Studies in Christianity

Introduction:

I believe in God. I stand in defense of God. Not that He is dependent on my defense. But He does appreciate the work of any who defend Him.

I also stand for the betterment of humanity. Unfortunately many around me have given up on the betterment of humans. They leave all this up to experts, prisons, and governments. They hope such people can solve the essential problems of humanity. But humanity's problems need an individual and internal solution.

Humans are at heart good. Generally people wish for a good life themselves and no harm to their "neighbour." They generally try their best. They want stability, success, and prosperity. And generally we are kind to those who are kind to us. Sometimes we are even kind to those who are not.

Thankfully, our world is filled with examples of the good God put in man. Many examples inspire us with noble virtue. Each little thoughtful act passing on the torch of good to our own hearts. Thank You, Father, for the good you work through us! May You bless us with more of this good!

Unfortunately we are at heart harmful also. We are kind when people support us, but our tone of voice and attitude change when we are annoyed. We begin to sound upset and eventually shout at those who we love most and are dearest to us. We react violently when we are impatient. We curse and swear at those who inconvenience us. Not that we mean to hurt most those that we love most. Not that we mean to be harmful. We simply were born that way. By meticulous observation we attempt to blame our parents or our surrounding influences, but we know better than to blame ourselves. We can not control those bad attitudes. We may mask them, but we cannot uproot them.

The experts of today attempt to control this evil side of man with contracts, treaties, armistices, police, and prisons. They attempt to listen to us; to tell us all our evils; and then help us to adjust and accept and live with this evil side. Others simply ignore the evil in man. But from politicians to psychologists to lobbyists to guerrillas and gangs, no one can slow down or stop the gathering strength of the evil side of man. Evil is gathering ground rapidly in this world. And this evil needs an answer.

There is only one solution to the evil side of man. The evil side of each man must be removed from him. The solution is individual. Only when each person has this evil removed from him can we have a completely free and happy society.

We can never remove this evil side from ourselves. But when we look beyond ourselves and our temporal society, we see God. God in all His sublime patience, wise strength, and impassioned hatred of evil waits for us to see Him. And just to look at Him is transforming. The Old Testament is replete with examples indicating this. One only had to expectantly look at the symbol of God's character and he was healed from the fiery serpents. Isaiah was transformed when he saw God in the temple. Daniel saw his own sinfulness, long after his colleagues could find none, just by seeing God. David's faith was restored by seeing the character of God revealed in the Sanctuary. And the examples continue.

This fact is no less true in the New Testament. When the disciples finally discerned the character of God in the person of Jesus Christ, they were empowered by the Spirit of God and thousands responded instantly.

After the times of the New Testament this fact still has held true. The greatest reformations that have taken place since have all begun with the revelation of a sin-pardoning Redeemer.

Nor is this the end of this experience. We need this experience today.

"Like our Saviour, we are in this world to do service for God. We are here to become like God in character, and by a life of service to reveal Him to the world. In order to be co-workers with God, in order to become like Him and to reveal His character, we must know Him aright. We must know Him as He reveals Himself.

"A knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation. It is this alone that can make us like God in character.

"This is the knowledge needed by all who are working for the uplifting of their fellow men. Transformation of character, purity of life, efficiency in service, adherence to correct principles, all depend upon a right knowledge of God. This knowledge is the essential preparation both for this life and for the life to come." MINISTRY OF HEALING P. 409.3 (emphasis supplied)

"The knowledge of God as revealed in Christ is the knowledge that all who are saved must have. It is the knowledge that works transformation of character. This knowledge, received, will re-create the soul in the image of God. It will impart to the whole being a spiritual power that is divine." MINISTRY OF HEALING P. 425.2

"We cannot keep Christ apart from our lives here, and yet be fitted for His companionship in heaven." CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 413.2

And this experience is exactly what will bring us into and through the closing events of sinful human existence.

"It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth." {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 415.3}

"Those who wait for the Bridegroom's coming are to say to the people, "Behold your God." The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them." {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 415.5}

"The light of the Sun of Righteousness is to shine forth in good works--in words of truth and deeds of holiness." {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 416.1}

"Thus in the night of spiritual darkness God's glory is to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed down and comforting those that mourn. {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 417.2}

"All around us are heard the wails of a world's sorrow. On every hand are the needy and distressed. It is ours to aid in relieving and softening life's hardships and misery. {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 417.3}

"Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. The sealed fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be unsealed. {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 417.4}

"God calls not only for our gifts for the needy, but for our cheerful countenance, our hopeful words, our kindly handclasp. When Christ healed the sick, He laid His hands upon them. So should we come in close touch with those whom we seek to benefit. {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 418.1}

"There are many from whom hope has departed. Bring back the sunshine to them. Many have lost their courage. Speak to them words of cheer. Pray for them. There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the word of God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no earthly balm can reach nor physician heal. Pray for these souls, bring them to Jesus. Tell them that there is a balm in Gilead and a Physician there. {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 418.2}

"Light is a blessing, a universal blessing, pouring forth its treasures on a world unthankful, unholy, demoralized. So it is with the light of the Sun of Righteousness. The whole earth, wrapped as it is in the darkness of sin, and sorrow, and pain, is to be lighted with the knowledge of God's love. From no sect, rank, or class of people is the light shining from heaven's throne to be excluded. {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 418.3}

"The message of hope and mercy is to be carried to the ends of the earth. Whosoever will, may reach forth and take hold of God's strength and make peace with Him, and he shall make peace. No longer are the heathen to be wrapped in midnight darkness. The gloom is to disappear before the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. The power of hell has been overcome. {CHRIST'S OBJECT LESSONS P. 418.4}

The solution to man's problems is in knowing God. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. " John 17:3.

But God is greater than we can ever know. Our finite minds will never fully comprehend God. Therefore it must be critically important that we know God as He has revealed Himself. Our preparedness for the future and effectiveness now depends on us knowing God, as He has revealed Himself. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

And knowing God has a profound impact on ourselves. We are changed. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" 2 Corinthians 3:18.

By knowing God we slowly come to understand His likes and dislikes and to be influenced by them. "Redemption is that process by which the soul is trained for heaven. This training means a knowledge of Christ. It means emancipation from ideas, habits, and practices that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness. The soul must be delivered from all that is opposed to loyalty to God." {DA 330.2}

And this change makes us better people in this world and fits us for the next. The following treatise is an attempt to systematically consider our knowledge of God and the changes He is working in us. May God bless the reader of this material as much as He has this author.

 

The need of a systematic study of truth.

It is appropriate and necessary for us to systematically consider of our knowledge of spiritual matters. The human mind is created to appreciate order. We, in fact, do not grasp well whatever is chaotic. While we may appreciate the random in aesthetics, we need system in whatever we try to understand.

The student of the natural world understands this. No one would suggest science proceed in a disorganized fashion. How much more important to study systematically reality and the God of reality. Our life now and eternally depends on our relationship with Him. Should we not systematically listen to Him and come to understand and know Him?

 

Our purpose and methodology

We are invited to know God. Our present and future life depends on this friendship. How can we be friends with God?

Our friendships are built around common interests, goals, etc. But God says "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8, 9) How can we be friends with God when His thoughts, interests, etc. are so much greater than ours are? How can we be friends when the friendship is unequal?

We are friends with our children. Not that we pick up a baby, unload all of our adult joys and heartaches before it and expect it to understand and give suggestions! No, we come down to their level. And God has come down to our level also. He shares our flesh and blood. Jesus became God living among men as a man, Hebrews 2:14-18.

Yet, just because God did something for us in the person of Jesus does not mean we will automatically be friends. Just because any other person gives me a gift does not guarantee friendship. We can appreciate benefactors, but they are not by that our friends.

Nor is coming down to our level in the past sufficient. I am not friends with Alexander the Great or Napoleon. We can be friends of the historical Jesus through the Bible today no more than we could befriend Alexander the Great through the writings of the historian. How can we be friends with God today? What is God like today?

God is very different from us. This makes it more difficult to understand Him, for we notice best what is like us. When we read the Bible we tend to notice the accomplishments, experiences, and failings of humans. But that book is intended as a revelation about God and not just man. We need to consciously look for God in every passage we read, and in every experience we have in life. Fortunately God is also partially similar to us. Let us look for Him.

God is very different than us. He loves us, but one of the difficult points in loving Him is communication. We like to talk to our friends. We tell them a hundred different things. How can we talk to God? How can He hear us? How can we hear Him? How can we share experiences with God?

When Jesus walked this earth He heard and talked as we are use to doing. Often we read of Him in conversation with the disciples, with the religious leaders, with the common people. And Jesus tells us that He is identical to His Father. Jesus listens to and talks with us as we are use to hearing and talking with each other. Apparently so does His Father: Matt. 3:16, 17; John 12:27-30; etc. But we do not hear their voices today. Jesus, before His death, resurrection, and ascension, turned communication over to the Comforter, or Holy Spirit. Therefore we must depend on the Holy Spirit for communication and interaction. (John 14:16, 17, 25, 26)

Communication with the Holy Spirit is challenging. We have never seen Him, or heard Him, yet He is the One we are to talk to and through. How can you communicate with an invisible Being?

To find out we need first to think about the nature of communication. Words and vocalization are only for purpose of transferring ideas. Any method of transferring ideas is a form of communication. We know we have received communication when we receive the other person's idea. In communication it is very important to make sure we receive the other person's idea clearly and accurately. The Holy Spirit does not use His own voice; therefore we look for the Holy Spirit to communicate His ideas to us through some other means than voice. Whatever means the Holy Spirit may use, we want to make sure that we clearly grasp His idea and not just my opinion about what is His idea.

The Holy Spirit uses several methods:

  1. Through direct impression i.e. thought to thought communication. 1 Chronicles 28:9. Nehemiah 2:4.
  2. Through some dreams. Joel 2:28, 29; Job 33:14,15; Genesis 20:3; Daniel 2:1-49; Matthew 2:19; Genesis 41:1-32.
  3. Through some personal advice. (We quote others in our speech. Why can’t the Holy Spirit quote others for His speech?) 1 Samuel 25 (especially vv. 32-34); other examples: 1 Chronicles 21:3; Acts 5:34-39; 2 Kings 5:13; Exodus 18 13-24.
  4. Through nature. Acts 14:15-17; Romans 1:19,20; Psalm 19:1. (Science is subordinate to Inspiration. Deuteronomy 8:1-3; Matthew 4:4.)
  5. Through history. 1 Cor 10:7, 10 (notice context).
  6. Through personal experience. Numbers 22:21-33.
  7. Through inspiration. (We need to hear His current thought to us through the Inspired Writings.) Hebrews. 1:1 2 Tim. 3:16, 17 (2 Peter 1:20, 21).

Are all the ideas that come into our heads from God? No. Satan uses some of the same methods as God (Genesis 3:1-6 & Matt. 4:6 for example). How can we tell the difference? How can we distinguish Divine thought to thought communication from all other ideas? The same way as in earthly matters. We know the difference between our friends by their personalities and characters. We often say a particular phrase or statement in a letter sounds just like something its author would say. We determine a fraudulent check by its signature. The same is true with ideas that come into our heads. We can detect their source by noticing whose character and personality the ideas are in harmony with: God's or Satan's. We are to accept each idea because it harmonises with the character and personality of God.

The Bible reveals God's character; and Satan's. It defines what each is like. In this sense the Bible is the final authority. Therefore the Bible is the test of all other truth. The better we know the character of God and Satan the more quickly we will be able to determine the origin of our ideas. And the more rapidly we can detect God's thoughts the more of them we can comprehend.

Why do we accept the Bible? We don’t accept the Bible because of our ability to trace back who preserved it, and how well they cared for it. Nor do we accept the Bible because of who recommends it. We accept the Bible because its claim upon our attention is reasonable, because it works, and because nothing else fully does. We accept it because we find it to have the thoughts of God as it claims to have. We find it to resonate with thoughts that transcend ours. And we find this, even though these thoughts are expressed in the words of erring men and women.

Our relationship with God is going to be maintained through a constant thought to thought conversation with Him all day long as well as specific times of dedicated attention to each other (God and me). This relationship no one can chart for it evolves as we go.

But this relationship is going to be bound by my conception of God and myself as revealed in the Bible.

How we read the Bible becomes very important. Our relationship with God will be affected by how we read the Bible. And this will influence our lives presently and eternally. It pays to be certain about our methodology.

Our methodology is essentially to examine all the possible statements of God in any particular field of thought in their context. We do this in the knowledge that truth is revealed by the combined weight of evidence and not merely by single statements.

In detail our methodology is as follows:

    1. The Bible explains itself. Psalm. 19: 7-11; 119: 97-I05; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14; Malachi 2:7, 8. A teacher may guess at its meaning. He may want it to be so because his church believes that way. Or, maybe because he wants people to think of him as wise. If I depend on such a teacher to explain the Bible to me then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom, is my rule, and not the Bible.
    2. It is understandable. God uses the words of the Bible to transfer His thoughts to our minds. We need His Holy Spirit to give those thoughts to us when we are reading the Bible. With the help of God, nothing in the Scriptures will be hid from those who ask in faith, without wavering. Deut. 29:29; Matt.10:26, 27; Phil. 3:15; Matt.21:22; James 1:5,6; 1 John 5:13-15; Is. 35: 8. The attitude we bring to the Bible does much to determine what we get out of it.
    3. All of the Bible is necessary to understand God's ideas, and can be understood by diligent effort and study. 2 Tim. 3:16,17, Matt. 4:4.
      1. Every word must have its proper importance in the subject presented in the Bible. Matt. 5:18; Prov. 30:5,6; Rev. 22:18,19.
      2. To understand what the Bible teaches, bring all the Bible statements together on the subject you want to know; then let every word have its proper influence, and if you can form your idea without a contradiction, you are not in error. Isa. 28: 9,10; 2 Pet. 1: 19-21. Jesus practiced this. Luke 24: 27, 44, 45.
      3. God uses visions, symbols, and parables, as well as stories and plain statements. Hos. 12: 10 (Ps. 78: 2. Matt. 13: 13, 34). Many times the same things are revealed again and again, using different visions, or different symbols, or different parables. If you want to understand what God means, you must combine them all into one. Example: Dan. 2, 7, and 8.

    4. While the ideas of the Bible are literal, some of its words are symbolic or figurative. These symbols always have a figurative meaning.
      1. If a word makes good sense as it is, and does no violence to the simple laws of nature, then it must be understood literally. Otherwise its meaning is figurative.
      2. To learn the proper meaning of a symbol or figure, trace the symbolic word through the Bible, and, where you find it explained, put the explanation in place of the figurative word. If it makes good sense, you do not need to look any further; if it does not make good sense, look again.
      3. Symbols sometimes have two or more different meanings; for example, a day is used in a figurative sense to represent three different periods of time.
        1. An indefinite length of time. Ecclesiastes 7: 14.
        2. A year. Ezekiel 4: 6.
        3. A thousand years. 2 Peter 3: 8.

        The right meaning will harmonise with the Bible, and make good sense; other meanings will not.

      4. Parables are used as comparisons to illustrate subjects, and must be explained in the same way as symbols, by the subject and Bible. An illustration is given in Matthew ch. 13 and Mark ch. 4. Notice esp. Mark 4: 13.
      5. Symbols are often used to represent future things, times, and events.
        1. Mountains represent governments Dan. 2: 35, 44.
        2. Beasts represent kingdoms. Daniel 8: 8, 17, 21.
        3. Waters represent people Rev. 17: 1, 15.
        4. Lamp represent the Word of God Ps. 119: 105.
        5. One day represents a year. Ezekiel 4: 6.

      6. If you find every word of the prophecy (after the figures are understood) is literally fulfilled, then you may know that the historical event is the fulfilment of a prophecy. But if one word lacks a fulfilment, then you must look for another event, or wait for it to be fulfilled in the future. God takes care that history and prophecy agree, so that the true, believing children of God will never be ashamed. Rev. 17:17; Acts 3:18; Acts 15:18.

    5. The most important rule of all is that we must have faith. Faith that sacrifices. Faith that will, if necessary, give up the dearest object on earth. Faith that gives up the world and all its desires. Faith that will sacrifice, if necessary, character, living, occupation, friends, home, comforts, and worldly honors. If any of these hinder our believing any part of God's word, it would show our faith to be false. Nor can we ever believe, so long as one of these motives lies lurking in our heart. We must believe that God will never forfeit His word. And we can have confidence that He that takes notice of the sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our head, will guard the translation of His own word, and throw a barrier around it. He will prevent those who sincerely trust in God, and put implicit confidence in His word, from erring far from the truth, though they may not be experts in Hebrew or Greek. James 1:5-7. Adapted from William Miller (cite source).

Using this methodology let us systematically consider the truths in the Bible that will give our concept of God and our relationship with Him a strong and accurate foundation.

 

 

The Study of God

We begin with God. There is no more appropriate place to begin. With God there is theology. Without Him there is nothing.

In our study of God specifically we need to notice three things: His existence; whether He should be our God; and His nature, personality, and character.

Does God exist?

God is a mighty power and influence in the shadows, so to speak. Because He is quite different from us and because He has allowed the Archenemy to experiment with his own counterculture on this planet, we find the recognition of God more difficult.

Just because it is difficult to recognize Him does not mean it is in our best interest to ignore Him. We may ignore Him. God can be ignored for awhile. But He deserves to be acknowledged. The fulness and integrity of our lives depends on the acceptance of our spiritual natures. In fact we must recognize God, learn to know God, and cooperate with God in order to fully accept reality. Only the fool, in fact, ignores reality. But then, the Psalmist observed that the fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." It is reasonable, appropriate, and necessary to acknowledging God's existence.

Humans have struggled for centuries with how to prove the existence of God. Those who we can see and hear and touch we reasonably assume exist. But "no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." John 1:18 Proving the existence of the Unseen is harder.

Yet we need God to exist. Evolution assumes the existence of matter. Where did the matter come from? If we use the theory of relativity and say energy, we only beg the question. Where did the energy come from?

Evolution fails to explain the systematic and categorical nature of the universe as we observe it. Where did this order come from?

And then there are the piercing philosophical questions. Who are we? Where did we come from? Why do we exist? What is the purpose of our existence? Where are we headed?

In the face of these questions we need God to exist. Does He? I submit the following evidence grouped under the four headings: suggestive evidence; testimony; demonstrative evidence; and experience.

Suggestive evidence for the existence of God

Others before me have suggested several ideas that suggest God exists. None of these prove His existence. They only suggest it.

      1. Intuitive or tradition. Nearly every civilization and culture has religion. All have religious behavior. All have a ‘god’. All have a morality. Why would nearly every human believe in the existence of a god if there were no such thing?
      2. Reason , or, philosophy (these are evidences not proof)
        1. Every effect has a cause. What caused the existence of the world, man, etc.? (no watch ever flew together. Explosions in a print shop won’t produce an unabridged dictionary.)
        2. Further than existence, the universe manifests design. Can there be design without a designer?
        3. Men exist and manifest design and moral intelligence (however dulled). Where does this moral sense originate?
        4. Could men arrive at concepts of infinite power, truth, and goodness without received such from a higher being? [no! PP 91]
        5. Belief in a personal, self-existent God is in harmony with all we know about our mental and moral nature and about the world, and no other belief furnishes an adequate explanation of these things.

      3. Historical. History records interaction between God and man. (witness Jewish history, history of almost all peoples or rather civilizations (see "Beyond the Primitive" by Sam Gill p. 15 par. 12))

Testimonial evidence for the existence of God

Further, we have the testimony of those who have experienced God first hand. The Bible gives some of that testimony in Exodus 3:13, 14; Daniel 3:24, 25 & 4:2, 3, 34-37. We also have the testimony of these historically significant people.

      1. Sir Henry Havelock
      2. Franz Joseph Hadyn
      3. Rutheford Berchard Hayes
      4. Patrick Henry
      5. Sir John Frederick William Herschel
      6. Benjamin Harvey Hill
      7. Blaise Pascal
      8. Sir Isaac Newton
      9. Louis de Buade Frontenac
      10. George III
      11. John Campbell Gordon
      12. Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley
      13. Sir John William Dawson [Toronto]
      14. The testimony of God
        1. Claims through the prophets Ex. 3:13, 14 & John 8:58; Is. 43:15, 11; Malachi. 3:6; Rev. 1-3
        2. Nature. Rom. 1:19, 20
        3. Conscience. Rom. 8:16

UL 156:2 The real evidence of a living God is not merely in theory; it is in the conviction which God has written in our hearts, illuminated and explained by His words. It is the living power in His created works seen by a sanctified eye. (see rest of paragraph)

Demonstrative evidence for the existence of God

    1. Demonstrative Evidence
      1. Prophecy
      2. 1,000 infidels who wrote to Dr. Litch

      3. Conversion
      4. Twice Pardoned

      5. Experience

See article in SB Vol.31 #4 "Ponder the Path . . . "

Witness has firsthand experience.

Also witness in himself 1 John 5:10

 

Experience

    1. We can and should experience God. This is one of the greatest evidences there can ever be in favor of the existence of God. We do not experience God visibly. Yet we experience an encounter with His thinking in our hearts. We experience His personality, His influence, His "voice."
    2. We need to look for God in order to experience Him personally. "You will find me when you seek me with your whole heart." Jer. 29:13.

    3. The only greater evidence is the more sure word of prophecy.
    4. These together give a sure foundation.

    5. Faith is still necessary. Heb. 4:2

  1. Summary: God has given us:
      1. A need for God;
      2. Three lines of suggestive evidence: intuitive, reason [logic] and historical;
      3. Two lines of testimony: human and divine; and
      4. Three lines of Demonstrative evidence: Prophecy, conversion, experience.

  2. The Reasonability of Acknowledging God's Existence

    1. Introduction: God can be ignored for awhile. But He deserves to be acknowledged. The fulness and integrity of our lives depends on the acceptance of our spiritual natures. God is a mighty power and influence in the shadows, so to speak. Because He is quite different from us and because He has allowed the Archenemy to experiment with his own counterculture on this planet, we find the recognition of God more difficult. Just because it is difficult to recognize Him does not mean it is in our best interest to ignore Him. In fact we must recognize God, learn to know God, and cooperate with God in order to fully accept reality. Only the fool, in fact, ignores reality. But then, the Psalmist observed that the fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."

 

 

 

Should We Accept God?

We may prove that God exists, but is He worthy of our loyalty? Does He deserve to be our God? Men everywhere look to science, philosophy, psychology, politics, et cetera, as their gods. Today, few acknowledge the "old-fashioned" God who claims our worship and service as His right. Has the God of the Bible lost His relevance in our modern, "progressive," society? Or is there still good reason to serve Jehovah, the quaint God of religious history?

What does it take to be God? What does Jehovah have that sets Him apart as different from the "gods of this world"?

To begin with, He was first. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." He existed before man, the god of Humanism; before the universe, the "power" of new age philosophy; and before Darwin and the pantheistic view of God found in evolution. He predates Buddha, Hinduism's pantheon, and the communist state. Before the science of the West and the philosophy of the East was, Jehovah says, "I AM."

Second, the Almighty has a right to our allegiance because of creation. "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is LORD of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us".

It is only natural that as His creatures we should be loyal to our Creator. Even in the 'war-zone' of the marketplace we recognize that the invention belongs to the inventor and protect his ownership by patents and copyrights. Only when the originator, the person who took already existing materials to make something new and useful, chooses to give up the fruit of his labors does the right of possession pass to someone else. How much more, then, do we belong to the Holy One, who formed us from nothing and gave us life by the Word of His mouth. Moreover He has never given us up, and never will unless we persist in rebellion against Him.

The third reason that the Three Divine Beings should be God is inequality in ability. For as Isaiah 40:18 says, "To whom then shall ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" Who, in this vast universe, is like God? What creature can create life? What created being is so preposterous as to claim to guide the suns and planets throughout the universe? Who other than God has the wisdom to understand and keep operating all the intricate systems in our own bodies? Who but God is able to plan and organize a harmonious system that keeps our cells working together instead of in constant war? And who is so wisely consistent as to have only one simple but all encompassing law, and maintain that law never changing for a different, nor ever altering the present?

Suppose for a moment that we did not want to serve the LORD of Hosts, what are the other options? Are we to trust our lives to someone who could not create them, and is too ignorant to be able to sustain them? When viewed fairly, to trust life, health, happiness, etc., to anyone less than the living God in heaven is to invite, no, beg sickness, misery, and death.

But there is more. Essential to accepting any being as our God is being able to trust him with our future, whether that means the next few hours and days as with the wandering children of Israel in the desert, who depended on God for their daily food and drink; or whether it is a longer span of time as with the patriarchs, who by faith looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ and the inheritance He left for them and us at His death.

We can trust the future only to one who knows the future. Does Jehovah know the future? Yes. This is made plain by the fulfillment, correct in every detail, of the Bible prophecies from Noah's day to our own. Truly, "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." The God of heaven recognizes those who know the future by their own ability as gods; for it is written: "Shew the things that are to come hereafter that we may know that ye are gods". But to no being except Himself has God entrusted that ability and therefore no one but He has the right to be God.

Said the poet:

"Be still my soul: The LORD is on thy side;

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change He faithful will remain.

Be still my soul: Thy best, thy heavenly friend,

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

"Be still my soul: Thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still my soul: The waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

"Be still my soul: The hour is hastening on

When we shall be forever with the LORD,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.

Be still my soul: When change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last."

So we see that the God of heaven is the only one with the qualifications to be God for three reasons: because of the past, that is, His preexistence and position as creator; because of the present, that is, His ability to maintain the universe at this moment; and because of the future, that is, His ability to know and plan according to what is yet to come and thus guarantee us a life bright in the knowledge that no matter how dark and dismal our situation may be, life will get better. We need not be overcome but rather will overcome as we live in obedience to the God of Heaven and Earth.

And still this is not all. . . . The fourth reason that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit deserve to be God is character. God is love, and love is long-suffering and kind. It seeks not her own, thinks no evil, is not easily provoked. Rejoices in truth and not iniquity. It knows how to be silent and is full of hope, trust, and patient endurance.

This love has been manifested in every interaction with the Divine in the great controversy between God and all His goodness and the beings who, lacking His unselfish love but thirsting for His power, think to wrest His throne from Him. When the first rebellion began in heaven God did not in vengeance blot the plotters out of existence. Instead He bore long with them, giving them an opportunity to return to their former allegiance. When they alleged that His government was not fair, He gave them opportunity to show what their alternative was like. When the disobedience spread to our planet, instead of immediately commanding death, the ultimate punishment for the wicked, He showed our forefathers a way by which they might be spared. And He put that rescue into practice, though it caused Him untold heartache and the death of His beloved Son.

And here on this earth, the battlefield [testing grounds] of the great controversy, He has left ample evidence of His care for us. In every crimson sunset "God is love" may be seen. In every fragrant flower His infinite love is displayed. Every graceful tree is an exhibition of His abundant love toward us. And every new day bespeaks his tender care and mercy. For of what benefit is a sunset to Him who needs no sun? What does He gain by the profusion of flowers so abundant in meadow and field? Of what use would He find the trees that compose our forests? Of what worth is time to the Infinite?

If He had need of trees, He could plant them in heaven where He resides. If He wants to smell the delicate flowers He only needs to say so and thousands would surround the throne. He who spoke worlds into existence and sees the future as clearly as the past has no need of time. Yet, to us He has given the trees and flowers, and filled our little planet with their beauty. To us He has given each new day, that we may more clearly understand His purposes.

We see His love in His care for His people. Throughout the history of the patriarchs and later of Israel His mercy, long-suffering, and abundant goodness and truth are brought to view. Especially in the record of Israel, in His dealings with apostasy and unbelief, His justice is shown to be tempered with mercy. And His patient goodness is seen in His way dealing with them in their repentance.

This is very consequential. Were He to be merciful and in no way just, God could not exclude sin. Eternity would be filled with the constant contradiction and warring of the wicked against those loyal to their Creator. Consequently, the happiness of the universe would decrease and misery and pain increase; not a very pretty picture. On the other hand, were the triune God to be strictly just with no mercy, there would be no hope for the sinner. Eternal death would be the lot of every transgressor. Again a miserable prospect.

In Christ justice and mercy meet. All those who persist in rebellion against the Light of the world will suffer justice in the second death. But all who acknowledge Christ's death in our stead, which satisfied the claims of justice against us, and accept of the inheritance of righteousness given us at that death, will live forever. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him." "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Not only does God love us, but His love never fails. Jeremiah wrote "It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." He adds: "The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him." And the Eternal One says of Himself: "I am the LORD, I change not."

Here is given one of the strongest of reasons as to why the Almighty is worthy to be our God. His preexistence; the fact that He alone can and did create, His ability to uphold the universe and to know the future, are all reasons worthy of consideration. But just as the various peoples of this small world have the right to alter or abolish any government and institute a new government when that government has become destructive of its just end of protecting the rights of its citizens, so we, as creatures and therefore subjects de facto of our God, would have the right to rebel against His government were it not for the certainty of His past, present, and future love toward us. This is why the revelation of the character of He who is full of changeless love is so important. This is why, in the great controversy in which we are presently engaged, His character must be fully revealed, for this is what will make it possible for His throne to stand more sure forever. Amen.

"For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."

God is love, and He desires only the service of love. When Jesus was here on earth to show us by His example what our Father in heaven is like, it would have been a perfect opportunity to use threats and force, if such was the way of God. But never did He do this. Instead of saying 'Do this or die,' which He had every right to say, He said "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Instead of gloating over our misfortune, He provided a way of escape.

Oh, friend, God loves you, and longs to provide for your every need. He has given ample evidence of His care and of His ability to provide. What more do you need, a personal invitation? He has given that also:

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: And ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light"

Will you choose to serve Him now?

What is God like?

Let us approach this topic carefully. There are three ways to react to God. Notice the result of each.

  1. God blesses when He is approached humbly: Ex. 3:1-6 and 6:2,3.
  2. We lose His blessings when we approach Him scared: Ex. 20:18,19 and 32:1-8. Deuteronomy 5:23-29.
  3. It is very risky to approach Him pre-sumptuously: Lev. 10:1-11.

Our friendships are built around common interests, goals, etc. But God says "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8, 9) How can we be friends with God when His thoughts, interests, etc. are so much greater than ours? How can we be friends when the friendship is unequal? How are we friends with our children? We certainly do not pick up a baby, unload all of our adult joys and heartaches before it and expect it to understand and give suggestions! No, we come down to their level. Does God come down to our level? Yes! He shares our flesh and blood. Jesus became God living among men as a man, Hebrews 2:14-18.

Yet, just because God did something for us in the person of Jesus does not mean we will automatically be friends. Just because any other person gives me a gift it does not guarantee friendship. We can appreciate benefactors, but they are not by that our friends.

Nor is coming down to our level in the past sufficient. I am not friends with Alexander the Great or Napoleon. We can be friends of the historical Jesus through the Bible today no more than we could befriend Alexander the Great through the writings of the historian. How can we be friends with God today?

What is God like today? God is very different from us. This makes it more difficult to understand Him, for we notice best what is like us. When we read the Bible we tend to notice the accomplishments, experiences, and failings of humans. But that book is intended as a revelation about God and not just man. We need to consciously look for God in every passage we read, and in every experience we have in life. Fortunately God is also partially similar to us. Let us look for Him.

What did God originally reveal to mankind about Himself?

The first conscious moment of mankind was looking up into the face of His Creator, bent over Him in loving contact. How sacred and intimate that God Himself stooped over in our Creation to breathe life into us! No other creature began with such intimate contact with His Creator. Man's first knowledge of God was a knowledge of God's interest in him, God's faith and confidence in him, God's approbation and affirmation of him, God's intimate contact and personal interest in him, God's love for him. Adam received more love from God in that opening moment of consciousness than many young people today ever receive from their fathers! And Eve had a very similar experience just a few hours later. Whether this first pair instinctively knew that God was their Creator or were introduced to Him as such, this was also part of their dawning consciousness of God. He was also instantly their provider, giving them their first home; matchmaker, giving them each other for marital and social enjoyment; employer, giving them work & recreation; and teacher, providing all their early education through instruction and discovery. And these two first humans also knew God as their personal friend. In the first day and a half of life they knew God as Friend, Creator, Benefactor, Educator, and as the ultimate authority, i.e. as King. God and man have had a complex and deep relationship since the beginning.

Between creation and the fall man found God to be actively involved in their relationship as an active communicator and provider. He found God to be consistent and persistent. He found God to be everything one could wish for in an ideal Father.

We wish that our knowledge of God today was a simple progression from that early experience. Unfortunately, man's second lesson about God was His treatment of all that He hates. God warned man of his only danger and the full consequences of falling to that danger. But Eve first and then Adam listened to the doubt Satan insinuated, and finally accepted Satan's idea as more obviously accurate than God's words. Through this simple act of doubting God and trusting Satan, man became the follower of Satan rather than the child of God. What neither Satan nor man knew was what God would do with disobedient and ungrateful children.

God already promised eternal annihilation if Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Would God keep His promise? Adam and Eve did not know anything about the events that took place immediately in heaven until later. They knew nothing of the private meeting between two arch Beings in heaven. They only knew that shortly God came to talk to them. They knew that they felt guilty and uncomfortable with the presence and friendship of God. They knew that they were changed from enjoying God to being afraid of Him. They no longer wanted God! But no matter how much they disliked God and were ashamed of themselves they could not get away from God!

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; … 11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." Psalm 139:7-12.

How did God handle their naive disobedience? With a compassionate hope and certain justice than could only come from God! God took the time to hear the first couple out! But once He heard them out He, with calm composure issued the ultimatum of His discipline: their sentence was only to be temporarily postponed. Death was still the consequence they must suffer for the world's first petty theft and snack. But they could escape by a single process. In order to give them an opportunity to choose this process a temporary life would also be granted them. This temporary life would be different than their previous life in that they would have an increased workload, and that they would suffer the effects of sin and share in the sorrow God felt. What transcendent love!

"Christ's divine soul was exercised with pity that was infinite for ruined man. As his wretched, helpless condition came up before him, and as he saw that by transgression of God's law he had fallen under the power and control of the prince of darkness, he proposed the only means that could be acceptable with God, that would give man another trial, and place him again on probation. Christ consented to leave his honor, his kingly authority, his glory with the Father, and humble himself to humanity, and engage in contest with the mighty prince of darkness in order to redeem man." {RH, February 24, 1874 par. 23}

"The Son of God, undertaking to become the Redeemer of the race, placed Adam in a new relation to his Creator. He was still fallen; but a door of hope was opened to him. The wrath of God still hung over Adam, but the execution of the sentence of death was delayed, and the indignation of God was restrained, because Christ had entered upon the work of becoming man's Redeemer. Christ was to take the wrath of God which in justice should fall upon man. He became a refuge for man, and although man was indeed a criminal, deserving the wrath of God, yet he could by faith in Christ run into the refuge provided and be safe. In the midst of death there was life if man chose to accept it." {RH, February 24, 1874 par. 29}

We next learn of God from the first two recorded sons of Adams many children. God gave mankind a "hands on" example of the process of recovery. Since our death penalty could be forgiven us only if we had some comprehension of the harmfulness of sin, God offered to die for us Himself. He therefore taught Adam to kill a lamb as a reminder and example of his own sin killing the Divine lamb.

"The blood of beasts could not satisfy the demands of God in atoning for the transgression of his perfect law. The life of a beast was of less value than the life of the offending sinner, therefore it could not be a ransom for sin. It could only be acceptable with God as a figure, representing the perfect Offering which the blood of beasts prefigured.

"Man could not atone for man. He was created lower than the angels, and his sinful, fallen condition would constitute him an imperfect offering, an atoning sacrifice of less value than Adam before his fall. God made man perfect and upright, and after his transgression there could be no sacrifice acceptable to God for him, unless the offering made should in value be superior to man as he was while in his state of perfection and innocency.

"The divine Son of God was the only one of sufficient value to satisfy the claims of God's perfect law. The angels were sinless, but of less value than the law of God. They were amenable to law. They were messengers to do the will of Christ, and before him to bow. They were created beings, and probationers. Upon Christ no requirements were laid, as upon created beings. He had power to lay down his life, and to take it again. No obligation was laid upon him to undertake the work of atonement. It was a voluntary sacrifice that he made. His life was of sufficient value to rescue man from his fallen condition. The Son of God was in the form of God, and he thought it not robbery to be equal with God. He was the only one, who as a man walked the earth, who could say to all men, Who of you convinceth me of sin? He had united with the Father in the creation of man, and he had power through his own divine perfection of character to atone for man's sin, and to elevate him, and bring him back to his first estate.

"The Son of God was next in authority to the great Lawgiver. He knew that his life alone could be sufficient to ransom fallen man. He was of as much more value than man, as his noble, spotless character, and exalted office, as commander of all the heavenly host, were above the work of man. He was in the express image of his Father, not in features alone, but in perfection of character. As he was without blemish, he alone could become an acceptable offering for man.

"The sacrificial offerings, and the priesthood of the Jewish system, were instituted of God to represent the death and mediatorial work of Christ. All those ceremonies had no meaning, and no virtue, only as they related to Christ, who was himself the foundation and existence of the entire system. The Lord had made known to Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and the ancient worthies, especially Moses, that the ceremonial system of sacrifices and priesthood, of themselves, were not sufficient to secure the salvation of one soul. The system of sacrificial offerings pointed to Christ. Through these the ancient worthies saw Christ, and believed in him. These were ordained of God to keep before the people the fearful separation which sin had made between God and man, requiring a mediating ministry. Through Christ, the communication which was cut off because of Adam's transgression, was opened between God and the ruined sinner. The infinite sacrifice that Christ voluntarily made for man remains a mystery that angels cannot fully fathom." Redemption Or The First Advent Of Christ With His Life And Ministry pp. 9-11 (Emphasis added).

 

Not only was the "sacrifice" necessary, but an offering of the abundance of the harvest was also required, as a sort of a thank offering. Cain, the first person born into this world, would acknowledge God, and offer some of the fruits of his own effort, but did not wish to trust God, or accept the death of a Saviour in his own place. God did not interfere accept to acknowledge the offering of his fully compliant brother, Abel, but not his own. This eventually angered Cain into murderous hatred, which resulted in the death of Abel. At this point, God again manifested Himself and offered a punishment similar to that given to Cain's father and mother. Except that this more blatant wrong also received the added sentence of banishment and constant humiliation. Obviously God accepts complete and exact obedience only, and will offer recovery in no other way than His own already revealed process. In this story we find that a merciful God can not be bargained with. He declares His own way to be appropriate and fair. But it is His way or no way. We either agree with God that He has done what all of us would wish for could we see all the facts and what is really best or we join Satan. This story shows there is no bargaining with the merciful God for another option.

The story of the flood and the tower of Babel both reveal that our merciful God is tolerant and merciful, but that He tactfully limits His toleration. Man was granted probation, but God will not allow man to misuse that probation beyond a definite and definable limit. Fortunately His disciplinary measures are thoughtful and appropriate to the hour rather than a standard set of harassments or ignoring the matter.

In Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph God reveals His own agenda. God wished to use the lives of sinful men, women, boys, and girls to reveal Himself in His reality, personality, and character to those who were now comparatively innocently ignorant of God. Through the ever-deepening relationship of these men with God, God spoke to the world of that time calling them back to Himself. In their lives we discover the true nature and purpose of the church in a kernel. The future saga of Israel gives us first the blade and then the ear of ecclesiological truth.

In Abraham, mankind found a new role and thereby a new relationship to God. Previous to Abraham, men loyal to God plead with men who were disloyal, to give up the rebellion. But all men knew about God. No one even thought about doubting Him or His existence. Though men denied God, they could not claim to be honestly ignorant about Him. Paul thoughtfully describes all the wicked before the tower of Babel:

"18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

"19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Romans 1:18-32.

But a few generations after the tower of Babel we find something very different. For the first time children grow up ignorant, innocently ignorant, of God, and without a way to remedy their ignorance. Men and women no longer knew any more about the true God then their ancestors knew or chose to accept at the time of the dispersion from Babel. In addition to the loyal and the rebellious a new class of humans is born, the spiritually ignorant. To these, Abraham was sent. He was the first missionary. And he came now, not only in the role of fellow human, but in the awesome responsibility of ambassador for God. Abraham was the only representative of God many Canaanites ever met. Their impression of him would influence their response to God and their view of God. Man here gains a new role. In Abraham the church was born.

As God's agent, man's knowledge of God needed to deepen. And it did. God specifically took Abraham as His own protégé and revealed more of Himself to him. We specifically find new revelations about God's: 1. Names, 2. Feelings, 3. And Character.

With Abraham we find the first use of names. Previous to the tower of Babel, names seemed to have little necessity. We find practically no use of names in conversation until Abraham. Therefore we cannot deduce real significance from the Divine names mentioned until Abraham. The use of the Divine name previous to Abraham in the book of Genesis must be understood to be the knowledge of Moses and not necessarily a reflection on the knowledge of God possessed by the person under discussion. During the life of Abraham we are introduced to a new entity: the angel of the LORD

"The angel of the Lord" was seen by Hagar and Abraham (Genesis 16 & 22). In both experiences the Angel of the Lord calls Himself God or refers to Himself accomplishing something that only God could do. Hagar calls Him God. Later when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush and Balaam on his donkey, He is equally obviously Divine. We conclude that there is likely more than one Divine Being by this. Why would there be the Lord and the angel of the Lord if both are the same being?

In the life of Abraham, we are introduced to the feelings of God. God apparently seeks our empathy and understanding. So He gives Abraham the ultimate test of loyalty and trust. Will Abraham do by "blind" obedience what God is doing with full knowledge and intention, offer Himself up at the risk of His own future in the form of His son? And Abraham passes the test, cinching for himself the very appropriate title, "father of the faithful".

But this story and others in the life of Abraham open to us more than merely the feelings of God. They reveal some of His moral traits. He is, as this story illustrates, willing to sacrifice anything short of compromise with sin for the ultimate good of His creatures. In calling Abraham as His representative and spokesperson, He shows His deep faith in fallen humanity and further His trust of individuals. In rescuing Abraham twice from the denial of his marriage and providing a wife for Isaac, God reveals compassion and His own deep interest in our affairs. In the recovery of Lot, the rescuing of Lot just before the destruction of Sodom, and in the care for Hagar and Ishmael as seen and promised in the desert, we discover God's willingness to protect the individual and "stand up for the underdog." In the vow at sundown and the prophecy of the abundant progeny we find the persistence, unchangability, dependability, certitude, and complete ability to know and control the future of God. In the late birth of Isaac we find the complete control of nature, the lack of "accountability" or explaining His act to the human race, and the sense of humor of God. In the biography of Abraham we have a chapter in the biography of God.

Like Enoch, Abraham became a friend with God. But their friendship with God suggests that God wishes to establish an independent friendship with every human. And like Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, and then Joseph we must come to know God first hand. Second hand knowledge of God may help us get started, but it is a poor and worthless substitute at the end if not improved upon.

Abraham is also the recipient of the covenant.

The remainder of the book of Genesis involves us in the intricacies of Abraham's progeny. Here we are drawn into deep lessons about ourselves as humans. We find our own faults displayed, recognized, and conquered or conquering. Often the experiences in the continued biography include more interaction with each other and less obvious interaction with God. Nonetheless what interaction there is with God serves to confirm and deepen what we find revealed about God in the life of Abraham. One of the more striking incidents in confirmation of the moral traits of God previously dwelt upon is the benevolence of Joseph for his own brothers who betrayed him, representing clearly the character of a forthcoming Messiah who loved us in spite of our wounding and betraying Him.

In these pre-church-history stories we have the full revelation of God known before Moses. From them we find God as Friend, Creator, Benefactor, Educator, King. We find God hurting and interested in our pain. We discover His morality. We learn how He treats determined rebellion, ignorant rebellion, bargaining, ingratitude, and penitence. We have a well-rounded knowledge of the roles and character of God.

Now we draw from the rest of the scriptures to round out our knowledge of God.

God Is Personal. He interacts with us on an individual basis. Acts 17:24-27.

God is Friendly. He always listens to the sincere, He understands, He is committed, involved. Acts 17:24-27; John 6:37; 1 John 5:15; Isaiah 49:14-16. Numerous Bible stories also illustrate this (e.g. Abraham).

God is Superior. Isaiah 40:12-18,22-26,28, &29.

  1. He is who He chooses to be. Exodus 3:14.
  2. He knows everything. Isaiah 46:9, 10; Psalm 139:1-5.
  3. He has power to do everything. Jeremiah 32:17; Revelation 19:6; Matthew 19:26; Daniel 4:35.
  4. He is present everywhere. Psalm 139:1-12; Hebrews 4:13 (Jeremiah 23:23, 24)
  5. He is eternal. Psalm 90:2; Revelation 1:8.

God is Creator & Sustainer

  1. Creator. Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 45:6, 7; John 1:1-3; Psalm 51:10; Hebrews 3:4.
  2. Sustainer. Psalm 147:7-9; Matthew 5:45; Luke 12:22-31.

The Beings of the Godhead are completely united.

  1. There is more than one Divine Being: Genesis 1:1-2, 26; Isaiah 48:16,17 & 63:7-10; Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:7; Revelation 1:4, 5
  2. All Divine Beings are United: Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one." (Jewish Publication Society Translation) (Hebrew: dxa hwhy wnyhla hwhy larvy ems, shama‘ Yisra’el Yehovah ‘elohiym Yehovah ‘echad.) Two Hebrew words in this verse are important, because they give us a different meaning than the translation expresses. First ‘elohiym: The word elohiym is plural, even though it was translated in the singular. Therefore it actually reads Gods rather than God. Second ‘echad: there are two separate Hebrew words translated "one." The first is yichod which is equivalent to our number one. The second is echad which often refers to several separate entities that are united. cf. Gen. 2:24 & John 17:21. In this verse echad tells us that the Gods, or the Godhead, are united.

We understand this unity to mean complete harmony, understanding, & cooperation between themselves and moral and governmental unanimity in their relationship to all Their creatures. Beyond these plainly revealed points we are unwilling to speculate. Deuteronomy 29:29.

    1. Jesus
      1. Person
        1. God - Heb. 1:2-4; John 8:57, 58
        2. Man - Heb. 2:14-18

      2. Role: spokesperson and agent for Divine Trio: spokesperson in Creation - Col. 1:16, 17; John 1:3. Agent to man - 1 John2:1; Col 2:9; revealed God to man - Matt. 1:23; John 17:25, 26, 6, 8; John 14:8-11. Saviour - Matt. 1:21; Jude 24,25; 1 Peter 2:19-25. Agent between God and Man - Heb. 7:25; Acts 7:55, 56; Rom. 8:33, 34; Heb. 8:1, 2; 9:11-14, 24-28; 10:19-22. Returning Saviour - John 14:1-4; Acts 1:11; Matt. 24:30,31. King of the Universe - Rev. 19:11-16. Work of the Son - Romans 5:1, 21; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 7:25 Savior, God With Us, Healer.

    2. Father
      1. Person - similar to, but distinct from Son. Heb. 1:1-3.
        1. Work of the Father - John 6:37; John 17:6; James 1:17; Daniel 7:9
        2. In the image of God - Genesis 1:26

    3. Holy Spirit -
      1. Personality Of Spirit- Is 63:10; Will - I Cor. 12:11; Matt. 12:31, 32; Intellect - I Cor. 2:11; Acts 5:3, 9; 7:51; Feelings - Eph. 4:30; Heb. 10:15,29.
      2. Work [or Role] of the Holy Spirit - John 16:7-11 Romans 5:2-5. John 14:26, 15:26; Acts 13:2, 16:6,7; Rom. 8:26; Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 40:12-25 He is invisible but omnipresent, which means that He is more difficult to observe, but that He is available to all and therefore the primary (but not necessarily the exclusive) "agent" of the Deity to humanity.

Note: It is wise to avoid controversy on this topic as much as reasonable. We do not correctly represent God by arguing about Him.

God cares for me. Isaiah 49:14-16 (ch. 26:1 & 60:18) Matthew 6:25-33

  1. Physically. Matthew 5:45 & 6:25-32.
  2. Mentally. Proverbs 2:6 James 1:5,6
  3. Spiritually. 2 Corinthians 9:8. Ephesians 2:8-10
  4. Gives all things. Romans 8:31-39

Satan attempts to obscure each of the above blessings.

When Can I Expect God to Act?

  1. God is not partial.
  2. God acts on conditions, Jeremiah 29:13:
    1. Sincerity
    2. Humility (which is gained through prayer).
    3. Determination

  3. When God hears there is action. 1 John 5:14,15; Psalm 51:10; Ephesians 2:8-10 Luke 43,44; Matthew 8:5-13; John 5:8,9; Mark 2:1-12; Psalm 33:6 & 9.

God is love. 1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13; Exodus 34:6-7. Love includes justice and mercy.

God hates only one thing - harm, also known as sin. Romans 1:18; Rev. 14:9,10

How does God handle anger?

Psalm 103:8-18; Joel 2:13; Nahum 1:3; 1 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23

God does not change. Malachi 3:6; Psalm 33:11; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8

Conclusion: God is very different from us, and far superior to us, but He is similar enough to us that we can know Him, and be friends with Him. And He consistently loves us individually and makes it worth knowing Him. Will we?

 

    1. Creation
      1. Introduction
      2. What is Creation?
      3. Sustenance
      4. Examples
      5. Is God Recreating you?