Who Is God
 Elder Wm. Doyal Thomas
Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Decatur , Alabama
    It seems sad that such a question would ever be asked. Yet, there are multiplied millions of people who do not know who God is. And they make no pretense about knowing, and seem to be unconcerned and uncaring.
    There are other millions who imagine a god, and then seek to be identified with their imagined god. The number of these imagined gods is unknown, for it seems that everywhere you look there is a new god who suddenly appears on the scene to lead the unknowing into another false way.
    But Who IS God?
    Is God the imagined god of man? And if so, which of the many is the authentic? It is obvious that all the many cannot be the real - for there are many, and each is thought to be the real by someone. Everyone most surely is thinking that his is the real.
    The imagined god of man cannot be God. Whichever god comes into man's depraved and darkened mind cannot be God. All the gods of man's imagination cannot be God, for they all are weak and deficient. Weak in ability and deficient in wisdom. They cannot be God.
    The One God has this complaint against man, "... thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself ..." (Psalms 50:21). Of course, God is here speaking to Israel as representative people. And here is God's assessment of the situation:
    "Thou thoughtest". That is awesome. That man thought (imagined) that the true God was just another like himself states the case correctly. But regardless of man's rationalizations about God and about himself, God has plainly declared the truth. Let man therefore take note, and quibble not at God's evaluation.
    Man imagines a god. And man's god is like himself - initially. And then this imagined god takes on other forms in descending order until this god becomes in the mind of man something to hold in utter contempt. Not at all to be feared or held in high esteem. Laughable in weakness and scorned for lack of knowledge and wisdom.
    Is it any wonder that man acts as he does? His god can do nothing for him, nor hold him in any way accountable. His god is not to be worshiped and praised. His god is to be ruled over and put to open shame. Is it any wonder that man continues on in his sin?
    Have you ever heard someone refer to God as "the man upstairs"? Have you? Have you ever referred to God as "the man upstairs"? Have you? Come now - haven't you? Shame upon you, and upon I, for our blasphemous thoughts and declarations concerning God and His Being.
    Please turn to the book of Romans and read chapters 1, 2, and 3. Here, you will find a sweeping indictment that God has pronounced against sinful, fallen man. Read it in awe. Read it in great fear and trembling. Read again and again chapter 1 , verses 21 thru 23 . "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful: but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things."
    How awful are the imaginations of sinful man. How dark is the darkness of the foolish heart of fallen man. How degrading and dishonoring are the evil thoughts of the totally depraved mind and heart against the Very God. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).
    An examination of Romans 1:21-23 will reveal the wickedness of the thoughts of fallen man toward and about God.
    First, sinful man changes (in his own mind) the glory of the uncorruptible God, and begins to make images of what he thinks God to be. And his first effort produces an image of his supposed god to be "like himself".
    Man places his god on a level with himself so that he can now deal with his god on the basis of their equality. Eyeball to eyeball, using human language. And that is bad! That is awful! That is, to be sure, exceeding sinful!
    Next, not being satisfied with such a god, man makes an image of his god like the fowl of the air. The fowl of the air being a level of created being lower than man, man now ascends to a position above his god. Here, as before, his god is just another creature, like himself, and not the Creator at all. And the case worsens. There is an increasing contempt on the part of man toward God.
    Then, man sinks lower in his imaginations and makes unto himself an image of his god like the four footed beasts. Lower than man. Lower than the fowl of the air. Now man's god is more and more disregarded. Man now has less reason in his depraved mind to heed his god than before. And he loves to have it so. He gloats of his position of supremacy over his god. He is now superior to his god. And who serves whom in this case?
    Finally, man makes unto himself an image of his god like the creeping things. The creeping things are less honorable than the created beings above their level. The creeping things are generally held in utter contempt and are to be trodden under the foot of man at will. To be shunned without shame and disregarded in entirety. This is depravity at work! For now, the god of man is walked over with no thought whatsoever.
    As you read again Romans , chapters 1, 2, and 3, you will find in chapter 3 a detailed account of God's indictment against the descendants of Adam. Read chapter 3 , verses 10-23 . Take note of this pronouncement - "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
    Who IS God?
    Let us look to Holy Writ. Let us hear God as He declares Himself to be God Alone. "Hear, 0 my people, and I will speak; 0 Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God." (Psalms  50:1).
    "I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else". (Isaiah 45:5,6).
    "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" (Isaiah. 46:9,10).
    "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children
of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (Exodus 3:14).
    Now, after all these clear declarations, by God Himself as to who He is, how can anyone fail in knowing Him?
    The answer: Except God "open the heart", none can find out God. He reveals Himself to whomsoever He pleases, as in the case of Lydia. (Acts 16:14)
    Because his heart is darkened by sin, man cannot know God, nor can he discern spiritual things. Man's "foolish heart was darkened" (Romans 1:21), so that he cannot know God. Sin has ruined man so that he cannot know the God who created him. He is separated from his Creator. Thus a state of spiritual death exists. "But the natural  man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (I Corinthians. 2:14)
    Who IS God?
    He is the Maker and Creator of all things, and by Him all things consist. There is nothing that is made that was not made by Him. Think of it. Consider the implications.
    And when He Created, who was there to counsel with Him as to "reasonable procedure to follow"? Who was there to counsel with Him as to the advisability of even making a vast creation? Of celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial? Of the vast gradations of created beings? Of man? Who was there?
    "Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare if thou has understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who has stretched the line upon it? whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof?" (Job 38:4- 6) Please read all of Job 38 , and pay particular  attention to the times when God challenges His creatures to "declare if thou knowest".
    In this vast creation that God has fashioned, is it not evident that He has determined all things that ever shall be? Is it not evident? Is it not? Do the celestial orbs follow random wanderings? Or do they not traverse the vast reaches of unknown space in precise, exact, and predictable movements? Is there chaotic and senseless turmoil in their revolutions about other bodies that collectively form the universe? Does each follow its own will or purpose, apart from the exactness of Omniscient Wisdom's prescription? Does not the path of each meld into the perfectness of the whole? Declare -- if thou knowest!
    And what about those creatures that God has placed upon this one celestial body, His created earth?
    Are all His creatures the same as all others? Is there not here also the clearly manifested evidence that God has purposed and willed to bring into existence multiplied millions of creatures, each species being created uniquely different from the others?
    Cats there are many. Variations abound as to breeds, colors, sizes, etc., within the species. Yet, cats are not rats, nor are they dogs, nor are they fowl of the air, nor fish of the sea. They are cats, and they will continue to be cats according to God's promise, each producing "after his own kind", and it will not change by evolutionary process,  regardless of the lies of Satan and man. "And GOD SAID, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beasts of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that is was good." ( Genesis 1:24,25)
    And what about the times and season? Are they not all under the direct supervision of the Absolute Sovereign? Does day follow night? Are there seed times and times of harvest? Is there a time to be born and a time to die? Is there?
    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: {2} A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; {3} A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; {4} A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; {5} A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; {6} A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; {7} A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; {8} A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. ( Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 )
    Surely, there must be an Originator of all these times. And just as surely, there must be a Regulator of these same times.
    Can a mere creature presume to be in control of events and times? Can collective creatureship regulate any or all things? Is man the master of his own destiny? Is man wielding the scepter of rulership? If so, please state one Biblical declaration of such. Where is example? Where is proof? Where is the evidence? Does history give an example? Name one such case that does. "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." (Proverbs 16:33) "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." (Proverbs 19:21)
    Did the Creator see fit to create all men equal? To claim that He did is to state clearly the position of utter ignorance that all of Adam's race must take before Infinite Omniscience. If you imagine that all men are created equal, then you are in a state of ignorance on this matter.
    Are all men of equal height? weight? strength? intelligence? talent? temperament? color? comeliness? modesty? ability? standing before God?
    In some ways men are alike. They are all sinners (Christ Jesus alone excepted). They are all destitute of means to alter their position, the position of a guilty sinner before a Holy and offended God. They all stand in desperate need. They all are unworthy of the least of His mercies. They are all undeserving and undesiring of God and the things of God. They are all unwilling to come to God, for they are unwilling to forsake their sins. They are all dead in trespasses and in sins. They are all under the wrath of God. And there is much more.
    All men are not the same, for He has said, to some men, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." (Jeremiah 31:3) And to some others, He said, "... I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21) What did God mean by these two expressions? What He said, or something else? What else?
    Some of mankind are permitted to live out long and eventful lives. Others are taken out at an earlier age. In fact, I believe that the history of man during these approximate 6000 literal years of man's existence will verify that a majority of those born pass into eternity in the time of their infancy.
    Why is this? Is it because some are more worthy of immediate ushering into God's presence than others? Is it because some are deemed more suitable to mortal life than others? Why is this? Answer: It is the sovereign prerogative of God alone to do with His own as seemeth Him good!
    God is sovereign. He is sovereign in all His many appointments and in all His Divine operations. He does as He will. In all circumstances that He sovereignly brings about, He rules and overrules according to His own wise counsel and choice.
    It was God who confronted Pharaoh with such circumstances that he hardened his heart and refused to let God's people go. God had commanded, by Moses' utterance to Pharaoh, "Let my people go." But God had also told Moses, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall not let my people go." (Exodus 4:21)
    God hardened Pharaoh's heart by forcing upon him the requirement that he accept the word of God whom Pharaoh DID NOT KNOW. And Pharaoh, being a sinner, acted according to his own nature and rebelled. Pharaoh is responsible because he was a sinner who refused to bow before God in obedience. He is a sinner and totally responsible for his own actions. He is responsible.
    "And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 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." (Exodus 5:1,2)
    I KNOW NOT THE LORD" is Pharaoh's truthful acknowledgment. Had he known God, he would have obeyed the command of God. Had he KNOWN God, he would have OBEYED God! But, he knew not God. He is a sinner, and he knows not God. The same for all sinners. They know not God!
    But read further into this case. Read  "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will  have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared through all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." ( Romans 9:14-18)
    Pharaoh is a fallen sinner. His heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked. He is in a state of total depravity and all his faculties are impotent to do anything acceptable and pleasing to God, who he KNOWS NOT. Depravity cannot search out God even if it wanted to.
    Dear reader, when Scripture speaks of God, He is seen on His Throne, and at the Helm, steering according to His own good pleasure. Please read Ephesians. 1:11; Proverbs. 21:1; Dan. 4:35.
    The Doctrine of God is the foundation doctrine. And upon this doctrine all other doctrines must be built. Any doctrine, whatever it may be, must stand or fall upon its relation to the foundation doctrine. And that doctrine is hereby stated: God IS God!
   The imagined god of so-called "modern man" is completely lacking in power. Men imagine their god to be filled with the best of good intentions toward them, but somehow Satan and the "free will" of man is preventing him making good on his intentions. This imagined god is very puny indeed  isn't he. And who among us can rest assured in these good intentions when there is no power to execute?
    We also declare that the imagined god of so- called "modern man" is completely lacking in wisdom and discernment. So-called "modern man" has convinced himself that God loves everybody. Now, were this the case, then God would be lacking in wisdom. Time and eternity makes known that everybody does not come to be saved. Didn't God know?
    The God of the Bible is so very much different from the god of so-called "modern man". Human enlightenment has not brought man to see and to know God. Rather, human enlightenment has deepened the belief among man that he is a god unto himself. Humanism is steeped within this so-called "modern man". And he KNOWS NOT GOD!
    Who IS God? Let Scripture answer: 'Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves: we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalms 100:3)
    I am persuaded that if God's people are properly and scripturally taught who God is, they will no longer rebel at the grand doctrines of the Bible. Rather, they will relish these precious truths, and rejoice in them. And they will strive to live to please such a God as is their God. "... but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." (Daniel 11:32) May God be pleased to reveal Himself in this way to all His people as He uses His men to declare His Word.
    I pray that God, in great mercy, will make Himself known more fully to me,  and to each of His children everywhere. I want to know Him better so that I will love Him more, so that I will serve Him more, and worship Him more acceptably. I pray that God will bless us with knowledge of Himself.
    I want the church that I pastor to be actively seeking to know Him more fully. I want all of us to live close to Him and to have our lives reflect His perfect love in our hearts. I want us, all of us, to put our time and energies and our very lives completely at His disposal. To be used of Him is our grand aim and goal.
    God's people must be taught the truth. They must be indoctrinated and established in the truth. And the truth must be taught in love. Love that is of God leads us to Him and then teaches us of Him. And His love being shed abroad in our hearts leads us to teach His word, faithfully, to those He sends us to.

  (The Baptist Herald - January , 1990)

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