything that happens. God’s creation is the way He spoke the world into existence. God’s providence is the way He sustains the world and orders everything according to His most holy and wise plan.


The proper study of a Christian is the Godhead.

C.H. Spurgeon

The New Park Street Pulpit

Reformed theologians . . . self-consciously see the doctrine of God as informing the whole scope of Christian theology.

R.C. Sproul

The Reformed Doctrine of God

Tabletalk magazine

There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.