How could the world have become so mixed up? Out of this spiritual wilderness, a voice cries out in clarity and power, with the reassuring truth of the world's only and sure hope!
Chapter 3 Part 1: WHO AND WHAT IS GOD?
I WAS RETURNING to my hotel in New Delhi some years ago from a private conference with Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. Ever since arriving in India I had noticed cows and oxen wandering through the streets. I had never seen such animals straying loosely through city streets in any other country. "Don't these cattle stray quite a distance from home?" I asked of the car driver. "O yes," he answered. "But when," I asked, "they wander all over the streets so far away, how do their owners know where to find them, to drive them back home for the night?" The car driver smiled. "The owners don't. But the cattle and oxen know their owners and where they live. They find their own way home in the evening." Immediately I thought of the scripture in the first chapter of Isaiah, which I had never understood so perfectly before this living explanation. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth. For the Eternal hath spoken, 'I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Eternal ... they have gone away backward" (Isaiah 1:2-4). And this was spoken of ancient Israel, a nation to which God had revealed Himself by many evidences and miracles. How much less do other nations know about God — about WHO and WHAT God is! Of the peoples of the Roman Empire, God inspired the apostle Paul to write: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity [spiritual], has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made [physical]. So they are without excuse; for although they knew [about] God, they did not honor him as God, or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:18-22, Revised Standard Version). The billions now living on earth not only are ignorant of the most important knowledge — WHO, and WHAT God is — they seem not to want to know! They are willingly in ignorance of this most important knowledge and relationship possible in human life! Astonishing — but TRUE! And why have humans been willingly ignorant of man's most important relationship? One explanation, only, is possible! All nations have been deceived! (Revelation 12:9.) And the fact of this universal deception makes certain the fact of a super DECEIVER! More of this, later. The scholarly of the world in the first century were the Athenian intellectuals. Some of them encountered the apostle Paul in Athens. "Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him, and some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him unto Areopagus [atop Mars Hill], saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, [objects of worship — Revised Standard Version] I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom, therefore, ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth ... he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all the nations of men for to dwell on ... the earth ... For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:18-19, 22-26, 28). And now what of the scholarly of our Western world today? First of all, one would think, the most highly educated ought to know WHO and WHAT God is! Suppose you ask at random 100 university deans, "Do you believe in God?" Perhaps three or four would answer, "Oh, I believe in the existence of God — as a 'first cause.' " But they cannot tell you WHO or WHAT God is! They cannot tell you what God is like! Perhaps another six or eight of the hundred will admit they are agnostics — they do not know "for sure" whether God exists. I have said that education has become a matter of memory instillation. From elementary grades to higher graduate levels of study, our educational systems inject ready-made concepts, ideologies, and a mixture of facts and fables into the unsuspecting minds of children, youths and young adults. Students in our school systems are graded according to how well they accept, memorize and can recite or write in tests what has been taught — whether true or false. Modern education has given universal acceptance to the fable of evolution. Evolution is the atheist's attempt to explain the existence of a creation without the preexistence of the Creator. It removes God from the picture. I quoted above from the first chapter of the book of Romans. The 28th verse says, "... they did not like to retain God in their knowledge." Little or nothing is taught about God, but even in the elementary grades the basic concept — the APPROACH to knowledge — is evolution. Is it any wonder, then, that the scholarly do not know WHO or WHAT God is? They believe what they have been taught. As I write I have just returned from a four-day visit in Beijing (Peking), as the first religious leader from the world of Christianity to be invited to speak before large groups at the Chinese capital, and with a one-hour private conference with the vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Tan Zhen-lin. In speaking with him, I was speaking to one of three top officials now molding the minds and beliefs of ONE BILLION people — almost a fourth of all the people on earth. China, in population, is the world's largest nation. Even in very ancient times the religion in China was ancestor worship. Then came Confucianism, rivaled by Taoism. Later Buddhism was introduced from India. Today the nation is communist — atheist. I found them to be a very cordial, friendly and courteous people — but knowing WHO and WHAT God is most certainly is not what they are now concerned about. I did not try to tell them WHO and WHAT God is, but I did tell two large and important audiences of leaders, and one of their two vice chairmen, what God is very soon going to do — and I announced this forthcoming book, which I am writing now. India is the second largest nation. What have they known about WHO and WHAT God is? NOTHING! Russia is third largest in population. They did have Russian Orthodox Christianity, and now atheism. I am not condemning or judging these people — and I presume they are as well-meaning as any people. God is not judging them NOW — as I shall explain later. Neither is He condemning them. He loves them and will call them all to eternal salvation in His own time. But they DO NOT know WHO or WHAT God is. In ancient Egypt they worshiped the gods Isis and Osiris — Egyptian names for Nimrod (Genesis 10) and his mother-wife Semiramis. The Greeks and Romans anciently had mythological gods such as Jupiter, Hermes, Dionysus, Zeus, Apollo, Diana and many others. But they did not know, and their peoples do not know today, WHO and WHAT God is. But WHY? Already, in the quotation from the first chapter of Romans, I have given you a reason — they were willingly ignorant of the things of the true GOD. But WHY? Why willingly ignorant? There was a cause for this willing ignorance. And the Bible clearly tells us that cause, which is dual: 1) what occurred prehistorically, and 2) what God Himself instituted following the original sin of Adam. All this, and the CAUSE of all the escalating evils of today's world, are clearly revealed by God Almighty in His Word the Holy Bible. And this will be made plain as we progress. But first, what does the Bible reveal about WHO and WHAT is God? It is only in this inspired Book that God reveals Himself. But mankind in general has never believed God — that is, what God says! God spoke face to face, personally, to Adam and Eve, the first created humans. Then He allowed Satan to approach them. Satan got to Adam through his wife. Our original parents believed Satan when he said, "Ye shall not surely die," after God had said, "Thou shalt surely die" upon stealing the forbidden fruit. When Jesus Christ spoke on earth 4,000 years later, though He preached His message from God to multiple thousands, only 120 people believed what He said (Acts 1:15). No wonder, then, not one of these religions, sects and denominations, except the small and persecuted Church founded by Jesus Christ (A.D. 31), starting with that 120, knows WHO and WHAT God is! But there is a reason for that fact. This will be made clear as we proceed. Just WHO and WHAT, then, is God? How does He reveal Himself? Already I have quoted the apostle Paul saying to the Athenian intellectuals that God is the Creator, who designed, formed, shaped and created MAN. The prophet Isaiah quotes God Himself, saying: "To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? ... Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power, not one faileth" (Isaiah 40:25-26). Read this in the James Moffatt translation in modern English: "'To whom will you compare me, then, and equal me,' asks the Majestic One. 'Lift high your eyes, look up; who made these stars? He who marshals them in order, summoning each one by name. For fear of him, so mighty and so strong, not one fails to appear.' " Further, God Himself says to the skeptics: "Now, the Eternal cries, Bring your case forward, now, Jacob's King cries, state your proofs. Let us hear what happened in the past, that we may ponder it, or show me what is yet to be, that we may watch how it turns out; yes, let us hear what is coming, that we may be sure you are gods; do something or other, that we may marvel at the sight! — why," taunts God to the doubter, "you are things of nought, you can do nothing at all" (Isaiah 41:21-24, Moffatt). God is Creator of ALL — of everything in the vast universe — the stars, the galaxies in endless space, this earth, man and everything in the earth. That is WHAT God is — what He does! He CREATES! He designs, forms and shapes. He gives LIFE! He is the great GIVER! And His law — His way of life — is the way of GIVING, not GETTING, which is the way of this world. But what is God like? WHO is God? There have been many conceptions. Some believe God is merely the good or good intentions, within each human — merely some part of each human individual. Some have imagined God was some kind of idol composed of gold or silver, or carved out of wood, stone or other material. The Israelites thought, while Moses was communing with God on Mount Sinai, that God was, or looked like, a golden calf. Many think God is a single individual supreme Personage. Some thought He was a spirit. But the generally accepted teaching of traditional Christianity is that God is a "trinity" — God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which they call a "Ghost." The word trinity is not found in the Bible, nor does the Bible teach this doctrine. But more about that later.
God in Prehistory
Now let's go back to the very beginning, in prehistory. If you were asked where in the Bible to find the very earliest description of God in point of the time of His existence, you probably would say, "Why, in the very first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, of course." Right? Wrong! In the time-order of God's existence the earliest revelation of WHO and WHAT God is is found in the New Testament: John 1:1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4). "The WORD" in this passage is translated from the Greek logos, which means, "spokesman," or "word" or "revelatory thought." It is the name there used for an individual Personage. Notice the explanation in verse 14: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." The Word, then, is a Personage who was made flesh — begotten by God, who through this later begettal became His Father. Yet at that prehistoric time of the first verse of John 1, the Word was not (yet) the Son of God. He was made God's son later, through being begotten or sired by GOD and born of the virgin Mary. So here we find revealed originally two Personages. One is God. And with God in that prehistoric time was another Personage who also was God — one who later was begotten and born as Jesus Christ. Yet at the time described in verse one Jesus was not the Son of God and God was not His Father. We find regarding the beginning of His existence, something further described in Hebrews chapter 7. Speaking of Melchisedec, who was king of Jerusalem in the days of Abraham, it says also that He had been the High Priest of God. This Melchisedec, had existed from eternity — "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:3). Since Melchisedec was "like the Son of God," and abides as High Priest for ever continually, and Jesus Christ is now High Priest, Melchisedec and Jesus Christ are one and the same Person. Therefore Christ was "without father, without mother, without descent [in Abraham's time], having neither beginning of days nor end of life," God also had existed eternally with the Word. Jesus, when He was "the Word," was an immortal being who had existed ALWAYS — there never was a time when He did not exist — without beginning of days. He was, then, "like" the Son of God — but He was not yet the Son of God. He also was God, along with God. These passages show that the Word, in the beginning — before ANYTHING had been created — was with God, and He, also, was God. Now how could that be? Well, the son of a man named Smith might be with Smith (his father), and he also is Smith, because he takes his father's name — yet he is a separate person, with Smith (his father), and he also is Smith. The only point of difference in that analogy is that the Word, at the time of John 1:1, was not, yet, the Son of God. But He was with God, and He also was God. They were not yet Father and Son — but they were the foundation of what was to become the GOD FAMILY! That Family is composed, now, of God the Father, and Jesus Christ His Son, and many begotten humans who already, NOW, are begotten SONS OF GOD (Romans 8:14, 16; I John 3:2). That FAMILY aspect — the GOD FAMILY — is vitally important, and this will be thoroughly explained later. But now, where are we? Long before anything else existed, there did exist two Supreme Beings, immortal, who ALWAYS had existed. Your mind can't quite conceive that "always," but neither can it quite conceive of what is electricity! Yet you know electricity exists and is real! So back to our question, "WHO and WHAT is God?" Before anything else came into existence there was God, and the Word. Two Persons — not three. And, verse 2 of John 1, all things (the universe) were made by the Word. Now understand this, by adding Ephesians 3:9: "...God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." Let me explain. In the first week in January, 1914, I was sent by a national magazine to Detroit, Michigan, to interview Henry Ford to obtain material for an article on his sensational new $5-a-day wage policy. I saw Henry Ford in the administration building, wearing a business suit with white collar and necktie. Then I looked across the breeze-way into the giant factory (then the Highland Park factory) and I saw perhaps thousands of men in overalls, working at machines powered with electrical energy. Mr. Ford was called the maker of the Ford car. But he made the cars by these workmen, who used the power of electricity and machines. In the same manner, God the Father is Creator. But he "created all things by Jesus Christ." Jesus is the Word. It is written, "He spake, and it was done" (Psalm 33:9). God tells Christ what to do (John 8:28-29). Jesus then speaks, as the workman, and the Holy Spirit is the POWER that responds and does what Jesus commands. Thus, as we read further, in Colossians 1, beginning verse 12, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath ... translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son ... Who is the image of the invisible God [same appearance, form and shape and character]: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (verses 12-13,15-17). Therefore God's Word reveals that God and the Word — two Supreme Personages — coexisted ALWAYS — and before ANYTHING had been created — including this earth, and the entire universe. There was a time, therefore, when those two Personages coexisted and NOTHING ELSE did. No third Person is mentioned — no "Ghost." Both Persons are SPIRIT, and project their Spirit. How long must they have thought, and planned, and designed, before even beginning to create anything whatsoever! But matter — this earth, the stars, nebulae, galaxies — was not the first thing they created. They created angels before the creation of matter. God speaks of the creation of the earth in the 38th chapter of Job. He says that, at the creation of the earth, all the angels shouted for joy (verse 7). Therefore all the angels already were in existence when the earth was first created. In Genesis 1:1 it speaks of God creating the earth and the heavens. In the King James translation the word heaven — singular — is used. But the original Hebrew as Moses wrote, and as other translations render it, is in the plural — heavens — implying that the whole material universe was created simultaneously with the earth. This is plainly stated in Genesis 2:4: "These are the generations [beginnings] of the heavens (plural) and the earth, when they were created ..." However, that might have been multiple thousands or millions of years ago. Angels were placed on earth before the creation of man. Since angels are immortal spirit beings, they might have dwelt here thousands or millions of years before the creation of man. How many God does not reveal. The earth, at first, was the abode of angels. But, Jude 6, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation [the earth] ..."
What Is God's Appearance?
Now more detail on WHO and WHAT God is. God is Spirit (John 4:24, Revised Standard Version). God and the Word were composed of SPIRIT. Not matter. Not flesh and blood, like humans. God is invisible to human eyes (Colossians 1:15). How about form and shape? In Genesis 1:26, "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." We know what form and shape is that of man. That is the image, likeness, form and shape of God. In various parts of the Bible, it is revealed that God has a face, eyes, a nose, mouth and ears. He has hair on His head. It is revealed God has arms and legs. And God has hands and fingers. No animal, fowl, bird, fish, insect or any other kind of life we know of has hands like human hands. Even if any other living being of which we know had a mind to think with, without hands and fingers he could not design and make things as a man does. God has feet and toes and a body. God has a mind. Animals have brains, but no mind power. If you know what a man looks like, you know what is the form and shape of GOD, for He made man in His image, after His very likeness! One of Jesus' disciples asked Him what God the Father looks like. Jesus replied: "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father ..." (John 14:9). Jesus looked like the Father, Jesus was, actually "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). Jesus was the begotten and born Son of God. And what was Jesus' appearance? It was that of a human man, for He also was the Son of man. He looked so much like other Jewish men of His day that His enemies bribed Judas to point Him out and identify which, in a crowd, was Jesus. So now we know God has the same form and shape as a man. We also know He is composed of Spirit, not of matter as is man. Spirit is invisible to human eyes, unless manifested by some special process. And if so manifested we would see both God the Father and Christ now glorified in heaven with faces, though formed and shaped like human faces, as bright as the sun full strength! Their eyes flames of fire, feet like burnished brass and hair white as snow (Revelation 1:14-16). Most important of all however is what is God's nature — His CHARACTER like? One cannot know what God is unless he knows what His CHARACTER is!