This simple question came up in conversation the other day, and I thought to answer it. However, I would also like to answer, from a Christian perspective, where God is NOT.
1. God is Everywhere (Omnipresent)
The most obvious answer is that God, who is an invisible spirit, does not actually exist in one place, but in all places. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
There is…one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
2. But wasn’t God in the Ark of the Covenant, and the Jewish Temple?
Well, not exactly. In the Old Testament, it was actually God’s *presence* that showed up in those places, according to Jewish Scripture. But it’s not like God was trapped in there, living there like a genie in a bottle.
3. God’s power and divine attributes may be seen in nature, but they are NOT God.
One of the unique differences between Christianity and many eastern religions, including Hinduism, is that Christianity is not pantheistic. Pantheism, teaches that God is present in the creation, and that all of creation put together equals God.
However, Christianity teaches that God is transcendent, meaning separate from and above the creation, and that God is the creator. So that in the same way we could appreciate the genius of a painter in his painting, we can see the genius of God in the creation. However, we would never say that a painter’s painting is actually the painter himself. Christianity would say that worshiping the creation as God rather than seeing it as the creation of God is a mistake.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made….
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles ….Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!
4. God is NOT in the hearts of those who have not received Christ.
Many are surprised to find out that, according to the Bible, God is NOT in one place – in the hearts of those who do not believe. As we will see, He will only exist there by personal invitation. There are a few reasons for confusion around this idea:
a. Many believe in the “Universal sonship” of all humans
While all people are created by God, and so in a sense, can call God their “Father”, this does not mean that they are safe from perdition based on this fact. A sinner may be loved by God as a Father loves a child, but that won’t save them.
b. Many confuse the “image of God” in them with God himself
While the scriptures teach that we are made in the “image of God”, this, again, is more like a copy, or a creation of the creator, and not the creator Himself (see point 3 above). Some, like the Quakers, may describe this God-likeness as the “inner light” it is still, biblically speaking NOT God himself.
c. Even the Disciples of Jesus did not have God’s spirit in them initially
After Jesus’ resurrection, and before he ascended, he discussed with his disciples how after He left, the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) would be sent to them. Notice the prepositions below
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
d. God’s spirit only enters upon personal invitation
To become a “child of God,” scriptures teach that He must be willingly received. Before that, we can not really say that God is living in us. This is where the terms “born again” and “born of the spirit” come from.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Of course, an even tougher question is, where is Jesus?