Who is God?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 4, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Who is God? This is a very pertinent question today with many misconceptions about who he is, what he is like, how we should approach him, and how we should represent him. So this will start a 4-part series dealing who God is. Today, I want to address a very critical aspect about the nature of God: Did we figure God out, or did God reveal himself? With that, do we define God or does he define himself? It not just the secularists who fight with this; it is deep within the Christian community.

I have to ask you, friends: do you really know who God is? My experience in listening to other Christians, and even reflecting back on my own life, tells me that many of us do not know who God really is. I’m STILL learning who God really is. Paul Washer (I don’t remember which sermon) is bold enough to say that on Sunday mornings, America practices more idolatry than any other time period. In a sermon excerpt that is no longer on YouTube, Charles Stanley asks, “Who is the one true God? What is he like? Can we have a personal relationship with him? If so, how?” Stanley suggested that many people who call themselves Christians cannot answer these questions correctly today. The skeptic at this point will likely ask, “So how do you know who God really is?” This series of posts will answer that question.

Brian McLaren used to be a very popular pastor about a decade ago. He is known as the founder of the “Emergent Church” movement, which now goes by the moniker “Progressive Christianity” if they have not moved on to another one. He wrote a popular book called A Generous Orthodoxy that has helped shape much of the Christian community ten years ago with its effects still lingering. Here is a quote that illustrates a grave concern of mine on this topic.

"For them, God could no longer be conceived of merely as "God A", a single solitary, dominate Power, Mind, or Will, but as "God B", a unified, eternal, mysterious, relational community/family/society/entity of saving Love.
Think of the kind of universe you would expect of God A created it: a universe of dominance, control, limitation, submission, uniformity, coercion. Think of the kind of universe you would expect of God B created it: a universe of interdependence, relationship, possibility, becoming, novelty, mutuality, freedom. I'm not sure which comes first--the kind of universe you see or the kind of God you believe in, but as a Christian who believes in Jesus as the Son of God, I find myself in universe B, getting to know God B."

~A Generous Orthodoxy, pages 84-85

This book was first brought to my by Eric Ludy in his sermon “Betrayed with a Kiss,” but I have waited to speak on this quote until I read it myself. McLaren in the previous chapter speaks about seven Jesuses depicted by seven major denominational groups. He only examines one major aspect of the teachings about Jesus in each group, purposing to show the uniqueness, and suggests that each depictions is a unique shadow of the whole. He suggests that we actually all worship the same Jesus, just different aspects about him.

And then McLaren brings what I quoted into the discussion. We have God A, who is the kind of God that McLaren does not like, and God B who is someone McLaren could very well get along with. McLaren chooses to worship God B. Let me speculate a little further about who God B really is. I have good reason to suspect God B is none other than McLaren himself, or who he wishes to be or what he would be like if he were God. How can I say that? I have listened to many people who do not stand on sound doctrine describe God. Their god tends to like what they like, dislike what they dislike, love what they love, hate what they hate, exists to provide for their desires and dreams, is a problem when things don’t go their way, and ultimately sounds a lot like them. There is a phrase in many evangelical circles about what this is: making a god in our own image.

Not many people are on that extreme level, but most do practice it to a large degree. “My God would not send anyone to hell.” “I could never worship a God like that.” “My God would never tell me what to do.” “God would never judge me over that.” Or arguments like “God just wants what is best for me. He wants me to live the best I have ever lived right now.” “God wants you to think big. He’ll provide your greatest dreams.” “God broke a law because he loves you so much.” Sure, many of you would like to hear the context of these claims and I do not have space to go into detail on them. I have heard the bulk of them in context of responding to a preacher calling sin “sin” and describing God’s attributes of holiness, purity, justice, and wrath (in the first set) or by preachers who give a “Prosperity Gospel” (in the latter set). The God of such claims does not exist because he is a figment of the imagination.

A big problem I see in McLaren’s analysis of the seven Jesuses and God A and God B is that he did not once turn to Scripture to find out who God says God is. Let me say it straight. We could not define the one true God in our own abilities if we tried. Why not? We are finite beings, with finite understanding. God is infinite and that is without getting into the nature of man’s sin which causes us to never seek after God. There is only one way we are ever going to seek God: if God seeks and draws us first.

God had to reveal himself to us. He is who he says he is. Two years ago, I did a series on the attributes of God. I did not come up with those attributes. God had to show me as he has shown every person through the Bible. I still have much more to learn. I have seen many of his attributes in action in my life, and some I have not yet seen in action. To understand who God is, you cannot not piece together what other people describe God as, but rather, you must take all that he has revealed himself to be holistically. You also cannot just take what you have experienced; otherwise you are like the blind men trying to figure out the elephant. That means while God is a God of love, he is also a God who will and MUST punish sin if for no other reason but to be a God of love. God cannot break his own standards nor violate his character. He also will do what he said he would do and he is not obligated to do anything he did not promise.

Let me put it bluntly. Even after what Jesus did on the cross, if God saw fit to send us to hell even after committing our lives to him, he has the right to do that and would be right in doing so. I honestly have not yet grasped the full weight of what that means because it should bring us to our knees in true humility. The only thing that allows us to go to heaven is his mercies and his grace. He has no obligation to give it us. It is this description of God that makes people freak out, and they prefer to worship a god who gives nothing but caters to their sinful, selfish desires. That being said, God does not desire that any should perish but longs that we would repent. But let us be clear: it is a terrible and fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, and when he returns, he is not merely going to save those who are his; he is going to conquer and slaughter all who are not identified as his. To receive his free gift of grace and mercy, you need to follow the real God’s method, not one of our own making.

Which God do you follow? One you made up? Or the true God who reveals himself and in whose mighty presence we find both love, joy, and mercy, AND justice, humility, and cleansing of all that is self. Too many of us, myself included, take God too lightly. He does not mess around. We should not mess around regarding him.

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