Part 1: God is A Personal Being
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (Mat 18:10)
"When Adam came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. "God created man in His own image" (Genesis 1:27) _ Education p. 15
What are the qualities which a person possesses?
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines the word "person" as "individual human or divine being." Webster's New World dictionary defines the word in the following way: "a human being, esp. as distinguished from a thing or lower animal; individual man, woman, or child: now usually pluralized as people, which formerly was used only to indicate an indefinite number of persons; personality; self; being."
A person then is an individual who has a personality, or who is a being. There is also the qualification that a person is a being of a higher form of existence than the lower animals.
What evidence is there that God is a Person? Genesis 6:6; Psalm 103:13
"He who denies the personality of God and of his Son Jesus Christ, is denying God and Christ. "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." If you continue to believe and obey the truths you first embraced regarding the personality of the Father and the Son, you will be joined together with him in love. There will be seen that union for which Christ prayed just before his trial and crucifixion." _ Review & Herald, March 8, 1906.
"It was the Maker of all things who ordained the wonderful adaptation of means to end, of supply to need. It was He who in the material world provided that every desire implanted should be met. It was He who created the human soul, with its capacity for knowing and for loving. And He is not in Himself such as to leave the demands of the soul unsatisfied. No intangible principle, no impersonal essence or mere abstraction, can satisfy the needs and longings of human beings in this life of struggle with sin and sorrow and pain. It is not enough to believe in law and force, in things that have no pity, and never hear the cry for help. We need to know of an almighty arm that will hold us up, of an infinite Friend that pities us. We need to clasp a hand that is warm, to trust in a heart full of tenderness. And even so God has in His word revealed Himself." _ Education p. 133 p. 422
Because God is a Person we are able to have a personal relationship with Him, as real and as close as we may have with any human being.
Part 2: God is an individual
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: (Deu 6:4)
Three of the major religions in the world, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, insist that there is only one God. All three religions have roots in the Old Testament Scriptures and all base their concept of God to a great extent on the revelations of the Old Testament. Islam and Judaism however, insist that God is an individual, a single Person, while the majority of Christendom today insists that God is not an individual, but is rather an entity composed of three separate parts or Persons, all of whom are God.
How many individuals are referred to, and worshipped as God in heaven? Rev. 4:2,9,10; 5:13; 7:10
While many persons on earth are confused about the identity of God, the beings in heaven have no such problem. Over and over in the Bible we are given glimpses of scenes in heaven in which heavenly beings worship and praise God. Consistently, there is only one Person who is called God. A group of persons is never called God, or worshipped as God. Even Jesus Christ, who receives glory, praise and honour forever and ever, is clearly identified by terms which distinguish Him from the individual called God. He is referred to as "The Lamb," and "The Lord's Christ," "The Word of God," and similar terms. God, is clearly a particular individual clearly distinguishable from every other being in the universe, not excepting Jesus Christ.
How does the Bible describe God's individuality? Mark 12:32; 1 Cor 8:6; Eph. 4:6
Jesus loved to refer to God as our Father. It was His favourite term for God. It was also the term by which He addressed God. Here again we see clearly that Jesus did not regard God as consisting of several persons. God is not our "Fathers", but rather, our "Father which art in heaven."
"In His wisdom the Saviour teaches us to approach God with the confidence of a child. He instructs us to call Jehovah by the endearing name of "Father," that we may not separate from Him in awe and coldness. Constantly He points us to the emblems of fatherly love, seeking to encourage faith and confidence in God. He pleads with us to have a correct idea of the Father. He throws back the accusation of the enemy, declaring, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." He would have the memorials of redeeming grace arrest our attention, that we may know that all the goodness, mercy, patience, forbearance, seen in Him, belong to God." _ Signs of the Times, January 20, 1898
Does our worship here on earth correspond to the worship of heaven? Does the God we worship have the same identity as the Being recognized as God in heaven?
Part 3: God is universally present
(Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. (Jer 23:24)
"Oh, how little man can comprehend the perfection of God, His Omnipresence united with His almighty power. ... I am afraid we have altogether too cheap and common ideas. "Behold the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee." Let not any one venture to limit the power of the Holy One of Israel. There are conjectures and questions in regard to God's work. Take off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." _Selected Messages Book 3, p. 311
What declarations of the Bible suggests that God is present in all places? Psa 139:7; 2 Chr 6:18
"The psalmist represents the presence of the Infinite One as pervading the universe. "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there." We can never find a solitude where God is not. The Lord God omnipotent, who reigneth in the heavens, declares, "I am with you." He assures His people that those who are obedient are in a position where He can bless them, to the glory of His name. . . . He will be a present help to all who serve Him in preference to serving self." __ The Faith I Live By, p. 62
Is God Himself personally with us, or is someone else here with us, representing Him?
"Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol--that glorious building, its walls of glistening gold reflecting in rainbow hues the curtains inwrought with cherubim, the fragrance of ever-burning incense pervading all.... In all, God desired His people to read His purpose for the human soul. It was the same purpose long afterward set forth by the apostle Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Cor. 3:16, 17. _ The Faith I live By, p. 192
God's word tells us that He numbers the hairs or our heads (Matt. 10:30), He knows our thoughts afar off (Ps. 139:2), that He sees every bird that falls (Matt. 10:29), that before we call He will answer (Isa. 65:24). All these declarations speak to us of a God who is universally present, in constant personal touch with every part of His creation.
Is God Himself personally with us, or does He only interact with us by means of other beings such as angels?
Part 4: God is a spirit
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (Acts 17:24)
"The heavens are not large enough to contain God; how much less could those temples made with hands contain him. Paul, under the inspiration of his subject, soared above the comprehension of the idolatrous assembly, and sought to draw their minds beyond the limits of their false religion to correct views of the true Deity, whom they had styled the "Unknown God." This Being, whom he now declared unto them, was independent of man, needing nothing from human hands to add to his power and glory." _ Sketches From The Life of Paul, p. 94
"Although God dwells not in temples made with hands, yet He honors with His presence the assemblies of His people. He has promised that when they come together to seek Him, to acknowledge their sins, and to pray for one another, He will meet with them by His Spirit. When Christ ascended to heaven, the sense of His presence was still with His followers. It was a personal presence, full of love and light." _ The Faith I Live By, p. 62
What did Jesus declare concerning the nature of God? John 4:24
The woman that Jesus met by Jacob's well was confused concerning the nature of God. Her concept of God made Him into a Being who was limited to certain times and places. Her question as to whether or not Jerusalem or Samaria was the correct place to worship revealed her ideas that God was available only in certain places and only to certain people. Jesus statement revealed not only the true nature of God, but also focused on the true nature of worship. God is not to be limited by the misconceptions of human minds, neither can He be considered to be the exclusive property of any nation, people or religious group. Worshipping God in spirit and in truth encompasses a realization of all these facts and an acknowledgement of them in our worship.
By what means is God personally present?
"The Bible shows us God in His high and holy place, not in a state of inactivity, not in silence and solitude, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy beings, all waiting to do His will. Through these messengers He is in active communication with every part of His dominion. By His Spirit He is everywhere present. Through the agency of His Spirit and His angels He ministers to the children of men." _ Ministry of Healing - p. 417
Since God is a spirit, He must not be treated or regarded as one having the limitations of humanity. His worship cannot be limited to any particular place.
Part 5: God is unfathomable
Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? (Job 11:7)
"No finite mind can fully comprehend the existence, the power, the wisdom, or the works of the Infinite One. Says the sacred writer: "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It 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 11:7-9.] The mightiest intellects of earth cannot comprehend God. Men may be ever searching, ever learning, and still there is an infinity beyond." _ Christian Education, p. 196
"If men could see for a moment beyond the range of finite vision, if they could catch a glimpse of the Eternal, every mouth would be stopped in its boasting. Men living in this little atom of a world are finite; God has unnumbered worlds that are obedient to His laws and are conducted with reference to His glory. When men have gone as far in scientific research as their limited powers will permit, there is still an infinity beyond what they can apprehend." _ Counsels to Parents Teachers and Students, p. 66
What fact must we acknowledge as we study to know more of God? Deut. 29:29
"The revelation of Himself that God has given in His word is for our study. This we may seek to understand. But beyond this we are not to penetrate. The highest intellect may tax itself until it is wearied out in conjectures regarding the nature of God; but the effort will be fruitless. This problem has not been given us to solve. No human mind can comprehend God. Let not finite man attempt to interpret Him. Let none indulge in speculation regarding His nature. Here silence is eloquence. The Omniscient One is above discussion." _ Testimonies vol. 8, p. 279
How much may we learn about God?
"Let none think that there is no more knowledge for them to gain. The depth of human intellect may be measured; the works of human authors may be mastered; but the highest, deepest, broadest flight of the imagination cannot find out God. There is infinity beyond all that we can comprehend. We have seen only the glimmering of divine glory and of the infinitude of knowledge and wisdom; we have, as it were, been working on the surface of the mine, when rich, golden ore is beneath the surface, to reward the one who will dig for it. The shaft must be sunk deeper and yet deeper in the mine, and the result will be glorious treasure. Through a correct faith divine knowledge will become human knowledge." _ My Life Today, p. 108
We may understand as much about God as He Himself has revealed. Beyond that we cannot go. All such speculations will lead to false ideas of God.
Part 6: False theories of God
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isa 43:11)
Through the deceptive power of Satan men may seem to receive help by calling upon false gods. However, eternal life and happiness can come only from the true God.
How does pantheism keep men bound by sin's power?
"The theory that God is an essence pervading all nature is one of Satan's most subtle devices. It misrepresents God and is a dishonor to His greatness and majesty. . . . "There is but one power that can break the hold of evil from the hearts of men, and that is the power of God in Jesus Christ. Only through the blood of the Crucified One is there cleansing from sin. His grace alone can enable us to resist and subdue the tendencies of our fallen nature. This power the spiritualistic theories concerning God make of no effect. If God is an essence pervading all nature, then He dwells in all men; and in order to attain holiness, man has only to develop the power that is within him. These theories, followed to their logical conclusion, sweep away the whole Christian economy. They do away with the necessity for the atonement and make man his own savior. These theories regarding God make His word of no effect, and those who accept them are in great danger of being led finally to look upon the whole Bible as a fiction." _ Testimonies for The Church, vol. 8, p. 291
What was the main sin which led to the destruction of the antediluvian world? Gen. 6:5
"Not desiring to retain God in their knowledge, they soon came to deny His existence. They adored nature in place of the God of nature. They glorified human genius, worshiped the works of their own hands, and taught their children to bow down to graven images. . . . Men put God out of their knowledge and worshiped the creatures of their own imagination; and as the result, they became more and more debased. ...Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower. The worshipers of false gods clothed their deities with human attributes and passions, and thus their standard of character was degraded to the likeness of sinful humanity." _ Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 91
The moral degradation evident in the world today is due to the fact that men have perverted ideas of God.