S1E1: Who is God?
Basics /:1:/ God.
It all started with God, so we thought we'd start there too. God is a big topic, but we're going to cover it (Him?!) in a week, so hold on to your hats!
Scripture Covered: General survey of the Bible
Suggested Reading: John 14:1-14, Westminster Confession (Chapter 2 only: On God, Trinity)
Optional Reading: Apostle's Creed, Why Study the Bible (by Francis Chan)
Themes: God, Theology, Philosophy, Humanity, Spirit, Word (logos), Trinity, Heaven
It turns out, we cannot really know much of anything about God except for what God reveals to us. That's why the Scriptures are such an integral part of faith– not a rule book, but a description of God's nature and character, revealed by God. Scripture is something of an autobiography of God. So we need to go deeper into the Scriptures in order to truly understand God, but before we do, it seems fitting to offer an overview of what we'll find.
Our ministry partners at The Bible Project have a great video that offers an overview of God. It explores God's identity, the Messiah (Jesus), the Holy Spirit, and the concept of the Trinity. Be forewarned: God is complicated! So if you don't understand everything, don't worry. This is the point of Devoted, i.e. to explore, understand, know, be known by, and ultimately to obey this complicated God, so that we can participate in God's love.
You might also like to watch this video from The Bible Project that describes Heaven and Earth, where Heaven is the dwelling place of God. The union of Heaven and Earth is what the story of the Bible is all about!
The theme of our gathering began with the question: Will we know each other in Heaven? However, the answer to this question begs the further question: How well can we actualy know anyone? The truth is, what we can really know about each other is limited to what we observe (and reason), and what we tell each other. So when it comes to knowing God, the same applies.
For this reason, Devoted begins with a focus on the same basic question(s) in relation to God: Who is God? What can we know about God from observation and and logic?
The answer to these questions takes us first into the domain of philosophy before we dive into the world of theology, because without the Bible (covered in our next gathering), which claims to be words about God directly from God (i.e. God's self-revelation, a.k.a. the "Word of God") we can only rely on observation and reason to evaluate the probable existence of God. In other words, we can know something about God, or for the skeptic: we can know some reliable probability about the existence of God, but it's nearly impossible to know the character of God without God telling us something. That's the topic for our next gathering: What is the Bible?.
In the meantime, we turn to some of history's greatest thinkers and writers on the topic of God, summarized in this slide presented during our gathering:
We concluded our time together with renewed hope and certainty in the probability of God, and moreover, encouragement and inspiration from Anselm of Canterbury that God wants to be known. Why else would God be so deliberate in creation? We also begin to formulate a testable theory in our personal lives: that we can break into the truth of a seemingly closed circular system (i.e. the reality of God and the truth of the Bible) by way of believing–
I believe so that I might understand!
~ St. Anselm of Canterbury
This suggestive promise from Anselm involves a small step of faith to believe that God exists, and that the Bible is what it claims to be, which ultimately results in God revealing God's self to us in tangible and personal ways– try it and you'll see! This is how we begin (and continue) our individual adventure of faith and relationship with God that does not disappoint!
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (John 14:1-14)
~ Jesus of Nazareth
Download a full copy of the presentation materials from our gathering: S1E1: Who is God?