Free 30 Day Prayer Calendar
Who is God?
Encountering His Character
FPD Faculty Development January 2016
What’s in a name?
- A Little Background
- Last name
- Doctor’s office
About 10 years ago, I had two different individuals, on two different occasions, encourage me to study the Names of God and His character. Not for intellectual growth or mere interest, but to grow in knowledge of the love of God. One of these friends describes God’s love as personal, emotional, relational, and experiential.
The images of God in His Word help me approach Him authentically. We’ll discuss application later during our time, but for a preview, knowing His character helps my worship, my prayer, and my relationship with Him
WHY Should I Study God’s Names?
To know God’s Name is to know His character. It’s only through knowing who He is that we’ll grow in relationship with Him.
John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent”
Proverbs 18:10 “The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon on Proverbs 18:10:
“Even when he is not able to perceive it by experience, yet God’s character is the refuge
for the saint. If we come to the bottom of things, we shall find that the basis of security of
the believer lies in the character of God.”
Chip Ingram, God as He Long for You to See Him, p. 31
“Nothing in all your life will impact your relationship with God, your relationship with people, your self-view, your decisions, and your purpose like the way you think of God. Everything in your life comes back consciously or unconsciously to one thing: Who do you visualize God to be in your heart? Who we are and what we become cannot be separated from our understanding of God.”
HOW Do I Study His Names?
J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 23
“Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God Himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are. As He is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so He must Himself be the end of it. We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God. It was for this purpose that revelation was given, and it is to this use that we must put it.
- Hebrew Names of God in the OT
- El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
- El Elyon (The Most High God)
- Adonai (Lord, Master)
- Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
- Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
- Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
- Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
- Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
- Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
- Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
- El Olam (The Everlasting God)
- Elohim (God)
- Qanna (Jealous)
- Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
- Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
- Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
A great website with definitions and references of the OT Names
How does God reveal Himself? Does the name come from Him or someone else? What are the circumstances? What do you learn about His character?
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
El Roi (The God Who Sees Me)
Genesis 16:1-16; Psalm 139:7-12
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Isaiah 40:28-32; Genesis 21:33
Jehovah Rohi or Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:11-15
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Exodus 15:22-26; Psalm 103:3
El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
Genesis 17:1-8; Genesis 28:3
2) Character Aspects of God throughout the Bible
Goodness Love Unchanging
Sovereignty Faithfulness Comforter
Holiness Wrath Father
Wisdom Jealousy Friend
Justice Majesty Bridegroom
- Phrases to Look for:
- “I am He who…”
Isaiah 51:12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men?”
- “The LORD who…”
Leviticus 20:8 “Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.”
- “God is…”
1 John 4:16 “God is Love”
- “The LORD is…”
Psalm 11:7 “For the LORD is righteous, He loves justice.”
- “God, my…”
Psalm 43:4 “Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.”
- “My Name…”
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another.”
- “Jesus is…”
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
How is God revealed in these passages? What do you learn about His character? What names is He given or does He use?
3) Jesus Reveals the Father
Chip Ingram, p. 191 “When you and I want to know what God is like, all we have to do is look at Jesus. He has modeled the passion and the grace and the truth of the Father Himself.”
Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). He told His followers, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9).
How do you see Jesus interacting with different people? How does He communicate value, sin, righteousness? How do you think the people involved felt? How does this encounter reflect what we’ve learned about God’s character?
Mark 5: 21-43
HOW Do I Apply This to My Life?
J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 23
“How are we to do this? How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each truth about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”
- Reflect, Remember, and Record how God has shown Himself or one of His characteristics to you personally. For example, write down all the times you can remember God being faithful, good, providing, etc.
- From a sermon by Charles Spurgeon on Proverbs 18:10:
- We can always find an attribute of God to oppose each suggestion
of the Evil One.”
- Ruth Myers, The Satisfied Heart, p. 124-126
- “To really know God means that we see what He wants to be in relationship to us and then, more and more in the experiences of daily life, let Him be that to us—count on Him to be that.
I have found Psalm 31 very helpful in this. In verse 2 David prays, ‘Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.’ Then in verse 3 he says, ‘Since You are my rock and my fortress…’ At first I thought this sounded like double-talk: Be to me a rock because You are my rock. Then I realized that David is saying, ‘I have chosen You to be my rock; now be that for me in my situation right now. Be to me now what You are.’
This is one of the most beautiful aspects of getting to know God better and letting our relationship with Him grip us in a new way. We find out what [who] He is and then accept in our heart that He’s that to me! Then we can say with ever-growing delight, ‘You are my good Shepherd, my Beloved, my Bridegroom, my Father.”
- THE WORD OF GOD
- Pay attention to the names of God or His character while you read the Bible
- Underline them as you come across them while reading
- Memorize a passage that gives you a strong image of who He is.
- Ex. What is your Proverbs 18:10 name??
- While reading, remember that Scripture is written by the Lord and is about Him.
- Ex. Jesus, how does this passage help me know You, trust You, and love You better?
- Ex. How do I understand Jesus better from that passage?
My objective for you is greater than developing another good spiritual discipline, it’s to call you to a lifestyle which incorporates all your spiritual disciplines.
One of my friends I told you about, who encouraged me to study the Names of God, describes life as the battle for the love of God in our hearts. I have found in my life that learning and encountering God’s character—loving Him for who He is—equips me better for this battle. May you come to know Him in greater depths and worship Him for who He really is.
LIST OF RESOURCES
- Chip Ingram, God as He Longs for You to See Him, (2004) Baker Books.
An easy to read look at various character aspects of God—His goodness, sovereignty, love, justice, etc. Good mix of personal anecdotes, quotes, and biblical study. Includes lots of personal application.
- Andrew Jukes, The Names of God: Discovering God as He Desires to be Known, (1967) Kregel Publications.
19th Century deacon from Cambridge, England. A book on various Hebrew Names of God based on a series of lectures given in 1882.
- Nathan Stone, Names of God, (1944) Moody Publishers.
A nice, concise introduction to several Old Testament names of God. Academic in approach and lots of Biblical references. Originally given as a series of radio sessions. Available in web edition for free at: http://aplaceforyou.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Names_of_God-Nathan-Stone.pdf
- Kay Arthur, Lord, I Want to Know You: A Devotional Study on the Names of God, (2000) WaterBrook Press.
An inductive study approach to the Names of God. Set-up as a devotional that can be gone through in 42 days—would work for small groups or an individual. A good structure for beginning a personal study.
- J.I. Packer, Knowing God, (1973, new ed. 1993) InterVarsity Press.
Regarded as a modern Christian classic by Packer, a Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver. His style has been described as scholarly yet accessible. An in-depth look at various character aspects of God. Divided in 3 segments: Why God is worthy of knowing, Who He is, and how we are impacted by His character. A must-read on the journey of knowing Him!!
- Drs. Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III, Bold Love, (1992) NavPress, pp.111-133.
Actually, a well-received and powerful book on love and forgiveness, but it has a wonderful section on the character of God by Longman, a professor of Old Testament. Chapter 5 “Our Divine Warrior” is all about the images of God, focusing on who He is being our hope for loving those around us.
- Ruth Myers, The Satisfied Heart: 31 Days of Experiencing God’s Love, (1999) WaterBrook Press.
Ruth and her husband served as missionaries with The Navigators in the Singapore for years and she is a well-known author and speaker. This is a devotional guide with wonderful Bible references and lots of personal stories. A great little book worth reading!
- A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of God. Originally published in 1961, new edition in 2009 by HarperOne.
I haven’t yet read this book, but this is right up there with Packer’s book. A classic of contemporary Christianity. Chip Ingram acknowledges this book as a great influence on his own study of the character of God.
- Tim Laniak, While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks: Reflections on Biblical Leadership, (2009) Higher Life Development Series.
Dr. Laniak, a professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, spent a year of field research among
the Bedouin people of Israel, Jordan, and the Sinai. The insights he gained into what it
means to shepherd (and be shepherded) are incredible.
- Charles E. Hurlburt and T.C. Horton, Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, (2002) Barbour Publishing.
Abridged version of a larger work of names and titles of Jesus in the Old and New Testaments. Each name has a scripture and a brief paragraph description. Good aide for prayer and worship.
WEBSITES AND OTHER RESOURCES
- “Names of Jesus” and “Names of God” pamphlets from Rose Publishing (2006), www.rose-publishing.com
Laminate charts with names, meanings, biblical references, tips for worship and meditation. A phenomenal resource!
- https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm A website with definitions and references of the OT Names.
- https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/parallel/paral19.cfm Another page on Blue Letter Bible with the Names, Titles, and Characters of Jesus.
- http://preceptaustin.org/god's_name_-_a_strong_tower.htm Precept Ministry out of Austin, TX. An amazing chart with references, pictures, descriptions, etc. on the Names of God. Overall, a wonderful website reference for inductive Bible study.
A place to start in your own study