Questions and Answers About God

 

Title: Questions and Answers About God

Text: Psalms 90:2, 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, Isaiah 43:18-19

Time: October 9th, 2013

Around the beginning of the year I gave a few messages about God, and tried to answer a few questions about who God is, what is God like, and so forth. Today, I’d like to pick up on that initial conversation about God by asking and answering a few more questions, like, “How can God exist forever?” and “Does God know who He is?” and “How can God avoid being bored?” Of course, there are so many questions we could and should ask about God, but we’ve only got time today to ask and answer about three of them. I’ve heard a number of people ask these questions about God, usually rhetorical questions by skeptics or atheists designed to show the idea of the Christian God is silly. But these questions aren’t only asked by atheists but also by children who sincerely want to know the answers without any hidden, ulterior motive.  Unbelievers love to ask questions about God because they think that there are no good answers to their questions, and therefore they seek to embarrass Christians by merely asking the questions. But there’s no reason why believers have to be ashamed of asking questions about God, especially since the Bible itself in various places raises questions and gives answers. As a Christian, as opposed to an unbeliever or atheist skeptic, I assume the basic concept of God given in the Bible is sound. Therefore, my task is to explore further what it means to understand and believe in God through seeking answers to questions raised about God. Also, it’s just plain interesting to think about God and then formulate questions about him that motivate us to seek out answers. In the seeking we can learn a lot more about the God we worship and obey. I think it would be rather dull to simply say, “I believe in God,” but then never ask any questions about him, how he exists, what he thinks, how he acts, and so forth. One of the great benefits of being a Christian believer is that we are motivated to explore more deeply our own faith and gain the added inspiration of finding satisfying answers to our investigations that increase our faith. At the present time I can’t say that I have answers to all my questions about God, but I feel I know a lot more about him now than if I’d never raised the questions. Also, even in the case where I can’t say I can find a satisfying answer for some question about God, I’m challenged to keep seeking more information and think deeper. Again, this is why being a Christian is so interesting – we’re inspired by what we do know about God, and challenged to keep seeking to discover more knowledge by what we don’t know about him. In either case, it’s a win-win situation. So let me raise and attempt to answer three more questions about God. I hope you find them interesting and helpful.

First, How can God exist forever? Psalms 90:2, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” The Bible teaches that God is eternal, eternally past, eternally present, and eternally future. The Bible teaches and Christian theology explains that there never was a time when God wasn’t, nor will there ever be a time in the future when God isn’t. But how can this be? How can an eternal being exist? It’s so different and strange from anything we know of in this natural world. On a superficial level, on earth and in life, we see things come and go. They come into being, they last for a while, then they go. Even the earth, scientists say, came to be at a certain time long ago, and will be gone at some point far off in the future. Even the biggest thing imaginable – the universe – it too as a whole will one day be gone, dissipated into a million, billion pieces. It came into being at some point – what scientists call the Big Bang, if we can trust the theory, and it will be gone at some future point – either in what scientists believe will be a fiery explosion or a cold freeze. There’s an old saying, “Nothing last forever.” But does that saying apply to God also? No, it doesn’t. According to God’s revelation to us, the Bible, he never was not, nor will he ever not be. Atheists like to mock the concept of an eternal God as irrational, but when you pin them down and ask them how there can be anything that exists at all today unless something has always been, they don’t have an answer. “From nothing, nothing comes,” is another saying, and it’s pretty wise. How could something come from nothing? Doesn’t there need to be something from which something else comes? Atheists claim that perhaps material energy has always existed in some form, and that’s where our universe comes from. So they would give material energy an eternal existence. But where did the material energy come from? Atheists like to use the old argument, “Ok, if God made everything, what or who made God?” But we might just as well turn the argument around and ask, “Ok, if material energy in some form made the universe, what made the material energy?” You still get the same problem whether you are talking about God or energy. Something has had to exist for all eternity, and that’s the mystery. Christianity says that it makes more sense to believe that a personal creative God exists than it does to believer that some impersonal force exists or that the universe, the world and human existence is simply the product of chance. It makes more sense that a divine mind has always existed, that mind came before matter, than to believe matter or energy produced mind. So then the idea that God has existed from all eternity, while difficult to grasp, is really what makes most sense in thinking about where everything came from.

Second, does God know who he is? 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, “. . . The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Now according to this passage in the New Testament, nobody knows the thoughts of God except God, but according to the passage God knows his own thoughts. In other words, from this and other passages we are led to believe that God knows all things, not only about everything and everyone, but also about himself as well. Now the question is raised, “If God is eternal, from the everlasting past, from infinity past, how can he know where he came from or his purpose?” From a human perspective, we struggle to understand who we are and for what purpose we are here on earth, but that’s just because we are limited in our knowledge and wisdom, and also because we are finite beings who depend on God for our very existence. We came into being at a certain time and place, and thus we need to be told or have revealed much about the world and even our own life. Without God’s revelation, without God’s Word, we’d be in the dark as to our nature and purpose. So if we apply the human analogy to God, we’d ask, “Does God know who he is and what his purpose is?” But it’s obvious that we can’t ask a finite human question of an infinite God in respect to existence, because the question doesn’t apply to God, although it’s interesting to ponder. What if God didn’t know who he was? What if he just always existed but didn’t have a clue as to why? What if God could say, “I’ve always existed as far back as I can remember, but I really don’t know why. I have infinite powers of knowledge, presence and ability, but I don’t know how I got these powers, only that I’ve got them.” Of course, God doesn’t ask these questions, because if he were infinite in knowledge and wisdom – or in other words, if God knows everything – then, he’d know how he exists and why he exists. The problem is really on our end of the question. We can’t imagine how God could know how he exists and for what purpose he exists. We find those questions difficult to imagine God knowing, but that’s because we can’t think like God thinks. If we could think like God thinks we’d know how God exists and for what purpose he exists, and it would all make sense. But for now we have to accept by faith that God knows the answers to these questions about himself. According to the Bible God knows all things, and therefore, he’d know everything there is to know about everything including everything about himself. God isn’t a mystery even to himself!

Three, how can God avoid being bored? Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, talks about doing a new thing, but does this newness apply to his own experience, or is it limited to only human experience? In other words, is God capable of experiencing anything new, or is God incapable of experiencing anything new or interesting due to his omniscience or his ability to know all things? On the humorous side, imagine trying to tell God a joke. The moment you begin, God, by virtue of omniscience already knows the punch line. Also, because he’s infinite, hasn’t he literally “seen it all?” And even if he hasn’t literally “seen it all” because he’s all-knowing, doesn’t he already know what’s going to happen, and therefore he’s seen it all mentally? How can God not be bored living in such a state? This question was first raised in my mind after watching an episode of Star Trek Voyager where one of the members of the Q Continuum – a group of beings who supposedly were omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient – got bored and wanted to end his life. Why? Because in this science fiction scenario he’d seen everything, heard everything, done everything, experienced everything and wanted out. I started thinking after the TV show was over, “I wonder if God ever gets bored because of his infinite powers?” I knew from the Bible that God is incapable of being bored, because that would be a negative characteristic within God that wouldn’t fit our knowledge of God, but I was hard pressed to actually explain or give a reason why God wouldn’t be bored. But again I had to conclude that I couldn’t explain why God isn’t bored because as human beings we would be bored in imagining how God exists, but that’s only because we lack the imagination to understand how God really exists. If we could understand how God really exists eternally, then we’d understand how God avoids being bored. In other words, because of our human limitations and lack of imagination we think that somehow God might get bored because he knows all things and can be anywhere, anyplace, and so probably has exhausted all the possibilities by now, being infinite in being. But even this logic isn’t sound. If God is infinite and there are infinite possibilities, then even God hasn’t exhausted all possibilities in knowing and doing. Only God can think up new ideas and knew possibilities for doing because he is infinite. We, on the other hand, limited as we are, can only see a finite number of possibilities with no hope of thinking or doing them all. God is different. He can think eternally and pursue eternal possibilities over the course of eternity, and thus never be bored.

Now I’ve only scratched the surface in asking questions about God. These are only three questions about God but there are plenty more that interest us, which I plan on asking and trying to answer in the future. But the specific answers I give are not as important as the asking of the questions. Yes, the Bible gives answers about God, but it doesn’t answer all our questions about God. Why not? Because some questions are interesting but actually not very important in fulfilling our purpose in life. Other questions are important but God leaves them unanswered so that we seek him in search of answers. If you think of our mind as a balloon as it expands when more air is put in, so too our knowledge and mental ability expand as we progress as humans. By asking questions and seeking answers we expand our mental ability and thinking power so that today we can ask and answer questions that people long ago couldn’t even think, let alone answer. It’s that way with our knowledge of God. As we reflect and ponder God our ability to understand expands. As we read the Bible and think about what it teaches us about God, our understanding of him increases and our appreciation for him grows also. A big part of worship – in church and in our own personal devotional time – is standing in awe of God, of being inspired and excited by him. Unfortunately, in our secular age reflection or pondering the wonder of God is rare. In ancient times, before all the modern distractions, people used to do more reflecting, praying and thinking about God. But today with TV, radio and the Internet we have the bad habit of letting others do our thinking for us. Instead of thinking about news, we settle for having the newscasters interpret the news for us. Instead of thinking about the Bible we’ll read a book or listen to someone else explain a verse for us. Now there’s nothing wrong with listening to commentary, but there’s nothing like discovering something for ourselves. God is inviting us to learn about him through prayer and reflection, through studying our Bible and making sense of things in our own mind. I encourage you to take time to ponder and reflect on God. Ask deep and wide questions about God. And then pursue answers. You might not find the solutions right away, but don’t worry, because after all, what else is life for than to understand and relate to God. In the process of pursuing God you’ll find your faith strengthened and your spiritual vision expanded. We’re never to old to wonder and stand in awe of God.

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