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"A Christian should not follow the crowd, but rather show them the way."

 
"You yourselves are our letters of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:2-3,
RSV)

 

Lesson #1 - God

by Douglas Jones

"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

It is no accident that God is the subject of the very first verse of the Bible. That He exists is the basic truth upon which all reality depends. Without God there is nothing. From the viewpoint of the Biblical writers, the existence of God needs no proof. There is overwhelming evidence of His existence and activity on every hand. "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. . ." (Romans 1:20). Further, He "left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17).

The Eternity of God

Difficult as it is for our finite minds to grasp, God has neither beginning nor end. In the words of the Psalmist: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou are God" (Psalm 90:2). He is, Isaiah says, "the hihg and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity. . ." (Isaiah 57:15). God therefore is not only outside the limitations of time but also free from all change. Heaven and earth, the Psalmist declares, "shall be changed: but thou are the same, and thy years shall have no end" (Psalm 102:27). Moreover, God Himself declares: "I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6).

Consequently, there is abiding security, Moses tells us, only in Him who is timeless: "the eternal God is thy refuge" (Deuteronomy 33:27). On the other hand, it is futile to seek security in the ever-changing things of earth and time, "For the fashion of this world passeth away" (I Corinthians 7:31).

The Omnipresence of God

God is not limited by space. "Behold," marvels Solomon, "the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee" (I Kings 8:27). Neither is God confined to any place. Know and consider, urges Moses, "that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath" (Deuteronomy 4:39). In awe David asks: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me. . ." (Psalm 139:7-10).

"Do I not fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:24). On hearing this scripture a puzzled child asked, "If God is everywhere, how is there any room for us?" The answer, of course, is that God is not a material but a spiritual Being. His presence does not exclude our existence but rather makes in possible: "For in him, we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

The Omniscience of God

All things, past, present, and future, are known to God. By the mouth of the prophet Isaiah He proclaims: "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done" (Isaiah 46:9-10). The writer of Hebrews adds: "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13).

No though is hidden from Him, "for the Lord searches all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts" (I Chronicles 28:9). God, the Psalmist acknowledges, is "acquainted with all my ways" (Psalm 139:3), and "my sins are not hid from thee" (Psalm 69:5). Again, the Psalmist says: "Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).

Beyond what God has revealed, then, there is for our finite minds "no searching of his understanding" (Isaiah 40:28). No wonder the apostle Paul exclaims: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).

The Omnipotence of God

The power of God is limitless. He is therefore described as "the Lord God omnipotent" (Revelation 19:6). Job confesses: "I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee" (Job 42:1-2). The totality of God's power is indicated by the following: (1) Nothing exists without Him. He is "the great God that formed all things" (Proverbs 26:10); (2) Nothing can thwart His purposes. He "doeth according to his will. . . and none can stay his hand" (Daniel 4:35).

NOTE: While God's power is without limit, it must be remembered that He cannot use that power in any way contrary to His own character. Thus when Jesus says, "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26), He means all things that are morally right. It is, for example, "impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18).

The Character of God

Something of the character of God may be found on virtually every page of the Bible. Here, however, a few brief references must suffice.

  1. God is righteous and holy: "The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works" (Psalm 145:17).
  2. He is gracious and merciful: "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful" (Psalm 116:5).
  3. He is kind: He is "a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness" (Nehemiah 9:17).
  4. He is a loving God: "God is love" (I John 4:16). "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
  5. God is faithful: "O Lord, thou are my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth" (Isaiah 25:1).
  6. He is longsuffering: God "is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

God as Savior

It is "God our Savior," writes Paul, "who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:3-4). God sent His Son to provide men salvation from the consequences of sin. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. . ." (I Timothy 1:15). Further, God sent messengers to proclaim this good news. Regarding his own commitment to proclaiming the message, Paul says: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

God as Judge

Abraham long ago posed a vital question: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). Indeed He shall! David is emphatic: "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether" (Psalm 19:9). In view of the fact, then, that God is an absolutely righteous Judge, it is certain, as Paul insists, that He "will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath" (Romans 2:6-8).

So it is not surprising that Paul, toward the close of his own fruitful life, could say with all confidence, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (II Timothy 4:7-8).

Summary Truths

It is impossible to avoid a decision about God. Simply to ignore Him is as much a decision as to deny His existence, and carries the same fatal consequences. His "fingerprints" are all about us. His voice, moreover, continues to sound forth from the Scriptures, calling upon men to believe in Him. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder to them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

There are two short quizzes for this lesson. Review all the material and go to the quizzes! You may wish to print this lesson to assist you with the quizzes.

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