Christian Images

Understanding God

The following 'Free Christian Illustrations' are written and illustrated by Ian Coate. They can be used without charge or obligation and can be downloaded, copied or distributed without permission as long as no cost is charged and source is recognized.

God is: infinite.

God ImageEach night, the universe stares down and challenges us to understand it.  However, the infinite universe is something far beyond our finite minds to comprehend.  It is something that may not have a beginning or an end.  If it does – what is beyond?  Heaven!  Then what is beyond Heaven?  Nothing!  Then what is beyond Nothing?
The finite mind can easily state what infinity is, yet it doesn’t have the ability to grasp something which has no beginning, no middle and no end.  This is a conundrum; scientific-minds generally reject believing in something that cannot be measured. Paradoxically, the infinite universe stares down each night and challenges us to believe in things we cannot grasp.

Similarly, an infinite God is far beyond the grasp of human understanding.  Our finite minds cannot possibly comprehend a Being who has no beginning or end, is all-powerful, all-knowing and is everywhere at the same time.  It is impossible for our finite minds to measure Him, (Isaiah 40:12-14).
Yet many try to reduce God to the finite with objections such as: ‘If God exists then who created Him!’ But the Bible declares God has always existed without beginning – He is the original Creator (Psalm 90:2). Still, many are quick to state with certainty: ‘God does not exist’, simply because they can’t reduce an infinite, eternal Being to human measurements.  
We should ask ourselves: can we reject the Creator of the universe because He doesn’t conveniently fit within our limited range of understanding and still remain scientifically objective?  If we do, we should equally state: ‘an infinite universe does not exist’.
“God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”  Acts 17:24-25

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God is: outside of time and space.

God ImageComputer programmers create programs that encompass entire cyber worlds.  Within these worlds are computer-generated characters that are limited to what they can do by the boundaries of the program.  However, it would be ludicrous to say the programmer is subject to those same boundaries within her cyber world.  She is outside her program and can change a boundary whenever she chooses. 

God has created a colossal program - the universe.   He generated creatures with free-will to live in it, (Nehemiah 9:6).  Sin soon corrupted God’s program and suffering followed.God is in the process of dealing with this corruption and bringing creation back to His original design. 
Within God’s universe He has written boundaries (laws of time, space and science) to which every creature is subject.  However, we shouldn’t assume God is subject to these same laws.  As programmers are outside their program - God is outside the laws of time, space and science that He created.  The universe is subordinate to its Creator.   
God is omnipresent (everywhere all the time).  He is also omnipotent and omniscient.  It is impossible for a human finite mind to fully grasp an infinite being.  Many academic minds reject God because He doesn’t comfortably fit into the boundaries they understand.  Trying to fit infinite God into our limited understanding is like a computer-generated-character trying to comprehend its programmer. 
All we need remember is that the laws of time, space and science are subordinate to the Creator – not the other way round.  At any moment, God can change a boundary if it suits His purpose – we call this act a miracle.  However, God may need to be very cautious with miracles; as any programmer can attest when you insert a new boundary there are ripples throughout the program.
Even if we don’t like the proposition that we are subordinate to our Creator (and many do not), the best thing we can possibly do is ‘get with His program’.  John 3:16 states: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

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God is: consistent.

Isaac Newton Illustration Who is GodSir Isaac Newton recognised that the laws of the physical world are constant when he coined the phrase: ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’  This is a good law for us to remember before stepping from a great height.

God set many scientific laws in motion and decreed that they remain constant.  I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Isaiah 46:11b.
God also created mankind with volition and decreed that it remain free.  The laws of ‘freewill’ are as constant as any scientific law in the physical world.  For every decision there are consequences.  We are free to succeed and free to fail.  This explains most of our suffering in life – we bring it upon ourselves (individually and nationally). 
We may point our finger accusingly at God and ask: ‘How can You allow suffering?’  But God rarely intervenes when it comes to the repercussions caused by our own stupid decisions.  We may earnestly pray for God to miraculously remove bad repercussions (never do we ask Him to remove good ones), but God would sooner suspend the ‘laws of gravity’, than tamper with the ‘laws of freewill’. 
Through many choices we determine our attitude when facing life’s rotten apples.  And, it is our attitude that often determines whether we have dug ourselves out of a hole or dug ourselves into a grave. This is not to say God leaves us alone to deal with life’s problems.  He has promised to deliver us THROUGH adversity – not OUT of adversity, (Romans 8:28).  
God provides the necessary strength to overcome any suffering brought upon by ourselves or others, but it is up to us whether we CHOOSE to utilise His provision. God created us with volition, so life’s central issue will always be about choice and the repercussions of those choices.  So choose wisely.
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourself this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15

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God is: a patient Father.

God IllustrationA wealthy man had a son whom he loved very much.  He constantly showered him with gifts.  He spent every moment of the day teaching and caring for his son.  But as the boy grew into manhood, he turned away from his father and soon came to despise him - yet his father continued to support him in the hope that he would come around.  He paid his bills, furnished him with a mansion and wrote to him daily.  Instead of being thankful, the son ripped up the letters, ended all contact and cursed anyone who dared mention his father’s name in conversation.  However, the son never stopped taking his father’s financial support.

Sadly, the ungrateful son illustrates humanity (Judges 8:34).  God is our heavenly Father and many of us imitate the son’s attitude.  God spends every moment with us:  giving, teaching and caring - yet, many turn away.  In spite of this, God still continues to support us with the desire that we will come around.  He supplies us with the riches of the universe, things that cannot be measured in wealth (like sunshine, oxygen, gravity, atmosphere, environment and more); He has paid our bills (Christ on the cross) and written to us (the Bible).  We may curse God - but isn’t it ironic that we still expect Him to continue supporting us - which, as the loving Father, He does.
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:21-23

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God is: a willing Sacrifice.

God ImageNature is a curious thing.  It seems we’ve all been programmed with a survival instinct – an overwhelming drive to stay alive.  This instinct is in all of God’s creatures.  However, there is another instinctive programme that overrides the survival instinct – it is a protective parental instinct.  Nature shows us that when young are threatened, both the mother and father will override their own survival instinct and fight to the death to protect them.  What makes an animal, programmed to survive, suddenly forfeit its life so its young may live?  Where did this selfless and loving instinct originate and who is the Programmer? 

This loving instinct originates with God and He is the Programmer.  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13
Through Adam, we all sin and are under the penalty of death and judgement.  We must remember God is uncompromising perfection – He is perfect righteousness, justice and truth. God MUST condemn those who transgress His perfect law or He would compromise His perfection and this He can never do.  However, there is another facet of God’s character – His Perfect Love.
God is a Parent and we are His children.  So as our Divine Father, God has a dilemma – His children are threatened with judgement at death and ironically He must judge them.  Yet the thought of His children suffering eternal judgement is abhorrent to Him – He would die to protect them. In fact, that is exactly what He did.  He willingly came to earth as a man (Jesus Christ) and forfeited His life on the cross to be judged on our behalf.  As our substitute, He took the punishment of our sins onto Himself so we could have everlasting life with Him in Heaven. 
The Cross is the greatest evidence of God’s perfect love to all mankind and a testimony to how He desperately wants everyone to be protected from judgement.  It now rests with us to either accept His loving sacrifice on our behalf, or reject His gift of salvation and face His perfect Judgement.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten (uniquely born) Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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God is: transcendent.

God IllustrationA man owned an extravagant aquarium and spared no effort maintaining it properly.  He spent many hours attending all his fish and knew their every characteristic.  Yet, for all his time and effort, it was evident the fish knew nothing of him.  It seemed impossible they could ever get to know him.
Whenever he came close to the aquarium the fish hid in fear.  When he cleaned their tank, his fish fled not understanding cleaning was essential for their future well-being.  Even when he showered them with food, they never showed any acknowledgement to their loving caretaker. 
The man finally realized that if his fish were ever to understand who he was, he would somehow have to become a fish and swim among them.

As ludicrous as the above illustration may sound, this is similar to what God did.  He humbled Himself and took the form of man (Jesus Christ) John 10:30. 
We must understand that the human brain is incapable of comprehending a Being who exists simultaneously in the past, present and future - who knows everything that has, will and may happen - with power to create and destroy the universe and the heavens with a single word.  It would be easier for a fish in a tank to appreciate the man outside, than for mankind to comprehend an all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful God.  
However, God gave us the best illustration of who He is, in a way that our tiny brains can understand, by becoming one of us and walking among us.  So, if we wish to know God, we do so by knowing Jesus Christ.
(God) made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  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 2:7-8.

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God is: the ultimate Artist.

God the ArtistOne of the greatest pleasures artists experience is to see expressions of delight and enjoyment when people appreciate their artworks.

Is not God the ultimate Artist, who all other artists try to imitate?  (Psalms 86:8).  God has created a living interactive exhibition.  His awe-inspiring landscapes can actually be entered.  His ever-changing seascapes are there for our recreational pleasure.  Each day, He paints a new sunrise and sunset for us to enjoy.  His exhibition includes living portraits of people and animals for companionship.  His fruit-bowls are bursting with flavour and His flowers literally smell of perfume.
God receives great pleasure from watching His sons and daughters delight in His many artworks.  When time is taken to enjoy and savour an artwork, it always pleases the Artist.
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelations 4:11

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God is: not a genie.

God and GeniesGenies are magical beings from folklore who grant wishes if their lamp is rubbed the right way.

We often get into the bad habit of thinking God is like a genie - rub Him the right way and He will grant our every wish.  We must understand that God does not bless us on the basis of who we are or what we do, He blesses us solely on the basis of who He is.  We can do nothing to earn God’s blessings – we only receive through His grace.  Furthermore, God cannot be bribed, bullied, blackmailed or ‘suckered’.  God has many reasons why He blesses some and withholds blessings from others.  These reasons are always in accordance with His eternal plan. 
Every time we feel that God isn’t giving us what we deserve, we should stop and consider that due to our transgressions what we truly deserve is Divine judgement.  The only reason we receive blessings instead of condemnation is because Jesus Christ went to the cross on our behalf.  Eternal salvation is a free gift that can neither be earned nor deserved.  If we believe in Christ we will be eternally blessed and thankfully NEVER get what we truly deserve – judgement in time and eternity.
Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2: 4-5 NIV

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God is: a Protective Parent

Christian Nature IllustrationsAlthough great in size, the humpback whale is a graceful and gentle creature.  Yet when a pod of killer whales try to separate mother from calf, the peaceful humpback will act violently.  She will warn the killers to keep back.  If the warnings go unheeded, she will then defend her helpless calf by bringing down her mighty tail on those who would hurt her baby.

People are sometimes shocked that the Bible is filled with wars and violence approved by God.  We live in a brutal world (the Devil’s kingdom) where many blood-thirsty individuals and nations cause harm and havoc.  
God desires to deal peacefully with everyone and wishes no-one any harm.  He would rather go to the cross and suffer harm Himself than inflict harm on others (God paid the ultimate price at the cross so ALL may have salvation).  Yet there are many individuals and nations who have rejected God and wish to harm the innocent.  God is slow to anger and looks for graceful solutions to resolve conflicts (without compromising His perfect character).  However, when predators continue to threaten those in His care, God is forced to act (Psalm 103:8-9).  
Firstly, He gives a warning and, if they persist, He will lift His mighty ‘hand of judgement’ and send it crashing down.  God does not desire this, but He will not be mocked.  God has made promises to care for His children and knows that sometimes the only way to deal with ruthless people and violent nations is to speak in the single language they understand.  
God’s violence is not an emotional reaction, nor is it wrong.  It is an act of righteous violence similar to a mother protecting her child.  It is a last resort for God, but we should be eternally grateful that our Divine Father will not stand by and let evil triumph.
The Lord is your mighty defender, perfect and just in all His ways; Your God is faithful and true; He does what is right and fair.  Deuteronomy 32:4 GNB

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God is: the Great Conductor.

God PictureConductors are directors of an orchestra.  They manage and encourage the musical talents of singers and instrumentalists.  Furthermore, the success of any orchestral concert depends on the conductor’s timing and exact reading of the score.

We have a choice of who we allow to conduct our life. We can try conducting our own life or we can choose to allow God to conduct. When we push God off the podium in our eagerness to orchestrate our own life, discord usually follows.
If we desire our life to be filled with beautiful music (happiness and inner peace), it is best to follow God’s lead.  He is the Great Conductor.  He knows the score and His timing is always perfect.  At exactly the right moment He will signal certain events to start in our life and He knows the exact moment when they should finish.  No one is more able to conduct the romances and tragedies of our life. 
Until the day we die, there will be high notes (good days) and low notes (bad days); however, if God is on our podium, we can be assured that every note will be synchronized into a spiritual harmony. 
When God is conducting our lives, we can be confident that each event, good or bad, is there for a reason.  It may be to build us up – to give us greater insight, depth and maturity.  We may undergo certain things to be a blessing to those around.  Or, like Job, we may be placed in bizarre circumstances for the benefit of a heavenly audience. 
Whatever we are undergoing, if we trust God to conduct, we will be relaxed and at peace; our life will be a graceful harmony that will bring joy to those around us and eternal glory to our Heavenly Father.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

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God is: always wanting to provide for us.

Person in HellThe absence of water makes a desert.  The absence of land makes an ocean.  The absence of warmth makes the polar caps.  The absence of light makes darkness.  The absence of God's provision makes Hell.

Hell, for want of a better word, is simply a place where God’s abundant providence is absent.  In life, God sustains us with oxygen, gravity, water, sunshine and all the universal laws of order - even when we make it quite clear that we want nothing to do with Him.  However, there will come a day (death) when God must respect our decision to live apart from Him - His perfection demands it.  On that day He may say to those who rejected salvation, ‘It saddens Me that you have refused all My gracious offers of salvation and shown on all occasions that you want nothing to do with Me.  I must respect your decision (free-will) and leave you in a place that has been set aside where my provision shall be absent, where I will not sustain the environment or the universal laws of order, where My light will be nowhere to be seen and where you are beyond the reach of My comfort.  It is a place where I shall respect your wish and remain absent from you for eternity.’ (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
It is foolish to say we don’t need God in our lives.  Hell is the void created when God’s providence is absent.  It is a place of absolute darkness, chaos and everlasting discomfort.  Let us not eternally regret being separated from God when Heaven is simply ours for the asking. The Bible clearly states: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).

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Identity Theft

Identity TheftImagine if your identity was stolen and the perpetrator committed crimes in your name.  Suddenly, you are held responsible for their actions and now business and banks won’t deal with you.  Of course you would want a chance to clear your name, but what if no matter what you said or did, people continue to believe the worst about you.  

God’s identity has been stolen by violent religions and weird cults. Throughout history, so many horrendous things have been done in God’s name. Sadly, people now hold God responsible for the perpetrators’ actions.
To clear His good name for all generations, God came to earth as a man.  Through the life and actions of Jesus Christ we learn first-hand who God is and what He stands for.  “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30.) 
Jesus was loving, just and graceful to all – no matter their station in life, their sex, or their sins. He equally associated with high-born and outcasts.  He actively stood against those who would condemned or swindle others. He did not force His views on those who rejected Him. We learn through His words and action that Jesus was categorically against violent crusades, inquisitions, terrorist attacks, suicide bombings, human sacrifice, suppression of women and abuse of children.  
God’s true identity is revealed through the life of Christ. When Jesus willingly went to the cross to pay the ‘debt-of-sin’ so all may have eternal life, we truly see God’s love demonstrated. 
Yet God created us with freewill and He will not coerce our volition.  Despite the written revelation in the Bible, we may still choose to hold God accountable for the atrocities done in His name.  But we must remember: God is not threatened if we choose to believe the worst about Him – He is not upset by our snide comments – and He is not less real for our unbelief.  If we cut off our relationship with God, it is not He that misses out – it is us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten (uniquely born) Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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