I think we must first be clear on just who is the Christian God. It would be impossible to intelligently discuss God and Christianity without a firm idea of who Christianity claims God is. I also think most of the problems we have with understanding Christianity come from our inability to see things from God’s point of view. In reading this don’t forget that the Bible is the defining source for who the Christian God is.
- God is Holy. This is so much more than we normally think of it. I am at a loss to describe it so I will quote an excerpt from my study Bible: Holiness is the fundamental descriptor of who God is. It is not merely one of his many attributes; it is the key to his very being. Calling God “the Holy One” speaks to the transcendence of his nature, in sharp contrast to the finite creation, whose creatures are bound by time and space. God speaks of himself as I AM WHO I AM (Exod 3:14), defining himself by himself. God is the Wholly Other, the One who is completely self-sufficient and distinct from the created order.God’s holiness also speaks of his character. It is common to describe God’s holiness in terms of his separation from sin and his wrath against it, but holiness embraces all of God’s character, including his mercy. God revealed himself to Moses as the God of compassion and mercy. He said, I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. In his holiness, God shows this unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty (Exod 34:6-7). God’s holiness can be deadly to uninvited intruders (Isa 6:3, 5; see Exod 28:35) or to those who treat it with contempt. His infinite holiness is too much for finite, fallen mortals and would utterly destroy them apart from God’s sustaining grace. Understanding God’s holiness should thus trigger a response of awe and reverence. Anything less would be profane.
- God is Love, he is all good. He is good to the point that he refuses to share eternity with anyone or anything that isn’t perfectly good. He is good to the point that he defines true love. The fruits of his Holy Spirit are described in Galations 5:22 as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” That is a great description of his own character, and that is very good. That is Love.
- God is just. This is the characteristic most often forgotten about or left out, but it explains so much of Christianity and life here on earth. Because he is just, every evil deed must be punished and every good deed rewarded. Colossians 3:25 “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” We must all be treated with justice, but that does not mean we are all treated the same. No one who spends eternity in hell will be able to say they don’t deserve to be there, or even attempt to do so. In the end, they will know they have been treated with justice. In the 16th chapter of Luke’s gospel Jesus tells a story about a poor man who goes to heaven and a rich man who goes to hell. When you read the story you will not that the man in hell makes no argument whatsoever that he doesn’t deserve his torment.
- God is sovereign. “But our God is in the heavens: he has done whatever he has pleased.” Psalm 115:3 While God will not do anything that is against his own character, beyond that, in the end, he can do whatever he pleases. All of us were told by our parents once in a while; “Because I said so.” As we became parents ourselves, if you are that old, we all said the exact same words. He does not have to get anyone’s approval or authority to do anything.
- God is without beginning or end. He has always been and will always be. We struggle to manage our day so it is extremely difficult for us to imagine managing all of the universe, for all time. Yet that is God’s perspective. If you think in terms of forever, a 80 year life is but a blink of an eye. I question if time even exist for God. Ref: John 1, Hebrews 7:3.
- God is all-powerful. Being all-powerful is not the same as being sovereign, and all-powerful is much harder to understand than it first appears. This forces God to make decisions and choices that we cannot even imagine. If you can’t do something, you don’t have to choose whether to do it or not. If you are all powerful, you must always choose every act. But being all powerful doesn’t mean you can do what cannot be done. It is common to ask, “Can God create a rock so large that he cannot move it?” That is not a question as much as the creation of an impossible goal by using a circular argument.
- God is all knowing. Again, impossible for us to grasp entirely, yet indispensable for understanding his choices, and also largely the reason his choices cannot be entirely understood.