Category Archives: God Questions

Questions about God: Does God Have Emotions?

 

We can cite numerous passages of Scripture that speak to God’s emotions. For example, God demonstrated the following:

  • Anger—Psalm 7:11; Deuteronomy 9:22; Romans 1:18
  • Laughter—Psalm 37:13; Psalm 2:4; Proverbs 1:26
  • Compassion—Psalm 135:14; Judges 2:18; Deuteronomy 32:36
  • Grief—Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40; Isaiah 63:10
  • Love–1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3
  • Hate—Proverbs 6:16; Psalm 5:5; Psalm 11:5
  • Jealousy—Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Joshua 24:19
  • Joy—Zephaniah 3:17; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 32:41

However, are God’s emotions the same kind of emotions we humans exhibit? Is it right to think of Him as “emotional” (does He have mood swings)? In theological circles, personhood is often defined as “the state of being an individual with intellect, emotion, and volition.” God, then, is a “person” in that He is a personal God with a mind, emotions, and a will of His own. To deny God’s emotions is to deny that He possesses personality.

Humans respond to things in this world physically, of course, but we also respond spiritually—our souls react, and this is what we call “emotion.” The fact of human emotion is one proof that God has emotions, as well, for He created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). Another proof is the Incarnation. As the Son of God in this world, Jesus was not an emotionless automaton. He felt what we feel, weeping with those who wept (John 11:35), feeling compassion for the multitudes (Mark 6:34), and being overcome with sorrow (Matthew 26:38). Through it all, He revealed the Father to us (John 14:9).

Though God is transcendent, we’ve come know Him as a personal, living God who engages intimately with His creation. He loves us in ways we cannot fathom (Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 5:3–8; 8:35, 38–39), and He is immeasurably pained by our sin and rebellion against Him (Psalm 1:5; 5:4–5; Proverbs 6:16–19).

We recognize that the demonstration of emotions does not alter the immutability or permanence of God’s will or His promises. In other words, God does not change (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29); He has no mood swings. God’s feelings and actions toward His creation, His judgment and forgiveness, His justice and grace, are all consistent with who He is (James 1:17). God’s responses to good and evil come from His same immutable will. God wills to judge and punish the sinner in order to bring about justice and, correspondingly, to bring the sinner to repentance because He desires that all men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). We’ve come to know and relate to God as a feeling Person, one who loves and hates, grieves and laughs, feels anger and compassion. He loves the righteous and hates the wicked (Psalm 11:5–7; 5:4–5; 21:8).

This isn’t to say that our emotions and those of God are exactly the same. We sometimes speak of our emotions “clouding our judgment” because our sinful nature has corrupted our emotions. But God has no sin, and His emotions are incorruptible. For example, there is a vast difference between human anger and divine anger. Man’s anger is volatile, subjective, and too often out of control (Proverbs 14:29; 15:18; James 1:20). God’s anger is rooted in divine justice. God’s anger is perfectly righteous and predictable, never capricious or malicious. In His anger, He never sins.

All of God’s emotions are rooted in His holy nature and are always expressed sinlessly. God’s compassion, sorrow, and joy are all perfect expressions of the Perfect Being. Jesus’ anger at the synagogue leaders in Mark 3:5 and His love for the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21 were perfectly motivated responses of His divine nature.

God’s ways have been recorded for us in terms that we can understand and relate to. God’s wrath and anger against sin are real (Proverbs 8:13; 15:9). And His compassion for sinners is steadfast and genuine (2 Peter 3:9; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Isaiah 30:18). His works reveal His mercy and unending grace. But most of all, His love for His children is endless (Jeremiah 31:3) and unshakable (Romans 8:35, 38–39). God not only has thoughts and plans; He has feelings and desires, too. In contrast to the unreliability and instability of man’s sin-tainted emotions, God’s emotions are as completely dependable and immutable as He.

There are two wonderful things concerning God and emotions: first, He understands our emotions (since He created us with the capacity to feel them), and, second, His own emotions continually flow from His perfection. God will never have a bad day; He will never change His feelings toward His redeemed.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about God: If God Is Omnipresent, Does that Mean God Is in Hell?

 

God’s omnipresence is one of His essential attributes. His justice is also essential, and, therefore, it is necessary for Him to punish sinners who do not trust in Jesus for salvation. Thus, we have a God who is referred to as everywhere present yet who maintains a place called hell, described as a place where people are removed from His presence (see Matthew 25:41).

Three passages are particularly important to this discussion. First is Psalm 139:7–12, in which David says, “Where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” Sheol is simply a transliteration of a Hebrew noun that means “the grave” or “the place of the dead.” Sheol is a broad term and is not synonymous with hell, the word commonly used to refer to the eternal place of punishment.

Second Thessalonians 1:7–9 says that those who do not know God “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (emphasis added). Yet Revelation 14:10 says that any who worship the antichrist “will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (emphasis added). These two verses are by far the most confusing on this topic because of their apparent contradiction. Even so, there is a rather simple explanation found in the original Greek.

In Revelation 14:10, “presence” is a literal translation of the Greek enopion, which means “in the presence of, before.” This is a spatial word, suggesting proximity and literal, measurable distances. In contrast, the word translated “presence” in 2 Thessalonians is prosopon, which most commonly refers to a person’s face or outward appearance. Paul appears to have taken this verbiage directly from Isaiah 2:10 as found in the Septuagint. There are other references to God and His people being “separated,” even on earth. Jesus’ cry of agony on the cross is one example (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Theologian Dr. Louis Berkhof teaches that Paul refers to “a total absence of the favor of God.” This description of hell would present a more exact opposite to heaven. Heaven provides blessing and wholeness not through being closer spatially to God, but by being in complete fellowship with Him. Hell is associated with a complete lack of blessing due to the severing of any fellowship with God.

Ultimately, it appears that God is indeed “present” in hell, or hell is in His presence, depending on how one looks at it. God is and will forever be omnipresent. He will forever know what is happening in hell. However, this fact does not mean that the souls imprisoned there will have a relationship with God or any communication with Him.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about God: How Can I Believe in the Goodness of God When There Is so Much Evil in the World?

 

The evil in the world did not come from God. If Adam and Eve had only obeyed God, then they may have lived on earth forever, walking with God, tending the garden, working together—what might God’s “Plan A” have been? After they sinned, the created ones were just not on the same page with God anymore. God cannot tolerate sin and has no sin within Himself, so mankind hid from God in guilt and fear. One could perhaps blame Adam and Eve for the evil in the world, as they blamed each other and the serpent; however, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is safe to say that, had we been in the garden instead of Adam and Eve, we would have sinned in the same way.

God is good in that He has a plan to redeem fallen mankind. The salvation Jesus provides attests to His goodness and love (Romans 5:8). The effect of the Fall is universal, but so also is the offer of divine grace (John 3:16). The Bible clearly indicates the devastating effects of sin upon man and the hopelessness of man in solving his own sin problem. The proper understanding of the doctrine of sin is essential to understanding God’s remedy for it.

God is good in that He has sent His Son “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), which means Satan has been allowed a certain amount of authority over this earth. The blame for the evil in this world should be placed squarely upon Satan. Much is written about the devil—he comes only to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He is a fierce enemy (1 Peter 5:8). He is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). By contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11). He is the Lamb of God, sacrificed for us (Revelation 5:6). He is the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus is the “seed of the woman” to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Jesus is Goodness incarnate.

God is good in that He is implementing a plan to rid the universe of evil once and for all. He is the God of justice, and He will one day make all things right (Psalm 89:14; Revelation 21:5). Sin and evil will be dealt with in perfect judgment (Revelation 20:13). Because of Christ, we have the promise of Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

God is good in that He provides for His children (Matthew 6:33). He gives life to all and upholds all things by His wisdom and power (Hebrews 1:3). He is patient with sinners, desiring them to come to repentance and find eternal life (2 Peter 3:9). God gives us eternal life and abundant life now, free from the death penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). He is “rich in mercy” because of “His great love for us” (Ephesians 2:4).

Just picture the Sinless One who created everything, willfully hanging on a cross and spilling His blood for the sin of those who put their faith in Him. Who can charge Him with injustice (Romans 9:14)? Jesus proves God’s love. “Love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7–8).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about God: What Does It Mean that God Is Light?

 

Light is a common metaphor in the Bible. Proverbs 4:18 symbolizes righteousness as the “morning sun.” Philippians 2:15 likens God’s children who are “blameless and pure” to shining stars in the sky. Jesus used light as a picture of good works: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds” (Matthew 5:16). Psalm 76:4 says of God, “You are radiant with light.”

If light is a metaphor for righteousness and goodness, then darkness signifies evil and sin. We are told in 1 John 1:5 that “if we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” Verse 5 says, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” Note that we are not told that God is a light but that He is light. Light is part of His essence, as is love (1 John 4:8). The message is that God is completely, unreservedly, absolutely holy, with no admixture of sin, no taint of iniquity, and no hint of injustice.

If we do not know light, we do not know God. Those who know God, who walk with Him, are of the light and walk in the light. They are made partakers of God’s divine nature, “having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4).

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). To “walk” means to make progress. Therefore, we can infer from this Scripture that Christians are meant to grow in holiness and to mature in faith as they follow Jesus (see 2 Peter 3:18).

It is God’s plan that believers become more like Christ every day. “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). He is the Creator of physical light, as well as the Giver of spiritual light, by which we can see the truth. Light exposes that which is hidden in darkness; it shows things as they really are. To walk in the light means to know God, understand the truth, and live in righteousness.

Christ followers must confess any darkness within themselves—their sins and transgressions—and allow God to shine His light through them.

Christians cannot sit idly by and watch others continue in darkness, knowing that those in the darkness of sin are destined for eternal separation from God. The Light of the World desires to banish the darkness and bestow His wisdom everywhere (Isaiah 9:2; Habakkuk 2:14; John 1:9). In taking the light of the gospel to the world, we must by necessity reveal things about people that they would rather leave hidden. Light is uncomfortable to those accustomed to the dark (John 3:20).

Jesus, the sinless Son of God, is the “true light” (John 1:9). As adopted sons of God, we are to reflect His light into a world darkened by sin. Our goal in witnessing to the unsaved is “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about God: What Is the Grace of God?

 

Grace is a constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus (John 1:17). The word translated “grace” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves.” The only way any of us can enter into a relationship with God is because of His grace toward us. Grace began in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). He could have killed the first humans right there for their disobedience. But rather than destroy them, He chose to make a way for them to be right with Him. That pattern of grace continued throughout the Old Testament when God instituted blood sacrifices as a means to atone for sinful men. It was not the blood of those sacrifices that cleansed sinners; it was the grace of God that forgave those who trusted in Him (Hebrews 10:4; Genesis 15:6).

The apostle Paul began many of his letters with the phrase, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:3). God is the instigator of grace, and it is from Him that all other grace flows. Grace can be easily remembered by this simple acrostic: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

God shows both mercy and grace, but they are not the same. Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. Consider this illustration: you were stopped in your old clunker for going 60 mph in a school zone. The ticket is high, and you can’t pay it. You appear before the judge with nothing to say for yourself. He hears your case and then, to your surprise, he cancels your fine. That is mercy. But the judge doesn’t stop there. He walks you outside and hands you the keys to a new car. That is grace.

In mercy, God chose to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But He goes even further than mercy and extends grace to His enemies (Romans 5:10). He offers us forgiveness (Hebrews 8:12; Ephesians 1:7), reconciliation (Colossians 1:19–20), abundant life (John 10:10), eternal treasure (Luke 12:33), His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and a place in heaven with Him some day (John 3:16–18) when we accept His offer and place our faith in His sacrifice.

Grace is God giving the greatest treasure to the least deserving—which is every one of us.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.