The Foundations of Belief: Exploring the Core Doctrines of Christianity – God

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

Who is God

In the very first sentence of the Bible, God expresses His existence and declares that He is the creator of the universe.  The Hebrew word for “God,” אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), is plural in form and masculine. Thus, God is the originator of the universe, male, and embodies more than one person. This plurality is confirmed a few verses later, in Genesis 1:26, where God declares, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Here also we discover that man is to rule over the earth and its creatures, indeed an aberration to the “they were here first” adherents.

Historically, many believed that a deity created the universe, albeit often the wrong divinity. In ancient Egypt, the god Atum was said to have created the world by speaking it into existence. In Greek mythology, it is believed that the god Zeus created the world and all the creatures in it. The theory of evolution, proposed by Charles Darwin in the 19th century, challenged these beliefs about creation and the origins of life. Darwin suggested that species evolve over billions of years through a process of natural selection rather than being created in their current form by a deity. As the theory became more widely accepted, it gradually changed how many viewed the natural world and its place within it.

Thus, it was far easier to replace God as the creator with God as an observer of the natural order. In line with this transition, the authority and authenticity of the Bible itself are impacted, making rejection that much more convenient.

What does the Bible teach about God?

Although the word “trinity” is never used in the Bible, we know from a number of verses that the God of the Bible is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One of the most inclusive verses to teach this plurality, as well as their distinct roles in salvation, is Ephesians 1:3-13 which states,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will…

In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”

 

In His final days on earth, Christ would give a directive for the expansion of the faith, known as the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19. This, too, verified the existence of the Trinity where it states, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

In addition to the trinitarian essence of God, the Bible is replete with other verses that describe God’s nature and character. For example, He is:

Omniscient or all-knowing as 1 John 3:20 states, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.”

Omnipotent or all-powerful, which is expressed in Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'”

Omnipresent or all-present, as Psalm 139:7-10 says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”

Immutable or unchanging. This is shown in Malachi 3:6, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Sovereign or in control of all things as stated in Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.”

Just or righteous and fair which Psalm 89:14 shows, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”

Merciful as expressed by Exodus 34:6, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Love as stated in 1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

 

This is the God believers know, the God of the Bible, yet even these qualities only paint a partial picture. God is too splendid, too immense, to be suited with just eight attributions. Yet these characteristics form a divine core of the transcendent God of the Bible.

Man’s Problem with God

Despite the nature and character of God detailed in the Bible, many have their own ideal of who God is. However, man’s distortion of God is due to the deficiencies of man, not of God. In fact, the Bible is also replete with verses that describe man’s nature and character.

Disobedient – Man has a natural tendency to go against God as Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is due to the original sin of Adam which Paul explains in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”

Prideful – The sin of pride goes back to Isaiah 14:12-14, which describes the fall of Lucifer (Satan) from heaven stating, “You [Satan] said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.'” John 8:44 connects prideful men to Satan where it states, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires…”

Unbeleiving – This is the natural state of humankind as expressed in Romans 3:10-12, where it states: “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.'”

Idolatrist – The natural man would never worship the true God, preferring as Romans 1:25 explains, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…”

Depraved – Man is essentially evil as Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

 

These characteristics form an unholy essence of the natural man. Such characteristics rebel against the true God in search of gods that fit the needs of sinful men. Most develop their own characterization of who God is. Some deny He exists at all. Others prefer to ascribe female attributes or choose associations with Mother Earth. Still, others desire a God of absolute and unconditional love for their lives regardless of their lifestyles and sinful choices. The truth is that God is clearly described on the pages of the Bible, and His nature is both uniform and consistent. What this does point to is man’s efforts to make God in man’s image as opposed to the vision portrayed in the Bible.

It is tragic that so many develop a god to fit their needs and desires and ignore the clear teachings of scripture. It would be fortunate not to be that brave.

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