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Knowing God

The Apostle John said that we will be like God when we are resurrected.  We know that we will be spirit beings but in what other ways will we be similar? If we are to be like God then it is important we understand just what He is like.  That begs the question - how well do we know our God?

We cannot rely on worldly sources to learn about God because the world simply does not know Him, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (I John 3:1-2).

Many in the world who call themselves ‘Christians’ believe we are to become angels but that is not what Christ said, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34).  This was written in both the Psalms (Psalm 82:6) and the prophets (Isaiah 41:23).

The angels are purpose created ministering spirits.  Mankind is God’s heir, “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews1:13-14).

We are His children and joint heirs with Christ, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17). 

Obviously God hasn’t finished with us yet. What He created in a temporary physical state has yet to be transformed into a perfected spiritual form like Him.

Beyond the Imagination

What God is preparing for mankind that is beyond anything our limited minds can imagine, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9).

We have been created in a physical image of God, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... …So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26-27).  And have the potential to be raised from the dead to be like Him, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:” (I Corinthians 15:42-43).

What is God Like?

God is Holy

We know that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24) and that He is holy, “for the LORD our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9).   He is Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the very essence, nature, mind and power of God.  Holy Spirit is in effect the spiritual DNA of God. It is what He is.

To be holy is to be set apart and it is attributes of His nature that set Him apart from mankind.

Jesus Christ is also set apart from mankind because of that same divine nature, “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:9). 

That divine nature that is in both the Father and Christ can be passed on to us if we repent of our sinful existence and commit to Christ, Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Act 2:38 NKJV). 

It is the Holy Spirit or spiritual DNA of God that will make us His sons and daughters, “…and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17-18). 

His Spirit sets us apart from the rest of the world to become holy by the way we live our lives, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:15-16).

God is Love

The Bible says that God is love, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:16).

His love is manifested through the values that underpin all He does.  Those values are goodness, righteousness and truth, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9).

It is from these Godly values that the following fruits, or behaviours are produced, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23).

To know what God is like we have to live by that same love, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (I John 4:8).  Not just understanding the love He has toward us but to let that love dwell in us, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:16).

We are to live a way that perfects us in His love, Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  We love him, because he first loved us.” (I John 4:17-19).

It is perfected by keeping His commandments “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (I John 5:3).

His commandments require that we love God with all our heart, thoughts and deeds, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30 See our article entitled “Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength”).

They also require that we love our neighbours, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31).   

We are to especially love those in the body of Christ, “…That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (I Corinthians 12:25-27).  

If we are utilizing His Spirit to perfect the love that He has given us then we will love each other regardless of which corporate group or congregation any of us may attend, “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” (I John 4:12-13).

If we claim to love God and don’t love our brothers in whom God’s Spirit dwells, then we deceive ourselves, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (I John 4:20-21). 

We come to know what God is like as His love is manifested in us through His Spirit.

A closer study of the Greek and Hebrew ebrew words translated as ‘goodness’, ‘righteousness’ and ‘truth’ throughout the Bible can help us understand more about what He is like.

God is Goodness

There are two Hebrew words translated as ‘goodness’ in the Old Testament. After studying them in context we have concluded that the first word ‘towb’ mostly refers to goods, people or acts that are kind, pleasing or favourable.  And the second word ‘checed’ often translated as ‘goodness’  is also translated as ‘loving kindness’, ‘kindness’, ‘mercy, ‘merciful’ etc and seems to refer more to the characteristic rather than the action.  It is an inbuilt benevolence that motivates a person to naturally act in a way that benefits others, rather than the act itself. 

In the New Testament the two Greek words ‘agathosune’ and ‘chrestotes’ are both translated as ‘goodness’ with the later also being translated as ‘kindness’.  Their meanings are similar to each other implying a natural virtue, or characteristic of benevolence toward others.

From these definitions we can conclude that God has a strong sense of benevolence that motivates all He does for mankind and what He does is always for our benefit.  It comes from a sincere and unfeigned love for His potential children that is without hypocrisy.

Scripture confirms that we have a very benevolent God whose goodness underpins all that He does, “…I will declare thy greatness.  They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.  The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:6-9).  The Hebrew word ‘channuwn’ translated as ‘gracious’ in this passage also means to bestow kindness on others.  

Every thing He does is for our benefit, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:15).

By giving us His Spirit He is making available to us the same attributes that we must begin to exercise with the same sincerity toward others as He acts toward us, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Romans 11:22). 

If we resist His Spirit and its attributes and do not become like Him then we cannot be part of what He has in store for us.   If we are not motivated to act in kindness toward others, especially the brethren whom we are to love, then we will be excluded from His Kingdom.  

God is Righteousness

Righteousness generally means right behaviour, being ethically and morally correct or upright.   For us righteousness refers to our right behaviour as defined by a set of laws that God has provided.  

But for God righteousness is a natural quality of lawfulness that is part of His very character.   He has an internal sense of rightness that is deeply embedded in who and what He is and it underpins all that He does. 

While we are subject to a set of laws to tell us what God defines as right and wrong, God’s natural righteousness is manifested without any need of law, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:21-23).

He is both the lawmaker and judge, “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” (Isaiah 33:22).   And as lawmaker and judge He will always do what is right, “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). 

The word ‘judge’ translated from the Hebrew word ‘shaphat’ refers to the act of governance.  And the word ‘right’ translated from the Hebrew word ‘misphat’ defines the whole judicial process from which a verdict is derived and executed.  As both the lawmaker and the judge who executes the judgments He will judge the world through a just and fair process.  He is the one who holds all legal authority “…for the judgment is God’s” (Deuteronomy 1:17). 

All that God is and does is based on sound judgment made according to principles of truth and lawfulness that are just and right.  It is in His nature, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

He goes to great lengths to maintain the integrity of the law which is why Jesus Christ had to die to pay the penalty for our sins. 

He created the law to show us where we fall short of what He is. 

Because human nature has been a mixture of good and evil which we have all inherited from our first parents Adam and Eve (Genesis 3.22) we are under Satan’s influence and by nature unrighteous until God intervenes. 

The law reveals how that unrighteousness is manifested in our behaviour, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  (Romans 3:20).

Obedience to the law may change our behaviour but it does not change what we are.  It addresses the effect but not the cause.  The cause of our unrighteousness is our human nature that has been corrupted with evil.

The Pharisees diligently kept the law which gave them a form of self-righteousness but it did not make them righteous in God’s eyes.  It did not give them the natural quality of righteousness that would change their very nature.  It did not make them like God.

Obedience can be achieved through wrong motivation.  People can obey the law because they fear punishment for disobedience or because compliance with the law gives them certain advantages.  Although they may appear to be law-abiding their minds may still have evil intent and it does not change what they are.

As was the case with the Pharisees, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:2-3).

They were diligent in keeping the law but did not have the faith to believe in the one who could give them the righteousness of God, “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.  Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;  As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 9:31-33).

If we are to be like God then our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20).

God is the only one able to save us from what we are, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy…” (James 4:12). 

His Spirit must replace the corrupted spirit in man so that His righteousness can be perfected in us.   To receive that Spirit we must through faith believe and trust in Christ who can give it to us.  “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 NKJV).

It is that Spirit that gives us the quality of lawfulness that is God’s righteousness.

It is a righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

God is Truth

God’s natural value of truth is not limited to ‘the truth’ as in doctrinal, prophetic accuracy it is about being true.

The Greek word ‘Aletheia’ translated as ‘truth’ means something that is genuine and authentic according to a set standard.  Anything measured against that standard is either true or false but the word also has a much wider application that we need to consider. 

It can mean accuracy, sureness and unerring as in aim.  When something is true it meets a standard, or aligns with a target that could be anything from a set of beliefs to a standard of behaviours, or the purity of a product etc. 

In the building trade a wall is considered ‘true’ when it is aligned perpendicularly with a plumb line.  We are true when we align with the standards God sets.

God is ‘truth’ in the sense that His character is the standard of the morals and ethics to which humanity is to aspire and against we are to be aligned, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).

His moral purity is beyond question.  He is free from all evil and cannot abide evil, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.” (Psalm 5:4). 

His laws reflect that moral purity by which human behaviour is to be governed both ethically and sexually.   It is against this standard that we are measured.  But as Christ pointed out perfection goes beyond the mere letter of the law, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…” (Matthew 5:21-22).  And, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Clearly if we are to be like God then emotions and desire must be pure in motivation which is something we cannot achieve unless we have His Holy Spirit to give us his attribute of truth and put it into practice.

If we are to be like Him then we must also come not only to avoid evil but to hate and abhor all forms of evil as He does, “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil...” (Psalm 97:10).  Also, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” (Romans 12:9).

He measured ancient Israel against the standards He set for them and because they were not aligned He did not allow them to continue without correction, “Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.  And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:” (Amos 7:7-8).

We, who are the temple of God, are to be measured against His standards before Christ returns so that any correction that is necessary will be made, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” (Revelation 11:1).

God is interested in how we utilise His Spirit to become aligned with Him so we cannot afford to let that Spirit be quenched by the cares of this world.

Goodness and Righteousness Manifested in the Creation

Our God lovingly created an awesome environment of carefully crafted and intricate beauty for our benefit.   

Everything He created was very good, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).      The full meaning of the Hebrew words translated as ‘very good’ implies that it was exceedingly beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, joyful, precious, favourable and beneficial to those for whom it was created.  

It was an expression of God’s goodness and love for the ones who are to become His heirs.

It does not take much to detect the hallmark of God’s righteousness throughout that creation. 

He has not only given us the moral laws governing human behaviour that most of us are familiar with but He has created a myriad of laws governing all aspects of the creation.   Everything from the most minute inanimate particles and living cells to the gigantic solar systems in the vast expanse of the universe are governed by laws that God has set in place.  They not only govern structure but also behaviour and how things interact with each other.   His intrinsic lawfulness is revealed in the creation, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20).

It takes only a short study of the fascinating science of mathematical patterns in nature to see the stamp of God’s character.  There is not room enough in this article to describe the incredible laws of mathematic, physics, chemistry and biology that exist to determine content, shape and behaviour of everything in this entire creation.  A quick Google search for ‘random patterns in nature’ or ‘mathematical patterns’ will produce an amazing amount of information on this fascinating subject .

Scientists realise that there is lot still yet to discover about these laws that express the righteousness of God, but they will not acknowledge God as the author, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” (Romans 1:21-20).

Just as the transgression of moral law has consequences, so too does the transgression of any other law.  For example if we defy the law of gravity by jumping off a high cliff the consequences are immediately obvious.  But what is not so immediately obvious is when we break the laws that control genetic structures like DNA and in doing so unleash irreversible damage to human life and the environment. 

The transition of animal viruses to human beings, whether by genetic modification, or through consumption of unclean foods can have a devastating effect as we are now witnessing with plagues from genetically modified viruses.  God has put laws in place for our benefit and when we transgress them we have to suffer the consequences.

We were meant to protect and preserve as well cultivate and crop the resources God provided for man on this earth, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15).  The Hebrew word ‘shamar’ translated as ‘keep’ means to protect, guard or attend.   We have a responsibility to protect, guard and attend to the incredible resources that our benevolent God has given us the creation to use with the right methods of husbandry rather than to abuse for the purposes of sheer greed. 

The transgression of law is sin - it means to be lawless, acting outside the law which brings death and destruction not only upon humanity but upon the creation.   God has given us laws based on the premise of cause and effect and while the transgression of moral laws results in the death of the individual there is also an effect on humanity that comes from transgression of the laws that govern our environment that can eventually lead to the death and destruction of all living matter. 

Tragically we are reaping the consequences of our human behaviour that has defied God’s laws and we are about to witness the results of famine, war and plague on an unprecedented scale that will destroy a quarter of this world’s population, And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8).

Those who maintain that Christ came to do away with law could not be further from the truth of the matter.  He came not to destroy the law but to fulfil it in all of us, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17).

If we are to be like God then we too must not only be right with Him but we must become like Him with a natural righteousness, or lawfulness that guides all that we do.

Conclusion

God has created humanity with the potential to be like Him, not only in form but also in mind and character.

If we submit to Him then through His Holy Spirit He will give us the three attributes of goodness, righteousness and truth in which He is established to produce fruit in the form of behaviours that meet the standards He has set by His own character, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Once His character is formed in us what was created corruptible can then become incorruptible like Him, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Corinthians 15:52-53).

This is a result of His incredible benevolence which is genuine and without hidden motives.   He gives us His own inherent attributes because He knows what is best for us. 

 He has set a standard of lawfulness and integrity that is based on His own moral purity and give us the means to achieve the same so we will be like Him. 

 Those standards and goals are also manifest in His son Jesus Christ which adds meaning to what Paul meant when He said, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

If we are like Him then we can exist forever but to be like Him we must know what He is like.

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Lost Ten Tribes

Is the identity of the lost ten tribes of Israel relevant?  See our article Children of the Promises 

Do you know

the difference between the law and a covenant?  Or the difference between commandments, statutes and judgments?  If not make sure you read see our Bible Study on God's Law   

Have You Considered

Jesus Christ said that no one has seen or heard his Father.  So who spoke to Abraham, Moses, Isaac and Jacob?  To find out make sure you read our article - Who Spoke.

Do you know who the two witnesses will be?   See our article -  The Two Witnesses.

Will you be part of the bride of Christ? - See our article - Bride of Christ.

Points to Ponder

When we take of the wine and bread in rembrance of Christ's sacrifice are we observing Passover, or the Lord's Supper?  Is there a diference between the two?  If so - what is that diference?

Be sure to read our article on 'The Truth About Passover'

As you are preparing to celebrate the Lord's Supper you may also want to read our new article 'Examine Yourself'