News and Views
THE GREATNESS OF GOD
What is the Christian concept of God? How many of us have an adequate concept of God? Several decades ago, J.B.Phillips wrote a little book, "Your God Is Too Small," in which he showed, with simplicity and logic and humour, how several common caricatures of God are misleading and inadequate. Since then, our knowledge and understanding of God has been further eroded by the atheistic humanist philosophy which underpins our secular culture. On one hand, the "scholarly" humanist view regards all religions as equally products of human imagination and thereby regards all gods as myths. On the other hand, humanism claims that there is no god or supernatural power. Therefore, the snippets of information we pick up about God from non-Christian sources are inaccurate and misleading, and there is a sense of pressure on the church to dumb down the greatness of God. The real limitations of our mere human intellects also make it impossible to fully understand God in His limitless, eternal being. Jesus said, "God is spirit," (John 4:24a NIV) which means we cannot perceive Him with our five physical senses, which adds to the difficulty of knowing and understanding Him.
However, the more we contemplate God's greatness as it is revealed in Scripture, in creation, and in our own believing hearts, the greater the awe, wonder, and love that we have toward Him, and the more delight and joy we have in His presence. To me, the greatest joys of heaven will be the presence of God, and knowing that as I learn to know Him better and better through all eternity, there will always be something more to learn about Him. Although we can never know God totally, there are understandings which help us to grow in our knowledge of Him.
First, God is eternal, infinite, limitless. There is no beginning or end to His being. He is the great "I Am." All of His characteristics and attributes are also without limit.
Second, God is good; infinite, limitless good. He is the very definition of good, the source of all goodness. As James writes, "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 NIV) In fact, just as light is something we can study and produce and darkness is merely the absence of light; just as heat is something which we can study and produce and cold is merely the absence of heat; so goodness is a limitless, infinite quality of God which we can, in a limited way, know and experience, and evil is merely the absence of God's goodness.
Third, God is love; infinite, limitless love which truly seeks the best for the beloved even if that best involves unpleasant discipline.
Fourth, God is just. His justice is also limitless while in perfect balance with His love. Only He has the perfect, infinite wisdom to maintain this balance.
Fifth, God is omnipotent, all powerful, so powerful that He created all that exists in any realm, material, spiritual or any other we may not know about. He is also so powerful that He maintains all that He created.
Sixth, God is omniscient, all knowing. Of course He knows all about every tiny and every big thing He made, from the tiniest particle in the atom to the biggest galaxy, and everything in between. He has a capacity we marvel at as He knows every tiny detail at the same time that He knows all about the greatest actions in the universe. He also knows our hearts, our every thought, knows us better than we know ourselves.
Seventh, God is omnipresent, present everywhere at once. He is not present in His creation as part of it, but is present with His creation at all times at all places.
Eighth, God is holy. A. W. Tozer writes, "We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable." (The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 104)
These are only a few of the characteristics and attributes of God, things about Him which are infinite and without limit. When we consider Him in His unlimited goodness, power, knowledge, wisdom and majesty, how can we be other than awe struck? His greatness, His magnificence, His majesty, is beyond our comprehension or imagining, and can only fill us with awe and wonder as we marvel at the thought that He should love us, such a limited part of His creation. There are no words in human languages to fully and accurately describe God, but as we meditate on the descriptions we can have and praise and worship Him, we find joy and peace and strength beyond our understanding. As we seek to know Him here, we realize how much we want to be with Him forever. God is truly great!
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