Questions about God

 

Contents:

Who is God and Where Did He Come From?

One God vs. "Us" in Genesis 1:26

The Names of God

"Lord" or "Jehovah?"

Proving the Existence of God

Are All Gods the Same?

Can a Loving God Destroy People?

 

Who is God and where did he come from?

Question: "Who is God and where did he come from?"

Answer: That’s a big question and there is no way that I could answer it fully. But I will make a start.

The Bible begins with the line: "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth." In just a few pen strokes Moses reveals several things about God:

1) God was in existence in the beginning—that is, before the Earth was here.

2) He is wonderfully powerful in that He created both the Heavens and the Earth.

3) As Creator, He is the source of all that is.

The apostle John enlarges a little bit on this in the first verses of his gospel:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

The phrase, "In the beginning . . ." comes from a Greek expression that would be better translated "In beginning . . ." This is much more indefinite than the English. It has the connotation of, "When everything that had a beginning began, the Word already was."

John makes it plain in verse 14 that the Word is the one and only Son of God, which we know from John 3:16 to be our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And John is adamant in the first three verses that, even though the Word is a distinct being from God, yet the Word is God.

So when Moses wrote the words "In the beginning, God . . . ," the designation "God" included both the Father and the Son. And Genesis 1:2 adds: ". . . the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Thus Moses and John reveal to us that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit were all involved in the Creation.

Now if God was in existence before anything was created . . . in all the universe . . . He must have been around a long time. Astronomers have measured star systems at a distance of 12 billion light years. And there’s no telling how far the universe goes beyond that. God created all these things, so He’s been around for a very long time. I believe we can safely say that there never was a time when God was not. He has lived on into eternity past, and will continue to live on into eternity future.

It’s important to note what John said in 1:4 "In him was life, . . ." God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is the source of all life. And Heb.1:3 states that "The Son is . . . sustaining all things by his powerful word." God didn’t create the cosmos and then leave it on its own. No, he sustains it—He keeps it going, continues the life of the beings He has created along with all the plants and animals on the planet . . . and throughout the universe.

So, Who is God? He’s the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Creator and Sustainer of not only our planet, but the entire universe. Where did He come from? He’s always been here—from eternity past.

Two other Biblical passages that speak of this subject:

Col 1:14-17 [The Son is the one] ". . . in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

Heb 1:1-3 "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."

 

One God vs. "Us" in Genesis 1:26

Question: Why, if there is only one God, does it say in Gen. 1:26: "And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...?"

Answer: There is only one God. Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD."

But Genesis 1:26 does use the words "us" and "our." And Genesis 3:22 mentions it again: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, . . ."

Isaiah agrees with this concept by describing the expected Messiah in these words:

Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

The child who is to be born to us―that would make him a human child―would be "the mighty God." John helps us to understand this concept better:

John 1:1:1-4, 14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

Here we see two distinct divine persons who together form a divine unity. Yes, God is one. But the one God consists of at least two persons. And the One described as the "Word" "was made flesh and dwelt among us . . . the only begotten of the Father." And John 3:16 refers to Jesus as the "only begotten Son." So Jesus is God--He created all thingsand then God (the Father) is God too. Sound confusing. Matthew helps clear this up and also presents a third person as belonging to what Paul calls the "Deity." (Colossians 2:9 (NIV) "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,")

Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"

These three equal Persons make up the One we call "God." There is a lot that we do not understand about this, and we may never really understand it. I suppose this may be why Paul calls it "the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;" (Colossians 2:2)

The Names of God

Question: Why does the Bible use so many names for God?

Answer: There is much more to the name(s) of God that we will ever be able to understand.

In ancient times names were given to describe apparent character traits. e.g. Jacob means "usurper," "deceiver." This custom, of course, was used by the prophets in their descriptions of Godby divine direction. Thus to Moses God used the Name "YHWH" (rendered "Jehovah" in the King James Version, and "Yahweh" in many others). This name is translated in many versions as "I AM" and describes God's eternal existence.

Elohim" is used almost as many times in the Hebrew Bible as is the proper Name "YHWH." The word is used in the plural, describing more than two individuals. This leads to the idea that "Elohim" refers to three or moreProtestants would say that it is an evidence of the trinity in the Old Testament--perhaps the reason the Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to accept "Elohim" as describing "Jehovah." (This is not PROOF of the trinity, only an evidence.)

These two names are often used in tandem to emphasize a particular trait, such as YHWH Elohim which is often translated "Lord God."

There are also many other character traits of God that are explained by names given Him:

"El" was a common name used by many nations to designate their god. The Hebrews also used it extensively to refer to the deity as "God."

"Elyon" "the most high God"

"Eloah" is a singular of "Elohim"

"'El-'Elohe-Israel" = "God is the God of Israel" (Gen 33:20)

"YHWH-jireh" = "the Lord provides" (Gen 22:8, 14)

"YHWH-nissi" = "the Lord is my banner" (Ex 17:15)

"YHWH-shalom" = "the Lord is peace" (Judges 6:24)

"YHWH-tsidkenu" = "The Lord is our righteousness" (Jer. 23:6)

"YHWH-shammah" = "The Lord is there" (Ezk 48:35)

And the list could go on, as there are many other character traits of God that are described in Scripture by the use of names. I suggest that you go to the library and get a good Bible dictionary and look up "God, names of" and discover others by yourself.

 

"Lord" or "Jehovah"

Question: In the Christian Bible the name of God is often printed as "LORD god" but in some translations it uses the form "Jehovah god." Which is correct?

Answer: During the times when the King James Version was being translated, the translators were unaware of--or chose to ignore--the tradition of the Jews not to pronounce the name of God because of its sacredness. The Hebrew name for God in the original is "YHWH." The Jews pronounced the word "adonai," "Lord," whenever the 4-letter word appeared.

The original manuscripts written by Moses and the prophets did not have any vowels. So the scribes who copied the manuscripts put in various dots and slashes (jots and tittles-see Matt. 5:17-19) to help those who read them in the Synagogues know how to pronounce the words.

When the scribes came to "YHWH"—the sacred, unpronounceable word-they wrote in the vowel marks for "adonai." The Synagogue readers would then pronounce the word "adonai" instead of Yahweh, which scholars believe is the actual pronunciation of the word. So when the KJV people came to "YHWH" with the vowel marks for "adonai" they did the best they could to transliterate the name, and came up with "Jehovah."

But the KJV crew didn't always write it as Jehovah, as it appeared so frequently as to make for difficult reading. So they rendered it as "LORD" with all capitol letters (sometimes a large L with ORD in small capitol letters). Other translators have followed their style.

God is referred to by many names in the OT. Not only "YHWH" (Yahweh) and "adonai," (Lord) but also by "el" [singular] and "elohim" [plural-three or more] (God). The three are used roughly equally throughout the OT. There are translation rules for the rendering of two of them together, such as LORD God (Yahweh elohim) or Lord God (adonai elohim), etc. But that's another subject.


Proving the Existence of God

Question: How Can You Prove That God Exists?

Answer: Simply speaking: You cannot prove God's existence. You can't touch God, feel Him, see Him, hear Him . . . there is no scientific way to prove that God exists.

But before you turn off your computer or log onto some adventure game, let me say this: There is abundant evidence that God exists.

The best evidence of the existence of God lies in the natural world. Take a look at the intricacy and beauty of flowers, the leaves on the trees, the functionality of insects, the seeming intelligence of ants, bees, and dolphins, the marvelous organism we call the human being. All these give ample evidence of a Master Designer. How could such things come about by natural selection . . . regardless of the amount of time? We can understand this better, perhaps, by comparing natural selection to a cat walking repeatedly over a computer keyboard and producing the Constitution of the United States! But God created an entire world full of interacting creatures and plants that depend on each other so intricately that with the loss of one the whole is affected. And add to that the sun, planets, stars, galaxies―the entire solar system. There must be a God to make all this―a Being far more intelligent and powerful than the "big bang."

Another evidence of the existence of God is the Bible. Today we can't get even a dozen reporters to agree with each other on what took place at a crime scene. But God called on 40 writers over a period of 1500 years―from every occupation and station of life, from shepherd to king. And in the major teachings that relate to our relationship with God, they all agree. How can this be―unless there were a Master Mind choreographing the entire scheme. Each writer wrote what was shown to him, in his own language, incorporating his own personality, and drawing from his own knowledge . . . and yet he agreed perfectly, in doctrine, with all the others. And as we study the Bible we find themes that are difficult or impossible for us to understand, something you would not find in a book designed and written by mere human beings. If we could understand everything, we'd know it was merely a human book. But no, the Bible―while abundantly clear in its basic teachings to anyone who studies it―generates ideas that are far beyond human understanding. I believe that all this is very good evidence of the existence of God.

Another, almost unfathomable evidence, is the love displayed in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The Bible tells us over and over again that Jesus was human―and yet divine in every way. The Gospel of John, together with the books of Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews, point out that Jesus is the Messiah, God Himself in human flesh, the Creator of all that is―and yet a humble, itinerant teacher who was essentially homeless. And yet He submitted to His Father in such an unassuming way that He left His throne in Heaven, stepped onto the battlefield of sin that we call earth, became like His own creatures, lived through Satan's temptations, through persecutions of every kind, and finally suffered humiliation and death on the cross. If that isn't love I don't know what is! But He rose from the grave, and after 40 days ascended back to Heaven to work full-time for us so that we can rise from the grave at His second coming. If that isn't love I don't know what is!

There are many other evidences of the existence of God, but these are three of the major ones. I suggest you study these evidences. I believe the reality of God will grow in your consciousness―just as it has in mine.

 

Are All Gods the Same?

Question: Are all gods the same? and where in the Bible does it refute this?

Answer: I can assure you that all gods are not the same. Look at these passages of Scripture.

1 Cor 8:5, 6 (NIV) For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

Throughout Scripture you'll find that there were many gods worshiped by the nations. But there is only One Who is truly God—the Creator of Heaven and Earth. (The word "LORD," when it appears in all capital letters, or as a capital letter followed by small caps, designates the personal Name of God, and is translated from the Hebrew "Yahweh.")

Psa 96:5-9 (NIV) For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

Jer 10:11-16 (NIV) Tell them this: These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens. But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance—the LORD Almighty is his name.

You'll notice that the only true God among all the gods, is the LORD, who made everything that is.

God makes this same claim in the ten commandments. The first four commandments deal with the relationship we have with God and the way we should show reverence for Him; the last six deal with our relationships with our fellow men. We'll look only at the first four as they speak directly to your question:

Exo 20:1-11 (NIV) And God spoke all these words: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

God identifies Himself to the Israelites as the One Who rescued them from Egypt. Then He speaks ten "words" that describe what He is like and what we should become like as well.

Commandment 1. Warns His people not to worship any other God. Yahweh is the only God.

Commandment 2. Commands that they refrain from making any kinds of images for the purpose of worship. It doesn't make any difference what the image is: refuse to bow down to it. And we need to keep in mind that anything that holds a larger place in our lives than our relationship with God becomes an idol that we unwittingly worship.

Commandment 3. Yahweh requires that we reverence His name, that we refrain from doing or saying anything that will bring disrepute upon Him.

God's Name describes Who He is.

Exo 3:14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

God's name: "I AM" is usually rendered Jehovah in the KJV, but most scholars believe it should be rendered "Yahweh."

We need to go beyond the misuse of God's name "Yahweh" or any of the other names by which He is known—God, Jesus, Christ, etc.—and refrain from saying anything else that will cause us and/or others to think less of Him. Such trite expressions as "O my God!" "Jesus Christ!" "For Christ's sake!" and many others, when used, often can lessen our feeling of reverence toward our Creator.

Commandment 4. Reminds God's people of the Sabbath—the seventh day of the week. God requires that they rest on the Sabbath, even as He rested on the seventh day at the close of the creation of the world. And notice that He identifies Himself in connection with the Sabbath. He commands that we keep the Sabbath because it points us to the Creator, the God of Heaven and Earth. It keeps before our minds the truth that God created the world in seven literal 24-hour days. Someone Who has that kind of power demands our attention, our reverence, our worship.

I could show you dozens of other references in the Bible where God claims our worship on the grounds that He created us and everything in the universe. And, as you can see in 1 Cor. 8.5, above, He also makes it plain that the Son—Whom we know as Jesus—worked closely together with Him in the creation of this world. (see also John 1:1-3, 10, 14; Heb. 1:1-3; Col. 1:17, etc.)

Give up other gods. Worship the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Worship the God who knit you together in your mother's womb, who gave you life and breath, and everything that you need to live a happy life.

 

Can a Loving God Destroy People?

Question: Some of my friends think that God's Character is love, and that He can not and will not destroy. They say that when the word destroy is used it means that God takes his hand of protection away from them and either sin or natural causes destroys them. Can a loving God really destroy people?

Answer: Thank you for your question about the Character of God. This is a question so broad that we could never understand it all—and never will, even in eternity.

However, there is much that is revealed about God in the Bible.

Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

There is no question that the Bible teaches that God is love.

John 3:16, 17 "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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

1 John 4:7-9 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

 

But, as any parent can tell you, there is a point where love must display itself in acts of violence—such as spanking, etc. God too, has this kind of love.

Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Why did Jesus come to this earth? Why did He walk among men for 33 ½ years and then allow them to nail Him to the cross? Why did He die?

Mat 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

John 3:16, 17 "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.

 

Jesus came to save us from our sins. If sin was so awful that it required the Life of God's only son, wouldn't you think that God would hate sin? Absolutely! And what about people who cling to sin (which God hates) and won't let go of it? They then would become His enemies, and in destroying sin, He would of necessity have to destroy them.

I don't believe that God wants any of His children to die. God loved Hitler just as much as he loves you. But Hitler made a devil out of himself, and his sins hurt an awful lot of people. I'm sure God was angry at him for that.

And He is angry against everyone else who makes devils of themselves because of the sins they commit. How do I know? Take your concordance and look at all the texts that mention the wrath or the anger and vengeance of God. What was the result of God's wrath as it pertained to those who caused it? Look at just a few:

Num 11:33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.

To the question, why was God angry with His people?

Deut 29:24-28 . . . Why this fierce, burning anger?" And the answer will be: "It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the Lord's anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath the LORD uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now."

2 Ki 22:17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.'

Rev 6:15, 16 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.

In scores of places throughout Scripture (almost half of them in the Psalms) God's anger is pictured as destroying the wicked—those of the world, or among His own people. The seven last plagues are the final outpouring of God's wrath upon sinners before the coming of Christ.

Rev 16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth."

We cannot attribute such things as seas, rivers, and springs turning to blood to the sinfulness of men. We cannot say that the hailstorm with gargantuan stones are merely the result natural causes. I've known hail as big as grapefruit, but 100 pounds? I don't think so.

But the final clincher to me is that God will destroy both sin and sinners in the fires of hell, and I don't think we can attribute a world-engulfing fire like that which destroyed Sodom to be the result of natural causes. Where does the fire come from?

Rev 20:9 (KJV) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

What is the fuel?

Isa 34:9 Edom's [God's enemies] streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch!

The ultimate display of God's wrath toward sin is made manifest on that day. God hates sin, and He hates everyone who has so fully attached themselves to it that they can no longer be separated from it. Their condition is described by Hosea:

Hosea 4:17 Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!

I once believed in the theory that God never hurt anyone because of His great love toward them. But the more Bible texts I had to interpret to mean differently than they literally read, the more uncomfortable I felt with that theory.

Then I realized that God loves His children so much that in order to protect them from the continual presence of sinners, He has to destroy both sin and sinners. God must purge this universe of every trace of sin so that He can display His love toward all those who have never sinned, and toward all who have been saved by the blood of Christ. And if man chooses to hang onto sin rather than to become a child of God . . . woe be unto him.