Lesson 1: The Person We Call God | Biblical Foundations for Living

Who am I? I am a finite creature who is responsible to the infinite Creator.

Introduction to the Doctrine of God

The word “theology” means “the study of God.” It is used in both a general sense and a specific sense. The word is applied generally to any study of biblical truth. A study specifically concerned with the person of God is known as Theology Proper. This is the subject of the five lessons in this section.


It might seem unusual to begin the answer to the question, “Who am I?,” with a study of the person of God. Some, no doubt, would begin to answer the question with a challenge to look inside and know oneself. Others would begin with a discourse on self-esteem. But, just as the logical starting place in any book is the beginning, so our study must start “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). Your life is a small part of a greater history. You are part of the human race. To know yourself, you must see the “big picture.” Specifically, you must understand how and why humanity came into being. This requires an understanding of the One who created you.

Without a clear and accurate knowledge of the character of the true God, the Christian faith is unintelligible and principles of Christian living are meaningless. Therefore, this study of the doctrine of God will provide the foundation for every other lesson in Biblical Foundations for Living.

If you are a believer, you know God. Think about it! You know Him and can come to understand Him better (Jeremiah 9:24). [But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.] Getting to know God better is a goal the Christian will spend his entire life pursuing. It is a pursuit that is never boring or impractical. To know God is the most relevant activity one can undertake. It is life-changing.

Lesson 1: The Person We Call God

This lesson is designed to introduce you to three basic truths about God. It is simply an introduction because there will always be more to learn about Him. These three truths will form the foundation for your life-long task of developing your understanding of God. These three truths are:

1. God exists .

2. God is a person .

3. God is a triunity .

I. God Exists.

This truth might sound obvious, but it is the place where a discussion of God must begin, seeing His existence is doubted or denied by many.

[The word for “God” in Greek is theos. A theist says God (or a god) does exist. An atheist is one who says God does not exist. An agnostic says one cannot know if God exists or not. ]

Note the following facts about His existence:

A. The existence of God is stated as fact in Scripture.

From the opening words of the Bible, the reader is brought face to face with his Creator. No attempt is made to prove His existence.

Genesis 1:1 begins with a clear statement of fact: “In the beginning God . . . .”

God is under no obligation to prove to man that He exists. Any such obligation would make God answerable to man rather than vice versa. Nevertheless, God has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word. Anyone who genuinely desires to know God can gain an understanding of Him from the Bible.

B. The existence of God is a matter of faith .

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.   Hebrews 11:6

Throughout history, Christians have tried to convince non Christians that God exists by using weighty, logical arguments. The best these arguments can accomplish is to demonstrate the probability , but never the certainty , of God’s existence. All men know that there is a god of some sort. The true God, however, can only be known through faith in the Scriptures.

[The fact that all people know something about God is true because of general revelation (c.f., Rom 1:18-20). Special revelation (the Bible) is necessary for us to know more about God. ]

Is it possible to prove God’s existence? No. Is it necessary? No. Rom 10:17–faith comes thru hearing the word of God, not by being convinced that God exists, etc. Further, one exercises faith because God gives him the gift of faith (Eph 2:8), not because he is convinced intellectually of the Bible’s truth.]

II. God is a Person.

Most people are somewhat religious. The existence of a supreme power makes sense to them, but they refuse to admit that this power is the God of the Bible. Many (such as those under the influence of Far Eastern mystical religions) have come to think of God as a force or controlling energy . The Bible is very clear, however, that He is a person.

A. The components of God’s personality

[By “personality” I don’t mean happy or outgoing or shy. I mean personhood. God is a person. He has the components of personality. ]

The Bible presents a complex view of personality, whether human or divine. Theologians sometimes differ as to what constitutes personality but usually agree that it involves three things, all three of which God does.

1. God thinks .

This is the function of the mind . As a thinking being, God possesses wisdom , understanding , and knowledge .

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.   Proverbs 3:19 20

2. God acts .

This is the function of the will . God does not act on impulse or in submission to the laws of nature. His actions are free and in keeping with His purposes .

From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.   Isaiah 46:11

[When we say that God is free, we mean that He is the only one who is truly unlimited in action. All other beings have limitations; God doesn’t. Although He is free to do anything He wills, He will only do those things that are in keeping with His purposes and character. There are things he can’t do: immoral things and impossible things (e.g., make a square circle).]

3. God feels .

This is the function of the emotions . The Bible is clear that our God feels a full range of emotions  from joy (Isaiah 62:5) to sorrow (Gen. 6:6) and from compassion (Psalm 145:8) to hate (Psalm 5:5).

B. The significance of God’s personality

The statement, “God is a person,” has critical implications for the Christian life. Consider the following:

1. The personality of God gives meaning to prayer .

The Christian actually communicates with God when he prays. Prayer is not a mechanical activity designed simply to obtain God’s favor, nor is it a mystical experience designed to make one feel good. Genuine prayer is heard and answered by a personal God.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.   Matthew 6:7 8

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.   1 Peter 5:7

2. The personality of God gives meaning to worship .

Whereas idols are inanimate and unresponsive, the God we worship is a person who is pleased with our praise and interacts with us.

To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared? Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Though one cries out to it, it does not answer; it cannot save him from his troubles.   Isaiah 46:5 7

3. The personality of God gives meaning to service .

Duty imposed apart from personal involvement is empty and unfulfilling and soon becomes drudgery. The God we serve places duties upon us, yet is personally involved in our labors.

To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.   Colossians 1:29

III. God is a Triunity.

Christianity has traditionally taught the doctrine of the Trinity . The word “Triunity,” however, is a better expression. Triunity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three persons : the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This suggests:

A. The unity of the Godhead

Unlike the ancient pagans, who believed in many gods ( polytheism ), the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God ( monotheism ).

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.   Deuteronomy 6:4

B. The diversity of the Godhead

Without ceasing to be a unity, God exists as three persons. Each of these persons is fully and equally God.

[“Diversity” means difference or distinction. That is, there is a distinction between the members of the trinity. God the Father is not the same person as God the Son. The members of the Trinity are distinct, co-equal individuals, co-equal in essence but differing in function.]

The doctrine of the Triunity illustrates the incomprehensibility of God: He exists and may be truly known, but He can never be fully known.

[“Incomprehensible” means “not able to be fully understood.” Agnostics say that one can’t know anything about God. We don’t know everything about God, but we do know many things, and what we know is true.]

Learning to Live It

1. As you talk about your relationship with God to a family member, he smiles and says, “Though we might call it by different names  like ‘God,’ we are all part of the universal cosmic energy.” How would you show him that God is not just an energy?

by directing him to passages which show God to be a person

God has all the characteristics of a person. An energy or force cannot do the things God does.

2. You walk into a room in which there is an individual and some furniture. Are you more inclined to speak to the individual or to the furniture? Why?

the individual; because he or she is a person like you.

What implications does this have for prayer?

Since God is a person, we can and ought to talk to Him. We should talk to God because, as a person, He can respond. Prayer would be meaningless/impossible if God were just a power.

3. A co worker brings you a pamphlet one day and asks you to discuss its contents. It offers the following explanation of the doctrine of the Triunity:

The Bible calls God by the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That does not mean that He is three persons. Actually, these are the titles of three roles that He has filled. This can be understood in the same way that a man can say, “I am a father, son, and husband.” A man can truly be all three, but he is still a single person. So it is with God.

What would you say to your co worker?

Show him a passage (such as Matthew 3:16-17) in which all three persons of the Godhead are mentioned independently of one another. The above idea is called modalism–one God functions as different modes at different times. Refutation: All three members of the Godhead show up simultaneously, which would be impossible if the trinity was not true. We may not ever fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet the Bible clearly teaches the that the Trinity is a fact. We have to submit our own logic to the teaching of Scripture.

Comments

  1. This is a great lesson
    May God greatly bless you

  2. Great illustration thank you may the Lord bless you and everyone who reads this page.

  3. Excellent!

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