Six Characteristics of God that Help in Counseling

stones-1371897610r1f

There are at least six attributes that describe God. They are: wrath, mercy, holiness, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. These attributes are theologically important and ought to be applied practically for life and counseling. I will briefly explain each one and how they are pertinent to our conversations with counselees.

The first attribute, God’s wrath, is His hatred towards sin and anything that contradicts His holy nature. For example, when the Israelites disobeyed by serving false gods, the Lord was very angry with Israel (Judg. 2:20-21). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul said that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness (Rom. 1:18; Col. 3:6; 1 Thess. 1:10, Heb. 3:11, Rev. 6:16-17).” In our counseling sessions, people need to be told both God’s hatred towards sin and His willingness to forgive through the act of repentance.

The second attribute, God’s mercy, is defined as “God’s goodness toward those in misery and distress”.[1] Oftentimes, mercy, grace, and patience are mentioned together, but the main difference concerning mercy is its specific relationship to individuals in difficult circumstances (2 Sam. 24:14; Ps. 86:5; Tit. 3:5; Heb. 4:16). Jesus was the prime example for showing mercy towards the poor, blind, and lame people of His day. Mercy is an attribute we should extend to our counselees since they are at a low point in their lives.

The third attribute, holiness, is his uniqueness. God is the only being in the universe that is wholly independent and self-sustaining. He is necessary whereas everything else in the cosmos is contingent. The Bible states in Ex. 15:11: “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness awesome in glory, working wonders?” Theologian Louis Berkhof calls His uniqueness the “majesty-holiness” of God.[2]

When a counselee understands the absolute purity or goodness of God, it should bring both fear and joy. Fear because God is pure and we are impure, but joyful because our purity is a result of knowing Christ rather than attempting to become pure ourselves. The holiness of God should always remind our counselees to swallow their pride and trust in the righteousness of Christ, which is given freely to all who believe in His name.

The fourth attribute, omnipotence, is the idea that God is all-powerful. The term is not found in the Bible, but the term refers to two biblical ideas: God can do anything He pleases and nothing is too hard for Him.[3] Job 23:13 states: “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever He pleases (Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Isa. 14:24-27; Dan. 4:35).” The Bible also makes it clear in the gospels that nothing is impossible with God (Lk. 1:37).

When speaking truth to a counselee, we should encourage them that they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength (Phil. 4:13). That means overcoming addiction, reconciling a marriage, becoming debt-free, etc. God can help us achieve the impossible.

The fifth attribute of God, omniscience, is the notion that God knows all things. There is nothing hidden from Him. The author John writes in his epistle: “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything (1 Jn. 3:20).” When interacting with our counselees, it’s important to emphasize that God knows all our burdens, anxieties, and fears. This should give counselees confidence to be transparent with God.

The sixth and final attribute, omnipresence, means that God is everywhere present, both in time and in space. The psalmist states: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there (Ps. 139:8).” This characteristic of God should remind both the counselor and counselee that they can communicate to God at any time, whether in a car on the way to work, in the kitchen, or jogging on the road. God desires to hear from His children all the time.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand rapids: Intervarsity Press, 1994), 200.

[2] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), p.73.

[3] John Frame, The Doctrine of God: A Theology of Lordship (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2002), p. 515.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s