When asking this question we need to be aware of how we, and others, come to an answer. If we are going to worship and marvel at who God is, let alone develop an authentic relationship with Him, we need to do all we can to understand and appreciate who He is. The question is, how do we do that?
Often we focus on the key characteristics of God that we connect with most or feel best show His qualities. Although this can be valid, the problem is it can become subjectively tarnished or influenced by what we think is right or wrong as opposed to what is true. The primary method to knowing what God is like is to read about Him in the Bible, as it is the Word of God without error. What it teaches is not dependent on what we think is right or wrong. Being God’s instruction to us, its teachings have authority over us, not the other way round.
My bible study group is working through a Video series called “Christian Beliefs” by Wayne Grudem. We are never too mature in our faith to study the key teachings of the Bible. If we don’t it’s easy to succumb to other fine sounding, yet wrong thinking. Over the coming weeks I am going to review some of these topics with you. This week’s reflection is, “What is God Like?”
A few of His qualities are:
– Unchangeable and Independent (Acts 17:24-25; Mal 3:6; Psalm 33:11; Psalm 90:2; John 8:58; Jude 24-25; Rev 1:8, 4:8)
God is eternal. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He can act differently in different situations depending on our response to Him, but He is unchanging with regard to His character and qualities. He is also completely independent. He doesn’t need us. He is completely satisfied and fulfilled within the Trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet He chooses to invest into our lives, to love and cherish us, to enjoy us.
– Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent (Jer 23:23-24; 1 Kings 8:27; Acts 7:48-50, Isaiah 46:9-10; Matt 28:18; 1 John 3:20; Job 28:24)
God is all places all the time – Omnipresent. He knows all things – Omniscient. He is all-powerful and able to do all according to His will – Omnipotent. That is a powerful combination. There is nowhere to hide from God. There is nothing that surprises Him. He is always ahead of the game and in His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, works in all things for the good of those love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Now that can be a comforting, but also convicting notion. On one side it’s very reassuring that there’s no where we can be that God can’t be there with us, comforting and equipping us for what lies ahead. On the other hand there is nowhere we can run or hide from God. We all will have to give an account to Him for what do in our lives.
– Truthful and Loving (John 3:16; Rom 5:8; Psalm 9:10; Psalm 62:8)
God is always truthful. He cannot lie. Given He is all-powerful and all-knowing, the fact He is always truthful gives us great comfort in that whatever He promises He will uphold. He always keeps His word. There is no greater reassurance in this then in the promise of salvation for those have faith in Jesus Christ for dying for their sins. That is the depth of God’s love for us – while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. There is nothing in us that makes us worthy of being saved, yet God in His mercy and love chose to save us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, to pay for us sins. God’s love knows no ends, and there is no sinful act greater than the mercy He shows us through the precious gospel message.
– Holy, Righteous and Just (Ex 15:11; Heb 7:26; 1Peter 2:20-25; Rom 3:19-26)
God is separated from sin and evil, He is set apart – Holy. God can not allow sin into His presence which is why He must redeem us before we can commune with Him. Apart from Christ we are all stained by sin and therefore unable to commune with God. His righteousness also demands that sin is punished. The punishment for sin is death. If God did not punish us for sin, He would not be just. It’s like letting a convicted criminal walk out of the court room without any consequences. These aspects of God are often brushed over or not even spoken of much in churches, yet this is the God of the Bible… the God we are to revere and worship.
– Jealous and Wrath (Deut 4:24, 5:9; Rom 1:18-32; Ex 32:7-10)
This quality is even less spoken of. How can God who is completely holy and righteous be jealous? Simply speaking because the Bible teaches so. God created us to worship Him. The fact is we all worship something in our lives. God rightfully demands it to be Him because He is our Creator, He is our sustainer, He is our redeemer. We can not give our primary worship to something else apart from God and not expect Him to be jealous and angry with us.
– Merciful and Gracious (Eph 2:4; Psalm 51:1; Rom 3:21-24)
In His Mercy, God chooses to save us from what we deserve – eternal condemnation for our wilful rebellion against Him. According to His grace, God chooses to give us what we don’t deserve, salvation and an eternal life secure in His presence. How can we wake a single day without thanking God for all that He has done for us?
Those are but a few of the many remarkable qualities of the God of the Bible. As we pray and learn to relate to God, let’s ensure we read the Bible and develop a healthy and correct picture of Him, and not one that we perceive is best according to our so-called better judgement.
God alone deserves to be worshipped for who He is. Let’s reflect more on who God is and marvel that the Creator of the universe would want to be in a relationship with us!! What a blessing… what an unbelievably humbling and comforting truth that is.
We live in a time where many churches distort God’s grace and, thereby, his character. Someone at a church we were at for a short period recently assured my husband and I that God was happy with their receiving blessings from a Hindu priest. My husband rightly refuted it by reminding this person that our God is a jealous God. Interfaith is seen by many as the best thing for the future but they don’t know who God is because they don’t read their bibles or misread it and ignore some parts.
Hi Lyn… thanks for your comment. How true it is that many people’s understanding is quite distorted because our church leaders are choosing not to teach about the God of the Bible. The pressure to speak about aspects of God that they perceive will be well received can be high, however it’s critical we not seek the acknowledgement of people, but firstly of God. The tragic irony is that in so called shielding people from the “unpleasant” or “unpopular” biblical truths of God, many are being lead astray and may not even be a Christian when they think they are!!
N. T. Wright tells of how he, when he was the pastoral carer for a university college, used to sit down with each student in his care once every so often. Some used to say something like “Look, before we start I want you to know that I don’t believe in God.” Wright used to then ask, “Which god don’t you believe in?”, which would open up a whole converastion about the character and identity of the Christian God. What a great, and surprisingly simple question!