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Attributes of God: Incomprehensible | Theology Matters

  • December 2004 Issue
Practical Theology

With obvious pride, Henry Ford once told a visitor to the Ford Motor Company the exact number of parts in one of the automobiles that had just been completed on the assembly line. “There are exactly four thousand, seven hundred and nineteen parts in that model,” he declared as he pointed at the vehicle. A little later in the tour the visitor asked one of the engineers whether the number Ford had cited was accurate. The engineer dismissed the question with a shrug of his shoulders. “I’m sure I don’t know,” he admitted. “I can’t think of a more useless piece of information.”

The various attributes of God are worthy of our study, but should not be treated as if they were theological abstractions disconnected from our understanding and experience of God beyond these individual attributes. Such knowledge is about as useless as knowing how many parts there are in a Model T. Nor, having studied them, should we conclude that we have learned everything there is to know about God. God is incomprehensible. This does not mean that He is confusing or nonsensical. God is knowable. The mission of the Son was to make the Father known (John 17:6). Jesus revealed the Father through His words and works and continues to make Him known (John 17:6, 8). The ministry of the Holy Spirit also enables us to understand the significance of both the Father and the Son. Because of this we can have real knowledge of God. Yet despite all that we can know about God and the fact that we can know Him relationally, we can never know Him exhaustively. We will continue to study the attributes of God for all eternity.

Why Theology Matters

In his classic book Knowing God, J. I. Packer makes the following observation: “The more complex the object, the more complex is the knowing of it.” The study of God is a lifelong pursuit, and even then we will only have just begun. For the past twelve months we have studied the various attributes of God. As we conclude our study, consider that if you know Jesus Christ as your Savior you enjoy an even greater privilege. You are known by God and you are called His child!


To continue your study of what it means to know God, read Knowing God by J. I. Packer (InterVarsity).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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