Part 1 -- “What Is God?”
What is God? The question suggests that we seek to define Him.
This is highly problematic because we normally define things by comparison with other things, and to a lesser degree, by contrast.
For example, the question, “What is a bear?” might begin with the response that a bear is an animal. This leads to familiar reasoning as we consider other creatures known as animals. Animals are multicellular, mobile, possess internal organs for the purpose of digestion of food and production of energy. They tend to procreate by sexual reproduction (although not always), and they feed on other living things. These facts, among countless others, define animals for us, and thus begin to provide some framework of understanding the nature and definition of bears.
The availability of comparisons also provides contrasts. We might further our definition of bears by considering them in juxtaposition with other non-bear realities. Bears are not fish. They are not trees. They are not, generally speaking, weak and defenseless creatures. Again, countless other features and characteristics antithetical to the nature of bears help us to discover a working definition of this creature interesting to consider, although not so interesting to encounter!
A working definition of God, conversely, does not allow for the type of definition possible for bears, or for any other created entity. The Psalmist and the prophet unite to provide the reason for this difference.
“O God, who is like unto Thee?... There is none like unto Thee, o Lord!” (Psalm 71:19; Jeremiah 10:6).
God exists in His own kingdom, phylum, class and order, as it were. He cannot be compared with anything else, and thus, we cannot define Him by utilizing our normal conceptualmethodology. Contrast does not help us either since we possess no comparative means of defining God. Simply considering that He is not a fish does not enlighten us because the understanding of what He is not still leaves us with nothing with which we can compare Him.
An apparent intellectual dilemma confronts us. We cannot define God. We cannot answer the question, “What is God?” The Bible never provides specific light in this matter. It speaks of the Lord’s existence, His nature, His characteristics, His ways, His actions, and the internal workings of His infinite heart and mind. However, Scripture never seeks to offer to us a working definition of God. There is none, at least not for our finite minds. Thus, we find ourselves at the precipice of the greatest mystery our minds will ever ponder. We exist by the determination of One who, rightly considered, causes us to honestly confess, “I don’t know what He is!” Or even more, “Icannot know what He is!”
To confirm, God appears in the first verse of Scripture with no explanation or definition of Himself. Genesis merely records His original creative activity.
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1).
This abrupt entrance of God in the Bible, given without explanation or definition, tells us something about ourselves, namely, that we possess no capability to fully understand our Maker’s essence. Certainly, the Bible tells us much about countless other truths that describe the living God. We even find ourselves called into living and personal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. Never, however, do the writers of Scripture address the question of essence. Never do they define God. Again, this seems to present a dilemma. Rightly received and interpreted, however, this Biblical omission shines perhaps the brightly light of all concerning our glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. We will consider this illumination in our next essay.
“The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”(I Timothy 6:16).