Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
The second Christian foundation block I will explain is the Bible’s teaching on the doctrine of God. Who is God? What is God like? What does God do? These are the questions to be answered from the Bible in this lesson. Everyone has an idea of who God, but here I will show you the true God.
I begin with some thoughts. First, mere men and women cannot fully understand or define God. We are limited in our ability to understand the universe, and God is even bigger than the universe. We can, however, know exactly and accurately many things about God, because He has given us that capacity, and has told us much about Himself. As a side note, I use the masculine gender, because that is how He describes Himself in the Bible.
It is to our advantage to carefully search the Holy Scripture to know, experience, worship, and to serve the true God - the God of the Bible. To make sure we worship the right God, we cannot rely on our imagination, dreams, or what others have said. Put simply: if we do not worship the true God, then we are worshipping a false god - and the consequences of that action are terrible (Deuteronomy 5:6-9).
Second, God is not just a perfect exalted man, a state that other men will someday attain. Neither is He some impersonal force in nature, nor just one of several gods or spirits. The God of the Bible is the one and only true God, a living, spiritual Being who is active and personal. He has intellect, emotion, will, and enjoys fellowship with His people who are created in His image.
On the one hand God is separated from His creation and governs it from afar. On the other hand, God is actively involved in the detailed workings of His creation.
Finally, God does exist: the Bible assumes it and mankind intuitively knows it (Genesis 1:1: Romans 1:18-2O: 2:14-16; John 3:19, 20). Mankind throughout history and in every culture has within him the intuition (or heart knowledge) that God exists. The old Tongan religion, for example, believed there to be four principal gods: Maui who pulled up the islands out of the sea with a hook and line, and Hikuleo who lived in and governed Pulotu, the place of departed spirits. There was Tangaloa who resides in the sky and was the god of foreigners, and Hea-Moana-uli-uli who governs the sea and is worshipped under the form of the sea-serpent.
Their notions were false, but they still had a belief in god or gods. The question becomes: who is the real, true God? To the Christian, I say He is the God of the Bible who gave us special revelation about Himself and confirmed that testimony with mighty miracles - the greatest being the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (John 20:30, 31).
Now for those three big questions: who is God? What is He like? What does He do?
I. WHO IS GOD?
One key section to set before us is Exodus 3:14 (see 6:2-8) “And God said unto Moses. I AM THAM THAT I AM: and HE SAID, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”
God had many names in the Old Testament, each describing something about Himself, which was a customary practice. Here we have the name “Yahweh,” translated usually as Jehovah or LORD. Scholars tell us the word means “the Existent One,” or better, “the Self-Existent One.”
This means God’s existence does not depend on something other than Himself. For example, a fish depends on water; animals depend on air and food and even parents to produce them. Everything in this universe depends on something for its existence. Not so with God - He is the “Self-Existent” one, dependent on nothing other than Himself. Life itself is sourced in God. God has no limits or boundaries to time or space. He is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever. God is perfect. Now, let’s compare ourselves to God.
We have many imperfections. People, governments, business, and families are all imperfect, but not God. We are limited by time and space. The days of our life are limited. Some of you have passed only your 20th birthday, some your 40th, others have passed 60 or 70. Someday, who knows, maybe today, tomorrow, next year - but some day the funeral will be yours.
The things we can do in this life are limited by distance, money, status in life. We miss our loved ones overseas and wish we had money to go and visit them, or maybe just buy food. Not only are we limited, but also dependent - totally dependent upon God. Our existence, life, health, food, shelter, the air we breathe - all come from God. We live in a fragile world in fragile bodies - utterly dependent upon God. How good it is to know that God is “self-existent,” unchangeable, perfect in every way, and that He wants us to depend on Him!
Another facet of God is His Trinity, or Tri-Unity. Though the actual word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible, this very complex teaching is clear, and also is a central doctrine of Christianity. The Creed of Saint Athanasius articulates the doctrine. When The Bible teaches that God is a Trinity it does not mean there are three Gods, or that there is one God who acts out in three different ways. And certainly the Bible does not say there are three Gods and one God at the same time.
The Bible teaches that in the nature of the one true God there exists only three eternal, co-equal Persons who fully share one nature, yet are distinct in their existence. The Father (John 6:27), Jesus Christ the Son (John 20:28), and the Holy Spirit are all called God (Acts 5:3, 4).
The verse that puts it together the best is Matthew 28:19 where the disciples are to baptize in the “name” (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (plural). No illustration in creation can fully illustrate the Trinity, but this is helpful: there is the sun itself, then the sunlight by which we see the ocean and islands, and finally the power of the sun that grow the coconut, flowers and trees. All possess the same qualities, yet are distinct.
Although the teaching is clear, in the final analysis, it is impossible for us mere mortals to completely understand the nature of God. The issue is like this: the Bible teaches there to be one true God. However, it refers to the Father as God, Jesus Christ as God, and the Holy Spirit as God. Consequently, when Christians refer to the Trinity, we are not making up something, but trying to explain the best we can what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible. The teaching of the Trinity is not a contradiction, but a complexity.
If we are to worship the God of the Bible, then we must believe the Trinity - otherwise, we worship another God which is very much to our disadvantage! Secondly, because there is fellowship within the Godhead, and we are created in His image, we may have fellowship with both God and each other (1 John 1:3). Let us now turn and take up the second question: what is God like?
II. WHAT IS GOD LIKE?
1. The First of seven qualities I explain is that God knows everything (1 Kings 8:39; Acts 15:18; John 21:17). God knows all about science, languages, history, the future - everything there is to know about everything. There are no secrets, because God knows our thoughts. He knows what the copra price was 20 years ago, what the pumpkin price was last year, what it will be next year, and who made or lost money. He knows who passed form 5 last year. He knows who cheated, stole, cried, had surgery, died - even who went to New Zealand. Beloved, God knows everything.
2. Second, God is all-wise. He knows what to do and how to do it (Romans 11:33; 14:7, 8). He does not wring His hands and worry about the holes in the ozone, the population of the world, the arms race, or global warming. We worry and fret about many things in life, and we do things wrong and make mistakes. But God? He is all-wise. He is never at a loss for knowing what the right thing to do is.
3. Third, God is good. He is bountiful and kind to His creatures (Psalm 36:6; 104:21; Matthew 5:45). God causes the rain to fall and the food to grow for all His creatures - both good and evil. The sun never ceases to come up and the fish still bite the hooks and come into the nets. He gives abilities and medicine to doctors to cure diseases.
4. Fourth, God is love (1 John 4:8). The kind of love that we speak of is that which seeks the best for the object loved. It is not lustful or selfish. God’s love is displayed in His undeserved favor and grace toward a rebellious mankind. He has mercy, pity, and compassion on the helpless. He has great patience. The greatest exhibition of His love is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, the rebel and\\or indifferent sinners and enemies of God (Romans 5:6-10).
5. Fifth, God is Holy (Isaiah 6:3-5; Exodus 15:11). God Himself is the standard of right and wrong. He hates sin and He demands purity in His creatures. God is distinct from all His creatures and stands above them in absolute, pure majesty. God does not leave it to governments, anthropologists, or judges to decide right or wrong. In fact, He didn’t leave it up to school teachers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, government workers or public opinion polls to decide! God Himself is the standard of right and wrong.
6. Sixth, God is righteous (Psalm 99:4; Romans 2:5-8). He is ruler of the universe and in that position God will reward good and punish evil. Many times we wonder why evil people seem to get away with evil deeds while innocent people fall on hard times. Do not fret over justice. God in His perfect righteousness will reward good and punish evil
- if not in this life, then in the next. Count on it: sin will not go unpunished; goodness will not go unrewarded.
7. Seventh, God is true (John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 1:9). All other idols, religions and gods are false. God is faithful and honest to His Word and His people. The Bible says that God “cannot” lie to us (Titus 1:2). Many limes people lie to us - even our spouses, friends or family. But God is always straight and will never lie, nor deceive us. Now for our third question: what does God do?
III. WHAT DOES GOD DO?
There are many things that God does. You and I cannot possible know everything. But, here I list three activities He is or was involved in: creation of the universe, and ruling and having absolute authority over the universe. Thirdly, He is involved in saving those who place their trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save them and transport them to heaven when they die.
1. First, God created everything. He is all-powerful and He created the universe out of nothing (Genesis 1:1). Maui did not pull the islands up out of the sea, God created both the ocean and the islands. He created the pigs, chickens, fish, coconut, mango, cows, horses, islands, ocean, sky - everything, even mankind. He made us like we are and gave us life. He made governments, nations, Samoans, English, Tongans, Filipinos, and Indians (Acts 17:24-27; Romans 13:1).
God even worked with Adam, the first man, in naming the animals and birds (Genesis 2:19). What sweet fellowship they must have had together. Can you see God, in your mind’s eye, bring the little pigs, horses, chickens, turtles, and goats up to Adam in that fertile field with the rich black soil and the big fruit trees and saying, “What do you want to name this, Adam?”
Adam would say. “Well God, let’s name this fuzzy little thing a cat. We can call this one a dog. That one over there we call a cow.”
2. Second, God is sovereign (Ephesians 1:11). He is the Lord, Master and Ruler of the universe. He works all things by His own will, not the will or plan of man, devils, governments or any other created thing - not even a committee! God has one perfect plan for the universe and He is unfolding that plan with absolute perfection and precision even this very minute.
God directs the affairs of men, He makes history - and He is right on schedule. He is all wise, powerful and knowing: nothing confuses or is too big for God.
Not only does God guide the big things of the universe and world, not only does He create the history of nations, but He unfolds our actual history as well. He planned out the day you were born, the place you took your first breath, and please pardon me, but I want to make this real to you, He even wove you together inside your mother’s womb (Psalm 139).
The Bible says that all your days in this life were numbered in God’s book before you were born (Psalm 139:16). God is the God who makes history: my history, your history, South Pacific history, New Zealand’s history, and America’s history.
Remember this: God makes history, not the Devil. God rules the world, not Satan and his demons. True, they raise havoc and God has temporarily permitted them to do some limited things, but God is in full charge and authority. Trust God and leave the worry to someone else. Trust and obey.
3. Third, I speak of God’s redemption (Genesis 3:15; Romans 1:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Man fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. He was corrupted by that awful disease the Bible calls sin. Sin carries a dreadful penalty: death and punishment. Adam’s corruption was passed on to mankind, because we are his offspring. We all fall under the judgment of God. But, in His great mercy and love toward us, God planned and provided for our salvation. God sent Christ to save us from sin and its terrible penalty. Christ died a bloody death on the cross, and rose from the dead that He might give full, permanent forgiveness of all sin for all time, and then give eternal life to all who receive Him.
The Bible says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In another place He said, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5: 13).
What incredible news: we can know in this life whether or not we are saved and have eternal life! Maybe you are one who has never received Christ as your Savior. You can. You need to if you want to go to heaven when you die. Receive Him today.
For the believer: since we are created in the image of God, and are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), then let’s live like God wants us live. Let love, compassion, mercy, and kindness be the mark of your life. Let us live holy lives, confessing and putting away our sins - not to become Christians, but because we are Christians. Love God. Love people. Love His Bible. Love His church. Love your wife, husband, children, and parents. Love prayer.
This ends the lesson about God: who is He? What is He like? What does He do? I next consider the doctrine of Jesus Christ and His work. He is the most important Person to ever set foot on this earth. Let me show you why.
NEXT, Chapter Three: Jesus and His Work
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