God—Who Is He?
1. (a) What gods have been worshiped by people? (b) What distinction does the Bible make between “gods” and “God”?
WORLDWIDE there are many gods worshiped. In the Shinto, the Buddhist, the Hindu and the tribal religions there are millions of gods. Gods such as Zeus and Hermes were worshiped in the days of Jesus’ apostles. (Acts 14:11, 12) So the Bible agrees that “there are many ‘gods,’” but it also says that “there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are.” (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6) If you were asked, ‘Who is this God?’ what would you say?
2. What different views do people have of God?
2 ‘He is the Lord,’ many answer. Or they may say: ‘He is a Spirit in heaven.’ A dictionary calls God: “The Supreme Being.” When asked: ‘What is God’s name?’ some persons answer, ‘Jesus.’ Others do not think of God as a person, but as a powerful force that is present everywhere. And some even doubt whether there is a God. Can we be sure he exists?
GOD REALLY EXISTS
3. How does a house come into existence?
3 When you look at a beautiful building, have you ever wondered who the builder was? If someone told you that no one had built the building, but that it had simply come into existence by itself, would you believe it? Of course not! As a Bible writer said: “Every house is constructed by someone.” Everyone knows that. Well, then, can we not accept the logical conclusion of the Bible writer: “He that constructed all things is God”?—Hebrews 3:4.
4. How did the many billions of stars come into existence?
4 Consider the universe with its billions of billions of stars. Yet all of them move in the heavens according to laws that keep them in perfect relation to one another. “Who has created these things?” was a question asked long ago. The answer given makes sense: “It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name.” (Isaiah 40:26) Surely it would be foolish to think that the billions of stars just made themselves, and, without any direction, formed the great star systems that move with such marvelous order!—Psalm 14:1.
5. (a) What chance is there that, by themselves, the pieces could come together to make a meat chopper? (b) What does this show about our universe?
5 This highly organized universe could not have just come about by itself. An intelligent Creator with great power was needed. (Psalm 19:1, 2) A businessman who was asked why he believed in God explained that in his factory it takes two days for a girl to learn how to put the 17 parts of a meat chopper together. “I am merely a plain manufacturer of cutlery,” he said. “But this I do know, that you can shake the 17 parts of a meat chopper around in a washtub for the next 17 billion years and you’ll never have a meat chopper.” This universe, including the many forms of life on earth, is so much more complicated than a meat chopper. If such a machine requires a skilled maker, we can be certain that an Almighty God was needed to create all things. Should not credit go to him for what he has done?—Revelation 4:11; Acts 14:15-17; 17:24-26.
GOD A REAL PERSON?
6. Why can we be sure that God is a real person?
6 While most people say they believe in God, many do not think of him as a real person. Is he? Well, it can be seen that where there is intelligence there is a mind. For example, we may say, ‘I cannot make up my mind.’ And we know that where there is a mind there is a brain in a body of a definite shape. So, then, the great mind responsible for all creation belongs to the great Person, Almighty God. Although he does not have a material body, he has a spiritual one. A spirit person has a body? Yes, the Bible says: “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.”—1 Corinthians 15:44; John 4:24.
7. (a) What shows that God has a place where he lives? (b) What shows that he has a body?
7 Since God is a person with a spiritual body, he must have a place to live. The Bible tells us that the heavens are God’s “established place of dwelling.” (1 Kings 8:43) Also, we are told that “Christ entered . . . into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us.” (Hebrews 9:24) Some humans will be rewarded with life in heaven with God, at which time they will receive spirit bodies. They will then see God, the Bible says, and also be like him. (1 John 3:2) This, too, shows that God is a person, and that he has a body.
8, 9. (a) How can the example of an electric power plant show God’s far-reaching power? (b) What is God’s holy spirit, and what can it do?
8 But someone may ask: ‘If God is a real person who lives at a certain place in heaven, how can he see everything that happens everywhere? And how can his power be felt in every part of the universe?’ (2 Chronicles 16:9) The fact that God is a person in no way limits his power or greatness. Nor should it lessen our respect for Him. (1 Chronicles 29:11-13) To help us to understand this, consider the far-reaching effects of an electric power plant.
9 A power plant has a certain location in or near a city. But its electricity is distributed over all that area, providing light and power. It is similar with God. He is in the heavens. (Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 123:1) Yet his holy spirit, which is his invisible active force, can be felt everywhere, over all the universe. By means of his holy spirit God created the heavens, the earth and all living things. (Psalm 33:6; Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30) To create these things, God did not need to be present in body. He can send out his spirit, his active force, to do whatever he wants even though he is far away. What a marvelous God!—Jeremiah 10:12; Daniel 4:35.
THE KIND OF PERSON GOD IS
10. What is one way in which we can get to know God?
10 Is God the kind of person we would grow to love if we got to know him well? ‘Perhaps so,’ you may say, ‘but since we cannot see God, how can we get to know about him?’ (John 1:18) The Bible shows one way when it says: “For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:20) So the things that God has created can help us to understand what God is like, if we really examine them and think about them.
11. What can we learn about God from the things he has made?
11 As we have seen, a look at the starry heavens surely tells us of God’s greatness and tremendous power! (Psalm 8:3, 4; Isaiah 40:26) Then consider the earth. God placed it in the heavens so it gets just the right amount of heat and light from the sun. And consider the water cycle. The rain falls to water the earth. The water runs into the rivers, which flow into the seas. The sun lifts the water from the seas as vapor, which falls as rain to water the earth again. (Ecclesiastes 1:7) There are so many marvelous cycles that God put into operation to provide food, shelter and all things that man and animals need! And what do all these wonderful things tell us about the kind of person God is? That he is a God of great wisdom and that he is most generous and cares for his creations.—Proverbs 3:19, 20; Psalm 104:13-15, 24, 25.
12. What does your own body teach you about God?
12 Consider your own body. It obviously was made to do more than just live. It was marvelously designed really to enjoy life. (Psalm 139:14) Our eyes can see not just in black and white but in color, and the world is filled with a wealth of colors to enjoy. We can smell and taste. So eating is not merely a necessary function; it can be delightful. Such senses are not absolutely necessary for life, but they are gifts from a loving, generous, thoughtful God.—Genesis 2:9; 1 John 4:8.
13. What do you learn about God from his way of dealing with humans?
13 A look at God’s dealings with humankind also shows what kind of God he is. He has a strong sense of justice. He does not show favoritism to certain races of people. (Acts 10:34, 35) He is also merciful and kind. The Bible says of his dealings with the nation of Israel, whom he delivered from slavery in Egypt: “He was merciful; . . . he kept remembering that they were flesh.” Yet the Israelites often were disobedient, and that made God sad. As the Bible says: “They would make him feel hurt . . . and they pained even the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 78:38-41; 103:8, 13, 14) On the other hand, when his servants are obedient to his laws, God rejoices. (Proverbs 27:11) Also, God describes how he feels when his servants are made to suffer by enemies: “He that is touching you is touching my eyeball.” (Zechariah 2:8) Are you not moved to love a God who has such affection for lowly, insignificant humans of all races and peoples?—Isaiah 40:22; John 3:16.
IS GOD JESUS OR A TRINITY?
14. What is the Trinity teaching?
14 Who is this wonderful God? Some persons say his name is Jesus. Others say he is a Trinity, although the word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible. According to the teaching of the Trinity, there are three persons in one God, that is, there is “one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Many religious organizations teach this, even though they admit it is “a mystery.” Are such views of God correct?
15. How does the Bible show that God and Jesus are two separate persons who are not equal?
15 Well, did Jesus ever say that he was God? No, he never did. Rather, in the Bible he is called “God’s Son.” And he said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 10:34-36; 14:28) Also, Jesus explained that there were some things that neither he nor the angels knew but that only God knew. (Mark 13:32) Further, on one occasion Jesus prayed to God, saying: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42) If Jesus were the Almighty God, he would not have prayed to himself, would he? In fact, following Jesus’ death, the Scripture says: “This Jesus God resurrected.” (Acts 2:32) Thus the Almighty God and Jesus are clearly two separate persons. Even after his death and resurrection and ascension to heaven, Jesus was still not equal to his Father.—1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:28.
16. Even though Jesus is referred to as “God,” what shows that he is not Almighty God?
16 ‘But isn’t Jesus called a god in the Bible?’ someone may ask. This is true. Yet Satan is also called a god. (2 Corinthians 4:4) At John 1:1, which refers to Jesus as “the Word,” some Bible translations say: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” But notice, Joh 1 verse 2 says that the Word was “in the beginning with God.” And while men have seen Jesus, Joh 1 verse 18 says that “no man hath seen God at any time.” (Authorized or King James Version) So we find that some translations of Joh 1 verse 1 give the correct idea of the original language when they read: “The Word was with God, and the Word was divine,” or was “a god,” that is, the Word was a powerful godlike one. (An American Translation) Clearly, Jesus is not Almighty God. In fact, Jesus spoke of his Father as “my God” and as “the only true God.”—John 20:17; 17:3.
17. How does the pouring out of holy spirit on Jesus’ followers prove that it is not a person?
17 As for the “Holy Spirit,” the so-called third Person of the Trinity, we have already seen that this is not a person but God’s active force. John the Baptizer said that Jesus would baptize with holy spirit, even as John had been baptizing with water. Hence, in the same way that water is not a person, holy spirit is not a person. (Matthew 3:11) What John foretold was fulfilled when, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, holy spirit was poured out on his followers gathered in Jerusalem. The Bible says: “They all became filled with holy spirit.” (Acts 2:4) Were they “filled” with a person? No, but they were filled with God’s active force. Thus the facts make clear that the Trinity is not a Bible teaching. Actually, long before Jesus walked the earth gods were worshiped in groups of three, or trinities, in places such as ancient Egypt and Babylon.
18. (a) Is “God” the personal name of Almighty God? (b) What is his personal name?
18 No doubt everyone whom you know has a name. God also has a personal name to set him apart from all others. ‘Is not “God” his name?’ some may ask. No, for “God” is merely a title, just as “President,” “King” and “Judge” are titles. We learn God’s name from the Bible, where it appears about 7,000 times. For example, in the King James Version, Psalm 83:18 reads: “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” Also, God’s name is found in most Bibles at Revelation 19:1-6 as part of the expression “Alleluia” or “Hallelujah.” This means “praise Jah,” a shortened form of Jehovah.
19. (a) Why are some persons surprised to see God’s name in their Bible? (b) Where does the name appear in the King James Version?
19 Some persons are surprised to see God’s name in their Bible. This often is because their Bible is one that seldom uses God’s name. The King James Version, for example, uses the name “Jehovah” by itself only at Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18 and Isaiah 12:2 and Isa 26:4. However, when this Bible translates God’s name by the title “Lord” or “God,” it always puts this title in capital letters, as “LORD” and “GOD,” which sets it apart from the common words “Lord” and “God.” Note this at Psalm 110:1.
20. (a) Why has God’s name often not been used? (b) Should it be?
20 ‘But why,’ you may ask, ‘is God’s name not used in every place that it occurs in the original Bible text? Why are the titles LORD and GOD generally used in its place?’ In its preface the American Standard Version explains why it uses God’s name Jehovah, and why for a long time that name was not used: “The American Revisers, after a careful consideration, were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version . . . This personal name, with its wealth of sacred associations, is now restored to the place in the sacred text to which it has an unquestionable claim.” Yes, men who translated that Bible into English felt that the reasons why God’s name had been left out were not good. So they put it back into the Bible in its rightful places.
21. What does the Catholic Douay Version say about the name Jehovah?
21 There are those, however, that argue that the word “Jehovah” should not be used because it is not really the name of God. For example, the Catholic Douay Version, which does not use God’s name in its main text, says in its footnote to Exodus 6:3: “Some moderns have framed the name Jehovah . . . the true pronunciation of the name, which is in the Hebrew text, by long disuse, is now quite lost.”
22. (a) How is God’s name represented in the Hebrew language? (b) Why is there a problem of knowing how God’s name was originally pronounced?
22 Yes, as the Catholic Bible here says, God’s name does appear in the Hebrew text, Hebrew being the language in which the first 39 books of the Bible were written. The name is represented there by four Hebrew letters, YHWH. In ancient times the Hebrew language was written without vowels, letters such as a, e, i, o and u, which help us to give the proper sound to words. Therefore, the problem today is that we have no way of knowing exactly which vowels the Hebrews used along with the consonants YHWH.
23. How can the spelling “bldg” for “building” help us to understand the problem of pronouncing God’s name?
23 To help us to understand the problem, consider the word “building.” Suppose that it began always to be written “bldg,” and that, in time, the word was never pronounced. How, then, would a person living 1,000 years from now know how to pronounce “bldg” when he saw it in writing? Since he had never heard it pronounced and did not know what the vowels were in the word, he would not know for sure. It is similar with God’s name. It is not known exactly how it was pronounced, even though some scholars think “Yahweh” is correct. However, the form “Jehovah” has been in use for many centuries and is most widely known.
24. (a) To be consistent, why is it proper that we use God’s name? (b) In view of Acts 15:14, why is it important to use God’s name?
24 Yet, should we use God’s name, even though we may not be saying it exactly the way it was originally pronounced? Well, we use the names of other persons in the Bible, even though we do not say them in the way the names were pronounced in the original Hebrew. For example, Jesus’ name is pronounced “Yesh’ua” in Hebrew. Likewise, it is proper to use God’s name, which is revealed in the Bible, whether we pronounce it “Yahweh,” “Jehovah,” or in some other way common in our language. What is wrong is to fail to use that name. Why? Because those who do not use it could not be identified with the ones whom God takes out to be “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) We should not only know God’s name but praise it before others, as Jesus did when on earth.—Matthew 6:9; John 17:6, 26.
A GOD OF PURPOSE
25. (a) What things about God may it be hard for us to understand? (b) What moved Jehovah to begin creating?
25 Although it may be hard for our minds to understand, Jehovah never had a beginning and will never have an end. He is the “King of eternity.” (Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17) Before he began to create, Jehovah was all alone in universal space. Yet he could not have been lonesome, for he is complete in himself and lacks nothing. It was love that moved him to begin to create, to give life to others to enjoy. God’s first creations were spirit persons like himself. He had a great organization of heavenly sons even before the earth was prepared for humans. Jehovah purposed for them to find great delight in life and in the service he gave them to do.—Job 38:4, 7.
26. Why can we be certain that God’s purpose for the earth will be fulfilled?
26 When the earth was prepared, Jehovah placed a couple, Adam and Eve, in a part of the earth already made into a paradise. It was his purpose that they have children who would obey and worship him, and who would extend that paradise all over the earth. (Genesis 1:27, 28) As we have learned, however, that grand purpose was interfered with. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and his purpose has not been fulfilled. But it will be, for it would be admitting defeat for Jehovah not to accomplish what he purposes. And that he could never do! “Everything that is my delight I shall do,” he declares. “I have even spoken it; I shall also bring it in.”—Isaiah 46:10, 11.
27. (a) Why are we accountable to God? (b) So what question should we think about seriously?
27 Do you see where you can fit into God’s purpose? It is not simply by doing whatever you want without considering what God’s will is. That is what Satan and Adam and Eve did. They knew what God’s will was but they did not do it. And God held them accountable. Are we, too, accountable to God? Yes, because God is the Source of our life. Our life is dependent on him. (Psalm 36:9; Matthew 5:45) To what extent, then, do we live our lives in harmony with God’s purpose for us? We should think seriously about this, because our opportunity for everlasting life depends on it.
HOW TO WORSHIP JEHOVAH
28. What aids have some persons used to worship God?
28 How we worship Jehovah is important. We should worship in the way that he says, even though this may be different from the way that we have been taught. For example, it has been the custom for some persons to use images in their worship. They may say that they do not worship the image, but that seeing and touching it helps them to worship God. Yet does God want us to worship him with the aid of images?
29. How does the Bible show that it is wrong to use images in worship?
29 No, he does not. And for this very reason Moses told the Israelites that God never appeared to them in any visible form. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19) In fact, one of the Ten Commandments says: “You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything . . . you shall not bow down to them or serve them.” (Exodus 20:4, 5, the Catholic Jerusalem Bible) Only Jehovah should be worshiped. Over and over again the Bible shows how wrong it is to make an image or to bow before it, or to worship anyone or anything except Jehovah.—Isaiah 44:14-20; 46:6, 7; Psalm 115:4-8.
30. (a) What did Jesus and his apostles say that shows that the use of images is wrong? (b) According to Deuteronomy 7:25, what should be done with images?
30 As we might have expected, then, Jesus never used images in worship. “God is a Spirit,” he explained, “and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Acting in harmony with this counsel, none of Jesus’ early followers used images as aids in worship. In fact, his apostle Paul wrote: “We are walking by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) And his apostle John warned: “Guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) Why not look around your home and ask yourself whether you are following this advice?—Deuteronomy 7:25.
31. (a) Even if we may not understand the reason for a certain law of God, what will move us to obey it? (b) What should we try to do, and what invitation should we accept?
31 Worshiping Jehovah, the Creator, in the way he directs is certain to bring us genuine happiness. (Jeremiah 14:22) The Bible shows that his requirements are for our good, with our eternal welfare in view. It is true that there may be times, because of our limited knowledge and experience, that we do not fully appreciate why a certain law given by God is so important, or how it really works for our good. Yet our firm belief that God knows far more than we do should move us to obey him with a willing heart. (Psalm 19:7-11) Let us, then, make every effort to learn all we can about Jehovah, accepting the invitation: “O come in, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasturage and the sheep of his hand.”—Psalm 95:6, 7.
[Box on page 42]
The four places where God’s name appears in the King James Version are seen here
3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.
2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
[Pictures on page 34, 35]
If a house has a maker, . . . surely the more complex universe must have a Maker too
[Picture on page 39]
Since Jesus prayed to God, asking that God’s will, not his, be done, the two could not be the same person
[Picture on page 40, 41]
How could the holy spirit be a person, when it filled about 120 disciples at the same time?
[Picture on page 45]
Is it right to use images in worship?