Who Is God?

That seems to be a rather simple and direct question, doesn’t it?  For the Christian community you would think that there would be a straightforward answer and yet, it may not be as simple as one might imagine.  I read recently on a Christian bulletin board that Jews and Christians worship the same god.  President Bush, in fact, at one point stated that Allah and the God of the Bible were one and the same.  ("I believe we worship the same God," the London-Telegraph newspaper, (Nov. 24, 2003) quoted Bush as saying.)  Is this true?  Is the God of the Bible the same god for each and every one of us?  When I use the word “God”, does it mean the same thing for the Jew and the Gentile?  For the Christian and the Muslim?  For mainstream religion and the “cult”?  Is God “God” or is God someone else? 

I know that this is a controversial topic and I do not mean to offend anyone with what I am about to say; however, the topic has been on my heart and mind for some time and I cannot seem to shake it.  That being the case, I thought I should at least explore this issue and what we mean we say that we worship “God.”  It should be understood that I personally believe that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people preserved as such since the times of the Old Testament and are therefore to be recognized and treated as such.  Consequently, any statement contained in this article differentiating between the use of the term “God” for the Jew and for the Christian should not be taken as an affront to Judaism but is merely an attempt to show that there is in fact a difference.  And before you get any further, please note that I do not accept the idea of a “substitute covenant” as it concerns the Jewish people.

There are 4,443 instances in the Bible where the word “God” is used but our initial introduction to God takes place in the very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  The word “God” which is assigned the number 430 in Strong’s Concordance means “'elohiym (el-o-heem'); plural of OT:433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative.”  See Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary (1994).  Elohim, Yahweh and Jehovah are names for God along with many others which give us a more expanded view of God and His personality.  However, the God of the Torah or the Books of the Law for the Jewish people is Elohim and is viewed as the Supreme God or the Lord of Hosts.   It is important to note that this view of God does not include the concept of the Trinity or a triune God.

For the Christian, i.e. those who profess Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, this is an important distinction.  The Christian maintains that salvation is predicated upon faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The most famous and widely disseminated scripture of the New Testament is John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world. . . .”).  However, most people fail to read on and fully comprehend the next two verses.

John 3:16-18

** New International Version

King James Version

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 


16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.



These verses, taken together as a whole, clearly state that the believer in Christ is “not condemned” while the unbeliever is “condemned already.”  In other words, belief in the Son of God is absolutely central and essential for everlasting life promised in verse 16.

Similarly, another verse in the 14th Chapter of John is very familiar to the believer but the verses immediately following thereafter convey great truth.  In John 14:6 Jesus identified Himself as “the way and the truth and the life.”  This particular verse is often cited for the proposition that Jesus is, once again, the only way to get to heaven.

John 14:5-11

** New International Version

King James Version

5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." 8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.


5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.  11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.




Starting in verse 7 of this passage, Jesus makes a statement that was considered nothing short of blasphemy in His society.  He said that He was God and that He and the Father were the same.  His basis for making such a statement was evidenced by the works or miracles that He had performed.

Jesus was the source of all creation; He is not a created being but rather was with the Father in the beginning.  He was not simply a personage of the New Testament but was present in the beginning as we know it.

John 1:1-5

** New International Version

King James Version

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.  3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.


1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.



From all of these verses it is clear, for the Christian, that Jesus Christ is the only way to get to heaven.  He is the Son of God and worthy of worship.

Additionally, the Christian professes a belief in the Holy Spirit, i.e. the Spirit of God who indwells the believer upon a profession of faith in Christ.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  Commonly misunderstood by many, the Holy Spirit becomes an actual part of the believer.  The Spirit of God is mentioned throughout the New Testament, particularly on the Day of Pentecost but God, shown in His Spirit, also appears in the Old Testament.  David, after committing adultery with Bathsheba and following his confrontation with Nathan, cries out fearing the loss of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 51:10-12

** New International Version

King James Version

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.


10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.



There are numerous passages in the New Testament addressing the person of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a gift, the Comforter, Counselor, powerful and mighty.  He is God.  It is interesting to note that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is also identified as the only unforgivable sin (Luke 12:10).

There is a movement within the Catholic Church to deify Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It is euphemistically referred to as the “Mary as god” movement.  This particular teaching arose in the Philippines and is now making its way throughout the world.  There are those in the Catholic Church who abhor this teaching believing that it is blasphemy.  There are many non-Catholics who also view it as blasphemy.  Mary was fully human and certainly not someone to be deified.  She was a vessel of the Holy Spirit, chosen of God.  She was an incredible, faithful woman through whom all of humanity was blessed but she was not God.

Luke 1:26-33

** New International Version

King James Version

26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."


26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.



Gabriel made it plain and clear; Mary was highly favored by God.  She did not cause her pregnancy; that pregnancy was a miracle of God.  Given her surprise, it is hard to imagine that she was omniscient.  Mary was many things but she was not God. 

There are also those who believe that salvation is predicated upon works.  In other words, if you are a “good” person, you will go to heaven.  They measure themselves against others and try to imagine an eternal scale of justice; if the good deeds outweigh the bad, then they must be going to heaven.  Surely, God would not send someone to hell who tries to be a “good” person.  However, the Bible addresses this idea about a works-based theology and comes to a very different conclusion.

Ephesians 2:8-9

** New International Version

King James Version

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.


8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.




What is really happening when a person engages in a works theology, i.e. trying to earn their way into heaven?  I submit that this person is worshipping themselves.  They believe that their efforts should be good enough to garner eternal reward.  Works are an extension of the person and therefore, if their works are admirable, then they should be also.  Unfortunately, this reasoning will simply pave the road the hell for many (See Matthew 7:13-14).

Isaiah 64:6

** New International Version

King James Version

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf,

and like the wind our sins sweep us away.


6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.



This is certainly what does not come to mind when we think of self-worship.  That idea conveys an image of one who is prideful and arrogant, a person who is engrossed in their own self-image, an individual who puts himself before everyone and everything else.  It does not suggest a “good” person, i.e. moral, ethical and upright, devoted to living a decent life who tries to do the right thing.  But the fact of the matter is that our “righteous acts” are as filthy rags before Almighty God.  Absent belief in Christ, all of our good acts count for nothing. 

Jesus Himself taught that good works are not enough to gain admission into heaven.  He specifically addressed the concept of a works-based theology when He prophesied the future by stating:

Matthew 7:21-23

** New International Version

King James Version

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'


21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.



Prophesying in the name of Jesus, casting out demons and performing many wonderful works or miracles all have to be good things, don’t they?  Yet, Jesus said on that day, He will tell these to depart as He never knew them.  This will be true despite the fact that they will say to Him, “Lord, Lord.”  The reason is that there was never a relationship with the Son built upon a profession of faith evidenced by repentance or a turning away from the old, sinful life.

Good acts don’t earn salvation; good acts result from salvation.

Ephesians 2:10

** New International Version

King James Version

10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.



 There are also many “religions” that corrupt the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and exchange it for a lie.  Without going into each and every one, I simply refer the reader to Walter Martin’s book, “The Kingdom of the Cults.”  It is a wonderful work on many so-called “religions” that provides the reader with a detailed understanding of the origination and details of the particular belief system.  What each “religion” has in common is the lack of Jesus Christ as the soul (I know, I should have used “sole” but I couldn’t resist) avenue to salvation.

This can be a very troubling topic for many.  There are a number of people who want to stand on the proposition that we all basically worship the same God and there must be other ways to get to heaven but that is simply not the case.  The Christian worships the God of the Trinity Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit while adhering to the idea of salvation through an expression of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  All other belief systems do not. 

This is the bottom line:  Jesus Christ, God made manifest in physical form, identified as the Son of Man and the Son of God, is the only avenue to eternal life.  There are no substitutes; Jesus is God and He, and only He, can get you into heaven.  Any other belief is just that – a belief.  Sincerity in a particular belief system will not be your ticket through the Pearly Gates.  Your “good” works will not earn you a pass.  Unless you profess Jesus Christ as the Son of God and ask Him into your life to be your Lord and Savior, you are lost.  Believers can find enough things to debate (How often should we take communion?  Do we sprinkle or immerse?  Is tithing based on before- tax or after-tax dollars?); however, this point is beyond contestation:  Jesus Christ is the Messiah, prophesied in the Old Testament, and as such, He remains the only hope for eternal life.  Any other argument is just unacceptable – end of story.



** A modern language quote is provided for readability together with the accompanying KJV version which is believed by many to be a more accurate representation of the original scripture.

Comments or questions may be directed to the author at info@rapturenext.com.