When we describe God as being personal, we are really bringing together a whole collection of information and putting it into one word… personal. So let’s take some time and work through this data so that we can better understand this very important doctrine of the Christian faith.
What Personal Means
This is not immediately in reference to God’s habit of communicating with us on a relational level. Rather, it means that God is a lot like us in many ways in his ability to do so; which makes sense, because after all, he made us!
You and I as human beings are what is known as ‘;self-aware.’ This means that we know about our existence, thoughts, emotions, and desires. As Christians, we also believe that God is aware of all these same things in himself. These are what we call attributes which constitute a person… hence, God has a personality.
But how do we get to this conclusion?
Whether you believe the universe is six-thousand years old, or sixteen-billion, scientists from over the last hundred years have been able to mathematically and scientifically prove that the universe had a beginning at some point. The list of scientists that hold to this view is not limited to a group of Christians or devout theists with a faith-based preconception they are trying to prove, but instead you see names like Einstein, Hawking, Lemaître, Friedmann, and Hubble (Yes, the telescope guy). These guys are acclaimed world-wide for their contributions in their fields.
But one thing that is said to have even baffled Einstein when he stopped to think about it was that, if the universe had a beginning, everything that is here was not always here, and if it was not always here, something or somebody had to put it here. So let’s roll with this notion.
Could it have been something that created everything that we see today? Not likely, and here’s why. The word something indicates lifeless, inanimate objects like rocks, sand, steel, and any victim of a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick. But if we had a rock sitting in the middle of nothingness, we wouldn’t expect it one day to all the sudden create a universe that was beaming with life, would we? No! Why? Because one, we’ve never observed something like that occurring, and two, modern science tells us that is impossible. We don’t get life from non-life.
But, could it have been someone that created everything? As Christians, we say ‘;yes’, but why? When we use the term someone it necessitates a person with certain features similar to ours, like a mind, intelligence, desires, and emotions. Only an ‘;entity’ with these particular qualities has the capacity to create anything. But God is so much more! He does not only have these few qualities, but he also has the ability to create from nothing; as opposed to us, who can only create from what he has already put here, like plants, rocks, water, etc.
So based off this information, we can reason that God whoever he is, he is a person, with a mind, a consciousness, thoughts, and emotions.
If you are someone who has honest struggles with belief in God, please let one of us know so that we can help you work through your questions and difficulties, unfortunately, time does not permit us to address them all here, but we want to know your specific struggles so that we can help where needed.
But what does this mean for us? How does God being a person have anything to do with us? Why should I think it affects me? Because God, as a person, also likes to talk.
God Likes to Talk
There is a view called ‘;Deism’ which believes that this guy named God went ahead and took the effort to create all we can and cannot see with our eyes. From the eighty-billion miles of information stored within one strand of DNA, to the one-hundred-billion galaxies that exist across the cosmos. Sometime after that he simply got bored, put us in the closet, and found a new hobby called ‘;Galactic Golf.’ This is not what we believe nor is it what we see throughout history.
If we look in our Bible, in the book of Romans chapter 1, we read about how God has let himself be known through what he has created. At one point it says, ‘;his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.’ (Rom 1:20)
What this is saying is that throughout God’s creation - which consists of the heavens and the earth, the flower and the fly, the galaxy and the quark - we see evidence of his wisdom, majesty, power, justice, and goodness. For example, take a look at the human body. Examine how detailed and intricate we are. Think about how we work and produce muscle, eat and produce energy, learn and practice, desire and produce fulfillment. This does not happen by chance, this happens by the work of a creative and artistic author!
The idea that we can know about God just by examining what we can perceive by our senses is known as General Revelation. Anyone, at any time, at any place, can look around and see that God clearly exists.
Throughout history we’ve heard and read stories about people who take this understanding and then worship and praise a whole variety of gods. Gods that would bring rain, health, protection, or children if only we would do a range of things. But never do we hear of these gods actually talking back to their devout followers.
This is the key component that makes the God of the Bible dramatically different from all the we’ve ever heard of. The God talked about in this book is not only the God who has revealed himself through nature, but he has also told us about himself, and that information is recorded and revealed in the Bible. This is what is known as Special / Specific Revelation.
A way to think about it is this, if I were to ask you to go get something from my car for me, using your general knowledge, you would clearly know that my vehicle was likely outside in the parking lot. But if I was kind, I would also give you specific instructions which would tell you what make, model, and color the car was, as well as the exact parking spot that my car was located in. Likewise, in nature we can clearly see God saying, “Yeah, I’m here” and in the Bible we read of him telling us, “This is who I am.”
In places like Genesis 18 we see Abraham interceding to God for the city of Sodom, and God actually responds! In the book of Exodus chapter 3, we read of God telling Moses to go back to Egypt and rescue his people. In Luke’s Gospel, we see that God came into human history in order to save us from the punishment that our sin has earned (2:7), and because he loved us so much, he died in our place so that we could spend eternity with him in heaven (23:46).
We see that when it is necessary, God gets personal, relational, and vocal; and he still does this today! So from creation until now, we see this God communicating and interacting with his creation, which shows us that he wants us to be in relationship with him.
To put it simply, he knows all about us, and wants us to know all about him. God wants to be personal and God is personal.
In addition to this, it is important to cover one very crucial bit of information that he has revealed to us about himself. That is, God is ones.
God is Ones
Through scripture, as well as through history, we can see that God has revealed himself to us in three distinct persons. This principle is what is commonly known as, the Doctrine of the Trinity, which says that ‘;there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct persons - Father, Son, and Spirit - who are each fully and equally God and are in eternal relationship with each other.’
Now, there are various other religious groups and cults who make the mistake of claiming that this belief is no different than polytheism, which is the belief that there is more than one God; but this is not what the trinity is. The definition of the Trinity itself states that there is one God - not many - who exists as three persons.
While this concept is often difficult for people to grasp, and many books have and will be written regarding it, it should be said that it is not unreasonable or even impossible, it is simply a sophisticated view of the God we believe in. After going on for 21 pages in his book Systematic Theology, Millard Erickson concludes his chapter on the Trinity by saying, ‘;We do not hold the doctrine of the Trinity because it is self-evident or logically cogent. We hold it because God has revealed that this what he is like.’1
Though there are countless analogies that help us to understand the Trinity, they are unfortunately only finite metaphors that are attempting to explain a infinite God, and so they often fail to grasp the complete idea of the Trinity and its qualities. In the book A Handbook of Christian Truth, we read that ‘;The mind of man cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity. He who has tried to understand the mystery fully will lose his mind; but he who would deny the Trinity will lose his soul.’2
In the Bible, from the beginning to the end, we are told that there is one God, and you will find no Christian who denies this. In addition we read that the Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God; all are one, and each plays a specific role in the story of human history.
- Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1999. Print.
- Harold Lindsell and Charles J. Woodbridge, A Handbook of Christian Truth. Westwood, NJ: F. H. Revell, 1953. pp. 51-52. Print