We will break our discussion this morning into three sections. First we will look at who God is not. Secondly we will look to the scripture to see how God reveals Himself to us and finally we will consider what impact these truths have on our lives. If you were to ask Americans if they believed in God, the majority of them would tell you yes, they do believe in God. According to a Fox News poll conducted recently Friday June 18th, fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles.
But before you get overly encouraged, the same national poll showed that about a third of Americans believe in ghosts 34 percent and an equal number in UFOs 34 percent , and about a quarter accept things like astrology 29 percent , reincarnation 25 percent and witches 24 percent. Overall, most Americans think religion plays too small a role in people's lives today 69 percent , with only 15 percent saying it plays too large a role and seven percent saying "about right. And yet, while most Americans think religion plays far too small a role in people's lives, they are most certainly talking about other people because the same poll found that only a little more than a third of those surveyed 37 percent say they attend church, synagogue or other place of worship at least once a week, 13 percent almost every week, 12 percent about once a month and 19 percent seldom attend.
Three percent attend on holidays and 15 percent never attend. So you see, not everything is as it seems or appears to be. While most people in our country claim to believe in God, it is clear they do not believe in the God revealed in Scripture. The question then should not be: Do you believe in God? The question should be: In what God do you believe? You see, when different people talk about God, they are not all speaking of the same person. Many well intentioned Christians are simply ignorant of this truth.
For example, when the topic of Islam is raised you will hear people say something like, "Well, we all worship the same God, don't we? The God of scripture is not Allah, worshiped by the Muslims. He is not the god of the Mormons - they believe that as we are he once was and as he is we shall someday be.
He is not the god of the Jehovah's Witnesses - they deny the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit and teach that the doctrine of the trinity is heresy. He is not the god of the New Agers - they believe God to be a higher force or some sort of cosmic energy. The God you and I believe in is not some nebulous, indeterminate blob of spiritual energy. He is not the god of sentimentality often referred to by Hollywood - Al Mohler, Richard Land and Chuck Kelley, in their commentary on the Baptist Faith and Message comment that, "The sad truth is that many Americans have only a superficial idea of God.
The God they imagine is not the living God of the Bible but more the product of sentimentality. And the list could go on and on and on, for you see, while many people believe in a god, they do not all believe The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God revealed in scripture.
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So if we look just a little below the surface we can see that who God is depends on who you ask. How then do we know who our God is and on what authority can we claim to found our beliefs? The word "Theology," is derived from two Greek words, "Theos," which means God, and "logos," which means "word. It has come to describe the entire body of thought and study about God. As Southern Baptist our theology about God is rooted and grounded solely in scripture and is articulated in our confessional statement, The Baptist Faith and Message.
It says:. This is a summation of our theology of God. As evangelical Christians our theology does not come from church tradition, as some in the Roman church would have us believe. It does not come from community, as the pundits of postmodernism would like us to believe. Our theology does not come from the fertile imaginations of religious zealots or from some ecclesiastical hierarchy.
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Fundamental to our faith is the understanding that God is a God of revelation and it is in scripture that He has revealed Himself to humanity. As we studied last week there are two types of revelation, general revelation, where the evidence of God is clearly observed in nature; and special revelation, which is scripture, God's chosen method of self disclosure to humanity. This is an important truth about which each Christian should be clear. If we are not clear about where we get our knowledge of God, then whatever knowledge we have of Him will be suspect.
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The scripture is the only certain word we have about God and it tells us that we are made in His image. This is important because when many people think about God they try to think of Him in human terms, or anthropomorphically. They try to think of Him in sentimental ways or understand Him through the lens of their personal experience, always trying to envision Him within the confines of how they would understand another human.
But instead of understanding God within the confines of human personhood, we need to recognize that we are a finite and fallen replica of His infinite divine and perfect person. We are created in His image, He is the creator, we are the creature and all we can ever know about God is what He has chosen to disclose to us in Scripture. What then does God reveal to us about Himself in Scripture? Obviously, as we have stated, time will not permit us to cover this topic exhaustively so, for the sake of our study, allow me to say several things that God tells us about Himself in scripture.
The scripture is clear, there is only one true and living God. Isaiah says, "I am the Lord, there is no other; there is no God but Me. Polytheism believes in many God's. Pantheism believes that god is in everything and that everything is God. Atheism says there is no God, but Biblical Theism says there is only one God and there is no other god beside Him.
He is unique. The Bible tells us that He is a person; which says He is intelligent, knowable and has a personal will. Now before we go any further we need to stop for a moment and consider that while there is only one God, He reveals Himself to us as a triune God, that is, one God in three persons. This doctrine of the Trinity is central to a biblical understanding of Who God is. Although the term Trinity is not used in scripture, neither is the term rapture. These are simply terms the Church has assigned to speak about things the Bible asserts as being true. The Doctrine of the Trinity asserts that God is one in being or essence who exists eternally in three distinct coequal persons.
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We find scriptural references to the triune nature of God both in the Old and the New Testaments. In Genesis God says, "Since man has become like one of Us Who will go for Us? The scripture is filled with this type of teaching and since our theology is a Biblical theology, that is we interpret each verse in light of every verse, we see this element of God's self revelation throughout the bible. So important to God's self revelation and our understanding of God is this doctrine that throughout history Christians have staked their very lives upon this truth.
Those who deny this truth cannot truly be called Christians. It is the doctrine Jesus taught and believed and it is the doctrine set forth by a systematic study of scripture. It is how God reveals Himself to us, thus we must accept it. And yet it is one of the most enigmatic or perplexing doctrines in all of scripture. Admittedly, it is difficult for us to comprehend. And even though theologians have offered numerous analogies to try and help us understand it, they all ultimately break down.
The Divine Three
Mullins, a great Southern Baptist theologian, put it this way, "The Bible does not explain the Trinity. It simply gives us the facts God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These have personal qualities. Yet God is one. This is the New Testament teaching. Beyond this we tend towards speculation. I might add that we are most likely to err when we try to fill in the spaces scripture has left blank. We would do well to accept it at face value, even though we cannot fully explain it. That is, He is omnipotent, or all powerful and able to do all His holy will. He tells us in Jeremiah that there is nothing too hard for Him.
God's sovereignty speaks to His rule or reign over all things. It would not be fair to say that God can do anything because His sovereignty is consistent with His holiness and all His other attributes, thus God cannot lie, He cannot sin, He cannot deny Himself or be tempted with evil or cease to exist.
One True God: A Biblical Study of the Doctrine of God
Simply put, God's sovereignty means that God is able to bring His will to pass whatsoever He wills. While God's freedom speaks to the fact that there are no external constraints on His decisions, His sovereignty speaks to the fact that by His own power He can do whatever He pleases. Psalm tells us that God does whatever He pleases. Isaiah tells us of the angels around the throne, "And one cried unto another and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth. But when the scripture uses the word Holy to describe God, it is speaking not only of His righteousness and perfection, but of the reality that He is separate and different from us.
This word speaks to His transcendence, or the fact that He is infinitely exalted above all of creation. That is, He is eternal. He has neither beginning nor end; He has always been and will always be. Time and space to not limit God as they limit us. God is not subject to the special laws of time and space which confine us.
He is timeless. In language which our finite minds find hard to grasp He tells us in 2 Peter that "With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. Truly it is incomprehensible to us. As limited, finite beings, who ourselves are confined by time and space, it is difficult for us to even conceive of this aspect of God but scripture tells us He is eternal.
That is, there is no place He is not. He is everywhere at all times. Psalm tells us that there is no place where we can escape the presence of God. Furthermore, He is in no way diminished by His being in all places at all times. He is present everywhere in all His fullness. This too is difficult for us to understand, so we must say with the Psalmist, "This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me.
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