BIBLE CATECHISM: THE DOCTRINE OF GOD

Doctrine God  

What does the Bible teach about God?

QuestionWho is God?

Answer God is the first, best, and highest of all beings. He is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

Scripture Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Explanation | With this first question, we don’t start at the beginning. We start even before the beginning. Before our beginning. Before the beginning of everything. We start with God, Himself. God, who has no beginning. Who always has been. That’s what ‘eternal’ means. God has always been and always will be.

This question assumes God exists, that He is. And, it also assumes that God is a something. By assuming, I mean we accept these truths about God (that He exists and that He is a something) as facts without needing to prove them with observable evidence that cannot be denied. Is it right to assume these truths? That’s a good question! People have debated whether God exists or not, and they’ve also gone back and forth over if we can even know for sure whether He exists or not. As we will see in later questions and answers, because of who God is—and how different He is from ‘everyone and everything’ else—proving that He exists ultimately comes down to how a person responds to what God, Himself, has said about Himself. Or, another way to say this is that for God to be who He is, He cannot be proven to be God by anything other than Himself. And, it’s God’s word, the Bible, that assumes God’s existence. Meaning, the Bible does not necessarily set out to prove He is. What the Bible does do—as God’s word—is show us and tell us about Him. But, I’m getting ahead of myself! (We’ll cover more of this when we look at what the Bible teaches about the Bible. Yes, you read that correctly!)

So who is He? Who is this God? The rest of our answer summarizes the most foundational characteristics of what makes God, ‘God.’ But keep in mind, too, that later questions and answers will come back again and again—and add more—to understanding who God is.

He is a being. To put it negatively first, God is not a force, energy, or power. He is not an idea, either. To put it positively, He is a being. As a being, He be’s—that is, He exists! But even more, as a being He has a personality. We might say He is an individual. As a personal being He also has a name.1 In this way, He is more like us than He is like a rock or a tree. Actually, that’s putting things a bit backward, for we are more like Him than a rock is like Him, and we are more like Him than we are like a rock. (At least most of us are!) As a being, what sort of being is He? This is where the likeness begins to disappear, and fast! God is the ‘first, best, and highest’ of all beings. He is first in time before all beings, meaning no other being is before Him. He is best of all beings, meaning no other being is as good—as perfect—as He is. And He is highest of all beings, meaning no other being ranks above Him. He’s so first, best, and highest even, that second cannot even come close.

He is the creator and sustainer. One of the most basic and central truths that the Bible tells us about the difference between us and God is that He is ‘creator.’ In fact, He is the creator. He made ‘everyone and everything.’ Everything that is—or has been, or will be—ultimately goes back to God. No one else—no other being, no other force—has done or can do what God did. He created. And the Bible tells us that He made the heavens and the earth, and everything within them out of nothing!2 Closely related to God as creator, He is also the sustainer’ of all things. He keeps things going. He keeps all things going. If He didn’t do what He does to keep things going, not only would nothing keep going, nothing would go in the first place. And again, the Bible tells us that He sustains all things by the word of His power!3

He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. Certainly, everything that makes God, God, is essential for Him to be who He is. And who He is includes more than these three characteristics (many of which come up in later questions and answers). But these three characteristics point us in the right direction in thinking about how God is obviously so much not like us or anything else. God is ‘infinite.’4 Infinite means without limit. No boundaries. Another way infinite is understood is unmeasurable. We can’t ever get to the outer edge or the end. That’s God. He is infinite. And that means He is infinite in all that He is. Nothing confines Him. He is also ‘eternal.’5 We already referred to God’s eternality at the beginning. Another way to think about eternal is this: He is infinite with regard to time. God is not bound to time. He is not limited to time. We are, but He is not. Further, God is ‘unchangeable.’6 Or, if you will, He is infinite with regard to stabilityHe doesn’t change, He doesn’t need to change, and He can’t change. He neither develops nor degrades over time. He doesn’t gain anything nor does He lose anything. And who He is as God—with all that makes Him God—doesn’t change. What He is—who He is—He is every moment and forever!

Now think about our verse for a moment. What does who God is require of us? While Revelation 4:11 especially emphasizes that God is the creator (and doesn’t necessarily describe some of the other characteristics from our answer), what is the right response to God as creator? First, there is a right response. That’s included in the opening words: ‘Worthy, are you, our Lord and God…’ He is worthy, or He deserves a certain response. Second, that right response is entirely based upon who God is and what He has done. So what does He deserve? God deserves all ‘glory, honor, and power.’ In short, because of who God is, He deserves to be worshipped. Worshipped by all beings. That includes me. And that includes you.

This is what the Bible teaches about God.

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1 Exodus 3: 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

2 Hebrews 11By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

3 Hebrews 13 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

4 Psalm 135Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

5 Psalm 90Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

6 Malachi 3“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.