“Humans explaining the nature of God is like an ant trying to explain who dropped the sugar.” Trish O’Connor
In spite of Trish O’Connor’s quote, we all at one time or another try to understand God and most of us try to explain our discoveries to others. These blogs are no different. I certainly do not have all the answers, and like Rick Warren once said, “When someone thinks he has all the answers, you have to wonder if he knows all the questions.”
Yet God has revealed Himself to us and has been trying to get our attention since the beginning of time, to get us to trust and love Him. And this is not a secret (1 John 1:1-3). The things God has revealed about Himself were not done in a corner or revealed to special people in caves with special lenses required for reading. God has continuously revealed Himself to any and all who wanted to know Him. But as we noted before, He is very different from us. Even the designation “He” tends to obscure just how different, as we tend to think of “Him” as a grandfather in the sky.
Why this matters is that “we tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.” (A.W.Tozer) Thus we will become generous or legalistic, or cruel or kind, or pure or immoral, depending on the image of God in our minds. This process was described by Paul: “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-23)
However, idolatry should not to be construed as just worshiping a statue or physical image. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5: Ezekiel 14:3) Anything that takes first place in our hearts over The God Who Is There is an idol; this is what we live for, what we worship, what we want most in life.
So what is God, The God Who Is There? The dictionary’s first definition is “the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.” This gives us a starting point for discovering what He is, but we need more information, available only in the historical record of the Bible, to understand more fully what and who God is.
Now books, and voluminous ones, have been written discussing the Trinity and the nature of God, so do not expect any great revelation here today. This discussion is only intended as a starting point for us to consider our “mental images” of God and to draw us to consider how difficult it is for us to even begin to comprehend the incomprehensible. How does an ant explain who or what dropped the sugar??
The Bible presents the One True God as revealing Himself to Moses and the fledgling nation of Israel as The I Am That I Am, or Yahweh. He declares Himself to be ONE (Deuteronomy 6:4). Yet in Genesis 1:26-27 He said, “Let US make man in OUR image . . . in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Both psalmist and prophet refer to God’s Holy Spirit as someone somehow distinct from God (Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:11). When Jesus arrived on earth, He was “conceived . . . from the Holy Spirit” (sometimes called the Holy Ghost). (Matthew 1:20) When He was baptized by John in the Jordan River, we see Jesus in the water, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and the Father speaking from above (Mark 1:9-11).
Now the question comes, Are we tri-theists? Do we believe in three Gods? Absolutely not! As God spoke to Moses, He is One. Then how do we justify Jesus’ claim to be God (John 10:30) and the recognition of the Holy Spirit as God (Acts 10:38)?
Some defer to “modalism.” A man may be a dad, a brother and a son all at the same time . . . but that man is only one man, not three individuals. Some claim there is “Jesus only,” and that He shows up at times as Father or Son or Holy Spirit. However, these ideas fly in the face of various scriptures that show three individuals. Some claim the Three-in-One is not One at all. Some of these absurdly claim God the father had sex with Mary in order for Jesus to be born, but that would make Jesus less than the Father, and Jesus a created being,
The whole temperament of the Bible claims the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all the One True God, existing somehow in three persons. Hard to grasp? Of course, it is. He IS God! To be able to comprehend and explain what He is we would have to be greater than Him. As the Uncreated One, The First Cause of all that exists, he exists apart from His creation, over and above anything we will ever be able to grasp fully, even in the ages of eternity. He will still be the Uncreated One and we will still be, however elevated in ages to come, mere creatures created for His joy.
Paul Little penned it this way: “Faith in Christianity is based on evidence. Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but not against it.” Though we do not fully understand the triune nature of God this does not make it unreasonable in the face of the evidence presented in the Bible.
There is a small risk here: sometimes we begin to think and behave as tri-theists, as though there was a conflict between the Father and the Son, or between the Son and the Holy Spirit. They, He, It is One, and we would do well to preface our prayers, “Holy One, whom You know Yourself to be . . .” Now there are times when I need the proximity of a Brother. Other times I need the counsel of a Father. At yet other times, I need the mystery of a Holy Spirit who speaks in languages I have not learned.
God’s mercy is great enough, that if we call on His name, be it Father, Jesus, or Holy Spirit, He will understand our limitations and give grace to help us and guide us into all truth (John 16:12-15). Next week, , we look at more of The God Who Is There.
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6