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Doctrine of God - Spiritual and Personal Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 20 January 2008

I.  Introduction:

 What is God like?  How would you describe Him?  We looked last week at the fact that God is one and He is the only one.  Yet, as we continue to look at what the Bible says about the person of God, then we need to begin answering the above questions.  We need to ask the Bible: what is God like?  Tonight, I want to consider two of the answers to that question: God is spirit and God is personal.  As we did last week, I want to begin by looking at the B, F, and M, move to a consideration of some passages, and conclude with some implications from the passages.

II.  The Baptist Faith and Message

 The B, F, and M says this about God: ‘He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being…’  Thus, it affirms that God is spiritual and personal.  By looking at some passages, we can hopefully flesh out what this means about God.

III.  Some Passages:

 A.  Spiritual: This is clearly taught in one passage: John 4:19-24.  The woman at the well asks Jesus about where it is proper to worship God, Jerusalem or Samaria.  Yet, Jesus answers by telling her that place is not important.  Rather, the person must worship in spirit and truth to worship God faithfully.  Why is this the case?  Jesus answers in verse 24 when He states: God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.  Thus, Jesus tells us that God is spirit.  He is not limited by space and matter (both of which He created).  He cannot be measured or quantified.  He is spirit.  Grudem writes: “God’s spirituality means that God exists as a being that is not made of any matter, has no parts or dimensions, is unable to be perceived by our bodily senses, and is more excellent than any other kind of existence.”   God is not physical, He is spiritual.  We will see some of the implications of this when we consider God’s attributes (like omnipresence). 

 B.  Personal: What we mean by this is that God is a Person that can be known.  The Bible teaches over and over again that God can be known and that humans can have a relationship with Him by His grace.  Consider the following passages:

  1.  Genesis 1-2, 3:8-9, 6:13, 12:1 God created Adam and Eve and had a relationship with them.  He communicated with them and instructed them.  Through the Fall, this relationship was broken.  Yet, this does not mean that God could no longer be known.  In His divine forbearance (see Romans 3:25) God had passed over man’s sin (until the time of Christ) and continued to have a relationship with them.  We see this throughout the Old Testament, evidenced here by His relationship with Noah and Abraham.
  2.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 The Lord affirms through Jeremiah that we can know Him and know true things about Him (practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth).
  3.  John 1:18 As we saw in our Advent Season, the New Testament writers teach us that Jesus came so that we could know the Father.  Again, we can have a personal relationship with God through the work of Christ.  God can be known because Christ has revealed Him.  John makes that clear here.
  4.  Hebrews 8:11 (taken from Jeremiah 31) One of the glorious promises of the New Covenant is that all believers shall know the Lord through Christ.  The good news of the gospel is that we can know God and be reconciled to Him through belief in Jesus.
  5.  1 John 2:13-14a John emphasizes the fact that we know God.  He has made Himself known and we can know Him.

IV.  Some Implications:

 A.  God is other than us and like us in that He is spiritual.  Because He is spirit and not limited by space, God is different than us.  We are physical creatures and we are confined by space and time.  We are made up of matter (flesh and bones).  Thus, we are not spiritual in the sense that God is spirit.  Yet, at the same time, we are spiritual.  Being made in His image, we can think and feel and know and be known.  We are not simply matter or simply physical.  We have a spirit, it is not like God, but it is a spirit.  Jesus tells the woman at the well that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.  It is our hope and prayer that God will grant us grace to do just that.

 B.  Because God is personal, we should pray for grace to know Him more.  First, we have to realize that we only know Him because He has graciously revealed Himself to us in Christ.  What amazing grace that Christ has made the Father known!  Second, we should labor to know God through Christ with everything that we are.  As we said a few weeks ago, we should join with Paul in forsaking all to know Christ more (see Philippians 3:7-11).  This is what makes the study of the doctrine of God possible.  Because God is personal, we can actually know Him.  We are not limited to only know facts about Him.  No, through Christ, we have been given the glorious privilege to actually know Him.  This phrase has at times been abused in evangelical circles, but it remains a wonderful truth that we can have a personal relationship with God.  He is not some far off deity that has nothing to do with us.  He is not energy or idea.  He is spirit and person.  He can be known and He has made Himself known in and through Christ.  Thus, we must push past just knowing facts about God.  We must push past just being casual observers.  We must push past just going through religious motions.  We must know the Lord in all His glory and majesty and splendor.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 January 2008 )

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