WHO IS GOD?

man praying at sunsetOver many, many years of counseling I have discovered most Christians do not understand the meaning of GOD. Once when a man learned I had a Christian ministry, he asked, Do you help the lost discover God? To which I responded, No, I help Christians discover God. I am evangelical, but sometimes I think our churches are so caught up in bringing the lost to Christ that we have failed to teach these soul winners who Christ is and who they are in Him. We would be far better witnesses if we would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As mature a Christian as Paul was, he said, For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly. May we be so inclined as Paul.

Decades ago I read a book by J. B. Phillips entitled YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL. While I do recommend it and I did enjoy reading it and even though it made a lasting impact on my mind and heart, I had to grow and I am still growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Just the title of that book published in 1952 is enough to make a thoughtful Christian stop and consider. How do you think of God? Phillips brings many warped ideas of God into focus so we can see what a poor view we have of God. A few of the thought provoking chapters of this little book are: Resident Policeman, Parental Hangover, Grand Old Man, Meek-and-Mild, Absolute Perfection, Heavenly Bosom, God-in-a-Box, Managing Director, Second-Hand God, etc. What picture do you have of God?

It seems to me that Christians listen as much to the worlds concept of God as they do to the Scriptures, or perhaps more. What our parents thought and taught, what a preacher or teacher taught us when we were small, or what some movie or TV series tells us, all seem to have more impact on our thinking about God than the Scripture. The Scripture declares, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.

For example, we who are Christians certainly should know that God is Love. As Christians we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. But is that the Gospel? If you make the mistake of saying that preaching the love of God alone is preaching the Gospel, you put yourself in a very difficult position.

First, the Bible does not tell us that the Love of God is the Gospel. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Second, since the Bible doesnt teach the love of God alone is the Gospel, you now have to get yourself out of the dilemma of defending God when things like babies dying, cancer, the tsunami, 9/11, etc. are brought up to you. You will be asked, If God is love, how can a God of love allow such things?

Also, when your message is the love of God alone, it lacks any element of motivation to repent. Just imagine you are talking to a drunk who has a strange woman on his arm and you say to him, God loves you. What will that evoke from him? Will he suddenly repent of his drunken sensuality? More likely it will educe a response where he lifts his bottle and says, Ill drink to that. Did you hear that, honey? God loves us. That is good to know.

But If you tell Him the Gospel as Gods Word presents it, he might say as the people said to Peter after he preached the Gospel to them, Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Did Peter preach the Love of God to them?

No. He said, Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Well, what did Peter tell them after they asked, What shall we do? Surely now Peter can tell them of the Love of God. No, he responded to them with, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Some one might resist saying that no one will be saved if we preach that. The Scriptures tell us that when they heard Peters words, Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. When is the last time you saw 3,000 people added to the church as a result of what is being preached today?

Read the other sermons in Acts and you will see that the love of God is not mentioned at all. The most evangelical book in the New Testament is the book of Acts. Entire sermons are recorded in Acts for us to see what the Disciples of Christ preached when they preached the Gospel, just like the one I quoted from which Peter preached. If the Love of God alone was the Gospel, you would expect to find it repeated over and over in the book of Acts, but the word love does not even appear once in the entire Book of Acts.

The ONLY place the Scriptures tell us that God so loved the world is when Jesus was correcting a Jewish leader who had been taught and was teaching others that God loved only Israel. Jesus enlarges the understanding of Nicodemus by showing him God loves not only the Jews (as in the Old Testament), but Jesus declares to him the New Testament truth that Gods love extends to all kinds of people and not Israel alone.

This is just an example of how we need to return to the Scriptures to access what God would have us say to the lost and to the saved. We must return to the Scriptures to discover just Who God is and just who we are in Christ.

Did you know that as a Christian the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you? Listen to me, Christian, that is a lot of power and THE SAME POWER THAT RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD DWELLS IN YOU!!! The Word tells us, Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his and as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

Now, dear Christian, I want us to take the time to learn for ourselves from the Scriptures WHO GOD IS. We will now begin a series of lessons that might be of help to you in discovering more fully Who He is and who you are in Him.

Far better that we understand that the LOVE OF GOD is not an evangelizing tool for the lost as it is a sanctifying truth for the Christian. As John shows us, THE LOVE OF GOD is the message to the Christian: Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

In coming articles I will attempt to apply the attributes of God to our lives as Christians. Perhaps through the Scriptures we can come to a place of less worry and stress in our life to a place of greater rest and peace. Perhaps when we understand more of Who God Is, we will experience the Love of God in the way we live so as to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

MY PRAYER FOR US IS:

Our Father, grant us out of the rich treasury of Your glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in our inner self by the Holy Spirit indwelling our innermost being and personality.

May Christ through faith actually abide and make His permanent home in our hearts. May we be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that we may have the power to grasp with all Christians the experience of that love, what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it.

May we really come to know through experience for ourselves the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience, that we may be filled through all our being with Your fullness; that we may have the richest measure of your divine Presence, and that You will completely fill us with Yourself. (The Prayer of Paul for the Ephesian Church. Ephesians 3:14-19)

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