You are on page 1of 9

CHARACTER OF GOD part 1: THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING GOD We will lay out some basic foundational truths that

build throughout the 5 parts of this study. John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. [To know God IS to have eternal life.] We MUST know Him in order to have eternal life. Lets look at a verse that shows the results of not knowing Him. Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. [They will be destroyed if lacking in knowledge.] So here we see the results of not knowing Him: if we dont know Him, we have eternal death. Gods greatest desire is for us to have eternal life, and therefore wants us to know Him. Heres another text that reiterates this point. Jeremiah 9:23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: Jeremiah 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. [Wisdom, power & riches arent the things we should try to obtain because theyre not the things that give us eternal life.] A correct understanding of God is what brings eternal life. God delights in exercising lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousnessnot in the things of the world. Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. [There are a lot of different religions, and many of them use the Bible, but theres ONLY ONE WAY, FAITH, LORD] In order to know this one way, we need to know the correct way to read the Bible. The Bible gives us principles on how to read it correctly, so we can come to a correct understanding of truth. To put it simply, we use the Bible to interpret itself! This is called THE BIBLICAL METHOD OF INTERPRETATION. 1Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. 1Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

1Corinthians 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 1Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [No man (but the Spirit of God) knows the things of God, but were GIVEN the Spirit in order to understand.] We HAVE to have His Spirit in order to understand. We use the Bible to define the Bible. (EGW) Selected Messages Book 1 (Ch 1): The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language. Jesus, in order to reach man where he is, took humanity. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea. The Bible was given for practical purposesThe Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not Gods mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were Gods penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers. It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the mans words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. [Some things are written to have meaning desired by the writer.] The writings of the Bible were WRITTEN in the words of man but were INSPIRED by the Holy Spirit. To put it another way, the Bible was inspired by God, but is not the expression of God. We need to use inspired writings to interpret inspired writings. Note something EGW said: [They wouldnt have needed me if they had just read their Bible correctly.] EGWs writings are powerful resources for us. They support the Bible, and in many cases, even make obscure Biblical concepts easier to understand. The point she was trying to make though, in saying that her writings wouldnt have been necessary, is a good one. If we truly understood how to properly read/interpret the Bible, we wouldnt have needed her to do it for us. Lets look at another verse that states the purpose and the inspiration of the Bible writings. 2Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [The gospel gives us everything we need for salvation.] And here again we see Scripture state that it was given by INSPIRATION of God.

2Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Correctly using the word to explain truth...] Sometimes, there are concepts generalized, so they need to be divided (or broken down) to bring light (understanding) to the subject. We wont take a single text and come to a conclusion on how God is, but rather, we have to study the other texts in Scripture discussing the same things in order to come to a harmonizing conclusion. Isaiah 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. Isaiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: [Hell teach those that dig deep and want solid food (not just the milk, or the basic idea of the concept)building principle upon principlehere a little, there a little] Note: The word precept means principle. So again, we are letting God tell us what He means by allowing the Bible to interpret itself. Lets look at an example of how Scripture can be misinterpreted if only one verse is studied: Genesis 6:6 And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. [God was sorryHe repented for making man.] To repent means there was a mistake or sin committed and now youre sorry that you did it But does God make mistakes OR commit sins? Of course not! Lets look at another verse and then compare the two so we can show what Genesis 6:6 ACTUALLY means. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? [God doesnt lie nor does He need to repent, as do men.] So this verse shows that God repenting & man repenting are different. The point of this comparison is to show how different meanings are expressed by the same word. So looking back at Genesis 6:6, the actual meaning of God repented is not that He had made a mistake or because He had sinned... but rather that He was profoundly grieved for making man because of their decision to sin. Now we are going to start comparing different texts to each other to come to a conclusion on the actual meaning of different statements made throughout Scripture. Throughout different examples, we will present some basic key principles to keep in mind when using the Biblical Method of Interpretation. THE PRINCIPLE TO UNDERSTANDING TRUTH CORRECTLY: The Bible describes God as DOING that which He simply PERMITS (allows) to happen, or DOESNT PREVENT (stop) from happening. Lets look at the statement God hardened their hearts to begin.

Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. [God says He will harden his heart (Pharaohs heart, in this instance), to prevent something He (God) wants done.] So to us, this sounds like the Bible is saying that even if Pharaoh WANTED to repent, he couldnt have because God would have hardened his heart, thus taking his freedom to repent. Sidenote: Did you also notice how strange that idea seems: God WANTS Pharaoh to let His (Gods) people go, and yet God says Hell harden Pharaohs heart SO THAT he will NOT let them go. Wouldnt that kind of defeat the purpose of sending Moses to do all these miraculous things to convince Pharaoh? Its almost a contradiction, right in the very same verse! That right there, in and of itself, raises a red flag to mesuggesting that the meaning of this verse may not be what it seems on the outset. This is a perfect example (that many people often try to use when arguing against the way that God functions) when considering the important principle. So now we need to view other texts to see if this is actually how God functions. Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. [God doesnt play favorites. But in all nations and circumstances, if someone respects/fears God, He accepts them.] By this we can see that, since God doesnt play favorites, that He didnt love Pharaoh any less than He loved Moses. Thus, had Pharaoh respected/feared God as he should have, God wouldve accepted Him. Some people try to say that God WANTED for Pharaoh to die, but looking at other verses, a different idea is suggested. 2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. [God wants ALL to come to repentance.] It doesnt say that Hes not willing that SOME should perish, but ALL. All includes Pharaoh. This means that God does NOT want even Pharaoh to die. Lets look at another text that supports this principle. 1Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 1Timothy 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 1Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [God wants ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.] He was giving Pharaoh the chance to see the power of God (through His wonders) and be saved by coming to the knowledge of the truth.

God was showing Pharaoh that his (false) gods were nothing, and that they couldnt do what God could doso that every time he faced a trial (such as the plagues), he would call upon the true God who would deliver Pharaoh from the trial. God does not desire for anyone, including the wicked, to die. This principle is again reiterated in this next verse. Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? [God doesnt want the wicked to die, but to turn from his evil ways and live.] Obviously, God didnt want Pharaoh to die. God is omniscient. He knew that Pharaoh would reject the light, so He had the ability to declare ahead of time that Pharaohs heart would be hardened as a result of his decision. Using the Biblical Method of Interpretation, read again Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will ALLOW PHARAOH TO harden his OWN heart (or ALLOW PHARAOHS HEART TO BE HARDENED), that he shall not let the people go. God gave Pharaoh the freedom of choice. Pharaoh chose wrong, and thus, his heart became hardened. This is the exact same thing God does in all other situations when He directs people. Look at this next text: Zechariah 7:9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: Zechariah 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. Zechariah 7:11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Zechariah 7:12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in His Spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. [God gave His advice for how to give good judgment. But they refused to listen, and they hardened their own hearts like stone.] God gave them freedom of choice, but their hearts were hardened AS A RESULT of not listening to Gods advice. We see the same for Pharaoh. Exodus 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go. [Pharaoh outright refused to listen.] Exodus 10:3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before Me? let My people go, that they may serve Me. [How long will you refuse to acknowledge yourself as a man, rather than as God?] This text eludes to God claiming that Pharaoh was refusing, and thus, his heart was hardened. We all have freedom of choice. He tried to convince Pharaoh that He (God) was the true God, so that Pharaoh could have eternal life.

Notice Exodus 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. [Each time he had a trial, he SAID he would give in to Gods heeding, as to be freed from it. It was never that he actually decided in his heart to obey God. Once he saw each of the trials were passed, he no longer saw a need for help, and again Pharaoh hardened his (own) heart.] Lets look at the idea of the Substance of the Mind (heart/mind of butter vs of clay): --Light (truth/understanding) being accepted softens the heart like butter in the heat of the sun. --Light being refused hardens the heart like clay hardens in the heat of the sun. After refusing the truth so many times, the heart becomes so hardened that the person is set in sin and even begin to believe their own lie. CONCLUSION: God hardened Pharaohs heart by giving him the freedom of choice and ALLOWING him to make his own choice. He didnt directly have to harden Pharaohs heartit happened naturally as the result of his own choice. Hosea 13:9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. Hosea 14:1 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. By refusing the truth, you ultimately fall to sin and die (eternal death). Lets now look briefly at the statement God kills. 1Chronicles 10:13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; 1Chronicles 10:14 And enquired not of the LORD: therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse. [God killed Saul.] So to us, this sounds like the Bible is saying that Saul sinned and disobeyed God, and thus, God killed him. This is another perfect example (that many people often try to use when arguing against the way that God functions) when considering the important principle were exploring in this study. So now we need to view other texts to see if this is actually how God functions. 1Chronicles 10:1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. 1Chronicles 10:2 And the Philistines followed hard after Saul, and after his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. 1Chronicles 10:3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was wounded of the archers. 1Chronicles 10:4 Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. 1Chronicles 10:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on the sword, and died. 1Chronicles 10:6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together.

[Saul LITERALLY killed himself.] God had told Saul not to go fight against the Philistines because He knew that Saul would die. CONCLUSION: God did not actually kill Saul, but simply allowed the results of his direct disobedience to Gods command not to go. He didnt have to kill Saulit happened naturally as a result of his own choice to disobey God. God left him to his own will because He couldnt help him (since he was disobeying God, God had to remove His protection from Saul), and thus he died because he went against the will of God. Lets wrap up Part 1 of this study with the statement God tempts. 2Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. [God urged David tell them to take a census of Israel and Judah.] God had told David it would be sinful to number the people, and yet here, it says He moved David to do so. This verse, when read without reference to any other part of the word of God, is very difficult to understand, and has been used by those who desire to undermine the justice of God, to show that He sought occasion to punish (or that God was looking for a reason to punish him) that He incited David to sin; and when He had so incited him, gave to him the dreadful alternative of choosing one of three scourges (punishments) by which his people were to be cut off. So now lets look at another part of Scripture to see what actually happened. 1Chronicles 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 1Chronicles 21:2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. 1Chronicles 21:3 And Joab answered, The LORD make His people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel? 1Chronicles 21:4 Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. [Satan provoked (moved) David to number Israel.] So, these two accounts (from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles) are of the same story, but here it says that SATAN was the one that provoked David to sin and number Israel (not God). This can be confusing, which is why we need to understand correct principles. Lets look at further proof that it wasnt God that provoked David to sin. James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: [God tempts nobody.] God would not tell David not to do something (because it would be sinful), and then turn around and tell him TO sin. That is simply not the way that God operates. CONCLUSION: By understanding correct principle, we can see that the Bible shows/reveals that it WAS in fact Satan that provoked David to sin.

This means that God had only ALLOWED David the (informed) decision, rather than CAUSING him to sin. God does not tempt people. God didnt want to punish David for any reason, but the punishment he received was a direct result of his decision to sin. Sidenote: If you read further in 1 Chronicles, you see that later after David does sin, He even comes before God and acknowledges that He directly disobeyed Gods order not to take census of the people, and asks God what his consequence would be. He already knew that he would receive the results of his disobedience. (Thus, God makes David choose one of three punishments for sinning.) We will end here, with a review of the principles we noted throughout part 1 of this study that would be very good to keep in mind. Principles to recall from this study: *NOTE: A principle is a deep, underlying law that is eternal and never changes. -We must know God in order to have eternal life. If we dont, the result is eternal death. -In order to fully understand God, we must have a proper understanding of how to interpret/read the Bibleusing the Bible to interpret itself. This is known as the Biblical Method of Interpretation. -The Bible was inspired by God, but was written by imperfect men, thus, its expression is not completely perfect. So we must use the inspired writings to interpret the others. -We cannot come to a conclusion on a certain subject based on reading one verse, but we must compare verse against verse, in order to come to a harmonizing conclusion of its meaning. -There are some differing ideas/concepts that are represented by the same word/terminology (one word may have two different meanings). - THE PRINCIPLE TO UNDERSTANDING TRUTH CORRECTLY: The Bible describes God as DOING that which He simply PERMITS (allows) to happen, or DOESNT PREVENT (stop) from happening. -God does not want (or enjoy) for anyone (including the wicked) to die, but for them to repent, come to the knowledge of truth, and live. -God gives us freedom of choice. Though it describes God as hardening their hearts, He didnt actually have to harden their heartsit happened naturally as the result of their own choice to reject God. -God warns us of the consequences of disobeying Him. Though it describes God as killing them, it is rather that He simply removed His protection from them. God didnt actually have to kill themthey died naturally as a result of their own choice to disobey His commands. -God does not tempt anyone. Satan does that. Nor does God look for a reason to punish people (that is first off arbitrary, and secondly, its against the principle that God does not find pleasure in the punishment of the wicked.) In the next part (part 2) of our 5 part Character of God study, The Origin and the Nature of Sin, we will be looking deeper into the way that God really operates, despite what people tend to be misled to believe based on a superficial study of the Biblethis will lead up to part 3 (my favorite!), The Wrath of God. There is a quote that we should keep in mind throughout these five studies, as it is very much insightful into why the terminology of the Bible can often seem misleading. (EGW) The Great Controversy (Ch 1): Their sufferings are often represented as a punishment visited upon them by the direct decree of God. It is thus that the great deceiver seeks to conceal his own work.

Oh! that Christians, who sometimes have their minds harassed with doubts, would remember the promise, that what they know not now they shall know hereafter; and if no other instance of elucidation (clarification) than this passage occurred to them to remove their doubts, let this be a means of stirring them up to dig deeper than ever into the inexhaustible mines of the Inspired Word.