The automatic answer to that question for most Christians is “yes,” but are you sure? Let’s take a closer look and see if that is true.
Last week we looked at four questions that philosophers and other thinkers over the centuries have asked in their attempts to find some meaning in life. 1.) “Is there a God, and if so, what is He like?” 2.) “Who am I?” 3. “Can I relate to God, and if so, how?” 4.) “Why am I here?”
Over the years, the answers mankind has proposed to these questions have brought varying degrees of satisfaction and meaning to their advocates. For example, there are nineteen different schools of philosophy listed in Wikipedia that men have devised and followed to try to answer the final question in our list, “Why am I here?” This includes the Platonism and stoicism of the ancients, the rationalism of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, the nihilism of the 19th century and the secular humanism and postmodernism of the 20th and 21st, all searching for the meaning of life.
However, attempts to answer that question have never been universally successful because, unbeknownst to the searchers, the answer can never be found without carefully addressing, in order, the first three questions. Only biblical Christianity supplies the answers, and many professing Christians have never thought critically about the answers themselves. In the next few postings, I want to attempt to do so, dealing with each question in some degree of detail. You may be surprised at what you actually believe! We will look at the first question today.
Is there a God, and if so, what is He like?
Paul says that unbelievers are without excuse if they don’t believe in God, because to an open, unbiased searcher, creation itself is enough evidence. However, man is not unbiased, because we come out of the womb fallen, with “foolish darkened hearts.” We are thus unable to see the proof God has given us all around us (Romans 1:18-21).
This self-evident God is the “In the beginning God . . . ;” He alone has always been and always will be, and He created the universe and all it contains including man, who alone was made in God’s own image like no other creature. He was created specifically to rule over all the earth and all it contains (Genesis 1:26-28)—to rule for God as His delegated authority, God’s “vice-regent,” so to speak.
We are not God, but we carry His image; we “look like Him,” but He Himself is unique. As such, He alone is omnipresent: “everywhere at the same time,” both geographically and chronologically.
What does that mean? Everything, in every place, at every time, is “here and now” to God, He is outside time altogether. The implications of this are staggering. God is never surprised, He neither changes His mind, nor makes mistakes He must correct; He knew the history of the universe before time began, and He tells us that Jesus’ death, the focal point of history, was “from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
There are biblical passages that imply otherwise; they are called anthropomorphisms—giving God human characteristics to help understand the way He views a certain situation. For example: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth” (Genesis 6:5,6).
On the other hand, His great great love for His children and the joy He experiences from us is pictured in Zephaniah 3:17 by God singing over us, another anthropomorphism. Regret over sin and singing with joy are two human activities attributed to God to teach us His intense hatred of sin and His limitless love for us sinners. He still hates our lack of conformity to His law that remains in our hearts, and simultaneously His perfect love for us never wavers even in the slightest in the very midst of that sin!
Secondly, He alone is omnipotent: He is all powerful and absolutely sovereign. He does exactly as He wants to do. He is not hindered by us, by Satan, or by any circumstance in achieving exactly what He desires on the earth when He wants to achieve it.
This omnipotence takes many Christians down a road they do not want to travel, and they look for ways to reduce God’s sovereignty in every situation to make Him more like we are so they can better understand Him. They even suggest that He willingly gives up His sovereignty in the little things so we can be more like He is by letting us actually be little gods and choose ourselves! However, read the following verses, samples of many others that abound in the Bible. What conclusion can I draw from them?
“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever he wishes” (Psalm 115:3).
“Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places (Psalm 135:6).
“I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create evil, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:6,7).
“My plans will never fail, I will do everything I intend to do. I have spoken, and it will be done” (Isaiah 46:10, 11).
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).
I cannot understand this. How can a holy, righteous God ordain all that happens in this sinful world? How can He decree sin?
It is our unconscious, innate desire to “be like God,” to want to know the answers to these questions. And, as God reveals truth to us over time, we will discover and know much truth. But we are not God, as hard as we may try to be, and much will always remain unknown. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).
Why am I not satisfied with that? Why do I resist the fact that God alone is omniscient. He alone knows fully what He is about in His universe and we do not. He is God and we are not. Satan, the father of lies, lied to Adam and Eve in the Garden when he promised them that they would be like God if they ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Even though they did became aware of good and evil for the very first time, they did not acquire omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence—only the desire to attain them.
We have eaten of that same fruit in Adam, and, as a result, we too are no longer satisfied to live by simply trusting Daddy because He knows what is best. Like Adam, we want to know all that He knows. As a matter of fact, we would even like for Him to consider our opinions and to let us participate in the decision-making process. We are not satisfied with His ordering of the details of our personal world and think that we could make a significant, positive contribution to that process.
This desire drives us to perennially ask, “Why, God, why? Why is this happening?” rather than responding to His mysterious ways with, “Yes, God, yes! In spite of all the impossible-to-understand events happening all around me, I trust that You know what You are doing; You know how to run Your world without my help.”
I recognize that I am not only trying to be omniscient like God and know everything, but I am also trying to be omnipotent like God as well—to do everything, and do it right. How can I get away from such laborious self-effort and enter the daily life of faith by relaxing and trusting Daddy completely to order each of my thoughts, words and deeds after the counsel of His will?
“What is God like?” is the most important question I can ever ask. Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient are initial answers. Next week we will continue to pursue others.