The Knowledge of the Holy – God’s attributes and the Trinity (chapters 3 and 4)

I’m midway through a study of the classic Christian book, The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer. I’m studying it online with some friends in Asia. These are my notes from our second week. I hope they will bless you. If you would like to join us, please send me a message!

In “The Knowledge of the Holy,” A.W. Tozer will examine many attributes of God, such as God’s self-existence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Before going any further, let’s first define “attribute.” What is an attribute?

An attribute is “a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.”

Dogs and cats have many similar attributes, but dogs and cats also have many different attributes. A dog has four legs and a tail. A cat, too, has four legs and a tail. A dog barks, but a cat meows. A cat can climb a tree, but a dog can’t.

People are created beings, created in the image of God. We were created with a mind and a body. We were created to think and speak. We can change and grow. We can grow better or worse over time. We can have bad days. We can be honest one minute, but dishonest the next. We can be kind and helpful for many hours of the day, but still have sinful thoughts and habits.

How would you describe yourself? What traits describe you? Are you tall or short? Do you have curly hair or straight hair? Are you loud or quiet?

How have you changed over time? How do you change even in the same day?

I would describe myself as friendly and outgoing – but I’m not always friendly and outgoing. Sometimes I feel shy. Sometimes I have a headache and I want to sit quietly. Sometimes I enjoy being alone to read a book or take a walk.

I would also describe myself as critical. Critical means that I notice when other people make mistakes. When I’m reading a book, I often notice a spelling or grammatical error. Being critical can be painful for my husband, my children, and my friends. But I am not always critical. Sometimes I am so full of grace that I surprise myself!

I am praying for God to help me remember that God loves me even when I say something wrong or have a mean attitude. God is growing me and helping me to be less critical of others and to speak words of encouragement.

God is not like a human. God’s attributes are unchanging. God was never made.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God is the same every minute of every day. God is the same today that he was the day He created the universe! God does not grow or improve over time.

God has never sinned. God has never had an evil thought. God never gets tired or sick.

Additionally, God has complete unity in Himself. God is ALWAYS ALL of His attributes. God is 100% loving, 100% holy, 100% just and 100% merciful … at-the-same-time … always.

As Tozer puts it, “An attribute, then, is not a part of God. It is how God is… The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God…. Love, for instance, is not something God has, and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself. And so with the other attributes.” (Chapter 3)

In Chapter 4, Tozer considers the Holy Trinity. How can God be ONE, and yet also exist in THREE persons? The trinity is difficult for everyone to understand.

In our modern scientific world, we think we should be able to fully understand everything. We want to know exactly why it rains and exactly how gravity works and exactly how atoms hold together. The truth is, though, that we do not fully know how these things work.

“Every man lives by faith,
the nonbeliever as well as the saint;
the one by faith in natural laws
and the other by faith in God.”

A.W. Tozer

As an atheist, I had faith in science. I had faith in evolution. I had faith in my history textbooks and the news media. I believed and trusted in science, but I did not believe or trust in God.

Tozer wrote this book before the invention of the internet. Tozer wrote, “We cover our deep ignorance with words, … we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper “mystery.””

Today if I want to know how my car works or how to make jianbing 煎饼 for myself, I can simply type my question into the internet and get an answer in less than 60 seconds!

When was the last time you realized that you didn’t know the answer to a question in your own mind, or a question that someone else asked? How did you feel? What did you do?

Today in 2021, “google” is a verb I often use. When my son asks me what the capital of Mongolia is, I might say, “I don’t know. You should google it.” This means, “You should look on the internet to find the answer.” If I wanted to learn more about the trinity, I could “google it” to read what scholars have to say.

Tozer refers to several ancient Christian creeds such as the Athanasian Creed which help us to better understand the triune nature of God. For example, the Athanasian Creed says, “Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God: And yet there are not three gods, but one God.”

If I went on a Bible website such as and searched for the word “trinity” written in the Bible, I wouldn’t find it … because it isn’t there.

There are many things that God says in the Bible without a complete explanation of the details. In many ways the trinity is a mystery that we don’t fully understand, but the Bible does have many examples of God’s three-in-one existence. Let’s look at these four passages together:

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26a)

“神 说 : 我 们 要 照 着 我 们 的 形 像 、 按 着 我 们 的 样 式 造 人.” (創 世 記 1:26a)

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

以 色 列 阿 , 你 要 听 ! 耶 和 华 ─ 我 们 神 是 独 一 的 主 。” (申 命 記 6:4)

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water,
and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God
descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, 
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

的。” ( 3:16-17)

Jesus said: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

” ( 10:30)

The triune God worked in unity during creation (Genesis 1:1, Colossians 1:16, Job 26:13, Psalm 104:30), during the incarnation of Christ in His mother Mary (Luke 1:35), during the atonement (Hebrews 9:14), during the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:32, John 10:18, Romans 1:4), during salvation (1 Peter 1:2) and the indwelling of a Christian (John 14:15-26).

That’s my King

Holy, Holy, Holy Song

Trinity Children’s Song

Holy, Holy, Holy in Chinese

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea,
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

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