If you asked a random dozen people who God is, you’d probably receive a corresponding number of answers—all of them different. The atheist would say, “There is no god,” the agnostic, “We can’t know if there’s a god,” and the materialist, “I don’t need a god.” Even among those who believe in God, there is no consensus on what He’s like. Some people see Him as an indulgent father ready to grant all their requests, while others think He’s a cruel dictator who mistreats anyone who gets out of line. For deists, God is an impersonal force who created the universe but doesn’t interact with His creatures.
The Christian perspective stands apart from all these. We believe God exists and that He cares enough to give us a clear picture of His character, knowledge, and power. Instead of imagining who He is based on our own speculation, education, or experiences, we rely on His self-revelation, which He has displayed in four ways.
First of all, He’s made Himself known through His creation. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” At the time David wrote this psalm, all that was known about the sun, moon, and stars was what could be observed with the human eye, and that alone was enough to leave David in awe of the Lord. Today, we have an even greater perspective thanks to telescopes and satellites. Yet even though our understanding of the amazing order and complexity of these heavenly bodies has increased, many people still choose to rely on human ideas to account for their existence instead of seeing the reality of a wise and powerful Creator who designed and controls this vast and glorious universe.
Romans 1:20 adds, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” From the vastness of the stellar universe to the intricacies of cells and atoms, every created thing testifies to God’s character and might. Who can stand in the face of a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or tidal wave without sensing God’s mighty power? Or who can walk through a forest, climb a mountain, or watch a sunset without marveling at the Creator’s goodness, wisdom, and beauty? If we will merely respond to the proof the Lord has placed all around us, we’ll catch a glimpse of Him and gain understanding of who He is.
Who can stand in the face of a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or tidal wave without sensing God’s mighty power?
The second way God reveals Himself is through our conscience. Romans 1:19 says, “That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” We all have an inner witness to the existence and righteousness of God—our conscience.
Why else does every culture have standards of morality? It’s only because God has given us an inner ability to discern right and wrong. Later on in his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote that even Gentiles, who don’t have the Law, instinctively obey it because it’s written in their heart, and their conscience either accuses or defends them (Romans 2:14-15).
The third avenue of God’s self-revelation is His written Word. The Bible we hold in our hands today contains truth that we could never know apart from God’s direct disclosure. He spoke to people in Old Testament times through His prophets (Heb. 1:1). These prophecies were never made by “an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21). They were controlled and guided by the Spirit to relay exactly what God told them.
Although the writings of Scripture flow from each writer’s own personality and vocabulary, God breathed out His words through their pens. This is what we call inspiration, and according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The Bible was given not only to reveal God, but to guide and transform His people. This is our instruction book for life and eternity.
The fourth way the Lord revealed Himself was through His Son. According to Hebrews 1:2, in these last days, God “has spoken to us in His Son.” The eternal, pre-existent Son of God took on human flesh and came to earth to live among His people. Everything He did revealed the Father’s character, power, and purpose because “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). That’s why Jesus could say to His disciples, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
The issue is not if we have enough revelation from God to give us an accurate understand-ing of Him, but whether we’ll accept what He’s already shown us about Himself. All erroneous perceptions of God flow from suppression of His revealed truth (Rom. 1:18).
My prayer is that as Christians we will make it our ambition to pay attention to every aspect of God’s self-revelation, so we will know and understand clearly who He is.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. Independence Day is a great opportunity to spend time outdoors enjoying God’s amazing creation. If you have a chance to enjoy fireworks against a clear, dark sky, let the heavens remind you of His power, wisdom, and sovereignty. Should the vastness of His creation make you feel insignificant, remember that He loved you enough to send His Son to die for your sins so you could have eternal life.