I've asked that question also—many times. Even though I was raised in a little country church in the middle of the Bible belt, I didn't know who God was.
Whatever your religious background—if you even have one—I can understand, if you're looking at the world around you and saying, "Who are You, God?"
I believe every single person on the face of the earth asks that question at least once. And we have come up with all sorts of answers from, "God, you are nobody" to "God, you are everybody" and everything in between.
Maybe a parent told you who God is…even if more by his or her behavior than by words. Maybe you believed what you heard from some other person. But it can be very frustrating if you're in the middle of trying to define God on your own terms.
I've tried to define Him as music, as rebellion, as my business, as my own self interest—to name a few. But you and I…we don't get to define God.
- Adam certainly didn't try to define God. He just "woke up" from being created to find himself in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—together as one God (Genesis 1:26-30). God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created him and God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) spoke to him. Adam had no concept of the Holy Trinity; there's no indication that Adam even had a name for God. But Adam still understood that God was the adult in the room.
- God defined Himself to Abraham, in part, with these words: "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1).
- Think about Moses. He was out in the middle of nowhere looking after his father-in-law's sheep, when God spoke to him from a burning bush. (You can read the account in Exodus chapter 3.) Moses didn't need much convincing that he was talking with the real God, but Moses knew the people would want to know His name. And in this instance God defined Himself as "I AM."
- Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up on a throne in the temple, and then heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us" (Isaiah 6:1-9)? We know from Acts 28:25-26 that this was the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to Isaiah.
- Talk about messing up your definition of God, the angel Gabriel first tells Mary she's going to supernaturally become pregnant and give birth to the Son of God. Then he leaves her with the following clarification of who God is: "For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37)."
- God as the person of Jesus has a whole list of descriptive names such as the Word, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, the Savior of the World—to name only a few.
- God as the person of the Holy Spirit is referred to as Comforter, Truth, Spirit of Grace, Counselor—to name only a few.
While I like to contain and control things by definition just as much as the next person, it doesn't work with God. Any one of the above examples would be an accurate description of God—but an incomplete description, nonetheless. He's just bigger than any human definition. No matter how great my need, He's always greater than that need.
If my truck's dead on the side of a western Kansas highway—during a blizzard and fifty miles from the nearest town—I don't care that the guy who stops to help me is an ASE-certified mechanic; I only care that he can fix my truck. And after I'm safe and warm and listening to all the questions flying about, what I answer about my human savior would be similar in attitude to what the blind man said about Jesus (John chapter 9 paraphrased):
Some man called Jesus stopped by and put a spit and dirt concoction on my eyes…then told me to go wash it off at this certain pool, and I could see for the first time in my life. He must be a prophet. No…I don't know if He is a sinner. And I don't know how he did it; all I know is that I can see. How many times do I have to tell you…are you wanting to hang out with Him so maybe you could learn something? An amazing thing has just happened to me—something never before even heard of. He has to be of God; otherwise He couldn't have done what He did.
If I'm hell-bent on doing things my way, then I ask the question out of an intellectual curiosity, seasoned with a little sarcasm. But if I'm at the end of some rope somewhere—if I simply can't meet my own needs—then it's as if I'm asking an entirely different question: "Who are You God? I don't want somebody else to tell me; I want You tell me. Talk to me, demonstrate Your presence in my life and confirm it all through Your Word. I'm sick of my own opinion. I want what You want more than I want what I want."
It is possible to have the entire Bible memorized and not know the answer to the question, "Who is God?" If I had been separated from my family at birth I could, as an adult, hire an attorney to help me find my father. Let's say my father ended up being a very prominent man in a large city; my attorney could bring me newspaper clippings, magazine articles, volumes of information about my father's personal life and his career, but I wouldn't know who he was. I could read over the material until every detail was memorized, but I still wouldn't know who he was. Only when he became a part of my life would I begin to know him. And the more we began to connect, the more sense I would be able to make from all that information about my dad.
Who is God? He Himself will show you who He is. He will both reveal and confirm who He is as you study His Word and spend time with Him. If you'll let Him, He will reveal Himself to you in a greater way each and every day for the rest of your life.