Question #2 – What is God?
God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.
For every human living on earth, question #2 from the New City Catechism may be one of the most important questions you could ever ask. What is God like? How does he act? Who is he? These are some of the most fundamental questions that will require a lifetime to ponder. A.W. Tozer once wisely said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Fortunately, the catechism provides us with a beautiful picture of what God is like.
CREATOR AND SUSTAINER
God is first and foremost the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. Genesis 1 and 2 show that God is the ultimate creator of everything, speaking creation into existence by the word of his power. There is nothing that exists that God did not create (John 1:1-3). As the creator, God has the right over all creation, meaning, that he is king over all.
Not only is God the creator but he is the sustainer of everyone and everything. Not a single person or animal takes a breath without God’s sustaining power; a blade of grass will not grow without God’s permission. All things are sustained and held together through him (Colossians 1:17). This means that God is actively working and present not only in our lives, but in the entire world. Notice the comprehensive statement of the catechism: God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything.
THE CHARACTER OF GOD
If God is the creator and sustainer of all things, would it not be helpful to know what he is like? In ancient history, many cultures believed that some form of deity created the world but primarily through violence, chaos, and conflict. Is this God the same? The Catechism will proclaim that the God of the Bible is nothing like the gods of the nations. So then, who he is?
First, God is eternal, meaning that he always has been, or, to put it another way, God is self-existent. God is self-existent in the sense that his existence is not tied to anyone or anything but rather in himself. Therefore, there has never been a time in which God has not been—he always was, is, and will be. “God is self-existent, that is, He has the ground of His existence in Himself.”1 God is the uncaused being—one who exists wholly by himself by no causation. “All that God is, he is of himself.”2
Second, God is infinite, meaning that he is free from all limitations or hindrances. There is nothing too difficult or straining for him; he never gets tired or weary. God is also not confined to space, meaning that God is everywhere—no one can hide from him. The Lord alone is the creator, the possessor of heaven and earth, the Lord of all creation, in whom we all live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).
Third, God is unchangeable, meaning that God will always be who he is; he does not decrease in his power; he does not weaken in his perfections; he does not sin. Another way to say this is that God is constant and consistent—he will never change! The catechism mentions several characteristics that God will never change in, namely, his power, perfection, goodness, glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. God will always be wholly consistent in all of these attributes.
To take it a step further, not only will God not alter from these attributes, he himself is the source and the definition of these attributes. What is goodness? It is the goodness of God. What is truth? It is the truth of God. This is to say that truth is not something that God has but something that he is. Therefore, he is the source and author of all goodness, truth, justice, and goodness. Any goodness, truth, justice, etc on earth is simply an imitation and deviation from God’s attributes.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- How is the eternality and infinity of God bring you comfort?
- What attribute of God brings you the most encouragement?