O Lord God Almighty, not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and the apostles; and better than all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may I express Thee unblamed?  
     They that know Thee not may call upon Thee as other than Thou art, and so worship not Thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou art, so that we may perfectly love thee and worthily praise Thee.  
     In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
  What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.  
     The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God.  
     For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her  
most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.  
     Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” We might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.  
     Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God. Thought and speech are God’s gifts to creatures made in His image; these are intimately associated with Him and impossible apart from Him. It is highly significant that the first word was the Word: “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.1” We may speak because God spoke. In Him word and idea are indivisible.  

1. John 1:1 
 

     That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him. Our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an  
ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.  
     A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect thoughts about God.  
     It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.1 
     All the problems of heaven and earth, though they were to confront us together and at once, would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God: That He is; what He is like; and what we as moral beings must do about Him.  
     The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot concern him for very long; but even if the multiple burdens of time may be lifted from him with a weight more crushing than all the woes of the world piled one upon another. That mighty burden is his obligation to God. It includes an instant and lifelong duty to love God with every power of mind and soul, to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably. And when the man’s laboring conscience tells him that he has done none of these  
things, but has from childhood been guilty of foul revolt against the Majesty in the heavens, the inner pressure of self-accusation may become too heavy to bear.  
     The gospel can lift this destroying burden from the mind, give beauty for ashes, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. But unless the weight of the burden is felt the gospel can mean nothing to the man; and until he sees a vision of God high and lifted up, there will be no woe and no burden. Low views of God destroy the gospel for all  
who hold them.  
     Among the sins to watch the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is — in itself a monstrous sin — and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness.  
Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.  
     A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true God. “Thou thoughtest,” said the Lord to the wicked man in the psalm, “that I was altogether such an one as thyself.2” Surely this must be a serious affront to the Most High God before whom cherubim and seraphim continually do cry, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabbath.”  
     Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place. “When they knew God,” wrote Paul, “they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”3  

1. Luke 18:8 “. . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” I believe one of the telling signs of our times is the book stores. Pick up any of the older authors (Christian), even a cursory scanning of the contents show the thought was to glorify Him. They spoke of sin, righteousness, judgment to come, holiness, the power and attributes of an Almighty God, etc. Now the prevailing theme in our book stores, music, radio programs, etc. is self-esteem; how to like yourself, psychology; how to get along with people, and your mates, etc. How to draw the church into oneness (ecumenical movement, even though the Lord said He came to bring a sword). Sin is called by every worldly name, but never by there true Biblical names, never what God calls them. We are now irregular people, not sinners, we have affairs because it was so “right”, it’s not adultery. They are gay not sodomites, that sounds to vulgar. Well perhaps it sounds vulgar because it is, and maybe that is why it is so accepted in our day. 2. Psalm 50:21 3. Romans 1:21 
 

     Then followed the worship of idols fashioned after the likeness of men and birds and beasts and creeping things. But this series of degrading acts began in the mind. Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.  
     Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear. The long career of Israel demonstrates this clearly enough, and the history of the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church confirms it.  
     So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards declines along when it surrenders its high opinion of God.  
     Before the Christian Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology.. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?” And goes on from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents came to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.  
     The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worth of Him — and of her. In all her prayers and labors this should have first place. We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past. This will prove of greater value to them than anything that art or science can devise.                          1 Ominous; foreshadowing evil  

Comment:  
     Who is God? We in the late twentieth century church have on one hand got who He is down to a science; we can rattle off all the right answers, right clichés, and sometimes even the right dogma and Bible texts to back this up. While at the same time denying everything of His essence and person by our lives and actions.  
     I cannot go into a long dissertation here, time and space would forbid. But we say, ‘We love Jesus’, and then lie, He said keep my commandments. We say, ‘But I need him/her’, He said keep my commandments. We say, ‘We need to get together’, He said keep my commandments.  
     He said ‘Come out from among them and be ye separate!’ ‘Love not the world!’ ‘Keep yourselves from idols!’ ‘Worship in truth!’ ‘Be ye holy as I am holy!’ ‘Every one of you posses your vessel unto sanctification and honor!’ And much, much more. We in our day have gotten lip service down to a science, but God’s Word said we shouldn’t do this. For it says ‘They honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me.’ He goes on to say ‘But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’ Look people it is all in vain if the commandments are only of men, even if they be correct. Divorce, adultery, lust, envy, pride, hate, and sodomy to mention a few are growing like wild fire, not just in the world, that is a symptom. But in the Church as well. Most of us would say we are against these things because we don’t believe in them. And why not? is it because of God revealed Bible truth? No! It is because it is a dogma handed down form father to son and this generation has not its roots in God’s Word. Therefore we can vasilate because allegiance to a fallible father is far weaker then to the infallible Father and God! A good friend of mine,  
who is now with the Lord, Dr. David O. Fuller once told me he did not believe most Christians believed there was a hell, if they did he said they couldn’t live the way they do. I would amend that to add we do not believe in a real God who it is said of. . . ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’  

Thot:  
     The carnal mind sees God in nothing, not even in spiritual things. The spiritual mind sees Him in everything, even in natural things. . . Robert Leighton  

God hath in Himself all power to defend you, all wisdom to direct you, all mercy to pardon you, all grace to enrich you, all righteousness to clothe you, all goodness to supply you, and all happiness to crown you. 
                                                                         Thomas Brooks

Poems
The Lord is King! Lift up thy voice, 
O heart; and all ye heavens, rejoice: 
From world to world the joy shall ring, 
“The Lord Omnipotent is King!” 

The Lord is King! Who then shall dare 
Resist His will, distrust His care, 
Or murmur at His wise decrees, 
Or doubt His royal promises? 

The Lord is King! Child of the dust, 
The Judge of all the earth is just; 
Holy and true are all His ways: 
Let every creature speak His praise. 
O when His wisdom can mistake, 
His might decay, His love forsake, 
Then may His children cease to sing, 
“The Lord Omnipotent is King!” 

Alike pervaded by His eye, 
All parts of His dominion lie; 
This world of ours, and worlds unseen, 
And thin the boundary between. 

One Lord, one empire, all secures; 
He reigns, and life and death are yours: 
Through earth and heaven one song shall ring, 
“The Lord Omnipotent is King!” 
Josiah Candor, 1824 

The God of abraham praise, 
Who reigns enthroned above; 
Ancient of everlasting days, 
And God of love: 
Jehovah! Great I AM! 
By earth and heaven confessed; 
I bow and bless the sacred Name, 
For ever blest. 

The God of Abraham praise, 
At whose supreme command 
From earth I rise, and seek the joys 
At His right hand: I all on earth forsake, 
Its wisdom, fame, and power; 
My Shield and Tower. 

He by Himself hath sworn, 
I on His oath depend; 
I shall, on eagle’s wings upborne, 
To heaven ascend: I shall behold 
His face, I shall His power adore, 
For evermore. 

The whole triumphant host 
Give thanks to God on high; 
“Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!” 
They ever cry: 
Hail, Abraham’s God and mine! 
I join the heavenly lays; 
All might and majesty are Thine, 
And endless praise. 
Thomas Olivers, c. 1770 

O God of Bethel, by whose hand 
Thy people still are fed; 
Who through this weary pilgrimage 
Hast all our fathers led! 

Our vows, our prayers we now present 
Before They throne of grace: 
God of our fathers! Be the God 
Of their succeeding race. 
Philip Doddridge