Understanding God – Nature, Character, Motivation

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us – AW Tozer

Why understand God?

  • God is incomprehensible. (Job 11:7) but He has revealed himself to us. (John 1:18)
  • We were designed to want to understand God.  Everything we do points to a longing for the one who created us. (Ecclesiastes – everything is “striving after spirit.”)
  • God’s character and nature is the foundation for all wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. (Proverbs 9:10) This means understanding God helps us to understand everything else.
  • Our understanding of God effects the way we live.  We can’t see clearly otherwise.  (Psalms 14:1-4; Hosea 4:6)

The Essence of God

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one

God has eternally existed as a unified three-in-one entity.  As Father, Son, and Spirit  (The Trinity). Equally God (character, attributes, what is true about God).  Individual yet “one.”  Different functions and roles.

  • God as Plural (Genesis 1:26; Isaiah 6:8)
  • God as One – Singular / Unified (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:6)
  • Three identified (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34; Romans 15:30; 1 Corinthians 12:5-7; 1 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:4-6; Ephesians 5:18-20; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2)
  • The Plural name of God ‘elohim,’ occurs over 2250 times.

What is God like?

Creator of everything (Genesis 1:1; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalms 115:15, 121:2; Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:3; Revelation 4:11)

Transcendent – God is not human.  He is “other”(Acts 17:24-29)

Self existent / self sustaining – God has not been created and that He has no need for anyone to sustain Him.  (John 5:26).

All powerful (omnipotent) – God is all powerful.  That there is nothing that has more power than God has. (Jeremiah 32:17)

Always present (omnipresent) – The Bible tells us that because we exist within a realm of God – He is everywhere all the time.  There is no where we can go God isn’t aware of. (Psalm 139; Jeremiah 23:23-24)

All knowing (omniscient) – The Bible tells us that God is the focal point and source of all wisdom and understanding.  He is all knowing.  He sees the beginning from the end.  (Isaiah 40:13-14)

Unchanging (immutable) – The Bible teaches us that God does not change – He stays the same.  He’s always been the same.  He hasn’t evolved.  He has no need to “grow up.” (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17)

Understanding God

What motivates God?

  • Father, Son, Spirit have the same motivation (John 14:7-18; 1 John 5:7)
  • Perfect love is the cornerstone of God’s character and nature.  “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
  • Everything that flows from God is motivated by perfect love. (James 1:17)
  • Eternity required to understand God’s perfect love. (Romans 8:37-39; Ephesians 3:14-21)
  • Our finite mind cannot fully grasp an infinite God and His love. (John 21:25)
  • We can get a glimpse of God’s perfect love. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The best way to understand how God is like and what His love is like is to understand is love on a continuum of life to death.  Because God is the source of life – everything that flows from Him is a reflection of who He is.

god

Love seen in:

  • Goodness: God’s goodness speaks of the nature of His love. He is constantly drawing us towards life.  (Psalms 73:1; Romans 8:28 )
  • Faithfulness: God’s faithfulness speaks of the constancy of His love.  He keeps giving us life.  (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • Justice: God’s justice speaks of the equal distribution of His love.  He administers life equally to all. (Exodus 34:6-7; Psalms 19:7-11)
  • Holiness (righteous, true): God’s holiness speaks of the quantity of His love.  He is drawing us towards life filled activity.   (Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 22:36-40)
  • Mercy & Grace: God’s mercy and grace speaks of the quality of His love.  He keeps giving us second chances at life. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
  • Sovereignty: God’s sovereignty speaks of the power and authority of His love.  He is working in all things to bring us life.  (Romans 8:28, 38-39)

Emotions: God’s emotions – even what we’d consider negative emotions – reflects His love.

  • Anger – God gets angry when anything begins to threaten His good creation (Psalms 30:5).
  • Deep Pain / Grief – God’s love causes Him deep pain.  (Isaiah 53:3-8).
  • Desire / Jealousy – Anything that promises what only God can offer us in fulfillment  he hates (Matthew 12:7, 15:8; Luke 13:34; James 4:5; Hosea 6:6)

God’s names: God makes Himself available to us at our point of greatest need.  Here are a few:

  • JEHOVAH-ROHI – meaning “The Lord my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1)
  • JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH – meaning “The Lord who is present” (Ezekiel 48:35)
  • JEHOVAH-RAPHA – meaning “The Lord our healer” (Exodus 15:26)
  • JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU – meaning “The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6)
  • JEHOVAH-JIREH – meaning “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:13-14)
  • JEHOVAH-NISSI – meaning “The Lord’s presence gives us victory” (Exodus 17:15)
  • JEHOVAH-SHALOM – meaning “The Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24)
  • JEHOVAH-SABBAOTH – meaning “The Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah 6:1-3)

The greatest way to see God’s love is to look back over history and see His interaction with humanity unfold.  To see what He has actually done.  As we look at how the Bible paints for us a picture of the way all of life has unfolded we will begin to see God’s love in everything that He does.  In creating us.  In sustaining, maintaining and dealing with us.  In redeeming us.  In empowering us.  In completing us.  We will come to realize that everything is as it is because of God’s nature.