One True God?
Christianity 101 Series
CCCAG September 8h, 2019
Most of you know I got saved while working in an electronics factory and sometimes my job had me moving around a lot to different departments. One morning I got told I was going over to the testing area to test and fix some circuit boards And I was sat next to a woman named Angie. Angie was also a student at The University of Wisconsin at Parkside and knew that I was one of the quote unquote Jesus freaks that worked at this factory so she had some questions for me About God and Christianity.
Now when you go to college, part of your education is to take courses they have absolutely nothing to do with the degree that you're trying to earn so that you come out of college as a well-rounded individual. At least that's the theory.
One of the courses she was taking was a philosophy course and in many University philosophy classrooms the main premise in the class comes from a philosopher named Frederick Nietzsche who uttered the famous phrase that “God is dead, and we killed him”
Angie and I sat next to each other for a few days working on a project and we're talking about that central premise that Nietzsche wrote about. This quote, when put into the greater context of What Nietzsche was really saying was that humanity had evolved past the need for religion to help us restrain our base emotions and actions. Nietzsche further said that we as humans should be able to be free moral agents now- meaning we decide as individuals what is good and what is evil.
The challenges I faced during this time of working with Angie and having to discuss these principles at a higher level gave me a hunger for something call apologetics. Being an apologist for something simply means that you are able to explain something at a very deep level.
Within the Christian world, Apologetics is simply being obedient to the scriptural mandate to able to give an answer for the hope that you have.
That's one of the reasons we're doing this series Christianity 101. I want to help you to be able to give answers for the hope that you have because sooner or later you're going to find yourself having to be an apologist for the faith, just like I’m doing today for you.
The entire few days that Angie and I worked together we could boil down the discussion to two basic questions and those will be the basis of what we talk about this morning.
1. Does God exist, and if he exists, what is he like?
2. If He Exists- what does He expect from us?
Part 1- Does God Exist?
I’m going to start this morning by quote from Romans 1 to set the stage for answering this question-
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
One of the arguments that Angie was making to disprove the existence of God was the fact that evolution had proved that we don't need a God to explain creation. She again quoted Frederick Nietzsche’s famous quote that “God was dead and we killed him” to say that We don't need the “creation legend” to explain how we got here. She believed in the Big Bang- that an explosion of dense matter started the entire universe.
The irony is that at the time we were having this discussion we were testing and repairing very complex circuit boards that were for satellite communication, so I used that to counter her argument.
I said “Angie, what do you want me to believe with the Big Bang is similar to me saying that a huge explosion happened in the middle of a barren desert created the circuit board I'm holding.
That somehow a destructive force created the fiberglass the board is made out of, the copper tracing to create coherent circuits. An explosion also created all the science it took to develop transistor, capacitors, and resisters and processing units that are welded into this circuit board in such a way to produce a specific function that enables us to communicate with satellites orbiting the earth over 100 miles above us. Not only do you want me to believe that- but in your cosmic evolution model, there wasn’t even a desert to provide any raw materials for the creation of the board or it’s components.
You are saying that nothing exploded and created everything.
To me it sounds like you are spending 1,000’s of dollar for an education to explain away a story already told.”
This is exactly what is being taught in many of our colleges now and why many of the children that we sent off to these colleges come back as at least functional atheist’s meaning by their actions they are showing that they don't believe in God or the Bible anymore.
So how do we know there is a God? Well, we alluded to the fact with the conversation I had with Angie- there is a creation, therefore logically there has to be a creator.
The fact that you and I are sitting here right now and are aware of our existence signals the fact that we are created. There is way too much order in creation to think that it came about by random chance.
The bible in Isaiah 1 says that God asks us to use our reason. Our ability to think abstractly, problem solve, and reason out problems is what makes us different from all other life on earth. Job 32:8 tells us that it is the Spirit within a man, and the breath of the Almighty that gives us our understanding and reason- it is part of the very image of God stamped into each and every human soul ever created.
If we are created that means, there is a creator.
Since we are going with the premise that we are created beings and that there is a creator then we have to ask the question- who is this creator and what is HE like?
I’m going to pause right here for a quick bit of context and explanation.
We have a lot of people who listen by podcast, so I’m going to pause and give explanation that might seem obvious to most here, but not so obvious to a person overseas who does not live surrounded by churches-
God the father is a spirit and doesn’t have a physical gender but is referred to in the masculine in scriptural texts so that’s how I refer to him. There are variety of reasons for this masculine way of referring to God that I’m not getting into now as it will bog down this message, so if you want to talk about it shoot me an email at Pastorjohnoscar@gmail.com or if you are here this morning wait until we are done and do our Q&A time.
One more clarification- from now on when I refer to God, I refer to God as revealed in the Old Testament, or in the NT God the Father of Jesus. We will briefly touch on God’s triune nature in a moment, but I don’t’ want to get into the trinity right now as that is a later message in this series.
We have established that God is creator. Let’s look at some of the other attributes that make up this God we serve.
• God is knowable and wants to be known.
In our opening scripture from Roman’s 1- we saw that God’s existence in made obvious to anyone looking at the orderliness of creation. The world we live in does not exist in a haphazard way, and is based on strict laws. Humanity really doesn’t discover anything through the study of science, but in reality- we only uncover what God has already put into place 1,000’s of years ago.
Acts 17 24- Paul is speaking to the people at Athens- 24The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. 25Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man He made every nation of men, to inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. 27God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us
The summary- God is made known through HIS creation
Who is this this God and what is He like? I’m going to go quickly through a list of God’s attributes, touching on some and explaining others.
God is self-existent
Definition: God is the creator, sustainer, and anchor of all existence.
Remember how he revealed Himself to Moses-
“I AM THAT I AM”
Sounds a bit snarky, but what God was saying is that He is in everything that is.
God is infinite
Definition: God is unlimited in His being and perfections
The infinite Immensity of God means that
God is not limited, confined, bound or enclosed by space or limited by any facet of His creation except that in which He self-limits. An example of God using the idea of self-limiting is allowing the free will of humans.
God is eternal
Definition: God has no beginning or end
Infinite = space
Eternal = time
Eternity with God is one NOW
I struggled with explaining this further as again I don’t want to bog things down but this concept is key to understanding heaven….so I’m going to go quickly and again you can ask questions when we are done.
The concept of eternity deals with another concept called time.
Time itself is a created thing. It’s not just a byproduct of existence.
The bible repeatedly indicates that time is under God’s sovereign control.
We also have science telling us through Albert Einstein famous Theory of Relativity who proved that time can be speed up or slowed down relative to the speed you are going in relationship to something else.
Any extremely simplified example- light travels at 300000 Km per second and takes 60 days for light from the sun to reach Saturn. If we propelled a spacecraft at the speed of light to Saturn, 60 days will have passed on the spacecraft, but because of time dilation but about 1600 years will have passed on earth. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that, but that’s what the Theory of Relativity explains, and nuclear science somehow proves this.
The take away for all this mind blowing stuff is this- because time can be affected by outside sources, that put it into the category of a created thing.
What that means for this lesson- God exists as much in what we call the past, as he does the present, and as he does the future- he is infinite and eternal. That’s why God is able to predict the future- he is already there.
Mind blown yet?
God is spirit
We touched on this earlier- God The Father is immaterial (no matter or “physicalness”), invisible to our human eyes this side of eternity, but He is alive & is a person
God is not just a force or vague spiritual influence, this is a person who exists as a spirit.
As person He possesses:
Self consciousness, Self determination, Mind, Will and Emotions
God is a person, and therefore must be understood as a person.
God is one
Definition: God is undivided and indivisible
God does not consist of parts, nor can He be broken down into various parts
God is one, and the only one God
The Jewish statement of Faith is found in a statement known as the Shema in Deut 6:4
Here Oh Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one!
This leads us into the next attribute that seems contradictory-
God is triune
Definition: God exists in three distinct persons known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Let me quote the Shema in Hebrew to explain
Sh'ma Yisra'el, YHWH 'eloheinu, YHWH 'e?ad.
Two words within the Shema that point to God being one God in multiple person’s
ELOHIM (pronounced in adjective form eloheinu- root is Elohim)– plurality of singular form in the Hebrew
An English example of this might be legal- it’s a plurality of a system that administrates a law in the singular.
ECHAD – compound unity. Like saying Lambeau Field in October contains many people, all unified in purpose and passion to see the Packers win.
Those two words pointed to the triune nature of God even before the doctrine of the trinity was formally introduced to the Christian church.
Is only known by indirect revelation
Can only be accepted by faith. Human words cannot fully describe this concept. Will be dealt with in a later message.
God is omniscient – all knowing
Definition: God knows all things actual or possible; past, present and future; perfectly and from all eternity
However, just by knowing, that doesn’t mean He predetermines everything
Things do not take place because they are foreseen; they are foreseen because they will take place
This is an important distinction- if God ordains or causes everything that was, is, or ever shall be, that means God ordains, is responsible for, and therefore bears the guilt for all sin. Obviously that’s false, and would go against Him being holy which we will get to in a moment.
God is omnipotent – all powerful
Definition: God is able to do whatever He wills
Self-limited by His nature. For example- God cannot do anything that conflicts with His nature.
He always exercises His power in harmony with His essence, attributes and perfections
God is omnipresent – present everywhere
Definition: Because God is infinite and immense, He is present everywhere and, in every time,
This is both a comfort, and a warning to humanity- you cannot hide anything from Him.
God is immutable - unchanging
Definition: God is unchangeable in His essence, nature and attributes
The same God that said “Let there be light” is the same God that is described in the book of Revelation.
And that God is-
God is Holy
Definition: God is absolutely separate from and exalted above all His creatures, and totally separate from all evil and sin.
Very important point here- God is the authority on what is sin or evil, not us. Not our culture, not Hollywood, not our university’s. God has the final say on what is right.
When you accept that, much of the Old Testament comes into focus as to why God ordered the killing of seemingly innocent men, women, children, and even they family dog when Joshua lead Israel into the promised land. God had given those people over 400 years to turn from their incredible evil (describe) and repent but they refused. God ordering their destruction was him acting as the great physician to cut that cancer out of the human race before it spread further and harmed more people.
Listen to me carefully- Even the most intelligent people on earth have a minuscule understanding of true reality. But God sees and knows all, and therefore only He can ultimately judge.
Very important to note- when you read the bible, you see that Holiness appears to occupy the highest rank among all His attributes
A right view of the holiness of God leads to a right view of sin
God is truth
Definition: God’s knowledge, declarations and representations eternally conform to reality
One of my favorite sayings- “Truth is reality as seen through the eyes of God.”
Everything that proceeds from God is true and can be trusted.
God is righteous & just
Definition: Because of Who God is (Holy) He demands perfection and must punish sin, and do so without partiality
God’s justice is accurate, inescapable, severe and perfectly fair
Ultimately, God’s justice was satisfied through the death and resurrection of Jesus, so our Righteousness comes by faith, through Jesus Christ
God is sovereign
Definition: God’s has all rights and prerogatives to act however He wants in keeping with the perfections of His nature
God acts without permission or approval from anyone
God rules and reigns sovereignly over His creation
Any of us who have raised young children are faced with a question from the children- “Why?”
The answer- “Because I said so” A 3 years old has no idea what is good or right in any situation, and therefore they have rules to follow and they are for their own benefit.
That’s God’s answer to why he has given us the bible to curb our naturally selfish motivations because compared to HIM, HE rightly sees all of us as 3 years old that need protections from even ourselves.
If that bothers you to be referred to as a spiritual 3-year-old in comparison to God, then you have the wrong view of God.
God is gracious
Definition: God shows kindness and goodness to those who do not deserve it
Ways to describe God’s grace-
Grace is God’s infinite generosity
Grace brings salvation
Grace teaches us how to live
God is Love
Definition: God’s love is defined by its characteristics and demonstrations
Again, we need to understand God’s definition of this word-
God’s love doesn’t change or violate His other attributes, in particular His justice or HIS holiness)
Some aspects of God’s love-
God’s love is unconditional
The love of God draws us into a personal relationship with Himself
The love of God extends to the whole world
The love of God never stops or changes
The ultimate demonstration of how much God loves every one of us is Christ dying on the cross for us
There is nothing that can come between God’s love and the believer
The love of God is the greatest driving force in the believer
The love of God is infinite. Read more about it in 1 Cor 13
God is Good
Definition: God is in His very nature and constitution upright and honorable, desiring to bless
God is merciful
Definition: Because God is compassionate and good He does not desire to inflict on us what we deserve
God is Faithful
Definition: God is always true to His Word and can therefore be fully trusted
God is Longsuffering
Definition: God bears provocation for a long time
God is Jealous
Definition: Because of His great love God has a passion that arises when affections are placed on a rival. Jealousy may sound like an evil, but in this case it’s a sign of HIS love for us as jealousy is protective of the relationship that He wants to have with you and me.
The last attribute is the most serious for our eternal destiny-
God is a God of wrath
Definition: God’s has holy and just indignation for sin and will execute punishment.
God’s anger at sin is because sin always leads to suffering and death.
For us as Christian’s, that anger was poured out on Jesus as our substitute and through believing and following Jesus and His teachings, we have forgiveness of sin and restoration of our relationship with God.
However, if we continue in our sin and rebellion- Maybe not right away, but if left unchecked, it will progress and end in eternal separation from God in a place called hell. Therefore God’s wrath against sin is also protective.
Again, I compare God’s wrath and judgement to a physician that discovers a cancer inside you. Any doctor will do anything he can to get that cancer out of your body- including putting you through painful surgery or chemotherapy to ultimately save your life. It’s not pleasant, but it’s necessary to maintain life. This is even more true spiritually- so God has to sometimes cut that cancer of sin out of your life, or even do it to a people group when they slide too far down the slippery slope of sin that hardens their hearts past the point of salvation.
That’s a brief overview of who God is.
Now what does he expect of us?
That part is very easy and doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Less than one page of notes actually
God expects us to believe what He says, and then to follow it.
Every single mess humanity has caused has been because they refuse to do this one thing.
Apart from Jesus, Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and he put it this way
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecc 12:13-14
Of course we are going to mess that up, probably at least 10 times before we lay our heads on our pillows this evening, that’s why God created a way for us to be saved, and that is through belief and surrender to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.