Summary: A systematic devotional study
When I was a boy I remember my father describing the God he grew up with. That God was a muscular, white-haired, bearded, royal figure, sitting on His golden throne sporting a scowl and just waiting for my father to make a mistake.
Not long ago I saw a list of responses a class of children gave when asked “Who is God?” One boy wrote, “God is the guy who watches everything we do, waiting for someone to start having fun so He can put a stop to it”.
It gets worse; oh, so much worse than that. The glib statements people make in casual conversation, the depictions of God in movies and television programs that are supposedly based on who God is and how He deals with men all have one thing in common. They prove how far from God and knowing about God mankind is.
Without fail, the concept of God that is expressed at the outset, is that the only way to be acceptable to Him is to be good. And those who are honest and fair and stick up for the little guy (even if their defense of the weak is to soundly thrash and humiliate the bully) win God’s favor and get rewarded for their noble behavior.
I despised the show so I never watched it, but as I was surfing channels one day years ago, I passed an episode of “Highway to Heaven” with Michael Landon. Just as I paused there I saw a scene where two bullies getting out of their very pretty classic sports car picked on some mousy little man in the parking lot, then went into the store laughing. When they came back out, the ‘angel’, Michael Landon, had turned their car upside down.
The message: those acting according to God’s character will apparently stoop to the level of the bully, to get revenge on the bully, and even commit misdemeanors in the doing of it.
I could go on and preach a very negative sermon on all the ways God is misunderstood and misrepresented, but that would not benefit anyone, since the Christian who is grounded in the scriptures can see these things as readily as I.
Besides, the sadder truth is that God is misunderstood and misrepresented by Christians and the church in general also.
We come to understand our sinful condition and the Holy Spirit grants us repentance. Having believed the message of the gospel, that Jesus shed His blood and died for us, we come and ask Him to forgive us our sins and to come into our hearts. We go on from there and rejoice when we realize that because He rose from the dead we too shall live forever with Him, and then, hopefully, we stumble onto a good class in Romans, or some other class on the fundamental doctrines of the faith, and we grow and gain assurance of our state and status as saved creatures, and we are safely on the road to eternity with God.
Nevertheless, many, if not most of us, go on for years and maybe even a lifetime, approaching God the Father ~ or being afraid to approach God the Father ~ with a concept of Him that closely resembles the one my dad had for very many years.
I’d like to talk about God the Father today, zooming in on Him, so to speak, from a general view to as specific a view as we can get in a brief, systematic study of the revelation He has given of Himself.
In beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The Bible starts there. It doesn’t begin by saying, “In eternity past, there was God”.
But the Psalmist says “Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God” (90:2) And of Himself, God says through the prophet Isaiah, “Even from eternity, I am He” (43:13)
This is my earliest memory of learning anything about God from my mother’s knee. She and my dad may have said things about God prior to this in my presence, but the earliest snapshot I can dredge up is of sitting on our sofa and listening to my mother, and her saying, “God didn’t have a beginning. He wasn’t born. He just always was, before there was anything else.” It boggled my mind, and it still does. My finite brain won’t accept someone who just always was. It wants to try and reconcile a Being, existing ‘out there’ somewhere, being content and fulfilled although there is nothing to entertain or occupy Him; and it just doesn’t work.
I have to let faith take over and go about my business.
God always was. He has no beginning, and He will have no end. He does not exist in time. He exists independent of time and space. Those things are created for us. After all that has been prophesied is fulfilled and God creates a new heavens and new earth, there will no longer be any need for time, because we who have responded to His call will all be glorified, and will have entered into eternity with Him, and we too will transcend time and space.