How Is God Perfect?

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What do people mean when they say God is perfect (Matthew 5:48)? What does modern Christianity teach regarding his existence and character that is not Biblically accurate?

Perhaps the most common attributes of perfection people have associated with God are his power, love and overall character. The Bible confirms He has perfect power, which means he can do anything he wills (Luke 1:37). Additionally, the existence of God is a living definition of selfless and flawless love (1John 4:8, 5:20).

Scripture also supports the belief that God embodies perfect holiness which will never change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). Consider, however, the following two definitions of the Godhead that many believe are true.

The AMG Concise Bible Dictionary states, "the unchangeability of God means that . . . there is no way in which any of his attributes can become greater or less. They cannot change . . . (He) can neither increase nor decrease in knowledge, love, righteousness . . ." The Tyndale Bible Dictionary declares that God is so perfect that he "undergoes no change from within or from anything outside himself." This article will discuss two major examples that refute these assertions.

God the Father
God the Father
Andrea Del Castagno, 1442

One day the Lord, in human form, decided to pay his friend Abraham an unexpected visit (Genesis 18). While they talked, the Lord revealed he heard about Sodom and Gomorrah's sins (verse 20). He then said, "I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it . . . And if not, I will know." (Genesis 18:21, HBFV). God undertook this journey to determine whether what he was told was true or not ("And if not, I will know").

Abraham then quickly began bartering to save the righteous in the cities (Genesis 18:26 - 32). The Lord stated that if he found fifty, then forty, then down to ten, righteous his would spare the cities. If he possessed perfect knowledge that cannot be increased, then WHY did he have to conduct a personal fact finding trip? If he is constantly aware of every thought, in every human, then WHY did he say "if" he found a certain number of righteous?

The book of Hebrews reveals fascinating details regarding the plan of salvation. We are told that it was God the Father who determined that Jesus be made "perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10, 5:9). It was obligatory (required) that man's Savior become human (2:17) and be tempted like we are (4:15). We are also told that although Jesus was God in the flesh he learned obedience through his trials (5:7 - 8).

The Lord God of the Old Testament had to become a human so that he could learn to better empathize with our struggles and flawlessly fulfill his role as our merciful intercessor (2:17, 4:15, and 5:9 - 10). His struggles and suffering profoundly changed and enhanced his character for all eternity. This change qualified him to not only judge all humans but perfectly save them as well (Matthew 28:18, Acts 10:42, Romans 2:16).

God is powerful enough to increase his knowledge anytime he desires and be indirectly updated on events if he so chooses. While it is true that the Godhead's core nature of righteousness will never change, important aspects of their character, as in the case of Jesus, can be profoundly expanded and enhanced by what they experience.

God is indeed perfect, but not in the way most people, including much of the Christian world, thinks.

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