Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
Memory Verse – Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”
“GOD is REAL, UNMOVABLE, SELF-DEFINING, SELF-EXISTENT, ETERNAL, HOLY, TRUTH, OMNIPOTENCE, SOVEREIGN, OMNISCIENCE, OMNIPRESENCE and CREATOR OF ALL THINGS”
Social media has helped people create unrealistic profiles of themselves. They embellish their accomplishments, hide their weaknesses, and lie about their failures. Their “social media profile” is a far better person than they really are. How much do you trust what people post about themselves on social media sites? Sometimes we ignore what we know about a person because we don’t want to alter our lives to accommodate the person. We want to be in control of our decisions even if they negatively affect others. For example, an employee might continue to make strong coffee even though he knows his boss likes it weaker. He ignores his preferences to retain the decision making power and to please himself.
We all are prone to do this with others and even with God. We ignore what we know is true of Him and make decisions according to our own desires. Sometimes we even attempt to change the reality of God to fit our own desires. If the truth were told, the majority of people want a God who serves us rather than a God we serve. They want to create a designer God who has all the parts they like and delete the parts they dislike. Thus, learning and properly responding to the Biblical reality of God is extremely important to living in the real.
Our study will focus on those attributes or (characteristics) of God so that we might better understand Who God is. A person with genuine faith accepts what is true about God without attempting to alter or change that truth. It takes genuine and sincere faith to please God (11:6). No one can claim to please God by believing their own reality of Who God is. They can’t create their own definition of God and “rules” for pleasing God. God won’t accept their terms. They must believe that God “is,” period.
As a born-again believer, learning about who God is takes diligent study of His Word and He rewards those who “diligently seek him” and discover what He is like and what He expects of them. Slothful study of God’s Word will lead to bad theology, a weak faith, and a superficial spiritual life. How can we expect to grow in our, understanding of, and relationship with God by plopping open our Bibles and reading until we find something that inspires us or makes us feel better, and we can’t regard God’s Word as just another academic textbook to master. We must commit to knowing God as He is and resist the temptation to define God to our own liking. He is and will always be the supreme and absolute reality, and He defines Who He is and what He is like.
I like what the Apostle Paul said in his letter to Timothy. He didn’t say, “I know in whom I have believed,” although this was also true. He didn’t say, “I know what I have believed,” although this also was true. Moreover, the Apostle Paul said, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). Paul reminded young Timothy of the importance of knowing God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:14-17) and of carefully and diligently carrying out his ministry of teaching others (2 Timothy 2:15).
It is of the upmost important to make time to study God’s Word with diligence and purpose, because without the knowledge of God and His purposes revealed in Scripture and in His Son, Jesus Christ, we finite humans with our deceitfully wicked heart and sin-darkened minds have at best a blurred picture of the invisible and all powerful Creator. However, when we pick up the Bible and encounter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Man who was God-in-the-flesh, the blurred picture fades away as we study and are obedient to His Word. As the Savior Himself declared, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
GOD is REAL and UNMOVABLE
Feelings — we all have our share of them. They can be compared to “drifting clouds” that momentarily appear and then fade away. Sometimes they arrive unannounced, and other times they are welcomed like an old familiar, stuffed chair. In case you haven’t noticed, our feelings can be very unpredictable. On certain days, they can be very gentle and warm. On other days, however, they can be like a howling wind, fierce and unceasing, tossing us to and fro like a rag doll.
They have often been described as fickle, fleeting, superficial, shallow, deep, intense, void, and empty. They are denied, stifled, and stuffed, and on some occasions, encouraged to be expressed. Like clockwork, they will show up… and other times they are nowhere to be found. The wonderful truth of the matter is, though our feelings fluctuate from day to day, nothing can change the unmovable character of God. Isn’t that a reassuring promise? In Him, there is no shadow of turning (James 1:17). God is real and the same yesterday, today, and forever.
GOD is the ULTIMATE REALITY (Hebrews 11:1, 6)
God gives us Biblical realities for life so that we might live in the real. The Biblical reality of God is where we must begin and He is the ultimate reality. All attempts at a reality outside of God will fail. The reality of God includes Who God is and what He is like. This study looks primarily at Who God is. The writer of Hebrews provides a description of faith. Faith is trusting that God is real. A person of faith orders his/her life according to the belief that everything about God is true, including all His promises and attributes.
Two good friends were talking about God and life after death. “The one friend said there is one thing I wish.” “I wish I had proof that there is a God.” In Hebrews 11:6 we read, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” The Bible makes no attempt to prove God’s existence. It assumes it. Yet, three paths are open to the earnest seeker who wants to know if there is a God.
The first is nature. Paul wrote, “His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). The second path is conscience, a God-given inner compass that points us to God’s standards of right and wrong (Romans 2:14-15). However, the most convincing path is that of putting truth to the test. Those who desire to please God and are willing to obey Him will find that their faith is based in reality, for God rewards “those who diligently seek Him”. Assurance always follows faith.
GOD is SELF-DEFINING (Acts 17:28)
Our culture prizes personal views and opinions. So people accept and even celebrate personal definitions of God. The only view of God they don’t accept is the view that claims distinctiveness. Society doesn’t like a view of God that excludes all other views. Of course, the Bible presents an exclusive view of God because the Bible presents absolute truth, not just another personal view. Our society is increasingly attacking both the Bible and believers because of the exclusivity, uniqueness, and distinctiveness of the Bible. While the specific personal opinions about God are too many to list, most views about God fall into three categories. The first of which is that:
(1) GOD IS A DISTANT AND IMPERSONAL BEING.
Those who hold to this view believe that God doesn’t communicate or interact with people. He is uninterested in what people do. He doesn’t care if they are good or bad. They believe God’s role was to get the earth spinning, but since then He has been indifferent to the affairs of the world. Proponents of this view see themselves as free from God.
(2) GOD IS A TYRANT OR DICTATOR.
That He is waiting to punish people for doing wrong. Those who adopt this view of God believe people should live in fear that at any moment God will bring trouble into their lives. From this perspective, living with God is like living with a grump. Everyone has to be careful not to do anything to upset or anger God. So, those who hold this opinion of God are characterized by fear of God.
(3) GOD IS A CELESTIAL SANTA CLAUS.
When those who hold this view ask God for favors and believe He will grant the favors as long as they have been good. They expect God to always do what they think is best. They expect nothing bad to happen to them if they are in good standing with God. Thus, those who hold this opinion of God are characterized by seeking favor from God.
God is self-defining. His opinion is the only one that matters and He speaks to “Who He is” in the inspired Word of God. Thus, the truth about God is central to living in reality. The apostle Paul addressed a group of Athenian pagans on Mars’ Hill while he was on one of his missionary journeys. He introduced them to God as the One in Whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We exist because God is real. We could not live without Him. And we certainly don’t have the right to define God based on a personal view or opinion. Faith in God should characterize our relationship with God, rather than freedom from God, terrifying fear of God, or seeking favors from God.
GOD IS SELF-EXISTENT AND ETERNAL
Exodus 3:13-15, Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.
God called Moses to be His leader in preparation for the Exodus and Red Sea crossing. Moses wanted to know what God is like. God’s “name” (3:13) represents who God is. God answered by telling Moses that He is “I AM WHO I AM” (3:14). That name might sound confusing, but Moses would have understood it immediately. God was saying that He is self-existent and that He is complete without anyone else.
Some of the implications of God’s self-existence is that there is no authority over God. He isn’t dependent on anyone and doesn’t answer to anyone. God never had a beginning, and no one could bring God to an end. God’s self-existence was important for Moses and especially for Israel as they labored under the heavy hand of Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt. Egypt was a military juggernaut with horses and strong chariots. Escaping would have been impossible for the Israelites; however, with the I AM on their side, deliverance was guaranteed (3:16, 17). God is eternal. There has never been a time when God was not the I AM, and there could never be a time when God would cease to be the I AM.
GOD IS HOLY (Exodus 15:1-5, 11; Isaiah 6:1-3; 1 Peter 1:13-16; Revelation 4:8)
Isaiah 6:1, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up”. Being face-to-face with famous people can sometimes take our breath away. Thus, a person can easily feel inadequate when talking with bigger-than-life people whether they are football coaches, basketball and baseball stars. We can even develop an awe and respect for athletes and other stars that make us feel insignificant.
But that’s nothing when compared to what Isaiah saw “in the year that King Uzziah died” (Isaiah 6:1). Isaiah experienced something so magnificent and terrifying that nothing could compare to it, he stood face-to-face with God! In a vision, God showed Isaiah who He really was. What the prophet saw greatly affected him. He saw God’s majesty. He gained a fresh understanding of God’s holiness. He saw the contrast between his sinful self and God’s perfection. He heard God’s call to service and he answered it. Today, we can see God in His Word and in the Spirit’s work in and through us. And we can commune with Him through prayer. But one day in heaven we will see our Lord face-to-face (1 John 3:2). Now that my beloved will take our breath away!
Other aspects of God’s self-revelation are captured in the song Moses wrote after the crossing of the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and riders were drowned as they attempted to chase after the Children of Israel (15:1-5). Some of the dead Egyptians washed up on the shore of the Red Sea as evidence of God’s great deliverance. Israel was free at last. This caused a Moses-led celebration of God. Moses focused on God’s holiness by including two rhetorical questions in his song. They state that God is truly unique. No one could even imagine a god comparable to the one true God. None could ever be like Him because He is “glorious,” or majestic, in His Holiness, which speaks to God’s perfect nature and absolutely free from sin.
His separation from sin causes Him to be so majestic and bright that no one could look on Him and live (Exodus 33:20). Isaiah and John both saw heavenly scenes where the holiness of God was a central focus (Isaiah 6:1-3; Revelation 4:8). The continuous repetition of “holy, holy, holy” speaks to the perfection of God’s holiness as well as the wonder of it. God’s holiness was later given to Israel as the standard for their lives (Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7). They were to be holy because God is holy. Peter repeated this command for believers today.
Being holy, or separated from sin unto God, is an ongoing, daily goal for us as believers. It requires effort and reliance on God to renew our minds through His Word (Ephesians 4:17-24). Though we will not be completely free from sin in this life, we know that one day we will be. When Christ returns for His church, we will receive glorified bodies and e forever free from our sin nature (Philippians 3:20, 21).
GOD IS TRUTH – John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth”
There are many books in the world today that are based solely on man’s opinion of something. Whether the topic is politics, sports, the weather, self-help, or society; however, sometimes everything published in a book isn’t true. There is one book we can completely trust. We know God’s Word is true because it comes from God. In a day when so many things are based on opinion, God’s Word is based on truth. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Throughout history, many religious leaders have come and gone, but not one has claimed to be the truth and then proved it by rising from the dead. I believe the basic Bible truths contained in God’s Eternal Word are universal and without limitation as to time, culture, or continent. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). In the epistle of 3 John, the important word “truth” is a key word in John’s vocabulary, occurring more in his writing than in those of any other New Testament author. John’s very first mention of truth was in relation to Jesus Christ, whose glory he had beheld in His incarnation as “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) In fact, Christ himself claimed, “I am … the truth” (John 14:6). Then He also said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6).
GOD IS OMNIPOTENCE (all powerful) – Exodus 14:1-12; 15:2, 6
Psalm 114:7, “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord”. Back and forth, back and forth go the pounding waves of the sea. From ages past, the continents have been separated by the mighty oceans. Man has learned to travel over them, to descend to the bottom of them, and to travel through them, but their immensity and the relentless force of their waves remain untamable. Rocks are crushed, shorelines are changed, and even experienced sailors can be driven aground or sent to the bottom of the sea. The combined genius of man and the most powerful equipment can do little to conquer the oceans.
However, they are no problem for God; the One who created the mighty oceans does with them what He wishes. God’s power is further illustrated in Joshua 10:13 when the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written – the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. Psalm 114 refers to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13-31) to describe God’s great power. The psalmist wrote, “The Sea saw it and fled (Psalm 114:3). Then he asked, “What ails you, O sea, that you fled?” (Psalm 114:5). The answer is implied: The seas were obeying the command of God.
God led the Children of Israel from Egypt to Pi Hahiroth, an inescapable place next to the Red Sea. He told Moses that He wanted them to camp there on purpose so He could use their position to lure Pharaoh from Egypt and destroy his army. Moses even told the people that God was leading them to Pi Hahiroth for the purpose of destroying Pharaoh’s army (Exodus 14:1-4). God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as part of His plan. The Egyptian king, unaware of God’s sovereign plan, came out with his best forces to capture Israel (14:8). Once the Israelites saw the horses and chariots pursuing them, they became very nervous. They had nowhere to turn but to God. They cried out to Him (14:10), but their subsequent words to Moses revealed their lack of faith.
They claimed they would have been better off if they had stayed in Egypt as slaves (14:11, 12). In reality, they didn’t trust God to keep His word. They didn’t believe He was sovereignly in control of Pharaoh and his army. However, they soon learned as God protected them, He powerfully parted the Red Sea, and then destroyed the Egyptian army. In the aftermath of the destruction of the Egyptian army, Moses focused on God’s omnipotence and sovereignty in his song to God. “Omnipotence” means “all-powerful,” while “sovereignty” refers to God’s absolute control. The salvation God gave Moses through His power and leading caused Moses to rejoice and sing. Moses recognized that God had sovereignly led them and then delivered them by His strength alone and He was amazed by God.
Moses went on to sing that God’s right hand became “glorious in power” (15:6). The word “glorious” has the idea of “wide” or “broad.” Moses was pointing out how illustrious God’s power is. It amazed him. We know God’s power is real, but when we personally benefit from it, our understanding of it grows and becomes awesome. We should live every day with a deep appreciation of God’s omnipotence and sovereignty.
GOD IS SOVEREIGN
Job 2:10, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In the fall of 1982, Deborah Kiley set out with three other young people to deliver the 58-foot yacht Trashman from Maine to Florida. Off the coast of North Carolina, they encountered gale winds and mountainous seas that sank their boat. Enduring 4 grueling days at sea without food or fresh water, the crew clung to life in a rubber dinghy in shark-infested waters. In her book Albatross, Deborah recalls how one of the crew shouted curses at God for their dilemma. Despite her fatigue, Deborah silently recited The Lord’s Prayer and asked God to teach her through this crisis.
Later, the same young man drank seawater, became delirious, jumped overboard, and was eaten by sharks. Eventually, the survivors were rescued by a Russian freighter. Each of us responds in different ways to a crisis. Centuries ago, Job was hit by one wave of bad news after another. At one point his wife told him to curse God and die. Job’s response was profound: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” So, the next time a crisis hits, recognize God’s sovereignty and do as Deborah Kiley did, ask God to teach you something through it.
GOD IS OMNISCIENCE (Exodus 14:19, 20; 15:13, 17; Philippians 4:6-7)
God knows everything. He is perfect in knowledge and His understanding is infinite. Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good”. Psalms 33:13-15, From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth — he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. Psalms 139:1-2, O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
GOD IS OMNIPRESENCE – Can We Truly Understand It (not really)
The omnipresence of God has caused controversy and concern for many people. In the midst of a disastrous event we may ask, “Where was God?” In response to her children’s demands, a tired mother replies, “I can’t be in two places at the same time!” Even the most advanced technology is unable to physically place us in two locations within a single moment. Surely, if God is everywhere simultaneously, i.e. omnipresent, then nothing escapes His attention. Throughout the Bible, everything created continues to exist under the control of a sovereign God. An omnipresent God “saw all that he had made…the heavens and the earth were completed in their entire vast array” (Genesis 1:31–2:1)
As Israel encamped by the Red Sea with the Egyptian army closing in, God’s presence with them was obvious. God was in a cloud that darkened the night for the Egyptians and provided comfort and light for the Israelites. Israel actually witnessed the cloud move from before them to behind them to protect them from the Egyptian army. It was as if God was saying, “Don’t worry. I’m here. I know the danger you are in. I will protect you with My presence.” The Israelites needed to understand their God is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (present everywhere) as they made their way to the Promised Land.
Moses anticipated God’s presence with Israel and sang about God leading and guiding them to His “holy habitation” Moses was confident God’s presence would “bring” the Israelites into the Promised Land. After celebrating God, the Israelites camped at Mount Sinai. There they revealed their desire to define God for themselves despite God’s miraculous revelation of Himself.
While Moses was on the mountain conversing with God, God’s people had Aaron create a golden calf to represent the god who brought them out of Egypt. By creating the calf, the Israelites claimed the right to determine what their god expected of them and found acceptable. Sensuality and drunkenness were at the top of their list of acceptable practices. They partied as they danced around their god. Ironically, the one true God was in the middle of giving Moses the Ten Commandments, the beginning of the law that would define for Israel what God expected of them as His covenant people. We, like the Israelites, want to control and define who God is. Instead, we must put our faith in Him and believe that He “is” (Hebrews 11:6).
Psalm 91:1 tell us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” and Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the worlds wee framed by the word of God”. Our God that we serve is the “God of Creation”. I will close with the following stor
Many years ago Sir Isaac Newton made a working model of our solar system. At its center was a large golden ball representing the sun, and revolving around it were the planets; smaller spheres attached at the end of rods of varying lengths. A friend who did not believe in the biblical account of creation stopped by for a visit. Watching as Newton made the tiny planets move in their orbits, the man exclaimed, “My, what an exquisite thing! Who made it?” Without looking up, Newton replied, “Nobody.” “Nobody?” his friend asked. That’s right Newton replied!
These balls and cogs and belts and gears just happened to come together. And by chance they began revolving in their set orbits with perfect timing.” The unbeliever got the message! It was foolish to suppose that the model merely happened. However, it was even more senseless to accept the theory that the earth and the vast universe came into being by chance. Without the Bible, scientists are baffled regarding the universe and how it came into existence. They can only guess and speak dogmatically, but they have no authoritative answers to the cosmic questions.
The Bible alone tells us where everything came from, why everything exists, and what lies ahead. As Job learned, it was God who “laid the foundations of the earth” (Job 38:4). How much more logical to believe the Word of God, which says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Bible also declares, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Even reason itself clearly points to the God of creation, the One who is:
(4) All powerful,
(6) Omniscience and
We don’t need to listen to the speculations of world famous thinkers to find answers to the big questions of life. We just need to humbly and reverently study the Word of God and in the Scriptures we will find rest for our mind and peace for our soul.
WHEN WE OPEN OUR BIBLE, ASK THE AUTHOR TO OPEN OUR HEART