First, God is eternal. This means that God’s life has no beginning, and it has no ending. Unlike everything else that has ever existed, God does not depend on anything else for his life, since he always lives and can never die. This is a very difficult idea for us to understand, since we do not know of anything like this—and that’s because there is nothing in all of creation that is like God. Your own life had a beginning, when you were first conceived, and then nine months later you were born into this world. And your mom and dad both began at some time, as has every dog, cat, lion, elephant, tree, and insect. Everything else has a beginning to its life. But this is not true of God. God has no beginning, since he always lives. And because life is part of what it means for God to be God, his life can never come to an end. A psalm written by Moses offers this way of seeing God as always living, as eternal: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:1–2). When Moses speaks of God as living “from everlasting to everlasting,” he means that as far back as you can think (even before God created the universe and created time itself) to as far forward as you can think (imagine heaven that continues millions and billions of years from now), God has always lived and will always live. From the everlasting past to the everlasting future, God has always existed as God and always will. So, the true and living God has life in himself. No one has given him life, and no one can take away that life. Because God is God, he always lives.

Because God has life in himself, this also means that God has everything that he needs for his life in himself. After all, since God lives forever, it must be true that God has lived most of his life when there was nothing else. God lived before he created the world, and he was still fully God then. So, for God to have life in himself, it means that he also must have everything that he needs for his own life within himself. We can think of God, then, as being both self-existent (he has life in himself) and self-sufficient (he has everything he needs for his life in himself). This reminds us of what we spoke of earlier, that God has no need for the world, since everything God needs to be God is found in his own life. Because God is eternal, because he has life in himself, it also means that he has every good thing within his own life. Nothing can be added to the richness that God has because God has it all, without beginning and without ending.

Second, God is holy. The Bible often speaks of the holiness of God, and it emphasizes this truth about God as of the highest importance. For example, Isaiah once had a vision of God sitting upon his throne in his temple. Mighty angels flew around him, and they cried out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). To be holy means to be different from all else—to be unique or separate or set apart. These angels are proclaiming that God is different from all else; there is no one like him. The Song of Moses says the same thing: “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). And, of course, the answer to this question is, “No one is like the Lord,” and so, God truly is holy. He is one-of-a-kind, unique.

One of the most important things about God’s holiness is that he is completely separate from all that is wrong or impure or sinful. He has a life that cannot be stained by anything that is bad. Because God is truth, he cannot tell a lie or believe a lie. Because God is faithful, he cannot go back on his word or break a promise. Because God is righteous, he cannot do what is evil or consider the evil that others do as okay or acceptable. Another way to think of God’s holiness is this: because God is holy he cannot be less than who he is as God, and he cannot be other than who he is as God. God is wise and good and righteous and truthful and faithful, and God simply cannot be different than this. He is holy, and so he is separated from anything that is contrary to his own life as God.