The Living God
God the Creator is sometimes viewed, in Scripture, in contrast to the idolatry that was so prevalent. The question is asked in Isaiah 40:25, “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.” Then, in chapter 41, God challenges idolaters to make their case (Isa 41:21-24):
Set forth your case, says the Lord;
bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.
Let them bring them, and tell us
what is to happen.
Tell us the former things, what they are,
that we may consider them,
that we may know their outcome;
or declare to us the things to come.
Tell us what is to come hereafter,
that we may know that you are gods;
do good, or do harm,
that we may be dismayed and terrified.
Behold, you are nothing,
and your work is less than nothing;
an abomination is he who chooses you.
The need to see God in contrast to what is unable to see and save is still vital. The God we serve is the “true and living God” (1 Thess 1:9). Christians have turned from the worthless things of the world "to the living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them" (Acts 14:15). We have come to the city of the living God (Heb 12:22). The reason godliness is profitable is because “we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men” (1 Tim 4:10). We are the church of the living God (1 Tim 3:15), children of the living God (Rom 9:26), the temple of the living God (2 Cor 6:16), letters of Christ written with the Spirit of the living God (2 Cor 3:3), who put our trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God (1 Tim 6:17). We are to see to it that we do not depart from the living God (Heb 3:12), for our consciences have been cleansed from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14), and we know that for those who have turned away it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31). The Scriptures stress this aspect of who God is. He is not just a god. He is the living God, the only living God.
In contrast to the idolatry of his day, Jeremiah said, “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation” (Jer 10:10). As it was then, so it is now.
We are tempted to think that the world has something meaningful to offer apart from God. People look for meaning in power, in education, in money, or in other worldly pursuits. None of these can save or fulfill the true human need of being reconciled to God. All the world can offer apart from God are worthless objects, no more alive than the idols served by pagans. But the true, living God offers us what is far greater than the world can begin to give. This is why our treasures need to be laid up in heaven rather than in what can rot, rust, and be destroyed (Matt 6:19-21). Peter also reminds us:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…” (1 Pet 1:3-4).
Did you notice the phrase, “a living hope”? Hope is one of the great blessings of the gospel, and it is grounded in the character of God. This hope is a “steadfast anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:19), and we have strong encouragement to “hold fast to the hope set before us” (v. 18).
The reason God can give us a living hope is that He is the living God. Jesus is the Savior who “always lives to make intercession” for His people (Heb 7:25). As the living God, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matt 22:32). He has made us alive together with Christ (Eph 2:5), and if we continue to believe in the Son of the living God, no matter what else happens, we will live even if we die (John 11:25-26). Do we believe it?
So now we say with the psalmist: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (42:2). “My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God” (84:2).