The Attributes of God Devotional - God Is SimpleJune 30, 2020
To say that God is simple might sound incorrect at first. How could a sovereign, holy, and glorious being be simple? Wouldn’t it be more accurate and flattering to say that God is infinitely complex?
The answer we find in Scripture is that God is simple. James Dolezal explains that “the principal claim of divine simplicity is that God is not composed of parts. A part is anything in a subject that is less than the whole and without which the subject would be really different than it is.”
George Swinnock provides an even clearer explanation of God’s simplicity:
God is a most pure, simple, unmixed essence—he is incapable of the least composition, and therefore of the least division. He is one most pure, one without all parts, members, accounts, and qualities. The various attributes by which we describe him are one indivisible essence. His justice is his mercy and his wisdom and his patience; his knowledge is his faithfulness; his mercy is his justice; and so on.
This doctrine flows out of what we read in Scripture: “God is spirit” (John 4:24); “God is light” (1 John 1:5); “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Whatever is in God, God is. There is, therefore, no primary attribute in God. He is not more loving than he is just; he is not more wrathful than he is good. All of his attributes are equally present all the time, and none of his attributes exist apart from him. Whatever love, wisdom, justice, and so on, that we find in creation exists because these attributes flow from God.
During this current pandemic, we find comfort in God’s simplicity because we can be assured that all of God’s attributes are fully on display.
We see, for example, his justice and wrath in this temporal judgment. Joseph Pipa writes,
It is safe to say that nothing of such worldwide import has occurred since World War II. God is judging the nations for their idolatry and corruption. But let’s come closer to home. Is not God judging the United States? Approximately 140,000 abortions have been performed in this calendar year alone (since January 1, 2020). We have perverted the holy relationship of marriage with sexual promiscuity, adultery, pornography, and sodomy. Amongst our many idols are sports and materialism.
But we also see God’s wisdom as he is using this time to accomplish his perfect will for his Church and for the world. We see his love in the ways in which he cares for his people as a Father cares for his children. Nothing that is happening at this moment reveals a contradiction in God himself, as though a loving God would never permit such a pandemic. Things are as they are because this is the best way for them to be as decreed by a simple God.
So, fellow believers, let us find comfort, not just in remembering that God loves us, but in remembering that God is. He “is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q/A 4).