Randall Ricker – Download FREE Article
The Bible admonishes us to prove all things. Another Bible study in our series will include the proof of the existence of God, and this is primarily from creation. We look at radioactive materials, biogenesis, man’s mind coming from a superior mind, man’s living food, the timing of the universe, prophecy fulfilled, and miracles. Once a person proves the existence of God, he is then going to want to know how this God communicates with humans. Another Bible study will show you that the Bible is inspired by God, primarily looking at prophecies that already have been fulfilled. Next, what does the Bible say about God? What does God say about Himself in the Bible? Today let us see who and what God is.
A GOD FAMILY WITH TWO MEMBERS
We have already proven that the Bible is inspired by God, so that is where we need to go for information on God. Turn to John chapter 1 verses 1 to 3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” This can be a difficult verse to understand. The clearest understanding that I have ever seen was in a book called, Mystery of the Ages. It was written by Herbert W. Armstrong, who founded the Church out of which the Great Lakes Church of God came.
As he read these verses, he substituted names. Substitute the word “John” for “the Word” and substitute the last name “Smith” for “God.” So what we have is: “In the beginning was John and John was with Smith and John was Smith.” This is true because John is the son of Smith. Smith is the family name, but there are two separate persons or personages. One is called the Word, which comes from the Greek word Logos, which means “spokesman.”
Let us read verse 14 of John chapter 1: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” So this Word became a Man. Verse 15: “John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’” Verse 29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’” These same words referring to Jesus in verse 30 were used in verse 15 referring to the Word, all proving that the Word is Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament the word for God is Elohim. According to Strong’s Concordance, this word refers to gods in a plural form. Adam Clarke’s Commentary also calls it a plural form but the trouble there, however, is that he starts going off in the direction of calling it a trinity, which is not correct. We will see more about that a little bit later.
Herbert Armstrong referred to this word Elohim as a uniplural noun, like family, group, or church, containing two or more members. Uniplural is an unusual term most people may not know; it refers to collective nouns, words like group, family, and church. Elohim, this term for God, is a collective noun. It allows for a God family with two members, as we have talked about in John 1:1–the Word and God.
John chapter 1, verse 18: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” So the Son, Jesus Christ, made the Father known, and no one knew about the Father before Christ revealed Him.
Turn to I Corinthians 8:6. “…yet for us there is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” This only mentions God the Father and Jesus Christ. Notice it does not mention the Holy Spirit as a person; we will get to that later.
Read I Corinthians 10:1-4: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” This tells us that Christ was the God of the Old Testament. This is important because some people think that the laws of God the Father in the Old Testament were done away with by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. We just read, however, that the Rock that followed them in the Old Testament was Christ. Christ gave the Ten Commandments and then came later as a human; He did not come to do away with His own work.
The God of the Old Testament at times is considered to be harsh. This is untrue, but some people see Him that way while believing that Jesus Christ is the opposite, so loving and merciful. This is the same Being in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. God is and always has been a God of mercy, and we must never forget that.
John chapter 14:28 again describes a God family with two members. This is in Jesus Christ’s last instructions to His disciples before His death: “’You have heard Me say to you, “I am going away and coming back to you.” If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, “I am going to the Father,” for My Father is greater than I.’” Here again we see that Christ and the Father are two independent Beings, and that the Father is greater. Someone has to be the leader in any organized group, and in this case, it is the Father.
Turn back to John chapter 12, verses 49 to 50: “’For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.’” The Father sent the Son and told Him what to say, again illustrating a position of leadership.
Turn to I John 2:22-23: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” Part of the doctrine of the antichrist is denying the independent existence of the Father and the Son; one has to realize that they both exist.
Turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 30: “’I and My Father are one.’” Christ is talking about being one spiritually. He clearly is not talking about being one entity like a trinity; John 17:11 tells us what this oneness really means: “’Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.’” Christ is referring to “We” as the Father and Christ Himself. They are one, and we are to be one in the same way. We are not part of a trinity, and this is not a statement saying that the Father and Christ are a trinity either.
Go on to verse 20: “’I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.’” Again it is talking about the Church being one, as the Father and Christ are one; it is not proving that the Father and Christ are the same Being.
John 17:1-5 shows Him talking to the Father as a separate Being. My New King James Bible has a reference here in verse 5, which says, “Together with Yourself.” The reference says “literally along side” Yourself, again proving the Father and Jesus Christ are two independent Beings.
CHRIST ALWAYS EXISTED
John 17 talks about the glory that He had before the world was, which leads us to our second point. The first point was that God is a family with two members; the second point is that Christ always existed.
Remember, in John chapter 1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” The Word, Christ, was there in the beginning.
Turn to Genesis chapter 14 where a little-known person mentioned here in the Bible. This reference will help us understand further that Jesus Christ has always existed. This was after Lot had been taken captive and Abraham took his personal army and rescued him. Genesis 14:18: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ and he gave him a tithe of all.” Abraham realized that Melchizedek was one to whom he should be paying tithes. To whom do you pay tithes? You always pay tithes to God. We will learn more in Hebrews chapter 7.
Hebrews chapter 7, verses 1-3 talks about Melchizedek who had no father, no mother, no beginning of days, and no end of life. He was made like the Son of God. Remember, Jesus Christ often referred to Himself in the gospels as the Son of God. This Melchizedek was none other than Jesus Christ, who had no beginning of days. However, at one point He did become human for us.
Ephesians chapter 3, verse 9 tells us that Jesus Christ was around for the creation: “…and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ.” The Authorized Version, also known as the King James Version, says “created all things by Jesus Christ.” The Greek Interlinear says “by Jesus Christ.” In other words, Christ did the creating at the will of the Father.
Colossians chapter 1, verses 15-17, says in the King James Version, “All things were created by Him and for Him.” This is further proof that Jesus Christ created all things.
GOD’S COMPOSITION AND SHAPE
My third point regards the composition and shape of God. Man is made of the dust of the ground. God created all things, so He surely cannot be made of the dust of the ground! What is God made of? Turn to John chapter 4, verse 24: “’God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’” God’s composition is spirit.
What does God look like? Turn to Genesis chapter 1, verse 26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” If man is created in God’s image, then God must look like man. God appears to have two arms, two legs, a head, etc., in the same type of form as man.
Turn to Genesis chapter 5, verse 1: “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.” Again this is showing that we look like God.
Turn to John 14, back to Jesus Christ’s final instructions to His disciples. John chapter 14, verses 8-9: “Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father?”’” The Father looks like Christ. Christ was a typical looking human back then; He was able to disappear in a crowd at times when He needed to do so.
Moses knew something about what God looked like. Turn to Exodus 33. God had been talking to Moses for quite some time, but Moses never actually saw God. He wondered, what does God look like, this Eternal One that I have been talking to all this time? Read Exodus chapter 33, verses 18-23. God has a hand, a back, and a face. Again, He looks very much like us humans.
The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of God, too, though it was not a clear vision. Remember, no one could see God clearly and live. Ezekiel chapter 1, verses 26-28 describes what the Lord of the Old Testament looked like. He looked like a man but with fire all around, and that was about as much as Ezekiel could see.
In Revelation chapter 1 there is another vision, this time of Jesus Christ, being One of the God family, as He is now in His glorified state. Revelation chapter 1, verse 13: “…and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man…” (Remember the Son of Man was the term that Jesus Christ used for Himself in the New Testament.) “…clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”
Here we have Jesus Christ in His glorified condition, and he has a chest, head, and hair that are white like wool, eyes like a flame of fire, feet like fine brass and his countenance (His face) shining like the sun. That is what Jesus Christ looks like right now. The first part of this description is intended to be taken literally, but often the Bible does speak symbolically. The stars in verse 16 are defined in verse 20: “’The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…’” In other words stars can represent angels.
Back in verse 16 it says, “… out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword…” That is not intended to be taken literally either. The sword is a symbol, as defined in Hebrews 4:12 where the word of God is compared to a sword. The word of God, of course, is the Holy Bible. Ephesians 6:17 also confirms this definition of the sword as the word of God. These portions of the description in Revelation are symbolic, but the rest is a literal description of Christ.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Our fourth point answers the question: What is the Holy Spirit? We are going to find that the Holy Spirit is the power of God but not part of any kind of trinity, as many believe believe. The word “trinity” is found nowhere in the Bible.
Genesis chapter 1, verse 2: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The Spirit is something that can hover.
Psalm chapter 104, verse 30: “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.” These two verses, the one in Psalms and the one in Genesis, show that God’s Spirit renewed the face of the earth, and it is by the power of God’s Spirit that creation occurs.
Turn to Acts chapter 1 verses 4-5: “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” If the Holy Spirit were a being, how could you be baptized with a being? That would not make much sense.
Verse 8: “’But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” So the Holy Spirit comes “upon” someone as power.
Turn to chapter 2, which is where the Holy Spirit was given on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in 31 A.D. Acts chapter 2, verse 4: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” So they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Again, you do not fill a being with another being; that would not make sense.
Peter gave an inspired sermon which caused people to realize they had been responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. Verse 38: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” The Holy Spirit is a gift which is given to us upon repentance, belief, and baptism.
In Acts chapter 10, Peter is preaching to Gentiles, and in particular to a Gentile by the name of Cornelius. Acts chapter 10, verse 44: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” The Holy Spirit could fall upon people as a gift that had been poured out.
I John 5 is a verse that people often use to try to prove that the Holy Spirit is part of a trinity. Let us look at that verse a little more carefully. I John chapter 5, verse 7: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.” According to the Companion Bible, Clarke’s Commentary, and other sources, portions of these verses were actually added centuries after they were originally inspired. The way the verse really should read is: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven.” Skip down to the middle of verse 8: “The Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.” The rest in the middle that people use to try to justify a trinity is not even in the original Bible or early manuscripts. Now we can understand better that the Holy Spirit is the power of God.
THE CHARACTER OF GOD
The fifth point is about the character of God. If we wanted to, we could stop at this point where we would have learned the “nuts and bolts” of what God is, but let’s dig deeper into the nature of God and learn about the beautiful mind of God. What about His character? Read I John chapter 4, verses 7 and 8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” God chose a definition for Himself here: God is love. Understanding that is vitally important.
Verse 9: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (In other words, He is the payment for our sins.)
What is this word, “love”? This word love is given so many definitions in society. So often it is lust; so often it is a sweet feeling without much depth to it. In the Strong’s Concordance if you look it up you will find it means, “to love in a social or moral sense, the judgment and the deliberate ascent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.” Love is a choice of behavior. It is much more than just a pleasant feeling. God does not want us to just have a pleasant feeling about Him or about other people; He wants us actually to love in this moral sense, according to how God defines love.
Turn to I John chapter 5, verse 3 where we find the definition of love: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” By this definition, love is actually keeping God’s commandments!
God’s first four commandments tell us how to have a relationship with God, and the last six tell us how to have a relationship with our neighbor. These commandments tell us a lot about the beautiful mind of God, how He thinks and how He wants us to think. Turn to Matthew chapter 5:1-10, often called The Beatitudes. Verses 11 through 16 continue on to other things that are important to God, and verse 17 gets back into the subject of the law: “’Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.’”
Continuing in verse 19 of Matthew 5: “’Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’”
Later verses talk about the spiritual intent of God’s law. Literally, of course, we are not to be murdering people, but also we are not even to be angry without a cause. We are not to look down on people, which would be breaking that same commandment. We are not to be committing adultery, of course, but also we are not even to lust after people, which is breaking the spirit of the law (the intent) for that commandment.
Matthew chapter 5, verses 44 to 45: “’But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’” We are to love one another and keep the commandments of God because, in fact, those commandments define love.
In Luke chapter 9, the disciples were still not converted, and they did not yet have God’s Holy Spirit. They were still learning. They were travelling and stopped at a village where they thought they could stay, but they were not allowed to enter. Luke 9, verse 54: “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village.” This shows the mercy and outgoing concern Jesus Christ had, as opposed to the desire to destroy. God is the same today. Contrary to what some believe, He does not want to destroy most of the population of the earth. He wants to open their minds when the time is right, and call them to be the innumerable multitude of Revelation 7. We need to have the same merciful approach ourselves.
Turn to John chapter 13:34-35, back to His final instructions to His disciples: “’A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’” The character of God is showing love.
How does God know we are His disciples? Turn to John chapter 8, verses 31 to 32: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” This shows how important the truth is to God. We believe what He says and obey Him. The fruits of our lives tell us whether we are pleasing God.
Now we understand more about God and who and what it is that we worship. We must develop that kind of love that the Father and Jesus Christ have and hold fast to God’s truth, understanding very well the foundational doctrines of the Bible. We will have Bible studies on many of these items as time goes on.