Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of God

Doctrine God 

What does the Bible teach about God?

Question What else is God like?

Answer God is spirit and cannot be seen by anyone. He is great and perfect in all He is and in all His ways. He is holy, wise, powerful, right, good, and true.

Scripture Exodus 15:11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

Explanation| We’re almost done looking at the doctrine of God. But that doesn’t mean we’ve covered everything that the Bible teaches about Him. Not even close! While over the course of these questions and answers we’ve summarized some of what the Bible says about God, this is just the beginning. Keep reading and studying your Bible, learning more about God every day, and ask questions and learn from those who know their Bibles and faithfully follow Him. But before we move on to another doctrine, here are a few more descriptions of what God is like.

God is spirit. You and I have physical bodies. God does not. We are both physical and spiritual—meaning, each of us has a body and a soul (or spirit). God is only spirit.1 And He always has been and always will be only spirit. What this means is that He doesn’t have a shape or form, He’s not made up of molecules, and He cannot be seen.2 God further tells us that, both because He is spirit and because as spirit He is God, we who are not like Him can’t see Him and live (Exodus 33:20). Because we are so used to experiencing life as physical beings, we might think that, as spirit, God can’t experience things like we do or is somehow less real than we are. But, the opposite is actually true—He’s limited by nothing, and He’s more real than we are, for He’s the very substance and source of all life. So, what about when the Bible talks about God’s eyes, ears, hands or arms, and feet (or even nose, Psalm 18:8, 15)? Because we are physical beings and are far inferior to God (including in our ability to understand), He often describes Himself in ways that we can understand. He uses physical features which He does not have (and does not need) to describe what is no less true of Him to help us understand that He does, for example, see, hear, and reach out, just not physically. Why does it matter that we know God is spirit? Well, this is what God is, and we should always want to know God accurately. But even more, if this is what God is, then we should not make for ourselves (either by our hands or by our imagination) any form of Him that is anything less than what He truly is. Further, if this is what God is, then we should look to Jesus Christ, who is the way God has planned for us to we see and know Him.3

God is great and perfect. These two characteristics of God help us understand the fullness of all that God is. He is great.4 And, He is perfect.5 What is great-ness? We often use great to refer to things that are big, big especially in comparison with other things (like an elephant compared to a mouse). And while we do think of bigness in terms of physical size, we also think of bigness in other ways as well. For example, when we say that an activity or a gift is great, we aren’t saying that it is physically big, but that it is big in terms of it’s meaning, value, or impact. To be sure, God is big—the biggest being of all beings and all things. Yet, He’s not physically big. Rather, He’s big—or great—in the sense that nothing comes close to the immensity of who He is, what He has done, and what He can do. There’s nowhere where He is not. There’s nothing that He cannot do. And, there is no one who is like Him. How do you describe these characteristics of God, except with the word great? He is great in all He is as God, which includes being great in all of His individual characteristics. So, for example, we are told that God is love (1 John 4:8). And because He is great, He is also great in love and His love is great (Psalm 57:10). What about perfect? God is great and perfect. It’s one thing for something to be big. It’s another thing for that same thing to be absolutely perfect in all that it is. We use perfect to describe something that has no flaws, no mistakes, no blemishes. Perfect means being exactly what a thing needs to be in order to be best of its kind. Perfection means you can’t improve on it. It couldn’t be any better. And that’s God. He’s the best that He could be. He’s the best that anything could be. And so, He’s the perfect standard of best-ness, too—all things measure up to Him. He is always perfect, and His ways are always perfect. There is no error in Him and no error in anything that He does. Like His greatness, God’s perfection describes Him as God, but it also describes His individual characteristics. So again, take His love for example. He is perfect, which means His love is also perfect. Unlike our love, His love never falters, fails, or fumbles. It’s always perfect, exactly what it should be.

God is holy, wise, powerful, right, good, and true. We round out this question with six additional characteristics about God. There are certainly more characteristics mentioned in the Bible (including, as we noted above, the love of God), but some of them will come up later when we explore other doctrines. For now, we’ll briefly discuss these: God is holy.6 What is holiness? Holiness means separated from all sin, for purity and honor. It also includes the idea of being not ordinary or common, but special. God is also wise.7 Wisdom is knowing what to do and how to do it. But even more, God, in His wisdom, knows what is best to do—in any situation, with anything—and how best do it. And then, He actually does what is best. God is powerful.8 Power is the ability to do something. The Bible tells us that not only is God powerful, He is all-powerful. There is no one stronger than Him, and there is nothing too difficult for Him. Further, God is right.9 When the Bible talks about right-ness (or, righteousness or even justice), it means there is a right way and a wrong way. For God to be righteous means that He always does what is right, and He is always the standard for what is right, and in the end, He will make sure everything is handled rightly. God is also good.10 What is goodness? While we may use good frequently, it’s not the easiest to define. Ultimately, goodness is the quality of being worthy of praise or approval. It is being and doing that which is fitting, appropriate, and well-pleasing. And, like all of His characteristics, God’s goodness means that He determines what is good, and He is a good-doing God. Finally, God is true.11 We’ve already seen that God is the only true God. But even further, for God to be true means that He is both truthful and faithful. He never lies, He is the final standard of all truth, and He is completely trustworthy. We can—and should—always take Him at His word, knowing that He’ll always keep His word.

This is what the Bible teaches about God.

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1 John 424 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

2 1 Timothy 616 Who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (See also, 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 John 4:20)

3 John 118 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (See also, John 6:46; 1 John 3:2)

4 Deuteronomy 1017 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (See also, Deuteronomy 7:21; Psalm 35:27; 47:2; 86:10; 95:3; 96:4)

5 Deuteronomy 32“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” (See also, Psalm 18:30; Matthew 5:48)

6 Isaiah 6And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (See also, Leviticus 10:10; 11:45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:8; Psalm 77:13)

7 Romans 1133 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (See also, Psalm 104:24; Romans 16:27)

8 Jeremiah 3217 “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (See also, Psalm 62:11; 66:3; 68:35; 147:5; Jeremiah 10:12; 27:5; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37)

9 Psalm 11For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. (See also, Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Chronicles 12:6; Job 37:23; 40:2, 8; Psalm 7:11, 17; 89:14; 116:5; 119:137, 142; 145:17; Isaiah 45:19)

10 Psalm 100For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (See also, Psalm 25:8; 31:19; 34:8; 84:11; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 119:68; 135:3; 145:9)

11 John 1717 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (See also, 2 Samuel 7:28; 22:31; Jeremiah 10:10-11; Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 30:5; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18)