Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Is God a person? Some people have a difficult time with thinking about personality apart from physical form. However, the essence of personality is spiritual and does not depend upon the physical or material. The truth is that God is perfect personality since the essence of His being is spiritual. He is able to go beyond the limitations of finite human personality, because He is neither limited by nor dependent upon a body. In this lesson we will see that God is a person and apply this fact to our daily lives. Perhaps the success of our Christian lives may be determined by the depth of our understanding that God is a person. (Consider this in light of the success of the Baby Butchers --- They make a baby a FETUS, NON-PERSONAL, then it isn't hard to kill.)
I. The Explanation of Personality
What does it really mean to be a person? One definition is that a person is an intelligent, thinking being capable of reason and reflection, and able to consider itself as itself. In simpler terms, a person is a being with the powers of self-consciousness and self-determination.
Self-consciousness is demonstrated in a being who knows the world around him, and most importantly knows himself in relation to the world and others. A person is able to say "I am I". "It is the ability to know oneself as the abiding subject of all one's various experiences and to distinguish oneself from those experiences."
Self-determination is demonstrated by a being who determines his actions from within himself. It is the power to look ahead, choose a course, and direct one's energies to the accomplishment of that course.
II. The Exhibition of Personality
Is God self-conscious and self-determining? There can be only one answer - absolutely! As Creator, God knows Himself perfectly in relation to all things that are. With respect to self-determination, one verse shall suffice as proof - Isaiah 14:24, The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.
In addition, from the testimony of the prophets and the declaration of Scripture, we can know clearly that God is a person. From these sources we learn about God's personal presence (Exodus 3:14), personal characteristics (Genesis 6:6; Proverbs 6:16; Ephesians 1:9), and personal relationships (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 104:27-30; Romans 8:28). God is not the eternal "it is" but the everlasting "I am".
Perhaps the greatest demonstration of the personality of God can be seen in the Christian's dearest name for God: Father. Jesus spoke of God as our Father (Matthew 6:8) and spoke to God as His Father (John 11:41). As believers, we have been adopted into the family of God and are now able to call God by the name Abba. The word "Abba" is a warm and affectionate name that perhaps could be translated into English as "Daddy". If we consider ourselves to be persons, then our earthly fathers must have been persons and therefore our heavenly Father must also be a person.
III. The Exercise of Personality
As Christians, it is vital that we conceive of God as a person. Not only is it important for our own faith, but also as a testimony to the world. As Christians we ought to be showing the world that there really is a personal God. No wonder so many lost people remain in unbelief when so many professing Christians show no evidence of belief in their own lives. Consider the following areas where we ought to practice a conscious recognition of the personality of God.
When we pray, we ought to remember that we are speaking to a person. How often do Christians pray to other men or simply utter words with no consideration of the receiver of their prayers? Jesus taught his disciples to start their prayers with "Our Father". How might it affect our prayers if we were always conscious of the fact that we are speaking to a person? Dr. Bob Gray tells of a man of God known as "Pappy" Reveal who had such a personal and intimate prayer life that it was often difficult to differentiate when he was speaking to God or speaking to men. 2. Reading the Bible
Reading the Bible is not like reading other books. No, in it we are being spoken to by a person. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, All scripture is given by inspiration of God. The word translated "inspiration" means "God-breathed". In other words, every word of Scripture is as though it was spoken by the very breath of God. Some may believe that reading the Bible is merely the obtaining of knowledge like reading other books, but it is important that we realize there is more to it than that: God, a person, is speaking to us. The Bible is not an inanimate object, but a living book.
How can we have fellowship with God? If we are able to have fellowship with other persons around us, surely we are able to fellowship with God. In fact John tells us this: truly our fellowship is with the Father (1 John 1:3). In what ways do we fellowship with our friends? Could we not enjoy such fellowship with God?
In the late 1600's, a man known as Brother Lawrence wrote a series of letters on the subject of The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence set out to live "as if there was none but He and I in the world". He tried to live in constant awareness that God was present with him. It would be good for us to realize that God is constantly present with us and therefore we are able to partake in continuous fellowship.
How might our efforts change if we were always conscious that we are serving a person? Our obedience to Scripture should be more than just simply conformance to the law - we should be obedient to a person. Not only has God personally given us work to carry out (e.g. Matthew 28:19-20), but there are some things He has asked us to do for His sake (Romans 15:30, 1 Peter 2:13). What was it that Jesus said to do "in remembrance of me"? What if our daily service was spent purely out of a love for God, rather than to please self or man? Not only do we serve a person, we will also give an account of our service to a person. Every believer will someday stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of their works to God (Romans 14:10-12). Yes Christian, you will stand before a person and explain every aspect of your service to Him! The Master has left for now and entrusted us with a mission, but someday He will return.
Our actions always affect others, but how might our decisions change if we were conscious of how our actions affected the person of God? Perhaps Isaiah's words to the house of David could be repeated oft to us: is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also (Isaiah 7:13)? When we sin, ultimately, it is against God (Psalm 51:4). Paul pled in Ephesians 4:30 to grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Before we act, we ought to consider that God is a person and what we do will cause Him joy or grief, a smile or tears.
The atheist denies the existence of God, the pantheist denies the personality of God, but the Christian ought to ever be conscious that God is a Person!