When we seek to understand who God is, we are confined by our own understanding. We create “God” according to our image of Him—size, looks, behaviors, reasoning and personality. We draw upon the concepts of good and “God” from those that influence us like friends, family, movies, television, social media and education. This is why idols often take familiar shapes. And we use our feelings and personal sense of right and wrong to critique God’s actions, purpose and right to rule.
Ancient cultures from around the world saw gods as superhuman. The gods of Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Norse and the like were always presented as stronger, smarter and more clever than humans. They were immortal too. Consider Thor and Loki, Norse gods who show up in the Avenger movies. These religious figures represent images of fallen angels and powers and principalities, not the God of the Bible. They have flaws and weaknesses. But we may subconsciously embrace these concepts and inject them into our faith and understanding of God.
Popular culture and its thought leaders also seek to define who God is or should be. These sources stir our discussion of a supreme deity or power and questions whether this is even relevant to our lives. Most current ideas are echoes of past concepts.
Some believe all power resides in the universe, love, some aspects of personhood or even The Force and conscious connectedness as explained in movies. The Star Wars saga is laden with The Force, a dualistic good/bad consciousness concept. The Tree of Souls, the goddess Eywa and the concept of conscious connectedness are woven into the storyline of the movie Avatar.
A novel, “The Shack” portrays “God” as three beings living in community in a northwestern shack. The descriptions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not square with Scripture, yet the concepts will no doubt increase the confusion we have about who God is. This portrait is more of an unbiblical extrapolation of ideas, which can quickly lead to heresy or idolatry.
Man’s attempt at defining God is inaccurate. The central issue is that God is not made in our image. We were made in God’s image. The God of the Bible is greater than all we can conceive. Consider these thoughts. God stores all the oceans in a storehouse (Psalm 33:7). God sees time in its entirety. Scripture suggests the heavens are like a scroll (Is. 34:4). Our limited human knowledge of size, weight, space, time and the act of creation restricts us from understanding that moving mountains for God is like us handling a grain of salt.
We can only know God through His revelation of Himself. Only God can describe Himself to us. He has done this by speaking through His prophets and through His Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1). Consider the attributes and character that God reveals about Himself. God is the Trinity: One God in three persons. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here are some things the Bible tells us about God:
• God is Creator: All three persons of the Trinity were active in Creation. (Genesis 1:1, Colossians 1:16)
• God is Spirit. (John 4:24)
• God, the Son, came in the flesh. (John 1)
• God is love. (1 John 4:8)
• God is eternal, everlasting. God has always been and will always be. (Rev 1:8, Psalm 90:2)
• God is Other. We are made in God’s image, but He is more than us. His thoughts are above our thoughts. His ways above our ways. (Is. 44:6, Is. 55:9)
• He is unchanging. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Heb 13:8, James 1:17)
• He is King and Sovereign and above all.
(Phil 2:10, 1 Tim 6:15)
• God’s character and attributes include holiness, righteousness, all knowing and all powerful. (Rev. 4:8)
IS GOD REAL?
Yes. God is real and eternal. (Psalm 90:2) God is Spirit. He is not like images of Zeus or Shiva (John 4:24). The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is likened to the wind (John 3:8). Is the wind real? We can experience the wind and see its effects, but not grasp or hold it. God sent the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, to earth. His name was Jesus (John 1:1-18). Jesus helps us know God in understandable ways as recorded in the Gospels. The Apostle John, in 1 John 1:1-3, states that the disciples saw, touched, felt and beheld the Living God in a physical way. God has intervened in history, provided prophecies of events hundreds of years before they are fulfilled, performed supernatural acts, answered prayers and personally interacts with us through His Holy Spirit. God continues to demonstrate His reality to those that seek Him.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is God, the Son. He is the second person of the Trinity. He has all the character and attributes of God, the Father and God, the Holy Spirit. He is the Savior that God promised in Genesis 3. He reconciled a rebellious and fallen Creation back to God by taking the penalty for Man’s rebellion. He now reigns in Heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will return at the end of time to bring unity to all Creation (Col 1:15-19).
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is the Helper and Advocate that dwells in those that follow and believe in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is a person not a force. He guides, convicts, teaches, empowers, gives unique abilities (gifts of the Spirit, 1 Cor. 12) and develops our character to be like Jesus by producing the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), such as love, joy and patience.
CAN ANYONE KNOW THAT GOD EXISTS?
Yes. Jesus came for all who are in need (Mark 2:17). Those that seek Him, find Him (Is. 55:6, 65:1). Scripture tells us we can know beyond a doubt (John 17:3, 1 John 5:13). Jesus welcomes all. Drug addicts, adulterers, gamblers, murderers and every kind of sinner find love, forgiveness and acceptance. Listen to their testimonies of how God has changed their lives.
WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE?
From God’s perspective, sin deserves the death penalty for humanity. The Father could not allow sin into His presence in heaven. So Jesus paid our debt on the cross. Only Jesus, God with us, could open heaven’s gates for God’s people.
HOW DO I REALLY KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG?
In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul explains that all Scripture helps us understand right from wrong. God gave us a primer in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). He expanded these basics with Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels (John 13:34, 35). But then God took it another step and promised the Holy Spirit. Here God promised that He would come and dwell with us (John 14: 15-24, John 16:5-15). Imagine! The Holy Spirit lives inside you. The Holy Spirit gradually trains us, if we listen. He shows us not only what not to do, but how we should behave as we walk with Christ. And the Holy Spirit not only teaches and corrects us, but empowers us to do it.
IS THE BIBLE A RELIABLE SOURCE FOR HISTORY?
Yes. The Bible is the world’s most documented ancient text with thousands of copies of the books of the Bible in existence. Archaeological discoveries have only confirmed the Bible’s accuracy. Excavations have found proof, including that there was a King David, a Sodom and Gomorrah and an ancient people called the Hittites. Some, in recent days, have even used the Bible to locate forgotten landmarks like wells for water that are mentioned in the Bible.
IS THE BIBLE ALL ABOUT GUILT?
No! The heart of the Bible is the choice between freedom or slavery. Without Jesus, we are captives and slaves to Satan. Our guilt is based on facts. We violate God’s commandments. We sinned. But God offers freedom.
IF GOD CREATED US, THEN WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE?
The Apostle Peter summarizes our ultimate purpose well: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9.
Our earthly purpose is consistent and part of this ultimate call. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” Luke 10:27.
IF GOD IS SO POWERFUL, WHY IS THERE SO MUCH TRAGEDY?
God placed Adam and Eve in charge of the garden. They sinned and turned over the rulership to Satan. Satan’s goal is to kill, consume and destroy. He has been committing this tragedy ever since. And he convinced us to help. Much of the harm we endure is the result of our own actions or the actions of others. God gives you choices in life and your choices have consequences. But Jesus, at the cross, wrestled back rulership of this world and now works with those that follow Him to rescue this world and relationships.