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Don Stewart :: Is God a Personal God?

Don Stewart

While most of the religions of the world believe that God is an impersonal being, the God who is revealed in the Bible is a personal God. This means that He has the characteristics of a person. A person can be defined as someone who is rational, conscious of his own being. This is how the Bible portrays God. He is a person, not an impersonal force.

He Is The Living God

The Bible speaks of Him as the living God.

Joshua said, "By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites" (Joshua 3:10).

As a youth, David realized that the giant Goliath was defying "the living God" (1 Samuel 17:26).

David later wrote in the Psalms.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light (Psalms 36:9).

The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed.

But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King (Jeremiah 10:10).

God Has The Characteristics Of A Person

The Scriptures attribute characteristics to the living God that can only be those of a person.

1. He Has Personal Names

We find in Scripture personal names used in reference to God.

But God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you' " (Exodus 3:14).

Jesus referred to God as His "Father."

At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes" (Matthew 11:25).

2. He Is A God Of Love

The Bible speaks of God having the capacity to love.

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love' (Jeremiah 31:3).

Paul wrote.

But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

3. He Is A God Who Has Feelings

Scripture attributes feelings, or emotion to God. He can show love.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord (Psalm 33:5).

The Lord can be grieved.

And the LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (Genesis 6:6).

He can feel sorrow.

Jesus wept (John 11:35).

God is compassionate.

We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful (James 5:11).

4. God Can Show Anger

At times, we find that God can show His anger.

And the Lord said to Moses . . . 'Now therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them' (Exodus 32:10,11).

5. He Has A Will To Choose

The Bible says that God has a will or self-determination. He is free to do whatever He chooses. The psalmist wrote.

But our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3).

Isaiah testified the following abilities of God.

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure. . . . Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it (Isaiah 46:10,11).

Although God has the ability to make choices, they are not responsive to outside stimulus as is often the case with human beings. God makes choices based on His own determination.

6. He Is A God Of Mercy

The Scriptures teach that God has the ability to show mercy.

Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it (Jonah 3:10).

The Bible speaks of God as wanting or desiring things.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

7. God Has An Intellect

The Bible says that God has an intellect. He has a mind that thinks. God uses His mind to instruct His people concerning what they should do.

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go' (Isaiah 48:17).

In Proverbs it says.

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3).

Jeremiah wrote.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

In the Book of Acts we read.

Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago (Acts 15:18).

The writer to the Hebrews stated.

And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13).

These are some of the attributes that the Bible says God possesses. They are all consistent with personhood. By demonstrating these in His character God has shown that He is a personal God.

8. He Is Contrasted With Idols

The Bible also contrasts the personal living God to idols, which neither hear nor speak. The Apostle Paul told a crowd at Lystra:

Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things in them (Acts 14:15).

There Is A Distinction Between The Living And Non-Living

When he wrote to the church at Thessalonica Paul again brought out the distinction between the living God and non-living idols.

For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Hence the Bible contrasts the living God who hears, sees, thinks, feels, and acts like a person with idols which are things, not persons.

Summary

The Bible designates God as the living God. He is a rational being, conscious of His existence. As the living God He possesses the attributes of a person. For, among other things, He can love, express anger, and show mercy. The Bible also says that God has a will and an intellect. All of these characteristics are consistent with personhood. Furthermore, the Bible contrasts the personal living God with impersonal idols that are mere things. We conclude the Bible clearly teaches that God is personal.

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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