Who is God? – Part 2
“Philip said to him, ‘Show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied’” (See John 14:8-11, RSV).
We know that God is a person and not just some impersonal force or power. We are invited to a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, and challenged to love him with all our “heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:20). Jesus taught that God is “Spirit”, and that we must “worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Among his transcendent attributes (which identify him as “other”) are his self-existence (he is uncreated), his immutability (he is unchanging), his immensity (he is bigger than we can conceive), his eternal nature, and what I have come to call the “omnis” – his omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. His personal attributes include his holiness, his righteousness, his truthfulness, and his love.
Knowing something about who God is, we may now ask, “What does God do?” Did he just set everything in motion and go on holiday, or is he still busy? Is he still involved? There are a surprising number of attempts to answer that question. The atheist simply says, “There is no God.” (The Psalmist has another name for the person who says this! See Psalm 14:1) The pantheist goes to the opposite extreme and says, “Everything is God and God is everything, so he is everywhere, doing everything! God is a person, but he is also a rock, a river, and a tree!” The deist says, “Yes, God created everything, but now, having set everything in motion, he has become a by-stander. He is not involved.” The theist, which represents the Christian view, says, “The God who created everything is still involved. He is interested. He cares. He listens. He responds. He acts.”
What, exactly, does God do? The Bible reveals him as Creator. The Genesis account declares, “In the beginning God created….” (1:1). He is the Author, the Artist, the Architect of the universe and all that is in it. He who created continues to create. The Bible also reveals God as the Sustainer. We speak of the “providence” of God – the fact that he provides for his creation, and for us in particular. He sends the sunshine and rain. He causes food to come forth from the earth. He has ordered the laws of the universe for our preservation. The Bible reveals God as our Redeemer. This is the inexhaustible theme of scripture. The God who made us loves us, though we are sinners, and has reached out to us in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world – the one who suffered for us, died for us, was buried, rose from the grave, and ever lives to make intercession for us. The Bible is salvation-history, the constant reminder that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The Bible reveals to us that God is Lord. That is more than a polite title. We do not “make him Lord”. He is not running for the office of “Master”. We must recognize that “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that he is Lord” (Philippians 2:11). Do you know who God is? Do you know what God does? Do you know him through your personal encounters with him? Do you know him by his Son’s name (Acts 4:12)?
Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.