In 2016, the National Geographic Channel released a series called The Story of God with Morgan Freedman. Freedman was portrayed as an explorer in the quest of finding God. When he caught up with televangelist Joel Osteen he posed the question: Who is God. Osteen’s answer was a description of God as a father who cares for us. But it was Freedman’s conclusion that highlights a prevailing view of God among many today. He claimed he saw in Joel’s worship session a demonstration of “clearly faith in the god in you, the god within, your inspiration, your power”.
Sadly, that is not correct about the God of the Bible.
Who really is this God of the Bible? What descriptions are we given to enlighten our understanding of who He is? And how is He different from that described by Morgan Freedman?
The Bible tells us: God is before all creation. He is not a creation of man’s imagination, but existed “before all things and by him all things consist.” He created all things “that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible”. His existence cannot be traced back to an original point, since his “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”. Micah 5: 2
Every living creature owes it to himself to know who God really is. This is the ultimate lesson of life – discovering Him and expressing continual gratitude to Him for our own existence. This is done through obedience to His will for us. We will not find him as an inherent force in us, but He is separate from creation, possesses uniqueness in that which makes Him God- His Divine Nature. NO creation has the Divine Nature as his make-up. God is God by nature, and is thus absolutely unique from all creation – He alone is God. Galatians 4:8.
Nyron Medina in his Systematic Theology outlines six characteristics by which we can describe God which set Him apart from all other entities. The biblical characteristics show God to be: One, Invisible, Divine, Spirit, Nature, Love.
He is One, numerically One and not many gods (Galatians 3: 20). He is Invisible – clearly cannot be seen but can be known only through revelations (Colossians 1: 15). He is Divine and has no origin in humanity or any form of creation (2 Peter 1:4). He is Spirit which makes Him immaterial – not flesh and blood (John 4:24). He is by Nature God– unique/exclusive in what makes Him God (2 Peter 1: 4; Galatians 4:8). He is Love. Love is His Divine Nature, His very make-up (1 John 4: 8, 16).
Our understanding of God determines our view of everything. When we understand that God is not the result of an internal search within us for power and inspiration, we can rightly turn to that Divine Nature who is distinct from creation and get the help we need. Nothing in us inherently spells God. Everything in us describes our own sinfulness and our need for His revelations to create a transformation in us. We understand God, not as an inherent entity within us, but as a revelation of Himself to us.
Shefflorn Ballantyne is a Minister of the Thusia Seventh Day Adventist Church.