Manifest identity

“… Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 NKJV).

It came as something of a surprise to me, over a period of several years, that our common English word “God” is not a name of a specific divine being. It is rather the generic term meaning “a divine being.” Hindus and Buddhists may name thousands of gods. Adherents to other religions may refer to different specific beings as “god” than that intended by readers and believers of the Bible.

Many today accept faith in any divine power as acceptable for religious and salvific purposes. Major “Christian” leaders openly accept that followers of other religions will go to heaven. This is interesting because some of those religions don’t really teach an eternal life in heaven as does the Bible.

All of this begs the question, who really is our God and how can we know that we are worshipping the (or a) true God? This is an ancient question, asked by Moses (Exodus 3:13) and answered by the apostle Paul (Acts 17:24). Moses was given a personal name for the One who spoke to him – Yahweh, or “I AM.” Paul identified the true God not by a name, but by his nature and works, specifically by his role as Creator.

Paul’s statement in Romans 1 is especially relevant to questions of divine identity. The apostle specifically addressed various idolatrous or polytheistic beliefs and proclaims them invalid. He also emphatically declared believers in such gods to be “without excuse” for their rejection of the one true God, the Creator of “all the things that are made” including humanity itself. In the creation all of the characteristics of God’s nature and being are clearly demonstrated. These would include his wisdom, power, goodness, eternity, and many others.

For two thousand years people have questioned the justice of God based on the fact that many live where Christianity is not preached and therefore who have no knowledge of God or of his son Jesus. How can a just God hold someone accountable for faith in one of whom he has never heard? (See Romans 10:13-17.)

This is a difficult question, and there are various elements in its answer. One of those is to give urgent responsibility to the Church for reaching “all the world” (Matthew 28:19). Another is to point out that God may be sought for and found from evidence available to all (Acts 17:27; Romans 1:19-20).

No other god claims the infinite characteristics and powers of God the Creator. As we look into the heavens, cower beneath the power of storms or seas, or consider the intricate organisms which he has made, we are compelled to marvel not only at his awesome might and wisdom, but also at his goodness and love. We ask with David, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” And we proclaim, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:5, 9).

Share your thoughts: