Category Archives: God
Who is God?
Certain basic facts about God can be learned from thoughtful observation of the world around us. Creation teaches the existence of God, His pre-existence, His greatness, His Divinity and His power. (Romans 1:20) That all things are made is apparent by the incredibly intricacy of the designs found throughout nature. The Maker must of necessity precede the existence of the things made. Thus, God existed before anything else. (Psalm 90:2) That God is great and powerful is clear from the magnificence of creation. Only a great God could create a universe with such beauty. Only a powerful God could fill a universe with geysers, volcanoes, stars and so many other mighty works. The Being who creates all things, who exists before all things and who fills the universe with wonders can be nothing less than Divine.
Not everything that can be known of God is learned from studying nature. What creation teaches about God is corroborated and expanded by the Bible. Scripture is God’s revelation of His character and of His deeds towards men. In the opening chapters of the Bible God is revealed to be a Triune Creator. That is, God is One God in Three Persons. He is also presented as the Sovereign ruler over all creation who orders the universe and decrees what mankind ought to do. When man disobeyed God, God was revealed to be the just and merciful judge.
In Exodus 34 God shows His glory to Moses. He declares that He is merciful, gracious, patient, abounding in goodness, abundant in truth, forgiving and punishing sin. (Exodus 34:6) The Psalms declare that God eternally exists (Psalm 93:2), is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10) and knows all things (Psalm 147:5). In the book of Jeremiah God declares He can do all things. (Jeremiah 32:27)
Maybe the most widely known attribute of God is His love. Scripture teaches that God shows love toward men, is a loving Father, that He acts in love towards all people. Love is more than just an action of God. Love is His character. God is love. (1 John 4:8) He never acts contrary to His nature, so all He does is loving.
Isaiah 6 reveals that God is holy. Though many understand love to be God’s greatest attribute, the Bible elevates the holiness of God as that attribute for which He is eternally praised. (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8) Holiness is God’s uniqueness from His creation (Isaiah 46:9), His perfect absence of all sin (Psalm 5:4) and His hatred for sin (Habukkuk 1:13).
Most importantly, God is the Savior who came to redeem sinners. God’s holiness and love do not contradict each other. In Jesus the love and holiness of God meet together. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, sin is punished and forgiven at the same time. Jesus’ sacrifice reveals the mind boggling wisdom of God’s righteousness. (Romans 1:17) In Jesus the gracious glory of God is revealed to all men. (John 1:14) Through Jesus God is shown to be the Savior of all who trust Him. (1 John 4:14)
Through the Bible a person can gain a fuller knowledge of God. Outside of Scripture some basic truths of God can be deduced from creation. However, all deductions and conclusions about God apart from the Bible have the possibility of being in error because all people are limited in understanding and corrupted by sin. Any conclusions about God which contradict the Bible must be rejected as wrong. Through Scripture men can know God and can know Him as Savior. Because God is gracious He has revealed His Word His nature, His works and His salvation to men.
What is Heaven Like?
How can I learn to be more thankful?
America sets aside one day each year
to give thanks. Historically this day has been understood as a day to give thanks to God. Some may wonder why. What is there to be thankful about? In a time of economic, civil and international troubles, what reason do Americans have to be thankful? Many people struggle with thankfulness. Some are not thankful because they think good things are due them. Some are not thankful because their life is filled with sorrows which overshadow the blessings of life. Whatever the national and personal challenges to gratefulness, can a person learn to be more thankful?
The first step in learning thankfulness is to recognize your dependence on others. Every day every person is dependent on others. You are dependent on city workers to keep a smooth flow of water to your house and an equally smooth flow of waste water away from your home. You are dependent on farmers who raise meat and produce, on distributors who ship your food, on drivers who transport it and on grocers who sell it. Even someone who lives off the grid and grows all their own food is dependent on others for the lumber in their house or the electronics in their solar panels. Few in America today cut their own trees, mill their own lumber, plant their own gardens, raise their own livestock, create their own technology, build their own houses and dig their own wells. Every person is daily dependent on the work of others. Those who have the humility to recognize their dependence on others will be thankful for the good things they possess.
Every person is fully dependent on God for life. God gives life and breath to all people. (Acts 17:25) Life is dependence. Life is dependence on God for the air we breathe, the lungs to breathe it, the muscles that control the lungs, the blood that transports the oxygen and the brilliantly designed cells fueled by oxygen our lungs inhale.
Most Americans are surrounded by good things in excess of their necessities. These good things are from God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father.” (James 1:17) The refrigerator overflowing with food, the closet filled with clothes, the climate controlled house, the car, the job, the family and the friends are all gifts from God. Those who have the humility to recognize their complete dependence on God for life and goodness will be thankful for the good things He gives them.
Psalm 107 repeatedly says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” A careful look at the world and the abundance that fills it will show that God is a good God who gives good things to all men regardless of what they deserve. He gives sun and rain to the righteous and unrighteous alike. (Matthew 5:45)
Humbly look for the good things in life and you will see you have many reasons to give God thanks. You are surrounded by opportunities to give thanks. We do not need to learn how to be more grateful, but how to better see the blessings we receive every day.
How Can I Get My Prayers Answered?
Jesus makes great promises about prayer. He said, “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do.” (John 14:13) “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7) “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you.” (John 16:23) “Ask and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7) God’s promises to answer prayer are repeated in First John. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Since the Bible makes such wonderful promises about prayer it should be easy to have our prayers answered. For most people, this is not the case. Why? Either God does not keep His promises or the people praying are missing something important.
God is undoubtedly a promise keeping God. The testimony of Scripture and the experience of countless Christians shows that God always does what He says He will do. Since the problem is not in God, it must be in people. The first step in getting prayers answered is a simple one. You have to pray. “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2) Wanting something is not the same as praying for it. Imagining you have something or thinking about how nice it would be to have something is not the same as praying. Prayer is a conversation with God in which the person makes specific requests to God. If you have never asked God, He cannot be blamed for not giving what you never asked for.
The promises of answered prayer all have specific conditions attached to them. Answered prayer is dependent on a right relationship with God in Christ. You must be walking closely with Jesus so that He is a vital part of every day. God does not promise to answer your prayer if you are holding on to sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (Psalm 66:18) You must be asking for that which is in agreement with His will. God will never answer prayers for sinful things. You must be asking for the right reason. Selfish prayers will not be answered. “You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your own pleasures.” (James 4:3) An honest evaluation of prayer would reveal that most of our requests are for things we want simply for our own self-gratification. God never promises to answer self-serving prayers.
God answers prayers through Jesus. Praying in Jesus’ name is coming to God through Jesus and in dependence on Jesus. This means God only promises to answer the prayers of His children. You must be saved to lay claim to the promises of prayer. You must also pray in dependence on Jesus. You must rely on God the Son to bring you and your requests to the Father. The person who attempts to come to God based on their own good works or their own devotion will not be pleasing to God. The person who tries to bargain with God will not have their prayers answered. Prayer that is in dependence on the work of Jesus will receive answer from God. We must also pray in accord with the character of Jesus. We must pray for things that please Him. We must pray in submission to His authority over every aspect of life.
Prayer was never intended as a means for people to get anything they want. God is not a genii who grants wishes. He is not Santa Clause who exists only to give presents to good people. Prayer is not magic. Saying the right words in the right order with the right feeling will not assure you of answered prayers. God created people to have a relationship with Him. The most important step in having your prayers answered is to have a close relationship with God. When prayer is relational it will be focused on the conversation with God instead of the wish list. When prayer is relational, God will answer. Walking closely with God in obedience to Him will lead you to pray for that which is right and good. When you pray in a right relationship with God He promises to give you what you desire. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
How Can a Good God Send People to Hell?
Why Did God Swear an Oath?
If God is completely loving and all powerful, why is the world filled with sorrow?
One of the most often repeated questions about God concerns the existence of evil. Why does evil exist if the God described in the Bible is real? The Greek philosopher Epicurus raised this issue two-thousand years ago. His argument has been summarized in this way: “If God is unable to prevent evil, then He is not all-powerful. If God is not willing to prevent evil, then He is not all good. If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?”
The Bible clearly says that God is all-powerful and is perfectly good. Jeremiah 32:17 says of God, “There is nothing too hard for Thee.” Job 42 says that God can do everything. The goodness of God is proclaimed throughout the Bible, especially in the Psalms. “Good and upright is the Lord.” (Psalm 25:8) “The Lord is good to all.” (Psalm 145:9) The goodness of God must be understood in light of His holiness. All He does is righteous. He hates evil. God has no part in evil and does not promote it in any way. Since God hates all evil and He is able to destroy evil at any time He chooses, why is the world filled with so much sin and sorrow?
What is the Biblical explanation for evil? Sin and suffering do not originate with God. They originate with His creatures. God created beings with a capacity to obey or disobey Him. When God’s creatures rebelled against Him they did evil. The inevitable result of rebellion is punishment and suffering. The world is filled with sin because made refused to obey His creator.
This question goes deeper than the origin of suffering. This question wants to know why God let it happen. God could have prevented Satan from sinning, but He didn’t. God could have prevented Adam and Eve from sinning, but He didn’t. Why would God allow sin when He knew the terrible consequences that would come from it?
Many philosophical and logical answers have been offered to this question, but the Bible does not provide a single, simple answer. No verse or passage concisely explains God’s purposes in allowing evil. However, the Biblical record of the actions of man and God give some insight into the purposes and plan of God regarding evil.
The book of Job teaches that “why?” is the wrong question. God never explained to Job why he suffered. God simply told Job who was in charge. Romans 9 and Isaiah both challenge the person who would question God’s works. What right has the creation to demand the Creator explain His actions? Can a clay pot demand the potter justify his work? The Creator has every right to do as He wills with His creation. Creation has the obligation to submit to His will and to trust His good plan. This is not an emotionally satisfying answer, but it is the right one. God’s wisdom and understanding are far beyond our understanding. He rules all things. We do not have the right to question His work.
God does not reveal why He allowed evil, but the Biblical narrative gives some insight into what those reasons might be. God is working to exalt His name. Everything God did and is doing in the world is for His glory. From the calling of Abraham, to punishment of Israel, to the death of Jesus, to the salvation of Christians, to the judgment of the whole world, all of God’s actions are for His glory. The inevitable conclusion is that the entrance of sin brings God the greatest glory. This claim is hard to swallow, but it aligns perfectly with all the Bible teaches about God.
Because sin exists men understand better the grace of God. The angels who never sinned struggle to comprehend the grace of God in saving sinners. (1 Peter 1:12) Because God allowed men to sin all who have been forgiven of their sin understand God’s grace. The saved worship God in a way the angels cannot. The angels proclaim God’s praise, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God Almighty.” (Revelation 4:8) The saved in heaven sing a different song. “Thou art worthy . . . for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” (Revelation 5:9). The entrance of sin into the world added another verse into the eternal hymn of praise to God.
God’s seeking His glory should cause any one to conclude God is selfish. His glory is the greatest good for the entire universe. The rejection of God buried the universe in agony. The exaltation of God’s glory will deliver the universe from its misery. (Revelation 21:3-4) To accomplish the extermination of evil on earth God Himself entered into our suffering. God the Son took humanity’s sin and all its anguish on Himself. None dare accuse God of selfishness or disinterest. He is not unconcerned. He is not malicious. He is involved. He suffered under sin to set men free from sin. One day He will bring all evil to an end.
Can God See Everything?
Why does God seem to Hide Himself?
A previous article discussed why God hides Himself from mankind. God is not visible to people, but He has not hidden Himself. God has revealed Himself to humanity through creation, His Word and His Son. Those who question God’s presence are not usually concerned about their inability to physically see God. They are most concerned about the apparent absence of God’s involvement in their lives.
Times of suffering and trouble causes a person to feel like God has hidden Himself away from them. At times it can seem as if God has forgotten and forsaken a person. King David expressed this in the Psalms. “Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” (Pslam 10:1) The Bible speaks of God’s hiding Himself from people, but it always does so from the perspective of humanity. The Bible never says that God hides Himself from the knowledge of people or that He prevents people from knowing of Him. Instead, the Bible presents Gods as acting in such a way that men perceive Him as turning away and hiding from them. The hiding of God is the human perception of a situation, not the reality that God has made Himself unknowable.
The Bible most frequently uses the analogy of God hiding Himself when He brings judgment on a person or nation. Isaiah 45:15 speaks of God hiding Himself in judgment on the nation of Israel. In Psalm 30:7 David complains that God has hidden His face from him. This hiding of God is not an actual hiding. God’s hiding is not a removal of His presence or work form the world. Rather, it is a hiding of His goodness from men so they will see nothing but His wrath. The hiding of God’s goodness brings tribulation and judgment. Psalm 104:29 says, “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled.” When God hides Himself His smiling face is turned to a frown. The experience of God’s hidden face is never an indication God has turned away from men, but that men have turned away from God. However, God never abandons humanity
God always acts toward His children with the greatest compassion. Christian’s may sin and distance themselves from God, but God never hides from His children. Instead, God assures Christians of His constant presence (Hebrews 13:5) and He promises He will dwell in each of His children until they enter heaven. (Ephesians 1:13-14) Even in times of intense trouble, the Bible assures us God allows those troubles in the lives of His children because of His love for them. “The Lord chastens those whom he loves.” (Hebrews 12:6)
Some believe God has hidden Himself from men because He is no longer working in the world the way He once did during Biblical times. If someone looks to see God in miracles, then the absence of miracles in this age may cause that person to think God is hiding Himself. God is not hidden. God has chosen to deal with men today differently than He did in the days of the apostles or the days of Moses. This different manner of working in the world does not mean God has hidden himself. God is still making Himself known to men. Look to see God in the way He reveals Himself today. Just because you cannot physically see God does not mean He isn’t there. Open the eyes of faith and you will find He has been present all along.