Various Concepts of God
The world is full of a variety of ideas about God; certain ideas cause men to hate God; others to serve Him from fear; and others inspire men to adore Him so ardently that they delight to do His will and wish they could spend an eternity with Him. Our attitude toward Him depends quite fully on our ideas about Him—on our concept of the kind of God He is. Whether or not we will serve Him depends largely, then, upon what we think about Him. Therefore it is of first importance that we know Him.
The True God Should be Truly Understood – The Origin of Mis-concepts
Go back in time about 6,000 years to an Eden home of perfect bliss which a kind, loving God gave to the holy pair of innocents; they possessed perfect bodies and minds; their minds were full of joy; and their bliss was to be everlasting.
But an enemy came, saying,
1 God did not tell you the truth when He said you would die if you eat of this tree; you cannot depend on what He says. You will not die.
2 You will enter a higher state—become like God—if you eat the fruit; He is keeping from you that which is for your good; He is hindering your advancement; therefore He is unkind and does not love you as He claims to do.
3 He has placed a very strict regulation around you forbidding you to do the things which are for your good; such regulations are unjust; He is not fair with you.
4 In thus treating you He is curtailing your liberty—your rights; He is a tyrant!
5 If He were infinite in wisdom, as He says He is, He would know better than to manage His affairs of state like this; He would change His methods. Such a course is bound to fail; He cannot succeed; He claims infinite power, but no amount of power can perpetuate a government based upon injustice; and so on.
Thus he gave to Eve a false description of God to change her concept of Him so as to change her attitude toward Him so she would cease to serve Him and turn against Him.
Had Eve continued to believe in God as He really was, she would not have turned from Him; she believed the misrepresentation of Him and so took her stand against Him.
That experience was the beginning of all false concepts of God in this world. From that day until this, Satan has sought to make the service of God seem undesirable by putting Him and His ideas in a false light. Among the heathen will be found idols to represent their concepts of God, and some of these are more horrid than any human mind could conceive, apparently trying to make idols as bad in looks as they believe their gods to be in fact.
Satan works in every conceivable way to impart distorted concepts of every kind about God.
On the other hand, God has been working to help men to see Him as He really is; but error always has the advantage over truth because error can use methods to propagate itself which truth cannot use. This is one reason why truth sometimes waits a long time for vindication.
God Must Be Revealed
Thus the conflict—the greatest conflict that has ever raged in the minds of men—is about God!
One author has said, “No science is equal to the science that reveals the character of God.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 393.
Therefore a gospel, if it is to cause men to return from their departure from Him, must begin its work for sinners by restoring a true knowledge of God, and this must ever be its true drawing power; His characteristics must be revealed to the people so they will see that He is “the chiefest among ten thousand and the One altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16); that He is the embodiment of all that is desirable, and that all good comes from Him.
One day Moses asked God to reveal Himself to him, and in response to the request God presented the words, “mercy,” “graciousness,” and “goodness,” meaning that it is by such attributes that the Great I AM wishes to be known among men (Exodus 33:18, 19). This concept of God must become the drawing power of the redemption plan.
Christ’s First Objective
When the Son of God came to this earth to expound redemption and win sinners back to God, His first objective must be to reveal the true character of God; they must be won by being captivated by His lovableness, He can offer to die for them—He may die for them ten thousand times—but if they are not interested in God they cannot become interested in returning to His service, and the atonement would not be accepted, and He would die in vain. The first step in offering the gospel must be to help them to understand God. A dark cloud hung over the minds of men shutting out the true conception of God and hiding His true attitude toward them. If men only knew Him and how He really feels toward them, their hearts would be won and they would adore and love and serve Him forever.
Not by Force
“The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, ‘with healing in His wings’ (Malachi 4:2).” The Desire of Ages, 22.
For these reasons the conflict rages—Satan ever striving to conceal God, to misconstrue His motives and character and to confuse the minds of men concerning Him, and God ever at work to impart a true knowledge of Himself.
The Christian’s Experience, 221–223. [All emphasis author’s.]