The Bible gives us several basic definitions or descriptions of God in His essential nature and Being. These descriptions are not what He does, or elements of His character and being, but rather descriptions of who God IS. They answer the question, “Who is God?”
It must first be noted that God is revealed throughout Scripture as a Person, exhibiting all the elements of self-consciousness, self-determination, intellect, emotion and will, involved in personality. God is not just a force or entity, but an awesome, benevolent and passionate Personality, longing to be involved in relationship with His creation, and especially with those created with this intimate purpose in mind, mankind.
The following Scriptures reveal just a few of the elements attributable only to a person, not a force or power. They are used to describe our Father:
1 Peter 5:6,7 – He hears, sees and knows
Psalm 94:9,10 – He loves
Proverbs 6:16 – He cares
Genesis 6:6 – He grieves
John 3:16 – He hates
The Nature of God
God is a Spirit
“God [is] a Spirit, and those worshipping Him in spirit and truth it doth behove to worship.’”John 4:24 YOUNG’S LITERAL TRANSLATION
- God is a Spirit Being.
- He is “a Spirit” – an individual, just as we are “a spirit” distinct from others.
- He is immaterial, incorporeal, free from all temporal limitations, without material substance as we know and understand it.
- He is invisible to the natural eye. (John 1:18; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17)
God is Light
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”1John 1:5 NKJV
- Refers to the majesty and glory of God.
- God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:15-16)
- Speaking of His nature, Light is absolutely pure, impossible to defile.
- God does not only have light, He is Light.
Related to this description of God’s nature is reference to God as a consuming fire:
“For our God is a consuming fire.”Hebrews 12:29 NKJV
- This refers to the holiness of God’s nature
- The most frequent symbol used for God in the Bible is that of fire.
- It is significant of His holiness and absolute righteousness manifested in judgement against sin.
God is Love
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”1John 4:16 NKJV
• The very heart of God’s nature
• God not only has love, He is Love
• Included in this is His grace, mercy, kindness and goodness to all His creatures.
The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopaedia of the Bible emphasises the need to keep in view that God is at once a loving God, He is love, and also a holy God, He is a consuming fire. When we recognise that these characteristics of God’s nature are equal we will walk with both a healthy reverence and fear of God, without losing our childlike trust and boldness to approach Him.
“The Bible reveals God as the eternal Spirit, the infinite Creator and preserver, judge of all the universe, and redeemer of all who put their faith in Him. Its characterisation of the living God is everywhere related to divine disclosure. The summary by the Westminster divines remains highly serviceable: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchanging in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” Whereas modern theory expounds love as the core of divine being, and deprives other attributes of equal ultimacy in the divine nature, this statement defines love (as a manifestation of goodness) in a way that does not subordinate the righteousness and justice of God.”
God is a Father
“one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”Ephesians 4:6 NKJV
We will consider his characteristic of God’s nature more fully in the next session. It is closely related to Love, but demands closer attention in view of Jesus’ overwhelming testimony and revelation of God in the New Testament primarily as our Father.
As E W Kenyon points out in his Basic Bible Course “The Bible in the Light of our Redemption”:
“In our Bible Schools we have listed the attributes of God: His Omnipotence, His Omniscience; but we have overlooked the fact that He is first a Father-God. The reason for creation is the Father heart of God…(Mankind) was to be the answer to the Father’s hunger for children.”