Baptists Beliefs: Baptists and God
Baptists believe what the Historic Christian Church believes, that “There is one and only one living and true God . . .”
We acknowledge that there are other religions that believe in the existence of other gods, even millions of them. What is simply not the case is that each religion with radically opposing beliefs is at the same time true. We continue to believe that the one true and living God has uniquely revealed Himself to us in the Bible. This is true even when our own human sensibilities, fallen as they are, can entice us to create a god in our own image. While we cannot begin to present all that we believe about God in a few short words here, we can build a brief foundation for our belief.
Who is God? He is the divine being, infinite, without beginning or end, Spirit and not mere energy or force. (John 4:24) He relates to, and redeems, human beings, people like you and me. God is and has been eternally One and God in three persons. (Ex. 3:14-15; 20:1-2; Isa. 43:3; Matt. 23:9; John 17:1-5)
Can God be known? We can know what God is like, but we cannot know everything about God. Put another way, we cannot know God exhaustively. If we could, what kind of God would He be? Nevertheless, and more importantly, we can know God truly! (Phil. 3:10) This cannot be accomplished, nor experienced through study and intellectual understanding alone, but by obedience and faith. He is not an object to be merely studied, but the One to be obeyed, loved and worshipped. (Matt. 22:24; Acts 5:29; Heb. 12:28-29) If there is any aspect of our beliefs that must be approached with reverence, awe, humility and prayer, it is our understanding of God, and no other belief could be more important.
What is God like? God has a nature, an essence and attributes. God is holy (I Pet. 1:16), which means that He is both distinct from what He has created and morally pure. As a moral being, He is righteous and just. One who hates sin and judges it, but forgives sinners. He is love. (I John 4:8) His love is not sentimental in a merely human sense, but love in fulfillment of His covenant with us, sacrificial and self-giving and personal. He has many more attributes, and they are all perfect.
The scope and greatness of His nature provides us with several incomparable truths about who He is and what He does. From the beginning of the Bible, He is Creator of all that exists. (Gen. 1 & 2) As opposed to an idea of God Who created, but is uninvolved with creation, God rules over, holds together, sustains and preserves His creation. (Col. 1:15-20)
Sin has entered His creation pervasively but it is still a creation that God is redeeming. Above all, He is redeeming sinners, fallen people, who remain the object of His love. Cosmic, reconciling and restoring all things unto Himself, would be an appropriate word to describe the scope of His redemption.
God without limits could summarize three particular attributes and actions of God. God, as Almighty, is all powerful. He is Sovereign, the Ruler over all of His creation. He is also present in all of creation in a way that we are never beyond His reach or His voice. He knows “… all things, past, present and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.” (Baptist Faith & Message 2000)
Baptist theologian Timothy George rightly concludes that “the doctrine of God can and should transform every area of church life.”
Next we will consider the Trinity.