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Who is this God?

May 19th, 2019

Minoh International Church
Pastor Andrew Miller

One of my students recently said to me,

“I don’t like the Christian God because your God is a killer.”

My first reaction was to say,

“No! My God is not a killer. My God is love personified! He is gracious and kind and compassionate and caring. You don’t know my God at all!”

But if I were to say that, perhaps it would be me who doesn’t know my God very well.

In Deuteronomy 32:39 God says,

“See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god besides me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and no one can deliver from my hand.”
Deuteronomy 32:39

申命記 32:39

Does this surprise you about God? Does it disappoint you? What are we to make of a God who claims to love but who also claims to kill? How can we possibly reconcile these two character traits of God?

Reconciling these two character traits (and other diverse traits as well) is very important for the Christian because

if we ignore certain aspects of God’s character because we don’t understand them or because we don’t like them or because we feel they don’t fit with our idea of who God is or should be, then we are committing…idolatry.

We are merely creating our own God in our own minds based on who we think God should be or who we would like God to be. And that’s not God!

Now, clearly, as the Bible says, God kills. He is, in that sense, a killer. But one of the problems with putting such a label on God is that it leads us to consider God as we would consider a man. ‘It’s wrong for a person to kill so it must be wrong for God to kill, too. So if God kills, which He does, then He’s bad.’

But, God is not a man that He should be judged as a man.

Indeed, as God says in Scripture,

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9

イザヤ書 55:9

God is the Creator and the taker of life.

The giving and taking of life is uniquely God’s domain. That’s what He does. All of life belongs to Him “to kill and to make alive, to wound and to heal”. He is the author of life, Almighty God, Sovereign Lord. As such, He should be worshipped with a holy fear.

Now, the problem with calling God is killer is two-fold. Firstly, (as we just saw) it assumes that God is like a man and so it strips Him of deity. Secondly, it sees God in a one-dimensional light: ‘God is a taker of life and that’s all He is’.

But of course, there are many revelations of God throughout the Bible and each of them tells us more of the character of the Almighty Creator God. To really know God, we need to hear and understand all the ways that God reveals Himself in the Bible, and then worship and serve that God as best we can.

The question my student asked me is similar to another question that is often asked:

‘How can a loving God send people to hell for eternity?’
愛に溢れた神様はどうして人を永遠に地獄へ送るのですか? という質問です。

This is a very good question and it’s important that we know the answer for the sake of our own faith, and so that we can explain it to those who ask.

Firstly. God is love. He would rather die – literally – than have anyone end up in hell. He died a horrible death so that we wouldn’t have to. That’s love.

But there’s more.

We can’t answer this question without also asking another:

‘How can a holy God allow sinful people into heaven even for a minute?’

(Because the Kingdom of God can contain no sin.)

Asking this second question helps us and those who ask the first question, to more fully understand God in the light of His revelation of Himself.

Again, He is not a one-dimensional God.

God is love

but that is not all He is.

He is also holy and righteous and just and kind and patient and merciful and gracious and so on.

If we worship God as a God of love and a God of love only, then we risk two great errors. The first is that we ignore the other character traits of God as He has revealed them to us.

Secondly, we tend to understand the love of God in a human capacity, and assume that God has the same sort of love that we have. So we understand God to be little more than ‘a really nice guy’, and that is a very poor understanding of who God is.

God’s love is much bigger, stronger, grittier, more protective, more generous, more powerful, more beautiful, more sacred, more sacrificial and more wonderful than we could ever know or imagine.

So again,

if we consider God as a God of love only (and human-type love at that), then we are committing…idolatry.

We are merely creating our own God in our own minds based on who we think God should be or who we would like God to be.

God desires that we know the real Him.

He desires that we know the truth about Him, and not some made up version that might sit more easily with us for a time.

Job had to wrestle with this until he understood it. So did Jacob, David, Peter, Paul and the other fathers of the faith. In knowing the full revelation of God, we can know who this God that we worship really is, and what He really desires for us. That’s why He has given us the Bible. That’s why He sent us His Son.

It’s interesting how social media influences our understanding of God and His desire for us. Until recently, and for a long time, the verse which characterised God, the gospel message, and God’s desire for mankind was John 3:16. If you asked any believer what the central message of the gospel was, they would tell you that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son Jesus to die for us so that whoever believes in Him would not die but have everlasting life. This is our God, and the great desire that He has for us: salvation through His Son Jesus.

Nowadays, on social media, it’s changed. Can anyone tell me what the most shared verse from the Bible is on social media? The most shared Bible verse is not John 3:16.

It’s Jeremiah 29:11, which says
それは、エレミヤ書 29:11です。

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

エレミヤ書 29:11

I don’t want to read too much into this but it would seem that the focus of the gospel has shifted from God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, to the blessings of peace and prosperity that I can get from God. The focus has shifted from Jesus work on the cross for eternity to my personal benefit for this life now.

This promise in Jeremiah is wonderful but I don’t believe it is the great desire that God has for mankind, and I worry that we are sliding toward a distorted (if not idolatrous) understanding of who God is; we are reshaping God to better fit our world and our lives.

So, again, we must ask, who is this God we worship and what does He really desire for and from us? Three things:

  1. God desires our salvation.

John 3:16 makes this very clear. Let’s reclaim John 3:16 as the banner verse for our faith.

Listen to the words of Ezekiel 33:11 and know how passionately God desires our salvation:

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?”
Ezekiel 33:11

「 彼らに告げなさい。神である主がこう語る、と。わたしは生きている。わたしは悪者どもの死を喜ばない。それどころか、悪者が悪の道から悔い改めて生きるようになることを願っている。さあ帰って来なさい。悪の道から離れ、立ち返るのだ。ああ、イスラエルよ。なぜ、そんなにも死にたがるのか。」
エゼキエル書 33:11

God desires that all people be saved.

In Acts 2:38 he urges all people:

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:38

使徒の働き 2:38

This is the desire of God – that all people receive and live out salvation.


  1. God desires that we be holy.

He desires that we not only receive salvation but that we become just like Him who is holy.

In 1 Peter 1:15 it says

“just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

1 Peter 1:15


ペテロの手紙Ⅰ 1:15

This begins with repentance and baptism, as we just read in Acts. And it continues as we live under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:8 says,
使徒の働き 1:8 はこの様に言っています。

“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

「 しかし、聖霊があなたがたに下る時、あなたがたは大きな力を受け、エルサレムからユダヤ全土、そしてサマリヤから地の果てまで、わたしの死と復活を伝える証人となります。」
使徒の働き 1:8

We don’t receive power to merely witness with our words but primarily through the example of changed lives. God desires that we be holy.

  1. God desires that we love Him with all our hearts and love each other as we love ourselves.

We see His love demonstrated sacrificially on the cross. We celebrate the power of His love at Easter. But there is an even greater love demonstrated by Him right after the resurrection miracle and many people miss it! Look at the following three verses – all after the resurrection – and tell me what you see!

“Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Matthew 28:7

「 さあ早く行って、弟子たちに、イエスが死人の中から復活されたこと、ガリラヤへ行けば、そこでお会いできることを知らせてあげなさい。」
マタイの福音書 28:7

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Matthew 28:10

マタイの福音書 28:10

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him.
Matthew 28:16,17a

「一方、十一人の弟子はガリラヤに出かけ、イエスから指示された山に登りました。 17 そこでイエスにお会いして礼拝しました。」
マタイの福音書 28:16,17a

Jesus told His disciples to go ahead of Him and to wait for Him in Galilee. This is after the resurrection; after the great miracle. Why? Why was it so important that they go to Galilee?

Because Jesus wanted to see them! He loved them so much He wanted to fellowship with them and spend time with them and bless them. Jesus wanted to hang out with His friends!

Love is so much more than one great deed or miracle, no matter how great that deed or miracle might be. Seeing His disciples in Galilee completed the love that Jesus had for them. And Jesus wanted them to spend time with Him.
愛は良い行いや奇跡よりもずっと大切なものです。その行いや奇跡がどれほど大きいものであってもです。 ガレリアで弟子たちに会うことで、イエス様の彼らへの愛は完成したのです。そして、イエス様は弟子たちが共に時間を過ごしてくれることを望んでおられたのです。

It’s the same today.

Jesus wants to see you!

He wants to spend time with you and He wants you to spend time with Him. Jesus doesn’t just love you, He likes you. He wants to spend time with you and bless you and hang out with you. And He wants us to spend good time with Him, befriending Him and worshipping Him. We are to love God because He first loved us. And we are to love others as we love ourselves, as Jesus loves us. This is the desire of God.

The Almighty Creator God, the giver and taker of life, the Holy One, the gracious and compassionate Redeemer, the righteous Judge, the One who is Love, desires that we be saved, that we be holy and that we love Him with all our hearts, and love others as we love ourselves. This is our God. Worship Him.