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Lesson 2 - God
There are a number of arguments for the existence of God.
THE WATCH ARGUMENT
If we found an old watch on the ground, having never seen a watch before, we might pick it up and examine it. We might open the back and look at the complicated mechanism. We would notice how the tiny wheels worked against each other and turned the hands on the face.
We would know that such an intricate piece of mechanism must have been made. The watch must have been designed; it must have been planned. The watch could not have made itself. The parts could not have come together by accident. The fact that the watch exists is evidence that there must be a designer - there must be a watchmaker.
The universe is made up of millions of stars. The earth has a moon revolving round it. The sun and the planets are part of a marvellously intricate system of which every part is moving exactly along its appointed path. This is much more complicated than any watch. This did not happen by accident. There must be a designer. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork" (Psalm 19 v 1).
One of the most powerful arguments for the existence of God is contained in the Bible. The Bible contains many prophecies about the rise and fall of kingdoms and nations; about individuals and about events. In many cases these prophecies were recorded hundreds of years in advance. This is something that man could not do. Only God, who controls all things, could have caused these prophecies to be written. Look at Isaiah 46 v 9-10.
Some of these prophecies will be dealt with in future studies The purpose of this Study is to explain what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible.
WHAT THE BIBLE TELLS US
God has revealed Himself as the Creator. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"' (Genesis 1 v 1). "I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded" (Isaiah 45 v 12).
God has revealed Himself as eternal. He has always been and always will exist.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (Psalm 90 v 2).
"Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting" (Psalm 93 v 2).
There is only one God. Israel were reminded that the various gods the Egyptians worshipped had no power and were no more than man-made images.
"For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens" (1 Chronicles 16 v 26). God is all powerful. He knows all that is going on and is present everywhere by the power of His spirit.
"Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off...and art acquainted with all my ways"' (Psalm 139 v 2-3).
David in this Psalm says that our minds are too small to understand the greatness of God (verse 6). But if we know that God sees and knows all things it can be a great comfort and a source of strength. "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139 v 9-10).
The Bible tells us that God's ear is always open to hear the cry of His children and God has declared, too, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee' (Hebrews 13 v 5; Joshua 1:5).
THE UNITY OF GOD
The Bible teaching that there is one God is important, particularly as there are many who do not believe this. It is the clear teaching of both Old Testament and New Testament. Look up these verses - Isaiah 45 v 5; 1 Corinthians 8 v 6 & Ephesians 4 v 6.
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"
Jesus himself emphasised the importance of this Bible doctrine when he said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17 v 3).
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
Few doctrines are more generally accepted by the Christian world than that concerning the Godhead, known as the doctrine of the Trinity. Roman Catholics, the Greek Church, and almost all denominations of Protestants, however they may differ upon some points, agree on this, and believe that 'the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God'. They further believe that all three are co-equal and co-eternal.
Is this a true doctrine? If so, while we may not understand it, must we accept it? How are we to know? Obviously only by what God has been pleased to reveal in His word. Therefore, to the Bible we go and soon discover that there is no support anywhere in its pages for this popular doctrine, but quite the reverse. The Scriptures always teach the unity of God, not the trinity. The following quotations clearly show this:-
"Here, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29).
"I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me" (Isa. 45:5).
"To us there is but ONE GOD, the Father, of whom are all things" (1 Cor. 8:6).
These are not by any means isolated passages, but examples of many more might be quoted, all teaching that God is one, not three. The last of the above passages is strikingly significant. Christ had appeared, had died, been raised from the dead and exalted to the Father's right hand, yet Paul says there is ONE GOD! And who is this? The triune God of orthodoxy - Father, Son and Holy Ghost? No! it is THE FATHER. He was the God whom Paul worshipped.
WAS JESUS GOD THE SON?
What, then, of Jesus Christ? Was he not 'God the Son'? In view of the frequent use of this expression today, it is remarkable that such a phrase is not to be found in the Bible. We read of the "Son of God", but not 'God the Son'. The natural inference is that the doctrine involved by that expression is not a scriptural one. The Athanasian Creed says of the Father and Son that they are co-equal and co-eternal. Passing over the remarkable conception that a Father and Son can be co-eternal, what does the Bible say concerning the co-equality? It speaks most plainly on the matter. Was Christ the equal of the Father when he was here 1900 years ago? Let him answer for himself:-
"I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30).
"My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me" (John 7:16).
"My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28).
The very fact that he was sent by the Father (John 5:24,37) negates the theory of co-equality, whilst his want of knowledge concerning the time of his second coming is an additional evidence against the popular belief, for one cannot imagine the Second Person of the Trinity being ignorant of anything. Not only was there this absence of equality in the past, it is the same now. Ponder the words of Paul when he speaks of the "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 11:31), even as Jesus himself, after his resurrection, referred to the Father as "My God" (John 20:17). The further fact that "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5), is another testimony to the same effect.
CHRIST'S FUTURE POSITION
This line of evidence can be carried further. We look forward to the time at the end of Christ's reign on earth of one thousand years. What do we see?
"Then cometh the end, when he (Christ) shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father...He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet...When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
Thus in the past, the present, and the future, high as is the position assigned to Jesus Christ, the Father is supreme, and co-equality is never even suggested.
Who, then, is Jesus Christ? The Son of God, born of a virgin mother, as recorded in Matthew and Luke:-
"The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall over shadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
Jesus lived as recorded in the Scriptures, was tempted, suffered, and died, but was raised from the dead by the Father, and exalted to the Father's right hand as High Priest and Mediator. There he will remain until the time when he shall return to the earth to establish the Kingdom of God.
THE LOVE OF GOD
If there is one attribute of the Almighty which shows that His character is different from the gods which have been invented by men, it is the love that He shows.
Think of the love that a parent shows to his children. God shows all that love - and more - to us.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3 v 16).
The work of the Lord Jesus Christ forms the subject of another Study. Man's need of salvation is also dealt with fully later. But the purpose that God has with the earth and with man needs to be outlined here.
It is the clear teaching of the Bible that God intends in the future to change the world, to remove the evils which at present afflict it.
GOD'S PLAN FOR THE EARTH
Very early in the history of Israel, God declared, "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord" (Numbers 14 v 21).
The earth is certainly not filled with the glory of God now. But it will be. This is God's purpose.
The Apostle Paul spoke to the people of Athens and told them that one day the world would be ruled in righteousness by a king appointed by God and that this was guaranteed by His raising the one appointed from the dead.
The world is certainly not ruled in righteousness now. But it will be. When this time comes it will be called the Kingdom of God and Jesus will be the king. God's purpose with the earth is dealt with more fully in the next Study. One of the sure ways in which God has shown His love for man is that He has made known His purpose in the Bible. His love is also shown in the provision of His own son as the centre of that purpose.
A Study about God would not be complete without mentioning two words which are associated with the Almighty and His work. The word 'spirit' is often used in the Bible to mean the power of God, universally present. "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Psalm 139 v 7). "Uphold me with thy free spirit" (Psalm 51 v 12).
The word 'holy' means special, set apart, sacred, consecrated. When we read of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is speaking of the Power of God when used for a particular, special purpose. The Authorised Version of the Bible sometimes has the word for spirit translated as 'Ghost' but the Revised Version used the word Spirit and if we look at some of the places where the words appear the meaning will be clear.
When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was told that she was to have a son who was to be called Jesus, she was told that the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) would come upon her and Luke emphasizes the meaning by repeating "the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee" (Luke 1 v 35). Look at the verse. The angel is explaining that the birth of Jesus would be a miracle brought about by God's special power operating upon Mary. Because of this, Jesus would be the Son of God.
WRITING THE BIBLE
We have already looked at a verse in the second letter of Peter which says that "the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" ('Holy Ghost' in the Authorised Version). It was God's special power that caused the prophets to speak and the writers of the scriptures to set down God's Word. They were moved by the power of God.
The word 'spirit' is often a translation of a word in Hebrew (in the Old Testament) or a word in Greek (in the New Testament) that means breath. So when the Spirit of God moved a man, it could be said that "God breathed into him". This meaning behind the word makes some of the passages which speak of the power of God particularly beautiful. This, too, is the reason that Paul, writing to Timothy, says the scriptures are God-breathed - "all scripture is given by INSPIRATION of God" (2 Timothy 3 v 16).
The power of the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus as the New Testament says. The apostles later were also given this power that enabled them to perform miracles. The last verse in Mark 16 v 20 tells us that the purpose of this was to enable the apostles to confirm the words that they spoke.
Paul speaks of the way in which the gifts of the Holy Spirit were used in the first century. The greatest attribute above all gifts which we should try to cultivate is love. (Read 1 Corinthians 12 v 28-31 then 1 Corinthians 13 v 1-13)
God has shown His love for us in many ways. We can best show our love for Him by trying to live our lives in a way that pleases Him.
SUMMARY OF SOME IMPORTANT POINTS
- There is one God.
- He is the Creator. He is immortal - from everlasting to everlasting.
- God sees and knows all things.
- God is righteous. God is loving.
- God has revealed His purpose in the Bible.
- The power of God is described as His Spirit.
- The scriptures were written by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus was born as a result of the action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary.
It is important to our salvation that we should understand the nature of God.
PASSAGES FOR BIBLE READING
Genesis 1; Isaiah 45; Acts 17 (Notice what those at Berea did); Psalm 139; 1 Timothy 6.
Lesson 2: Questions
Check the correct answer to each question, and then submit them. Occasionally a question may require more than one correct answer.