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Christian Basics- Chapter 2, God
AUTHOR: Guenther, Herb and Debbie
PUBLISHED ON: May 5, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

                             God

We believe in one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and
eternally existing in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 1

     Do we need to prove the existence of God?  Peter Marshall a pastor
from the 1930’s and 40’s had a favorite thought.  It was that
“spiritual reality is a matter of perception, not of proof.”  He went
on to say that in the same way “There are some things that can never be
proved.  Can you prove that something is lovely?  Could you prove that
a sunset is beautiful?  Of course we cannot.

     God has revealed His existence in many ways, look for a moment at
the following poem, also a popular hymn.  See also Psalm 19:1-6

          (1)                                (2)
This is my Fathers world           This is my Fathers world
And to my listening ears,          The birds their carols raise
All nature sings,                  The morning light,
             and round me rings                  the lily white,
The music of the spheres.          Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:         This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought           He shines in all that’s fair;
Of rocks and trees,                In the rustling grass
             of skies and seas                    I hear Him pass,
His hand the wonders wrought.      He speaks to me everywhere.

          (3)
This is my Father’s world
O! let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet
This is my Father’s world:
The Battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
and earth and heaven be one.            Maltbie D. Babcock  1858-1901

     On January 7 1855  C. H. Spurgeon included the following thoughts
in his sermon at New Park Street Chapel. “There is something
exceedingly improving of the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity.
It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its
immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.  Other
subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of
self-content, and go our way with the thought ‘Behold I am wise’.  But
when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot
sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn
away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a
wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation ‘I am but of yesterday,
and know nothing’.  No subject of contemplation will more humble the
mind than thoughts of God…”

     The understanding of God lies at the upper limits of our human
abilities and extends upwards from that point.  God is fundamentally
different than us, which makes it difficult to describe and understand
Him in the language of our everyday experience.  He reminds us of many
things- beauty, love, wonder, and others, but He is more than these.
                                 (6)
     At the same time we have inside us something of God, for we are
told in Gen 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of
God he created him;”.  This tells us that God is in some way infinite
and at the same time a person.

     The usual conception of reality is primarily physical, that is
composed of matter.  This is what we are used to measuring,
controlling, and understanding.  Biblical theism, on the other hand
presents the Person of God as the primary reality.  All else, even man,
is an expression of divine achievement.  The first four words of the
Bible tell us “In the beginning God”.  This gives God the primary
position in the universe. 3  It also will call for us to unlearn some
of the thoughts and attitudes we may have.

     Five basic truths about God which Christians have are listed
below.  They will serve as a road-map on our lifelong journey to not
just learn more about God, but to know God.

1) God has spoken to man, and the Bible is His Word, given to us to
make us wise unto salvation.
2) God is Lord and King over His world; He rules all things for His own
glory, displaying His perfections in all that He does, in order that
men and angels may worship and adore Him.
3) God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus
Christ to rescue believers from guilt and the power of sin, to adopt
them as His sons, and to bless them accordingly.
4) God is Triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Spirit); and the work of salvation
is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing
redemption, the Son securing it, and the Spirit applying it.
5) Godliness means responding to God’s revelation in trust and
obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and
service.  Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s Word.  This
and nothing else is true religion. 2

     The best place to look when seeking knowledge about Him is in His
Word the Bible.  The Bible was custom designed by God for us.  It is
His revelation of Himself and of His plans regarding He and us.

God’s Attributes

     The terms that we use to describe God are called His attributes,
they include love, holiness, sovereignty, etc.  No list of attributes
will completely describe an infinite God but they will teach us much
about Him.

     First God is transcendent and omnipotent, this means that God is
independent and above His creation.  God is not subject to the
limitations of the physical world He has made.  God has infinite power
and can make something exist by the force of His will. (Gen 1)  However
God will not contradict Himself, all of His attributes exist in
concert.  When we are asked if God can make something so heavy that He
cannot lift it, we should remind them as C. S. Lewis said that nonsense
is nonsense even if we are talking about God.

     God may however choose to put limits upon himself for a time or a
purpose.  Two examples are Gen 18 where God appeared as a man, or Gen
32:22-30.  Of course God in the person of Jesus took all of our
physical limitations upon Himself by being born as a baby and being
                                 (7)
obedient to death on the cross.

     Secondly God is omnipresent or imminent.  This means that God’s
power and presence pervade all of creation.  God has not separated
Himself from the world but exists in all parts of it.  This does not
mean that God is nature, or is contained by nature.  We do not worship
the “Mother Nature” of the margarine ad but a Holy and heavenly Father
who reigns over all of nature.

     In Matt 6:9 The Father is shown to be in heaven.  Eph 4:6 shows
God “…over all and through all and in all…”  All other being known
to man including angels, are restricted to a given place at a given
time.

     God is Holy.  The Holiness of God encompasses all of His
attributes and is active.  God is Holy, therefore He is righteous in
His ways.  This is made clear in the Scriptures, another word for God
is the Holy One of Israel.  (2 Kings 19:22, Psalm 71:22, Isaiah 1:4)
The angles around His throne proclaim His holiness, not His wisdom,
love, or strength.  (Isaiah 6:2, Rev 4:8)  Though infinitely holy, He
nevertheless maintains a relationship with His fallen creatures, a
vital nearness.  See Ex 3:5, Lev 19:2, Ps 99:3,5,9, Isa 6:3, 1 John
1:5, Rev 15:4 for more information on the holiness of God.

     God is Just.  This is a legal term and refers to Gods governing of
His creation.  Divine justice is exhibited in the fact that righteous
laws are given to men, that these laws are sustained by proper
sanctions, and that these laws are given an impartial execution.  No
favoritism is ever indulged, though infinite favor is extended to those
who come under righteous provisions for salvation through Christ’s
sacrifice for sin.  Read 2 Chron 19:7, Acts 17:31, Rev 15:3, and 1 John
1:9

     God is Love.  Three terms are used in scripture as comprehensive
terms for God.  They are Spirit (John 4:24), light (1 John 1:5), and
love (1 John 4:8).  God has not attained love, nor does He by effort
maintain love; it is the structure of His being.  Without the attribute
of love God would not be what He is.  As no other attribute, love is
the primary motive of God, and to satisfy His love all creation has
been formed.  Read the following verses for a clearer understanding of
the Love of God  John 3:16, Rom 5:8, and 1 John 3:16.

     God is Goodness.  The infinite goodness of God is a perfection of
His being which tells us about His nature.  Gods goodness is the source
in the universe of all that is truely good.  Gods goodness encompasses
mercy, grace, and love.  God is benevolent to all of His creation, we
can think of this as a sort of generic goodness to everything.  It
extends to the sustenance of all His creatures.  God is merciful,
specifically towards those who put their trust in Him.  See 2 Cor 1:3,
Heb 4:16, and Rom 9:15, 18.

     God is truth.  God is called the God of truth.  The truth of God
is what gives us certainty in our lives and in our salvation.  God is
declared to be a “covenant keeping” God (Num 23:19) and reliable (Heb
10:23).  Because God is a God of truth He is also described as
immutable.  This means that God does not change in Himself nor does He
alter His promises to us, or expectations from us.

     Lastly God is infinite.  He is without beginning and end.  This is
                                 (8)
true of dimension, time, and the quality of the aforementioned
attributes.  We cannot truely imagine infinity, we can’t even imagine
an infinite quantity of something as mundane as potatoes.  We can
however recognise not only the existence but the desirability of an
infinite God.  Thankfully God is not limited by our understanding of
Him anymore than an airplane is limited in flight by our lack of
understanding of aerodynamics.

     Just when you thought you were finished with the tough stuff one
more basic fact remains to me explored about the nature of the
Godhead.  This is His existence as a Trinity.  The doctrine is that
“God is one in His essential being, but that the ‘divine essence’
exists in three modes or forms, each constituting a Person, yet in such
a way that the divine essence is wholly in each Person.” 4

     The first clue about the Trinity is in Gen 1:1-3.  Here we see
that God and Spirit are active in creation.  Other indications of the
Trinity in the old Testament are Gen 1:26, 3:36, 48:15-16, Ex 31:3, Num
11:25, and Isa 11:2, 42:1, 61:1.

     The concept of the Trinity is not of modern or post Christ advent
as some would have you believe.  When Jesus was Baptized by John the
Baptist, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove and a voice was
heard from heaven (Mark 1:10-11)  The Bible’s emphasis throughout
however, is on the fact that God is one. (Deut 6:4)  We must not allow
the scriptural truth of the Trinity to deprive us of the equally
important teaching that there is only one God. 5

     Jesus spoke of the Father and the Spirit as being distinct persons
from Himself. (Read John chapters 14-16)  But we must be careful when
discussing the Trinity with words like ‘person’ and ‘substance’ because
they are only words to help us understand and do not fully explain the
reality.

     My words fail to express fully even my own incomplete
understanding of the Trinity, but I feel comfortable that it is
described in the Bible and consistent with Gods revelation in the
Scripture to us.  M. Coquerel states in Christianisme Experimental “God
is the only intelligent being for whom no mystery exists.  To be
surprised, to be indignant at encountering mysteries, is to be
surprised, is to be indignant at not being God”

     Rather than try to explain God more fully in my own words I
suggest that you read the verses mentioned above and allow God to speak
to you directly through His Word and illuminate it to you trough the
Spirit.  In closing I offer this poem by Christopher Wordsworth
(1807-1885)

O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light,
  O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright!
On thee the high and lowly, before the eternal throne
  Sing ‘Holy, holy, holy!’ to the great Three in One.

On thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth;
  On thee, for our salvation, Christ rose from depths of earth;
On thee our Lord victorious, the Spirit sent from heaven:
  And thus on thee most glorious, a triple light was given.

                                 (9)
Thou art a cooling fountain in lifes dry dreary sand;
  From thee, likes Pisgas’s mountain, we view our promised land.
A day of sweet reflection, a day of holy love,
  A day of resurrection from earth, to things above.

To-day on weary nations, the heavenly manna falls;
  To holy convocations the silver trumpet calls,
Where gospel light is glowing, with pure and radiant beams,
  And living water flowing with soul refreshing streams.

New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest,
  We reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blest.
To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father and the Son;
  The Church her voice uprises to thee, blest Three in One.

          Discussion Questions

1) List some of the ways God reveals Himself to us.  (Clues  Ps 19:1-4,
Ro 1:19-20, Isa 45:1-3,  Jn 1:14,18, Heb 1:1-2, 1 Cor 2:9-10,  2 Cor
3:2-3).

2) What was/is/will be the responsibility of each Person of
the Trinity in:

               Creation?
               Incarnation?
               Salvation?
               Daily Living?
               Future Judgment?

3) Share a way in which your understanding of God has changed in the
last year,  week.

4) Do you want to know God better?  What do you think you can do about
knowing God better.

6) What first made you aware of God?

1 Constitution of Elmbrook Church  Adopted 9/11/83  Elmbrook Church
  777 South Barker Road  Waukesha WI, 53186  (414) 786-7051
2 J. I. Packer in Knowing God  c 1973  published by Intervarsity Press
3 L. S. Chafer, D.D., Litt.D.  Systematic Theology  c 1947  published
  by Dallas Seminary Press
4 R. A. Finlayson, “Trinity” New Bible Dictionary  c 1962  W. B.
  Eerdmans publishing
5 Paul E. Little  Know What You Believe  c 1970, 1985, 1987 by SP
  Publications inc  Victor Books
                                 (10)

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