Who Is God, and What Is He Like?

Who is GOD?    This question is relevant today because there are so many definitions of who God is.  In postmodern American culture he is at once the vague “higher power” of the various 12 step programs, the identical God who is behind all religions, or even the god of any individual’s making.

God is a living, personal, infinite, constant spirit who is the Supreme Being.  By this, we mean that God is alive not dead, that He has a personality, that He is the same eternally, that he is a Spirit as opposed to a material being, and that He is the master of all that is.

Living: Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God… John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.

Personal: Exodus 3:14  God said to Moses,  “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites:  ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 20:2  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  Exodus 20:7  “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Infinite: 1Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1Timothy 6:16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see…

Constant: Psalm 90:1  Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Malachi 3:6  “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 

Spirit: John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. 

Supreme Being:  Psalm 115:3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.  1Tim. 6:15 … God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords…

 

What is GOD like?
In the world in which we live, people can be confused because they hear Country Western performers who thank God for music awards and terrorists who thank him for the destruction that occurred on September 11th.  The character of God is an extremely important doctrine because it affects us at once personally and corporately as humans.  The way we relate to God is based upon our perception of his character — will he accept me, sinner that I am, or will he cause me to suffer for the tiniest mistake?  These, and other questions about his character, are the questions that haunt us unless we know what He is like.

When it comes to his character God is perfect intellectually, ethically, emotionally, volitionally, and relationally.

God is perfect in intellect.  We say that he is intellectually omniscient; by that, we mean that he knows everything.  Psalm 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  Psalm 139:3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Psalm 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.  1John 3:20 … he knows everything.

We say God is faithful; but that we mean he has integrity, that he keeps his promises.  Is. 44:26 who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers…  Rev. 19:11  I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True… 2Tim. 2:13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

We say that God is wise; by that we mean that intellectually he uses his knowledge in the best possible way.  Rom. 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

When it comes to his ethics, we say that God is both loving and holy, merciful and just.  God chose both the nation of Israel and his church because of his great love.  Deut. 7:7  The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. Is. 63:9 In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.  John 3:16   “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  But, because God is also holy, he detests evil in all forms.  Psalm 5:4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.   Hab. 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?   Isaiah 6:3,5  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” …  “Woe to me!” I cried.  “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”  God is both merciful and just — and although these attributes seem mutually exclusive, one cannot exist without the other.  There is no mercy possible without justice as the necessary standard.  Jesus appealed to a just God himself: John 17:25  “Righteous Father…”   The Apostle Peter said of Jesus at the time of the Lord’s humiliation at the hands of the authorities, 1Pet. 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. The Apostle John heard these words in his revelation: Rev. 16:5, 7 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; … And I heard the altar respond:  “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”   Yet, on the other hand, the scriptures attest to the mercy of God.  Deut. 4:31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.   Dan. 9:9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him…  2Chr. 30:9 … the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 

God has emotions that are perfect.  He hates evil, yet he is long-suffering and compassionate.  Nah. 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.  Ex. 34:6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming,  “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…  Lam. 3:22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  Mic. 7:19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.  Matt. 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said,  “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”  Matt. 20:34  Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.  Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said,  “Don’t cry.” 

Volitionally, God is omnipotent (all-powerful).  There is nothing he cannot do.  Angels know this and say so in the Gospels.  Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.”   Jesus himself said it in the Garden of Gesthemane: Mark 14:36  “Abba, Father,” he said,  “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 

Relationally, God is both near to us and yet far from us. (He is immanent and transcendent.)  Jer. 23:23  “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD,  “and not a God far away?  Is. 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy:  “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.  Eph. 1:20-21 …when he raised him [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

By fantastic mercy,

Mike

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