Mini-Bible Study: How Does God Identify Himself?

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How Does God Identify Himself?

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The first is His written revelation, the Bible. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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). The Bible is the book by God and about God!

The second method is the evidence of creation, because it was "God who created all things through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:9 Ephesians 3:9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
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, emphasis added throughout). Not only is every creature evidence and proof of a genius Creator, but every creature gives us insight into the mind and power of the Creator.

That's what Paul meant when he said: "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they [who would deny God] are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20 Romans 1:19-20 [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
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, English Standard Version).

In this study we focus on many of the wonderful things we learn about God by reading His written Word, the Bible, which is His masterpiece of self-revelation. Hopefully it will whet your appetite to read the entire Bible so that you can learn much, much more about Him.

Then as you get into the habit of studying the Bible and praying every day and putting God's Word into practice in your everyday life, you will be forming a deep, personal relationship with God. You will be going beyond getting to know about God. You will be getting to really know God as your Father and Friend.

This study focuses on key scriptures in the Bible where God reveals highly significant things about His nature and actions.

A breakthrough in understanding

Consider the story of the righteous man Job in the biblical book that bears his name. This story relates the spiritual transformation of Job from a man who knew a great deal about God to a man who really came to know God in a personal and intimate way.

This book is highly thought-provoking. For most of the book, Job and his friends are stating what they think they know about God, but their limited views fall far short of understanding the great mind, purposes and plan of God. After God talks with Job, Job has a major breakthrough in understanding.

Job said: "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6 Job 42:5-6 [5] I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. [6] Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
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). Job came to see God in a deeper way with the eyes of faith and spiritual understanding. Job was ashamed of accusing God of mistreating him during his ordeal, and he deeply repented. When he said, "I abhor myself," he meant that he despised his self-justification and implications that God had been unjust and uncaring.

Job apparently came to realize more deeply that everyone's life includes suffering and that suffering is a means to spiritual growth. Job surrendered to God's will, having become assured that God is the sovereign Lord of the universe, has perfect understanding and always does what is best for us in the long run. We must trust Him.

Has anyone ever seen God?

Almighty God is Spirit and, in His usual glorified state, is invisible to the human eye (Colossians 1:15 Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
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; 1 Timothy 1:17 1 Timothy 1:17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
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; Hebrews 11:27 Hebrews 11:27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
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). That partly explains why John said, "No one has seen God at any time" (John 1:18 John 1:18No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
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).

But how should we interpret that since the books of the Old Testament give many accounts of God appearing to people?

Notice that the second half of John 1:18 John 1:18No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
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shows that John was talking about God the Father, not God the Son, Jesus Christ. Also Jesus said, "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God [referring to Himself, Jesus]; He has seen the Father" (John 6:46 John 6:46Not that any man has seen the Father, save he which is of God, he has seen the Father.
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).

These verses point to the fact that the God who appeared to people during Old Testament times was the One who later became Jesus Christ!

Prior to Jesus' birth as a human being, John refers to Him as "the Word" and as "God": "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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). Later John wrote, "And the Word became flesh [when He was born of Mary] and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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).

In a future study we will thoroughly prove that the God who appeared to people in Old Testament times was the Word who became Jesus Christ, not God the Father. In this study, we merely want to establish that fact to prevent any confusion.

However, when we discuss the nature or character of God, we make no distinction between God the Father and God the Son because They are identical in nature and character (see John 10:30 John 10:30I and my Father are one.
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; John 14:9 John 14:9Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
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; John 17:11 John 17:11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are.
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, John 17:22 John 17:22And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
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).

So although we don't literally see God with our eyes (and won't until Christ's return to earth), we can perceive and better understand His nature, character, purposes and goals. That is the purpose of this study.

What is God's first role with respect to our very existence?

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
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).

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
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).

"You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth" (Psalms 104:30 Psalms 104:30You send forth your spirit, they are created: and you renew the face of the earth.
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).

"For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:11 Exodus 20:11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
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).

Notice that every Sabbath day is a reminder that we are created beings and a reminder of who our Creator is! That has many implications, including the fact that God is the Owner and the supreme Ruler over His creation, and He is dedicated to providing the best possible care of His creation. We can also learn many things about Him by observing His creation, as we are told in Roman 1:18-23.

Consider that God also created all the laws, including the laws of science and mathematics and the spiritual laws.

When did creation take place? There is often confusion over this question. God's original creation of the universe and planet earth was evidently prior to the time of Adam and Eve's creation. But eventually the earth suffered a cataclysm and all life was destroyed. Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
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apparently should read, "The earth became without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep" (the word typically translated "was" here is properly rendered as "became" in other verses).

Then the rest of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are describing God's re-creation of the world about 6,000 years ago. As Psalms 104:30 Psalms 104:30You send forth your spirit, they are created: and you renew the face of the earth.
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words it, God sent His Spirit to "renew the face of the earth." These two phases of God's creation will be thoroughly explained and proved in a future study.

What single word best defines God's character?

"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
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, repeated in 1 John 4:16 1 John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
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).

"Jesus said . . . '"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"'" (Matthew 22:37-39 Matthew 22:37-39 [37] Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
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; quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 Deuteronomy 6:5And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
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and Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
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).

Love defines God's nature, and love is what He most wants to see in the character of His children. Therefore, it's no surprise that His greatest commandments are to love—to love God and to love other people.

What are some other words that define God's character?

"For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright" (Psalms 11:7 Psalms 11:7For the righteous LORD loves righteousness; his countenance does behold the upright.
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).

"But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16 1 Peter 1:15-16 [15] But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; [16] Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.
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; quoting Leviticus 11:44-45 Leviticus 11:44-45 [44] For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps on the earth. [45] For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
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; Leviticus 19:2 Leviticus 19:2Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
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; Leviticus 20:26 Leviticus 20:26And you shall be holy to me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine.
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).

"For the Lord is good . . . You [God] are good and do good" (Psalms 100:5 Psalms 100:5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.
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; Psalms 119:68 Psalms 119:68You are good, and do good; teach me your statutes.
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).

"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

God is righteous, holy, good and perfect. Righteous means straight and true in a moral sense. Even during Jesus' earthly life, He never sinned. God defines the absolute standards of righteous character, and He sets the perfect example. God's laws spell out His righteousness (see Psalms 119:172 Psalms 119:172My tongue shall speak of your word: for all your commandments are righteousness.
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), and by obeying them we are imitating Christ and becoming like Him. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
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).

What is God's role in rescuing people from sin and its penalties?

"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14 1 John 4:14And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
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).

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4 1 Timothy 2:3-4 [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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).

When you read the Bible, notice how often you see the words savior, save, saved and salvation. Notice also synonymous words and like deliver, delivered and deliverer. When God began to announce the Ten Commandments, He introduced Himself this way: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2 Exodus 20:2I am the LORD your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
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; Deuteronomy 5:6 Deuteronomy 5:6I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
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). The miraculous liberation of the Israelites from Egypt illustrates God's plan to miraculously deliver all people out of slavery to sin. And every Sabbath day is a reminder of God's role as Savior (Deuteronomy 5:15 Deuteronomy 5:15And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out there through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
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).

The angel that appeared to Joseph told him that Mary's child should be called Jesus (meaning Savior) "for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21 Matthew 1:21And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
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).

The word salvation is used to refer to the various steps that God takes to save us, but our ultimate salvation will be our resurrection from mortality to glorious immortality (1 Corinthians 15:50-54 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 [50] Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
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).

Is God the supreme example of grace, mercy and generosity?

"The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy" (Psalms 145:8 Psalms 145:8The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
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).

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19 Philippians 4:19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
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; see also 1 Timothy 6:17 1 Timothy 6:17Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy;
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; James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
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).

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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).

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalms 103:2-4 Psalms 103:2-4 [2] Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: [3] Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; [4] Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies;
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).

Our gracious God not only provides all our needs, but also bestows on us the gift of grace. The apostle Paul often used the Greek word translated grace to refer to all the spiritual gifts that God offers humanity, including the forgiveness of sin and the offer of eternal life. God's grace is truly amazing and awesome—it is gracious generosity greater than our minds can comprehend!

The Old Testament writers often used the Hebrew word hesed when referring to a primary characteristic of God. There is no single English word that adequately translates the profound meaning of this word. It is variously translated as "mercy," "merciful kindness" or "lovingkindness" (which is how it is translated in Psalms 103:4 Psalms 103:4Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies;
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), though it also connotes covenant loyalty or faithfulness. The committed love aspect is perhaps best captured in the word devotion.

Is our merciful God also a God of justice?

"He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord" (Psalms 33:5 Psalms 33:5He loves righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
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).

"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10:17-18 Deuteronomy 10:17-18 [17] For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regards not persons, nor takes reward: [18] He does execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
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).

We live in an unjust world, and often life isn't fair. That makes it all the more wonderful that we can rely on a God who is completely just and fair.

A central question is this: Since everyone sins and the penalty of sin is death, how can God save us and still be a God of perfect justice? It is because Jesus Christ took our place and suffered the death penalty for each of us. Jesus died to fulfill God's justice and thereby made it possible for God to offer mercy toward all humanity —showing both the gravity of sin and God's great love for us.

Is God omnipotent (all-powerful)?

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust'" (Psalms 91:1-2 Psalms 91:1-2 [1] He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. [2] I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
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).

"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You" (Jeremiah 32:17 Jeremiah 32:17Ah Lord GOD! behold, you have made the heaven and the earth by your great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for you:
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).

"I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You" (Job 42:2 Job 42:2I know that you can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from you.
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).

"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:19-20 Ephesians 1:19-20 [19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, [20] Which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
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).

The word Almighty literally means "all-powerful." One of God's names is El Shaddai, which is often translated "God Almighty." All of Psalm 91 is inspiring, for it describes the complete confidence we have if we are trusting in God. After all, God can easily protect us no matter how great the dangers are.

God also has supreme spiritual power to defeat Satan the devil, to transform the worst of sinners, and to resurrect mortal human beings to become immortal glorified saints in the coming Kingdom of God.

Is God omniscient (all-knowing and all-wise)?

"Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite" (Psalms 147:5 Psalms 147:5Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
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).

"God . . . knows all things" (1 John 3:20 1 John 3:20For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
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).

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether" (Psalms 139:1-4 Psalms 139:1-4 [1] O lord, you have searched me, and known me. [2] You know my sitting down and my rising up, you understand my thought afar off. [3] You compass my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. [4] For there is not a word in my tongue, but, see, O LORD, you know it altogether.
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).

"The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works" (Psalms 33:13-15 Psalms 33:13-15 [13] The LORD looks from heaven; he beholds all the sons of men. [14] From the place of his habitation he looks on all the inhabitants of the earth. [15] He fashions their hearts alike; he considers all their works.
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).

"Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7 Luke 12:6-7 [6] Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? [7] But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows.
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).

God not only knows everything that is taking place in all the seemingly endless universe, but He is in ultimate control over it all. How comforting to know we have a Creator and Provider who will never forget us or overlook our needs and prayers!

Is God omnipresent (present everywhere at once)?

"'Am I a God near at hand,' says the Lord, 'And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?' says the Lord; 'Do I not fill heaven and earth?' says the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:23-24 Jeremiah 23:23-24 [23] Am I a God at hand, said the LORD, and not a God afar off? [24] Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? said the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? said the LORD.
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; compare 2 Chronicles 2:6 2 Chronicles 2:6But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?
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).

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell [in the grave, or in the ground], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me" (Psalms 139:7-10 Psalms 139:7-10 [7] Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence? [8] If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. [9] If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; [10] Even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
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).

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him" (2 Chronicles 16:9 2 Chronicles 16:9For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein you have done foolishly: therefore from now on you shall have wars.
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).

God can be everywhere at once because His Spirit—His projected power, mind, life and essence—is everywhere. So the help and understanding that God sends by His Spirit are just as effective and perfect as if God were standing right beside us.

God's Holy Spirit also serves as His eyes and ears to give God perfect and total awareness of everything in every place. Hence, God's Spirit provides two-way communication.

Last but not least, does God claim all authority and lordship?

"God, who made the world and everything in it, . . . is Lord of heaven and earth" (Acts 17:24 Acts 17:24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands;
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).

"For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth . . . God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne" (Psalms 47:2 Psalms 47:2For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
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, Psalms 47:8 Psalms 47:8God reigns over the heathen: God sits on the throne of his holiness.
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).

"You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3 Exodus 20:3You shall have no other gods before me.
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).

"You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him" (Deuteronomy 13:4 Deuteronomy 13:4You shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and join to him.
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).

God is the sovereign power over all the universe (see also Genesis 14:19-22 Genesis 14:19-22 [19] And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: [20] And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all. [21] And the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to yourself. [22] And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up my hand to the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
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; Matthew 28:18 Matthew 28:18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
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). Everything was created by Him. He expects complete loyalty, reverence and obedience. We must not allow anything in our lives to rival God. He must always come first, as Jesus stated in Matthew 22:37 Matthew 22:37Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
American King James Version×
, quoted earlier.

Apply Now

What are other qualities and characteristics of God? Write down as many as you can think of. Think about what God is like, what He has done, what He is doing now and what He promises to do. Also take time to reflect on all that you have written down. And in your prayers in the days ahead, spend time thanking God for all that He is to us and all that He does!

Also, be sure to read the Bible study aid Who Is God? People have many questions and misconceptions about who and what God is, and this booklet will show you the answers right from the pages of your Bible. To really understand God, you need to read this Bible study aid booklet!

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