10 New Testament Passages that Shape How I Think about God

What can you learn about God in the New Testament?

Peter Enns writes, speaks, and teaches on the Bible and Christianity. He is the author of numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It and The Evolution of AdamHere, he lists 10 passages from the New Testament that have shaped his thinking about God. See also his corresponding list of 10 passages from the Old Testament.

1. Philippians 3:10

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his suffering by becoming like him in his death. . . . 

Both suffering and resurrection — times of great difficulty and times of triumph — are expected and normal parts of the Christian life.

2. Matthew 18:3

. . . unless you change and become like children. . . . .

As children trust their parents with no thought of an alternative, Christians are called to trust God — which is both comforting and challenging.

3. Matthew 7:25-34

. . . do not worry about your life . . . look at the birds . . . consider the lilies. . .

Worry should be as impossible for followers of Christ as it is for birds and plants, which by definition are incapable of worry.

4. John 8:32

. . . the truth will make you free. . . 

The truth — knowing Christ — will make you free, namely free from yourself to be free toward God.

5. 1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us . . . 

The difficult and often counterintuitive act of loving one another is the closest we get to seeing God.

6. Luke 15:20

But while he was still far off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran . . . 

The parable of the lost (or, mistakenly, “prodigal”) son. The father has no thought of judgment toward the son, only welcome . . . and he can’t wait to get started.

7. Colossians 3:3

. . . your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Intimacy (union) with God is the present reality and hoped-for goal of the Christian life.

8. Galatians 3:28

there is no longer Jew or Gentile . . . slave or free . . . male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

What humans use to divide between each other for power and control — ethnicity, economy, gender — mean nothing to God.

9. John 8:10

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

Whereas our tendency is to punish and exact holy retribution, Jesus shows us that God’s default mode is to forgive and encourage us to move on and begin anew.

10. Revelation 21:1; 22:2

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . on either side of the river is the tree of life . . .

The entire biblical story is summed up. The Bible ends where it begins; creation is restored. Everything else in between, God’s story as a whole from Abraham to Christ, is about how God makes that happen.

This post appeared originally at Patheos.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Peter Enns
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  • nwcolorist

    The story of the prodigal son is one of the most powerful parables in the Bible. I can still tear up when I read it. The stories we occasionally read about the love of a father or mother for their children are sometimes close to miraculous.