At some point in a Christian’s life, a follower of Jesus will be asked something like, “How and when did you come to know God personally?” Just how someone answers that question becomes part of their witness. What they say reveals important things.
After giving a convincing testimony about “how” and “when” a person came to know God personally, a listener can then testify to the truth of that other person’s personal relationship with God.
In like fashion, a person can testify about their relationship with someone else. If, for instance, a married person wanted to share about their marriage they could say, “Today, I want to tell you about how and when I came to know my spouse, and I’d like to tell you about our wedding.” You could learn wonderful things from that but a good followup would be in order to really know what their relationship was like now. A person could ask, “Tell me, what is your spouse like?” You would learn a lot more about their relationship with a followup question like that.
Likewise, a followup question to Christian’s testimony can do the same. For example, a person could listen and then say, “Thank you, it is marvelous that you know God personally. I’m wondering, can tell me about God? Now that you know him personally, what is he like?”
If you were asked what is God like, how would you answer? You might consider listing God’s unique characteristics. That would be one way, listing those things which if God did not possess he would cease to be God. Such a list has been used through much of history.
So, who is God? 1) He is transcendent. 2) He is sovereign. 3) He is personal.
- God is transcendent. God exists apart from the creation he made. He exists outside of time; he exists outside of space. Because he made all things he doesn’t need any of the things we need to exist. We owe our existence to the air we breathe and the our parents who gave us a chance for a first breath. But God is not like us. He is completely self-existing. His existence comes only from himself. In himself alone God is complete.
- God is sovereign. There is nothing that takes place outside of his rule. His reign and power are so vast that we cannot begin to comprehend it, but the story of Scripture tells us his sovereignty is sure.
- God is personal. Unlike many throughout the world who believe that God cannot be both transcendent and person, Christians believe he is. Many other religions tend toward pantheism or animism. I once asked a young Christian boy, “I have a question for you: “Who is God?” His first answer came quickly:“God is everywhere.” I said, “really?” I motioned to a chair and said, “Have a seat, I’m sure God won’t mind your sitting on his head.” He smiled, so I asked, “Do you want to change your answer a little?” He said, “Well, God is the creator of heaven and earth.” I said, “Now that is a better answer.”
God is indeed the creator of heaven and earth. We learn that from very first words of the bible. And, yet, we also learn in the first stories that God is personal. He lives in relationship with angels and people. Eventually we come to see through revelation that God is person in that he even lives in relationship with himself. Such is the mystery of the Trinity. So God is person who lives in relationship.
God also is person. He can be offended. Much of the Bible shows how his people offend him, and then repent, and then either live in God’s blessing or they find ways to continue to drift away. The God of heaven and earth does not want his people to offend him, and so he sends prophets. Ultimately God sends his only son, Jesus.
God is also personal in that he provides for his children. God is transcendent, he is above it all, and yet our God is deep in the mix of it all. God takes care of his people in spite of their grumbling and turning away, he causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Ultimately he provides us with his son, Jesus, as the greatest of all provision.
So, maybe let this short blog be just a primer for you for when you are asked to give your testimony. Don’t wait for a follow-up question to how and when you came to know God. Add your own followup and say, “Now, I’d like to tell you not only how and when I came to know God, but I’d like share who he is.”
Now that’s something to celebrate!