What Is God Like?
March 1, 2007 - A leading Los Angeles businessman asked me: “What do you suppose God is like?” An airline flight attendant once asked, as we were skimming over the beautiful Rocky Mountains from Denver to Los Angeles: “Wouldn’t it be fine if we really knew what God was like?"
A Message by Billy Graham
A university president put it this way: “If it were possible for preachers to tell people what God is and what God is like, it would make the question of religion a good deal simpler for many people.”
I believe it is possible to know what God is like.
In the Bible we have a full revelation of what God is like. If you do not believe we have a revelation that is sufficient to give us an answer to our question of what God is like, then you will never be satisfied, for all other discussion is speculative. Every other idea about God is the product of the imagination or reasoning of a mere man, and no two theories or ideas will agree. Your guess is as good as anyone else’s. However, if we believe that in the Bible we have a revelation of God, then our minds can be completely satisfied as to the correct answer.
There are hundreds of things we could say about God as revealed in the Bible, but I am going to choose only four.
First, the Bible declares God to be Spirit. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is talking to a woman at the well of Sychar. He makes a straightforward statement about God when He says simply: “God is Spirit.” Immediately you imagine a sort of cloudy vapor. But that is not a picture of God.
If I want to know what a spirit is, I can find out from these words of Christ after His resurrection: “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39, NKJV). So I know that spirit is incorporeal—in other words, it is “unbody.” Spirit is the opposite of body. Spirit is something that is not limited by a body.
The Bible declares that God is Spirit, that He is not limited to body; He is not limited to shape; He is not limited to force; He is not limited to boundaries. He is absolutely immeasurable and undiscernable to eyes that are limited to physical things. He can be everywhere at the same time.
Thousands of people are trying to limit God to certain spheres and relegate Him to certain categories that are the product of their own speculation. There is no limit to God. There is no limit to His wisdom. There is no limit to His power. There is no limit to His love. There is no limit to His mercy.
I was reared in a small Presbyterian church in Charlotte, N.C. Before I was 10 years of age my mother made me memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism. In that catechism we were asked to define God. The answer we learned was, “God is Spirit—infinite, eternal and unchangeable.”
Those three words describe God. He is infinite—not body bound. Eternal, He has no beginning and no ending. He is the One forever self-existent. The Bible declares that He never changes—that there is no variableness or shadow of turning with Him.
People change, fashions change, conditions and circumstances change, but God never changes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The Bible teaches that there was no time when God did not exist. He has been as He is—forever. He has no beginning and no end. He is the Eternal and Unchanging Person.
If you have any problem concerning the inspiration of the Bible, go back and look at it again. The basis of your problem is that you have not admitted God to be the sort of Spirit that He is. If God is what He says He is, there is no problem of His providence; there is no problem of His oversight of nations of men; there is no problem of His inspiring men to write the Bible. Everything fits into place once you understand who and what God really is.
Second, the Bible reveals God as a Person.
Everywhere in the Bible we read: “God loves”; “God says”; “God does.” Everything that we attribute to a person is attributed to God. A person is one who feels, thinks, wishes, desires and has all the expressions of a personality. Personality is not limited to body. You are an immortal soul. Someday your personality will leave your body.
When former President John Quincy Adams was 93, someone asked the old statesman: “How are you feeling this morning, Mr. Adams?” He replied: “Quite well. Quite well. But the house I live in is not so good. I’ll soon be leaving it to get a new one.”
God is not bound by a body, but He is a person. He feels, He thinks, He loves, He forgives.
Third, the Bible declares that God is a holy and righteous Being. From Genesis to Revelation God reveals Himself as a holy God. He is utterly perfect in every detail. He is too holy to endure sinful living. He is a holy and perfect God.
If we could ever get a vision of God’s majestic righteousness, what a tremendous difference it would make in the way our nations live. If we could once see the appalling difference that separates our unrighteousness from God’s perfect righteousness, it would change our way of living immediately.
The Scripture declares Him to be Light in whom there is “no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). It is impossible to understand the Bible unless you have a clear understanding of the holiness of God.
The holiness of God determines all other attributes of God. The Scripture declares that His throne is established on the basis of His holiness.
Because God is holy, a wide rift exists between God and the sinner. The Scripture says, “your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2, NKJV).
Not only is the sinner separated from God, but God is separated from the sinner. Because God is holy, He can have nothing to do with sin.
Before sin came, humanity and God had fellowship with each other. Now that fellowship is broken, and it is impossible for a sinner to have any contact with God unless it be through Jesus Christ. People do not possess, nor can they acquire, the sinlessness that is necessary for access to God. However, Christ came and made such access possible.
We are dealing with a holy, righteous and pure God. He will not long tolerate our evils and sins. How long is this pure God going to endure our divorce rate, our breakdown of morals, our drunkenness? How long is God going to tolerate our pride; our love of money, ease and pleasure; our gossip, slander and malice?
Fourth, God is love. Many people have misunderstood that part of God’s nature. The fact that God is love does not mean that everything is sweet, beautiful and happy and that God’s love could not possibly allow punishment for sin.
God’s holiness demands that all sin be punished, but God’s love provided a plan of redemption and salvation for sinful people. God’s love provided the cross of Jesus Christ by which we can have forgiveness and cleansing. It was the love of God that sent Jesus Christ to the cross.
No matter what sin you have committed, no matter how dirty, shameful or terrible it may be, God loves you. You may be at the very gate of hell itself, but God loves you with an everlasting love. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).
The Scripture says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV). It is your part to believe. It is your part to receive. It is for you to make a definite, positive commitment and surrender to the love of God. Nobody else can do it for you. You can sit all the days of your life under the preaching of the love of God and still die without Christ. Or, you can open your heart today and say, “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus; I receive You today.”
But some of you say: “I still can’t understand God. Therefore, I cannot receive Him.” I can’t understand how a black cow can eat green grass and produce white milk, but I drink milk. I don’t refuse to turn on my radio because I can’t understand it. Every day we do thousands of things that we do not understand.
It is impossible for human, finite minds to understand God completely. That is where faith comes in. By faith I receive His plan for my redemption. I trust Christ as Savior. Will you open your heart to Jesus Christ—right now?