Confirmation Journey 3. God
(READ Chapters 1 and 2 “What Christians Believe” and complete Assignment 3 before this Session)
People take 3 attitudes to God
- Atheist – believes in no God or gods.
- Agnostic – there might or might be a God or gods.
- Theist – there is a God (or gods).
ATHEIST. Means : “One without God,” but it is usually used of somebody who says there is no God or gods. Scriptures verdict? Psalm 14:1 'The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."'
Why might it be a foolish claim to make? Some suggest that to “prove” that there is not, nor ever was, a God or gods, you'd have to be capable of being everywhere, all the time, and testing every situation in which people had claimed God's intervention.
You would have to prove that the every book of the bible was, without a doubt, a hoax and that every person who claimed their life was in someway influence by God was deluded or insane.
You would have to show that every prophecy from the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament was a matter of coincidence. Above all you would have to, either deny the existence of Jesus, or prove that he was an ignorant, misguided fool and a corrupt and calculating liar.
In the 1960's a Soviet cosmonaut went up to space in his craft, looked out of the window and said “Hey, I don't see God here. There is no God.” Quite what he was expecting to see... maybe a little old man with long white beard... we are not sure. But such a statement is truly foolish!
AGNOSTIC. Means : “Ignorant of God.” but often means somebody who has not yet made their mind up. Agnosticism is expressed in different ways.
Blind. Someone who has never taken the time to look at or examine the evidence. Either because they have no wish to or nobody has ever caused them to question.
Dishonest. Someone who chooses to blind themselves, who out of laziness of fear will not examine the claim God makes upon their lives. They offer excuses, “It's boring”, “I have more important things to do” “It's irrelevant”. Yet actually the answer to the question of God's existence is far from irrelevant. It determines the way you look at the whole of your life.
Honest. God is very interested in hearing about honest doubts and fears. There is a story in John's gospel in which people are confused by the teaching of Jesus. He tells them, John 7:17 “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Elsewhere He tells people that if they seek an answer, they will find one! There have been a number of books written by people who set out to disprove Christianity and end up becoming disciples. (e.g “Evidence That Demands a verdict” by Josh Mcdowell)
THEIST. Means : “One who says there is a God (or gods)” A great many people claim they believe in some sort of divine presence, most identifying that with God. But, according to scripture, that's not enough. James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” Believing in something is a pointless action if it does not effect the way you live your life. In the next verse James says, “You fool! Faith without actions is useless.”
Let's put it this way. I may say that I believe in the Abominable Snowman, the Yeti, Bigfoot... whatever you wish to call him or her. I could even claim, “I saw Big Foot.” Yet, whether or not I did see the creature, or even if I didn't, but still believe he or she exists, it is not going to change the way I live my life. Who cares? It's just an opinion on a matter of little daily impact.
But when I say, “I believe in God,” that is a different level of belief. You can't answer without committing to actions that reflect your belief. There are different kinds of theists. Theism comes in different forms.
Pantheism – God is all (certain forms of Buddhism & Christian Science)
Polytheism – There are many gods (Hinduism)
Monotheism – There is One God.
Among monotheists are two kinds:
Unitarians (One God - Judaism & Islam)
Trinitarians (Christians claim God has revealed Gods nature in three united, yet distinct ways)
So Christian belief is “Monotheistic Trinitarianism”
Such ideas did not happen overnight! They represent a journey of discovery spanning centuries and millennium of belief and thought. People had come to know God as Father, through Jesus Christ, in the personal power of the Holy Spirit. “The doctrine of the Trinity” expresses this experience. (Check out P61-65 in “What Christians Believe)
Another way of looking at it:-
- As Father and Creator God planned salvation
- As Son, God came to earth to bring it about
- As Spirit, God applies what has been done to our lives.
WHAT SORT OF GOD DO THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE PICTURE FOR US?
1. God is Spirit. John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth."
We can't see God anymore than we can see the wind or a persons breath. Yet we can see the things God does in peoples lives, as clearly as we can see the leaves being blown by the wind. Just as we can feel the wind on our face we can know God's Spirit at work in our lives.
2. What is God Like?
a) INFINITE Psalm 147:5 “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”
b) OMNIPRESENT (All places at all times) Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
c) OMNISCIENT (Knows all things) Psalm 147:5 “His understanding has no limit. “
d) OMNIPOTENT (All powerful)
e) ETERNAL Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
f) SOVEREIGN (In control)
g) IMMUTABLE (Does not change) James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
That's as far as physical description goes. But that is only like saying Adrian Pratt is 5' 7” tall, weighs 150 pounds, has brown eyes and dark graying hair. There is a big difference between “knowing about” and “knowing” God. So...
3. What is God's Character? (What is God really like!)
HOLY. Leviticus 19:2 "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” Free from evil. Separate and different from us. “Wholly Other”
RIGHTEOUS. Psalm 145:17 “The LORD is righteous in all His ways and faithful in all He does. Absolutely on the level. As light in darkness.”
JUST. Ezra 9:15 “LORD, the God of Israel, You are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before You in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in Your presence." God sets the standard for right and wrong and is the only one who can ultimately decide the difference.
JUDGE. Matthew 25:31-32 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” God alone can truly judge us, because God alone truly knows us.
SHEPHERD. Psalm 23:1 “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Like a shepherd cares for sheep, God cares for us.
CREATOR. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning … God created the heavens and the earth.”
FATHER. Matthew 6:9 “Our Father, who art in heaven....”
MOTHER. Isaiah 66:13 “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”
LOVE. (Read “What Christians Believe P27 “God is Love”)
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”