Free files for my fellow student pastors…
How many times have you been asked questions or have heard comments about people’s questions concerning God, such as: “How can anyone really know that Christianity is the only way? How do you truly believe that God exists? Can’t all the other religions be just as right since they believe just as strongly? Why are we here? What is our purpose? Where did everything come from?” These are the questions I actually get asked most in student ministry. They are asking to be able to answer them for their friends who come to them with questions.
When it comes to these questions, there are four major thoughts seeking to answer them.
1. Nihilism says there is no God or meaning to anything. These people would say that the universe and even our decisions as human beings are merely reactions to chemical explosions. So whatever we do is meaningless because another explosion will occur and destroy all this.
2. Naturalism says that there is no God, and all matter is eternal. These people would say that there is nothing supernatural since everything is merely natural. Time will continue on forever.
3. Deism says that God exists, but He’s not involved. These people would say that God created everything but “wound the watch” for it to continue on its own. Deism is an explanation for people who say that all religions can be right and point to the same God from different angles.
4. Christian Theism says that the triune God both exists and rules. As Christian Theists, we believe in one God who is three Persons, and He is actively ruling over every aspect of lives.
It took me quite a while to think, study, and search through a lot of the Scriptures for one of the most descriptive passages in the Bible about who God is. Can you imagine the task of teaching who God is to teenagers in a single 30-minute lesson? Yeah, it was quite a challenge. I ended up landing on Psalm 100. It is an interesting passage because it starts out with a command to praise God and then gives the reasons why to praise God. I’m going to switch them around…
It is urgent to understand who God is (Psalm 100:3). This is getting a glimpse of His make-up, or what His parts are. There is just one God, not many. The one true God consists of three Persons – Father, Son and Spirit. We don’t believe in three Gods, but in only one God who is three Persons. Each Person within the Trinity (three Persons of the one God) are all equally God. On the other hand, each Person within the Trinity is different in Personhood and role from each other. By different in Personhood, I mean that the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. By different in role, I mean that the Father serves authoritatively within the Trinity (1 Cor 11:2), the Son is the God-man Mediator who serves as eternal King of all the cosmos submitting to the Father (1 Cor 15:28), and the Spirit, in submission to the Son, fills all faithful humanity to point them to Christ and transform them into His image (John 15:28, Rom 8:29). Understanding who God is naturally causes us to serve and worship Him (Psalm 100:1-2). If we struggle with that, we need a clearer view of Him!
It is also urgent to understand what God is like (Psalm 100:5). God is knowable. We should not fall into the trap of trying to put God in a box because we do not know everything about Him since He is infinite and our finite minds are unable to know everything about the infinite God. On the other hand, Scripture is very clear that we can put boundaries around our knowledge of God in order that we do not wander into the abyss of what He is not (sinful, weak, wishy-washy, untrustworthy, etc.). We are separated from God because of our sin, but through Christ we can have this relationship of knowing Him and what He is like from His Word. God has told us about Himself in His perfect Word so that we can know what He is like and what He is not like. Understanding what God is like causes us to pray to Him with praise and thankfulness (Psalm 100:4-5). If we lack praise and thankfulness, we lack understanding of what God is like. Its amazing to think we can sit and make God out to be as great as possible in our finite minds, and for the rest of our lives we could still never imagine His greatness (Ps. 145:3)!