How do you see God? Some people disregard God, some look at him as a mythical "Santa Clause" figure, some fear him as angry and punitive, some look at him as disinterested in individuals while others feel that God is a close friend. Which most closely represents your view of God?
The goal of this study is to show that: 1. As Creator, God has the right to rule and expect obedience from his creation 2. All creation, including man, is in the best possible position when aligned with God's will 3. Mankind as a group has departed from God's will, placing themselves in jeopardy 4. Many individuals have taken advantage of God's provision for their redemption and returned to him.
IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED...
The physical universe. At the beginning God created the entire universe; galaxies, stars, planets, smaller bodies and their constituant parts, all the way down to the subatomic particles of which matter is composed. At the same moment the physical rules of the universe, which had been pre-designed by God, were engaged to establish and maintain order.Genesis 1:1.
Our environment. So fitting for mankind; beautiful, comfortable, subject to rules which make our existence here quite managable, yet almost infinitely varied and complicated - enough to challenge the intellect and imagination of mankind's most brilliant minds. Religious and scientific scholars frequently engage in furious debates over details. No problem. God created the world and man is still learning about it. The longer we study and the more we learn the more accurately we will understand God's creation. Genesis 1:2-25.See alsoPsalm 8:3-4,Isaiah 42:5,Isaiah 45:18,Colossians 1:16-17,Revelation 4:11.
Mankind. God said "Let us make man in our image...". Not an exact duplicate but within the constraints that man is finite while God is infinite and that man, as created by God, is subject to God. Man is self conscious and has the ability to reason and make choices. Nature is not given choice with regard to God's law so everything works together well. Occasionally things happen which we do not like, such as fires or floods, but they follow God's physical laws and we understand why they happen. Man, on the other hand is given the opportunity to willingly choose to obey God. Genesis 1:26-31. See alsoExodus 20:3,Deuteronomy 11:26-28,Deuteronomy 13:1-4,1 Samuel 12:14-15
WHAT IS GOD LIKE?
Omnipotent (All powerful). All of the power in the universe originated with and flows from God. God is gracious toward us in providing the energy by which life is sustained and made pleasant. God loans some of his power to us, permitting us to learn and control and modify our environment. Although we may be slow to acknowledge it, we are ultimately dependent upon him.Jeremiah 10:10-12.See also Genesis 18:14,Jeremiah 27:5,Jeremiah 32:17,Romans 13:1,Psalm 145:15-16.
Omniscient (All knowing). God knows all things and understands all things perfectly. To successfully create something and make it work requires knowledge and understanding of that which is to be created. God created the entire universe - and it works! There are no surprises to God. One of my favorite illustrations is that of a human, standing on a street corner, watching a parade. He is aware of what has passed but can only anticipate what is yet to come. God, from his viewpoint, observes the entire parade of history, from beginning to end, all at once.Psalm 147:5.See also Psalm 139:1-3,Proverbs 5:21,Matthew 10:29-30,Romans 11:33-34.
Omnipresent (Everywhere present). One cannot keep secrets from God. In the human experience, competition, whether friendly or unfriendly, is often more successful when we withold or manipulate information, causing our competitor to misjudge a situation. God is not subject to such deception because he is everywhere present and aware. His judgement is perfect because his information is accurate. God's actions are perfect because they flow from his perfect judgement. There is no place nor circumstance in the universe so far removed from God that it is beyond his attention.Jeremiah 23:23-24.See also Deuteronomy 4:39,Psalm 139:7-12,Proverbs 15:3.
Loving, Kind and Merciful. We understand God's attitude toward us best when we examine our own feelings toward our children. We have a great love for them and a desire to provide for them, nurture them, protect and guide them. We wish everything good for them. The guidiance part of the relationship causes us to warn of danger and redirect their activity when they have not had enough experience to recognize peril.Matthew 7:9-11.See also Psalm 103:8,Psalm 145:8-9,Romans 8:38-39,1 Corinthians 2:9,2 Peter 3:9.
Righteous and Just. God is Holy, perfect in righteousness. Since God created both the universe and mankind and determined the rules by which they interact, it is reasonable that God would know and do what is best in every situation. Righteousness is conformity to God's unerring will. Unrighteousness is rebellion against God's will and carries with it the unpleasant consequences which righteousness avoids. The holiness of God requires that rebellion not go unpunished.Deuteronomy 32:3-4.See also Job 34:10-12,Psalm 89:11-14,Psalm 145:17,Zephaniah 3:5,Revelation 16:5-7.
WHAT IS MAN LIKE?
Rebellious. People do not like anybody, not even God, telling them what to do. One of the most popular songs of a recent generation was, "I did it my way." God gave man the ability to receive instruction and then make a conscious determination whether or not to follow that instruction. The initial temptation had an external source, the serpent tempted Eve then Eve tempted Adam, yet Adam was all too willing to disregard God's specific instruction regarding the forbidden fruit.Genesis 2:15-17,Genesis 3:1-19. Disobedience had immediate consequences: life on earth became more difficult, man's nature was permanently corrupted, (What parent has to teach a child, "Johnnie, this is how you tell a lie."?), the relationship between man and God was broken and spiritual death ensued. Note that man was already subject to physical death.Genesis 3:22-24. When contemplating rebellion we usually think of someone doing terrible overt actions, but the most common formof rebellion is simply doing nothing. Avoiding contact with God so that we do not have to confront our unwillingness to do what we intellectually know is right but fear that it will be distasteful or contrary to our own plans. Rebellion is universal. Jewish people have a problem with it,Isaiah 30:8-11,and so do the gentiles,Romans 1:18-32. See also Romans 5:12,Romans 6:23,1 John 1:8.
Subject to Judgement. We have all overheard weak parents threaten their children, "If you do not stop that I am going to...", "The next time you do that...", "I'm warning you...", but the predicted punishment never comes. Deep in our souls we know that the weak parent is doing a disservice to the child. Many people hope that God is like that parent, issuing stern warnings but never intending to enforce them. False assumption! The Apostle Peter warned, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9.God is merciful and loving, but he is also just. See Hebrews 9:27.,Psalm 9:7-8,Psalm 9:16-17,Psalm 98:9,Ecclesiastes 12:14
Unable to make himself righteous. It is not possible for a person, by his own effort, to erase the sin nature or sins committed. As a physical example; suppose a person gets into a drunken fight and has his ear cut off. Later he mends his ways and never takes another drink. Does the reformation cause his ear to grow back? Likewise, subsequent good works cannot remove the consequences of prior sins.Romans 8:5-8.See also Romans 3:20,Galatians 2:15-16,Ephesians 2:8-9,Titus 3:5.
GOD'S SOLUTION FOR MAN'S PREDICAMENT.
The Savior. Justice demands punishment of sin. God is just - yet desirous of redeeming lost mankind. The answer is to provide a substitute. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, provided HIMSELF as the proper substitute, dying upon the cross, taking our sins upon himself, enduring the punishment for our sin. His resurrection is the seal that his offering was effective, purchasing for us forgiveness of sin and rebirth of the spiritual life which was lost at the fall.John 3:16.
Unfortunately for many, a gift purchased and offered is not necessarily a gift received. THE CATCH to all of this is that individuals must choose to accept God's gift. It is fully possible for a person to have such a bad attitude toward God that he rejects God's love and says to himself in effect, "I will not permit God to rule my life. I will do what I want, when I want, how I want. I will find an alternate way to Heaven which does not involve admitting guilt and submitting myself to God." Of course, he does not realize what he is saying. He rationalizes by comparing himself with his neighbors.(2 Cor. 10:12)
Upon which side of this choice do you find yourself?Do you believe that God, your creator, loves you and knows what is best for you? Do you believe that in his love for you God developed the only possible plan for your redemption from sin? Do you believe that Jesus Christ, God's Son, is the acceptable substitute and successfully accomplished the task of atoning for your sin? Then, if you have not already done so, choose to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and commit yourself to him. Tell God about it. Remember, God knows your thoughts so you can communicate with him as if face to face. Admit to God your sinfulness and ask forgiveness. He will do so! Ask for strength as you take the scary step of yielding your life and future to his direction. He will guide and empower you. The New Birth is an event. It does not gradually happen like dust collecting under a bed. I am concerned that many who have been raised in Christian homes and have attended church and heard Bible stories all of their lives, have never confronted the need to personally make the decision to invite Christ into their lives. Do you recall that event in your life? John 3:17-18 See also John 1:29,John 14:6,John 3:36,1 Corinthians 15:3-4,John 3:1-7,Revelation 3:20.
The Stumblingblock. Upon hearing all of the above a non-believer may be tempted to respond, "Whoa there! Aren't you becoming a little overwrought? This sounds more like fanaticism than a rational discussion. I do not feel particularly guilty. Besides, my friend tells me that we are all children of God and, in the end, we will all go to Heaven. I do not want to do anything which will make me appear foolish to my friends." The Bible says your friend is wrong.Acts 4:8-12. Satan, our adversary, seeks to place stumblingblocks in our way. In the Garden of Eden his tactic was to create doubt in Eve's mind regarding God's motives. Later he caused the Jews to doubt that Jesus is the Messiah. Today he whispers to you that maybe all of this is just myth or emotional thinking. Doubt causes delay and sometimes lost opportunity. Since this is the most important choice you will make in your lifetime, we urge you to read the Bible for yourself; think carefully; weigh the evidence and take the appropriate action. See 1 Peter 5:8,1 Corinthians 1:18-25,Romans 9:32-33,1 Peter 2:6-8.
HOW TO GROW IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Read the Bible. The Bible is God's Word, his written communication to mankind. It is the basis of our knowledge of God and of his will for us. A committed Christian should schedule a daily time of reading God's Word. Satan would certainly like to disrupt that schedule or divert our attention, but do not let it happen. Do not waste your time trying to find secret messages and codes in the Bible. Just immerse yourself in the Word, letting it pass through your mind, enriching your relationship with God. A good starting place is the New Testament, learning of Christ and his impact upon today's world, then go to the Old Testament and begin reading sequentially.Psalm 119:9-16.See also 2 Timothy 3:16-17,1 Thessalonians 2:13,Hebrews 4:12,1 Peter 2:2..1 Timothy 1:3-7,Palm 119:105
Become active in a church. When a baby is born, the life in it needs and demands attention, interaction, nutrition, physical activity and mental stimulation. The family incorporates that child into the unit, providing it with a sense of belonging and a framework where it can grow and mature. A local church serves the same purpose, providing fellowship, instruction and opportunities for service, all essential to Christian growth. Do not just lie there limp and lifeless. Learn to walk and talk and serve.Hebrews 10:24-25.See also 1 Peter 2:2,Acts 2:46-47,Acts 11:25-26,1 Thessalonians 1:1-3.