1. The Holiness of God — When the biblical doctrine of salvation is first presented, one of the first responses men have is to question how this affects the holiness of God. So we begin there:
Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Verses which assert the holiness of God are of course too numerous to reproduce here. The point of quoting this one is simply to make a methodological point. God is holy by self-definition, and has revealed that fact to us in His Word. One aspect of self-revelation cannot be used to hold another aspect hostage.
2. The Transcendence of God — One of the most common mistakes concerning salvation is to talk about our Savior as though He were one of us. But He is not a creature:
But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”
This is not, as I used to think, an evasion of the question. It is the only possible way of formulating the question accurately. We must maintain, at all times, a firm grasp of the Creator/creature distinction.
3. The Omnipresence of God — In order to understand salvation, we must have it fixed in our minds who we are, and who God is. This means that salvation cannot be understood outside the confines of classical theism. First, God is omnipresent:
Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD
This means that God is everywhere present. There is nothing that occurs away from Him.
4. The Omniscience of God — Another attribute which is important to understand is the fact that God knows everything, past, present, and future. We call this His omniscience:
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite
Put very simply, this means that God knows everything. It is impossible to say that He is in every place, but that He is not necessarily paying attention. Nothing escapes His notice.
5. The Omnipotence of God — God is not restricted in what He is able to do. Nothing, outside His own good purposes, restricts Him in any way. This is referred to as God’s omnipotence:
Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?
God’s power is not restricted by anything external to Himself. He can do anything He pleases.
Now if we look at His attributes of omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence together, we can readily see that this creates a problem for many. In other words, if it is legitimate for man to try God, then it is the God of Christians on trial, not the God of Calvinists.
6. The Love of God — And lastly, we come to the motive force behind our salvation. It proceeds from the being of God Himself. We owe our salvation, not to our own loveliness, but rather to the fact that God is Love:
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins . . . We love Him because He first loved us
(1 John 4:9-10,19).
If we start by acknowledging the sovereignty of God over everything, we must bring that understanding to the subject of our salvation. But it is here that many balk. It is consequently here that they must be reminded that the sovereignty of God in salvation is a display of love.