If you’ve been around Student Life for any amount of time, you’ve probably become familiar with a certain little green book. We’re very fond of it, sure. It’s a fundamental tool for sharing the Gospel.
And it’s a fundamental part of our experience as Christians. As Christians, we need to know God personally.
In order to know God personally, you have to first know who God is. You have to know who He says He is.
A.W. Tozer prefaced his book ‘Knowledge of the Holy’ with this statement:
“What we think about when we think of God is the most important thing about us.”
What we think of when we think of God, shapes how we will respond to Him.
If our perceptions of God’s character are wrong, our paradigm of response with then also be wrong.
No matter how sincerely we worship Him, if we are not committed to daily learning who God is, and worshipping every facet of His being, we fail to worship Him effectively. We are instead, committing an act of idolatry.
Each of His personal attributes are worthy of worship. If we prefer one aspect to another, and serve only that, we are not serving God. We are serving ourselves, and calling that our god.
Complacency is the enemy of spiritual growth.
We should never cease desiring to know God personally. Let’s us begin by first knowing what He says about His own character.
In Exodus 34:6-7, God reveals His character to Moses, upon his second meeting on the summit of Mt. Sinai.
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionateand gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
Moses, having retrieved the Law of the Lord on two tablets, is forced to return to the presence of the Almighty, when his fury at the Israelites’ disobedience causes him to destroy the first tablets. This time, the 80 year old Moses must climb the mountain and make his own tablets for the Lord to imprint on.
The attributes revealed in God’s description of Himself give us a good indication of His character. He is:
He has a perfect plan and intends to achieve it in the most perfect way. He uses imperfect people to bring about His perfect strategy.
He knows no boundaries. He has no beginning, no end and no authority above Him. He cannot be measured or contained. Like a lion on a leash.
He is completely in control; no matter the chaos our lives present us with. His sovereignty is the character by which all other attributes are applied. A god who is not sovereign cannot grant his creation free will, because that would test his authority. God’s sovereignty ensures that no authority is greater than His.
He is the embodiment of moral law, order and purity. He is the moral lawgiver, from whom we have imprinted on our hearts an instinctual understanding of right and wrong. His holiness is the defining difference between humanity and the Godhead. Whilst humans posses a level of autonomy that allows us to make our own decisions, God possesses a level of perfection that is completely unattainable and separate from human ability.
He possesses all knowledge and is the source of all life. He cannot learn anything new and He cannot cease to exist. He needs no energy source apart from Himself in order to exist. He simply is infinite in all ways.
He can be trusted in all things, in all ways. This is perhaps the most important characteristic for Christians to remember. It is the source of our eternal hope. His everlasting faithfulness means that we can trust that He will honour His promise to forgive sins and grant eternal life.
Love is expressed through the action of seeking another’s needs before your own. God is completely loving. His primary concern is the everlasting well-being of His creation. It is His affection that propels us to action in response.
It is not fairness that motivates God. Quite simply, God is not fair. It’s not fair that a sinless man was sent to bear the cost of the world’s depravity. Justice is God’s motivation. Justice requires a penalty for wrong and love is satisfied with grace. It is this duality that makes God immeasurably intricate and complex.
All of God’s attributes are constant, unchanging and completely dependable.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of God’s characteristics.
It will take all eternity to intimately know every aspect of God.
In Revelation 4:8, John relays his vision of the Throne Room of God. All day and night, for all eternity, the angels circle the Throne, proclaiming “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord…”
It is just a theory, but what if, every rotation the heavenly hosts make of the Almighty reveals to them a new, yet undiscovered facet of God’s personality, inviting constant wonder and awe.
We need to commit to knowing God personally, before we can invite others to explore His mystery. We could never reveal to others how unfathomable is our God, if we ourselves do not first know that.
How could we ever have confidence in a stranger?