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Builders of Faith Explorer I:  Exploring Bible Truth

Lesson 4—What Is God Like?

 

 

1.  How long has God existed?

 

“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’  And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  Exodus 3:14.  “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”  Psalm 90:1-2.

 

Answer:  “I AM” is a form of the Hebrew verb “to be.”  What God is saying to Moses is that He is the self-existent One; He has always been.  The phrase “from everlasting to everlasting” is equivalent to saying from in the infinite past to the infinite future.  In other words, God has always existed, will always exist, and thus His basic nature never changes.  As finite beings, we cannot comprehend the idea of an eternal Being.  Yet the Scripture teaches this, and deep thinking requires such a Being in order to explain the existence of the universe since in the previous Lesson, we rejected the idea of spontaneous generation (that the universe just popped into existence without a cause) and the idea that the universe could be eternal.

 

 

2.  Can anyone really hide his presence from God?

 

“’Am I a God near at hand,’ says the Lord, ‘And not a God afar off?  Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?’ says the Lord; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord.  Jeremiah 23:23-24.  “And there is no creature hidden from His [God’s] sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  Hebrews 4:13.  “…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen.”  Romans 1:25.

 

Answer:  No one can hide from God’s presence.  This is why scholars refer to God as omnipresent (all-present).  But please note that His omnipresence is not the idea that God’s very nature is thinned out everywhere so that He inhabits every blade of grass, every fiber of carpet or clothing, and every blood cell of creatures.  This latter idea is called pantheism, and the Bible rejects that view by insisting upon a clear distinction between God and all that He has created.  And pantheism blurs that distinction and leads to idol worship (since God’s nature would then be in an idol too).

 

 

3.  What kind of body does God have?

 

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”  John 4:24.  “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”  Colossians 1:15.  “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.”  I Timothy 1:17.

 

Answer:  God is a spiritual Being whose essential nature is invisible to His creation.  Therefore, in His own nature, God does not possess a physical body; He is what scholars call incorporeal.  However, the Bible is full of examples in which God shows Himself in some kind of form or brilliant light and refers to His hands, arms, and so on.  Therefore, we conclude that He does, and must, project some kind of physical form and/or substance in order to relate to His creation—otherwise, none of His creatures could even see Him.

 

 

4.  How powerful is God?

 

“’Ah, Lord God!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You.’”  Jeremiah 32:17.  “Then Job answered the Lord and said:  ‘I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.’”  Job 42:1-2.  “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”  Matthew 19:26.  “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia!  For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!’”  Revelation 19:6.

 

Answer:  These texts make it clear that God is all-powerful, what scholars and Revelation 19:6 calls omnipotent.  There is nothing that He cannot do consistent with His character, of course.

 

 

5.  How much does God know?  Can anyone hide information from Him?

 

“Do you know how the clouds are balanced, Those wondrous works of Him [God] who is perfect in knowledge?”  Job 37:16.  “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”  Psalm 147:5.  “Remember this, and show yourselves to men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors.  Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done….”  Isaiah 46:9-10.  “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”  I John 3:20.

 

Answer:  The Bible makes clear that God knows everything, including the past, present, and future.  Thus, no one can hide anything from God.

 

 

6.  Why do most Christians teach that a Trinity of three Divine Beings exists as the one Triune God?

 

“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”  Matthew 3:16-17.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….”  Matthew 28:19.  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.”  II Corinthians 13:14.  “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”  Jude 20-21.

 

Answer:  The passages above speak of three Beings as implying their equality with each other.  Lesson #1 already established that Jesus is God, and these passages here tell us that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are equal with Jesus.

 

 

7.  Doesn’t the term “Holy Spirit” imply a spiritual influence emanating from God rather than being God Himself?  It sounds more like an “it” than a person.

 

A.  The texts cited in Question #6 imply that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature as the Father and Jesus.  And while we know that Jesus is a Person, the title of “Father” also implies a Person.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit is probably a Person as well.

 

B.  John 14:26:  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”—The Holy Spirit is called a Helper who will teach.  That implies a personal Being.

 

C.  John 16:8:  “And when He [the Helper, the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment….”—The fact that the Holy Spirit will convict people implies that He is more than simply a spiritual influence, but a Person.

 

D.  Romans 8:26:  “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”—Here the Spirit is referred to by the word “Himself”, not “Itself”.  Moreover, He intercedes to help us know what to pray for.  This is a Person.

 

E.  I Corinthians 12:7, 11:  “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”—Again the Holy Spirit is called “He”, and He gives spiritual gifts.  This is definitely a Person.

 

F.  Ephesians 4:30:  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”—A spiritual influence cannot be grieved; but a Person can be.

 

G.  Galatians 5:22-23:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”—The Holy Spirit helps produce character fruit in Christians.

 

Answer:  The abundant evidence plainly points to the Holy Spirit as a Person in the Godhead.

 

 

8.  I thought the Bible teaches that there is only one God.  Is Christianity actually teaching the existence of three Gods?  Is it a polytheistic (more than one God) religion?

 

“Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”  Deuteronomy 6:4.  “Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is:  ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’”  Mark 12:29.

 

Answer:  The Old Testament and the New Testament teach the same thing about God:  that He is one!  However, the Hebrew word translated “one” does not necessarily mean “single” but “unity”.  Scholars sometimes call this a composite one.  For example, when Genesis 2:224 refers to a married man and woman as “one flesh”, it’s the same Hebrew word in Deuteronomy 6:4.  Therefore, these texts do not prohibit us from understanding the one God as consisting of three Beings.  Each one is definitely referred to as God, so note that it does not mean that each one is one-third God.  We may understand the Trinity in this way:  Imagine a rope consisting of three strands of fiber.  If you divide the rope into its three fiber strands, then it becomes three ropes.  But when the three strands are wrapped around each other, it becomes one rope again.  That’s the way it is with God.  The three Beings constitute one God because they each possess the same purpose, character, and will—so that there is never the possibility that any of them would work against the others.  In this way, the Christian belief in the Trinity is still a monotheistic (one God) religion.

 

 

9.  What character attributes does God possess?  In other words, how does He view and act toward the creatures that He made, including mankind?

 

A.  I John 4:8:  “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”—God is love.

 

B.  Isaiah 55:7:  “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him…”—God is merciful.

 

C.  John 14:6:  “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.”—God is truth.

 

D.  Psalm 99:9:  “Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.”—God is holy.

 

E.  Revelation 15:3:  “…’Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!  Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!’”—God is just.

 

F.  Malachi 3:6:  “’For I am the Lord, I do not change….’”—God’s character is always and eternally the same.  Scholars call this the immutability of God.

 

Answer:  There are many more characteristics of God mentioned in the Bible, but these are a representative sample.  Note also that whatever character of God is being contemplated, He has that characteristic perfectly, and He never waivers from it.  Many make the tragic mistake of seeing God’s love as a way to reduce His justice, or vice versa.  But each of God’s character attributes are equally valid, and none should be viewed as undermining another attribute.

 

 

10.  One of the Ten Commandments tells us to honor our parents (see Exodus 20:12).  But what should a Christian do if he conscientiously believes a Bible teaching that his parents do not believe, or do not believe in the same way?

 

“’Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”  Matthew 10:34-37.

 

Answer:  Honoring our parents, or our children, should never get in the way of obeying God’s teachings.  We can still honor them by showing them respect and love.  But we are to love God and His Word more than even our loved ones or best friends.  He must be first in our lives!  Of course, we should not intentionally go out of our way to be divisive within our families.  At the same time, God must be Number “1”.  As you learn more Bible truths in these lessons, a few of them might be inconvenient truths.  Nevertheless, pray that God will give you the strength to step out in faith and obey them anyway.

 

 

11.  Does it really matter what we believe as long as we live a moral and ethical life?  In other words, isn’t believing that Jesus is my Savior really all that is important, for don’t all Christian roads lead to heaven?

 

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14.

 

Answer:  Jesus taught that there are two spiritual roads (ways).  And most people will be lost because they choose the easy road, which unfortunately leads to their destruction.  Therefore, all roads definitely do not lead to heaven—not even all Christian roads—because the context in Matthew 7 indicates that Jesus was talking about Christians (see verses 15-23).  So it’s time to wake up and seek with all our might to understand God’s Word and what He wants us to do, specifically.

 

 

12.  Are you saying that being a faithful church member is not enough to be saved?

 

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”  Matthew 7:15.  “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”  Matthew 24:11.  

 

Answer:  It is not sufficient to be a faithfully attending church member.  We must also be aware that false teachers will enter the church and deceive many there.  In other words, not all the enemies of God are outside the church, as so many Christians seem to think today.  So be alert and keep learning and practicing what the Bible calls truth, even if it disagrees with the majority in your church.

 

 

13.  But as long as I do wonderful things in Jesus’ name, surely I will be safe with Him, won’t I?

 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Matthew 7:21-23.

 

Answer:  All of us Christians are still human, and we have a strong desire to believe and practice what we want to believe and practice. But we must follow the plain will of God.  Even some miracle-working Christians will be eternally lost because they apparently believed that such good deeds would make up for a lack of obedience to God in some other area of their lives.  But they will be sorely disappointed in the judgment.  This tells us that God means what He says and says what He means!

 

 

14.  You make it sound as if God is so picky.  That does not sound like a God of love to me.  How can both things be true?

 

“…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.  Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.  And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.”  Genesis 4:2-5.  “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain….”  Hebrews 11:4.

 

Answer:  The fact that God is particular does not mean that He is picky, for pickiness sounds like someone just waiting for you to make a mistake so he can punish you.  And a God of love is not that kind of God.  But God’s love should never be presumed to lessen His justice, for as we have already learned, God means what He says and says what He means.  Cain and Abel were sons of Adam and Eve.  Note that Cain came to worship God on his own terms, while Abel worshiped God on God’s terms.  Therefore, even the act of worshiping the true God requires that we do so on His terms, not on our own.  Unfortunately, many believers in God are content to worship and/or live the Christian life according to their own terms, especially if the truth is not convenient.  But we deceive ourselves when we do that.  God must be supreme in our lives!  Pray for that complete surrender of will to God, who alone has the authority to tell us how to live our lives and how to worship Him.

 

 

Quiz for Lesson #4—What Is God Like?

 

1.  God’s claim to be “I AM” refers to which part of His nature? (1)

  It refers to His incorporeal nature.

  It refers to His omnipotence.

  It refers to His eternal nature.

Answer

It refers to His eternal nature.

2.  Which of the following statements about God’s omnipresence are true? (3)

  God’s omnipresence means that no one can hide from Him.

  God’s omnipresence is also sometimes called pantheism.

  Pantheism is the view that God’s very nature is in every physical aspect of nature.

  Pantheism blurs the distinction between the Creator and His creation.

Answer

God’s omnipresence means that no one can hide from Him.
God’s omnipresence is also sometimes called pantheism.
Pantheism blurs the distinction between the Creator and His creation.

3.  God knows everything, including the past, present, and the future. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

True

4.  What does belief in the Trinity mean? (2)

  It means that three divine Beings exist as one God.

  It means that each member of the Trinity is one-third God.

  It means that the Holy Spirit is a divine Being, not merely a divine influence.

  It means that Christianity is a polytheistic religion (belief in many gods).

Answer

It means that three divine Beings exist as one God.
It means that the Holy Spirit is a divine Being, not merely a divine influence.

5.  Which of the following are attributes of God’s character? (4)

  Love

  Truth

  Holy

  Just

  Incorporeal

Answer

Love
Truth
Holy
Just

6.  God must come first in our lives unless we are still children living with our parents. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

False

7.  Which of the following statements about one’s life are true? (2)

  There are only two spiritual roads that a person can take in life.

  Most people will choose God and eventually live forever.

  All Christian roads lead to heaven.

  Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction.

Answer

There are only two spiritual roads that a person can take in life.
Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction.

8.  Being a faithful church member is not enough to be saved. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

True

9.  God is so merciful and loving that everyone will be saved in the end. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

False

10.  Which of the following statements are true? (3)

  Cain chose to worship God on his own terms, and so God rejected his worship.

  God is just waiting for someone to make a mistake so He can pounce on them.

  Many are deceived because they are “good” Christians but ignore part of God’s will.

  God is not picky, but He does say what He means and means what He says.

Answer

Cain chose to worship God on his own terms, and so God rejected his worship.
Many are deceived because they are “good” Christians but ignore part of God’s will.
God is not picky, but He does say what He means and means what He says.