All religions are an effort of mankind to find God. Each religion will either elevate, or degrade those who embrace it in proportion to its concept of God. As religion comes closer to the truth concerning the true God it will be found that its followers become more pure in character, more noble and upright in behaviour. This is the basic reason why all false religion is hateful to God. It places men in a position where it is impossible for them to develop pure and holy characters or to enjoy true happiness. This fact becomes evident as we examine the various religions existing in the world today. Many claim that it does not matter what our concept of God is, as long as we believe in some kind of God. This is very dangerous thinking. It is impossible to know God, unless we have a correct concept of who He is. "To know God as He is--this is the science of all goodness and truth and righteousness." _ The Upward Look, p.347
In this lesson we focus on the question of God's identity. When the Bible speaks of God, does it mean a particular Person? If so, who is He? Is the Bible vague or uncertain in identifying God or may we have a clear and definite understanding on the basis of what the Bible says? It seems obvious that if we are ever to have a true knowledge of God, then the first thing that we need to do is to know who God is. Surprisingly there are many Christians who declare that it is not really necessary to be able to identify precisely who God is. This, in spite of the fact that God has clearly identified Himself in His word in such a way that it is impossible to mistake His identity. Just as we could never have a really personal and close relationship with our children if we kept mixing them up and thinking one was the other, so we can never have a personal and intimate relationship with God until we are absolutely certain of His personality and identity.
The greatest purpose of life is the discovery of God. While it is true that we cannot "by searching find out God (Job 11:7), yet it is also true that God is eager to reveal Himself to everyone who is desirous of getting to know Him better. The great purpose of life will be better appreciated in the life to come when it will be realized that the whole purpose of man's existence is to know God, and in knowing Him, to reveal Him to the universe. "Heaven is a ceaseless approaching to God through Christ. The longer we are in the heaven of bliss, the more and still more of glory will be opened to us; and the more we know of God, the more intense will be our happiness. As we walk with Jesus in this life, we may be filled with His love, satisfied with His presence. All that human nature can bear, we may receive here. But what is this compared with the hereafter? There "are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Rev. 7:15-17. The Desire of Ages, p.331-2
According to Webster's New World Dictionary, the word "sovereign" has the following meanings:
Only one "supreme in power, rank or authority," only one above all others.
Most Christians today claim that the Sovereign of the universe is really three persons, that there is not one supreme Being, but rather, three supreme Beings. However, this claim is not supported by biblical facts. The Bible everywhere identifies the Sovereign of the universe as one almighty Being, a supreme Ruler to whom all others are subject. Because God is sovereign, His will is supreme in the universe. Not only are we as Christians obligated to obey that will, but all creation must submit to His purposes. God's sovereignty is the guarantee that all He has promised in His word will surely come to pass.
The men who framed the Westminster Confession included a question in the document which reveals that they had a least a good understanding of the true goal of life.
The question and answer read as follows:
Question: What is man's chief end?
Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. This is a wonderful truth. "We were made for Him and our souls are restless until they find rest in Him." In all our searching to understand doctrine and to be theologically correct, we must always remember that all this is only a means to an end. The end, the goal, the purpose is God Himself. To know, to experience, to enjoy God, this is the purpose of life, the aim of all true knowledge. What profit is there in knowing how to define God when we are strangers to that God? How can we ever represent that God to the world unless we are in a constant loving fellowship with Him in which we are being transformed by association with Him?
In our lesson this week we look at some of the attributes of God.
We can do no more than take a quick glance at some of His qualities.
The knowledge of God is ". . . . as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea." (Job 11:8-9) Yet in spite of the fact that we can never "find out the almighty unto perfection" (Job 11:7) Yet it is our privilege and our duty to find out as much about God as He has revealed about Himself. This is an absolute necessity for we can only develop a relationship with God as we learn to love and trust Him. Yet, how can we trust somebody when we do not know the kind of person he is? Would a woman be willing to marry a man if she doubted that he would be able to take care of her and of any children they might have? In a similar way, millions of people in the world have no confidence in God and will not place their trust in Him because they do not know, or do not believe that He is able or willing to help them in their particular situation. Ignorance of God in every case is the reason for unbelief and the corresponding ungodliness which prevails in the church and the world.
Equally as important as knowing the attributes of God, is knowing the character of God. There are many who are convinced that God is truly an almighty Being, the One who is Ruler of the entire universe, yet still, they will not serve Him. Why? The reason is that they do not know the kind of Person that God is in His character. Some view Him as a tyrant who is happy to destroy men for the slightest reason, a harsh demanding dictator whose pleasure it is to roast men in a never-ending fire. Others see Him as a pretender who says one thing, but means something else, who misleads men by making statements which are not really true (such as the statement that Christ is His begotten Son). With this kind of ignorance of God, it is impossible to learn to love Him and to trust Him. The Psalmist declares, "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee:" (Psalms 9:10). God's name is His character. To know Him is to love Him, because He is eminently lovable. The love and mercy revealed in God's character is beyond the ability of man to comprehend but like Moses, we may plead, "I beseech Thee, show me thy glory," and we may have the privilege of beholding all that man may see and live.