The Essence of God

 

It is impossible to adequately define God.  He is infinite and therefore cannot be fully understood by our finite minds but we can define Him inasmuch as we know of Him.

“God is the infinite, perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source, support and end.”  STRONG  [Thiessen: 24]

1. God is Spirit

There are several implications that arise from the fact that God is Spirit.

A. God is immaterial and incorporeal

Immaterial means not made of anything and Incorporeal means without a body.  God is not made of physical substance and has no body.

John 4:24 (ESV) God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Note: Jesus, prior to the incarnation was completely spirit, however God’s nature is spirit.  

Anthropomorphisms: symbolic representations that show the attributes of God.

  • Hands Isa 65:2; Heb 1:10

  • Feet Gen 3:8; Ps 8:6

  • Eyes 1 Kings 8:29; 2 Chron 16:9

  • Ears Neh 1:6; Ps 34:15

These descriptions rather than teaching that God actually has bodily parts are simply God’s way of describing Himself to us in terms that relate to man.

B. God is Invisible

God can manifest Himself in visible form but He is Spirit and therefore by nature is invisible.

Colossians 1:15 (ESV) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Although God is invisible there are some verses that say that men saw God.  These are instances where God appears in human form to men. An example of this is the case where he appeared to Abraham before destroying Sodom. (Gen 18)

This does not contradict the truth that God is invisible in that He who created all things can assume any form that suits His purpose when He desires to communicate to man.  These appearances of God in human form in the Old Testament are called Theophanies.

C. God is Outside of this Creation

God is the creator of all things and is independent of the universe.

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Colossians 1:16 (ESV) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Even though God is independent of this creation He does not stand apart from it but rather is totally involved with it in maintaining and sustaining it.

Psalm 104:30 (ESV) When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

Job 33:4 (ESV) The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

2. God is personal

God is not an impersonal force permeating this creation but rather a Person who has a will, intellect and emotions.

Exodus 3:14 (ESV) God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”

In this verse God shows that He has self-awareness, makes decisions and has compassion on people.

A second evidence that God is personal is seen when we recognize that man has been created in His image.  Since man created in His image has personality it follows that God has personality. Similarly it is irrational to believe that the Creator made man with attributes that are greater than His own.  Therefore if we possess personality then God also must possess personality.

The Attributes of God

It is common to categorise the attributes of God into two groups:

  • Absolute Attributes

  • Moral Attributes

The absolute attributes of God

This group of attributes is distinct from the second group in that they are possessed by God alone.

A. God is self-existent

This means he is not dependent on anything outside of himself.

“God is the absolute source of all life and being, the uncaused cause.”  Duffield and Van Cleave  [Duffield et. al.: 69]

John 5:26 (ESV) For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

Colossians 1:17 (ESV) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

B. God is immutable

This means He is unchangeable.

Malachi 3:6 (ESV) “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Man changes from day to day but God is always the same.

C. God is eternal

This means God has no beginning or end.

1 Timothy 1:17 (ESV) To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 90:2 (ESV) Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

D. God is omnipresent

This means God is everywhere at the same time.

Jeremiah 23:23–24 (ESV) “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.

1 Kings 8:27 (ESV) “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!

Although God is everywhere present we find in the Bible that He is also described as having a manifested presence at specific locations.

Revelation 4:2 (ESV) At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.

E. God is omniscient

This means God is all knowing.

Psalm 139:1–4 (ESV) O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

What a comfort it is to know that God knows all. He knows and understands our situation.

F. God is omnipotent

This means God is all powerful.

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV) ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

There is nothing that is too difficult for Him!  But we need to understand that God can only do things that are logically possible and that are morally consistent with His Character.

G. God is sovereign

This means God is absolute ruler and in control of creation.

Philippians 2:9–11 (ESV) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We need to understand that although God is Sovereign He has chosen to allow mankind to exercise free will.

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