What Is God Like?

God is described in many ways, with many attributes and actions. Our finite minds try to grasp the infinite by straining language to the breaking point trying to paint word pictures of God. We’ll touch on that today in this post from the Doctrine of God series.

How is God different from us?

He has two sets of attributes, incommunicable and communicable. His communicable attributes are the ones He shares with us. His incommunicable attributes He shares less of or not at all.

What is so important about God’s names?

In the Bible, it’s a description of His character, like a lot of Bible names. For example, when we pray “hallowed” be your name as part of the Lord’s prayer, we’re praying that people will speak and act in a way that is honoring and reflects His character.

It also shows the reason in not taking God’s name in vain. It’s a command that we don’t dishonor God’s reputation with foolish or misleading words or actions that don’t reflect His true character.

Why does God have so many names in the Bible?

Many of the names come from human experiences, emotions, or from natural creation in order to describe God’s character. It’s like using an analogy.

How is God described from natural creation?

God is compared to…

  • a lion (Isaiah 31:4) This is what the Lord says to me: “As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey—and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor—so the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.
  • an eagle (Deuteronomy 32:11) like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
  • a lamb (Isaiah 53:7) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
  • a hen (Matthew 23:37) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
  • the sun and a shield (Psalm 84:11) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
  • the morning star (Revelation 22:16) “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
  • a light (Psalm 27:1) The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
  • a torch (Revelations 21:23) The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
  • a fire (Hebrews 12:29) for our “God is a consuming fire.”
  • a fountain (Psalm 36:9) For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
  • a rock (Deuteronomy 32:4) 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.
  • a hiding place (Psalm 119:114) You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
  • a tower (Proverbs 18:10) The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
  • a moth (Psalm 39:11) When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin, you consume their wealth like a moth—surely everyone is but a breath.
  • a shadow (Psalm 91:1) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
  • a temple (Revelation 21:22) I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

There are more but for the sake of space, we’ll move on.

How is God described from human experience?

God is described as…

  • a bridegroom (Isaiah 61:10) I delight greatly in the Lordmy soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
  • a husband (Isaiah 54:5) For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—
    the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
  • a father (Deuteronomy 32:6) Is this the way you repay the Lordyou foolish and unwise people?
    Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
  • a judge and king (Isaiah 33:22) For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver,
    the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.
  • a man of war (Exodus 15:3) The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.
  • a builder and maker (Hebrews 11:10) For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
  • a shepherd (Psalm 23:1) The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
  • a physician (Exodus 15:26) He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

That’s just for starters.

How is God described from human emotion?

Human emotions are attributed to Him like…

  • joy (Isaiah 62:5) As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you;
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
  • grief (Psalm 78:40; Isaiah 63:10) How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the wasteland!”
    “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy
    and he himself fought against them.”
  • anger (Jeremiah 7:18-19) The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger. But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?
  • love (John 3:16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • hatred (Deuteronomy 16:22) and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the Lord your God hates.
  • wrath (Psalm 2:5) He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,…

To name a few.

How are God’s actions described?

He is described as doing things as we would, such as…

  • knowing (Genesis 18:21) that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
  • remembering (Genesis 8:1) “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”
  • seeing (Genesis 1:10) God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
  • hearing (Exodus 2:24) God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.
  • smelling (Genesis 8:21) The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
  • sitting (Psalm 9:7) The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.
  • rising (Psalm 68:1) May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.
  • walking (Leviticus 26:12) I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
  • wiping away tears (Isaiah 25:8) The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
    he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

Why does God seem so mixed up?

The passages show that all of the creation reveals something about God to us. Being made in the image of God reveals a bit more, and Jesus as the revelation of God to man is the final revelation bringing it all in perspective. This shows that all we understand is through our limited understanding in our experience with God.

That’s why anthropomorphic language is used that speaks of God in human terms. Don’t take a description by itself out of context, but understand it in light of the rest of Scripture. Remember, the Bible’s description of God isn’t exhaustive, but when you consider what we have…whoa…


Doctrine of the Bible Posts
How Did We Get The Bible?
Is The Bible The Word of God and Does It Matter?
Is The Bible Inerrant?
Is The Bible Necessary?
Is The Bible Sufficient?

Doctrine of God Posts

Is There A God? 
How Can We Know God?

Sources
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Chapter 11: Incommunicable Attributes of God

The Vision and Mission of Ronin’s Journey

What’s the point of this blog? Why bother? It’s because I see a need, a world that’s harassed and helpless. I want you to not only to apply what you learn here, I want you to know why. In a nutshell, I want to develop thoughtful purposeful Christians.

How?

By cultivating a life of the mind that’s connected to the heart, to create depth, a thoughtful Christianity. Then working outward in an application with a purpose. That’s the point of the two series, Simplified Systematic Theology and Learning Under Jesus.

There is a surface belief in the world, but it’s shallow. There’s little to no application. Why? Because it’s not real to people, they haven’t thought it through. The ones that have, live it or reject it.

Some History

That’s how this blog has been trending since 2014. Before that, it was politics and social commentary five

In the early days

 

days a week. Then a traumatic accident took my godson. Ronin’s Journey became a soul-searching grief journey in mid-2013. Little over a year later, I met Jesus in a way that was deeper than my cultural Christianity.

I began writing what it was like to actually follow him. Matthew 6:33 was the tagline and is still my life verse; “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness, all these things will be added to you.” Then I began refining the blog, and still am to this day. First by moving to private hosting this time last year. It’s not cheap, but I have more control, and no one can take it from me.

Why Bother?

At this point, we are surrounded by cultural Christians in an environment that is increasingly hostile to our worldview. They grew up in church, but never totally committed to Christ.

Does your foundation have the depth to withstand and answer the world’s questions? If not, prepare yourself; if so, prepare others. Take what you know and share it, live it as a testimony. It’s getting dark but that’s when the light shines the brightest.

Your Mission, If You Choose To Accept It…

Here are my goals for me, and for you if you so choose:

  • Grow in knowledge and service to Christ. How? By following him and thinking through the ramifications, deeply. Ask questions like, “What if I don’t do ____?” “Why should I do _____?” “What’s this mean?” “What if I do             ?”
    I’m confident that time and time again, it’s the best choice. Not always easy, but the best.

Here’s my challenge for you.

Every place that you are at, Jesus is there in you, Christian. Do what he would, in your place, at work, home, public, private, etc. Not sure how?

When I first took the plunge, Pastor Jaime told me to start by reading two things, the book of Romans in the Bible and Immediate Obedience: The Adventure of Tuning Into God. I started another blog, inactive but still there, to chronicle it. First Samuel 12:24. Click the title and it will take you to the first post ever, where I began a 90-Day challenge.

I can’t do this alone. I’ve gotten this far with a lot of grace, curiosity, and self-study, yet I’m reaching almost a thousand people online. You can do it too, you can do better, live a life that’s a worthy testimony and reach who you can your way.

What Is “Thoughtful” Christianity?

At the start of the year, I began categorizing a lot of posts under Thoughtful Christianity. What do I mean by it?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines thoughtful as careful reserved thinking. Dictionary.com defines it as careful, heedful or mindful. How is this different from intellectual?

Because it’s not solely a mental pursuit driven by reasoning and curiosity. It is related to it by study, reflection, and speculation, but should also impact life itself.

An agnostic, Julian Barnes, wrote, “What’s the point of faith unless you and it are serious–seriously serious–unless your religion fills, directs, stains, and sustains your life?”

The Christian Paradox

Christianity is a paradox in that the Gospel is so simple that a child can grasp it, and scholars continue to debate it’s finer points. The lens I view the world is in how is Christianity relevant here, what would help, what’s going on, and what am I to do? That’s the steady hum of thoughtfulness going through my mind.

We like to build narratives to make sense of our lives, little mini-narratives, but there is a meta-narrative. Creation, The Fall of Man, Redemption, and Restoration. That encompasses the Bible thematically.

The Fall explains why the world is the way it is, and why humans are so self-centered that we can’t be left unchecked. Not even a multitude of laws can fix it.

Deeper inside is how it applies to us. My favorite is the Wisdom books of Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes along with the entire New Testament. In the Old Testament, you have a people trying (or not) to live according to God’s standards, and being unable to. Their lives are examples of good and bad decisions. Later in the New Testament, a hope is developed and brought to fruition in the New.

Immerse yourself in the story.

“But it’s just a story.”

It’s more, you can pursue a strong apologetic foundation to cement it in place. There are types you can pursue, the best when you can overlap them and it makes sense. Here are the different approaches:

  • Classical Apologetics: It focuses on arguments for the evidence of God along with historical evidence supporting the truth of Christianity. Two steps characterize it, theistic and evidential arguments. (My preferred area)
  • Evidential Apologetics: Focuses on the need for evidence: rational, historical, archaeological and experiential. It’s broad in scope.
  • Presuppositional Apologetics: Like it states, this area starts with a few presuppositions, like Christianity is true, and then argues the case. It’s broken into four areas itself: relational, rational, systematic consistency, and practical.

A blend is best. But my point is that you can go deep with Christianity. Want philosophy, go to reasonablefaith.org. Want to blend that with existential, go to rzim.org. Popular level classic apologetics, go to str.org and coldcasechristianity.com.

When you trust that it’s true, you’re more likely to live it. Just like you trust that if go on a trip, you’ll get there. You don’t know what’s along the way, only what you’re bringing with you, and where you’re going.

Breaking It Down

When you have the big picture, know the background, the cultural context, explore the areas that systematic theology explores; it opens up. A thoughtful Christianity is hard to shake. The deeper you dive, the stronger your foundations, the more it comes alive.

A simple way to start is to just ask yourself, “how does the Bible apply here” in various situations. Not just in commands, like most think, but an explanation for life. Why did that person do that? What is happening here? And so on.

You can go as deep as you want from there, the only hitch…you have to know Scripture. Go on and try it, let me know what you get.