What is God Like?
God is spirit.
John 4:24 says "God is spirit "
That is, he isn't made up of physical elements like hydrogen, oxygen or carbon. He consists of spirit, which we cannot see or hear of feel or smell with our physical senses.
Because he is eternal and exists before all of creation, he is the foundation and source of all physical matter.
He is all powerful, all knowing, all present and all loving. There is nothing in existence apart from him and what he has created out of himself. He isn't limited by space and time. He is present in all space everywhere and throughout time, both of which he has made out of his own essence.
he is perfect love and everything he does is out of the highest purest motives
of love, he is a Holy Spirit. That's what God is, Holy Spirit.
He is a Trinity
Essentially, this is something about God that we don't really understand but have come to accept as an article of faith. We know there are some things about God that are true but they seem to be mutually contradictory, i.e. that he is three individuals, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) but that he is One at the same time.
doctrine of the Trinity was established early in the Church's life to explain
God as far as we could. We will not understand him fully until the day that we
see him face to face in the resurrection. Until then, we use illustrations such
as the following to make sense out of what is beyond us at the moment.
has been described as the sun, the heat and light radiating from the sun and the
warmth we feel when we step out into the sunlight. The three are all one and the
same. The sun represents God the Father who is constantly radiating energy out
into space. That energy is like Jesus filling the universe and the warmth we feel
is like the Holy Spirit who is the manifestation of that energy that we experience
on earth. The analogy falls down in many respects but does give us a picture of
three distinct and different aspects of the one thing.
he is everywhere in his fullness, he is one. For things to be otherwise he would
have to be schizophrenic. Yet the Bible tells us that God is in heaven while we
are here on earth. Yet again we are told that his Holy Spirit has been sent here
to be with us as our Comforter. How can that all be?
wouldn't be true of me. When I am sitting here in my house, I am only in one place
but I can communicate with and influence people and things remotely (e.g., by
phone or the remote control on the TV or by banging on the ceiling with a broom handle). But that's
not me; it's just me exerting an influence.
could even go so far as to say that some parts of me are more "me" than
others. For example I could lose a limb or two and still be me, but not my head.
That's where I instinctively feel the "essential" me is.
God is as much God on a desert island in the Pacific as he is in heaven. He isn't
diminished by distance and his Holy Spirit isn't just an influence that he sends
to remotely control things on earth. He is as much God as the Father in heaven.
Jesus came to the earth some 2000 years ago he was fully God and fully man. (God
was his Father and a woman called Mary was his mother). Actually the Bible says
that he was begotten of the Holy Spirit, so he was his Father. But as he is fully
God too that's possible.
by understanding God as three persons in one Godhead we are not diminishing him
but rather saying that he is richer and greater than any one being could be who
filled all in all because he is a "Trinity" in nature.
The essential benefit for us in understanding God and His purposes from this is that he is not an isolated individual but rather exists in community. He loves fellowship. The intimacy and delight of the fellowship that the members of the Trinity share together, we can only dimly imagine. The awesome truth, revealed in the pages of Scripture is that this is something of his quality of life that he wants to share with us. Not as we are now but as we will be when he has changed us.
|(1 John 3:2)|
Interestingly, in the letters of the New Testament the greeting of "Grace and peace to you" are always written as being from God the Father and Jesus Christ, and never from the Holy Spirit.
(See Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2 (some manuscripts only have this from God our Father), 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4)
Scriptures talk almost exclusively of God as being male. Could she be equally
female? The very thought would shock many Christians. But why? Would that make
her be so inferior? God, I believe, has feminine characteristics equally as well
as masculine. God did not make "man" in his image but "mankind".
We were all made in his/her image. But the Bible was written in specific cultural
contexts. Namely, they were societies which were male dominated where women were
considered inferior. Therefore the thought of God being described as female would
have been offensive. That should not be true today, but among Christians it largely
still is because of the conservative nature of Christian culture and the fundamentalist/literalist
way most Christians interpret the Bible.
(I expect I lost a few readers there. For those who are still reading Thanks for hanging in there with me).
wasn't lonely or bored when he decided to make mankind. He lacked nothing in himself.
So why did he do it? Why not carry on as a Trinity for all eternity? I would like
to venture an opinion based on my own experiences. After all, we were made in
God's image, weren't we? A human parallel may not be a completely accurate one,
but I hope it is helpful.
the illustration of my own marriage. I have been married now for over 35 years
and the mutual love that my wife and I share, despite many ups and downs has grown
over the years. For the first three years of our marriage we were very content
to have each other to ourselves. But then we both agreed how wonderful it would
be to share the love we had together with some children of our own. This enriched
also challenged it and tested it on more than a few occasions.
children and seeing them grow up to be able to enjoy fellowship with you involves
many sacrifices. It means lost sleep (and not only when they are babies). It entails
sacrifices and pain. But your love for them and your delight in them makes it
feels the same way about us.
putting everything (on earth) under him (mankind), God left nothing that is not
subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we
see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory
and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God, he might taste
death for everyone.
|And again he says,|
|The fundamental reason for human existence is to fulfil the purposes of God. That purpose (given above) is to bring many sons (that is male and female - it's a generic term) into his glory. What does that mean? It means to be brought into God's presence and to enjoy an eternity with him, serving him and living as his children forever. It involves a change in our nature. When we become Christians we become partakers of his divine nature.|
|(2 Peter 1:3, 4)|
happens instantly when we become Christians. We receive the "down-payment"
of his Holy Spirit. We can then go on to grow in grace and knowledge (or we can
fail to grow as we should). The primary means by which God has provided for our
growth is prayer.
is all for God and to his glory. It is what pleases him and that is the end goal.
It actually is the best thing that could ever happen to us as well. At the first,
our motive for Christian growth is primarily selfish but as we grow and Christ
is more and more formed in us our motives become more Godlike.
realise that all this needs explanation. This process of Christian growth is slow
and often painful. It essentially involves a dying to self. It's not what many
people understand as the path of Christian growth which they may describe as "Every
day, in every way, I am getting better and better." To Christians who are
truly growing it often feels that they are the greatest failure and the weakest
Christian they know. (That's because they are recognising their own weakness,
which is a prerequisite to God imparting his strength.)
The kingdom of God is spiritual and appears paradoxical to humans naturally. What is weak appears strong and what is strong appears weak.
What God sees and has seen from before he created time was a vast family which has received his nature and ultimately his substance (spirit), free of the selfish desires of the flesh, living with him, inheriting and ruling the universe. The Church is described in Scripture as the bride of Christ.
|(Romans 8:29, 30)|
Of course, there's a mixture of analogies here. We can best understand our relationships in the kingdom of God as being loved like sons and daughters or a precious wife alongside our husband. The reality will be like these but perhaps a million times better. I sincerely believe we couldn't fully understand it if God told us what it will be like. The essential truth is that we will be with God forever in his kingdom, not as puppets or slaves but as his precious family.
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