Knowing the True God
by Rev. Steven Houck
Do you know the true God? Not the god of the imagination of men, but the God who is described in the Bible? Do you know Him with an intimate knowledge so that you love Him and serve Him? This is a very important question. The Bible teaches us that eternal life is knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus says, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent* (John 17:3). If you are to have eternal life and live with God forever in heaven, you must know God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
If you are interested in knowing the true God, please carefully consider the following.
The True God
The Bible teaches that God is very great and glorious. He is the Most High God. The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! (Psalm 113:4-6). God is so great that no one is like Him. There is no being in all the world who can be compared to God. God is three Persons in one Divine Being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is infinite, self-sufficient, unchangeable, and sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere. The God of heaven and earth is the holy, righteous, and just God. He is full of love, grace, and truth. He is so great that His glory is above all nations and even above the heavens. We are nothing in comparison with Him. All nations before him [God] are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity (Isaiah 40:17).
God's greatness can be seen in the wonderful works which He performs. The Bible teaches that God is the Creator of all things. In Genesis 1:1 we read, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. The universe did not come into being by some kind of a process of evolution. It was created by God in six days. God merely spoke His all-powerful word and the world came into being. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. ...For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6, 9). God is so great that He made the world out of nothing. The Bible teaches us, ...the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3). Every creature, including you, owes its existence to God.
God is not only the Creator of the world, but He is also the Sustainer of the world. He upholds the world so that it continues to exist. Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all... (Nahum 9:6). Without the preserving power of God the whole world would cease to exist. The universe can not stand by itself. It was created by God and therefore needs God for its very existence. You can be nothing and you can do nothing without the upholding power of God. God giveth to all life, and breath, and all things... for in him we live, and move, and have our being... (Acts 17:25, 28). You can not even move without the sustaining power of God.
The greatness of God is shown not only by the creation and sustaining of the world, but by His control over the world. God is the Ruler of the world. The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. (Psalm 103:19). God is the only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords (I Timothy 6:15). He is not a weak God whose will is frustrated by the creature. He is the eternal King Who rules over all things, including you and me. He so controls all the things of the world that He brings about what He has eternally planned for the world and everyone in it. He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will (Ephesians 1:11). God is your Ruler and King.
Thus no creature in all the world is independent of God. All of us need God. You owe your very life to the true God. Moreover, God created you for His own glory. The Bible says of God, ...for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11). You were not created for your own pleasure. You were not created simply so that you would exist. You were brought into being for the pleasure and glory of God.
Since God is the great and glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world, He is worthy of your honor and respect. We read in the Bible, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things... (Revelation 4:11). In all the works which He performs God shows Himself to be so wonderful and so grand, that you ought to stand in awe before Him. God requires that you fear and reverence Him. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him (Psalm 33:8). This is not an option. It is the commandment of God. You are morally obligated to have a deep respect for your Creator.
The reverence which God requires of you is to be expressed in worship, thanksgiving, and service. As a creature of God, you are to worship Him. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. (Psalm 95:6). God calls you to acknowledge Him as your Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler by bowing down before Him in worship. Your worship ought to be an expression of your thanksgiving for all that your Creator has done for you. The Bible even calls you to sing praises to Him. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. ...Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:1, 4). Your whole life is to be set apart unto God's service. All your talents, time, and resources must be used for His glory. Jesus says, ...Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8).
Worship, thanksgiving, and service are expressed in obedience to God's commandments. The Bible says, ...Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Your whole duty to God has been given to you in the law of God. In the ten commandments He tells you what He requires of you. God's law is found in the Bible in the first seventeen verses of Exodus chapter twenty.
In the first four commandments you learn your specific duty toward God.
- You are to have only one God, the true God of the Bible. He alone is to be the object of your love and worship. All other gods are false gods. The gods of other religions and the gods of pleasure, money, and power are all to be forsaken.
- You may not represent God by any kind of an image, nor may you worship Him through an image. You are to worship God by hearing and obeying the preaching of His Word.
- God forbids you to take His name in vain by cursing, swearing, and using His name in a meaningless way. You must always be careful to fear and reverence His holy name.
- God calls you to keep His Sabbath day (Sunday) holy. It is a special day. You are not to use it for work or recreation, but for the worship and service of God. You ought to attend church services in which the Truth of the Bible is preached.
----God not only requires that you behave a certain way toward Him, but that you act a certain way toward mankind. These duties are found in the last six commandments.
- You are to honor your father and mother and all those in authority over you such as government officials, church leaders, and your employer. This honor is expressed in respect, submission, and obedience.
- God forbids you to hate, harm, or murder any person, including yourself. God abhors envy, hatred, anger, and desires of revenge. You are even to love your enemies.
- You may not have sex with anyone who is not your lawful husband or wife. God also forbids adultery of the heart -- lustful thoughts and desires.
- You may not steal anything which belongs to another. You ought to gain your possessions by your own honest labor.
- You may not bear false witness against anyone by slander, backbiting, or spreading rumors. All lying is forbidden.
- You may not covet (desire in your heart) anything that belongs to someone else.
It ought to be evident that God requires not only external obedience, but obedience of the heart. Your heart must hate all that God forbids and delight in all righteousness. Jesus teaches us that God's law may be summed up in one word -- love. He says, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40). God requires nothing less than perfect love. You are to love Him with your whole being. Love is to be the basis of all your reverence, worship, thanksgiving, and service.
If you understand that God is your Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler Who requires that you love, worship, and serve Him, you should also understand something very basic about yourself. You are a sinner who fails to fulfill your obligations to God. You do not love, worship, and serve Him as you ought. You do not keep the ten commandments which God has given. Although you may not outwardly disobey some of these commandments, you break every one of them in your heart. You do not love God with all of your heart, soul, and strength. Your whole life is not consecrated to the worship and service of God. You are wicked and must say, I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? ...How many are mine iniquities and sins? ...Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth (Job 7:20; 13:23; 40:4). If you deny that you are a sinner, you are being dishonest with yourself and with God. The Bible says, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8).
Apart from the grace of God, no person can do anything that is good and pleasing to God. All people are alike in that all are sinners. There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12). There are no exceptions. Everyone fails to fulfill his duty before God. Even those deeds which seem to be very good are not good enough for God. The Bible says, ...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags... (Isaiah 64:6). God requires perfection, but man is far from perfect.
Your inability to fulfill your duty before God is not to be attributed to God. He created man righteous and able to do all that He requires. But our first father, Adam, rebelled against God. He disobeyed God and fell from his state of righteousness into sin. As a result of that fall into sin, Adam's inner spiritual nature became wicked. Rather than loving and serving God, he loved and served sin and the devil. That corrupt spiritual nature of Adam is passed on to all his posterity. Because you are a descendent of Adam, you too have inherited his corrupt nature. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12). The Bible calls that spiritual corruption death --spiritual death. You sin because your inner spiritual nature is wicked. You are spiritually dead. The Bible speaks of the wicked inner nature of man when it says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).
Moreover, your inability to fulfill your duty does not change the fact that God's requirement remains the same. God has not changed. He is still the Holy God. The angels cry out before Him, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 6:3). As the Holy One, God is ethically perfect. He can not sin Himself and He does not tolerate sin in others. God hates sin and those who commit sin. The Bible says of God, For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man (Psalm 5:4-6). God is a jealous God. He says, For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Ex. 34:14). Even though you are sinful, you are still God's creature and He jealously forbids you to have any other god. The Jealous God demands that you love, worship, and serve Him alone.
Because man does not fulfill His duty before God, all without exception are worthy of the condemnation and everlasting destruction of God. You deserve everlasting punishment in hell. God is so jealous of His holiness that He must punish everyone for their sin. God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked... (Nahum 1:2-3). At the end of the world God will send to the everlasting torments of hell all those who are not saved by His grace and who, therefore, are yet in their sin. Jesus says, So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:49-50). Apart from God's grace, there is no escaping the everlasting punishment of God's avenging wrath.
Man's situation seems hopeless. How can we escape the wrath of God and everlasting destruction in hell? How can sinners ever come to know God intimately and live in fellowship with Him? How can a sinner be holy? It is impossible for man. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one (Job 14:4). But what is impossible for man is not impossible for God. The glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world is also the Savior, Who delivers from sin, death, and hell. God says, I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Savior (Isaiah 43:11). The true God is not only a holy and righteous God Who must punish sinners, but He is also a God of love and grace Who shows mercy. In His grace and love, He has sent Jesus Christ to accomplish salvation. God, in Jesus Christ, is the only Savior.
Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God Who came to earth and took upon Himself a human nature. He is true God, but He is also real man. In Christ, God was manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16). His name is Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. After He had grown to adulthood, He preached the gospel for three and a half years. He told people about God, His Truth, and salvation. By healing the sick and even raising the dead to life again, He displayed the power of God which saves sinners. In all of His life He loved, served, and obeyed God perfectly. At the end of His life He was taken by wicked men, led to Calvary, and nailed to the cross where He died, just as God had eternally planned. After three days in the grave He arose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God ruling the world until He returns to judge the living and dead.
By His sacrificial death Christ obtained salvation. When He suffered and died on the cross He bore in His own body the sins of all those whom God chose to save. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God... (I Peter 3:18). Their sins were counted as Christ's and God punished Christ in their place. Christ paid the debt they owe to God for them so that they have the forgiveness of their sin. We read, In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14). Moreover, all of Christ's righteousness is counted to be their righteousness; as if they perfectly love, worship, serve, and obey God. Christ has met the requirement of God in their place. For as by one man's disobedience [Adam's] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Christ's] shall many be made righteous (Romans 5:19). The death of Christ saves sinners from the wrath and condemnation of God. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus... (Romans 8:1).
Christ not only obtained salvation by His work on the cross, but He also applies it to the lives of all those whom God has chosen to save so that they actually experience salvation. Christ raises them from their spiritual death to spiritual life by giving them a new inner spiritual nature which loves Him. Thus God said, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you... and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Out of that new heart Christ calls forth faith and repentance, so that the new child of God turns from His sins and by faith worships and serves the true God, even though imperfectly. He comes to know God as His Savior in an intimate and personal way. God walks with him and talks with him so that they have fellowship with each other. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (I John 5:20). Christ brings believers into fellowship with the true and living God.
This salvation is not the work of man. We can think, say, and do nothing for our salvation. It is the work of God alone. The Bible says of God, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus... (II Timothy 1:9). God saves by His grace alone. Salvation is not something which we deserve. It is a gift that is freely given through Jesus Christ. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). No man may ever boast that he contributed something to His salvation. Salvation is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy (Romans 9:16).
Since God saves by giving faith to the sinner, salvation is impossible without faith. No one is a true child of God without faith. But without faith it is impossible to please him [God] (Hebrews 11:6). He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36). Do you want to escape the wrath of God and everlasting destruction in hell? Are you burdened with the load of your sins and seek forgiveness? Do you desire to know God and His Son Jesus Christ and thus enjoy the blessing of eternal life? Jesus says, Have faith in God (Mark 11:22). A man once asked, What must I do to be saved? He was answered, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:30-31). God calls you to believe!
What is true faith? Faith is three things:
- It is the knowledge of certain facts about God, Christ, man, and salvation.
- It is the recognition that those facts are true.
- It is trust in and reliance upon the true God and His Son Jesus Christ as your Savior.
What must you believe?
- You must believe that God is the glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world. You are dependent upon Him for all things.
- You must believe that it is your duty to love, worship, serve, and obey God. The great and glorious God is worthy of your reverence and honor.
- You must believe that you are a sinner who can not fulfill your duty before God. You deserve everlasting torment in hell.
- You must believe that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save sinners. Christ accomplished salvation by dying on the cross and shedding His precious blood. On the third day He arose from the dead as the victorious Savior. There is no salvation apart from Him.
- You must believe that God in Christ is your Savior Who delivers you from your sins and gives you everlasting life.
True Repentance is three things:
- It is the acknowledgment of the fact that you are indeed a sinner who needs salvation.
- It is a godly sorrow over your sin. You do not mourn the bad consequences of your sin. You grieve over the fact that you have sinned against God, your Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler.
- It is the turning away from your sins and a forsaking of them. You no longer seek to live a wicked life, but you seek after God and His righteousness.
True faith fills the believer's heart with thanksgiving so that he wants to obey God. It causes him to see how wonderful God is in saving him from his sins. He loves God and wants to do all that God commands him. Even though he can not obey God's law perfectly, he seeks to keep His commandments. Jesus says, If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). The true believer will show his love of God by faithfully attending church worship services where he hears the preaching of God's Word, the Bible. He will read and study the Bible on a regular basis. He will go before His God in prayer every day. He will seek to know God more and more, for he knows that he has only a small beginning of the knowledge of God. The rest of His life will be devoted to learning more about the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.
The person who has true faith does not think that his faith, repentance, love, and obedience are his own work. He does not think that they are his part in salvation, as if he helps God along. He knows and believes that all these things are a part of the salvation which God gives as a free gift. He could have no faith, repentance, love, and obedience without the grace of God working those things in his heart and life. Jesus says, ...without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5). Nor does he think that by his faith, repentance, love, and obedience he fulfills God's requirement himself. He believes that his salvation is based solely upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Do You Know The True God?
Do you know the true God and His Son Jesus Christ? Do you know the blessedness of having eternal life?
If not, God commands that you should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ... (I John 3:23).
If you believe already, seek to know God and His Son better.
Jesus says, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
If you have any questions about what you have read or if you would like to learn more about God, write to us and ask for more information.
Send your questions by e-mail to Rev. Steven Houck: firstname.lastname@example.org
(*Bible quotes are taken from the King James Version of the bible and are printed in italic.)