I felt he was too smart an 8-year old, and I was doubly amazed at his sublime logical reasoning.
“Is God physical or spiritual?” he asked me. Sensing his prejudice, I replied, “He is both.”
He seemed disappointed; it was not the response he expected. “God is spiritual! Can you see God?” he asked.
“Yes and no!” was my response.
I was messing with him. I was being absolutely honest. Several Scriptures sprang to my mind but I didn’t want to rush this little learner. I wanted a smooth progression from the obvious to the unknown in order to communicate meaningfully.
A Physically Spiritual God
“During your daily evening prayer meetings,” I continued, “your prayer leader often leads your group in popular songs like”:
Jesus o no ebe a?
O no ebea!
O no ebea a?
O no ebea!
Jesus o no ebea?
O no ebea!
When translated, this song would mean:
Is Jesus here?
He is here!
Is He there?
He is there!
“Now let me ask you: those places he points at when he chants that song, are they physical or spiritual places?”
“They are physical places, but because God is a spirit, he can be in every place at the same time.” He said.
Dear reader, you will agree with me that this is only true to some extent. God is not omnipresent because He is spiritual for if it were so….
“Wow! If that is your only reason, then you are implying that Satan and his demons, who are also spirits, are omnipresent!”
He frowned disapprovingly. I continued.
“You’ve probably also been taught the song”:
Whatsoever you do, to the least of my brothers
That you do unto me.
When I was hungry,
You gave me to eat
When I was thirsty
You gave me to drink
Now enter into the home of my father.
That song is taken from the Scriptures in Matthew 25:37-39 (NKJV):
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”
It is noteworthy that it is the righteous who will ask this question, the very people who have extended kind favours to God, without even knowing it. This is because Jesus didn’t come as they had expected Him to, but in the unlikeliest of forms; probably as a neighbour, a wayfarer, or needy person.
A Spiritually Physical God
I continued, “When you give me water to drink, you might in a sense, be giving it to God.”
His eyes widened in shock and I quickly added, “I’m not saying that I am God, I’m only saying that God is in me because the Bible says, ‘Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Lord and you must keep it holy?’ Therefore offering water to me, the temple of God, resembles offering water to the God who dwells in the temple. This is one of the reasons the Bible encourages us not to hold back good things from one another, but to love one another as Christ himself loves us. So as you can see, I am not a spirit but God dwells in me, does that not make God physical to you?”
I watched him relax a bit as comprehension warmed his young face, but the truth was too heavy for his nubile mind to process and absorb in that short time. To throw more light, I continued:
“Three angels visited Abraham and he prepared food for them, and they ate.” then I asked him, “Do spirits eat or drink? Do you really think they came spiritually and not physically in flesh and blood?”
Now I don’t know why I chose that story to elaborate but I later learned that there was something in there for me too.
“Those were just angels, not God himself”, he said.
“If God could give His angels bodies to manifest physically in our world, what makes you think He couldn’t do so Himself?”
“Are you trying to say that people could see the angels while they came, and also while they ate?”
“Of course, do you think they came in some angelic brightly radiance and flapping wings?”
Dear reader, does his thought not underscore the question, “When did we see you hungry and not feed you…“? Because we expect our meeting God to be glorious all the time, not realizing we’ve sent Him away several times when He knocked on our door and asked for match sticks, or a bucket of water, or to lend Him some money; that we’ve passed Him on the streets, ignoring His outstretched hands and begging bowl. Are you thinking along the lines of “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren…” right now? You’re keeping up!
I didn’t realize the nuances of wrongness and/or correctness of that “angel story” in detail until shortly after this debate, I went back to read it.
1 GOD appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day.
2 He looked up and saw three men standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them.
3 He said, “Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant.
4 I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree.
5 I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have brought you across my path.” They said, “Certainly. Go ahead.”
6 Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, “Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread.”
10 One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.
11 Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies.
12 Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”
13 GOD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, “Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’
14 Is anything too hard for GOD? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.”
15 Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”
Genesis 18:1-15 (MSG)
Isn’t it amazing? They were not angels but God Himself appeared as three men and Abraham knew that “they” were “God“. Also, people could see “Him“. His interaction with Abraham and his household reveals this.
So here we have God Himself come into the physical world and to be seen, He manifested Himself physically. It wasn’t even God manifesting his angels as I’ve grown up to think. It was God Himself manifesting as three people!
When you read that Scripture in the King James Version Bible (KJV), you will find that it renders “God” everywhere in that passage as “the Lord”. The American Standard Version Bible (ASV) uses “Jehovah” instead, while World English Bible (WEB) uses “Yahweh”. Angels don’t bear those names, do they? The reason the Scriptures doesn’t call them the angel(s) of the Lord is because they weren’t the angel(s) of the Lord. The three men who Abraham entertained were God. I think they were the Trinity. I think the three men represent the plurality of the Godhead. Back to the debate….
I decided it was time to lead my little co-debater on to deeper truth.
“Why would you think that man couldn’t see God? Don’t you know that it was God’s original plan to be seen by man? Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden. God made Adam in His image and in His likeness. If Adam couldn’t see Him, His image, then why would he run to hide when he heard Him walking through the garden and His voice saying, “Adam, where are you? Does it make sense to hide from a spirit in that context?”
“It was His voice that he heard, he didn’t actually see Him.” He said.
“If he could physically hear the sound of Him walking through the garden, ruffling the grasses, and if he could with his physical ear hear the sound of his voice calling, then He could physically see him.”
Let me elaborate something for the benefit of you, dear reader. Assuming you’re undressing and someone knocks on the door of your unlocked room, calls out your name and asks if you’re there. If you answered “Yes”, they’re most likely going to open the room and come in. if you don’t want them to come in and find you half-naked, you’re likely going to rather reply, “I’m undressing. I’ll be with you shortly.” Or in alarm, as was the case of Adam, “Hey, I’m naked.” That is exactly what I believe Adam did.
I’ve heard it said a lot that it was a foolish answer to a simple and direct question. But if you think about it in this light, you’ll find that it’s a perfectly appropriate answer.
So, do you also still think he was hiding his nakedness from an invisible spirit in that context? It was the primordial and consequent fall of Adam that robbed man of this status with God. Jesus Christ died to bring us back to this status. Scriptures says that when Jesus returns in His glory, holy eyes shall see Him. Sin has robbed Adam and mankind of the ability to see God. Sin is opposite of holiness, yes, sin opposes holiness and vice versa.
It is obviously correct to state that God is a spirit, and thus is spiritual, but it ought not ever be debated whether He can take human form and thus be physical. Our Lord Jesus Christ has already demonstrated that.
He already had equality with God in Heaven…
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” John 1:1, 14 (NKJV)
…but when the need for an ultimate saviour of humanity arose, His love for man took priority. He did not consider equality with God and thing to be grasped—holding onto divinity—but he put aside His status for the task of saving the world from the bondage of sin.
6 “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8 (NKJV)
To Love God
If God were to come to us in His glory and grandeur, we would tremble and give Him whatever He asks, even our very lives. But our reactions would be borne out of terror and eye-service. Our response would be as a result of being mesmerized by the sight of beholding the glory of God—thus we would be judging somewhat by outward appearance.
God does not judge by outward appearance and I do not think He would want to be judged that way either, so what does He do? To get a genuine reaction that comes from our spirit (not outward appearance), and is true (not based on fear or eye-service), He’d come to us as a thirsty little child, or a scraggly old woman, or a kind of person we’re most likely to overlook. If you genuinely have a loving heart, you’d attend to any of these apparent less honourable persons as you’d attend to God Himself. We are admonished in the Scriptures:
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)
Calling God a Concept
Some people relate with God strictly from the perspective that He is spiritual and holy, and that He will have nothing to do with the physical and unholy realm. This only leads them to treat humans far less honourably and further condemns them to an eternal inability to relate with God personally. They also continually see themselves as unworthy to receive God’s love despite the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Such people slight God without knowing it. They only practice a form of godliness but with its power abjectly denied.
However, some other people have come to perceive God as an abstract entity. They find it easier to deny evidence of His existence than to accept His ubiquity and the sense of guilt and requirement for repentance that accompanies that knowledge.
To some people God has no particular form or character. God is anything they say it is. Even Winfrey Oprah said so on her show. Quoting her exact words:
One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live and that we don’t accept that there are diverse ways of being in the world, and there are millions of ways to be a human being. There are many way…many paths to what you call God. That her path might be something else and when she gets there she might call it the Light. But her loving and her kindness and her generosity brings her to the same point that it brings you. It doesn’t matter if she called it God along the way or not.
If you think Oprah didn’t say those words. Search for “The Church of Oprah Exposed” on YouTube and watch the video.
The spirit of the Antichrist is so strong in the world today that quoting a celebrity tends to offer a more valid reference point than quoting the eternal and life-giving Word of God. Oprah, a celebrity herself, often quotes other celebrities and promotes their misleading views and teachings on her show. That is how she has been leading millions of Christians astray and has now set up her own new age church and religion, O, where she is both pontiff and deity.
You may often even hear some “Christians” argue God’s existence and make statements suggestive of the fact that God to them is not a personality, but merely a role. People have failed to understand that God is a person with character and feelings. He can talk and be talked to. He can touch and be touched.
In the movie The Man Who Sued God, one of the cardinals who made up the council for the defense of the existence of God made a comment that reveals the state of millions of supposed Christians who claim to worship God. In an argument about the existence of God among fellow high-ranking leaders of the Orthodoxy, he said:
“God better exist. I spent all morning singing to Him!”
My little cousin was in a ditch on one side of the road with believers in a monotheistic God who assume that God is spiritual and aloof, and also has limited dealings with the physical world. Adults who hold this view will often quote the scripture that says, “Though you are in the world, you are not of the world” and think that they are doing justice to the argument.
The ditch on the other side of the road is teeming with people who do believe in God but also believe He is whatever man says He is. “The voice of the people is the voice of God,” they quip defiantly and often oblivious of their great error. Borrowing the words of the English scholar, teacher and poet, Alcuin of York, in his letter to Charlemagne (Charles the Great), the first Holy Roman Emperor and Father of Europe, I say to them:
And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.”
Come out of the ditch and find high ground. True wisdom is balanced. God is neither only spiritual nor only physical. He is both spiritual and physical. It is accepted by many that God is spiritual, that is not arguable. Now let us come to terms with the fact that one can neither take God out the physical world He created nor can one absolutely deny His physical influence in the world!
Once we accept this truth, we will begin to live consciously to please God everyday as we see Him in everything we do.