Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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12. The Character of God

In this chapter, we will look at attacks on the character of God and the inability of many people to understand his love (which moves him to forgive) and his holiness (which moves him to judge), and how these two qualities are perfectly balanced in his character and actions, including such actions as the flood and the extermination of the Canaanites.

This is an immense topic that takes entire books to explain. The best I can do is share what has been meaningful to me in the hope that it will encourage you. My wife, Robin, and I have lost two children, Rose in a miscarriage and Rachel four hours after birth. As difficult as that was, it pales in comparison to the pain of a tragic ministry experience. What follows is what helped Robin and me (and our children) work through the pain.

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Discussion questions

  1. What attacks or arguments against the picture of God in the Old Testament have you heard? Do you agree with any of them? Is there anything about the portrayal of God in the Old Testament that bothers you?
  2. Are there any ways in which the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament?
  3. Why is it difficult to accept that justice is what God does?
  4. Why is it difficult to accept that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving and still allows pain and suffering?
  5. Why is it important to read both the Old and the New Testaments in order to understand God and his love?
  6. Can you think of any specific examples where God’s love and his justice come into conflict?
  7. Do you believe that Satan is a real individual?
  8. Why can it be so difficult to believe that God is all-loving and still allows suffering?
  9. Do you think that human sin is responsible for the vast amount of human suffering? But why does God allow the affects of another person’s sin to affect me?
  10. Is there an answer to natural evil?
  11. In what ways can understanding God’s sovereignty help when we are struggling with the evils of the world?
  12. Why was the flood just and loving?
  13. Did Joshua commit genocide at God’s direction?
  14. What questions have you had about the character of God in the Old Testament? What has helped you to better understand him?