Getting to Really Know God… Lesson 1: How Does God Identify Himself in the Bible?
This lesson focuses on key scriptures in the Bible where God reveals highly significant things about His nature and actions.
First, consider the story of the righteous man Job in the biblical
book of Job. This story relates the spiritual transformation of Job
from a man who knew a great deal about God to a man who really
came to know God in a personal and intimate way.
This book is highly thought-provoking. For most of the book, Job and
his friends are stating what they think they know about God, but their
limited views fall far short of understanding the great mind, purposes
and plan of God. After God talks with Job, Job has a major breakthrough
Job said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my
eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”
(Job 42:5-6). Job came to see God in a deeper way with the eyes of faith
and spiritual understanding. Job was ashamed of his cockiness, thinking
he understood more than he really did, and he deeply repented. When
he said, “I abhor myself,” he meant that he despised his self-justification
and implications that God had been unjust.
Job apparently came to realize more deeply that everyone’s life includes
suffering and that suffering is a necessary part of spiritual growth.
Job surrendered to God’s will, having come to understand that God is
the sovereign Lord of the universe, He has perfect understanding, and
He always does what is best for us in the long run. We must trust Him.
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Has Anyone Ever Seen God?
Almighty God is Spirit and, in His usual glorified state, is invisible to
the human eye (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27). That partly
explains why John said, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).
But how should we interpret that since the Old Testament gives many accounts
of God appearing to people?
Notice that the second half of John 1:18 shows that John was talking about God
the Father, not God the Son, Jesus Christ. Also Jesus said, “Not that
anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God [referring to Himself,
Jesus]; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).
These verses point to the fact that the God who appeared to people during
Old Testament times was the One who later became Jesus Christ!
Prior to Jesus’ incarnation (birth) as a human being, John refers to Him
as “the Word” and as “God”: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Later John wrote, “And the Word
became flesh [when He was born of Mary] and dwelt among us, and we beheld
His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace
and truth” (verse 14).
2 we will thoroughly prove that the God who appeared to people
in the Old Testament was the Word who became Jesus Christ, not God the Father.
In this lesson, we merely want to establish that fact to prevent any confusion.
However, when we discuss the nature or character of God, we make no distinction
between God the Father and God the Son because They are identical in nature
and character. When Jesus was praying for His disciples and His future disciples
to be “one” (united and unified), He prayed, “that they may be one as
We are” and “that they may be one just as We are one” (John
So although we don’t literally see God with our eyes (and won’t until Christ’s
return to earth), we can perceive and better understand His nature,
character, purposes and goals. That is the purpose of this lesson.
What single word best defines God’s character?
1 John 4:8
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and
great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor
Love defines God’s nature, and love is what He most wants to see in the character
of His children. Therefore, it’s no surprise that His greatest commandments
are to love—to love God and to love people.
What are other words that define God’s character and nature?
For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance
beholds the upright.
1 Peter 1:15-16
But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in
all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.
God is righteous and holy. Even during Jesus’ earthly life, He never sinned.
God defines the absolute standards of righteous character, and He sets the
perfect example. God’s commandments and laws spell out God’s righteousness,
and by obeying those laws we are imitating Christ and becoming like Him. “Let
this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
What is one of God’s roles that we need desperately?
1 John 4:14
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of
1 Timothy 2:3-4
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who
desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
When you read the Bible, notice how often you see the words savior, save,
saved and salvation. Notice also synonymous words like deliver,
delivered and deliverer. When God began to announce the Ten
Commandments, He introduced Himself as, “I am the Lord your God, who brought
you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2;
Deuteronomy 5:6). The miraculous liberation of the Israelites from Egypt
illustrates God’s plan to miraculously deliver us out of our slavery to
sin. And every Sabbath day is a reminder of God’s role as Savior (Deuteronomy
The angel that appeared to Joseph told him that Mary’s child should be called
Jesus (meaning Savior) “for He will save His people from
their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
The word salvation is used to refer to the various steps that God
takes to save us, but our ultimate salvation will be our resurrection from
mortality to glorious immortality (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
What’s another of God’s important roles?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the
face of the earth.”
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea,
and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed
the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Notice that every Sabbath day is a reminder that we are created beings and
a reminder of who our Creator is! That has many implications, including the
fact that God is the Owner and the supreme Ruler over His creation, and God
is dedicated to providing the best possible care of His creation. We can also
learn many things about God by observing His creation, as we are told in Roman
Consider that God also created all the laws, including the laws of science
and mathematics and the spiritual laws.
When did creation take place? There is often confusion over this
question. God’s original creation of the universe and planet earth was evidently
many millions of years ago. But eventually the earth suffered a cataclysm
and all life was destroyed. In Genesis 1:2, the Hebrew word translated “was”
is translated in other places as “became.” As a result of the cataclysm, this
verse apparently should read, “The earth became without form, and
void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.”
Then the rest of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are describing God’s re-creation of
the world about 6,000 years ago. As Psalm 104:30 words it, God did “renew the
face of the earth.” These two phases of God’s creation will be thoroughly
explained and proved in Lesson 3 of this series on “Getting to Really Know
Is God the supreme example of grace, mercy and generosity?
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all
your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from
destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.
Our gracious God not only provides all our needs, but also bestows on us
the gift of grace. The apostle Paul often used the Greek word that we translate grace to
refer to all the spiritual gifts that God offers humanity, including the forgiveness
of sin and the offer of eternal life. God’s grace is truly amazing and awesome—it
is gracious generosity greater than our minds can comprehend!
The Old Testament writers often used the Hebrew word hesed (or chesed)
when referring to a primary characteristic of God. There is no single English
word that adequately translates the profound meaning of this word. It is often
translated as “merciful kindness”or”lovingkindness” (which is how it is translated
in Psalm 103:4).
Is our merciful God also a God of justice?
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty
and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice
for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food
We live in an unjust world, and often life isn’t fair. That makes it all
the more wonderful that we can rely on a God who is completely just and fair.
A central question is this: Since everyone sins and the penalty of sin is
death, how can God save us and still be a God of perfect justice? It is because
Jesus Christ took our place and suffered the death penalty for each of us.
Jesus died to fulfill God’s justice and thereby made it possible for God to
offer mercy toward all humanity.
Is God omnipotent (all-powerful)?
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow
of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge
and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”
And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according
to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised
Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
The word Almighty literally means “all-powerful.” One of God’s names
is El Shaddai, which is translated “God Almighty.” All of Psalm 91
is inspiring, for it describes the complete confidence we have if we are trusting
in God. After all, God can easily protect us no matter how great the dangers
are. God also has supreme spiritual power to defeat Satan the devil, to transform
the worst of sinners, and to resurrect mortal humans to become immortal glorified
saints in the coming Kingdom of God.
Is God omniscient (all-knowing and all-wise)?
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my
rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and
my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word
on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of
His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their
hearts individually; He considers all their works.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them
is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Jesus frequently shocked both His friends and His enemies by telling them
what they were thinking. God not only knows everything that is taking place
in all the seemingly endless universe, He has control over everything that
is happening. How comforting to know we have a Creator and Provider who will
never forget us or overlook our needs and prayers!
Is God omnipresent (ubiquitous, present everywhere at once)?
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If
I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell [in the grave,
or in the ground], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall
lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear
no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
2 Chronicles 16:9
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth,
to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
God can be everywhere at once because He sends His Spirit everywhere. So
the help and understanding that God sends by His Spirit are just as effective
and perfect as if God were standing right beside us.
God’s Holy Spirit also serves as His eyes and ears to bring back to God perfect
and total awareness of everything in every place. Hence, God’s Spirit provides
Last but not least, does God claim all authority and lordship?
Psalm 47:2, 8
For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth…
God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His
commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”
God is the sovereign power over all the universe. Everything was created
by Him. He expects complete loyalty, reverence and obedience. We must not
allow anything in our lives to rival God. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28
spell out many blessings for obedience and many curses (punishments) for disobedience.
Our obedience shows our love for God (1 John 5:3). And obedience is a major
key to getting God’s answers to our prayers (1 John 3:22).
What are other qualities and characteristics of God? Write down as many
as you can think of. Think about what God is like, what He has done, what
He is doing now and what He promises to do. While you’re at it, try to think
of God’s many names and titles because they are descriptive of God’s various
virtues and roles. (After you have thought of as many as you can, you can
find more about God’s names at these links: “God’s
Many Names Reveal Much About Him” and “What
is the correct name for God?“)
Also take time to reflect on all that you have written down. And in your
prayers in the days ahead, spend time thanking God for all that He is and
for all that He does!
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