STUDY TWO: THE GOD WHO CREATED THE WORLD

© Rosemary Bardsley 2020

Note: For further comment check out the Genesis studies here - https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/genesis.html

If we were to define God solely by the evidence in the world as we see it today, we could arrive at a very distorted view of God. And it is very clear that that is exactly what humans have done, either individually and privately, or corporately in the stated beliefs of various human religions and philosophies.

The existence of suffering in the world, sometimes terrible suffering, makes people conclude one or more of the following:

That God is not powerful.
That God is not good.
That God is not loving.
That there is no such thing as God.

But God himself assures us that he is:

 

A. A GOD OF POWER

The word ‘omnipotent’ is used to describe the power of God. He is all-powerful. There is nothing more powerful than him. No power exists that has either the ability or the authority to overthrow or even to undermine the power and authority of God. There is no limit to his power and authority.

The names of God reveal his power and authority:

El Shaddai – Lord God Almighty
El Elyon – the most high God
Adonai – Lord, Master
Jehovah Sabaoth – the Lord of Hosts

The Bible speaks, sometimes at length, of the unequalled power and authority of God.

Check these references. How do they reveal the power and authority of God?
Exodus 15:1 – 18

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 10:17

Isaiah 40:12 – 26

 

 

 

Ephesians 1:19b – 21

 

Philippians 2:9 – 11

 

Revelation 17:14

 

This truth that God is a God of power and authority, far above any other power or authority that can be identified or even imagined, is extremely important. If God is not this powerful God, then any goodness and any love that we might see in him is useless. A God who is good and loving, but lacks power and authority, can do nothing to help us. Any goodness or love that he exercised could be overruled and undermined by whatever or whoever had the power and authority.

Only an almighty, unlimited, sovereign God is significant. Either God is such a God, or he is nothing. Nothing more than a figment of human imagination, shaped by our own limitations and perceptions.

[For extended study on the sovereign authority of God - https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/lords-prayer/157-study-two-in-heaven.html and the three studies on the Sovereign Lord here - https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/knowing-god.html ]

 

B. A GOD WHO IS GOOD

But if God is only powerful, if he is not also good and loving, that would be a terrible thing. A supreme being of unlimited and unequalled power and authority who was also ‘bad’, who was evil and who did evil, would be an unimaginable monster. Life would be totally unpredictable. Trust would not exist. Fear would dominate. Despair would exclude any whisper of hope. Prayer would be useless.

But God is good.

C.S. Lewis, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, makes this observation about God, via a description of Aslan, the allegorical character who depicts Christ: ‘Safe?’ said Mr Beaver … ’Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good …’ And in another statement: ‘He’s not a tame lion.’

Not a ‘tame’ lion. Not ‘safe’. But he is good.

The absolute authority of God means that he is not ‘tame’ – he is not controlled by us, he is not under our authority; he is not at our beck and call. We cannot manipulate him to do our will. But he is good.

Similarly, his absolute, unlimited power, his ability to do whatever he wants to do, his utter sovereign authority, means that he is not ‘safe’ – no one is exempt from his standards and his justice. But he is good.

When he rules, it is as a good God that he rules. When he implements justice, it is as a good God that he judges.

 

Study these verses. What do they teach about the goodness of God?
Exodus 33:19; 34:6

1Kings 8:66

1Chronicles 16:34

1Chronicles 19:13

2Chronicles 5:13

2Chronicles 6:41

Psalm 25:7,8

Psalm 27:13

Psalm 34:8

Psalm 31:19

Psalm 86:5

Psalm 100:5

Psalm 145:7

Isaiah 63:7

God is good. His goodness is reported in the Bible in association with his integrity, his kindness, his compassion, his unfailing, enduring love, his forgiveness and mercy. This association of God’s goodness with his mercy and forgiveness draws our attention to the fact that God’s goodness towards us is not generated by our personal merit.

God’s goodness is also understood as the source of any physical blessedness enjoyed both by his people and by those who are not his people.

 

C. A GOD OF LOVE

God is all-powerful. God is good. God is also love. And it is the love of God that assures us that both God’s mighty power and God’s goodness are active towards us and for us. Because this God who is love, loves us. Sinners though we are.

It is this love of God, this fact that God is love, that God loves us, that is the source of his powerful redemptive action in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of his Son.

What do these verses teach about the love of God?
John 3:16

Romans 5:6-8

1John 3:16

1John 4:7-10

 

1John 3:1

How do these passages teach us about the power of God involved in this redeeming work?
Romans 1:16

Ephesians 1:17 – 2:6

 

How do these passages indicate that God’s love is without limit?
Ephesians 1:7,8

Ephesians 2:4 – 7

Ephesians 3:16 – 19

 


[The study on God ‘our Father’ discusses the love of God further - https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/lords-prayer/159-study-one-our-father.html .]

 

D. A GOD WHO ALONE IS GOD

Although there are many things that humans call ‘god’, the Bible affirms that there is only one God, who actually is God. He alone is God. There is nothing and no one else like him with whom he can be compared. He is the only one of his kind. This uniqueness, this utter otherness, is what the Bible means when it refers to God as ‘holy’. The word ‘holy’ means set apart. Not ordinary. Not common. One-of-a-kind.

Read these passages. How do they affirm that God alone is truly God?
Exodus 20:1 – 6

 

Deuteronomy 6:4,5

 

Isaiah 44:6 – 8

 

Isaiah 45:5,6

Isaiah 45:18

1John 5:20

 

(For an extended study on this ‘holiness’, this uniqueness of God, go here - https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/knowing-god/1204-the-holy-one.html )

Because God alone is God we cannot resolve the difficulties raised by the existence of suffering by escaping into a dualistic mindset.

There are not two gods, one good, one evil. There is only one God.

Satan, although he is powerful, is not as powerful as God. He is not ‘god’. He is a created being. He is accountable to God and limited by God. See this study..

God, because he alone is God, because he alone is sovereign, is also sovereign over evil. He can stop evil whenever and however he chooses. He can use that which is evil, that which is opposed to him, that which is working contrary to his purposes, to bring about his purposes.

Consider these texts which speak of this sovereignty of God over evil:
Genesis 45:5-7

Genesis 50:20

Job 1:12; 2:6,7

Isaiah 45:7

John 19:8-11

Acts 2:23

We may be troubled by the thought that God is in control of evil, and ask ‘Why does he not stop the evil and the suffering?’ But this is a far better question to have than the alternative. The alternative question, the one that arises if there is no God, is ‘Will evil and suffering ever end?’ And the answer to that question is ‘No.’

But the answer to the first question is fivefold:

God has stopped the evil and suffering in the past, in a macro, global, but not final, way.

God continues to limit the suffering.

God stopped evil and suffering, in a limited, micro and temporary way, in the miracles of Jesus.

God will, at the right time, permanently remove all evil and suffering.

And, importantly,

God is gracious; every moment he delays the return of Christ and the judgement, every moment he delays his final and complete removal of evil and suffering, is a moment in which people may repent and escape that judgement. See Sections E and F in this study https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/peters-letters/1400-study-18-2peter-3.html .

Read 2Peter 3:9. How does this verse explain the delay?

 

 

E. A GOD OF JUSTICE

Justice is what many humans crave, and it is also what many demand of God, even though they say that they do not believe in him.

God is blamed for the injustices in the world.
God is blamed for allowing ‘all these innocent’ people to suffer.
People look at the wicked prospering, without retribution, and criticize the God they don’t believe in.

But if we study the Bible, and believe it, we know that God is a God of justice.

The Bible contains clearly stated theological truths and moral standards.

The Bible contains clearly stated outcomes if the theological truths are rejected, and clearly stated punishments incurred by not keeping the moral standards.

However, between these clearly stated standards and penalties there is something else, and it is that something else that renders God the target for accusations of injustice. Between the laws and our breaking of those laws and the implementation of the just penalties is the compassionate grace of God.

Consider these scriptures. What is it about God that results in his justice being either delayed or diverted?
Exodus 34:5-7

 

Romans 2:2-4

 

2Peter 3:3-10

 

 

God is slow to anger. God in his kindness, tolerance and patience shows us the way of repentance, and gives us time to repent.

While we, in our impatience, accuse God of either unkindness, injustice or slackness, God is giving space for yet another, and another, and another, to turn to him and escape the final, irrevocable, just judgement that will, at the right time, fall.

As long as God defers that day of judgement, suffering exists. But this age of suffering is also the age of grace, the age when it is still possible to repent and avoid the judgement.

 

(We will look further at this in Suffering and Judgement and The Heart of God.)