Theology for Dummies – What is God Like?

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After several weeks of discussion about the biblical view of the woman’s place in God’s plan for mankind to rule over the earth, we need a break to catch our breaths! I know that some, if not many, of you don’t agree with me about this topic. If so, it doesn’t mean that either of us is “wrong;“ it simply means that we are on different paths in our quest for truth. I wanted to, at least, put this minority view in today’s culture “on the table!”

That being said, I am afraid the next topic I feel the Lord wants me to address, biblical theology, is no more popular than the previous one!. To me, and probably to you, “theology” conjures up visions of boring, stuffed-shirt, ivory-tower theologians, discussing esoteric ideas (like how many angels can sit on the head of a pin!) that have nothing to do with real-life.

However, nothing could be further from the truth! We are all “theologians,” because theology is simply what we believe about God, and, at times, we all do that.

So, I want to investigate “theology for the non-theologian,” or, to follow the pattern of the famous “…for Dummies” book-series, “Theology for Dummies!”

I, an interested, amateur, theological observer over some 65 years, have boiled my personal theology down to four questions under which I believe all theological topics fit: 1.) What Is God Like? 2.) What Am I Like? 3.) How Does God Relate To Me? 4.) Why Am I Here? We will take a cursory look at each of these questions, the answers to which, I believe, give us a foundation for understanding God and His universe..

1. What is God like? According to the Apostle John, the Man he wrote about in his eye-witness account in his gospel, showed him perfectly what God is like.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you” (1 John 1:1, 2) 

John’s statement here, in so many words, is, “This is no wild tale, because I lived personally with Jesus, 24 hours a day, for over three years. He was the real deal—exactly who He said He was—the eternal Word of God become Man!”

The “Fruit of the Spirit ” in Galatians 5:22, 23 enumerates the qualities that John saw in Jesus’ life on earth. Therefore, this is what God is like, in His essence. According to the prophets of God, whose words Jesus Himself legitimized, God is also omnipresent (He is present everywhere), omniscient (He knows everything), and omnipotent (He is all-powerful).

If we are Christians, we have no trouble with this—until someone asks, “Does ‘omnipotent’ mean that God is sovereign and does exactly what He wants in my life, and thus I really have no ‘free will’ to do as I please with my own life? Is that right? Do I not have free will if God is sovereign? 

Fair question. Before we can understand the profound answer, we must first realize that God has two wills .First, He has a DECRETIVE WILL—what He has decreed to actually happen and indeed does happen in my life and in the world. His decretive will is a mystery we cannot predict. 

On the other hand, is his REVEALED WILL. That is His holy, perfect law in the Bible for all to see—His ultimate intention toward which He is moving us, individually, as well as all human history. This revealed law perfectly describes God’s standard of righteous conduct. It does not take us long when we become Christians, to realize that we can never attain God’s revealed law in this life, no matter how hard we try. 

However, Jesus told us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done (His revealed law), on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is a prayer for God, in time, to bring His decretive will—what actually happens—into conformity with His revealed will in actual human history!

He is tirelessly and unfailingly doing so as He “works all things according to the counsel of His (decretive) will” (Ephesians 1:11). These “all things,” including  even the pernicious sin that remains in my flesh, are all a part of His great plan to achieve His unfathomable purposes that we can never fully understand.

So, as God orders every detail in His universe, His inscrutable plan (decretive will) includes happenings He controls that violate His revealed will. This includes unspeakable atrocities, universal, national and personal tragedies that we can never understand, and, yes, even my personal, persistent sin, which springs from inability to live consistently by faith. 

The following verses are typical of many that indicate that, if He is God, nothing can be outside His purview. He is absolutely sovereign in every facet of His universe. and in all that occurs within it The decisiveness of these verses is amazing! 

 “Then Job answered Jehovah, and said, I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

“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).

“All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:35).

What do you think? Do we have “free will”? Next week, we will seek the answer, as we pursue, “What is God like?”

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