Who Is God?
In Genesis 1, we learn that God created all that we know, including ourselves. However, do we really understand who is God? Perhaps this is more difficult than you would think. Can we truly understand a being who can create an entire universe in just six days? We may not be able to grasp everything about God, but God has told us several things about himself in the book that he has given us.
In Genesis 1:26 we read, "Let us make man in our image." The use of plural pronouns is not an indication of royalty. Kings in the Bible usually used singular pronouns when referring to themselves, as in II Kings 19:21-31. The pronouns are plural because God is actually three beings. In fact, the Hebrew word for God is a plural noun. A plural noun is a word in the singular form that refers to multiple objects. For example, a herd refers to a group of cows, a flock refers to a group of birds, or a family refers to a group of related people.
There are a number of verses to show that God is composed of three beings. When a person is baptized, they are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). During Jesus' baptism as recorded in Matthew 3:16-17, we can see all three. Jesus is coming up out of the water; he is the Son. God, the Father, speaks from heaven. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is coming down from Heaven in the form of a dove. Another verse referring to all three is in II Corinthians 13:14. Let us look at each in detail.
The Father is God. In teaching us to pray, Jesus addressed his prayer to "our Father, who is in heaven." James 3:9 talks about God, even the Father. In Isaiah 64:8, we read about the Lord who is our Father. This brings up one of the confusions when talking about God. Sometimes the word "God" is in reference to all three beings acting like one. At other times, "God" refers specifically to the Father. The reason for this ambiguity is the fact that the Father is head of the group we call God. As a result, the Father and the Godhead are inseparable.
In addition, Jesus, the Son, is also God. In John 1:1,14, John talks about Jesus coming to earth in a human form. Jesus is called the Word (in verse 14) and the Word is God (in verse 1). Often in the Bible, Jesus is called the Son of God. If someone is a son, then they are also of the same family. I am a Hamilton and my sons are Hamiltons as well. We also see that Jesus is a part of deity by the various names he is given. In Matthew 1:23, Jesus is called Immanuel, which means "God with us." In Isaiah 9:6, there is a long list of names for the coming Messiah, whom we know as Jesus. Among those names are "mighty God" and "everlasting Father." If none of these verses convince you, Paul makes a very clear statement in Romans 9:5 when he calls Jesus, "God blessed forever."
The Holy Spirit, too, is God. In Genesis 1:2, he is referred to as the Spirit of God. He resides in heaven. Jesus told his disciples that he would return to heaven and send the Spirit (John 16:7-8). The Spirit is also eternal, just as the Father and Son are eternal (Hebrews 9:14). In I Peter 3:18, we are told that Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Spirit, but in Acts 2:24 Peter says that it was God who raised Jesus. Peter is not contradicting himself. The Holy Spirit is God.
There is one God (the Father), one Lord (the Son), and one Spirit (the Holy Spirit) in whom we believe (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Even though God is composed of three beings, they are so united in their will that they can be counted as one being. In his prayer just before his death, Jesus prayed that his disciples (that is you and I) be one, just as God and Jesus are one (John 17:20-21). They are united, but with distinct personalities. In John 10:30, Jesus clearly states that he and his Father are one. Some people have some difficulty with this, but we have many examples of groups of people acting as one. A husband and wife are two distinct people, but when they are married they become one entity -- a couple (Matthew 19:4-6). We speak of a company, such as Kodak, deciding to sell more stock. Well, by Kodak, we are actually referring to the board of directors of Kodak. They are many people, but together they make decisions for the company as a whole. This is why we say that God, as a whole, is one (I Corinthians 8:4, Romans 3:30, Galatians 3:20).
We understand in most units, the individual parts perform different roles. In a marriage, the husband has different responsibilities than the wife, but together they accomplish a single purpose. God is made of three beings who fulfill different roles.
God, the Father, is the head of the Godhead. My grandfather worked in construction and he would refer to the Father as the owner. Everything in the universe belongs to him. The Father planned the creation (Jeremiah 51:14-15; Psalm 33:9). In John 14:28 we read that the Father is greater than the Son. He also knows more than Jesus (Mark 13:32). Only the Father, not Jesus, not the Spirit, but only the Father knows when this world will end because the world belongs to him and it is his choice to determine its conclusion. The Father also planned our redemption from sin (Ephesians 1:8-11; II Timothy 1:9).
God, the Son, can be viewed as the architect. As a son, Jesus is in submission to the Father, but this does not limit his deity. The worlds were made by Jesus and for him (Hebrews 1:2,10; Colossians 1:16). While Jesus is not directly mentioned in the Creation account, he was there. John in John 1:1 calls Jesus, the Word. In each day of creation, God spoke and it became real. Jesus was the spoken Word. Even though Jesus is God, he willingly submitted to the Father's will and became a man (Philippians 2:5-11; John 6:38). His purpose in coming was to free us from Satan's power, something that we could not do on our own (Hebrews 2:14-18). Our freedom was bought by Jesus offering himself in our stead (John 4:34; Ephesians 1:3-7; II Timothy 1:10; I Peter 1:18-20). Because of his willing sacrifice, Jesus has become the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). He will lead the church until the end of time. Then he will deliver the church to the Father for all eternity (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
God, the Spirit, also was present at the creation (Genesis 1:2). The world was powered and shaped by the Spirit. In our illustration, you can view the Spirit as the builder. He completed the creation and set it into motion (Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30; Genesis 2:7). It is the Spirit who is involved in the delivery of God's will to mankind. Jesus sent the Spirit into the world after his death (John 16:7). The Spirit's purpose in coming was manyfold (John 16:8-14). He reproved the world, showing people where they came up short in God's sight. He guided the Apostles into all truth so they could accurately spread Jesus' teachings (Ephesians 3:1-4; I Corinthians 2:9-10). Like Jesus, the Spirit only taught the things the Father approved. And finally, the Spirit brought glory to Jesus. He did so by resurrecting Jesus and supporting the miracles the disciples did to support their teachings. In Ephesians 1:13-14, the Spirit is described as the guarantee of our salvation. The word guarantee in these verses means "earnest money" or a "down payment." It is by the Holy Spirit's efforts that we have our Bibles. Within this book, the Spirit has promised salvation to those who follow after God's will. As a result, he stands a witness of our salvation when we are obedient to God (Romans 8:16).
It is difficult to describe our Creator. His vastness and great power defy the thoughts of man. We cannot fully understand him, but I hope that this short lesson will give you a further appreciation of our God and Savior.