by Roland W. Keith
In his first letter John wrote, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure (I John 3:1-3). How is it that we, as humans, do not know our Creator?
When we survey all the gods out there that men have worshipped we find a wild assortment from the fantastic to the cartoonish, to the natural, to the unnatural, to the ones who are just like we are. Passing by the cartoonish, the natural and unnatural as not worthy of our attention let us focus on the pantheon of “divine personages,” that is, those supernatural beings who are like us. Beings such as Zeus or Mercury. When we look at them we find that the problem with their divinity, or, lack thereof is that they are, in fact, just like us. Prone to lying and cheating, with outbursts of uncontrolled and unjustified anger or rage, or petty jealousies. Etc. The problem is they are a bit too human. Too fallible. Too ordinary. They are clearly creations of our own imaginations with all of our attributes, both good and bad.
Now let’s compare them to the apostle Paul’s “unknown God” (Acts 17:16-34). Where the false gods are petty, fallible and ordinary Paul’s God is perfect. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. He is not like us. Where the false gods reflect us in all our glory the one true God is glory divine. He does not have all of our attributes, but rather He created us in His own image, and when He did that we were a perfect being. We reflected His image. But then we sinned and His image within us became almost infinitely dimmer. We took on unholy attributes that we cannot attribute to our Creator. But the image of the Creator within us was not completely extinguished, nor was His love for us.
If I understand the Bible correctly God’s greatest attribute is love. God is love (I John 4:8, 16). It is His perfect, infinite love that led Him to extend His grace to His fallen creation (John 3:16), and to determine to exercise another of His amazing and unbounded attributes— forgiveness. The difference between all the gods with little “g’s” and the one true God is that I don’t think man has it in him to have conceived of the God of the Bible on his own. If God had not revealed Himself to us in His handiwork and His word He would have remained the “unknown God,” beyond man’s imagination. As it is many in the world do not see God’s signature in His creation and reject His word out-of-hand. However, for those whose hearts are open to the truth God’s word is a revelation.
God’s nature was and is known to man through His creation and has been since the beginning of time. Moreover, it was made specifically manifest in these last times when His Son was born into the world as a man. According to Peter’s account, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (I Peter 1:20-21). Those of us who put our faith and hope in God become His children and seek to emulate His purity in our lives (I John 3:1-3).
Those who seek God through His word must be more than a casual or curious seeker, however, as James wrote, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25). Paul was perhaps a little blunter when he warned, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8). God’s divine nature is one of both mercy and justice.
In addition to James and Paul another inspired writer, John, wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:15-17). Those who truly seek to know God will at some point have to make a choice: to follow the desires of the flesh or let them go to do the will of God. Peter compared the Christian to one who is only passing through a foreign land on his way home, writing: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (I Peter 2:11-12).
Those who come to comprehend, even in a small measure, the divine nature of God should be demonstrably grateful for all that He has done, and for the kingdom He has established for His followers (Hebrews 12:28-29). So grateful that we not only devote ourselves to His worship but to living our lives developing the attributes He has set before us to exercise (II Peter 1:5-7). As Peter went on to say about forging these traits within ourselves, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (II Peter 1:10). Those who come to God and live in obedience to His will become members of a very special kingdom as Peter noted in his first letter: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (I Peter 2:9-10).
God is love. God is truth. God is just. God is merciful. God is faithful. Who does not seek these things? The divine nature of God, which He has revealed to us, should draw us to Him. So, why do so many resist His will for their lives? Pride? Selfishness? Guilt? The amazing thing is God will help us overcome these things. In fact, He will help us overcome any obstacle if we will but seek His will for our lives. God will punish the disobedient, make no mistake, justice is a part of His nature, but it is also in His nature to love us and to call us to Himself. As Paul wrote to Timothy, God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).
I will leave you with two thoughts from King David: “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God" (Psalm 14:2). God’s desire is for us to seek and find Him. David sought the Lord and found Him, asking one thing of Him: “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). If you call upon Him, He will answer— it’s in His nature.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.