Survey in Basic Christianity
Lesson 2
The Person of God

O.J. Gibson

The first four words of the Bible are, “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1). His eternal existence is assumed. The eternal God reveals Himself as the Creator of all things. “God, who made the world and everything in it…He is Lord of heaven and earth” (Acts 17:24). The Bible tells us that “He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). His purpose in creating human beings was “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope [reach out] for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). We have designed this lesson to introduce you to God.

There is only one God. He says, “Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me” (Isaiah 43:10). “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9). He is the eternal God who had no beginning and has no end. He existed “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2). He is “the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15). Out of the mystery and infinity of His absolute being, He has revealed Himself as “the living God” (Psalm 42:2; 84:2; Daniel 6:20; 1 Timothy 4:10; 6:17; Hebrews 9:14; 10:31).

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3). His immensity is such that “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Men stand in awe and ask, “Who is like You, O LORD” (Exodus 15:11; cf. Psalm 71:19; 89:8; 113:5; Micah 7:18). The reply must always be, “There is none like You” (1 Chronicles 17:20).

Popular Concepts About God

In the history of humankind, people have always spoken of God. But not everyone believes in a Supreme Being, who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and who alone is worthy of worship as God.

Atheists believe that there is no God and that they can prove it.
Agnostics believe that it is impossible to know if God exists, and they lead millions astray in a declaration of ignorance.
Pantheists believe God is the universe itself, that God is nature, and man is a part of it.
Polytheists say there is not one God but many. Ancient pagans to modern-day Mormons have clung to this belief in many gods.

Many other ideas have been put forward either from ignorance or purposeful deception. The practice of idolatry, where people make images or idols that represent gods (Acts 19:23-28), is forbidden in the Bible (Exodus 20:4-5). Men have worshiped the creation in the forms of animals, or human beings, rather than the Creator (Romans 1:22-23). The Bible acknowledges that some people have been misled to believe in many false gods, yet it maintains the truth that there is only one God (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). At times, men have called themselves gods and called on others to worship them. God’s judgment is upon those who practice such things (Romans 1:24-32).

Self-Evidence of God

The Bible does not attempt to prove there is a God. It assumes this knowledge is woven into the very being and consciousness of every human being. It says that the fool denies His existence (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). God’s word says that “the wicked…does not seek God” (Psalm 10:4). In archaeology, it is considered proof that humans have been present if there is evidence of the worship of God. Despite strenuous efforts, no dictator or government has yet been able to wipe out the belief in God.

Throughout human history, people throughout the world have been incurably convinced in the depths of their being that God exists and that they must answer to Him. This knowledge is the very basis of his accountability. “Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20; cf. Psalm 19:1-4).

The firm conviction of God’s existence was present long before people assembled arguments for and against the belief in God. It takes a systematic attack by the state, the education system, and the popular media to undermine belief in God. It is also evident that as pride, intellectual arrogance, wickedness, and social degeneration increase, so does questioning God’s existence. Some ask, “Why should we believe in God? We can account for everything on a natural or evolutionary basis.” Those who feel they can dismiss God on that basis should consider:

1. Nothing is Self-Originating
No scientific work has ever demonstrated an endless chain coming from nothing. In fact, nothing ever comes out of nothing. The Bible says, “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

2. Elaborate Structures Require a Maker or Designer
The human brain or eye is more complex than a computer or a watch. Yet, no one would believe the latter came into existence by chance.

Biblical View of God

1. There is One God
Both Old and New Testaments proclaim that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Timothy 2:5). No greater authority than God Himself says, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me (Isaiah 45:5). Judaism and Islam agree with the Christian faith on this point. There is only one true God, and He says, “I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).

2. God Exists in Three Persons
The one true God is a plural rather than a simple unity. He is one in essence but revealed in Scripture as three distinct and coequal persons. One name for God in the Old Testament is Elohim, used about 2600 times. It is plural in form though at times used with a singular verb. Deuteronomy 6:4 is the classic Jewish affirmation that there is only one God. “The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” This verse uses the plural name for God, Elohim. We further note that God speaks of Himself in the Old Testament as “Us” and “Our” (Gen. 1:26, 3:22).

In several verses, we read the conversation between the distinct persons of God. In the following verses, there is a distinction between “God and God” (Psalm 45:6-7, cf. Hebrews 1:8) and between “LORD and lord.” “The LORD said to my Lord” (Psalm 110:1, cf. Matthew 22:42-46). The New Testament provides a fuller revelation of God as existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each is directly called God, even though the New Testament plainly affirms there is only one God.

  • The Father is God (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Peter 1:17).
  • The Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 3:17).
  • The Son is God (John 1:1, 14; 20:26-28; Acts 20:28; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 1:8, 17-18).

All divine attributes belong to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The qualities of will, emotion, and reason are ascribed to each. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another and yet joined in divine association (1 Peter 1:2; Jude 20-21). Their names are linked in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and the Apostolic Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14). They can be further identified in the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus speaks plainly about all three persons of the Godhead in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14:16-20; 15:26; 16:7-16). The oneness is also shown in John 14:9 and John 17:22.

They are called the persons of the Godhead, although they differ from what we mean by “persons.” They are not three different gods, nor a three-headed god. There is but one God in substance. The word “Trinity” is used as a convenience to describe the Godhead, although it is not in the Bible. The same is true with the expression “Triune God.” Since we have nothing to parallel God in this respect, we have no term in our language that fully expresses this truth. The Bible does not explain it. We should accept the direct statements of Scripture and leave it at that.

3. God is Spirit
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). He may take the form of a man or be heard in a voice. He may manifest Himself in some natural occurrence such as thunder or lightning. Yet He is an invisible spirit being who is not bound by space, time, and form.

4. God Has Personality
He is not a mere principle or idea. Such personal characteristics as knowledge (1 John 3:20), sensibility or emotions (Genesis 6:6), and will or decision-making (James 1:18) are attributed to Him. He manifests both love and anger. God remembers or chooses to forget. He makes decrees and announces the future. God is not a self-functioning machine. It is of great comfort to the believer to know that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). The statement, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7), shows that God is not a principle or impersonal force.

The word for “God” in our language is taken from “good.” He is indeed good. He is also called the Lord, the Almighty, the Creator, the Savior, the Redeemer, and many other names. The name Jehovah comes from JHVH, a four-letter word for the Divine Name in the Old Testament. It was never pronounced, and its full spelling or pronunciation is unknown. The many names of the one true God describe aspects of His many-faceted character.

God wants you to know Him as your personal Lord and Savior. He offers eternal life to you through the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

SBC Study Guide Lesson 2
The Person Of God

It is essential to know God. What is He like? Do you have false ideas about God?

  1. God is (select one)
    1. An idea
    2. A force
    3. A man
    4. A spirit
  2. Which of the following best describes your concept of God?
    1. A policeman
    2. A manager
    3. Your own father on earth
    4. A machine
    5. None of the above
  3. How would you describe God to someone who has never heard of Him?
  4. Does the Bible attempt to prove the existence of God, or does the Bible assume that God’s existence is self-evident (Genesis 1:1)?
  5. How would a person know that there is a God even if he did not have the Bible (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:19-20)?
  6. Why do you believe God exists?
  7. How does the Bible account for other “gods” that men worship (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)?
  8. Paraphrase (rewrite in your own words) 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.
  9. The Bible teaches that there is:
    1. One God
    2. There are three gods
    3. There are many gods
    4. We all worship the same god
  10. How would you explain to someone the following: The Father is God; the Son is God; the Spirit is God, yet there is only one God?
  11. God is a spirit means:
    1. We cannot know Him
    2. He cannot be seen
    3. He cannot reveal Himself visibly
    4. He is not personal
  12. What do you say? Because God is a person, it is possible to have a personal relationship with Him. How would you describe your current relationship with Him?
  13. We want to encourage you to memorize God’s word. The suggested memory verse for this lesson is:

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NKJV)
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”