Where Did God Come From?  What Is He Like?
Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz

B. Childress
June 13 2011

No idea is more commonly held by people throughout the world and throughout history than the idea of God -
Supreme Being, the Creator and Ruler of the universe

Yet God is more than an idea.  He is more than a symbol for good or merely an impersonal "higher power."  God is a
very real spirit Being who always existed in the past and will always exist in the future.

Jewish religious teachers often called God "the Incomprehensible One."  That's why it's a good thing that God has
chosen to tell us who He is.  He's accomplished this primarily through His Word, the Bible,  through the life and
teachings of His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the insight of His Holy Spirit.

For now, let's start at the beginning.  Actually,
before that!

Does God Exist?

The first recorded word concerning God can be found in the first verse of the first book of the Bible:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

In this verse we learn two things about God:

  •   He created the heavens and the earth.

  •   He was there before the beginning of world.

Wait a minute!  The verse doesn't say "Before the beginning God created the heavens the earth."  It says "In the
beginning God created the heavens and the earth." That's right, but think about it:  If God created
in the beginning, that
means that God existed
before the beginning, because in order to make something, you must exist before you make it.

It's impossible for something to create itself.  Even God cannot make Himself.  The idea of self-creation is a classic
contradiction in terms.  God is what we call
self-existent.  And He is the only such being who has ever lived.

God has no beginning and therefore no cause.  By definition every
effect must have a cause, but God is not an effect.  
He has always been and He always will be.  God does not require outside support to exist.  This is what is meant by

This may not seem like a
very big deal, but this is a very big deal.  This is huge.  Only God is completely free from all
limitation of time.  As we will see later in this book, all spirits, including the human soul, will live forever.  But all spirits
had a beginning because they were created by God.  Only God is infinite in that He is without beginning or end.

Can We Be Sure God Exists?  Four Long Words to Make Your Case

Since God is a Spirit, no one has seen God.  But God has left us strong evidence - some call it "rational proof" - for His
existence.  Pretend for a moment that you are sitting on a jury.  The defense attorney is about to present four
arguments to support the existence of God.

1.  The Ontological Argument. The very fact that humans have an idea of God points to His existence.  Experts agree
that a pursuit of, or belief in, the divine can be found among all peoples and tribes of the earth.  Since every rational
person has thought about God in one way or another, we can reasonably conclude that He exists.  Example:  Earth's
seas have always felt the tug of the moon's gravitational field, creating tides.  Even if you can't see the moon or explain
exactly what the moon is, the tides show the moon's presence.  In the same way, humans have always felt a tug toward
a Supreme Being.  Even though God can't be seen, the incredibly strong pull we feel toward Him is an evidence of His

    What may be known about God is plain to [the wicked], because God has made it plain to them (Romans 1:19).

2.  The Cosmological Argument.  Every effect must have a cause.  A four year old might really believe his muddy
footprints "just happin by theirself," but Mom sure doesn't!  If the universe had a beginning point - which science also
now supports - there must have been some incredibly powerful cause or person to begin it.  We believe that someone
was God, the "First Cause."

    For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4).

3.  The Teleological Argument.  There is order, harmony, purpose, and intelligence in nature and the world.  Logic
suggests that an intelligent and purposeful being produced it.

    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).

    For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been
    clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

4.  The Moral Argument.  One of the characteristics of humans is that we have a moral code - a built-in sense of right
and wrong.  This has been true of every people and every civilization in recorded history.  Even the most hardened
criminal understands the difference (even if it's pretty twisted).  How could a moral compass - often called "the higher
law" - just happen?  This sense of right and wrong in the heart of every person is evidence of a moral Creator.  (And it
stands to reason He cares a
lot about right and wrong.)

    They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts (Romans 2:15).

Okay, the strongest arguments have been presented.  Does the evidence absolutely convince you?  Beyond a
reasonable doubt?  What if your verdict is still kind of fuzzy?  What if you're still not sure there's proof of God's

That's Okay!  God doesn't require us to prove His existence, or to be intellectually convinced.  The only step God
require is faith.  He wants us to
choose to believe in Him with our will.

In other words, it's not so much what we
know, but what we believe.

What Do I Know? vs. What Do I Believe?

Many things can be proved scientifically.  But God isn't one of them.  In fact, the Bible says,

    Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and
    that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Not only is faith required to believe in God, faith is also required to not believe in God.  If someone says to us, "Prove
God exists," we would reply, "Prove that He doesn't."  Either way, some degree of faith is required.

Granted, the person who believes in God has taken a
step of faith based on a foundation of knowledge, history, nature,
and logic (things we've been discussing).  But the atheist ("There is no God") and the agnostic ("I'm not sure if there is a
God") must take a leap of faith to deny all the evidence which points to God.

If You Stop Believing, Does God Stop Existing?

Keep in mind that it is not necessary for us to believe in God in order for Him to exist.  God exists whether we believe in
Him or not.  You see, God isn't just
our idea.  God exists apart from us.

A Very Involved Host...

Now here's the best part for us mere mortals.  Are you ready for this?  God didn't just make the world without being
emotionally involved (like, say, a river carving out a canyon).  And He didn't make things and then leave (like a kid who
makes a sand castle on the beach, then wanders off).

loves what He made.  He loves you.  He knows you.  He will never leave you.  And He has an important destiny in
mind for you.  This powerful message - of a loving, personally involved God - is repeated over and over again in the

...Who Left an Invitation

It is also important to know that believing God exists is not enough to get us back into a right relationship with God.  The
Bible says that even Satan and the demons believe God exists.  You could correctly conclude that it is possible to
believe in the existence of God and still be separated from Him forever.

Later, we are going to look at why man and God are at odds, and see how this problem can be solved.

Right now, let's keep getting to know God better.

What Is God Like?

Throughout history, humans have attempted to picture God by creating and worshiping idols - that is, an object that
stands for their god (a cat, the sun, a golden calf, a statue).  The object is often supposed to have great powers.

Obviously, this approach has had problems.  In fact, in the Bible, Isaiah shows God making fun of idols:

    Bring in your idols to tell us what is going to happen.

Then God speaks directly to the idols:

    Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.  But you are less than
    nothing...He who chooses you is detestable (Isaiah 41:22-24).

Even though God is beyond our complete understanding, we don't need to stay in a fog about Him.  Or be stuck with a
small or silly concept of God.  Or carve an idol to worship.

The Bible gives a definite picture of a multifaceted God.  He is an invisible reality, yet He has characteristics of a person:

  •   He knows.

  •   He hears.

  •   He feels.

  •   He speaks.

    Does he who implanted the ear not hear?  Does he who formed the eye not see?  Does he who disciplines
    nations not punish?  Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?  (Psalm 94:9-10).

God intentionally reveals Himself to mankind.  He makes it possible for us to know Him.  But no single word or phrase
can express His essential nature.  Instead, He is best defined by understanding the many elements of His character.

Just as you would get to know someone better by first learning his or her name and then by trying to identify certain
personality traits, we can get to know God better by learning some of His names (yes, He has more than one!) and by
studying character qualities.

What's in a Name?

A person's name does not usually describe much about him or her.  Names like "Bruce" and "Stan" give absolutely no
clue about personality characteristics (although nicknames like "Shorty" and "Refrigerator" point to physical traits).

In contrast, names for God, originally written in the Hebrew language in the Old Testament and in the Greek language in
the New Testament, were very descriptive.  Here are some of the names for God which convey His nature:

    Jehovah.  An Old Testament term meaning "I am that I am."  Used by God Himself, particularly for His
    relationship to mankind.  He is all-sufficient for every need, problem, or circumstance.  Every answer is found in

    Jehovah-Jireh.  An Old Testament term meaning "God will provide."

    Jehovah-Rophe.   An Old Testament term meaning "God heals."

    Jehovah-Nissi.  An Old Testament term meaning "God is my (our) Banner."

    Jehovah-Shalom.  An Old-Testament term meaning "God is Peace."

    Jehovah-Tsidkenu.   An Old-Testament term meaning "God our righteousness."

    Elohim.  An Old Testament term meaning "strong one."  God is the true God.  His strength and majesty reign
    over all heathen gods.

    Adonai.  An Old Testament term meaning "lord."  A term of reverence.  Used to show a master-servant

    El-Shaddai.  An Old Testament term meaning "God Almighty."  

    God.  A New Testament term, theos, meaning "the one true God."  He is unique; He is the Creator; and He is the

    Lord.  A New Testament term, kurios, meaning "sir."  The emphasis is on authority and supremacy.

    Father.  A New Testament term.  God is a heavenly Father to those who become His children by faith in His Son,
    Jesus Christ.

A Mega-Personality Profile (Nine Things You Can Be Absolutely Sure of About God)

You might be starting to feel like you're going on a blind date - you don't know what God looks like, but you have been
told He has a great personality.  In fact, the Bible spends a lot of time telling you about God's characteristics
(theologians call these "attributes").  Here are some of the most important:

    1)  God is Eternal.  He is not defined by time.  He always was; He always will be.  There was never a time when
    He did not exist; there will never be a time when He will not exist.

    Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to
    everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:2)

    Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the
    earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom (Isaiah 40:28).

    2)  God is Holy.  He is righteous.  No fault is found in Him.  His moral character is without flaw.  In the negative
    context, He has no evil in Him; in the positive context, He is completely pure.  In other words, He is wholly holy.

    Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3).

    But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy"
    (I Peter 1:15-16).

    3)  God Doesn't Change.  He is "immutable" - the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  And He cannot be
    changed.  Talk about Mr. Dependable!

    I the LORD do not change (Malachi 3:6).

    Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does
    not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

    4)  God Is Infinite.  He cannot be completely defined or in any way confined.

    But will God really dwell on earth?  The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you (I Kings 8:

    "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the
    Almighty" (Revelation 1:8).

    5)  God is Just.  He is fair and impartial.  He does not play favorites.

    He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright
    and just is he (Deuteronomy 32:4).   
    Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the ages
    (Revelation 15:3).

    6)  God is Love.  While God's justice and holiness require a penalty for our sin, His love caused Him to send His
    Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins.  God's love is not a "romantic feeling" (as Hollywood usually defines love).
    Instead, God's love means unselfishness and commitment.  He is ready to forgive, longing to be merciful.

    Let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows
    God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love
    among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him (I John 4:7-9).

    7)  God is Omnipotent.  He is all-powerful.  No person, nation, or confederation, whether of this earth or
    beyond, can conquer Him.  He is able to do anything consistent with His own nature.

    Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of
    thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns" (Revelation 19:6).

    8)  God is Omnipresent.  He is everywhere.  If you are trying to hide from Him, you can't.  If you are trying to
    find Him, He is there.  Wherever you are, He is there.

    Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are
    there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wind of the dawn, if I settle on the far
    side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, "Surely the
    darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you (Psalm 139:7-12).

    9)  God is Omniscient.  God knows everything.  All things past, all things future.  He knows all things technical
    (like the chemical composition of DNA) and all things trivial (like the number of hairs on your head).  He knows
    you better than you know yourself.

    O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my
    thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before
    a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O LORD (Psalm 139:1-4).

    For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths (Proverbs 5:21).

Is Your God Stuck in a Box?

Think about it for a moment:  What is your image of God?

Cosmic Killjoy? Do you usually think of Him as  looking down from heaven, ready to squash you like a bug whenever He
sees you having fun?

Santa Claus?  Or do you see Him as a celestial Jolly Old Man, the one we turn to when our Publisher's Clearinghouse
Sweepstakes number comes up a loser?

The Man (or Woman) Upstairs?  Or is He the never-seen Manager on high?  Or is He actually a She - the earth

These limited notions about God work like the idols, or false gods, we were talking about earlier - they may be limited,
but at least they're convenient.  Often a "god in a box" is the result of ignorance or fear.

Don't get caught in the common trap of emphasizing one aspect of God's personality over the others.  When your God
gets stuck in this kind of box, He may wrongly appear to be one-dimensional.  For example:

  •  He is only the Great Spirit (omnipresent, but not loving or holy), or

  •  He is only a mean judge (just, but not merciful), or

  •  He is only a kind Father Time (eternal, but without loving interest in us as His children).

Take the great truth of I John 4:8: God is love.  Many people want to think that because God is love, He doesn't punish
evil.  But remember that God's characteristic of love doesn't operate independently from His other characteristics,
including holiness and justice.  God's love does not overpower His own holiness.

That brings us back to that box-shattering, life-changing truth about God:
He wants to get personal with every single
human being!

What is My Response? (Getting Personal with the Supreme Being)

Clear thinking about the almighty, holy Creator of the universe demands a response beyond "Ah, shucks!" or even
"Wow!"  It's not enough to get your ideas on God straightened around, only to forget about Him.

First, we need not be afraid of Him.  Although the Bible talks about the fear of the Lord, such references usually mean
"reverence" and "respect."

    Fear the LORD your God and serve him only (Deuteronomy 6:13).

In fact, the Bible encourages us to pursue God and to worship Him.

    But seek first [God's] kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

    True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks
    (John 4:23).

The fact that we can have a personal relationship with this infinite God has to be one of the most amazing truths in the
universe!  It all comes back to the "loving, personally involved Creator" who presents each of us with an invitation:

  •  to experience His presence and power,

  •  to love Him,

  •  to worship and serve Him, and

  •  to receive forgiveness and eternal life from Him.


GUIDE TO GOD, by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, Copyright 1997, HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS.