Christian Biblical Counsel: GOD – WHO IS HE?

God: Who Is He?

Who Do You Say That He Is?

by June Hunt

From little hamlets to large homes throughout the world, people ask the same questions, “Does God know me?” “Does God love me?” “Can God ever forgive me?” Underneath these questions lies an even more basic issue. What is God really like … who is He?

I.     Definitions

Do you know what your name means literally? Does it convey something about you? In biblical times the Hebrew name of a person often conveyed a significant message. A name may represent something specific, such as a physical characteristic or an incident at birth or anticipated future accomplishments. In the Bible, much is revealed about God through His various names. However, unless you are reading from the actual Hebrew text, some of God’s attributes as revealed in His names are unfortunately buried in the translation. That is why it is valuable to unearth these hidden treasures.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

(Psalm 9:10)

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

(Proverbs 18:10)

A. Who Is God?

Some people say, “God is a cosmic killjoy!” Is this true … or do His laws and principles serve as a protective hedge around us rather than as a prison that confines us? Is He some distant, unknowable king on a throne demanding servitude from His subjects … or is He a God who is involved in the day-to-day existence of His created beings?

Others equate Him with a benevolent Santa Claus bestowing gifts upon excited children. Still others see Him as a celestial vending machine: put in the correct coin and get out whatever you desire.… So who is God really? According to the Bible, God is the one Supreme Being, the Creator and Controller of the universe, who personally intervenes in human life.

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.”

(Isaiah 46:9–11)

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

(Hebrews 4:16)

•     In Greek, the word for God is theos.

—  Theology is the study of God. Our theology constitutes the way we think about God and our relationship to Him. There are only two kinds of theology: that which lines up with the Word of God and that which does not.

—  A theocracy is government by God’s direct rule over a nation or people, or His rule through His chosen representatives who were God’s spokesmen, and by judges, who were God’s chosen deliverers.

•     In Hebrew, the basic word for God is El.

—  The word el is found in many words throughout the Old Testament. El raises God high, reflecting His power.

—  El emphasizes God’s might and power … not a violent power, but profound power.

—  El, when combined with other words, further identifies the nature or function of God. This is a compound name.

Names of God Containing El

•     Elohim—“God” as Creator

“In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

•     El Elyon—“God Most High”

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High [El Elyon], and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High [El Elyon], who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:18–20)

•     El Roi—“The God Who Sees”

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees [El Roi] me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees [El Roi] me.’ ” (Genesis 16:13)

•     El Shaddai—“God Almighty”

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me and be blameless.’ ” (Genesis 17:1)

•     El Olam—“God Everlasting”

“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the Lord, the Eternal God [El Olam].” (Genesis 21:33)

Q “Does God know about my pain … does He see what has happened to me?”

Yes, He is El Roi—the “God who sees.”

“ ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she [Hagar] said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ ” (Genesis 16:13)

Q “When all hope is gone and there’s no place to turn, where is God, and can I count on him to help me?”

You need to know Him as your El Shaddai—God Almighty. One of the roots of the Hebrew word shad is “breast.” Realize that a mother’s breast is totally sufficient to sustain and nurture the life of her baby without any other outside source. When you come to know God as your El Shaddai, you don’t need any outside help. He is your all-sufficient God.

In Genesis chapter 17 Abram is age ninety-nine and Sarai is age eighty-nine—both beyond childbearing years. Up to this time Abram and Sarai had been childless. Yet the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I am God Almighty” literally in Hebrew El Shaddai—the all-sufficient God.

“I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” (Genesis 17:2)

“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram [which means ‘exalted father’], your name will be Abraham [which means ‘father of many’], for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.” (Genesis 17:4–6)

He desires to be El Shaddai, your all-sufficient God, so that when you come to Him, you will have all you need.

In Genesis chapter 1, He is God, the   mighty Creator—Elohim.

In Genesis chapter 2, He is Lord, the personal   Creator—Jehovah.

 

In Hebrew, the Word for “Lord” Is Jehovah or Yahweh

Jehovah means “the Self-existent One”—The name Jehovah emphasizes His covenant-keeping role.

•     Jehovah—“Lord, the Self-existent One, Yahweh”

“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” (Genesis 2:4)

•     Jehovah-Jireh—“the Lord, my Provider”

“So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ ” (Genesis 22:14)

•     Jehovah-Rapha—“the Lord who Heals”

“He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’ ” (Exodus 15:26)

•     Jehovah-Nissi—“the Lord my Banner”

“Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.” (Exodus 17:15)

•     Jehovah-M’Kaddesh—“the Lord who Sanctifies”

“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’ ” (Exodus 31:13)

•     Jehovah-Shalom—“the Lord is Peace”

“The Lord said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.’ So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (Judges 6:23–24)

•     Jehovah-Sabaoth—“the Lord of Hosts”

“Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:3)

•     Jehovah-Ra’ah—“the Lord my Shepherd”

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1)

•     Jehovah-Tsidkenu—“the Lord our Righteousness”

“In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6)

•     Jehovah-Shamah—“the Lord is There”

“The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.” (Ezekiel 48:35)

B. Questions about God

Practically everywhere you look, you will see a different view of God. Television, magazines and movies promote their differing opinions about God. People are asking, “How can God be three in one—isn’t that polytheism?” “Why is it necessary to believe in Jesus—wasn’t He just a man?” “Why does it matter if there is a Trinity?” These and other questions are most often sincere. Yet at times they are raised only as a smoke screen in an effort to shun any personal accountability to God for change.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ”

(Psalm 14:1)

Q “How many true gods are there?”

There is only one true God.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5)

Q “Where did God come from?”

This is a very logical question. After all, flowers have their origin in seeds. Chickens have their origin in eggs. So where did God come from?

God has no beginning and no end. We really can’t hope to fully understand a Being who has always been because we are limited by time. But God is not measured by time; rather He measures time by Himself. His eternal nature is to result in our awe and worship of Him rather than our intellectual understanding of Him.

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)

Q “Does the Bible say there are three gods?”

No. The Bible clearly teaches that there is one God in three Persons.

“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

However, this word one in Hebrew is echad, which means “united one.” For example, at a grocery store you will see one bunch of bananas, a stalk of celery or one cluster of grapes.

•     Echad is a compound unity. In Scripture a compound unity is seen in these examples:

—  Two persons becoming one (echad) flesh

“A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

—  One (echad) cluster of grapes

“When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.” (Numbers 13:23)

•     A different word in Hebrew, yachid, is used for a “single oneness.”

—  Abraham took his only (yachid) son.

“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’ ” (Genesis 22:2)

—  From the beginning of the Bible, God is presented as a compound unity.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’ ” (Genesis 1:26)

Those in the Christian faith are not promoting polytheism, as other religions would accuse. There is one God in three persons.

Q “What does the word Trinity mean?”

The word Trinity refers to the state of being threefold. It is a term applied to the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three distinct persons in one God. All attempts by the human mind to describe the concept of the “Trinity” must fall short of a full explanation, but still we try.

Example:

Imagine a triangle. Each side is necessary for a triangle to exist.

•     God the Father is above us. And yet, so is the Son above us.

“He [God the Father] raised him [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority.” (Ephesians 1:20–21)

•     God the Son is with us.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:23)

Those on earth at the time of Jesus saw the very character of God visibly demonstrated through the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is God, took on human form that we might know how He acted and interacted in a godly way and how he loved the unlovely. He gave love to those who were persecuting and mistreating Him, even though He didn’t have to do so. And yet, so is the Spirit with us.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7)

•     God the Holy Spirit is within us.

“[God] set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:22)

The Holy Spirit is sent to dwell in our hearts once we have trusted in Jesus Christ and believed that He is Savior and Lord. The very Spirit of God then dwells within us.

And yet, so is the Son within us.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

Q “Is the God of the Old Testament ‘just’ God the Father?”

No. In the first verse of the Bible, the Hebrew word translated “God” is Elohim. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The noun Elohim is plural, but it takes a singular verb. The idea of both plurality and unity is in the Hebrew word for God. Even in the first verse of Scripture, we have the intimation of the Trinity!

•     El means “strong and mighty God.”

•     -im is the plural ending.

•     Elohim, the word, conveys both unity and plurality.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’ ” (Genesis 1:26)

“The Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.’ ” (Genesis 3:22)

“Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” (Genesis 11:7)

Q “Did Jesus ever teach the concept of the Trinity?”

Yes. He said,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19—The Great Commission)

Notice: He did not say in the “names” of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—but used “name” (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Q “Did Jesus claim to be God?”

Yes, with absolute clarity to the Jews. The words “I am” in John 8:58 imply that Jesus is claiming the holy name of God, YHWH, for Himself, equating Himself with God. In the minds of the observers, this was blasphemy; therefore, they attempted to stone Him, for stoning was the rightful penalty for blasphemy!

“Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” (John 8:54–59)

Q “Is one person of the Trinity more important than another?”

No, but there is a differentiation of roles and a subordination in their function.

“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.’ ” (John 5:19)

Here we see the Son submitting to the Father.

Each person performs roles different from the other two, but no one is inferior to either of the others.

Q “Why should I try to know God?”

•     to have forgiveness of sins

“That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” (Mark 2:10)

•     to experience intimacy with God

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’ ” (John 14:23)

•     to receive eternal life

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Q “Does God really see me?”

Yes.

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:1–6)

 

II.    Characteristics of Each Member of the Trinity

When people ask questions about God, often they do not realize the nature of their question. Beneath the surface, they are really asking about God’s character. They want to know who He is, what He does and why He does things the way He does. They ask, “How can God be just and loving at the same time—aren’t these mutually exclusive?” “How can He send people to hell just because they sin a little bit—aren’t people basically good?” In order to answer these questions, we must understand, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

A. Natural Attributes … The essential being of God, which characterizes Him inwardly

•     Omniscient—All-knowing

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:1–4)

—  Since God knows all things, He knows me better than I know myself, and He knows what is best for me and how to best bring about His purposes for my life.

•     Omnipotent—All-powerful

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)

—  Since God is all-powerful, He can do all things, and He will give me His strength to do what He asks of me.

•     Omnipresent—Present everywhere

“ ‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23–24)

—  Since God is present everywhere all the time, He is always with me wherever I am … in every circumstance, in every need … and I can never be truly alone.

•     Eternal—not bound by time

“I live forever.” (Deuteronomy 32:40)

—  Since God is eternal and imparts His life to me, as His child I will live with Him forever.

•     Immutable—Unchanging

“I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)

—  Since God is immutable, He will not change His character or His Word, and I can depend on Him to be totally trustworthy.

•     Incomprehensible—Unfathomable and mysterious

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)

—  Since God is incomprehensible, there is always more for me to learn about Him. I can look forward to discovering the mystery of all that He is as He chooses to reveal Himself to me.

•     Self-existent—Life in Himself

“The Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26)

—  Since God is self-existent, He can never be destroyed, die or cease to exist. He will always be there for me.

•     Self-sufficient—Within Himself, God is able to act

“From him and through him and to him are all things.” (Romans 11:36)

—  Since God is self-sufficient, He does not need anything or anyone else to accomplish His will for me.

•     Infinite—Boundless

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you,” (Psalm 139:7–12)

—  Since God in infinite, His power and presence know no limit, and He can do as He pleases in my life.

•     Transcendent—Above all

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

—  Since He is transcendent, I can trust His perspective, which is above and beyond mine.

•     Sovereign—Supreme ruler

“All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’ ” (Daniel 4:35)

—  Since He is sovereign, He rules over me in all things, and His will cannot be thwarted.

B. Moral Attributes … The character of God, which relates to His creation outwardly

When you become Christlike, you do not take on the natural attributes or inward characteristics of God. You cannot become infinite, self-sufficient, self-existent, omnipotent or omnipresent. However, you can take on His moral attributes. As a believer, you have been promised that you will be conformed to the likeness of His Son.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

(Romans 8:29)

•     Holy—Pure, set apart from sin

“Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ ” (1 Peter 1:15)

—  Since He is holy, He is set apart from sin, and He sets me apart from having to sin. He sets me apart for His purposes.

•     Righteous—Absolute good

“Righteous are you, O Lord, and your laws are right.” (Psalm 119:137)

—  Since He is righteous, everything He does is right—even on my behalf, and He grants His righteousness to me.

•     Just—Fair

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” (Psalm 89:14)

—  Since He is just, I know that all His rules and judgments toward everyone, including me, are fair.

•     Merciful—Compassionate

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” (Psalm 116:5)

—  Since He is merciful, I know that He has compassion for me even when I fail.

•     Long-suffering—Patient

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

—  Since He is long-suffering, I know He is patient with my spiritual progress, but I must not take for granted His patience by deliberately testing it with willful disobedience.

•     Wise—Perfect in choices

“How many are your works O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)

—  Since He is wise, I can trust Him with the decisions of my life, knowing that He shares His wisdom with me when I ask.

•     Good—Pure in motive

“Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

—  Since He is good, I know His working in my life is always for my good.

“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.” (Romans 8:28)

•     Wrathful—Hatred for sin

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” (Romans 1:18)

—  Since He is wrathful, I know that He must judge sin in my life and in the lives of those I love. He must punish unrighteousness. However, the full wrath for my sin was poured out on His Son at Calvary. God’s wrath is also a justified anger against that which would harm me.

•     Truthful—Pure in word

“Faith and knowledge [rest] on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” (Titus 1:2)

—  Since He is truthful, I know that He will never lie to me.

•     Faithful—True to promises

“If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)

—  Since He is faithful, I know I can count on Him to do what He says He will do.

•     Jealous—Unwilling to share what is rightfully His

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)

—  Since He is jealous, I know He should have first place in my heart and life. Many times we feel that jealousy is a negative emotion. It is interesting, however, that God refers to Himself many times as jealous. The difference is that jealousy in a human being is an ugly emotion because it signifies ownership and expresses selfishness. However, it is entirely appropriate in God because He does own us. He is our Creator. He is totally without selfish motive.

•     Loving—Seeking another’s best, doing the most positive, selfless and redemptive thing possible for another

“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.” (John 3:16)

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’ ” (Jeremiah 31:3)

—  Since He is loving, I know that He cares and always has my best interests in mind. He still loves us even when we willingly choose to be disobedient.

“ ‘I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”

(Jeremiah 9:24)

 

III.     Causes of Confusion about God

A. Seven Major World Views about God

An atheist does not find God for the same reason that a thief does not find a policeman. He is not looking for Him.

World View

 

Belief

 

Advocates

 

They say:

 

•  Agnosticism

 

It is not   possible to know if God exists.

 

Thomas Huxley   William Spencer

 

“I do not know   if there is a God.”

 

•  Atheism

 

There is no   need for a universal and personal God.

 

Madalyn O’Hare

Bertrand   Russell

 

“I know there   is no God.”

 

•  Deism

 

God set the   universe in motion and left it to its own results. God no longer interacts   with man.

 

Benjamin   Franklin

Thomas   Jefferson

 

“The world is   like a clock wound by God and running on its own.”

 

•  Pantheism

 

God is the   universe.

God is only   the physical world we see.

 

Spinoza,   Goethe

New Age   Movement

 

“That tree is   God. If the world were to disappear, God would disappear.”

 

•  Panentheism

 

All things are   a part of God. God has a body and a mind.

 

Paul Tillich

New Age

Spirituality

 

“That tree is   part of God. If the world were to disappear, God’s body would disappear, but   He would still have a mind.”

 

•  Theism

 

There is only   one God. He created the universe. We can know Him.

 

Christianity—

(Trinitarian   Theism) Judaism, Islam—

(Unitarianism)

 

“That tree was   created by God and is sustained by God. If the world were to disappear, God   would remain intact.”

 

•  Polytheism

 

There are many   gods.

 

Contemporary   Hinduism

 

“The tree was   created by the god of the forest. Rain comes from the rain god.”

 

B. Root Cause

Wrong Belief:

“I am not willing to surrender my will to a personal God for whom I have no tangible evidence of existence.”

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” (Psalm 14:1)

Right Belief:

God in three persons has adequately revealed Himself through His creation and through His Word as revealed to me by the Holy Spirit. I am accountable for my response to the light I have received.

“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19–20)

 

IV.     Steps for Gaining God’s Perspective

Ultimately, whose opinion really matters? Do the opinions of skeptics really matter? Does my opinion really matter? Does yours?

A bumper sticker reads, “God said it! I believe it! That settles it!” On the surface, that looks like a wise saying: God has declared, and the believer has accepted His declaration. However, it might be better to say, “God said it! That settles it!”

What really matters is what God says about Himself. The reverential fear of the Lord is the starting point for understanding the God of the Scriptures. Only then can you answer questions such as, “What difference can God make in my life?” “Is God a personal God—does He even care?” “Can God be known?” The answers are worth pondering.

A. Key Verse to Memorize

“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.”

(Deuteronomy 4:39)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

John chapter 14

For those who want to know the God of the Bible, John chapter 14 offers insight into the deity of Christ. In His upper room discourse, Jesus discloses to His disciples that He is God! And He teaches what they need to know.

This particular chapter is excellent for learning about the three persons of the Trinity. In these passages, Jesus is comforting His disciples. He said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).

He goes on to explain, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him’ ” (John 14:6–7).

He goes on to say that the Father would send a Comforter, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (John 14:16).

•     List the future hopes (things that will definitely happen) that you have in John 14:2–3.

 

 

•     Write out in your own words what verse 6 means to you.

 

 

•     What key concept do you believe Jesus wants you to understand in verses 7–11?

 

 

•     What encouragements do you receive from verses 12–15?

 

 

•     What special companion has Jesus provided for you? See verses 16–18.

 

 

•     How do you demonstrate love to Jesus (verse 21)?

 

 

•     How are we disobedient to Jesus (verse 24)?

 

 

•     Who helps you understand the Bible (verse 26)?

 

 

•     Why should you not be anxious (verse 27)?

 

 

•     What does Jesus promise to do in the future (verse 28)?

 

 

C. Reflect on the Four Ways by Which God Reveals Himself

If God truly is knowable—and He is—the question we need to ask is, “How can we come to Him?” God has revealed facts about Himself and His nature in different ways so that we can know Him. What are these ways?

•     Through Creation

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

No one would argue that the universe is not an overwhelmingly complex and majestic creation. Even scientists agree that there had to be a beginning. A scientific law says that something cannot come from nothing. That law is called “first cause.”

Is it possible that all this detailed perfection could be the result of a big explosion, or did it come about as a result of the carefully designed plan of an infinite God? The likelihood of a random explosion resulting in the origin of the universe might be compared to the likelihood of an explosion in a print shop resulting in the creation of a book! The idea is absurd and totally irrational!

In Job chapter 38, Job is arguing with God and seeking answers about the world around him. Look at how God replies …

—  The formation of the world

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone?” (Job 38:4–6)

—  The vast universe

“Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (Job 38:32)

—  The balance of land and water

“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?” (Job 38:8–11)

—  The division of day and night

“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” (Job 38:12)

—  The life/death cycle

“Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?” (Job 38:17)

—  The seasons and weather

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm.” (Job 38:22–25)

•     Through Conscience

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” (Romans 1:18–19)

Why do people all over the world have some form of moral code that is amazingly similar? For example, there is no culture on earth where it is permissible for a man to take any woman he wants. This innate knowledge of right and wrong is an inner witness to the existence of God. In every culture on earth, people worship and have a preoccupation with religion.

—  Man has a natural desire to be religious.

“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ‘Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.’ ” (Acts 17:22)

—  The requirements of the law are written in men’s hearts.

“Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Romans 2:15)

—  God is just and would not punish the innocent.

“Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)

•     Through Communication

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:2)

Although God has revealed Himself in a general way through creation and through an imprint on our inner being, we would still not know who He is without more revelation. Without a personal knowledge of God, man would eventually try to worship that which is not the one true God. Therefore, God has communicated through personal revelation.

Personal Revelation

—  Adam

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.’ ” (Genesis 2:16)

—  Cain

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?’ ” (Genesis 4:6)

—  Noah

“So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’ ” (Genesis 6:13)

—  Abraham

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ ” (Genesis 12:1)

—  Paul

“He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ ” (Acts 9:4–6)

—  John

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)

The Bible

—  Prophetic

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)

—  Inspired

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

—  Purposeful

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

—  Inerrant

“Every work of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Proverbs 30:5)

—  Sufficient

“So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:17)

—  Infallible

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)

•     Through Christ

“In the beginning was the Word [Christ Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He [Christ Jesus] was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1–14)

—  To know Jesus the Son is to know God the Father.

“Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ ” (John 8:19)

—  To believe Jesus the Son is to believe God the Father.

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.’ ” (John 12:44)

—  To see Jesus the Son is to see God the Father.

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9)

—  To receive Jesus the Son is to receive God the Father.

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:37)

D. God Is the God of All Comfort

God has not created you and set you adrift in the ocean of life. He not only knows the intimate details of your life, but He has your best interests foremost in His mind.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”

(2 Corinthians 1:3)

The Greek word for “comfort” is paraklesis, which means “a calling to one’s side” and “an exhortation, or consolation” and is sometimes translated as “encouragement.”

Prayer … Thank You God, that You

Care for me with compassion

“He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.” (Psalm 111:4)

Offer strength when I am weak

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Meet all my needs

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Forget my sins and mistakes

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

Offer hope for the future

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Reassure me of Your love

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’ ” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Turn my pain into joy

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

Many people are in prison … as prisoners of their past. They are imprisoned by wrong thinking, by not knowing the God of Truth, who will set them free.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ”

(John 14:6)

Q “I often feel that God is distant. How do I overcome my feelings of anger toward Him?”

When you do not have a sense of God’s presence, He is present nonetheless. So, in those times you will need to walk by faith and choose to know that He is there because God’s Word says that He is there. You will need to literally override or ignore your feelings. God is God, and your feelings are simply your feelings. Remind yourself of His character traits and praise Him for them. In this way you will be acknowledging His presence and His promise to never leave you. Plan a time to walk and talk with Him, praising Him for who He is and for all He has done for you. Thank Him for the promise of His presence in your life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)

Q “Outside the Bible are there any explanations for the existence of God?”

There are at least five logical arguments for God’s existence.

•     Cosmological Argument (Greek cosmos means “world.”)

For every effect there must be a cause. The world exists. Something cannot come from nothing. Someone had to cause the universe to come into being. For example, if you see a painting there must have been an artist.

•     Teleological Argument (Greek telos means “end.”)

There is an order and design in the universe, from the galaxies to the smallest microbe, implying an intelligent master designer. For example, if you hold a watch, you assume there was a watchmaker.

•     Anthropological Argument (Greek anthropos means “man.”)

Man is more than a physical being. He has a conscience, an intellect, emotions and a will. The spiritual side of man had an origin from someone outside himself, namely God.

•     Moral Argument

People, unique from plants, insects and animals, have an awareness of right and wrong, and of the long-term consequences of their actions. Every culture, from primitive to advanced, has a system of moral justice. For example, in no culture is it ever right to take another man’s wife.

•     Ontological Argument (Greek ontos means “existence.”)

The concept of God is universal in all cultures. God must have placed this idea within man.

Q “Does God truly rule the universe?”

Yes. If He is not sovereign, then He is not God.

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11–12)

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)

“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19)

Q “Is God all-powerful?”

Yes. Nothing is impossible for God.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ” (Matthew 19:26)

Yet, He would never violate His own character, even by so much as telling a lie.

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19)

“God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” (Hebrews 6:18)

Q “How could Jesus have been born of a virgin? Isn’t that impossible?”

His conception through the Holy Spirit was a miraculous act of God. Through His power, God kept Mary a virgin until after Jesus was born.

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.… But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18, 25)

Q “How was Jesus both God and man at the same time?”

As God, Jesus has always existed. While remaining fully God, He became a man. Becoming the God-man was necessary if he was to identify with and die for the sins of every person.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5–8)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Q “Why is the God of the Old Testament so harsh while Jesus is so loving?”

The fact is that it is the same God in both testaments. He is gracious and compassionate, but will hold men and women accountable for their sins if they do not place their faith in Him. In both testaments there is a balance of the wrath of God’s judgment and the mercy and grace of His love. Israel’s sin was judged with dire consequences, but the God who chose the Israelites as His unique possession consistently redeemed them from the trouble their sin created. Jesus’ earthly ministry clearly showed both His condemnation of sin and His love for the sinner. The Book of Revelation reveals God’s final judgment on the author of sin and on unrepentant sinners, as well as His redemption and eternal embrace of those who choose Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

“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.’ ” (Exodus 34:6)

“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” (Malachi 3:6)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Q “If God is love, why do some say that we should fear Him?”

We are to fear Him in the sense that we revere and worship Him. To reverence Him is to approach Him with respect and awe. To worship Him is to recognize His rightful position as Creator and Head of all the universe. The practical expression of our reverence and worship is obedience.

“Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” (Deuteronomy 6:13)

“Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.” (Psalm 103:20)

“All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done.” (Psalm 64:9)

Q “Aren’t Christians arrogant in believing that Jesus is the only way to God? Isn’t that being narrow-minded?”

Truth is narrow. Jesus, who is God, claimed that He is the only way to God. Christians merely repeat the truth that Jesus proclaimed about Himself. We may not like to hear the truth, but it is true just the same.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6)

Q “How do we know that Jesus rose from the dead?”

The most convincing evidence that would stand up in any courtroom is eyewitness testimony. Jesus appeared to the disciples and to more than 500 others.

“He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:5–6)

E. One God

Three Eternal and Coequal Persons

Father

 

Son

 

Holy Spirit

 

Selector

“He chose us in him before the creation of the   world.”

(Ephesians 1:4)

 

Savior

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been   born.”

(Luke 2:11)

 

Sealer

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a   seal.”

(Ephesians 1:13)

 

Sovereign Architect

 

Servant

 

Sanctifier

 

“The Most High is sovereign over the   kingdoms of men.”

(Daniel 4:17)

 

“[He] made himself nothing, taking the   very nature of a servant.”

(Philippians 2:7)

 

“The sanctifying work of the Spirit,   for obedience to Jesus.”

(1 Peter 1:2)

 

Causer

 

Creator

 

Counselor

 

“No one can come to me unless the   Father who sent me draws him.”

(John 6:44)

 

“For by him all things were created.”

(Colossians 1:16)

 

“Counselor, the Holy Spirit … will   teach you all things.”

(John 14:26)

 

Given by the Father

 

Through the Son

 

The Holy Spirit

 

“Now they know that everything you   have given me comes from you.”

(John 17:7)

 

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the   truth and the life.’ ”

(John 14:6)

 

“ ‘Not by might nor by power, but   by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

(Zechariah 4:6)

 

Initiator

 

Intercessor

 

Instructor

 

“For God so loved the world that he   gave his one and only Son.”

(John 3:16)

 

“He always lives to intercede for   them.”

(Hebrews 7:25)

 

“But when he, the Spirit of truth,   comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

(John 16:13)

 

Rapha/Healer

 

Redeemer

 

Regenerator

 

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed.”

(Jeremiah 17:14)

 

“In him we have redemption through his   blood.”

(Ephesians 1:7)

 

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the   Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

(John 3:6)

 

Jehovah Jireh/Provider

 

Judge

 

Joy Giver

 

“So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.”

(Genesis 22:14)

 

“He is the one whom God appointed as   judge.”

(Acts 10:42)

 

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,   peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and   self-control.”

(Galatians 5:22–23)

 

Just   because we know all about Abraham Lincoln, doesn’t mean we actually know him.   Likewise, there is a vast difference between knowing all about God and   knowing God. The only way to know God is to have a personal relationship with   God. This intimate relationship was—

planned   by the Father,

prompted   by the Spirit, and

provided   through the Son.

Our   part is to let the Lord Jesus Christ be the “Controlling Partner,” actually   letting the Lord be Lord in our hearts and lives.

—June   Hunt

 

Selected Bibliography

Arthur, Kay. Lord, I Want to Know You. Updated ed. Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1992.

Bright, Bill. God: Discover His Character. Orlando, FL: NewLife, 1999.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody, 1989.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Packer, J. I. Knowing God. Rev. ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1986.

Sproul, R. C. The Character of God: Discovering the God Who Is. Ann Arbor, MI: Vine, 1995.

Stone, Nathan. Names of God in the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody, 1944.

Tozer, A. W. The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life. New York: Harper & Row, 1961.[1]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on God: Who Is He?: Who Do You Say That He Is? (1–26). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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