The first portion of my answer to what I have learned is the fact that God is. But that answer only opens up for so many more questions in the mind of a logical thinker who was taught early in grade school to ask the questions of who, what, where, when, and how. These questions are extremely difficult, especially considering our pluralistic society who pushes against any concrete answers in order to allow flexibility of existence between the many closely held beliefs.
In fact I posed the question of who God is on my social platforms and had very few people willing to answer even though almost all of my friends are professing believers. Have we become afraid to believe in any absolutes about God? Is that why we play skirt around the answer with the easily palatable definitions of His character like – God is love. That answer just feels good and fits within almost any system of belief. It is true that God is love, but the definition of love must be defined within the scope of our understanding of God himself.
Our definition of God must take into consideration the fact that God is other than us. We are only able to describe his characteristics based on the nature in which he has revealed himself to humanity. This interaction with God is described in the scriptures beginning with the scriptures. The first portion of scripture, known as the Old Testament, include the Torah (‘Teaching’, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (‘Prophets’) and Ketuvim (‘Writings’)—hence TaNaKh provide the basis of this understanding. The second portion of scripture, known as the New Testament includes the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the Acts of the Apostles, the fourteen epistles of Paul, the seven catholic epistles, and the Book of Revelation. All scriptures work together to give a full picture of who God has shown himself to be for humanity.
Our first encounter with God in scripture, found in Genesis 1:1, is his existing. Before the heavens and earth had any separate form – Before time, measured by the rising and setting of the sun – Before there was any life in the form of vegetation, animal, or human being – God was. If God was before any of these things were brought into existence we can ascertain that he is completely other than these things which scripture tells us that he created.
Some confuse scripture and say that because he made us in his likeliness and image we then have his nature and are able to be little gods. Not so. Can a reflection claim full rights as the being it displays. Can it fully manifest and have its own authority outside of that being? Of course not. We are to be reflections of God, but we are not full manifestations of all God is. Our existence is reliant on the one who we are reflecting; this is what people have an innate yearning know know something greater – to seek out a divine being. But that divine being is not found within the human self, neither is it found in any of his other creations. It is found in the God who exists outside of time and our earthly spacial understanding and whose nature can be learned of by careful study of the scripture.