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Catechism Buzz: What God Is

03 March 2011 by Brad Williams


Q. 6. What do the Scriptures make known of God?
A. The Scriptures make known what God is, the persons in the Godhead, his decrees, and the execution of his decrees.

Q. 7. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

Q. 8. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

I love that the Catechism asks, "What is God?" It seems that the more natural question is "Who is God?" It is a different question altogether to ask "what" something is rather than "who" someone is. Why, do you suppose, that the theologians who drafted the Larger Catechism would ask "what" instead of "who"? And how does that help us think about God?

This sets us up for a series of questions that help us think about both the "what" and the "who" of God. Zero in here on the first part of the answer to question six; it states that the Scriptures make known what God is and the persons in the Godhead. That's rich if you meditate on that truth. We serve a God, an almighty God, who is both a what and a who.

He is a "what" because we can't get our minds and hearts around all that He is. He is, as the catechism says, "incomprehensible." He is infinite in being. Do you know what an infinity is? He is perfect. Do we fancy that we know what perfect really means? He is One God, and yet He is three persons. He is neither divided in His essence, nor is He confounded in His persons. He is God, and there is nothing like Him. You have never seen anything like Him. There is nothing on earth that we may compare to Him that will do. He is infinitely glorious and blessed and perfect and all-sufficient and eternal and unchangeable and incomprehensible and everywhere present and wise, just to name a few. We may heap up the superlatives to describe Him, but really, does that ever get at "what" He is? By way of analogy, because I can help myself and you through no other means, it is as if I took a blind man and granted him sight for the first time in order to view a magnificent sunset, and as he stared in awe I said, "Friend, what is that?" How might he answer? Our struggle is worse than his to approximate what we see of God in Scripture. Our language is most pitiful when our hearts are most full.

This thought brings me finally to the "who" question of God. God is one being, yet in three persons. The Scriptures teach us this. Specifically, let us think for a moment on the Second Person, the eternal Son of God. God is more awesome than the sunset or a majestic waterfall. In Jesus, the God Incarnate, the being of God comes close in the person of Jesus Christ. Can you see what God is in Jesus?

See if you can see God revealed in this: A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” (Matt. 8:2-3). Jesus touched the leper and made him clean. He taught us to pray to God as "our Father." He said that He would send to us the Holy Spirit, and He called him our "Comforter." Jesus taught us that God is our Father, that he is our Savior, and that the Holy Spirit is our Comfort. The Father has compassion for His children and sends us the Son; the Son dies to makes us fit for our Father; the Holy Spirit convicts us through this love out poured and embraces us as sons and daughters of God. We learn who God is through Jesus.

So, having seen this one God in three persons, I ask you: What is God? Tell us what He is, not just to educate us, but so that we may worship and adore Him with you.