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The Majesty of the Harmony of God's Attributes

  • Mark Altrogge
  • Published Aug 21, 2003
The Majesty of the Harmony of God's Attributes

In Chapter 33 of Exodus, Moses prays, "Show me your glory!" In response, God descends in the cloud and passes before Moses, showing His individual attributes one by one.

In Exodus 34:5, the Lord proclaims that He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love, faithfulness, and forgiveness. He will not clear the guilty, but visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generations.

God tells Moses that He is the Lord, which means the Sovereign God of all, the God who controls all things. Then He describes Himself as gracious, compassionate, forgiving, slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness. God says that He is just, punishing those who reject Him. He shows mercy to a thousand generations, but cuts off His punishment at the third or fourth generation.

God is giving Moses a lesson in doctrine. Moses quickly bows his head to the earth and worships. This is what we should do, too.

Christ's glory is shown not only in His individual attributes, but in the harmony of those attributes. Jonathan Edwards said, "What makes Christ glorious is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies." In other words, Christ's attributes work together in harmony.

It's amazing to meditate on God's individual attributes, such as His sovereignty. But when we consider His sovereignty in combination with His infinite love and wisdom, for example, we see still other aspects of His glory.

For example, combine God's love with His eternal nature.  In Jeremiah God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving kindness." I'll mediate on God's perfect love, and also think about the fact that God is eternal.  I'll think something like, "God, you loved me before you created the first angel. You loved me down through the ages. You loved me when I was born, and even when I was rebelling against you. You will be loving me, Lord Jesus, throughout all eternity. How good you are!" 

God shows His glory in doctrine, so if we want to see more of this glory, we need to study doctrine. If you read books about doctrine, it will motivate you and the people you lead in worship. I encourage you to pick out some attribute of God and meditate on it. Get a journal and write one page on everything you can think of about God's faithfulness, for example. Then start thinking about His faithfulness in combination with other attributes, like His power.

John Owen says, "In Christ we behold the wisdom, goodness, love, grace, mercy, and power of God all working together for the great work of our redemption and salvation." The wisdom and love of God in themselves are infinitely glorious, but especially glorious in the redemption and salvation of the church, which are achieved only in and by Christ.

An easy way to understand the harmony of attributes is to think about a person. Say that a wife has the attribute of physical beauty. But there are plenty of beautiful women who have deficient characters. Now say this wife is not only beautiful, but wise, kind, and a wonderful mother. There is a glory in this combination of attributes that exceeds any one of this wife's individual attributes.

And there is a glory in Christ that exceeds any of His individual characteristics. It is like a rainbow in which the individual colors are beautiful, but their combination heightens the sense of beauty.


Recommended Resources:

A Passion for the Glory of God is a worship conference designed for pastors, worship leaders, worship team members, sound teams, and anyone desiring to be equipped in the principles and practices of God-honoring worship. Bob Kauflin, director of worship development for Sovereign Grace, will host the conference. Other speakers will include Mark Altrogge and Steve Cook. The conference will be held on October 16th-18th, 2003 at Sovereign Grace Church, Gilbert, AZ. For more information click here.

Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith.  Here is Dr. Wayne Grudem's monumental yet accessible Systematic Theology, masterfully reduced some 800 pages by Jeff Purswell, who serves as the Academic Dean of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College. To order, visit the Sovereign Grace Store.