By Don Ruhl
What is God? What is His substance? Is He flesh and bones? If not, what is He?
Why do we need to know? How does this affect our lives? Jesus said something to a woman once that shows this is not a matter of curiosity, but Christians do something that fulfills one of our purposes for having been made, and knowing what God is helps us to do this thing properly.
This thing for which we have been made is worship. Knowing the nature of God affects how we worship Him.
John 4.19–24 The Nature of Worship
Jesus told a woman, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain [Samaria], nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4.19–24).
Something was about to change, affecting the nature of worship. Therefore, if we do not have an accurate idea of God, our worship will not be what it should be. By worship we show Him our adoration and we glorify Him. How can I show Him my adoration, if I do not know what He is? How can I glorify Him, if my conception of God is in error?
Even as we want someone to love us, the Father wants people to worship Him. In verses 23 and 24 Jesus revealed that the Father searches for true worshipers. True worshipers are those who worship Him in harmony with His true nature. They should worship Him in spirit, because God is spirit. God wants worshipers who will make that connection with Him, worshiping Him in spirit makes the connection He wants.
Hebrews 13 explains what we offer to Him in worship, “Therefore by [Jesus] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13.10–16).
Stephen Charnock said, “If God were corporeal, he might be pleased with the victims of beasts, and the beautiful magnificence of temples, and the noise of music; but being a Spirit, he cannot be gratified with carnal things; he demands something better and greater than all those,—that soul which he made, that soul which he hath endowed, a spirit of a frame suitable to his nature (The Existence and Attributes of God, Volume 1, page 179).
We worship God in spirit, because we also are spirit. What is our spirit? It is who we truly are. It is our mind (mind and brain are not equal), it is our personality. Open our bodies and we see flesh, blood, and bones. We cannot see what operates the body.
What Is God’s Spirit?
The Bible explains that God is invisible. Many things we do not see, but they are visible, it is just that they are not present for us to see them. We cannot see South America, but we can go there and see it. With God, we cannot see Him literally in this world with our current eyes. “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God…” (Col 1.15). “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1Ti 1.17).
From Luke 24 we discover that a spirit is not like our present bodies. Two men spoke to the apostles, explaining that they had seen Jesus. Suddenly He appeared to them. They thought they saw a spirit, not a human. Jesus encouraged them not to fear, but to examine Him and they would discover that He was like them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24.38, 39).
Do You Still Want to See God Before Believing in Him?
Exodus 20 shows that when Israel saw the glory of God on Mt. Sinai, they did not want to see anymore of it, they did not even want to get close, but they wanted Moses to approach God for them, “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’” (Exo 20.18, 19). Why would we react differently, if God suddenly showed Himself?
First Kings 19 shows Elijah going to the same mountain. He had a similar, yet, different experience. There were great displays, but God appeared to the prophet differently. God did not appear to Elijah in a fierce wind, nor in an earthquake, nor in a fire, but, “…after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1Ki 19.11–13).
What are we doing? What do we expect of God? He has manifested Himself in different ways, but never to the satisfaction of man. If His past manifestations did not suffice, why would more?
Perhaps we would just like God to come down and talk with us. How would we know if the person who spoke to us was God? If He took on a form that we could see—since spirit is invisible to us—we would need something to identify Him, because people claim to be God all the time. How would we know to reject them, but to accept the true God? One preacher visited at a psychiatric hospital. As he walked the grounds, he passed by a man on a bench. The man said that he was Jesus Christ. The preacher asked the man who told him that. The man said God did. The man sitting next to him said, “No, I didn’t.”
If the invisible God came down on a level with us so that we could meet Him, should we not be able to identify Him by His unusual entrance into the world, His control over the world, and His unusual exit from the world?
- What if He entered the world through birth, but the woman was a virgin, even after conceiving Him and delivering Him?
- What if He did things like walking on water, and raising the dead?
- What if He then died, but raised Himself from the dead, and later ascended straight into heaven?
Would that be enough to persuade humanity that there is a God and that while invisible because He is spirit, yet, He can take on flesh that we might see Him, and that He might demonstrate who He is?
It already happened!
Have you heard of Jesus of Nazareth? The invisible God manifested Himself to the world.
He was the One who spoke to the woman at the well. She spoke to the Son of God that day. You can believe in the Son of God today and obey what He says to do for eternal life and you can learn about life from His teachings.