As we continue working through my church’s statement of faith (adapted from the New Hampshire Confession of 1833 and the Baptist Faith and Message), we move from the article on Scripture to the first part of the article on God:
Statement of Faith Article for This Week
There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things – past, present, and future – including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
Thoughts for Discussion with Children
Different religions have different understandings of God. Many religions think that the universe itself is God. They don’t believe that you can really know God or pray to him, because God isn’t a him, God is more of an it. Think about the Force in the Star Wars movies. Luke Skywalker doesn’t pray to or feel loved by the Force. He feels it and tries to live in harmony with it. On this view, “God” is not a person we can know, but just the highest power we can imagine. That’s not the Bible’s teaching about God.
On the other hand, a number of religions have thought of many gods who are persons. Think of the Greek gods such as Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, etc. People certainly prayed to them and knew them, but in the stories they are really nothing more than bigger versions of men. They have all kinds of problems in the way they live, and they don’t have all power.
So, some religions think of “God” as an It that has all power, but is not a person; other religions think of the gods as persons, but they don’t have all power. Only the Christian view brings the two together. According to the Bible, God is a person we can know and love, and who knows and loves us. We can pray to him, and we can know that he speaks to each one of us through his Word. And yet, he is also has all power. He is not just a bigger version of a man, but is on a different level altogether. He is all-powerful, but also all-loving.
And the reason he is all-loving is because he has always loved within himself: the Father has loved the Son, and the Son has returned love to the Father, in the Holy Spirit. As we saw in the Apostles’ Creed, God is a Trinity: three Persons, but one God. This is absolutely central to our Christian faith.
Suggested readings for the week: Isaiah 40; Psalm 139; Ephesians 1:3-14