Talking about God has been a divisive topic in modern culture. While for some people, God is just a force rather than a person, others do not make a difference between the creator and the creation. Nonetheless, from a biblical and Christian perspective, God is not an idea, concept, religion, or a philosophical system. He, instead, is an underived and powerful spiritual person who has always existed from before time. Because of this, there are some necessary aspects one should know about God.
God Has Revealed to Humanity
The knowledge about God is not something human beings need to discover but to receive. God has revealed to the human being He has made known to us through general and special revelation. In its article 1, The Belgic Confession states,
We know God by two means:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: God’s eternal power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20. All these things are enough to convict humans and to leave them without excuse.
Second, God makes himself known to us more clearly by his holy and divine Word, as much as believers need in this life, for God’s glory and for their salvation.
Since biblical revelation is an act performed by God and not by human beings, it is important to distinguish between natural instinct versus God’s self-revelation. As Calvin highlights, natural instinct is an awareness of divinity. In that sense, Paul states, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”((Rom. 1:20, (NIV).)) The purpose of this natural instinct is to make known the human being that there is a God and that this God has created them. Thus throughout His works, God has revealed His existence and glory to humanity. But this natural instinct is intended for all people that God has created. It has a broad purpose —making God known to humanity.
The other way God himself reveals to humanity is through special revelation in the Scriptures where we are told what the natural instinct cannot. In Psalm 19, for example, the Psalmist recognizes that the creation does not say all there is to say about God. Due to the sinful nature of the human soul, all people need the Scriptures in order to understand what God wants them to know about His character, essence, and plans for his people–the plan of salvation and redemption through Christ.
God Is Not A Created Entity
God has revealed himself to humanity and through the Scriptures one learns that he does not belong to the same category as his creatures–he does not have a beginning or an end. He was not created by anyone since he is self-sufficient. He created the earth, the heavens, and the whole universe, as the Scriptures tell us in Genesis 1:1. He is also infinite. From the Scriptures, one also have evidence that God’s character reflects His essence. He is also one as Deuteronomy 6:4 points out, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” He himself exists in three persons – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He is the source of life and sustains the world through his logos.((cf. Hebrew 1:2, John 1:1))
Unbelievers cannot recognize God’s work in His creation because of their sinful nature and not because the creation does not speak of God. This situation is not the case of believers who are able to appreciate and contemplate God’s creation. Thus, biblical revelation relies only on God’s will and not on any human desire.
In relation to all his creatures, God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is strongly involved in creation and all things created give testimony to his power and through nature, this is how we can know God. Since the beginning, God has introduced himself to the world in order that all people can know him as he wants. And Christ was the best example of this desire.
God Acts Freely
Another aspect one should know about how God relates to the world is that he is free in relation to what he has created. That is, God created the universe freely and under his own terms. This is reflected in Leviticus 25:23 when God says, “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” Thus, God created all things for Himself.
Now, I used to question if God relates to the world in the same way the world relates to him. From the Scriptures, one notes that the answer to that question is negative. Although God is not bound by his creation, one appreciates many examples of how God is related to the world–the creation of Adam and Eve, the episode of the burning tree, and the calling of Moses, the Ark of Noah and the salvation of him and his family, etc. In opposition to the way God relates to the world, his creatures cannot do it freely so that it was necessary for God to start the process himself. For that reason, among others, God has given Christ as gift to believers.
God Created Human Kind in His Image
Although humanity can refer to the group of virtues all humans have such as love, kindness, goodness, etc., humanity can also be understood by characteristics that all share as human beings and that make us different from the rest of the creation. Thus, for Christianity, the relation between God and humanity should be explained under the notion of Imago Dei, concept based on the Scriptures in Genesis 1:27 that says, “So God created human kind in his own image.” It is through this concept that the Christian faith has always made a difference between the Creator and the creation, especially the difference between humankind from animals, humankind from objects, humankind from angels, and so on.
God created the world by his wisdom and not arbitrarily. It is not only the universe, but also humanity. And for this reason, theologian David H. Kelsey affirms that in Genesis’ creation story, “The Creator is pictured as immediately and intimately attentive to the well-being of creation (…) In addition, in Genesis the Creator blesses animal creatures.”((David Kelsey, Eccentric Existence, Vol 1 (Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 163.)) This close relationship that God has with his creation not only shows us the care, the wisdom, and the creativeness of God, but also his unique purpose of doing such things. God has harmonically planned everything and issues a value judgment: And God saw that it was good. It is after that moment that everything God had created was according to his wisdom and will. That will–God’s desire of having an intimate communion between Himself and humankind–was later revealed in the New Testament when the Scriptures says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”((Gal. 3:28, (NIV).)) Consequently, God’s creation was not a selfish act, but an act full of generosity.
God Is Trinitarian
Last but not least, when we speak about God, we also need to speak about Trinity. The Father((The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible as well as invisible. (Belgic Confession, Art. 8).)), The Son (or the Logos)((The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father. (BC, Art. 8).)), and the Holy Spirit((The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. (BC, Art. 8).)) is God, thought they are three different persons. In order to understand the Trinity better, it is crucial to understand how God relates to humanity. God relates humanity through the Second Person of Trinity. “This imaging of Trinitarian relations through attachment is the achievement of the incarnation for human life. As the divine image, the second person of the trinity form or pattern, which human life is to be patterned after by way of a close relationship with it,”((Kathryn Tanner, Christ the Key: Current Issues in Theology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 143.)) theologian Kathryn Tanner writes. This means that it is only through Christ that that we can really comprehend the link that exists between the Logos and humanity. Thus, without Christ’s work that introduces us to the Trinitarian relationships, the notion of Trinity would be not understood correctly. Jesus’ work on the cross not only paid the price for the sin, but also, opened the door to us in order we can have access to the Trinitarian life.((Kathryn Tanner, Christ the Key: Current Issues in Theology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 145.)) For this reason, I think that the way we understand God and the Trinity will impact our faith because every person of the Trinity does not relate to humanity by themselves.