Who is God?

This is lesson 1 in the series "The Attributes of God."

Who is God and Why does it Matter to us

Lesson 1

In the 1640’s a group of Scottish and English clergymen wrote a document called the Westminster Shorter Catechism that consisted of 107 questions and answers that were to be used by parents and the church to teach their children the ways of God. This document along with two others written at the same time-The Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Confession of Faith-are considered to be the grandest doctrinal statements to come out of the English Reformation.

The most famous question in the Shorter Catechism is the first one:

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.


Across time after the Fall, God has moved closer to us.

1)      OT: God dwelt before His people. He dwelt within the inner chamber of the Temple or appeared as a pillar of fire. The Holy of Holies was carried veiled before the congregation. It could be seen but only at a distance and it could not be touched under penalty of death. Only the High Priest could directly enter into His presence.

2)      Gospel: God dwelt among us. More intimacy. People could talk to and touch Jesus. He interacted with thousands of people. But His presence was limited to a small geographical area and for a limited time.

3)      Now: God dwells in us. 1 Cor. 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” God’s temples are now all over the world and each one of us at any time can rely on God’s grace and pray to Him.

4)      Heaven: God dwells everywhere. In Heaven God will be our light, we will be able to appear before His throne,

The surface of the ocean is vast and marvelous, but it is much easier to swim on its surface than to explore the unknown riches of its depths. Too often, we sadly take the same approach towards God.

Probably like most people, when I eat a bowl of chicken noodle soup my first few spoonfuls are usually just the broth off of the top. Then I will start getting to the noodles and bits of carrots. Eventually as I get closer to the bottom of the bowl I find the chunks of chicken.

This is what reading the Bible is like. If we read quickly and skim the surface of every chapter and book we will get a lot of broth. It is nourishing and good but we will rarely discover just how amazingly fulfilling God’s Word really is. We must set aside the time to study it and to let the Holy Spirit feed us with words that directly meet the true needs of our soul. If we are struggling with a sin (anger, lust, envy) or have a need (loneliness, discouragement, anxiety) then do an in-depth study of that subject in the Bible. Or pick just one book and spend a year examining it. You will be amazed how nourishing that time will be.

Yet what we as spiritual people can experience the natural man can hardly even dream of.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “but just as it is written,

 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”

The skeptics say that God is created in the image of man.

How do we get to know God better?



Revelation: an uncovering, a bringing to light of that which had been previously wholly hidden.

Think of yourself in a completely dark place; you cannot see anything. You touch the walls and they are rough and cold.  Then someone hands you a flashlight and you turn it on and by pointing it at different places you discover that you are in the Sistine Chapel. The world is dark, rough, and cold. The Bible, God’s light to us, reveals to us a world that is much more beautiful and intricate.

Other Christian’s teachings

Church sermons. God will speak to us through the words of others particularly those who have devoted themselves wholly to the study and preaching of His word.

Your own and other people’s experiences including biographies

Answered prayer

Moments of unusual peace in a time of turmoil

Supernatural occurrence such as a healing

Through biographies, we can also see how God worked in other Christian’s lives. George Muller’s biography is one great example.


Beauty and intricacy of the world

Colossians 1:17 states, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” How everything fits together in nature from the animal kingdom to planets revolving around the sun all demonstrate many of God’s attributes such as intelligence, beauty, creativity, complexity, detail, etc.

Job 12:7, “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.” Along the same lines, the more we examine the animal kingdom the more amazing God will appear.


All truth is God’s truth. All true science is God’s science and will never contradict Him. All true philosophy and logical will likewise point to God.

Why is it important to know God better?


The better we know God the bigger He will be

If someone is standing several hundred feet away you can easily fit them between your thumb and index finger if you close one eye and spread those two fingers an inch apart. But if a tiny spider crawls across your glasses it appears as though a monster is in your face. An aspect of perspective is how objects appear to us based on our relationship to them. The closer something is to us the larger it will appear. In the above situation we know that a person is larger than a spider but at that moment the spider is more intimidating.

This same principle holds true for our problems and God. Whichever one we keep closer to us the bigger it will appear than the other. If we keep God at a distance by not reading the Bible, praying, or attending church then He will appear to be small and ineffective. We may occasionally yell to Him for help but it is like we are talking to someone on the other side of a parking lot. Whereas if we constantly focus on a problem, thinking about it, mulling its worst consequences then it will be like that spider on our glasses. Of course the reality is that God is greater than any problem but our perspective of these may be distorted because of which one we are keeping closest to us.

It is only by being in the constant presence of God that we can begin to see just how great and powerful He is.

If your problems are closer to you than God then they will seem bigger.


We were designed for a relationship with God

Suppose that I were to take our minivan and swerve off of the paved highway and into some rugged woods. It would not be long before the chassis would be torn into pieces and the car clunk to a halt, now a broken-down wreck. Why so much damage?—because a minivan was not created to be driven over harsh terrain. It functions best when driven on paved roads as the engineers designed it.

We are created in the image of God and thus we have been endowed with aspects of God’s nature such as wisdom, love, justice, holiness, mercy, and patience. A key aspect of God designing us similar to Himself is that we can have a personal and endless relationship with Him. That we have similar natures draws us to each other. We see this principle throughout creation: Lions form a pride, fish swim in schools, and ants live in colonies. Whereas all the rest of creation has only one type that they are similar to—their own species—we are unique because there are two types that we are similar to and, therefore, can form deep relationships with: other people (individually and in community) and God.

When we lack any of these relationships we feel incomplete. When we try to fill any of these voids with something other than with what God intended then we can make a wreck of our lives. But when we delight ourselves in the Lord and with His people, then He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).


Intimacy is God’s desire

The Bible is not a book of rules; it is a book about relationships and primarily our relationship with God. In Genesis 1 right after man and woman were created we read an amazing sequence in verses 27 and 28, “… He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them...”: creation, blessing, and then immediately personal interaction.

Then 1189 chapters later we come to the last quote in the Bible. Revelation 22:20 is from Jesus, “Yes, I am coming soon.” We see God’s promise of coming to be more intimate with us. And everywhere in between these two passages we continually read the premium that God places on relationships with us. He is our Father, we are adopted as sons and daughters, we are the bride of Christ.

It is crucial that we read the Bible not just to learn about God but to know God. A fascinating example of this is Job. In Job 1:1 Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” He had a true heart for God, but there was one thing that lacked. It was not until he had persevered through his terrible trials that he was then able to conclude, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5). Job had made that transformation from knowledge to relationship.


We can become more like God because we see it in God first

Proverbs 29:19, “A slave will not be instructed by words alone; for though he understands, there will be no response.” God created us primarily to learn not by mere words and isolated commandments. He created us to learn primarily by example. Hence children imitate their parents. This is why story is so powerful. If we learned well enough from words then the Bible would only have to be lists of what-to-do’s and what-not-to-do’s. But, though those do exist in the Bible (the Ten Commandments, for example), the Bible is through and through a book of stories. The Gospels are what?—the stories of Jesus. What we find most compelling about Jesus are not His acts; although His miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection to be the central moments in world history. But what most people find compelling about Jesus is… Jesus—the person Jesus. The miracles of Jesus impress us not so much regarding His power but rather they impress us with His heart. That He multiplied fish and bread is in itself quite amazing. But that He noticed that people were tired and hungry and needed to be taken care of and then that He did something about it is what really draws us to Him. Jesus’ miracles were not drama simply to wow people; rather, they were always aimed at helping someone. Jesus did miracles because He cared. When we read the Gospels and see the sacrifices that Jesus did for others, are we not motivated to likewise sacrifice also?

How can we expect to become more faithful until we first understand God’s faithfulness?

How can have a desire to hate sin and be holy until we first grasp God’s hatred of sin?

How can we not forgive others if we truly experience God’s forgiveness of us?

It is important to know God better because He is our primary model of all good and right behavior.


We will trust God more

Was there someone whom you were good friends with and you used to talk all of the time and share your feelings and thoughts with? But then, for some reason, you didn’t talk to them as much? Didn’t you then have some suspicions about what they thought about you? Like maybe they had a bad attitude towards you? Lack of communication between two people will nearly always lead to speculation and suspicion. That is the same with us and God. If we do not know God then we are in a trial we will be more likely to blame God than to turn to Him.

On the other side, how can we think that God wants to make us miserable if we truly gasp the truth that Jesus Christ died a horrible crucifixion so that we might be freed from the penalty of our own sins?


As we deepen our understanding of God it will deepen our relationship with Him and so strengthen our prayer life and our desire to read the Bible

We steer clear of gossips. We migrate towards people that we trust and the more kinship that we feel towards them the more we want to be with them. So it is with God. The better we know Him, the more we are motivated to want to know even more about Him. It is an upward spiral. And, of course, what better ways to know about God then through the Bible and with prayer?

When we realize that God has the power and love to change things for the best whether it be our circumstances or our own hearts then our first response in all situations will be to pray rather than to grumble.


As we understand more who God is it will deepen our worship

If your view of God is that He is distant or that He is so incomprehensible that it is like a worm trying to contemplate quantum physics or if it is, in any way, different from the reality of what God really is then your worship will likely be shallow. You will find yourself singing worship songs thinking more about the tune than about the God to whom they are directed. When you do think about God instead of awe and reverence there is a mild interest.

The closer that we come to God, the heavier our hearts will be with worship.


As we know God better it will motivate us to evangelize more

If you have a favorite sports team that you are fanatical about you will wear shirts with their insignia. You will have their memorabilia around your house or office. You will talk about how that team is doing and especially if they are doing well. How much more if you are fanatical about God? And especially knowing full well that God is always winning.


You will be more motivated to go to church

Though a big part of church is fellowship, church’s primary focus is God: who He is, what He does, and what He wants us to do. The more that you know God, the deeper will be your thirst for God.

Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.”


It creates a correct and proper self-image

A wrong self-image is self’s view of self; a right self-image is God’s view of self. A lowered self-image sees us as dull and worthless. A God centered self-image sees us as having dignity and tremendous value and worth. An inflated self-image sees us being arrogant and independent. A God centered self-image sees us as sinners who need the grace and mercy of a Savior.

 But we can never understand how God sees us until we understand who God is.


It creates right relationships

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” This is not only the theological basis but also the practical basis. As we understand God’s responses and attitudes toward us then we will know what our responses and attitudes should be in those same types of situations.

Colossians 3:13 is a prime example of this. “Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave, so also should you.”

Notice how God commands us to do something but only because He already has that same attitude towards us already.

Division of Attributes

Metaphysical, Incommunicable (does not exist in people), Absolute

The Eternal God

The Immutable God

The Omnipotent God

The Omniscient God

The Omnipresent God

The Holy God

The Sovereign God

Moral, Communicable (does exist in people), Comparative

The Divine Love

The Divine Faithfulness

The Divine Comfort

What was the first temptation? The serpent told Eve that God had lied to her; that God is not really what He makes Himself out to be. And this is the same lie that the Devil wants everyone to believe, that God is not really who He says He is. The lie is that we can shape God into whatever we want. Our effort in the following ten weeks will be to thwart the Devil’s lies and the best way to do this is to know what is real.

God is infinite in His immensity and also infinite in the perfection of every detail.

God is not a machine that can be taken apart and put together again. All of what He is functions together as one. This attribute is called the simplicity of God.

The wicked try to conform God to what they want Him to be and when they cannot twist God any further then they deny Him. Ps 10:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” As Christians we no longer have to twist God to justify our sin, but, rather, we know that we are forgiven and so can strive to become more like God.

We can have great techniques on evangelism. We can have a topnotch program on discipleship. We can have a sincere, zealous heart. But if we do not know how to call upon God, if we do not know Him who “only doest wondrous things,” then who will bless our efforts? Who will supply the power?


Hosea 6:3, “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD
         His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
         And He will come to us like the rain,
         Like the spring rain watering the earth."

This course is all about one thing: pressing on to know the Lord.

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Copyright Bob La Forge 2011        email: bob@disciplescorner.com