I was unsure how to title this section, after all how does one describe God? Infinite, yet personal. powerful, yet gentle. God is God. He summed it up best Himself when he stated, “I am that I am.” For this reason I have chosen to simply entitle this “The Doctrine of God.”
So who is God? God is nonmaterial, personal and eternal, . (I will discuss the nature of the Son at a different time.) The question then is, “What does nonmaterial mean?“ The term nonmaterial does not mean that God is without substance. Rather, it points to the fact that God is Spirit (John 4:24). He is nonmaterial in the sense that we understand physicality.
God is personal. To say that God is personal is to say that God possesses two basic characteristics. First He possesses consciousness. He is aware of himself and his relationship with his creation, with us. Second, He possesses distinctiveness. He possesses a unique identity and characteristics.
Of these characteristics possessed by God, some are unique to Him alone. There are three basic attributes of God, which are unique to him. These attributes are:
- Immutability – God in His essence and nature is never changing (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James1:17). This is not to say that God is static, for He is capable of change and does so in His relationships (Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:10, 14), but His very nature is unchanging.
- Infinity – God is limitless in His existence. He is beyond measure and therefore not capable of being confined. Included in his infinity are unconfinable (I Kings 8:27, Acts 17:24), all-powerful (Job 42:2), always present (Psalms 139:7-12, Jeremiah 23:24), and all-knowing (Psalms 147:4-5).
- Eternity – God is not confined to the essence of time. He is beyond time. His existence is outside time and is therefore in existence before, during, and after time. He has no beginning or end (Genesis 21:33, Psalm 90:2, I Timothy 1:17).
God also possesses certain attributes that are shared with his creation on a limited basis. These qualities include, but are not limited to:
- Knowledge (John 2:25)
- Power (Genesis 1:3, Matthew 19:26, Revelation 19:6)
- Goodness (Mark 10:18)
- Justice (Micah 6:8)
- love (I John 4:7-10)
God is the creator of the heavens and the earth. He created them from nothing. (Romans 4:17, Genesis 1:1) Before anything existed, God existed. He was in the beginning. In the beginning, there was only God. (John 1:1) God created everything from nothing and brought life to it all. God is the origin (Colossians 1:16) and sustainer (Hebrews 1:3, Nehemiah 9:6) of all things. All things exist to bring Glory to Him (Isaiah 43:6-7).
God is the essence of being. I refer to God as a being, which is true in that he possess consciousness and distinctiveness. But God is more than “a” being, God is the essence of being. He is the source of all life (Acts 17:25, Colossians 1:16).
God himself exists eternally as a tri–une being. This is most commonly referred to as the Trinity. This is difficult concept for many and has led to some misunderstandings. While I do not claim to be able to explain it in any detail, I must be clear here, there is ONE God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Ephesians 4:6).
This one God exist eternally in three persons (John 10:30, 14:15-26, Acts 1:3-5): God the Father (John 6:40, Ephesians 4:6), God the Son (John 1:1, 6:40), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). Each of these are clearly identified in these passages as God, not a god and not one of the gods, but as God. They are each equally and fully God. (John 10:30, Romans 8:9-14)
At the same time there is a economic subordination, that is to say there is a functional authority structure between them. Each plays a specific role. The Son prays to the Father, the Father sends the spirit (John 14:16). This has much more to do with the relationship between the three then God’s relationship with us. This is not to say it has nothing to do with God relationship to us, for we see demonstrated in God, the unity of purpose. The Son submits to the will of the Father (Luke 22:42). The desire of the Son was to do the will of the Father. They were united in their purpose and the son was subordinate to the Father in his action. We also see that God sends His spirit to those who believe in Him and the Spirit is subordinate in His actions. The Spirit is clearly united in the purpose. Yet, as should be clear from these same passages this economic subordination does have something to do with us. For the united purpose of each of these is God’s desire to have a relationship with us. It is through this unique relationship within God, that He reaches out for a relationship with us. Again, it is a difficult concept that I do not claim to be able to explain in full.