The Bible tells us that we can know that God is by looking at the world around us. Paul makes this argument in Romans, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20, NKJV). The Psalmist David takes a similar position:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world (Psalms 19:1-4b, NKJV).
But beyond that general revelation of His existence can we know who God is? Can we know what He is like? Can we know HIs personality? The answer to all of these questions is, yes!
We will examine five of these traits of God using the acronym F.A.C.T.S.
F – God Is Forgiving
The forgiveness of God is possibly the most important and incredible aspect of who He is.
We are all sinners. And it doesn’t take very long for our sinfulness to come to the surface. As children, when mom told you not to eat the cookies in the cookie jar, you disobeyed and ate the cookies. Then, when mom discovered that there were cookies missing from the cookie jar, she asked if you ate the cookies and you, with crumbs falling from the corners of your mouth shook your head and said, “No, mommy. I did not eat the cookies from the cookie jar.” In one episode we have just broken four of the Ten Commandments; we coveted the cookies (commandment 10), we stole the cookies (commandment 8), we lied (commandment 9), and we dishonored our mother (commandment 5). Four out of ten, that’s 40% wrong. That’s a failing grade on any test. Thus, by the age of four or so, we are all dirty, rotten sinners and it gets worse after that.
Our natural tendency is to do things our way instead of God’s way. Paul, quoting from the Old Testament tells us that:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is non who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat in as open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And they way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18).
This is a pretty grim picture of the human condition.
Paul goes on and says that “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 10:23), and that “…the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). God is prepared to judge and condemn us for our sin. But the good news is that He is also prepared to forgive us if we repent. Paul doesn’t stop with the bad news, in Romans 3, he goes on and says that we are:
Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:24-26).
And in Romans 6, Paul contrasts the death wages of sin with the gift of God: eternal life.
God is so willing to forgive us that He became a human being and died for our sins. He paid the price for your sin with His death on the cross. He was buried. He rose from the dead. Thus He conquered death, Hell, and the grave. We can also beat death, Hell and the grave by identifying with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A -God Is Approachable
During His time on the earth, Jesus taught that God was approachable. Luke records that Jesus said:
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Luke 11:9-10, NKJV).
Not only is God approachable, He expects and wants us to approach Him. God invites us to talk with Him and express our concerns to Him. And, as the cliché goes, “You don’t have to get good to get God.” God does not care how we come to Him, He just wants us to come.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who all upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will here their cry and save them (Psalm 145:18-19).
C – God Is Creative
As humans, when we create something, we use previously existing matter. But God created that matter out of nothing by speaking everything into existence. Not only did God create the heavens and the earth and everything in them, He also continues to create life in us and create solutions to our problems. God wants to use His creative abilities for us. In Psalms 121 the psalmist asks and answers a rhetorical question:
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1b-2).
Because God had the power and ability to make everything, He has the power and ability to fix anything. We can put our trust in His creative power for our lives.
T – God is Transparent
As we’ve already mentioned God has revealed to us who He is. God tells us His thoughts and feelings, and He is honest and transparent about it. Everything God says about Himself is true and trustworthy. Psalms 92:15 states, “…the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Likewise, Numbers 23:19 declares:
God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
This aspect of God is also reiterated in the New Testament. Paul states in his letter to Titus that “God, who cannot lie, promised [hope of eternal life] before time began” (Titus 1:2). Hebrews 6:18 says that “it is impossible for God to lie.” Also, James states that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
The prophecies of the Old Testament prove this. Everything that God said would happen before now has happened — just as God said it would. Some of these prophecies are predictions of future occurrences, some are warnings, some are instructions, some are revelations concerning the Divine character, and some are statements of simple fact. The common thread running through all of these prophetic statements is that they are all true. God has never reneged. He has never lied. He has never even made an “honest mistake”.
Not only is God incapable of lying, is is not tempted to lie. There is no such thing as a compromising situation for God. He does not need to make up false accomplishments or attributes.
Interestingly, Paul, who made the bold claim in his letter to Titus that God cannot lie, wrote to Titus who was ministering to the Cretans (Titus 1:5), who were known for their dishonesty. Cretans were polytheists, and their numerous gods had numerous personalities. Paul was giving Titus a clear contrast between those gods and the Christian God. Not only does this contrast exists between the Christian God and other gods, but it also exists between God and Satan, the father of lies.
We ought to be thankful that we serve a God Who does not, will not, and cannot go back on His word. This transparency and honesty means that we can trust God to fulfill His promise of eternal life for those who serve and obey Him.
S – God Is Self-Revealing
God’s desire is to have a two-way relationship with us. A prerequisite for any relationship is personal knowledge of the other individual in the relationship. So we must be able to go beyond the understanding that God exists and find out more about Him.
Hebrews 11:6 shows this progression of knowledge of God, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” The first necessity is believing that God exists. That belief will lead us to seek Him in a diligent fashion. That search will subsequently be rewarded. Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” God wants to be found by us and has given us plenty of evidence for His existence and plenty of information about who He is.
In the Old Testament, God gave special revelations of who He is to certain individuals that sought Him. Abraham obeyed God and followed after Him, and as a result of His obedience God rewarded Abraham by showing him some of the divine attributes of God. The same thing happened with Jacob. Moses is also a great example. Moses witnessed the first written revelation of God on Mount Sinai where God gave His people the Law. The Bible records numerous conversations between God and Moses. Moses was even called the friend of God. The prophets of the Old Testament also received rewards of special revelation from God. To Jeremiah, whom we’ve already quoted, God also said:
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the LORD (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NKJV)
Thus not only does God declare to Jeremiah that He can be understood and known, God then proceeds to give Jeremiah some understanding and knowledge about the nature of God. When we believe that God exists and search for Him, we will likewise be rewarded with understanding and knowledge about Him.
Because of these F.A.C.T.S. we can echo the sentiments of David:
In You, Lord my God,
I Put my trust.
I trust in You;
Do not let me be put to shame,
Nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in You
Will ever be put to shame (Psalms 25:1-3a).