I was looking for a book that talked about God's character, similar to the Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. These are SURPRISINGLY hard to find! I discovered George Watson's book OUR OWN GOD. In hanging out with Mr. Watson I felt I was hanging out with someone who had done more than read about God, but someone who had known God in their every-day life. More than that, I found that the "tone of his voice" was full of wonder about a wonderful God. Each page I was able to see more who this wonderful almighty God was.
As you read I pray Two Things: 1.) You will become friends with this old dead guy who is alive on a page and in Heaven: George Watson 2.) That you will become even greater friends with his and our Maker
You can download the ebook from Amazon or order a copy for yourself!
Chapter 1 — Our Own God
God is our nearest relative. From the very fact that He produced us out of nothing except the power of His own Word, and sustains us every moment from falling back into the dark gulf of non-existence, which is virtually a perpetual act of creative love. He enters more minutely into our nature and lives than it is possible for any other being in all creation to do. No one can possibly love us as God does, because no one knows us so thoroughly, or has made such an investment in us, as our blessed Creator, our one and only true God.
Not only is this true, but we are so created, that when the Scriptural conditions are met, we can know God with an intimacy, and vastness, and sweetness, and power, far beyond what we can know of any creature that God has made. Our own fathers and mothers do not come as close to us as God does, and neither can we enter the secret chambers of their spirits, and learn the qualities of their hidden lives with anything approaching to the inner heart knowledge we may have of our own God through the indwelling and operation of the blessed Holy Ghost. As a proof that sin perverts and reverses everything in the human soul, the very God that sinners declare to be unknowable, and call themselves “agnostics” (a Greek word which in the Latin is “ignoramus,” and in plain English is “fool”), the God that these self-named “fools” suppose to be far away from the touch of human knowledge, is the very Being that, under right spiritual conditions, we can know with more cloudless assurance, and more tender, all-pervading, personal acquaintance, than any one else in creation.
1. We know God, and appropriate Him to ourselves, pre-eminently in our spiritual nature, in our love nature. God is love. The substance of His character is pure love, including every perfection which the Bible reveals of Him in an infinite degree, and doubtless there are may perfections in God of which we have no conception in our present state. It is because God is love, that it is through our love nature we know Him, and go deeper down into a blessed acquaintance with His person, and life, and ways, than through any other part of our nature.
It is through the organs and delicate senses of the body that we know the marvelous beauties and wonders of the material world, with its thousand-fold harmonies, and adaptations, its overawing grandeurs, its bewitching beauties, and beneficent utilities.
It is through our intellects that we become acquainted with the vast, radiant worlds of science, of mathematics, of the connection between causes and effects, of time, motion, numbers, poetry, and philosophy, that constitute an immense silent choir that fills creation with voiceless intellectual music. But creation with all its splendors is not our God, and the whole realm of mental knowledge is not our God, and these things are but the outer fringes of His presence, the first steps to an acquaintance with Him.
It is only through love, not mere natural affection, but through Divine love imparted to our heart nature, that we pass through the outer veil of creation, and know God through His beloved Son, Jesus, with a swiftness, a certainty and a personal communion, that surpasses all the boasted knowledge of science, and furnishes the only true interpretation of creation and providence.
St. John says, that “if we dwell in love,” if that is the atmosphere in which we breathe, “then we dwell in God.” It is love that knows more than any other capacity of our being. Love has a quick art of knowing, and seeing and interpreting all things by a sort of lightning flash of intuition, that leaps over the plodding process of slow reason and knows things more surely without learning them, than reason does with all its logic. It is love that appropriates, and lays claim to things, and takes possession of them. We may see an object, a person for instance, and know him faintly by our senses, and then learn much of him through the intellect, but when love comes into action, it seizes upon the object, and wins it, appropriates it, takes possession of it, and says “my own.” We possess God, and make Him our own, all our own, through love for Him.
2. God is our own in such a peculiar individual way, privately and personally, so as to thrill us with a joy with which no stranger can intermeddle. God can never be to any other creature in all the universe, just exactly what He is to us. Have we ever thought for five minutes of the grandeur of being created with a unique, individual personality all to ourselves, with a private nature, a great soul world in ourselves, a distinct orb of conscious, immortal existence. We are walled in from all other creatures, with a deep privacy of nature into which no one in all the universe can enter except the Lord our God, our loving Creator. Probably this is the greatest glory of our creation, that each of us has in our personality a sacred sanctuary in the ocean depths of his soul, with a door that never opens except to the touch of that eternal, blessed One, Who created us out of His love. He then redeemed us from an awful fall out of what seems even a greater love than creation. There are no higher facts than the personality of God, and the everlasting and private personality of our own selves.
Upon each one of us, the Lord has inscribed thousands of private marks that distinguish us from every other creature He has made. Upon every feature, and every bone, and every mental faculty, and every shape of our emotions, there is printed a peculiar form which belongs to no other one person in the world.
God has woven around each of our lives, a network of special providence that is marvelous to contemplate, and that is never duplicated with any angel or man. Each of our lives, if written out from God’s standpoint, and under Divine inspiration, would form a little Bible, and have in it something like the pathetic charm of the lives of the old patriarchs. We cannot live anyone else’s life, nor see with his eyes, nor trust with his faith, nor love with his heart. Each one must for himself in particular become acquainted with God, and learn the same lessons of the spiritual life that have been learned over and over for thousands of years, and which no one has ever been able to impart to another soul. Throughout life’s journey, God is our only traveling company Who knows all, Who enters into all, Who loves us through all, and from Whom we have no secrets. He deals with each of us in ten thousand special ways peculiar to ourselves, and by virtue of which we cry out, like one of the apostles, “My Lord and my God.” We never come of age with our Heavenly Father, but are always minors, so that there is an overshadowing tenderness in His being forever and forever, our Father, our own Father!
When we are brought into the family of God, and through a life of prayer become acquainted with Him, we cannot look upon Him as simply external to ourselves. It is true His presence and power are spread out everywhere in all creation, but from our standpoint, His presence in a peculiar way seems to center in ourselves. Just as wherever we stand on the earth’s surface, we are in the center of the horizon’s rim: so we, each of us, from our standpoint, are in the center of God’s attributes, presence, providence, and grace. Who but an infinite God could have so formed creation, as to make it seem to each person that he stands in the center of the horizon, and the world, and to make it equally true that each child of His stands in the center of His mighty providence and grace? This is God’s complement to our individuality.
God becomes our own in so many secret relationships established between us. As the years go by, what fond ties are knitted between Him and ourselves; what thrilling endearments have been exchanged; what pathetic memories of His multiplied forgivenesses and what sacred memories also of His various chastisements, which have been full of melting kindness! What peculiar and multiplied answers to prayer! What astonishing blending of providences! What an alternation of favor and discipline, like the beautiful shuttle that weaves out the seasons of the year, of summer and winter, of laughing springs, and thoughtful, melancholy autumns, in our lives!
Words have passed between us and God which could never mean to others what they have to us—countless silent covenants in prayer, either spoken or pronounced mentally, special applications of Scripture verses that exactly fitted into our heart and lives in a way they could never fit into any other life. There have been significant providences that meant a thousand times more to us than they did to anyone else; soft and healing touches of His hand that no other hand could give, and evidences of unfailing fidelity, until our whole hearts cry out “who is so great a God as our God?”
3. We can only know God, and appropriate Him as our own, in conformity with His infallible, inspired Word. The only true God is the One revealed in Scripture, an infinite Being, Who is a pure spirit, possessing every excellence and perfection in an infinite degree. He is living eternally in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as disclosed to us in the Old and New Testaments. There are multiplied theories and imaginations about God, widely differing from “our own God” revealed in Scripture. No one can come into personal acquaintance, and loving union with God, except through the Scripture method of repentance, faith in an atoning Savior, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
God never reveals Himself to any soul except in accordance with His Word. Every so-called religious experience that does not agree with Scripture is a demon religion, and the work of evil spirits. A true saint is always orthodox to the core. There are about as many false notions about God in so-called Christian lands as there are idols in heathen lands. There never has been a real saintly character found as the fruit of false religion. God cannot lie, and hence He cannot unveil His adorable self to a false faith, or a counterfeit, perverted form of religious teaching. The soul that is too proud to get purified by the precious blood of Jesus, will never find access to the blessed life of knowing, and communing with, the ever-living God. Fellowship with God is not a mere play of intellect, nor flight of poetry, nor a gush of human sentimentalism. It is a deep, sacred, holy agreement of heart, and nature, and person, and exclusive love, between the perfectly submissive creature and his Creator and Redeemer.
This fellowship is vast enough to include human sentiment, and the exercise of reason, and the finest poetry, and the most gorgeous imagination, but is greater than all these, just as the thunder storm is far mightier than the beautiful rainbow that floats upon its receding skirts. Apostolic experiences of knowing God, come only to those souls who have Apostolic faith in the Lord Jesus as a divine, atoning Savior, forgiving our sins, and after that, sanctifying our hearts through His most precious blood, and giving to us the blessed Holy Spirit, to work in us the Words of Christ, and reveal to us the Father and the Son.
4. To serve God out of a personal love for Him is the condition of all true peace and happiness, and the fountain of holy character. While there are manifold varieties of religious experience, and many distinct types of piety, yet there are two classes into which all the servants of God on the earth can be divided; namely, those who serve Him mainly out of love, and those who serve Him mainly out of duty. Law and love are the two hemispheres in the service of our God. Those who serve out of love must have in them the law of God and the principle of duty; and on the other hand, those who serve Him as a duty, striving to keep His law, have also some measure of love. But every soul who serves God, has his spiritual home in the hemisphere of either the love side, or the law side.
While the service out of the principle of duty is essential in some stages of grace, yet it never has in it the summer heat to produce full-grown saints, or the best products of life.
When the soul passes into the torrid zone of salvation, and serves God out of a perfect and personal attachment and affection for Him, there is then accomplished in the most natural and beautiful way, all the virtues and practical fruits of righteousness and holiness, which those who serve mostly from duty are always striving after and never reaching. Instead of loving the service of God, we are to love God Himself and serve because we love Him. In other words, God is to be the object of our love, and not our service the object of it.
Again, out of our personal love for God, grows the broadest liberty of spirit, and deepest tranquility of heart, and the most tender, beautiful flow of charity for all creatures. All spiritual bondage, religious narrowness, and legal struggles to bear fruit by doing our duty is because our souls have never been let out into the warm, summer sea of personal love for God. Love performs the greatest of all duties, without ever taking time to reflect on whether it is doing its duty, for pure love puts into its service a good deal more than mere duty.
God loves to be loved. Hence those who serve Him out of personal love are admitted into deeper acquaintance with Himself, and receive His Fatherly caresses in a manner that other souls would not appreciate and hardly believe possible in this life. God is not partial, but it is nothing less than pure equity, and eminently fitting, that He should give Himself most freely and tenderly to those who abandon themselves without reserve into His hands.
As enchanting scenery in nature, and the power of sweet sounds, and the bewildering beauties of poetry, belong most to those whose capacities are most widely open to take them in, so the unutterable blessedness of God belongs most to those whose capacities are under the greatest power of the Holy Spirit. Love can in reality never give its heart of hearts to anything but love. We own God by personal love for Him.
This is the fountain of strongest character, of the best fruits of righteousness, of the most heroic daring, of the most arduous undertakings, of the most venturesome boldness, of the most graceful and thoughtful manners, of the deepest self-sacrifice, of the noblest generosity and kindness.
5. Nothing so inspires us in our life work as the deep, peaceful conviction that the living God is all our own. He is our last end in all our plans and labors. When we are working for God, and in God, and working with God, there is a quiet, deep perseverance, a patient courage, and an assurance of the success of our work, which it is impossible for the soul to have when working for self, or for the things of this world.
Nothing can fail that has God’s purposes and life in it. When we become truly enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we have in reality nothing to live for but Jesus, to drink of His mind, to obey His calling, to follow His providences, to fill the vocation in life to which He calls us, to be possessed with His motives, His prayers, His charity, to bury our interests in His, because His are so much better than our own, and to have a supreme abiding desire to finish the work that He calls us to do.
This was the abiding passion of Jesus Himself, to finish the work His Father assigned Him. And this was the all-mastering motive of Paul, to run the race assigned him by Christ, and win the prize held out to him by Divine promise. Men of the world, and countless numbers of professed Christians, know nothing whatever of a life-work that does not have self for its central inspiration, and its last end. How little they know, that all work which is not done in God’s will most certainly shall pass away!
“He that doeth the will of God shall abide forever,” and the same truth is equally true, the work which is done in the will of God shall abide forever. We make God our own by loving Him better than we love our life, and we make His work our own by putting a value on it far beyond any plan or work of our own. The true worth of any word, or sermon, or song, or book, or building, or mission, or donation, or prayer, depends exactly on how much of Christ there is in it.
A little thing, with God’s purpose in it, has a strange, abiding, persevering life that will survive a thousand great showy things that look for a time as if they would fill the world. When we know that we are working for God, with a pure unselfish motive to please Him, and feel assured that He calls us to do that work, and is standing behind us in the work, we are practically invincible against discouragement, for having died to self, the whole enterprise is identified with the Lord. Such a soul may be without means, without friends, and loaded down with infirmities, persecutions, and seemingly insurmountable difficulties; and have to plod on in obscurity, or shame, or reproach, or poverty, for years; and have inward assaults from Satan, but that secret, fathomless assurance, that it is working with God, and for God, fills it with a bright, quiet, immortality of perseverance. The greatest part of a good work is always out of sight, where the soul is working with God in holy prayer and purpose.
St. Paul cried out, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The converse is equally true that if we are for God, lovingly and entirely for Him, what man or demon can successfully be against us?
6. When we come into union with God, He becomes the inward fountain of our lives. He is the source of all our peace, and joy, and inspiration, our only true Comforter, and as He promised to Abraham, “our exceeding and great reward.” We were created to fit into the Divine attributes just as beautifully as the senses of our body fit into the sights, and sounds, and odors of the magnificent created world about us. As we make restful, crimson sunset our own through the eye, and the perfume of flowers our own through the nose, so we make the blessed perfections of God our own treasure through those faculties and capacities of our nature that fit into them.
The perfections of God support us by their contrast to our lack of them, which is simply our empty capacity for receiving them.
God’s justice arouses our fear, and gives us a sense of the need of righteousness, and is the grand preacher that leads to repentance and submission. His mercy wins our hope, and calls forth our venturesome faith. His power is what our weakness leans upon, and over and over again becomes the soft bed upon which our struggling and tired hearts lie down for rest. His omnipresence that fills every point in space, and never lets go one atom out of His sight, is the cure for our discouragement and uneasiness when we apprehend that He is in everything to us. His unlimited knowledge, that perfectly understands everything in the universe, past, present, or future, is the blessed satisfaction to our ignorance.
When we rest in God, we get the benefit of all that He knows, just the same as if we knew it ourselves. It is one of the secret joys of our heavenly Father, that He can use His knowledge for the benefit of His ignorant creatures.
The little child of the captain of a ship, with its father on the ocean, gets the benefit of all the knowledge that its father has about navigation; and in like manner, the great Captain that steers all these swiftly sailing worlds over the seas of space, lets the riches of His infinite knowledge softly enfold His poor creatures, who are just beginning to pick up the first rudiments of knowledge, and whose ignorance prevents them from knowing what may transpire the next moment.
God’s love, in a very special way, fits into our personality. Just as personality is the supreme fact in the universe, so love is the supreme thing in personality. Love must flow from some individual, and cannot exist as an external principle.
Personality necessitates communion, fellowship, friendship, ties of agreement, and mutual feelings. Even in the Godhead, there is of eternal necessity, the three Divine persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, of the same spirit substance, Who in their glorious personalities love each Other, commune with each Other, agree with each Other, and have an uncreated and unspeakable bliss in appreciating each Other.
Hence the love of God is for our individuality, and it is that love that meets and satisfies our personality. What shall we say of that glorious perfection, the Divine fidelity, by virtue of which He is a covenant-keeping God, and never breaks a promise, or for one instant forgets to keep His word, through all the successive generations of men!
It is God’s fidelity that forms the granite rock upon which our confidence stands, or walks, or reposes. What an immense resting place for our faith is the adorable faithfulness of God! The passage, “have faith in God,” most literally translated is, “grasp God’s faithfulness.” The Scriptures refer to God’s fidelity, His faithfulness, His covenant-keeping character, more frequently than to any other perfection in the Divine nature.
The more than thirty thousand promises in Scripture are each one separate vouchers of God’s attribute of fidelity. Let it be so, for the paramount sin of the race is unbelief, and our faith needs abundant feeding. God’s faithfulness is exactly that perfection which our hungry faith must constantly eat and drink. To study God’s faithfulness will prove celestial wine to our weak confidence.
God’s providence—there is nothing in all the world like it; so mysterious, so multiplied, so exact, so vigilant, so minute, so intricate. It is like an immense loom, with millions of threads and flying shuttles, that may seem to be moving in opposite directions, and tangled in every way, yet forever weaving out a pattern of God’s ways, with every figure and color in the right place, sufficient to thrill the intellects of saints and angels.
God’s providence is the playground of His fidelity. His fidelity is the loom, and His providence is the placing of the separate threads in the pattern. To study God’s providence is a panacea for doubt. He who notices a providence will never fail to have a providence to notice, for it is an exhaustless ocean, out from the depths of which new waves are ever breaking forth upon the shore. Our hope is forever resting upon God’s unfailing providence. The immutability of God is the place of our most solid and abiding rest. How His blessed unchangeableness perfectly fits into all our frailty, our vacillation, and the mutations of earthly things and human friendships!
God’s immutability which is expressed in the uniformity of natural law age after age, is the rock on which His changeable creatures can assuredly rest. But for His unchangeable truth, the qualities of matter would play us foul, and water might burn us. The sun might rise in the west, or north, and every sequence of causes be upset, to the utter ruin of all life and happiness. Scripture says, “It is because God changes not that the sons of men are not consumed.” The very thought that Jesus might change from the dear, blessed, lowly, loving Savior He was when on earth would make our souls quiver with alarm. How sweetly and peacefully we lay ourselves down on those words, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever.”