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Understanding the Person and Nature of God

Part 1(a):

By Clovis E. Miller

John 14:21

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him."

I Cor. 2:14

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

Deut. 6:4

"Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one."(NKJV)

I have heard the statement made: "If you think you know who God is, think again". This statement seems to be quite conclusive, and implies that any attempt to know the person of God is ultimately an exercise in futility. While it is true that we cannot grasp the totality of God's person; it is still possible for us to gain better insights into who He is; and by doing so, enhance our own understanding of who we are. One thing is for certain: We cannot know more about God than He will permit us to know.

There is obviously a limit to the amount, or depth of truth which finite beings are capable of comprehending. Only God comprehends all truth, because TRUTH is of the very essence of who He is. The aim and hope in this article is, that we may have a better understanding; not a total understanding. The whole point of seeking to know the truth is that we might find our proper place before God who made us. To find the ultimate limit at which we are created to function; and in doing so, being totally fulfilled at that position. This should be the very goal of our existence. In that, God is totally glorifed; because if we exist in that position, His purposes and will for the creation which has come forth from Him will be completely realized. The degree to which a believer is filled by the Holy Spirit, will be manifested by the hunger they have for the truth. The Holy Spirit is "...the Spirit of Truth;..." (John 14:16-17,26); and He will reveal truth to us at the level at which we are open to receive it. Truth is not based on opinion, nor is it arrived at through the democratic process; but on the certainty of its reality as an established fact.

What does the Bible actually have to say about God's person and nature? What conclusions can we draw from the information which is presented to us: and why was it presented to us in the first place? How can we as finite individuals possibly relate to the infinite being of our creator? In this article, I will probe into these and other questions, by presenting for the reader's consideration, a layman's understanding of the person and nature of God. If you disagree with any or all, of this understanding, that's OK. I'm not trying to be dogmatic about the concepts put forth herein. Scripture stands on its own merit; you can think and do what you will with my opinion. Also, if you find portions of this article to be somewhat repetitive, please bear with me. Eliminating those instances, has proven to be quite difficult, without interefering in the explanation of certain ideas. Having said that, let us begin.

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The greatest reality of all realities is, that God is real. Whether, or not, we are willing to concede this as being a statement of truth, will ultimately reflect our feelings as to who has control over our very existence: ourselves, or someone outside of ourselves. Having personally accepted this statement as being true, I will put forth an explanation as to why I believe that to be so.

From Scripture, we can understand that God is the origin of life, time, truth, love, purity, righteousness, personhood, individuality and every other positive quality that is knowable by us. God not only has love, but He "is love". He not only has holiness, but He "is holiness". He not only has life, but He "is life" (John 14:6). These traits are among the many which make up the very essence of "who God is". How they are connected or bound together as essential components of His being, is unknowable by us. Just as we exist beyond the set of characteristics which make our existence apparent to others; the person of God must also exist beyond the set of qualities which make His person apparent. In this study, I ultimately had to conclude that the absolute essence of who God is, is:

"Oneness"


from which all evident qualities of His being emerge. This is the very declaration of Deut. 6:4 (KJV). In the New King James Version it is probably more accurately translated as:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!"

The word "one", in this verse, is from the Hebrew word pronounced: "ekh-awd' " (Strongs Concordance #259); and is translated as, "united (one) and first". When speaking of "united", or the unity of God, it is speaking of all of the attributes of God being in perfect harmony, In being "first", we can understand, that absolutely nothing else can dynamically exist until He declares it to have that characterisitc (Ps. 33:6-9 ; Rev. 1:8 ; Col. 1:17).

I also had to concede, and without finding contradiction, that there exists a plurality within that oneness (Gen. 1:26). His oneness is the totality of who He is; and the plurality is the substance of that oneness.

Within the totality of who God is, are attributes which are both personal and "impersonal". As examples: In both the Old and New Testaments, the personal attributes of God are expressed through such words as, "Father", "Son" and "Holy Spirit". Truth is a unique personification of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26 ; John 15:26). Attributes such as love, mercy, holiness, etc., on the otherhand, are not expressed as persons, but as the "fabric" which makes up the very being of that which is expressed as personal. So, while love, mercy, holiness, etc., are a part of who God is, they are expressions, not of co-existent personhood, but of the qualities which permeate the totality of His being. In Christian Theology, the Doctrine of the Trinity expresses the idea that within the oneness of His being, God is simultaneously: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (just as surely as He is simultaneously, love, holiness and life). All characteristics, or attributes, of God are in perfect harmony with each other, so that the existence of any one does not preclude the existence of all others. Individuality is the harmonizing of all the components that makes each one of us who and what we are.

As mentioned above, time is an eternal quality of the very nature and person of God. It is not something that exists as seperate from Him. In the same manner as it is written in Scripture: "...God is love" (I John 4:7-8); we may also conclude that God is time ("I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending..." - Rev. 1:8). Time is the first revealed attribute of the personhood of God. For lack of a better way of stating it: Time is like the thread which binds all other characteristics or attributes of God's person together. It totally permeates His being, and is the medium through which the whole of creation is manifested. God alone, is the source, possessor, and disseminator of time.

What we understand to be "the realm of time", actually encompasses two aspects of God's person: essence and revelation. In human terms, these might be likened to the difference between thought and speech: that which is known (essence), and that which is declared to be known (revelation). Even then, in human terms, that which is known is knowable only by reasoning. With God however, knowledge exists as both divine essence and divine revelation (unexpressed and expressed reality). As thought precedes speech, so does essence precede revelation. The unexpressed eternal knowledge of God (essence), is the original form of all entities which have been, or ever will be created. In other words, prior to becoming expressions of existence residing in dynamic time, all created things have their origin as part of the eternal knowledge of God. There was never a point at which any part of His eternal knowledge about a particular entity was non-existant, or unknown to Him. God doesn't create or acquire knowledge. He is the possessor and disseminator of all knowledge. Creation is the orderly sequential dissemination of the eternal knowledge of God.

It might be helpful to understand that the word "eternal" is actually not a time related word, in the sense in which we think about time; although time exists as a quality within the eternal essence of who God is. Eternal is more about the existence of One who has no beginning or ending, thus our linear perception of meaurable time is not a valid consideration in the understanding of His existence. The word "everlasting", on the otherhand, is a time related word, pointing to the revelation of divine essence (knowledge), which begins at a specific point by His declaration. God's revelation about the existence of a particular entity (person or thing), gives that entity dynamic status, from the point of revelation. The entity exists no longer solely as the knowledge of God, but as a dynamic expression of His power and purpose. In the New Testament, the two words (eternal and everlasting) are used interchangeably as translations of the Greek word, "Aion" (Strong's #166). In the Old Testament, the word "Eternal" (Strong's #6924) is used only once (De. 33:27). In Isa. 60:15, it is also translated as "eternal" (Strong's #5769). The context there however, is that of an ongoing condition which has a beginnning: "I will make thee an eternal excellency..." (Emphasis is mine). Virtually all other renditions are (Strong's #5769), and used as "everlasting". The short of it is: that God is both eternally present (having no beginning or ending); and everlastingly present by virtue of the fact, that His existence was declared or revealed to be at a specific point, at which, time as we understand it was initiated. We, as cognizant individuals, are also everlastingly present (having a beginning as declared by Him, which resulted in cognizant existence without end). This will be more clearly explained as we continue.

God, in His fullness, is the One and Only eternally cognizant Person. The word "eternally", as used here, speaks of His existence in the absence of the revelation of all else. He existed as exclusively cognizant until He began to bring forth, from the eternal knowledge of His mind, beings which were given cognition. All other personhood exists as essence (knowledge), until He declares, or imparts to it, dynamic presence (cognition). All things are created as dynamic expressions of His being. He who is without beginning or ending, declares Himself to be the beginning and ending of all else.

sphere: "the place or range of action or existence" (Webster's).

The realm of revelation, wherein time becomes linear (understandable) to that other than God (i.e. that which is created); points to the sphere in which the essential qualities, and the very personhood of God are expressed, or made knowable. The revelation of the existence of time is both the expression, and the confirmation of God's existence. The process of reasoning is not necessary in order for Him to know anything or everything. He is the ultimate source of all knowledge, to which all reasoning must point, in order to establish the validity of its truthfulness. Just as wisdom is the correct application of knowledge; truth is the foundation upon which it rests. All qualities or traits of God are absolute. Their integrity cannot be compromised in any way or fashion.

Origination is the revelation of essence. The revelation or perception of dynamic time, has its origin in the "essence of time", which as previously stated, is an inseperable quality or trait of God's person. Dynamic time is apparent to us only through a flow of perceptible events. By its very definition, sound (vibrations of the air) is imperceptible in the absence of an ear to hear it. So we may understand that the flow of perceptible, or dynamic time, originated at a specific point, being initiated by the occurance of a specific event. Something (time) which existed as essence, now exists as revelation, being perceptible by us, in what we consider to be the present (cognition).

Except He caused His self-sustained existence to be revealed, there would be no place for the creation, or us as cognizant individuals, capable of realizing the eternal presence and person of Almighty God, to reside. In fact, we could not exist as we are, except He first declared Himself to exist. The realm, or sphere, in which the creation resides, is that of revelation.

When God says, "I am holy..." (Lev. 11:44), the word "am" is used as a copula (a joining together). In this instance, God ("I") and holiness are joined, so that there is no distinction between who He is, and what He is. By contrast, if a person says, "I am wealthy"; wealthy is what he is, not who he is. Wealth is acquired; divine essence is not. The word "holy", speaks of the eternal essence of holiness which cannot be seperated from God's person, and which is revealed to us by His declaration: "I am holy...". By declaration, He has set the "everlasting" standard by which holiness is measured. God commands us to be holy (I Pet. 1:16), as living and unique expressions of Himself.

When God refers to Himself only as: "I AM" (Ex. 3:14); the word "AM" is used only in the emphatic sense. God is speaking simultaneously of the totality, and the individuality, of and within His personhood. By proclamation of His own existence, He has declared the certainty, that additional individuality exists (as essence, or knowledge), and will be brought forth from His person (as revelation, or dynamic presence). There is no reason for Him to declare Himself to be existent, except that He intended for other entities to become aware of that fact. This is probably best attested to by Acts 17:28 which declares: "...In Him we live and move and have our being;...". The question might be posed: If God declared Himself to exist; to whom was this declaration addressed? Since no other cognizant entity existed, the declaration had to be addressed to Himself, for the purpose of facilitating the revelation of other cognizant entities, who's revealed presence, would augment the confirmation of the truth of His statement. Every statement made by God has been, or will be, confirmed as true in the course of dynamic time. His very Word which is revealed undeniable truth, confirmed the actuality of His divine presence. The relationship between God and His creation essentially exists as: "I AM" and You are. Emphasis is given unto the speaker as being the first one revealed; thereafter all else is revealed by Him. Everything which shall be revealed to the creation, will confirm the truth of His preeminence. In Ex. 3:14-15, God also states that "I AM" is, "...my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." When Jesus used the same words in John 8:58, He was applying the very name reserved by God, unto Himself. In the name of God, "I" is the revelation of the one and only eternal person. "AM" is time revealed, the first attribute of God, declared by Him to be dynamicly existent.

In the absence of the declaration of His presence, there was God who existed exclusively as the eternal person and mind, in which the eternal knowledge of all unrevealed things is present. The first knowledge to be revealed was the absolute certainty of His person and presence; which was made evident and traceable back to His declaration. In the absence of His declaration, time existed as unrevealed essence (time existing in present tense only; i.e. an unrevealed attribute of God's person). Time, as a revealed dynamic attribute (including past and future), had a specific starting point, and that point is: "I AM".

His declaration (the revealed reality of His presence) is the point of entry whereat divine essence (the knowledge and person of God; and all other things to be revealed) becomes dynamic, or transitional (moving from the static position of unrevealed knowledge, to a dynamic position as revealed reality). God existed as the essence of time (eternally present) until, He proclaimed His existence, whereby eternal essence became everlasting revelation. The revelation of time, with the accompanying expressions of divine essence, was initiated by His declaration: "I AM". That declaration not only certified His existence in "time present" ("AM"), but also affirms His presence in both time past ("was") and time future ("is to come"); the latter two of which radiate from Him as opposite extensions of His being, commencing from the point of His declaration (Rev. 1:8). The fact that He declared Himself to be, determined, or activated, all that will ever be realized as existent afterwards. Hence, with the declaration of His eternal existence (I AM); His dynamic everlasting presence ("was" and "is to come") has also been established. With that declaration, the revealed institution of time future and time past, as conveyors of essential and revealed knowledge, were simulatneously initiated, or established; without which the revelation of all things could not be accompolished. Without the institution of revealed time (past, present and future), all things which have been, or ever would be revealed, would simple have remained as a part of the essence of who He is (unrevealed knowledge). All in all, the creation is still the knowledge of God being unfolded: from time future, to its fulfillment in time past.

It is extremely important that we grasp the difference between the essence of time and the revelation of time. Essence precedes revelation (the future precedes the past - Isa. 46:10). In the absence of His declaration: "I AM", time existed solely as essence (the eternal oneness of God's presence, knowable only to Himself). From the essence of time, the power which premeates that quality of God, was exercised by Him so that time itself became dynamic (projecting all that is necessary to move all events from a state of knowledge to a state of active existence). Time eternal (which exists as essence) was thereby revealed to also be time everlasting (which exists in the form of continuous revelation). God is on both ends: "I am the beginning..." (sending forth); "...and the ending" (receiving back to Himself); as stated in Rev. 1:8 and Isa. 55:11. The beginning declares; the ending confirms the truth of the declaration.

Everything (events) which exists in essence (i.e. everything which is yet to be revealed) exists in the future as unrevealed reality. Everything (events) which exists in revelation exists in the past as reality revealed. As a rule, the future can only be anticipated. Scripture however, also has us to understand, that God has appointed and empowered certain men (the prophets), with the limited ability to look into the future and reveal the existence of specific events which will transpire. Specific, and previously unexpressed reality, thereby becomes perceptible by proclaimation, though it remains unfulfilled until its appointed time. Astrologers and others who practice divination, are not appointed prophets of God, and do not speak on His behalf. The portal through which events of the future become events of the past is "I AM" (the eternal presence of God). God as "I AM", has through the impartation of cognition and free will, essentially proclaimed us as: YOU ARE. As cognizant individuals being given free will, we exist as continuously present from that point, becoming aware that our lives are continuously transitioning from what they shall be (as a part of the eternal knowledge of God), to what they have become (as the everlasting revelation of that knowledge).

Having then considered all of these things; how do we move from the idea of the "Oneness" of God, to the premise that there also exists a plurality within His oneness? As stated previously, in Christian Theology this is referred to as the Doctrine of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It's a very controversial issue not only among other religions such as Judaism and Islam; but also within the various groups proclaiming themselves to be Christians. The next installment in this series will be centered on Jesus Christ: His Person as both creator and redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, sent to strengten the redeemed that the will of the Almighty will be fully realized.

The glory of God saving us, belongs to Him alone.


{Click Here to Review the Main Points of This Article}


Part One (b): The Person and Nature of Jesus Christ

Part One (c): The Holy Spirit of God

Part 2: The Mission of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

Part 3: The Enemies of God and the Work They Are Doing

Part 4: Finding Our Place in God's Plan
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