The Nature of God
Tim Temple

Introduction

Charles Allred went out to feed the animals on the beautiful farm of his where we have had many Fourth of July picnics, and as he was feeding the horses, and as he moved on out to put the feed out for the wild birds that come around his place, he heard a noise behind him. As he turned around, there was a deer ready to attack. The deer did attack Charles, knocked him to the ground, mauled him with his antlers, and left him there for dead. Charles was nearly dead; he was almost unconscious. However, he quietly waited, hoping the deer would go away, but the deer stood over him for a long time. Finally the deer went off to the corner of the area where they were, and Charles tried to get to his pickup. He was barely able to get to the pickup before the deer came with his antlers and rammed them into the pickup. Had he not made it to the pickup, he certainly would have been dead. He waited there for quite some time until his wife, who had gone on to work ahead of him, realized that he should have been there by that time; she went back to check and found out what had happened and took Charles to the hospital.

Most of you remember that story when it happened. It was quite a tragedy. Charles was cut to ribbons, but did survive, and is going to have his fiftieth anniversary next Saturday. But the reason I tell that story is that as we heard the story we were shocked because those of us who knew the Allreds knew that that deer had been raised since it was a fawn and had been bottle-fed by the Allreds. The deer had been abandoned by his mother there in their farm yard. They had fed it and had even let it come in the house with them when it was small enough; they had treated it like a pet dog or cat. It was an amazing thing to hear that that deer, whom they had treated as a pet—some of us had even petted it as a seemingly tame animal—had turned on Charles, the one who had done all of these things for it through the years. As they talked about it with all of the game wardens and various state people who got involved before it was all over, they reminded us that the deer did that in spite of all of the love and affection the Allreds had shown it over the years because that was the nature of the deer. It was in his nature to attack those from whom he thought he was in danger, for whatever reason; no one knows the mind of a deer.

This morning we want to talk about the nature of God. The nature of any being is that which is intrinsic to its being. The nature of a person or a being is what is intrinsic to its being. What does he do naturally? What comes by nature? Bunnies hop because that's their nature. Lions roar because it is in their nature to do that. Cats and dogs hate each other because it is in their nature to do that, and human beings are shady, untrustworthy sinners, because it is in our nature to do that.

Wrong Assumptions About God

We want to think about the nature of God because it is impossible to understand another being or person or thing unless we understand something about their nature. A starting point in knowing God is to know something about the nature of God. That may not be as commonplace as you might think. Perhaps as I am saying this some of you are thinking, “I know about the nature of God. I know what God is like. I have sung a lot of hymns about Him. I have sung choruses about Him. I have heard Sunday School stories about Him. I have heard sermons about Him. I know what God is like. Why do we need to go back over that again?”

One of the several reasons that we need to go over it again is the fact that many people make assumptions about God. They think they know what God is like. They think they know who God is, but as we look at what the Scripture has to say about Him, you may discover that you are making some assumptions about God. It is very important to understand what the Bible says about God, because many people make assumptions about Him.

Many people, for example, have the view in their subconscious—even though they don't word it this way—that God is something of a tyrant and that God is sitting in Heaven waiting until somebody starts to have a good time; then He leans over the battlements of Heaven and says, “Now, cut that out! We will have none of that around here.” Or they think that what is in the Bible is a list of things that God does not want us to do and things that God might strike us dead for if we do participate in them. Many people have for their idea of the nature of God that He is a tyrant. God is a holy and righteous God, and God is an all-powerful God, but as we look at the Scripture today, we are going to see that God is not a dictator. God is not a tyrant.

Other people have a completely different assumption about God. They think of God as Santa Claus—a divine, eternal Santa Claus who just gives good things if we just find some way to convince Him that we need that or if we find some kind of a secret key to trick Him into giving good things to us, that God exists just to give us things. There is a lot of that kind of preaching going around today, you know—the hidden keys to finding God's blessings. It goes all the way from church attendance to giving a big offering in church to praying with the right slant on prayer. Many people have the wrong assumption about God. It is true that God showers many blessings upon us, that God is a benevolent, loving God, and that He seeks to meet our needs; but God is not just a big, eternal Santa Claus giving out gifts willy nilly, here and there.

Many people assume that God is some kind of grandfatherly character who loves to have his children, figuratively speaking, sit on His knee while he whispers sweet things in their ears. On the other hand, you don't see Him very often. It's just a once in a while sort of thing, and you can get up from His presence and go on about your duties, and you don't see Him again for a while, and secretly He is kind of glad that you did. Many people think of Him as a grandfather. It is true that God loves us and cherishes us like a father or a grandfather does, but He is not just a grandfather whom you see occasionally and whom we kind of put up with in the sense that He is just kinda putting up with us. God is not just some kind of heavenly grandfather.

Probably the majority of people have the idea that God is really just a bigger, better human being than we are. They think about all the fine things about human beings that they can think of, and they project that to the highest possible goal that they can think of, and they think, “Now, that is what God is like. He is really just a super man. He is a bigger, better man.”

The Distinctness of God

But that is not what God is either. Fortunately, God has revealed to us what He really is like. In order to have any kind of intimate walk with God, to be people who know their God, the foundational thing we need to know about God is the nature of God. Theologians use the term transcendent to describe what the Bible has to say about God. That is a term that means “God is totally distinct from and above His creation.'' There are two parts to the meaning of the word. He is totally distinct from us. He is not like us in the sense of being a bigger, better man. But not only that, He is above us. He is not like us, and He is better than us; He is transcendent .

That creates a difficulty for us to a certain extent, because that means that it is pretty hard to illustrate who God is and what God is like. No conception that we can come up with fully describes God for us, because He is totally different from us. One theologian, who was more liberal than I am and whom therefore I don't like to quote very often—but he did make a good statement about the nature of God—said that God is wholly other than we are, completely other than we are. And that is true. Therefore, whatever idea you may have about God is probably wrong, because He is completely different than you and I are.

Unique In His Thoughts

Don't get discouraged, because what we want to do next is look at some of the places that tell us ways in which He is different than we are. As we see these, we are going to see that the truth that He is completely different than we are is not something to be worried about. Look at Isaiah, chapter 55, verses 8-9. Here God says:

Isaiah 55

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God is transcendent in His thoughts. God just doesn't think like we do. He thinks differently than we do, but the good part of that is that His thoughts are better than our thoughts. How many times do we come to a situation in life and it doesn't work out like we thought it was going to? We think, “Why would God let a thing like this happen?” Well, here is part of the explanation. He doesn't think like we think. God doesn't come to the conclusions that we come to, but when that happens we can rest assured that His thoughts are better than our thoughts. If He does not let things go the way we thought that they would, if things haven't turned out like we thought they would, we can rest assured that they have turned out in a better way, because His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

Many times people say, “You know, I just don't believe a loving God would ever do something like that.” In fact, people have used that for a basis for abandoning their faith. “A loving God would never do something like that.” It is illegitimate to talk that way. You and I as human beings have no right to make that statement, because God does not think like we think. It doesn't matter whether you think a loving God would do this or that. It doesn't matter whether you think a just God would do this or that. God does what He does, and He does it in a loving, benevolent way, whether we understand that or not, whether it coincides with the way that we feel about things or not. It is because His thoughts are highter than our thoughts.

What we have to do is learn to adjust our thinking to His thinking, not bring Him down to our level and reject what He does because it doesn't measure up to what we think. If we are going to know our God, we are going to have to learn to adjust to His way of thinking about things.

Unique In His Ways

In Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 18, Isaiah said, “To whom will you liken God?” In Isaiah, chapter 55, which we read a moment ago, he said, “My ways are not your ways.” Turn now to Psalm 50. In this passage the Psalmist is talking about the way the wicked operate. Look at Psalm 50, verse 21. In this verse we are going to see a second aspect of God, a second way in which He is distinct, a way in which He is transcendent. In verse 21, God is speaking here, and God says:

Psalms 50

21These things hast thou done, [the wickedness listed in the first twenty verses] and I kept silence; [notice this phrase] thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

He is saying, “You thought that I was all together like you.” You see, that is our problem. We think that God is like us, and we think that God is going to react to things the way that we react to things. But God says that that is not the case. We are not talking about an elevated man or a super man of some kind. The French agnostic philosopher Voltair said, “God created men in His own image, and then man promptly returned the favor.” We try to create God in our own image, don't we? We try to look at God as though He were something like us, but God said, “I am not altogether like you, as you thought.” And if we continue to think that God is something like us, it leads to serious errors in our dealings with Him.

Unique In His Deity

Not only is God distinct in His thoughts, but He is also distinct in His deity. Psalm 97, verse 9, says, “He is exalted above all gods.” Psalm 99, verse 2 says, “He is exalted above all people.” Turn with me to Exodus, chapter 20. In this chapter we find the Ten Commandments. The Second Commandment gives us an idea of the uniqueness, the distinctness, of God in His deity. God is not like any of the other gods that human beings have worshiped down through the years. In Exodus, chapter 20, look down in verse 4:

Exodus 20

4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

We are going to be talking in future studies about this troublesome statement in verse 5, saying that He visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations. Let me just mention right now, though it is beyond the scope of this particular study, that what He is saying there is that He does not let sinful tendencies and the judgment of sin go beyond three or four generations. So really verse 5 is a statement of God's grace, even though it is so often quoted as a statement of God's harshness. But we will talk about that in future studies.

What we really want to think about at this point is this second commandment: “You shall not make yourself a graven image, a carved image.” Have you ever stopped to think about that commandment? Why do you think God would make a commandment like that? Why would that be important enough to be in the top ten? God has His top ten list too, just like entertainers and other people do these days. How would that one make the top ten, not to make an idol of Him? Maybe one way to think about it is this way: Whenever you are around new friends, maybe you are meeting somebody for the first time, or you are seeing somebody you haven't met in a long time, and they will say, “What about your family? Tell me about your family. Do you have any pictures of your family?” You pull out your billfold and you start digging for your pictures, and what do you say ninety-nine times out of a hundred when you show that person the picture? Most of us say, “This really isn't the best picture of her. This really isn't exactly like her, but it gives you an idea.” You see, God knows that any representation of Him that we make will fall so far short of telling us what God is really like, that He said, “Don't even bother to make any image of Me.”

The Danger of Symbols

There is another problem with a picture and an even greater problem on the same principle, with an image. Many times we go into someone's office and they have pictures of their family and other people who are important to them, and that is all right, nothing wrong with that; but how many times do we sit down and focus on that picture, visualize that picture, and think about that picture? What happens when we do that? If we are just focusing in on the picture, which we have already admitted to people that we showed it to that it is not a very good likeness, what we do is focus in on something that is not a good likeness. God said, “I don't want you making images or idols or pictures or representations of Me because to do that limits your concept of God.” God tells us not to make images of Him because any kind of an image of Him would limit our concept of Him. Remember, He is transcendent, so anything that we would do like that, rather than helping us understand God, actually, God says, takes away from our understanding of Him.

Think about it this way. The crucifix, the cross with the dying Savior hanging on it, is a great religious symbol that people have revered all down through the years; but what does that tell us, just to look at the crucifix and nothing more? It focuses on the dying Savior, doesn't it? It completely leaves out of the picture the resurrection. Thank God for the death of Jesus Christ, but let me tell you something; the death of Jesus Christ wouldn't mean anything, it wouldn't be any more important than the death of any other person crucified, if He hadn't also been raised from the dead. So the focus on the crucifix really limits our concept of God.

By the same token, we sometimes see artist's renderings of Jesus working in the carpenter shop with His father. That is a focus on the childhood of Jesus. The childhood of Jesus was important, but that is not a whole concept of God. We see pictures of Jesus doing this miracle or that miracle. The miracles were important, but that is not a whole concept of God. God said, “I don't want you to limit Me to the concepts that you are going to come up with if you start focusing on a picture or an image or some kind of symbol of Me.”

Invariably someone is going to ask, “What about that necklace that my boyfriend gave me? It is a cross, and I like to wear that cross.” If you want to wear some kind of jewelry like that for the sake of jewelry, that may be okay; but be careful about your reason for having it, that you don't in any way use it as an aid for worship or in any way trying to give you an idea of what God is like, because God is not like any one thing. My apologies to the building committee that designed this building—most of them are in Heaven by now—but I wish they had never put that cross back there, because even though they meant well, and it is technically not a violation of the second commandment, but it is that kind of thing. We don't need to focus in on any one part of God. It is all important to us. If we have to name a most important thing, surely the death of Christ is the most important; but God gave us a symbol to remember His death, burial and resurrection. We just observed it when we observed the Lord's Supper. Jesus Christ said, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. This bread is a reminder of My body which is broken for you.” Those are the only two symbols that God ever gave of Himself, and that is all that we need. We can remember the Lord, and we can think about the other things that are revealed to us in the Scripture, but it is so important to Him that He be unique from all other gods that we not come up with some little statue or some little image or some little symbol for our worship of God.

That is the first aspect of the nature of God. He is a transcendent being. He is totally different from us. He is different from us in our thoughts; He is different from us in His person. He is not a man like we are, and He is different from any other deity that has ever existed. He is wholly other.

God is a Spirit

There is a second characteristic the Scripture reveals about God. Not only is He a transcendent being, but He is a spirit being also. Turn to John, chapter 4. In these verses Jesus was talking to a woman whom He had met at a well in the area of Samaria. This woman knew somehow that He was a rabbi. She could tell that somehow; we do not know how she picked that up, but what do you do when you come across a preacher? You talk about spiritual things, don't you? So this woman—though it turns out that she had been a terrible sinner and was living in sin at the time Jesus ran across her—was trying to talk religious talk to this preacher. Jesus, very kindly but very definitely, turned her off. She started into an argument about where they should worship. So down in verse 23, Jesus said:

John 4

23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Notice verse 24 again: “God is Spirit.” I want to point out the first three words there. Notice that it says, “God is Spirit.” There is no article there. It doesn't say, “God is a Spirit.” It doesn't say, “God is the Spirit.” It just says, “God is Spirit.” In fact, if we were to read this in the Greek text, the word Spirit is the first word in the sentence. That would not be particularly significant in the English, but in the Greek and some other languages, the first word of the sentence is always the emphasis of the sentence. The most important word in any Greek sentence will be the first word in the sentence, and particularly if it is done for emphasis. When you are reading in Greek you always look to see what the first word of the sentence is. It may not be important that that is the most important word in the sentence, but if there is a word like this that is placed first in the sentence, it is done for emphasis. So the most important thing in verse 24 is that Spirit is God. God is Spirit, and because of that there is some implications about the way that we worship.

Before we come to that, let me point out that the bottom line of what we are talking about here is that God does not have a body. He took a body upon Himself when He came in the second person of the Godhead as Christ, as Jesus of Nazareth. Temporarily He took a human body upon Himself, but one of the reasons that that is so significant is that God does not have a body in His nature; normally God does not have a body. He came in the likes of sinful flesh.

Using Human Terms to Describe God

We have some confusion about that, because very often the Bible speaks in terms of the hand of God or the eye of God . “The hand of God is mighty to save,” and “The eye of God sees the needs of His people.” Sometimes we have a problem with that and we say, “What do you mean God doesn't have a body? It talks about parts of His body.” There are terms that God uses in the Bible to help us understand Him. These are called anthropomorphisms . The Greek word anthropos means “man,” and the word morphe means “form”; so together it says that God speaks to us in man form . He talks to us in terms of characteristics of human beings. God, in the strictest sense of the word as a Spirit, does not have an eye; He does not have a hand; He is not limited to those kinds of things, but He communicates to us the fact that He is able to be aware of our needs by saying that He has an eye. He communicates to us that He is able to meet our needs by talking about His hand, but God is Spirit and we should not limit Him to just what He can do with His hand or what He can do with His eye. God is so transcendent above hands and eyes and feet and legs and arms that to talk in those terms exclusively or to think of Him in those terms exclusively limits what He can do. He just puts it on the lowest level, puts the cookies on the bottom shelf for us, because He knows that our human minds can't fully comprehend His mighty power to see our needs. God is able to see our needs in a way that is beyond what any human eye would be able to see, and God is able to meet our needs in a way that is beyond the power that any human hand could meet. He brings it down to our level and talks in those terms, but the important thing is that God is Spirit.

Worship In Spirit and Truth

Notice what else Jesus says to this woman in John, chapter 4. He says that they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. You see, when it comes to worship, the focus is not on what we do. God's priority is not on what we do. God's priority is on our hearts; on our spirits. If our heart is right before God, then the actions will take care of themselves. You don't need to bow down when you come into a church. You don't need to genuflect. You don't need to have some kind of special symbols hanging around your neck. Those things may have their place in some groups, but what is important is that we worship Him in our hearts. God is not nearly as concerned about what you do as He is about why you do it. You can bow down before the altar all day long, and if your heart is not right then it is totally worthless. God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in their spirit. God has given us a human spirit that corresponds to His divine Spirit, and that is where worship takes place.

We might use various things to make that worship more meaningful. We sing and we hear sermons, and we pray together and various things like that, but the real worship is in spirit. Very often there is an objection to this kind of thing, and people say, “How can you worship somebody that you can't even see and who is so completely different than you are?” Somebody asked Jesus that, and Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wants to and you hear the sound of it, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going, and so is the Spirit of God.” You see, God is a Spirit and we cannot see Him, but we can see what He does, can't we? We can see the effects of what He has done, and so we can know God even though He is invisible, because we can see the effects of His actions. The point again is: Let's not get so hung up on what God does in actions as in what He is and what He wants us to be in response.

The Eternal God

There is a third aspect of the nature of God. Not only is He transcendent, and not only is He a Spirit being, but in Psalm 90, verses 1-2, we read of the fact that He is an eternal being:

Psalm 90

1Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

The phrase “from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” means literally, “God has no beginning and no ending.” If you ever stop to give that very much thought, you know how very difficult that is to think about. It is impossible for us to understand. God is a transcendent being, so it is impossible for us to understand how there could never have been a time when God was not; God was there, always has been there, always will be there. It is also hard to understand it because we are what we might call linear creatures. We think in terms of dates and times, days, months, years, and last year and what we did before that and what we plan five years from now. We see things from point A to point B, but God lives in what I call the eternal present . God has always been and He always will be and He doesn't think in terms of time. Again, He communicates to us in the Bible in terms of time because He has to use human terms for humans to be able to understand to some extent, but it is very important that we understand that God is an eternal creature in terms of our human difficulties, to keep our day to day difficulties in perspective.

God's Eternal Perspective

Let me give you what is an admittedly imperfect illustration, because God is transcendent and it is impossible to fully illustrate anything about God's nature, but we might illustrate it this way. Let's say there is going to be a parade in downtown Abilene, and you go down and like a good daddy you park your car a few hours early so that you can get a good space. Later you will come back with your family, and you stand there on the street; you have the best spot in the whole parade. You can see everything there is that comes by. But even in that very best spot in the parade, what do we see? You see a color guard come by, you see a band come by, then you see a pep squad come by, then the boy scouts; you see everything that comes past. We enjoy the parade, but we are seeing it one item at a time.

Think how much better it would be if you could be up on top of the Nations Bank tower, and be able to look down on that parade. You would be able to see that whole parade from beginning to end. Now, that is God's perspective on time. God sees everything from beginning to end; we see it just one float at a time. We may not like the band that is passing by right now or the float that is passing by right now, but God knows that there is a much better band back here. You see, He knows the eternal perspective. God sees that difficulty that you are living in right now. He understands how badly you hurt, how disappointed you are, whatever you may be going through right now. God sees that just as clearly as you see it, but He also sees what went before it that brought it up and He also sees what He has planned in the future that is still coming up, and He sees how He is going to work all of that together for good.

Thank God that He is an eternal creature. He is eternal in His nature. He doesn't live from one day till the next. He doesn't have to figure out what He is going to do tomorrow. He already knows what is ahead in the parade. He has that all figured out, and He has promised that it is all going to work together for good. He has promised that the thoughts that He thinks of us are thoughts of good and not of evil. This particular thing may seem pretty bad, but it doesn't have God worried at all, because He knows the end from the beginning. Why? Because He has existed from the beginning, and He will always exist. There is no beginning and no ending. Our God is an eternal creature.

We get so worried. We pray, “Oh Lord, let me see the next float. Let me see the next band. Is it going to be better than this one?” He says, “Don't worry about that. I know what it is all about, and it is all going to work together for good.”

Our Unchangeable God

Not only is God transcendent, not only is He a Spirit, not only is He eternal, but James, chapter 1, verse 17, tells us that He is also immutable . That is a word that means “He is unable to change.” James, chapter 1, verse 17, says:

James 1

17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Listen, everything in the universe changes. The second law of thermodynamics says every transformation of energy is accompanied by a corresponding loss of energy. For one thing, that says that the universe is winding down. What it says is that every time an action is taken, that character who took the action is different. There is less energy there. Everything is changing except God. God never changes. He never casts a shadow because of turning. He is always the same.

Any time we talk about the immutability of God, it always brings up the question, “Why does it say God is about to wipe somebody out and then He changed His mind?” It does say that in the Bible. Usually when it says something about God changing His mind, it is about wiping somebody out. Listen very carefully to this. This is a very difficult concept—at least it is to me—to understand. God is transcendent. God is Spirit. God is God of all gods that anybody could have, and because of that, His character is many sided. God is omnipotent, God is omniscient, God is all-merciful and God is a God of wrath. You see, God's character is many sided, and sometimes a situation develops in which God has to deal with something in His wrath. For example, in Exodus, chapter 32, while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments from God, the people got nervous because Moses didn't come back as soon as they thought he would, so they built a golden calf. God said to Moses, “I am going to wipe them out. Stand back, I am going to wipe them out.” What did Moses do? He said, “God, this be far from you. You can't do that.” And it says God changed His mind, yet the Bible says that God doesn't change. You see, when you have situations like that, again it is God trying to communicate on a human level things that are not totally comprehensible, because He is so totally other than we are. What happens is, when God is about to deal in one aspect of His character, then the people change their attitude, that brings into play another aspect of God's character. You see, God was going to deal in wrath with those people who had made the image and had turned it into an orgy, but Moses appealed to Him and turned the focus of His grace and mercy on those people. God is total mercy, even though He is total wrath. It depends on what aspect of His character comes into play. So we do see various aspects of God's character, but God's character never changes. Even though His character never changes, His methods may change in response to human response to His warnings or His actions.

Another example is the city of Nineveh. Remember God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them that God was going to wipe out their city. There is a lot of detail in that story that most of you are familiar with, but when it was all said and done, Nineveh repented. The part of the story that I always thought was so funny was that it made Jonah mad. He preached to them, but he didn't want them to repent—probably the only preacher that ever gave an invitation and hoped that nobody would come forward and got mad when they did. What happened there? God was about to wipe out the Ninevites in His wrath, but when they repented, they turned the character of His mercy into play, God changed from His aspect of wrath to His aspect of mercy because of their response to His warning.

God In Three Persons

There is one last aspect to God's character. Let me just mention it and we will develop it more fully in another study. God is a triune being. The fifth aspect of God's character is that He is a trinity. The Scripture speaks of three Persons as God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is something else that you need to know. God is Spirit, but He manifests Himself to us on our human level as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each of those have an important part to play in our lives, and when we come to that we will see that it's by His grace that He has manifested Himself in those three ways.

It is a difficult subject to understand the nature of God, because He is transcendent; He is wholly other. Be careful before you decide that God would or would not do something, because He is trancendent. He is not like we are. He doesn't act the way we act. He doesn't react the way that we react. But that is comforting for the same reason. Numbers, chapter 23, verse 19, says, “God is not a man that He should lie.” God is not a man that He should do any of the other things that men do that fail us. Aren't you glad that God is transcendent? Aren't you glad that God is not a man? The best of human beings will fail you. Sooner or later the best of human beings will fail you. Thank God, He is not a man that He should lie or fail in any other way.

The First Step In Knowing God

The most amazing thing about this transcendent, perfect God is that He has reached out to us. He wants to know us. He wants to bring us to His circle of fellowship, first, in salvation. There is one absolute starting point for being a part of the people who know their God, one absolute starting point for knowing God, and that is to believe that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). That is the starting point. If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then anything that we have said has been wasted breath, unless you do decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. Then you can go back and think about these things. But you will never know God and none of these things that we have talked about will have any meaning for you or any effect upon you if you do not begin by believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior. God sent Himself into the world for that purpose. Not only that, but this transcendent Spirit, eternal triune God, wants to fellowship with us. Look at Revelation, chapter 3, verse 20:

Revelation 3

20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

If you are familiar with that verse, chances are pretty great that the way you heard that verse is in talking about salvation which I have just been talking about, but that verse is not talking about salvation. With all due respect to the people who may have come to know the Lord through that verse, the primary context of that verse is fellowship with people who already know Jesus as Savior.

I don't know how many times people have said to me, and I admit to you today that I have had the same feelings, “You know, I just feel so far from God. I just don't have the relationship with Him that I used to have or I would like to have.” There is a very simple answer to that. It is not God's fault, because Revelation, chapter 3, verse 20 says, “I am knocking on the door. I want to have fellowship with you.”

Conclusion

If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, that is the first step. If you feel far from God, there is a solution to that: “If anybody hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). God wants to have fellowship with us. You may not be able to hear His voice because of some sin in your life that you have not come to grips with, and it needs to be confessed; it needs to be forsaken, but if you want to have fellowship with God it is a simple matter of asking Him to come into your heart for fellowship. Enjoy the fellowship with that transcendent, wholly other God who, even though that is true, brings Himself into our hearts and lives.


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