What is God really like?

“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”
What is God really like?

We may think we know the answer to that question. We follow Jesus Christ who said “I and the Father are one” and “He who has seen me has seen the Father”. So we may think we know what God is like. And we are so, so wrong!

We worship a God who is eminently approachable. In our Baptist traditions we do not need priests in vestments to reveal God to us and represent us before God. We do not come before God in complicated liturgies with prayers written by great saints – we do not use ancient hymns full of words we don’t understand and music which is so beautiful only choirs are allowed to sing it. We use ordinary everyday language and ordinary music we can all sing along to. So our God is eminently approachable. The problem is that idea of God we have is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH too small and MUCH MUCH MUCH LESS glorious than the God worshipped by people who do have those priests and choirs and elaborate rituals – the God worshipped by the vast majority of Christians for two thousand years and worshipped by the Jews for four millenia!

What is God really like? We don’t know. But we do know that the God of the Old Testament is a great and majestic and holy God who was totally unapproachable by ordinary mortals. A God so holy that NOBODY could see the face of God and live! A God who is a consuming fire!
And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, So says Moses!
20 Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.
“Fear the Lord” We know so little of “the fear of the Lord” which rightly held the Israelites in reverence and awe and wonder.

What is God really like? We don’t know – because we CANNOT know! In this life, we see but as in a glass, darkly!

1 Corinthians 10:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Even if we have a faint glimmering we can never describe what God is like, because human language does not begin to have the words to describe the Divine! Human language is limited – and religious language has become devalued.
Consider a word like “awesome”. It used to mean “awesome” – inspiring us to awe and wonder – now it just means mildly interesting. Especially in this age of media and trivia, language has been wasted. Words to describe the really big or really great have been trivialised.
With some words nobody knows what they mean any more e.g. “ineffable” (indescribable, inexpressible, beyond words, overwhelming). People have lost the language which used to be used to describe the indescribable.
Some people attempt to make the deep things of God accessible to folk who are new to Christian things by only using words which everybody can understand. But that reduces the awesome God we are describing to our everyday human level. So I can say without fear of contradiction that, WHATEVER ideas you have about God, your God isn’t big enough! Your ideas about God aren’t great enough!

NONE of our language is adequate to describe God! So there are 3 basic approaches to talking about God.

We can use analogies, similies and metaphors. God is like this ……..
“God is light”. In fact God is not light – but He is like light. God is Father – well God does not have human offspring as all other human fathers do – but God acts towards his children as human fathers do – or at least as human fathers should. God is the perfect parent. “God is a consuming fire.” Analogies. Useful but inadequate.

We can use superlatives – God is the most …. . So we have a quality which we see in some small measure in everyday life, and we say that God is the ultimate in that. We see goodness – God is ultimately good. We see power – God is ultimately powerful. Superlatives – useful but inadequate – God is much much bigger than that!!!

We can speak about what God is not – the “negative road” used by some philosophers. We are limited – God is not. We are selfish – God is not. “Nothing is impossible for God!” “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” “God is not man that He should lie.”
We have partial knowledge – God knows everything. There is nothing which God does not know! So all we know is what we don’t know. What is God really like? We don’t know – we just know what he isn’t like!

Our language to describe God is pitifully inadequate because our brains are too weak and puny to begin to conceive of just how great God is!

What is God really like? The second commandment forbids us from making any images of God, because they would be unworthy of Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth! But we can use words and ideas to begin to glimpse the face of God. So here are seven truths which the Bible does reveal to us about God. Bow down and worship, for this is your God!

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no-one can fathom. (Psalm 145:3)

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
(Psalm 150:2)

“Do we want to contemplate God’s power? We see it in the immensity of the creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth.” Thomas Paine (18th century)

“Your thoughts of God are too human.” This is where most of us go astray. Our thoughts of God are not great enough; we fail to reckon with the reality of his limitless wisdom and power. Put this mistake right: learn to acknowledge the full majesty of your incomparable God and Saviour.
(Jim Packer)

“God is greater than mind itself. His greatness cannot be conceived. Nay, could we conceive of his greatness he would be less than the human mind which could form the conception. He is greater than all language, and no statement can express him.” (Novatian, 3rd Century)

1. Omnipotent – All powerful

God is Almighty
God can do ANYTHING He chooses
“Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37)
God’s Almighty power is only constrained by
His Character and His purposes
If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31

2. Omniscient – All knowing

TOTAL knowledge, understanding and wisdom
God knows everything there is to know about the past, the present and the future
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:6
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isa 55:8-9
God completely understands our situations.

3. Omnipresent – Everywhere all the time

God is everywhere and with us all the time
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10)
God is with you whatever problems you face.

4. Eternal – beyond time

God is outside time and beyond time
God is before created time and after created time.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come. Isaiah 46:10
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8
God sees our lives from the perspective of eternity.

5. Holy

Set apart, different, pure,
Perfect in righteousness and justice
I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he. (Deuteronomy 32:3-4)
God is never going to let us down or cheat us.

6. All-loving

God is love. 1 John 4:8
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23
(New Revised Standard Version)
Nothing can separate us from God’s love!

7. Transcendent

In every way God exceeds, goes beyond, rises above, excels over , surpasses ANYTHING we can begin to imagine.

We can trust even when we cannot understand what is happening

1. Omnipotent – All powerful
2. Omniscient – All knowing
3. Omnipresent – Everywhere all the time
4. Eternal – beyond time
5. Holy
6. All-loving
7. Transcendent

GREAT IS THE LORD – and greatly to be praised!!

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