One thing working at a Christian apologetics[1] ministry for nearly 40 years has taught me is that your idea of who God is, what He is like, is very important.

If you think of Him only as the vengeful God of the Old Testament who went around smiting His enemies, you are hardly going to go to Him with your problems or admit your failings.

If you think of Him only as a loving God, you will become bitter at the slightest problem that comes your way.

If you think of Him only as a holy God, you will not want to approach Him unless or until you “clean up your act” on your own.

If you think of Him as only a merciful God, you may choose to ignore your own sinfulness, assuming He will not care what you do.

Do His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence make you uncomfortable?

The good thing about our God is that He wants to be known by us! He wants us to have a full picture of who He is. One way He reveals Himself to us is through His names. Elmer Towns asserts that you will find more than 100 names and titles for the Father, 800 names, titles and references for the Son, and an addition 100 plus names, titles and descriptive names for the Holy Spirit![2]

Each name, title and description adds a new facet to our understanding of our God. Each name increased our awe and “fear” of the Lord. Each name gives us a new reason to approach Him with confidence. Each name increases our love for Him. Each name has been revealed to us by God because He wants us to know Him as He truly is.

Here are three quotes that explain why it’s important to have a proper concept of God:

  • A.W. Tozer: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”[3] (It’s not enough to see God only as the Creator, or only as a God of love, or only holy. Each of those is just a small part of a whole, and each can be completely misunderstood without a proper context.)
  • Dan DeHaan: “The Bible calls idolatry any form of thinking about God wrongfully.”[4] (Rather like the parable of the blind men and the elephant,[5] your idea of God will be completely wrong if you focus just on one name or one characteristic of God.)

A.W. Tozer: “Personal faith cannot rise higher than a person’s concept of God.”[6] (You see, it’s not enough just to believe God exists (R.C. Sproul says all that does is qualify you to be a demon! (James 2:19).)

Do you want to expand your concept of who God is? Do you want to grow in your personal faith? Learning God’s names is a good place to begin your study. As you learn each one, pray about what that name means to you. What does it say about God’s relationship with you? What does it say about your responsibility toward Him? What does it say about your relationship to the rest of His creation? How does that name help you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:18)?[7]

Tony Evans tells us, “God has a name for every situation we find ourselves in. We need to learn the names of God because when we know His character and His capacity, we will find rest and discover peace and power in His covenantal care of us.”[8]

So, let me ask you: Do you have a proper concept of God?


[1] 1 Peter 3:15 gives a good definition of apologetics: “[Be] ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

[2] Elmer Towns, Ultimate Guide to the Names of God (Baker Publishing Group, Kindle Edition), p. 247.

[3] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (Fig Classic, p. 2012), p. 1

[4] Dan DeHaan, The God You Can Know (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1982), p. 13.

[5] The parable explains that six blind men are each presented with a different part of an elephant—trunk, ears, tail, etc.—and each develops an idea of what an elephant is based on that part alone.

[6] A.W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us (Baker Publishing Group; Kindle Edition), p. 205.

[7] One good resource to get you started is “Praying the Names and Attributes of God” from the Navigators available at navlink.org/names-of-God. I’ll also be posting an article series, “Knowing God by His Names,” to our website in the coming weeks.

[8] Tony Evans, The Power of God’s Names (Harvest House Publishers, Kindle Edition), p. 12.

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