What is God like? Is He the Man upstairs? Is He a harsh Judge waiting for us to do something wrong so He can zap us? Did he create the world and set it in motion and then retreat from involvement with it? Or is He whatever a person wants him to be? Is it really possible to know God?
It would be impossible to find God or know Him unless He revealed Himself, and He has. We learned last week that He has revealed His deity and power in the created universe. We call that Generalrevelation. But we needed more, and He revealed more. In what we call Special revelation He gave us His written Word, which He has protected and preserved through the millennia of human history. Then in further special revelation He sent His Son to show us tangibly and visibly what God is like.
Read Deuteronomy 6:4
Read Isaiah 45:5
There is only one God. This is monotheism. The theme reverberates throughout Scripture. Yet we see other facts that can be confusing unless they are harmonized. There is only one true God. But the Bible also says clearly that there was a man, Jesus Christ who claimed equality with God and there is Someone called the Holy Spirit who is also equal with God.
Read John 6:27; 20:28; and Acts 5:3-4.
The Father is God; Jesus Christ is God; the Holy Spirit is God.
How can those facts be harmonized? This can’t mean that we have three Gods, because God is One. That is why we believe in God as Trinity or Triunity. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, but the concept is clearly there. For want of a better word, we believe that there are three Persons in the Godhead.
Read Matthew 3:16-17.
Jesus was being baptized, the Spirit descended like a dove, and the Father spoke from heaven. All three persons of the Godhead were present.
Read Matthew 28:19.
This is the Great Commission. Notice that believers are to be baptized in the name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Triunity).
Read 2 Corinthians 13:14.
This benediction is clearly Trinitarian.
It’s important to understand this from the beginning, because whatever is true of God the Father is true of Jesus Christ the Son and is true of the Holy Spirit. We mustn’t assign lesser positions or attributes to the members of the Godhead. Even though there is order in the Trinity: the Son submits to the Father and the Spirit submits to the Son and the Father, they each are co-equally, co-eternally God. However, the New Testament reveals that they have different functions. The Father is presented as electing, loving and bestowing. The Son is presented as suffering, redeeming and upholding the universe. The Holy Spirit is presented as regenerating, indwelling, baptizing, energizing, and sanctifying.
There’s communion, love and companionship within the Godhead. God is not lonely so that He created man for companionship. God is totally independent of His creation. Any relationship we can have with Him is initiated by Him. Let’s look at the ways God is the Father.
Read Acts 17:28-29.
God is the Father over creation.
Read Ephesians 1:3
God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Read Ephesians 3:14-15, Romans 8:15
God is the Father of all who believe in Christ.
The first thing then that we learn about our God is that He is one God in three persons--a Trinity.
What are some of the other things the Bible teaches us about God?
Read John 4:24.
God cannot be confined to one place or be imagined with a physical body of any kind. That is one reason making images to represent Him or worship were forbidden. He cannot be seen by human eyes nor discovered by human research. The only perfect picture we have of God is in Jesus Christ.
Read John 1:18, John 14:9b.
When you wonder what God is like, look at Jesus. What Jesus did the Father was doing. What Jesus said, the Father was saying. What Jesus felt--His compassion, His sympathy, His anger at the cold-hearted and the hypocrites, His love for children, His love for His disciples--these are the feelings God has. If you have had a poor human model of fatherhood and envision your heavenly Father to be the same, you can correct your faulty concepts by looking at Jesus and seeing God.
Read 1 John 1:5.
Light refers to what is good, holy, pure and true. Darkness represents evil. The absolute purity of God is not shadowed in any way by evil and sin. That’s why Jesus could say, “I am the Light of the world”(John 8:12). Light reveals. It makes it possible for us to see what is right. Since God is light, He also exposes our sin so we can deal with it and be forgiven. Light purifies. Light also gives warmth and power. It makes things grow. It’s only as we read God’s Word, believe it and obey it that we will walk in the light and grow more and more like Jesus. His light guides us and makes us grow to maturity.
Read 1 John 4:8.
Love is God’s intrinsic character. He doesn’t have to drum it up like we sometimes do. The Greek word for love is agape, that unconditional love that we will find nowhere else. This love wants only what’s best for the one who is loved. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9).When we believe and rest in His love we will feel safe no matter what He permits in our lives. Our sense of worth will not be dependent on what people think of us. Rejection by a friend, husband, or child will not devastate us. We are loved by God. We are precious to Him. Nothing we can do will diminish that love. His love gives us significance.
Read Isaiah 6:3.
This is probably the most important attribute of God. Holiness means the total absence of evil. But it’s more than that. It includes a positive righteousness. Let me give you an analogy. What does it mean to be healthy? It means much more than just not being sick. It means being in a vigorous, robust, physical, mental and spiritual condition. God is holy and can do nothing that is inconsistent with his holy nature. Peter said to Jesus, “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69).
This Holy One, who died for us and rose from the dead, lives within us to make us holy. “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1Peter 1:15). The Greek word for holy is the word that is often translated saint. To be holy or a saint is to be set apart for God’s exclusive use. God calls us saints when we trust the Lord Jesus, then the rest of our lives here on earth should be spent becoming more and more holy. Can you even begin to suppose that God who has not even a spot of evil in Him would have any plan for our lives which was not for our ultimate good? His holiness gives us confidence.
Read Psalm 147:4-5.
God knows everything--past, present and future. This includes not only knowing the things that will happen, but also the things that might happen. (Mention Jesus’ omniscience.) Think of what that implies for us who trust Him. If God knows all, then obviously nothing can come to light after our salvation which He did not know when He saved us. Nothing can shock or make him change his mind about saving us. No tragedy can enter our lives that He did not know would happen. And He has the wisdom and the power to keep our sorrows from being wasted. Because we have Jesus, we have all the wisdom we need to deal with whatever happens in this life. “It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God ....” (1 Corinthians 1:30).God’s omniscience gives us certainty and truth.
Read Jeremiah 32:27.
Read Matthew 19:26.
The Bible declares 56 times that God is the almighty One. He has the infinite power to accomplish all that He wills to do. What wonderful implications that has for us. Romans 1:16--power to save us, John 10:28--power to keep us; 1 Peter 1:5--power to protect us and guarantee our inheritance. Our salvation is secure because of God’s great power. He is able to keep us safe in His hands. God’s omnipotence safeguards our salvation.
Read Psalm 139:7-10.
God is everywhere present. This is not pantheism. Pantheism says that God is IN everything--the sky, the tree, the rock, the mountain. Omnipresence means that God is present everywhere simultaneously, yet separate and distinct from the world and everything in it. We cannot escape from His notice. We can’t hide from His presence. What comfort that is for us who are His children. There is nowhere that we can be that He is not there with us. Just as he was in the fiery furnace with Daniel’s three friends, He’s with us in our trials and our joys.
Read Hebrews 13:5-6.
His constant presence is our help and protection.
Read Psalm 145:3.
Read Psalm 90:2.
It’s impossible for our finite minds to understand infinity. What it means is that God is not bound by the limitations of being finite, nor is he bound by the succession of events which is a necessary part of time. His eternality extends backward from our viewpoint in time as well as forward forever. He had no beginning and has no ending. When Isaiah prophesied about the Savior, he said: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
For us, this means that we have an eternal home, a refuge, a hiding place, a fortress and a defense--God Himself. He won’t leave, or die. His term of office never ends. His infinity gives us security.
Read James 1:17.
God never changes. When the Psalmist compared God with His creation he said, “[The earth and the heavens] will perish, but you remain .... You remain the same and your years will never end” (Psalm 102: 25-27).Everything on earth is subject to change: our bodies, our relationships, our careers, our homes, and our society. But God never changes in His inherent character. We can rely on Him with absolute certainty. He is absolutely faithful and dependable.
Read Hebrews 13:8.
Do you see what this implies about our salvation? God will never change his mind about saving us. He’ll never give up on us. He’ll never take back one of his promises. He doesn’t have to go back to square one and rework his plans because He’s made a mistake about us. He is immutable. His unchangeability also gives us security that lasts as longs as God does.
Read Isaiah 46:9-10.
The word sovereign means that God is the Supreme Being in the universe. His authority is total and absolute. Now frankly, that would scare me if I didn’t know something else about God that Scripture repeats over and over.
Read Psalm 100:5.
Read Psalm 119:68.
God is also good, loving and faithful. I can trust His sovereignty because I know that His thoughts and plans for me will be only for my ultimate good. The speaker at our retreat stressed the fact that if we make up our minds ahead of time that God is good, then no matter what happens in our circumstances, we will be able to trust Him with our faith remaining strong.
Read Jude 4b.
His sovereignty and his goodness give us hope and comfort.
These are awesome characteristics. We are unable to grasp them with our finite minds. That’s why we must simply believe what the Scripture tells us about God without demanding that we fully understand. If we really could understand God He would be too small. Now I want us to see some other characteristics that are easier for us to grasp.
It’s interesting to note that when God revealed His glory to Moses He spoke of attributes that could surprise us.
Read Exodus 34:6-7.
We don’t expect to hear that from a transcendent God, the One who is lifted high above the heavens. Heathens never conceive of their idols’ being this way: loving, compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, forgiving. But that’s our God--a God of unlimited grace. However, He is also a just Judge, who will punish the guilty who do not repent and accept His forgiveness. We must be balanced in our concept of God. What response should we have to a God like this? Psalm 103 tells us what to do. Let’s read it together.
Read Psalm 103.
Read Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 6:4; Psalm 102:25-27; 1 Timothy 6:15-16
1. What do these verses tell us about God?
Read John 6:27; 1Peter 1:2; John 20:28; Acts 5:3-4
2. What further light does this give us about God? Are the three persons of the Godhead equally God?
Read Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 3:16-17
3. What further evidence do we have of the Triunity of God?
Read Ephesians 1:3-6; John 5:37; Hebrews 12:9
4. What specific things has the Father done for us who believe on His Son? What does He still do?
Read John 4:24; 1 John 4:8; 1 John 1:5
5a. What do these basic characteristics of God reveal and imply? Write down implications and applications that you see from these three characteristics alone.
5b. List the attributes of God you see from the following verses: Acts 14:18; 1 Peter 1:15; Psalm 19:9; 1 John 4:8; Romans 3:4; Isaiah 40:13-14; Revelation 19:6; Ps 90:2; James 1:17; Psalm 139; Daniel 4:17, 35
Read Exodus 34:17; Psalm 103
6. What other characteristics are revealed here? What do you see that encourages or comforts you?
7. What is your concept of God? Have these passages changed your mind or attitude? If you truly believed that God is all he claims to be, what impact would that make on your conduct? On your prayer life? On your witnessing? On your reaction to troubles?