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Decide For Yourself: What is God like?

According to religious polls nearly everyone believes in an ultimate power or fundamental reality on which everything else depends. Something, they think, is basic. But what? What are their Gods like?

How do you think of God?  For one retired high school French teacher, God is nothing other than "Mother Nature." Many think of God as an aus­tere policeman driving right behind them to detect every fault. A former heavy-weight boxing champ thanks "the fel­low upstairs," and a movie actress adores a "livin' Doll!"  A Hollywood star, says "God is my kids, my old lady, green grass, trees, machines and animals."

 

Other views, possibly less sensational, represent various schools of thought:

 

  • God is eternal, impersonal Principle, Law, Truth, Spirit, and Idea. All that really is, is divine. God is good; there is no evil, sin, sickness or death.  At the end of our life cycle, we become part of God from which we proceed, as a drop of water returns to the sea.

 

  • God is totally unlike man, nature, or abstract princi­ples. God is not like anything we know. We can only say, "God is not this," and "God is not that." We cannot say what God is.   

 

  • God is a transcendent reality that is ultimately unknowable to humanity and far above having fellowship with them. HoweverDespite that divide, humans can know something about God’s nature by his 99 beautiful names which define his attributes and include designations like the Highest, the All-Seeing, and the Merciful. Most significant of all his attributes is his Oneness and that all creation acts in accord to his purposed and unconditional Will.

 

  • God is not physical, but spiritual not dead but living, not passive, but active; not impersonal, but personal. As a personal Spirit, God has intellect, emotions, and will. By vir­tue of these he can enjoy fellowship with persons created in his likeness. The living God acts in accord with his essential characteristics or attributes

 

What bearing does your concept of God have upon your relationship with God?  How does your way of thinking about God affect your reaction to reverses in life like death, sickness, etc.?   From your own study of God's self-revelation in the scriptures, we ask you to seek answers to the ques­tion about God and its resulting impact on your life.

 

 

Is God "Mother Nature"? Any part or law of nature?  Or is God apart from nature?

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Taurat, Genesis 1:1

 

"But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!  Prophets, 1 Kings 8:27

 

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.  Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.  But you remain the same, and your years will never end.  Zabur, Psalms 102:25-27

 

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.  Prophets, Proverbs 3:19-20

 

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  Injeel, Acts 17:24

 

Can we now still say God and nature are one?   Or is God not totally separate from his creation?

 

 

Is God static and passive, or living and active?

 

This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.  Prophets, Joshua 3:10

 

The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!  Prophets, 2 Samuel 22:47

 

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  Prophets, Job 19:25

 

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.  Zabur, Psalms 84: 1-2

 

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.  Injeel, John 6:57

 

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."  Injeel, 2 Corinthians 6:16

 

My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Prophets, Ezekiel 37:27

 

What can we say about God’s involvement in our lives and cares?  Is he static or active?

 

 

Does God possess the characteristics of impersonal principle or personal existence?

 

Intelligence; self-awareness; knowledge, wisdom, truth?

For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.  Zabur, psalm.117:2

 

that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things'  that have been known for ages.  Injeel, Acts 15:17-18

 

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

 

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  Injeel, Hebrews 4:13

 

whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Injeel, 1 John 3:20

 

 

Emotions?

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.  Taurat, Numbers 11: 1

 

After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.  Prophets, 2 Samuel 11:27

 

God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.  Zabur, Psalms 7: 11

 

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works- Zabur, Psalms 104:31

 

the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.  Zabur, Psalms 147:11

 

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."  Injeel, Luke 15:10

 

 

Is God far removed from human or chooses to Fellowship with us?

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" Taurat, Genesis 3:8-9

 

I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.  Taurat, Leviticus 26:12

 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers." Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, Taurat, Genesis 17:1-3

 

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?  Zabur, Psalms 42:1-2

 

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Taurat, Exodus 33:11

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  Injeel, Revelations 21:3

 

From these particular scriptures can we truly say that God is impersonal and is simply enthroned far above us, or has God chosen to personally relate to humans in a very unique and special way?

 

 

Does everything happen exactly as God perfectly wills?  If so what about Evil, Sin, Suffering, Sickness – has he willed that? What about the Will of God?  

 

Is it Unconditional and Purposed (Decretive Will)?

The LORD Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.  For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?  Prophets, Isaiah 14:24, 27

 

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?"   Prophets, Daniel 4:35

 

For nothing is impossible with God."  Injeel, Lk.l:37

 

 

Is it Conditional and Purposed (Preceptive Will)?

But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.  Injeel, Luke 7:30

 

And God spoke all these words: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."  Taurat, Exodus 20: 1-17

 

 

Is it Conditional and Purposed with displeasure, allowing evil, sin   (Permissive Will)

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. Zabur, Psalm 81: 12

 

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  Injeel, Romans. 1:24

 

In the past, he let all nations go their own way.  Injeel, Acts 14: 16

 

Does everything that happens to us a direct result of God’s Decretive Will?   So all we can say is “If God Wills”!   Or has he provided for being sovereign in his will and laying out the plans and purposes for our best, but yet allow us the freedom to reject him and go our own ways?

 

 

Is God unknowable or has he revealed himself for us to know Him? 

 

What has God revealed about himself for us to know?

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."  Injeel, John 4:24

 

And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, Injeel, John 5:37

 

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Injeel, 1Timothy 1:17

 

who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.  Injeel, 1Timothy 6:16

 

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.  Injeel, Hebrews 11:27

 

 

Has God revealed other aspects and attributes that provide for us knowing him? 

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  Zabur, Psalm'.90:2

 

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.  Zabur, Psalms 139:7-10

 

Let them praise your great and awesome name— he is holy.  Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.  Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.  Zabur, Isaiah 99:3, 5, 9

 

But 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.”  Injeel, 1 Peter 1:15-16

 

proclaiming, "The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him."  Zabur, Psalms 92: 15

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  Injeel, 1 John l:9

 

You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.  Zabur, Psalms .86:5

 

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  Injeel, 1 John 4:8, 16

 

The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. Zabur, Psalms 116:5

 

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, Taurat, Exodus 34:6

 

How has Jesus revealed God to us? 

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?  Injeel, John 14:9

 

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.  Injeel, John 8:28

 

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Injeel, Mark 12:29-30

 

I and the Father are one." Injeel, John 10:29

 

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Injeel, Matthew 16:16

 

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."  Injeel, John 21:17

 

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. … No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.  Injeel, John 1:14, 18

 

After reviewing these scriptures, can we say God is unknowable? Or has God truly provided self revelation of himself so that we may know him?

 

In Conclusion 

The self revelations of God in the Holy Scriptures are not above God, in God, outside God, beneath God, or in any way apart from God. They belong to God and make him what he is. He does not act contrary to them.  God is no arbitrary tyrant; God is holy, God is loving, God is gracious in all he does.

 

if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  Injeel, 2 Timothy 2:13

 

Did not God's most perfect revelation of himself to the world occur in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ?  We leave you with this scripture to reflect on. 

 

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.  Injeel, Hebrews 1:1-3

 

Not all of the different religions or spiritual books say the same things about God. Based on the Holy Scriptures, what view of God should you hold?  We encourage you to come to your own conclusion from the study of scripture. You may check out the details and context of these and other scriptures here.

 

** This article is based on Chapter 4 - “What is God Like?”  From “Decide For Yourself: A Theological Workbook” by Dr. Gordon Lewis.   InterVarsity Press, 1970.   Adapted and posted here by permission of copyright holder – Dr. Gordon Lewis.  For comments or feedback, please contact The Abraham Connection.

 

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