A short explanation of the description of God, as given by the Church. Part 3
True. 1. God has a true and certain knowledge of all things. 2. He does not will or speak things contradictory. 3. He does not dissemble (conceal His true motives) or deceive. 4. He never changes His mind. 5. Whatever He says He brings to pass. 6. He enjoins truth and veracity upon all.
Pure. 1. His nature is most pure. 2. He loves and commands that which is pure. 3. He greatly detests and severely punishes all manner of uncleanness, whether it be internal or external. 4. He distinguishes Himself by this notable mark from devils and wicked spirits. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that every one of you possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.” “Defile not yourselves in any of these things, for in all these the nations are defiled.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4; Leviticus 18:24)
Merciful. God’s mercy appears in this: 1. That He wills the salvation of all men. 2. That He defers punishment, and invites all to repentance. 3. That He accommodates Himself to our infirmity. 4. That He redeems those who are called into His service. 5. That He gave and delivered up to death His only begotten Son. 6. That He promises and does all these things most freely out of His mercy. 7. That He confers benefits upon His enemies, and such as are unworthy of His regard.
Objection 1. But God seems to take pleasure in avenging Himself upon the ungodly. Answer. Only in as far as it is the execution of His justice.
Objection 2. He refuses mercy to the ungodly. Answer. Only to such as do not repent.
Objection 3. He does not save all when He has the power. Answer. God acts thus that He may exhibit His justice with His mercy.
Objection 4. He does not exercise His mercy without a sufficient satisfaction. Answer. Yet He has most freely given His Son, that He might make satisfaction by His death.
Bountiful. God is said to be bountiful; 1. Because He creates and preserves all things. 2. Because He confers benefits upon all, even upon the wicked. 3. Because of the free and boundless love which He exercises towards His creatures, especially to man. 4. Because of the love which He cherished towards the church, and in giving eternal life and glory to His people.
Objection 1. But the Scriptures speak of God as cherishing anger. Answer. He is angry with sin and depravity, but not with His creatures.
Objection 2. God often inflicts punishment upon His creatures. Answer. Only upon such as are impenitent.
Most Free. God is most free; 1. From all guilt, misery, obligation, servitude and constraint. 2. He wills and does most freely and righteously all things, and wills and does them when and in what manner He pleases.
Hating sin: that is, God is terribly displeased with sin, and will punish it temporally and eternally.
Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary On The Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 126, 127