The King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible
The Bible’s Portrait of God
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”—1 Timothy 1:17
Condensed from a discourse by William A. Baker
Four thousand years ago, there was a citizen of Uz, a man upright, a just man, a man who reverenced God and avoided evil, a man around whom one of the most outstanding and dramatic poems in human language has been written. This man laid down a principle upon which alone true peace is attainable. He said, “Acquaint thyself with God, and be at peace” (Job 22:21).
Fifteen hundred years later, a prophet of God, one Daniel, seeing in a vision the tribulations, the persecutions that would come upon the people of God before which many would weaken and fall, added this comment: But they that do know their God waxed valiant and performed exploits (Dan. 11:32).
They that do know their God will wax fat. Valor in the service of the Lord is contingent upon our knowledge of the God whom we serve.
Knowing God Takes Life Eternal
Some centuries later, Jesus declared, “This is eternal life that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent” (John 17:4). Jesus, in these words, is emphasizing this thought: The object of eternal life is that ye might know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.
These words suggest that throughout the endless ages of eternity, we will be forever measuring the breadth and sounding the depth of the intimate mind and character of God, yet we will never be able to comprehend it. To comprehend means to embrace; no creature, however highly exalted, will be able to embrace his Creator.
Peter added his testimony in his second epistle: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet. 1:2). Grace and peace is made contingent upon our acquaintanceship with God, our knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
The Psalmist has said, “Only the fool has said in his heart, `There is no God’” (Psa. 14:1) Belief in God is universal. No matter how degraded, how far a human being has fallen from that perfect image represented in father Adam—still, in that heart and mind there lingers a desire to worship. Man is a worshiping animal.
The Testimony of Nature
All nature bears testimony to the existence of a supreme being. Hebrews 3:4: He that built all things is God. Astronomy declares this, chemistry exemplifies it, botany illustrates it, geology proves it, zoology shows it, and the science of physics demonstrates it.
Intelligence is found behind all creation—an intelligent first cause; and, being the first and original cause, it is itself causeless.
The fact of the existence of God, a supreme being, is shown in the infinite design of this great universe, including our solar system and the planet earth. It is seen, too, in organic matter, in inorganic matter, and in the relation between the two. It is seen in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in the food we eat. Man was not created for the air or the food. Infinite wisdom designed all this on behalf of man before ever man was created. All nature bears testimony to this design on the part of an all-wise God and Creator.
The existence of man’s intellectual, moral and religious nature proves the existence of a God. Man’s abilities are many, man’s abilities are varied, but he owes all this to the fact that he was designed and created by an intelligent Creator who endowed him with similar qualities of mind and heart.
Who, among the New Creation of God, could for a moment doubt the existence of God? Our every experience in our Christian life testifies to the existence of a personal deity whose we are as New Creatures and whom we serve as New Creatures.
The God whom we worship, the God of the Bible, is everywhere, on every page, presented to us as a personal God. He has personality. The Bible reveals that this God whom we worship thinks, feels and wills.
The fact that he thinks shows that he has an intellect.
The fact that he feels proves that he has sensibility.
The fact that he wills indicates that he is perfect in character.
A Personal God
Our God, your God and mine, is a personal God. He possesses the quality of knowledge. The scriptures declare, “The LORD God of gods, he knows” (Josh. 22:22). He never has to guess.
“Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no other God; I know not any.”—Isaiah 44:8
“He is perfect in knowledge.”—Job 36:4
“He knoweth the secrets of the heart.”—Psalms 44:21
“Known unto the Lord are all his works from the beginning”.—Acts 15:18
This God whom we worship has sensibility (Psa. 103:13).
“The Lord pitieth. he Father himself loveth you.—John 16:27
“The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness.”—Exodus 34:6
Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10).
Again, Jesus speaking, “He that doeth the will of my Father in heaven, he will know the doctrine” (John 7:17).
“Who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11).
There’s a lesson in this statement for you and me, a very pertinent lesson. God is working. He is working according to the counsel of his own will. He has never found it necessary to consult with any creature, in heaven nor on earth. How frequently we are prone in our poor, weak way, to legislate for God, to make decisions for Him, when He has already rendered the decision in his own Word. He has never asked our advice. Had he followed our human preferences, many things might have been different, and therefore not at all commendable.
God Has a Body
The apostle says, “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 5:37). He means by this that no man has seen God’s person, God’s body, God’s organism, at any time.
“Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live”.—Exodus 33:20,23
Again, John 4:24: “God is a Spirit,” a spirit being.
Paul, in I Corinthians 15:40, declares that there are “bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial”—spirit bodies and animal or human bodies.
God is spirit, and his organism, his body, is spirit. This means that his organism consists of immaterial, spiritual substances.
He is spoken of as a consuming fire. It is declared of him that he is light. These are all immaterial essences.
The Immortal God
It is declared of him that he is immortal—”the King eternal, immortal” (1 Tim. 1:17).
The best definition of immortality is the one for which we have the authority of Jesus himself: “As the Father hath life in himself, so has he given unto the Son of Man to have life in himself” (John 5:26). Life in one’s self. There is a difference between the eternal nature of God and the immortal nature of God. Immortality is the kind or quality of life, which God alone inherently, originally, possessed. Eternity has to do with existence.
God himself said, “I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6) Notice, he said he was the first, and he is also the last. How is this true? It represents this fact: that he in all the universe is the only creature of his kind. That will be true of him, exclusively, throughout all the endless ages of eternity.
The Self-Sufficeint God
I am that I am (Exod. 3:14). God in his very nature is self-sufficient. He needs nothing to add to his own personal sufficiency. Acts 17:25: Neither is he worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needeth anything. Sometimes we presume to think that God might need something—for instance, he might need our advice; he might need our assistance. What difficulties this brings to our experience and into the experiences of others! How can he need anything, seeing he giveth to all creatures life, and breath to all things?
God is a benevolent God, a giving God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, the giver of life, breath, all things.
God is an invisible God. Colossians 1:15: Who, speaking of Jesus in his resurrection glory, is the image of the invisible God.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.”—I Timothy 1:17
God is Love
In his personality, he is a unity, not another personality, but in and of himself.
Deuteronomy 6:4: The LORD our God is one LORD; not many. Originally, man was a monotheist, a worshiper of one God, not many. After the deluge, when idolatry began to lift its ugly head among men, polytheism was introduced. The attributes of that one God were broken down into many and personified in different gods, and thus polytheism spread in its many forms throughout the earth. Our God is one.
That all the people of the earth may know that Jehovah is God, and that there is none else.—I Kings 8:60
Paul says, “To us there is but one God . . . of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). This is the Bible testimony. The doctrine of the trinity, the greatest hoax ever perpetrated by the devil upon humanity, is a fraud, a delusion and a snare, in whatever form it may present itself to the mind of man.
Our God is an omnipotent God. Omnipotence means almightiness, the ability to do anything. God has the ability to do anything. But he reveals to us that he has placed a limit upon his omnipotence. We are told in Hebrews 6:8 that God cannot lie; in 2 Timothy 2:13, that he cannot deny himself; in James 1:13 that he cannot favor nor be tempted by sin. Our God is a holy God, a righteous God, a God of justice.
The Scriptures define this omnipotence: In Psalms 115:3, we read, “God is in the heaven. He hath done whatsoever he has pleased.” Isaiah 46:10,11: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. I have spoken it. I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it. I will also do it.”
God’s omnipotence is represented by his power. Genesis 18:14: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” No. Thus is he able to perform all his good will. Revelation 19:6 refers to him as the “Lord God omnipotent” who reigneth. In Revelation 21:22 he is referred to as the “Lord God Almighty,” having all might and all power.
Numbers 23:20 declares that no one can reverse his mercy. No one can change that. Deuteronomy 3:21 states that he is greater than all others combined. [Moses] commanded Joshua . . . saying, “Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings. The LORD delivered the kings and their people and their land into the hands of Israel, and Israel smote them until none remained. So shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest.”
I Samuel 4:10,11 shows that God is not dependent upon others. Israel, in its own might, lost the ark of the covenant to the Philistines in battle. But God (chapter 5), with no human help, severely punished the Philistines for taking it.
His power delivers. In Daniel 3:17, we read of the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace; Daniel 6:27 tells of Daniel’s rescue from the den of lions.
He is as boundless in the exercise of his power as is the universe itself. Isaiah 51:10: “Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?”
Isaiah 14:27 declares that whatever he has purposed, whatever he has planned, he will bring it to pass.
In Psalm 19, the prophet David, lifting his voice in song to the Almighty God, in whom he believed, and whom he worshiped, declared, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”
God is a Person
This God is a person, the God whom we worship. Being a person, he has all the qualities peculiar to personality. The Bible speaks of the ears of God, the eyes God, the mouth of God, the face of God, the finger of God, the hand of God, the arm of God, the feet of God. The Psalmist, in the 94th Psalm, gives us a hint of what these terms indicate as they are applied to the omnipotent God. He says, He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? How strange it would be if one could create an ear that could hear and had not the sense of hearing himself. God has the sense of hearing. God hears everything, everywhere, all the time, the furthest creatures of his great universe.
Again the Psalmist says, “He that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psa. 94:9) God sees everything, everywhere, all the time. Nothing is hidden from his omnipotent vision, no matter how small nor how great; God sees it.
Jesus declares of his omnipotence, and he must have spoken these words in reverence and in awe, “Not a sparrow shall fall on the ground but what my heavenly Father knows it falls. The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30). This simply expresses the fact that this is an all-knowing God, an all-seeing God who sees and hears the faintest whisper of all creatures in his universe.
If we could just appreciate this last fact, perhaps we would be more circumspect and cautious in some of the whispering that we do, feeling that we are secure in the thought that God does not hear, but he does.
He is a personal God. The Bible tells us some facts concerning him as a person. It tells us that he is from everlasting to everlasting, that he never had a beginning; he always was.
It emphatically assures us that while he himself had no beginning, his works did have a beginning, and it follows thus logically that if God had no beginning but his works had a beginning, God must have existed before the works of creation. And if he existed before creation, there must have been a time when God was alone, when nothing else existed but himself.
When we contemplate his revealed character, his self-sufficiency, we are impressed with this fact: he could be just as happy, just as content alone as with all the works of creation in heaven and in earth that today exist.
Then, why did God go to all the trouble to create this universe? It was no trouble at all! Nothing troubles God, the God of divine revelation. He does the most difficult task as easily as he does the easiest task. We cannot qualify God’s character. We cannot say of him that something is easy or something is difficult. What he wills, he does, and nothing can resist that will.
When God Was Alone
What was God doing when he was alone? What was he doing when he was doing nothing—paradoxical as that may sound? God was never idle. When we think of someone who is busy, we think of a person who is making a lot of noise, kicking up a lot of dust—the louder the noise, the bigger the cloud of dust, the busier we think that person is. That does not necessarily follow.
The God of the Bible is the great, supreme architect of all that exists and will ever exist. He planned it all according to the counsel of his own will. In all that endless eternity of the past when he was alone, God was formulating the plans and purposes which he will carry into execution through all eternity, through whatever agencies he may employ.
Our finite minds stagger before the contemplation of such a situation. We and all the hosts of heaven are just like little children playing with grains of sand upon the shore of the great ocean of eternity. Before our startled imagination spreads the boundless purposes of the Creator, fathomless and immeasurable.
This is the God of the Bible, the God before whom you and I are privileged to come as New Creatures, in full assurance of faith and in the utmost confidence that he will see and hear, calling him our Father who are in heaven. Hallowed be his name.
Omniscience, too, is a quality of God’s character. Omniscience means knowledge of all things. He perceives all things. He remembers all things. He reasons out all things.
We have his assurance that he is also able to forget. That, too, is a quality of omniscience. Speaking to Israel, promising them a new covenant, that when this new covenant goes into effect and when the purposes for which it is established are accomplished, he says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Memory is something with which we can also forget.
All things are naked and revealed before him. God’s mentality, in its perceptive powers, has an aptitude, calculation, order, color, weight, size, form, detail, time, place, harmony, construction, beauty, sublimity, and, above all things else, intuition—with all of their ramifications and implications.
He has all the senses (Psalm 94:9)—sight, hearing, smelling, touch and taste, and, what no other creature can have, intuitive knowledge. He perceives everything—past, present and future.
The Mentality of God
God’s mentality in its reflective powers has the aptitude of remembering all things that he has ever perceived, and all that is yet to be seen. God will have the aptitude to remember in detail through all eternity.
In his omniscience, his reasoning powers enable him to draw perfect inductions and deductions, reasoning from some particulars to general conclusions, and from general conclusions to details. At the same time, he can draw definite conclusions as to all possible contingencies anywhere and everywhere. God’s mentality, according to divine revelation, in its imaginative powers, due to its perfect reflection and perception and reasoning, has the aptitude for inventing his plans and creations. Think of the infinite mind that was able to invent everything that exists in this great universe, in the spirit world and in the material world. They are all creatures of his mind, the products of his power. God alone creates.
All these intellectual powers referred to are infinite in their capacity, infallible in their uses, and perfect in their development. This is the omniscient God.
Man—In God’s Image
In the creation of man, God endowed man in perfection with similar capacities, limited in scope to his environment, but capable of expansion in every division of learning and of science throughout the endless ages of eternity.
When, at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ, mankind stands once again before the Creator in perfection, man will just be standing on the threshold of the opportunities, the possibilities that are to unfold, ever unfolding throughout eternity before him. He will have just begun his education. He will have just been equipped with perfect functions and qualities of heart and mind which he will then, for the first time, begin to use perfectly.
God planted a garden eastward in Eden for the perfect Adam. It was only a kindergarten. All eternity awaited Adam, had he remained obedient and perfect. He would only have just begun to learn the possibilities with which he was endowed by the Creator.
We are too prone to think of Adam coming into existence with a college degree. That is not true. Adam had to learn to see, to hear, to walk, to talk. He had to formulate a language. He might have had help from very competent sources. Being perfect, he could learn quickly, but he had to learn.
We learn that the Lord God caused all the animals of the garden to pass before Adam and whatsoever he named that animal, that was the name thereof. Adam was learning about his environment, his possibilities, his potentiality. He was learning something of his resourcefulness of heart and mind.
Man has these capacities in a limited way. God has all these capacities inherently, omnisciently.
Our God has the quality of omnipresence, not personally, but God is present everywhere. Being a person, God has size and dimensions.
Years ago, an atom was the smallest particle of matter; if you were to take a drop of water and divide it and subdivide it thousands of times, you would finally come to the place where you would have a molecule of water. We thought that was the smallest particle of water you could have. If you made another division, you would resolve water into its constituent element. The formula, H2O (two atoms of hydrogen, one atom of oxygen) makes water. The word “atom” is from a Greek word that means indivisible, something that cannot be made smaller.
They let the matter rest there for a number of years, but later they made a tremendous discovery: that infinitesimal particle, so small that no one has ever seen it even with the most powerful of microscopes, is in itself made up of particles infinitesimally smaller in an infinitesimal arrangement. It is a little solar system in itself. The particles of which it is made are so small that the distance between them relatively is greater than the distance between the sun and this planet.
God Existed Before Time
Isaiah 43:12 (Fenton): “I existed before time itself.” The translater did not use the word “duration.” Fenton knew “duration” would not apply. Time is used in this place as a unit of measure. There was a time when God didn’t need a unit of measure of that kind. But the time came when a unit of value in respect to duration became essential.
God is an exact timekeeper. He is carrying out his plans according to a definite schedule. When the clock of eternity strikes the hour, God moves, irrespective of who stands still.
In the eighth chapter of Proverbs, Solomon presents another thought. Speaking of Jesus, the Logos, under the symbol of wisdom, he puts these words into his mouth: I existed before as yet he had created space. (Fenton)
When the great supreme architect began to put his plan into execution, he seems to have pushed back the walls of nothingdom, and created space. He sowed space with the constellations of the heavens. God the Creator did this.
God Sees and Hears Everything
God has the quality of omnipresence. We speak of everything we see as being in our presence. God sees everything. The boundless universe is embraced in the compass of his vision. His power lays hold on everything in the universe. He hears everything, sees everything. All of his senses are exercised in every respect and direction, separately and collectively, everywhere, all the time.
No wonder Jacob, on that night as he laid his head upon the rock and went to to sleep, having that dream at that place which he subsequently named Bethel, said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not” (Gen. 28:16). The Lord is with his people, and we know it to be true.
Solomon, in dedicating the temple, realized how circumscribed it was, to be the meeting place between the God whom he worshiped and the people who were to serve him, asked the question, “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heavens cannot contain thee; how much less the house that I have builded” (1 Kings 8:27).
“Jehovah our God is the great emperor of the whole universe, and his wisdom, power, goodness and benevolence are abundantly equal to all the responsibilities of so exalted an office. The human mind staggers in the effort to comprehend the mental resources of a being who is able to assume and to bear such responsibility. Think for a moment of the memory that never fails, of a judgment that never errs, of the wisdom that plans for eternity without the possibility of failures for ages to come, of the power and skill that can harness even every opposing element, animate and inanimate, and make them all work together for the accomplishment of his grand design, of the tireless vigilance which never ceases nor seeks relief from the pressing cares of universal dominion, whose eye never whose eye never sleeps, whose ear is ever open, who is ever cognizant of all the necessities, and active in all the interests of his broad domain.”