Today, scores of different religions revere hundreds of different gods. But who and what is God? How can you know whether you worship the real God?
"Which God do you worship?" The question sounds absurd. To Western minds, God is the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible. However, the Judeo-Christian God isn't acknowledged as the Supreme Being by the vast majority of mankind. Much more of humanity don't accept the Judeo-Christian belief than do. Consider this quote from a letter sent to one of our offices:
I am not a Christian. I have heard about your God and the gods of other religions, but I'm confused. Which is the right one? I couldn't care less for some time. Recently a friend of mine showed me a booklet of yours. I was very much astonished by its content and it also made me feel the importance of religion in my life. Which is my God, then?
"Which is my God, then?" It's a good question. The writer states plainly, "I am not a Christian." He does not believe in the Christian God. Consider: Since the writer is Asian, should he be worshiping Buddha, one of the Hindu deities or possibly Allah? Does the Christian God understand or even care about the peoples of the East or is He only the God of the Occidental peoples? Non-Christian, non-Jews outnumber Christians and Jews by 3 to 2 in the world today. For some of this huge melange of people, God is a many-armed idol. For others, He is represented by their dead ancestors. To still others, He is a great, fat-bellied Buddha or simply a rock or tree. Our letter writer may have been taught about Buddha, Confucius or the Hindu deities, all of which are revered in his part of the world. He has obviously heard of the God of the Bible and is confused. His plaintive, "Which is my God, then?" could be echoed by millions. How should it be answered?
The unknown God
To begin, let's step back to the time when Christianity was new. The knowledge of Jesus was a new message to everyone then. It was not welcome knowledge for most. There were many gods already available to be worshiped. The people of the time were content with their gods. Still, being intelligent and curious, they were willing to hear of other ideas, philosophies and gods. During one of his journeys, the apostle Paul arrived in Athens, capital of ancient Greece and the home of many intellectuals and philosophers of the day. Paul's preaching came to the attention of some of the leaders of Greek thought and, being interested in new ideas, they invited him to discuss his with them. "As I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship," Paul told them, "I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you" (Acts 17:22-23). The Authorized Version renders "without knowing" as "ignorantly." Is it possible for intelligent, broad-minded people to be ignorant when it comes to the worship of God? Those who have not been taught about God are by definition ignorant. What about those who think they know God, but still don't know Him? They are ignorant even of their ignorance. They don't know what they don't know! Isaiah 44:15-17 contains a message for both types of people — the professing Christian of today and the non-Christian. The prophet paints a picture to show just how foolish the worship of false gods is. When it is all said and done, the object worshiped is the product of one's own mind and talents. What a pitiful travesty! To bow down before something of one's own creation while the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God of the universe looks on. Paul, in his address to the Athenians (Acts 17:24-29), explained that God, the God of the Bible, created all the universe and gave life to man and all things. He is not to be found in a tree, a rock or an idol, but is the Lord of the heaven and earth. Today, as in Paul's day, most of mankind is totally ignorant of the true God. And, surprisingly enough, even if you grew up in a nation that commonly acknowledges the Judeo-Christian God, you may be more ignorant of God than you would like to admit.
One of the proofs of God's existence is that He tells what will happen and then brings it to pass (Isa. 46:9-10). God issues a challenge to all who would call themselves God or profess to know other gods: "'Present your case,' says the Lord, 'Bring forth your strong reasons,' says the King of Jacob. 'Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together'" (Isa. 41:21-22). God is the Creator, the lifegiver and the one who brings to pass those things He has foretold. He establishes a test and offers, as proof of His powers, the ability to foretell an event and then cause it to come about. In the book of Isaiah, we read of just one example of a prophecy God made and then caused to be fulfilled: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). God has met His own test. History attests to the fulfilling of that prophecy. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect, sinless life and was killed without cause, just as prophesied in Isaiah 53. God foretold the manner of both the birth and death of Jesus Christ hundreds of years before the events, and brought it all to pass.
The Father of all humanity
During His ministry, Jesus began to open the minds of all men to the knowledge of their God. Jesus revealed God not just as the God of the Jews, but as the Father of all humanity. He is the God of all nations and races. He understands all mankind because He created mankind and all things through His Son Jesus Christ. All humanity, including the Jews, were ignorant of the Father until Jesus began to teach and reveal Him. With that in mind, perhaps we can better understand why so few today really know God. It isn't so strange when we realize that the true knowledge of God has been extremely limited down through the history of man. Jesus has to reveal the Father to us or we can't know Him (Luke 10:22). Jesus did reveal the Father to His disciples. God created, through His Son Jesus, the universe and everything it contains. He is the Father of all humans, regardless of their background or race. He thoroughly understands and deeply loves all human beings to the extent that He allowed His only Son to die the most miserable death known at that time, so that humans could be forgiven their sins and be brought to the Father.
How to know God
A few years before Paul's ministry, another early Christian, Philip, answered a cry similar to the one in the letter quoted above. In Acts 8:27-31, the treasurer of Ethiopia, a non-Christian, was beginning to make inquiry concerning God. In this case, he happened to be reading one of the scrolls of the Old Testament, the book of Isaiah. Philip was led to him and said, "'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him." This man recognized his ignorance and the need for someone to teach him. He was in need of direction, just like the writer of the letter at the beginning of this article. In an effort to learn of God, he was reading the book of Isaiah. Philip began to expound the passage, teaching the Ethiopian about Jesus from the Old Testament. Finally, the Ethiopian asked if he could be baptized: "Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (verses 37-38). God reveals Himself through the Holy Bible, His written Word. Everyone, in order to know and understand the true God, must be taught about Him. Just as the apostles Philip and Paul taught non-Christians about the true God, someone needs to teach our letter writer mentioned before and the overwhelming majority of mankind about Him. To believe, as the Ethiopian did, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God implies an understanding of many things that even the average professing Christian doesn't understand about Jesus. To believe these things, you must come to know Jesus Christ — how He thinks, how He acts, how He worshiped the Father when He Himself was on earth as a human being. In doing so — in developing an awareness of the mind of God — you will also come to understand the fantastic purpose He had in creating mankind. For more information on God's purpose in your life, read our free booklets Does God Exist? and Your Awesome Future - How Religion Deceives You.