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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does the God of the Bible Exist?

Don Stewart :: Does the Bible Try to Describe God's Character?

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Does the Bible Try to Describe God’s Character?

Does the God of the Bible Exist? – Question 2

There is nothing that anyone can know about God’s nature unless He reveals it to humanity. Without divine revelation we will be in complete darkness with respect to what He is like. Fortunately, the Bible has told us certain things about God’s nature or character.

From the pages of Scripture, we can discover four basic descriptions of God’s character. They are as follows.

1. God Is Spirit

God is a spirit being. Jesus described Him in this manner. The King James Version of John 4:24 reads as follows.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 KJV)

However, this translation is not correct. God is not “a spirit.” Rather He is “spirit.” Spirit is His nature; He is not a physical being.

The New King James Version correctly translates this verse in this manner.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24 NKJV)

The essence of God is spirit; not something material or physical. In fact, on the day of His resurrection, Jesus contrasted the spirit, the non-material, with flesh, the material. The Bible records the episode as follows.

While Jesus’ disciples were talking about what had happened, Jesus appeared and greeted them. They were frightened and terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus said, “Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt? Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:36-39 CEV)

The disciples of Jesus thought they were seeing a spirit or a ghost. Jesus told them a ghost or spirit does not have physical form. Therefore, we can define a spirit as something which does not have material form.

2. We Are Not to Make Images of God

Because God has no physical form, Israel was forbidden to make any images of Him. In the Ten Commandments, we read the following.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6 NIV)

God’s glory is diminished when His character is falsely represented. We read in the Book of Deuteronomy the following words of Moses.

Always remember the agreement that the Lord your God made with you, and don’t make an idol in any shape or form. The Lord will be angry if you worship other gods, and he can be like a fire destroying everything in its path. (Deuteronomy 4:23, 24 CEV)

Therefore, the God of Scripture does not exist in any physical or material form. He is different than anything which He created. Though He is an invisible Spirit, it does not mean that He is non-existent.

3. God Is Light

The Bible also compares God to light. In his first letter to believers, the Apostle John wrote the following about the nature of God.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5 KJV)

The Message puts it this way.

This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him. (1 John 1:5 MsgB)

This can refer to the glory and majesty of God. Light, of course, is the absence of darkness. This means that there is no darkness whatsoever in God’s character.

The Bible says elsewhere that God dwells in light. Paul wrote to Timothy with this description of God.

...which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15, 16 NRSV)

God exists in unapproachable light. Again, this emphasizes that there is no darkness in His holy character.

4. God Is Love

The Bible also says that God is love. John the evangelist wrote,

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16 NASB)

Love involves other attributes of God including grace, kindness, and mercy. From the first page to the last, the Bible testifies to the love which God has for humanity. The God of the Bible is a God of love.

God Showed His Love To The Human Race

The Bible says that God showed His love for humanity by the death of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote the following to the Romans.

Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful. (Romans 5:6-8 CEV)

The love of God is demonstrated through the death of Jesus Christ. He died so that each of us could live.

5. God Is a Consuming Fire

The Bible also describes God as a consuming fire. The writer to the Hebrews said,

For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29 KJV)

Fire is not God; God is like fire. The analogy of fire can refer to the holiness and absolute righteousness of God’s nature.

The Bible speaks of a flaming torch and smoking firepot when God made a covenant or contract with Abraham. We read the following in the Book of Genesis.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. (Genesis 15:17 NIV)

In this instance, God’s holy character was represented through fire.

There is also the famous incident of Moses and the burning bush. In this episode, the Lord revealed Himself to Moses by means of a bush that was burning but which was not consumed. The Book of Exodus records it as follows.

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he went deep into the wilderness near Sinai, the mountain of God. Suddenly, the angel of the LORD appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush. Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn’t burn up. “Amazing!” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go over to see this.” When the LORD saw that he had caught Moses’ attention, God called to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. “Do not come any closer,” God told him. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he hid his face in his hands because he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:1-6 NLT)

Again, we find the Lord revealing Himself through the means of fire.

Fire is also frequently used as a symbol of God and His judgment against sin. In another instance, God’s judgment also appeared on an altar of fire. Elijah the prophet taunted the false prophets of Baal. He gave them the following challenge.

“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good...” Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!” (1 Kings 18:24, 38, 39 NIV)

On this occasion, the Lord used fire to represent His holy character. He will judge sin and He often does it by means of fire.

The good news today is that sin has been judged! Jesus Christ took the penalty of our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross of Calvary. Scripture says,

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB)

The believer in Jesus Christ will not have to suffer the fires of punishment. Jesus Christ has taken our punishment upon Himself. This is the gospel or good news that the Scripture proclaims.

Therefore, to sum up, from Scripture we discover that God is described as spirit, light, love and fire. These descriptions provide some insight into His essence and His character.

Summary – Question 2
Does the Bible Try to Describe God’s Character?

The Bible does not attempt to prove God exists, or give us any definition of Him. Yet, it does describe His nature or character in four ways. They are as follows.

The Bible says that God is spirit. His nature is not that of flesh and blood or something material. While He has genuine existence, His form is that of a spirit.

The God of the Bible is also compared to light. Among other things, this means that there is no darkness in Him at all. His essence or nature is that of absolute perfection.

God is also called a God of “love.” This means that He is concerned about the needs of the human race. This was demonstrated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for the sins of the entire world. Because we had a need to have our sins paid for, God the Son, Jesus Christ, came down to earth to die for them. This is a demonstration of the great love which the Lord has for humanity.

Finally, God’s nature can be compared to that of fire. Fire can represent a number of things. For example, it can refer to purification. We know that the holy character of God purifies sin.

Fire also speaks of judgment. The God of the Bible will judge those who have rejected Him and His truths. Yet for those who have trusted Him, the judgment has already occurred. Jesus Christ took the penalty for our sins when He died upon the cross of Calvary. Therefore, while God is a God who judges, those who have trusted Him will not have to receive this judgment.

These four descriptions provide some insights into God’s nature and character rather than giving us a definition of Him. They help us better understand the only God who exists.

Who Exactly Is the God of the Bible? What Can We Know about Him? ← Prior Section
Does the Bible Attempt to Prove That the God of Scripture Actually Exists? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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