The Nature of God
Charles F. Strong
Man, with his cerebral limitations, will never be able to completely understand the nature of God. Even when Christians receive their glorified bodies and reside for an eternity with God they will be unable to fully comprehend the nature, the character, the magnitude and the glory of God Almighty.
That said, God does allow the serious Bible student glimpses of His nature within the canonized text of His Word. An understanding of God’s nature, as the Bible reveals it, will insulate a person—lost or saved—from being sucked into the many religions of this day that twist and interlace into Scripture philosophical and “New Age” cogitations that distort the image and nature of God, which is idolatry.
It is well to understand that Christianity is not a “religion.” Religion is the self-efforts of man to achieve the approbation (approval) of God. Religion teaches that it is up to man to work hard, to do good, to display morality and kindness, to support a church, to do penance, to follow a system of rules and laws—in brief to “pull himself up by his own bootstraps” to achieve forgiveness and eternal life. Religion has always been and will always be, as long as there is time as we know it, the primary tool of Satan in leading man away from God. Christianity is not religion.
Christianity is a union or relationship with a Person—Jesus Christ. Being a member of a church or ascribing to a set of rules doesn’t make a person a Christian. There is only one way a person becomes a Christian. There is only one way that a person can receive atonement and forgiveness for his sins. There is only one way a person can receive eternal life with God, which life can never be taken away. That way is embodied in the words of Christ when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
The Gospel (Good News) of salvation is simply this, and it is expressed here in two parts.
On becoming a Christian many wonderful things happen that one can only understand and appreciate by learning Bible doctrine. For this reason it is very important for the new Christian to personally study and immerse himself in the Word of God (the canonized text, or the Bible). A Bible-based church (one that centers on Jesus Christ and practices His commandment to love) and association with other dedicated Christians is very helpful in this endeavor. And one of the very first doctrines a young Christian should learn is the doctrine of God, one aspect of it being His Nature. This study will assist to this end. Furthermore, it is strongly recommended that a new Christian read “The Pathway to Spiritual Maturity & the Coming Glory,” and several of the books by Arlen L. Chitwood, all of which may be accessed from the home page of www.bibleone.net.
God, in His Word and in His incarnation as Jesus Christ, chooses to personally reveal Himself to man. He loves His creation—every man, woman and child—and He wants everyone to know and experience Him. If man visualizes God strictly from “man’s concept of man,” which is the “naturalistic worldview,” he’ll completely miss the mark.
Man knows for certain only four dimensions, length, height, width and time; although, science now believes that a number of other dimensions (approximately 10) exist. Using only known dimensions, man will see God having limited capacity. He, in effect, will be placing God in a box (of limitations), which is equivalent to making and worshipping an “image.” God warns against corrupting His nature, which is idolatry.
You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars--all the heavenly array--do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19)
This will not be an exhaustive study on the Nature of God, but it will provide an adequate foundation for both the lost and saved alike in the understanding of His Nature, as the Bible reveals it.
GOD is LIFE
God is not simply an impersonal force, a divine principle or an inanimate object. He is life, He is the author of all life and He has personality. All life emanates from Him. Without Him there could never have been life. At the restoration of the heavens and the earth, He alone could breathe into all living matter the essence of life. And especially in the creation of man, He breathed a special kind of life that conformed man “into the image of God,” which is that man has been made a triune-person (body, soul and spirit) with the ability to make independent (willful) decisions. The institution of life upon earth was personally performed by Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and He personally maintains the universe and all life therein (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7; John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1, 2; Revelation 4:11).
Jeremiah 10:6-16 best reveals God as the Living God, distinct from dead idols.
No one is like You, O LORD; You are great, and Your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere You, O King of the nations? This is Your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like You. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols. Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz. What the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple—all made by skilled workers. But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King. When He is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure His wrath. "Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’” But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding. When He thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from His storehouses. Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for He is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the tribe of His inheritance—the LORD Almighty is His name. (Underlining added for emphasis)
God is life and not like dead idols made in the minds and with the hands of man. He alone has life and personality. He sees, hears, creates, declares and embodies emotions as man knows them. He is a very real “Person” who is concerned about every one within His creation. Only a God with personality can love. God lives and has personality; therefore, He loves us and wants to make Himself known to us so that we may personally experience Him. The recognition or worship of any god other than the true God who is both alive and who has personality is idolatry.
GOD is SPIRIT
Although God lives and has personality, He is not contained in a body (even though He once manifested Himself in the physical body of Jesus Christ and now manifests Himself in the resurrected and glorified body of Jesus Christ). He essentially is Spirit. Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that “God is Spirit.” Jesus also confirms in Luke 24:37-39 that spirit is not composed of “flesh and bones.” The Old Testament declared that God had no “form.” Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. (Deuteronomy 4:12) You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. . . . (Deuteronomy 4:15)
As Spirit, God cannot be seen or touched. This has never satisfied man, and this is why so many of today’s world religions proffer statues and images of God and other religious icons. Man wishes to reduce God down to something on his plain, which he can feel and see. That is idolatry.
GOD is SELF-EXISTENT
God is life that never had a beginning and will never have an ending. He was not created. He is self-existent. As such, He is the one and only true God—the Eternal One. There are no others! This is best seen in God’s instructions to Moses when He sent Moses back to the Israelites in Exodus 3:14, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” The term “I Am,” in the Hebrew text is a term of self-existence. God’s life depends on no one or no thing. He has always lived, and He will never die. He is uniquely God, which is confirmed in Isaiah 44:6 where He says, “This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the First and I am the Last; apart from Me there is no God.”
Man is only able to understand “linier-time.” Time is always expressed by man as a line with a beginning and an ending. Man’s mind cannot fathom a life with no beginning and no ending; therefore, he will never be able to fully understand or appreciate the Eternal God other than through the vehicle of “faith.” Through religion and philosophy man has created a definition of God that is miniscule and which excludes the one and true God. That is idolatry.
GOD is SOVEREIGN
God is the Supreme Authority, the only Ruler of all creation. He alone possesses and merits ultimate power, greatness, glory, splendor and majesty. He alone is exalted over all creation.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; You are exalted as Head over all. Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:11-13)
Again, in Isaiah 45:5, 6 we are told:
I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from Me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged Me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
All creation exists by and for God (Colossians 1:16). 1 Timothy 6:15 & 16 states it beautifully, “. . . God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen.” And again in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”
There is only one Eternal God, and He is over all. Mankind doesn’t want to accept this by and large; therefore, man does all within his power to minimize and regulate the concept of God through religion and philosophy. That is idolatry.
GOD is IMMUTABLE
God is unchangeable (the meaning of the word, “immutable”) as to His nature and purpose. He was and is rock-solid throughout pre-time eternity, throughout time and throughout post-time eternity. God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrew 13:8).
But You remain the same, and Your years will never end. (Psalm 102:27)
I the LORD do not change. . . . (Malachi 3:6)
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. (Hebrews 6:17, 18)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
In God man has a solid foundation. While He never changes in His nature and purpose, He has used different methods in His outreach to His creation. As He dealt with Moses, Noah, Abraham and the children of Israel in various ways throughout history He also deals with each individual in a different manner in order that everyone may experience Him. Since His nature and purpose never changes, He is always consistent in truth, in love, in mercy and in judgment. He has always been consistent in requiring faith as the basis for an individual’s justification before God. Being consistent in truth requires that any new revelation (or interpretation) of God today is to be consistent with all revelations and interpretations of the past. If any such new revelation or interpretation contradicts that of the past, one can know that it is not of God.
Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations . . . . (Psalm 119:89, 90)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.
All revelation and interpretation must be tried and tested by God’s Word (Acts 17:11;
2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Hebrews 4:12, 13; Revelation 22:18, 19). But man often rejects God’s Word for various religions or philosophies. After all, it is the “New Age,” where God is an impersonal force or a guiding principle or something else conjured up by the mind of man. That is idolatry.
GOD is OMNIPOTENT
God is all-powerful (the meaning of the word, “omnipotent”). There is nothing He is incapable of doing as long as it is consistent with His nature and purpose. He created the universe, the earth and all living matter (plant, animal, human and angelic). He is truly God Almighty, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. A review of Isaiah 40:12-31 will provide a glimpse of the magnitude of God’s limitless power.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1)
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Still man will not recognize God’s power. Satan, through pride, sought to elevate himself to be as powerful as God, and so does man by reducing God to a powerless concept or object. That is idolatry.
GOD is OMNISCIENT
God is all-knowing (the meaning of the word, “omniscient”). He knows all science, all mathematics, all history, all philosophies and all other subjects that have ever existed. What’s more is that His knowledge is perfect. It is absolutely complete. He knows every detail of His creation. He knows every hair on anyone’s head. He knows every molecule in all matter, past, present and future. He knows every thought and intent of anyone’s heart. He is omniscient.
O LORD, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD. (Psalm 139:1-4)
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:4, 5)
. . . LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. . . .
(1 Chronicles 28:9)
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” (Romans 11:33, 34)
God knows all things, and He knows them equally well. There is nothing hidden from Him—no action or any thought. Yet man turns his back thinking that God will not know or see him, turning rather to man-made, Satan-inspired religions or New Age doctrine. That is idolatry.
GOD is OMNIPRESENT
God is everywhere at once (the meaning of the word, “omnipresent”). There is no hiding from God. He is present throughout all pre-time eternity, throughout all time and throughout all post-time eternity, all at once. God is present in the smallest planet in the most distant galaxy; and at the same time He is present in every molecule of your heart and mind (Isaiah 57:15). Study Psalm 139:5-18 and know that God is everywhere. Not only is God everywhere in eternity and time, but He is also in every dimension that may exist. He is all-dimensional. God is not confined by time, space or dimension. These are aspects of creation. God is supernatural and is never limited by any element of creation. There is nowhere that God is not present.
But even though God is omnipresent, He is also transcendent. This means that He is detached from His creation as an independent, self-existing Being. He is not the creation, even though He is present everywhere in it. This is why the Eastern concept of pantheism is invalid. The New Age teaching of “Mother Earth” is likewise totally false. God is the Creator and as such is totally independent from His creation. Yet man wishes to hide from God by worshipping at the altar of atheism or at the altars of innumerable religions, cults and movements. That is idolatry.
GOD is HOLY
God is purity personified. He is perfect in every way. He is the embodiment of truth and righteousness. He is Holy.
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)
For this is what the high and lofty One says—He who lives forever, whose name is Holy. (Isaiah 57:15)
. . . For I am God, and not man—the Holy One among you . . . . (Hosea 11:9)
The Lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works. (Psalm 145:17)
This aspect of His nature establishes the standard for all His created sentient beings entrusted with a spirit and soul, and it requires judgment on those who fail to obtain it. Because He is righteous, He requires righteousness from man (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15, 16). And since this is a requirement impossible for man to meet due to his sin nature, Jesus Christ was sent to die in man’s place so that by faith alone in Christ alone man could be presented to God covered by the righteousness of Christ.
Man basically wishes to go his own way. He wants nothing to do with holiness. If he is to achieve righteousness, he demands to do it his way through religion and philosophy, thereby turning his back on God’s solution—Jesus Christ. That is idolatry.
GOD is TRIUNE
Although there is only one God, He reveals Himself through three distinct personalities—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The notable Bible expositor, Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his Systematic Theology, Volume 1, says this about the doctrine of the Trinity.
Probably no doctrine of the Word of God is more far-reaching in its implications than that of the Trinity. Those who fail to see this and who minimize its importance usually embrace some heresy regarding the two Persons—the Second and the Third.
If needed, a detailed treatment on the Trinity from the perspectives of reason and revelation may be found in the above theological reference. Even though no argument has ever been advanced against the Trinitarian concept other than it does not conform to the limitations of the mind of man, the exposition in the above reference will fortify Christians in their faith.
God subsists as a plurality of Persons. This triune mode of existence is clearly seen throughout God’s canonized Word, from the plurality of the name of God (Heb. Elohim) in the Old Testament to the application of the attributes, works and worship of God throughout the Bible. Those who accept the Father as God, yet refuse to do the same for Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, either refuse portions or the entire Bible as God’s Word. Within its pages Jesus is called God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; 1 John 5:20), and the Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-9; 2 Corinthians 3:17). Consider also Matthew 28:19; John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14; and 1 Peter 1:2.
This concept of the nature of God is most important, since almost all religions, heresies and cults fail to recognize it. They advance a formulation of God inconsistent with His revelation in Holy Scripture. That is idolatry.
God is all of the above, yet He deeply cares about His creation. He personally wants a relationship with man; therefore, He reveals Himself to man through love, mercy and grace (Psalm 103:17; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9, 10). He did this in His incarnation as Jesus Christ who died for us so that we may have eternal life.