Summary: Your perception of God powerfully and profoundly shapes your life as a believer
“We believe in God.” That is how the second article of the Shiloh Bible Church doctrinal statement begins. Now, that might seem like a rather simplistic and innocuous statement. After all, it’s not uncommon for people to believe in God. But in reality that is a very profound and powerful statement.
In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most [significant] fact about any man is not what he—at a given time—may say or do, but what he—in his deep heart—conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.”
I think Tozer is right. Our conception of God shapes who we are. But how do we even know what God is like? We know what God is like because He has revealed Himself to us in His Word—the Scriptures. And we considered the fact last Sunday morning that the Bible is the Word of God. The first article of our doctrinal statement reads: “We believe that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is inerrant in its original writings, being communicated by the Holy Spirit to holy men of God.”
God has disclosed Himself to us in this Book—the Bible. And so the question we need to answer is: “What does the Bible say about God—who He is and what is He like?” In order to answer this question, let’s start at the beginning. Please turn with me in your Bible to Genesis 1:1—the very first verse of the Bible.
Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God …” At the very outset, the Bible does not offer arguments to prove the existence of God. Rather, it assumes the reality of His existence. “In the beginning—God.” God as Spirit has always and will always exist.
This morning I would like to share with you 3 attributes or characteristics of this Eternal Spirit that we worship. First of all, the Bible reveals that God is …
That is, God is a person. You say, “Doug, every religion believes that!” Well, no, not really. For example, there are 500 million Buddhists in the world. And the Buddhist religion does not believe that God is a person. But Christianity does. Christianity believes that God is a personal being. And as a person, God possesses intellect, emotion, and will. Look at Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created.” It requires a person with intellect, emotion, and will to create.
Consider God’s intellect for a moment. The Bible teaches that God is omniscient—that is, He is all-knowing. He has known from eternity past everything that will happen. He not only knows everything that will happen, but He also knows everything that could have happened, but didn’t! Someone said, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?” God is omniscient—He is all-knowing.
And this all-knowing Person created us in His image. Look at what it says further down in the chapter in Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
The Creation story demonstrates that God—as a person—created you as a person with intellect, emotion, and will—the ability to think, to feel, and to act.
God is a person. The second article of the Shiloh doctrinal statement reads this way in its entirety: “We believe in God the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who has revealed Himself to man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.” In this article, we confess our belief that God is a Trinity—three Persons in one God. I fully admit to you that I cannot adequately explain this. It’s a mystery. It’s beyond our full comprehension. But that’s what the Bible teaches. The Trinity is clearly taught in the New Testament, but it is implied in the Old Testament as well.
For example, look at Genesis 1:1 again: “In the beginning God.” The Hebrew word here for “God” is Elohim. Elohim is the most frequently used name for God in the Old Testament. And that word Elohim is plural in Hebrew. Over in Deuteronomy 6:4 we read: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The word here for “God” is the word Elohim. Elohim (plural) is echad—“one.” The Hebrew word echad means “one in plurality.” It’s used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe a cluster of grapes—a plurality in one.