September 20, 2017 Apologetics Series: Who is God Pt.1

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The Christians in the world 

"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. 

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.  

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred. 

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments. 

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself. 

From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401) c. AD 130

 

This is not an exhaustive explanation of who God but an overview of His qualities and various names used to describe Him.

Who is God?

“God is not some cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button to get things done” ---Henry Fosdick

God is:

Creator-

Genesis 1-2

Nehemiah 9:6- “you alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You.”

Revelation 4:11- “Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

(ba’ra)  בָּרָא This term is only used in relation to God creating. We do not have the capacity to create. We can only make things out of already existing material. God has the power to create out of nothing which is called “Ex-nihilo”.

"It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. And it is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being."
-George Washington

God is:

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

Father-

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

 

Isaiah 64:8- “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We as the clay and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.

Ephesians 4:6 states that the He is the father of all creation but He is the spiritual father to only those that believe.

Romans 8:14- 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 

2 Co 6:18- “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

(What’s interesting here is that this is only talking to believers. Only a couple verses before this, Paul states that believers shouldn’t be bound to unbelievers and that Christ has no harmony with Bilial. So even more, how could God have communion with sinners? If we are not redeemed through Christ we are not a child of God.)
Names of God through Scripture:

Elohim- אֱלֹהִים

·         God, god(s) (strength, power or effect)

·         Occurs over 2500 times in the Old Testament

Elohim is the word used for God in Genesis 1:1

It is not a term that is exclusively used for God.

            It is used for human rulers, false gods, etc…

                        Used as a term for “human rulers, judges” but each of these lower case e- “elohim” have to answer to the capital E Elohim.

God vs. gods

·         God is all powerful

·         God does not change

·         God is not like man

o   We see in other traditions that their “god” is almost identical to them, that they are saved (if they need salvation) through what they can do. It is based on good outweighing evil.

o   The God of the Bible, instead, shows us that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. It only comes through Him.

o   Pantheism and deism twist many people’s view of how God relates to His creation. Pantheists believe that everything is God or is a part of God, making Him equal with His creation and unable to act upon it. Deists hold that God is distinct from His creation but deny that He plays an active role in it. Contrary to these and other false views of God, the Bible says that God is both different from His creation and actively upholding it.

Numbers 23:19 19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

 

1 Kings 18: 20-40 - Mt. Carmel  (Example of God vs man made gods in scripture)

God is Transcendent

·         Existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe.

“Not approached in a casual, flippant manner, nor sidled up to as one might fraternize with a chum at a football game.”

“Holiness demands a response of reverence, awe and reverential wonder.”

Psalm 97:9- For you are the LORD Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.”

Isaiah 55:9- As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God is Immanent

·          Permanently pervading and sustaining the universe.

·         Pervade: be present and apparent throughout.

Colossians 1:17 – “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Job 33:4 – “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

John 1:1-3;14

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Shepherd- Psalm 23:1

Physician- Ex. 15:26

Bridegroom- Isaiah 61:10

Friend- Exodus 33:11

El- The strong and mighty one

El Shaddai- God the All-sufficient who nourishes and sustains; All Powerful

El Roy- The God who sees all

Elolam- Everlasting God

 

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