Study 2. God: His person and workIntroduction
In the following study we will examine the person and work of our Creator God. In doing this we have to first accept that no mind can ever conceive who our God is, or the extent of his work. In this study we will seek a simple outline understanding of his personal characteristics and his activity. This particular study is based on study notes prepared by Moore Theological College.
God. His character, his person
1. Natural Characteristics
i] God is personal
He is a person, he is an "I" not an "It". He is a Being who has thought, self-consciousness, will, love, etc.
Only a personal God could be concerned about us, could seek our salvation, could have fellowship with us and receive our worship.
ii] God is spirit
He is not made up of parts, but is without body or bodily presence, and therefore is not visible to the bodily senses, John 1:18
iii] God is sovereign
He claims us utterly and unconditionally for himself. When we say God is sovereign we include the following:
a) He depends on nothing, everything depends on him, Romans 2:36
b) He is unchanging and unchangeable, Malachi 3:6. "I, the Lord, change not"; he remains the same, Psalm 102:26-27.
c) God is present everywhere in his creation, Psalm 139:7-10, Jeremiah 23:24, Acts 17:27-28.
d) He knows all things, present, past and future, 1 John 3:20, Psalm 147:4, Matthew 10.30, Psalm 139:2-3.
e) He can do all things and is the source of all power, Jeremiah 32:17. In saying that all things are possible with God, we do not include intrinsic impossibilities, that is, things which are self-contradictory., Jeremiah 10:23.
iv] God is triune - One God in three Persons
This is a very difficult idea to understand, but it's what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us that God is multi-personal. He is a personal God who interrelates within his own unified being.
People who lived in the Old Testament times knew that there was ONE God and his name was YHWH (translated in English as Jehovah), but when Jesus came onto the scene this picture of God had to be expanded. It was not easy for Jesus' disciples to see him as God, but they had to, because Jesus said and did things that only God can say or do. In the same way they had to accept that the Holy Spirit was also God.
God has shown us that He is bigger than we can imagine. We call this truth the Trinity, ie. God is three persons in one substance. So "multi personal" is the best way for us to describe God. He is not a single lone individual, but a being who interrelates and develops personal friendships within himself. He has shown himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has always been and will always be three persons.
The following 10 points from the Bible teach the Trinity. There is no one verse that teaches this truth. This is why we often get into trouble dealing with people like the Jehovah's Witnesses. We try to find a single verse to teach the Trinity, but the Trinity is a theological truth which we understand from a wide range of Biblical truths.
a) There is only one God, Mark 12:29 etc.
b) The Father is God, John 6:27, Matt.11:25 etc.
c) The Son is God, John 1:1, John 20:28 etc.
d) The Holy Spirit is God, Mark 3:29, Acts 5:3-4.
e) The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct, i.e. they are not three terms for one person, John 14:16 etc.
f) The Father is personal, John 15:9 etc.
g) The Son is personal, Mark 14:62 etc.
h) The Holy Spirit is personal, Romans 8:26 etc.
i) The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not separate but one, Matt. 28:19
j) The three persons coinhere John 1:18, 10:30, 14:10,11.
2. Moral characteristics
i] God is holy
He is infinitely pure; he hates evil and loves goodness. He is perfectly moral, loving (personal and caring) and powerful.
ii] God is righteous
God is revealed as a just God, bound to act justly toward all mankind. He does what is right; he is right, Genesis 18:25, Revelation 15:3, Romans 2:6-10.
iii] God is loving
God continually gives himself to others. His love is especially seen in that he saved us, through Jesus' death, when all we really deserved was his anger. Rom 5:8. Christians are special objects of his love, 1 John 3:1. "God is love." He is a personal, relating, friendly, caring God.
God. His activity
1. The Creator
i] The Creation
The Bible reveals the following truths about the creation of the World:
a) Fashioned by the WORD of God, Heb.11:3.
b) From nothing.
c) Effected in stages.
d) Displays God's nature, Rom. 1:20.
e) It is separate from God.
f) It was a work of Christ, John 1:3.
g) Mankind was the apex and crown of God's creative work, distinct from the other animals in that we were created in God's image. i.e., able to develop interpersonal relationships.
ii] The purpose of the Creation
God created so that we should exist in addition to himself, though he had no need of us, and in so doing display his glory. The world was created as a suitable environment for our existence. Mankind was not given the right to destroy it - only to tend, care and organize it for the benefit of all.
2. The Controller and Sustainer
Having created the world, God sustains and preserves it, directing and controlling all things according to his will. We may feel that the world is out of control, but the Bible declares that God is working, despite our rebellion, to bring all things to their appointed end.
His control covers the natural world and the affairs of mankind. No event lies outside his control, not even a sinful act, 11 Sam.16:10, 24:1, Psalm 76:10, Acts 4:24-28, Romans 11:32. Yet, in saying this we must not imply that he originates sin, or condones it by allowing it. The mystery of his sovereignty remains. Within an environment of the natural flow of cause and effect and of the free actions of sinful mankind, God is working his purpose out such that in the last day he will possess a people for himself - the full number of the elect (who, by the way, also elected to choose God).
When we realize that God is working through the chaos that surrounds us, we are strengthened to struggle on with patience and joy knowing that "All things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose", Romans 8:28.
3. The Revealer
The knowledge of God is dependent upon him making himself known. He does this in three primary ways:
b) Through Prophets in the Old Testament and the Apostles in the New Testament period.
c) In Christ.
i] The nature of God's revelation.
There are two aspects of his revelation of himself:
a) It is verbal communication. He uses words that can be understood
b) It is personal communication. He doesn't just give us information, but rather reveals himself personally through written words, thus making himself known to the individual.
ii] The means of God's revelation.
Again, we can say two things:
a) He reveals in deeds. He acts directly in history. eg. the resurrection of Jesus.
b) He reveals in words. He inspires a written explanation of the inspired historical event for later generations to see and understand, cf. 2 Tim.3:15, 1 Cor.10:11, Romans 15:4.
4. The Savior
God's major activity in the world has been his rescuing of the human race from a state of separation from himself. The process is as follows:
a) The problem. Human sin/rebellion against God has destroyed the possibility of knowing him. it is not possible for us to cease from sin, Romans 3:10-23. The end result therefore, can only be death.
b) The answer. God has provided for our salvation in Christ, even before the creation of the world, Eph.1:4-12, 3:11.
c) The means. Jesus' sacrificial death upon the cross for the sins of mankind. The instrument which brings about our salvation is the preaching, understanding of, and faith in the gospel, 2 Thes.2:14.
d) The results. God's new creation, Matt.12:33-35.
e) The purpose. God's act of salvation serves to make a people unto himself, pure and without blemish.
A God of such majesty prompts us to consider again our tendency toward independent action. Given who God is, can we really live as if He doesn't exist?