I. How do we know about God?
A. Through General Revelation
1. The natural world reveals God (Acts 14:15-17; Rom.1:19-23)
2. Human Conscience reveals God (Rom.2:14-16)
B. Through Special Revelation
1. Miracles reveal God.
a. When He extends natural laws (Josh.10:12-14 – sun stood still)
b. When He makes exceptions to natural laws (2 Kings 6 – axehead floated)
2. Fulfilled prophecy reveals God.
a. O.T. (Is.43:28-45; Ezra 1:1-4 – Cyrus predicted)
b. N.T. (Micah 5:2; Matt.2:1 – birthplace of Christ)
3. Jesus Christ Himself reveals God. (Heb.1:1; John 1:18)
4. Scripture as a whole reveals God.
II. Can we prove God’s existence?
A. The Bible generally assumes it rather than proves it (Gen.1:1).
B. The Bible does assert that the natural world demands God’s existence (Ps.19; Is.40:26; Acts 14:17; Rom.1:19 ff).
C. There are several philosophical proofs for God that are sometimes helpful for doubters. These are logical conclusions that are also found in Scripture.
1. Cosmological argument – How could there be anything if there wasn’t a Cause (God) who was Uncaused (Romans 1:20)?
2. Teleological argument – How could there be design in the world if there was no Designer (God - Psalm 19:1-6)?
III. How can we describe God?
God has many perfect characteristics (attributes).
A. God has incommunicable attributes (characteristics belonging only to God).
1. Self-existence (John 5:26).
a. Eternality – Infinite in time (Ps.90:2)
b. Omnipresence – Infinite in space (Ps.139:7-11)
B. God has communicable attributes (characteristics found in a limited degree in man).
1. Attributes of Intellect
a. Omniscience – God knows all things actual and potential (Ps.139:16; Matt. 11:21).
b. All-wise – God acts upon His knowledge to always do what is infinitely best (Rom.11:33-36).
2. Attributes of Emotion
a. God is Love – God is incomprehensibly active for our good (1 John 4:8).
b. Grace – unmerited favor (Eph.2:8)
c. Mercy – concern, compassion (James 5:11)
d. Long suffering – self-restrained when provoked (2 Peter 3:9,15)
e. God is just – God is perfectly righteous and exact in His dealings with man (Ps.19:9).
3. Attributes of Will
a. Omnipotence (Job 42:2) God is able to do anything He wills. He will not do anything against His nature (sin) or anything that is logically self-contradictory.
b. Sovereignty (2 Chron.29:11,12) God is the final authority – the ruler over all the affairs of the universe. He may choose to let some things happen according to natural laws He put in place.
IV. What are God’s names?
God’s names emphasize who He is and what He does.
A. Elohim – This word/name stresses His power, rulership and majesty (Gen.1:1; Is.54:5).
B. El-Shaddai – “God on the mountain” – strength, control and therefore comfort (Gen.17:3; Ps.91:1,2)
C. Adonai – This word/name stresses that He is Lord, Master (Josh.5:14).
D. Jehovah – “I am” – This word/name stresses His changeless self-existence (Ex.3:12).
1. Jehovah-jireh - “The Lord will provide” (Gen.22:14)
2. Jehovah-rapha - “The Lord who healeth”
3. Jehovah-nissi - “The Lord my banner” (Ex.17:15)
4. Jehovah-shalom - “The Lord our peace” (Jud.6:24)
5. Jehovah-ra-ah - “The Lord my shepherd” (Ps.23:1)
6. Jehovah-tsidkenu - “The Lord our righteousness” (Jer.23:6)
7. Jehovah-shammah - “The Lord is present” (Ezek.48:35)
8. Jehovah-Sabbaoth – “The Lord of hosts” Commander of the armies of Israel (1 Sam.17:45)
V. In What Form Does God Exist?
A. God is a “personal” being. God is not human yet He is “person” like man in that He has intellect, emotions and will (see “communicable attributes”). It is in this sense that we are in the “image of God” (Gen.1:26,27; 9:6). He does not share our imperfections but he does share our personal nature. God is not a “force”. He is a personal being.
B. God is a “spiritual” being. God does not consist of any material substance. He is spirit (John 4:24). He has no body.
C. God is a “triunity.” “Trinity” is a term that describes the “threeness” of God. But that is only a partial description. God is also “one” – He is a unified being. So a good term to describe both truths is “Triunity.” “Trinity” may always be the most-used term, but we must understand that biblically “trinity” is really “triunity”.
D. Definition: There is only one God but in the unity of God there are three equally eternal Persons, the same in substance but distinct from each other (Adapted from B.B. Warfield).
1. Errors (Denials of the trinity)
a. There is not one God with 3 natures, roles or qualities.
b. There are not 3 different Gods.
c. The Son and the Holy Spirit are not less than God or creations of God.
2. The “oneness” of God
b. The one God is not divisible into parts – Since God is spirit by nature and not material in composition, He cannot be divided into 3 parts of 1/3 God each. God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit therefore cannot be conceived of any anything less than wholly God in essence.
3. The “threeness” of God. Each of the 3 persons possesses what only God has, so each is fully God.
a. The Father is God.
Rom.1:7 – “God (who is) our Father”
John 6:27 – “the Father (even) God”
b. The Son is God.
1) He possesses incommunicable attributes.
a) Self-existence (Heb.7:3; John 5:26)
b) Immutability (Heb.1:10; 13:8)
d) Eternality (Heb.7:3)
e) Omnipresence (Matt.28:20)
2) He participates in the functions of deity.
a) He created the world (John 1:13)
b) He sustains the world (Col.1:15-17)
c) He forgives sins (Matt.9:1,2)
d) He performs final judgment (John 5:22; Rev.19:16)
3) He receives worship.
a) Of angels (Heb.1:6; Rev.5:12,13)
b) Of men (John 9:38; 20:28; Matt.28:9)
4) He has divine titles.
5) Jesus claimed to be God (John 5:18; 8:24,28,58; 10:30-33).
c. The Spirit is God.
1) Explicit claims (2 Cor.3:17,18)
2) Names and titles of deity
a) Yahweh (Yahweh in Isa.6:1-13 is called Holy Spirit in Acts 28:25.)
b) Spirit of God (Rom.8:9,14; 1 Cor.2:11; 12:3; Eph.4:30)
3) He possesses incommunicable attributes.
a) Self-existence (Rom.8:2)
b) Omnipresence (Ps.139:7 ff)
4) He performs incommunicable works (no one but God can do them).
a) Creation (Gen.1:2)
b) Resurrection (Rom.8:11)
5) Implicit claims
a) Acts 5:3,4 – lie to Spirit equals lie to God
b) 2 Cor.3:17 – “The Lord is the Spirit”
4. The “triuness” of God
a. Old Testament evidence
1) God speaks of Himself with plural pronouns (“us” Gen.1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Is.6:8) and plural verbs (Gen.1:26; 11:7).
2) The “Angel of the Lord” is sometimes clearly “God” yet He is distinct from “God” (The Father). Thus He must be Christ in pre-incarnate human form (Gen.16:7-13; 18:1-21; 19:1-28; Mal.3:1).
3) Other passages clearly distinguish Persons of the Godhead (Father/Lord/Spirit – Isa.48:12,16; LORD/Lord – Ps.110:1).
b. New Testament evidence
1) God is “one” (Eph.4:6; James 2:19)
2) God is “three” (Matt.3:16; 1 Cor.12:4-6; 1 Pet.1:2).
3) God is “three in one” (Matt.28:19 – “In the name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”).
5. Summary: The doctrine of the trinity (triunity) is “knowable” and “believable” but will never be completely “explainable” by human minds or human words. The mechanics of how triunity exists and functions remains a mystery to us just as the how of the Incarnation (Christ is God and Man) does. We know God is One. We know He is Three. Thus we know the Triunity is true.
Practically, for Christians, we know the triune nature of God was necessary: