The Triple Crown
By David B. Smith
Can intelligent human beings, educated free-thinking men and women of this 21st century, still choose to believe in an invisible God? The fictional genius character Dr. Sheldon Cooper boasts an IQ of 187 and a summa cum laude doctorate earned at the age of 16; he knows so much physics that he punctuates CBS’s The Big Bang Theory with his disdain for the idea of God. After rolling a strike in bowling, he accidentally shouts out “Praise Jesus!” but quickly amends it by adding: “As my mother would say.”
Interestingly, the Bible doesn’t try to “prove” the existence of God; the eternal existence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are assumed and proclaimed from the very first verse in Genesis: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. According to Scripture, the universe’s vast intricacy provides such compelling proof, any searching man or woman who weighs the evidence will accept both God’s existence and His sovereignty as a given. In Psalm 19, the Message paraphrase expresses King David’s observation this way: “God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.” Earlier in chapter 14 he concludes: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
The pivotal reality in both Testaments is that God is a personal Being who desires a relationship with us; this is the central theme of Rick Warren’s runaway bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life: “You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” He devotes an entire chapter to this challenge: “Becoming Best Friends With God,” and quotes Romans 5:10: Since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by His life.
In a wonderful book by A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, he suggests that — since God has reality and Personhood and emotions — it is entirely possible to get to know Him. Many Christians admit gladly this is a friendship that can begin as a fragile blossom but then grow and deepen. We can study His personality and His plans; we are able to dialogue with Him through prayer and Bible study; we can interact with Him in nature and in acts of worship with others who are also seeking a deeper friendship with their Maker.
What are some of the attributes the Bible ascribes to God?
1. Power and sovereignty. “With God, all things are possible,” Jesus said in Matthew 19:26. He can create worlds and Milky Ways billions of light-years across; He can fill our own planet with innumerable species of plant and animal life. The most Einstein-y mathematics formulas discovered in think tanks are all His creation. What’s more, God actively nurtures and safeguards the universe through His benevolent interest and might; He is not like the watchmaker who winds up the toy and then simply lets it run down into decay and death. Hebrews 1:3 describes Him as sustaining all things by His powerful word.
More practical good news is that people in the Bible had terminal illnesses, but Jesus, using healing power derived from His Father, was able to restore them to innocent perfection. Even death backed away in defeat at a single word from an angel sent by God. We can be thankful that God is pure, untainted goodness, because what He wishes to do . . . He does! His will is sovereign; His plans can’t be defeated or even slowed down by opposition forces. The prophet Daniel described a futuristic panorama of kingdoms rising and falling: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Alexander the Great’s unstoppable Greek invasions succeeded by the iron might of Rome. Then Daniel confesses: [But] God’s dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: “What have You done?” (4:34, 35)
Recognizing our God’s awesome might, we can be encouraged to know that anytime we pray, God will absolutely do the very finest and far-reaching positive thing on our behalf. Anytime He says no to a request, it’s not because he couldn’t get it done, but because a better reality is soon to be offered.
2. Compassion and love. Even hardened, tipsy fans at the Super Bowl see the stadium sign proclaiming that John 3:16 still says what it always has: God so loved the world . . . We serve a forgiving Father who knows our frailties and has a tender heart regarding our mistakes and even the rebellion born of our confusion. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are like dust (Psalm 103:12-14). Jesus is described as having sympathy for our weakness, of understanding full well what it is like to be born on this shattered planet and to experience hunger, loneliness, and fear.
3. Omniscience and immutability. Omniscience describes God as absolutely all-knowing: past, present, future. He has never needed a DeLorean time-travel machine to know what tomorrow brings or who will occupy the White House twenty years from now. Who has understood the mind of the Lord, the prophet Isaiah asks, or instructed Him as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? (40:13, 14) The obvious answer is: no one.
The same Pastor Tozer observes in a wonderful description of the Lord’s amazing grasp of His universal domain: “That God is omniscient is not only taught in the Scriptures, it must be inferred also from all else that is taught concerning Him. God perfectly knows Himself and, being the source and author of all things, it follows that He knows all that can be known. And this He knows instantly and with a fullness of perfection that includes every possible item of knowledge concerning everything that exists or could have existed anywhere in the universe at any time in the past or that may exist in the centuries or ages yet to come. . . He never discovers anything. He is never surprised, never amazed. He never wonders about anything nor (except when drawing men out for their own good) does He seek information or ask questions.” (The author adds the last, no doubt, thinking of Bible stories like where God asks Cain: “Where is your brother?”)
It’s equally true that God’s feelings for His lost human race are holy and unchanging. “I am the Lord; I change not,” He assures us in Mal. 3:6. He is a constant force; His rules never change; His agenda isn’t subject to whims or Satan’s efforts against the divine kingdom.
4. Redemption. The rest of the stadium sign held aloft by the guy in the rainbow wig is: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The entire Bible is a story of wooing lost children, drawing them back into a saving relationship.
This beloved verse takes Bible students into the fascinating reality of a Trinitarian God. In Mark 12, Jesus Himself uses the foundational Jewish expression: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. In contrast, though, John 3:16 expressly talks about a Father giving up His Son to be the redemptive Lamb. On the cross, a despairing Jesus cried out to His own Father: “Why have You forsaken Me?” And for the past two thousand years, fledgling Christians have been baptized “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” How is it that a one-God religion like the Christian faith also speaks of these three entities?
This wonderful truth obviously deserves three follow-up Bible studies . . . and so we shall! But consider that the Bible speaks in clear terms of these three great, eternal Beings – all three having minds and personalities and emotions and desires and a holy agenda that is everlastingly unified. “Let US make man in OUR image” is part of the original Eden account. Even going back to the Christmas story, we find the bedrock truth of the heavenly Trinity. Luke 1:35: “The angel answered [Mary], ‘The Holy Spirit (1) will come upon you, and the power of the Most High [God] (2) will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born [Jesus] (3) will be called the Son of God.”
The early church, growing from a rock-solid Jewish background where God was a monotheistic strength to their nation, embraced this wondrous new reality. Peter greets the saints this way: “To God’s elect . . . who have been chosen according to the knowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood.”
The bedrock truth is that these three eternal beings are real, they are in holy unity of purpose, and their bonds of love are a representation to us of God’s desire to reconcile with each of us.
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David B. Smith writes from California. (2 of 28) Biblebay Copyright © 2014. Click here for content usage information.