Free Christian illustrations on understanding God that can be used in sermons and religious education – without charge or obligation.
These illustrations may be downloaded, copied or distributed without permission as long as no cost is charged and source is recognized.

God is: infinite.

Infinite Universe- Christian Illustrations by Ian CoateEach night, the universe stares down and challenges us to understand it.  However, the infinite universe is something far beyond our finite minds to comprehend.  It is something that may not have a beginning or an end.  If it does - what is beyond?  Heaven!  Then what is beyond Heaven?  Nothing!  Then what is beyond Nothing?
The finite mind can easily state what infinity is (academically), yet it cannot possibly grasp something which has no beginning, no middle and no end.  We would be very foolish to say the universe does not exist simply because it is beyond our complete understanding.

Similarly, an infinite God is far beyond human understanding.  Our finite minds cannot possibly comprehend a Being who has no beginning or end, is all-powerful, all-knowing and is everywhere at the same time.  It is impossible for our finite minds to academically grasp Him.  Consequently, many are quick to state ‘God does not exist’.  However, we cannot reject God (and still remain objective) because He doesn’t conveniently fit within our limited range of understanding.  If we do, we should equally state, ‘The universe does not exist’. (Isaiah 40:12-14)

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God is: outside of time and space.

God - Divine programmer- Bible Illustrations by Ian CoateComputer programmers create programs that encompass entire cyber worlds.  In so doing, the programmers themselves are not subject to any of the boundaries they have instigated for computer-generated characters locked in their cyber world.

God has created a colossal program - the universe.   Within it He has written boundaries (laws of time, space and science) to which every creature is subject.  Just like computer programmers, He that created the universal program is not subject to the program’s boundaries.  The universe is subordinate to its Creator.   As programmers are outside their program - God is outside the laws of time, space and science that He created. 
God is omnipresent (everywhere all the time) and it is impossible for a human finite mind to fully grasp an infinite being.  Trying to fit God into our limited understanding is like a computer-generated-character trying to comprehend its programmer.  All we need remember is that the laws of time, space and science are subordinate to the Creator – not the other way round.  At any moment, God can change a boundary if it suits His purpose – we call this act a miracle. 
(Genesis 1:1)

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God is: consistent.

Sir Isaac Newton recognised that the laws of the physical world are constant when he coined the phrase, ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ - A handy thing to remember before stepping off a roof.

God set many scientific laws in motion and decreed that they remain constant.  God also created mankind with volition and decreed that it remain free.  The laws of ‘free-will’ are as constant as any scientific law in the physical world.  For every decision there will be consequences.  We are free to succeed and free to fail.  This explains most of our suffering in life – we bring it upon ourselves (individually and nationally). 
We may point our finger accusingly at God and ask: ‘How can You allow suffering?’  But God rarely intervenes when it comes to the repercussions caused by our own stupid decisions.  We may earnestly pray for God to miraculously remove bad repercussions (never do we ask Him to remove good repercussions), but God would sooner suspend the ‘laws of gravity’, than tamper with the ‘laws of free-will’. 
This is not to say God leaves us alone to deal with life’s problems.  He has promised to deliver us THROUGH adversity – not OUT of adversity.   God provides the necessary strength to overcome any suffering brought upon by ourselves or others, but it is up to us whether we CHOOSE to utilise His provision. (Isaiah 46:11)

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God is: a patient Father.

Patient Father- Christian Illustrations by Ian CoateA wealthy man had a son whom he loved very much.  He constantly showered him with gifts.  He spent every moment of the day teaching and caring for his son.  But as the boy grew into manhood, he turned away from his father and soon came to despise him - yet his father continued to support him in the hope that he would come around.  He paid his bills, furnished him with a mansion and wrote to him daily.  Instead of being thankful, the son ripped up the letters, ended all contact and cursed anyone who dared mention his father’s name in conversation.  However, the son never stopped taking his father’s support.

Sadly, the ungrateful son illustrates humanity.  God is our heavenly Father and many of us imitate the son’s attitude.  God spends every moment with us:  giving, teaching and caring - yet, many turn away.  In spite of this, God still continues to support us with the desire that we will come around.  He supplies us with the riches of the universe, things that cannot be measured in wealth (like sunshine, oxygen, gravity, atmosphere, environment and more); He has paid our bills (Christ on the cross) and written to us (the Bible).  We may curse God - but isn’t it ironic that we still expect Him to continue supporting - which, as the perfect Father, He does. (Judges 8:34)

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God is: a willing Sacrifice.

Protective Parent- Christian Illustrations by Ian CoateNature is a curious thing.  It seems we’ve all been programmed with a survival instinct - an overwhelming drive to stay alive.  This instinct is in all of God’s creatures.  However, there is another instinctive programme that overrides the survival instinct - it is a parental instinct.  Nature shows us that when young are threatened, both the mother and father will override their own survival instinct and fight to the death to protect them.  What makes an animal, programmed to survive, suddenly forfeit its life so its young may live?  Where did this selfless and loving instinct originate and who is the programmer? 

This loving instinct originates with God and He is the programmer.  Through Adam, we all sin and are under the penalty of death and judgement.  We must remember, God is perfect, God is law and He must condemn or He would not be perfect.  However, there is another facet of God’s character - He is a parent and we are His children.  So as a parent, God has a dilemma - His children are threatened with judgement at death and He must judge them, yet the thought of His children suffering is abhorrent to Him - He would die to protect them.  That is why He willingly came to earth as a man (Jesus Christ) and forfeited His life so we could survive.  As our substitute, He took the punishment from judgment onto Himself so we could have eternal life - evidence of a perfectly loving God. (Job 3:16)

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God is: transcendent.

Fish man- Christian Illustrations by Ian CoateA man owned an extravagant aquarium and spared no effort maintaining it properly.  He spent many hours attending all his fish and knew their every characteristic.  Yet, for all his time and effort, it was evident the fish knew nothing of him.  It seemed impossible they could ever get to know him.  Instead, whenever he got close to the aquarium the fish hid in fear.  Even when he cleaned the tank, as careful as he was not to disturb the water, the fish didn’t understand the cleaning was essential for their future well-being.  They never showed any acknowledgement when he showered them with food.  The man finally realised that if his fish were ever to understand who he was, he would have to become a fish and swim among them.

As ludicrous as the above illustration may sound, this is similar to what God did.  He humbled Himself and took the form of man (Jesus Christ).  We must understand that the human brain is incapable of comprehending a Being who has existed simultaneously in the past, present and future - who knows everything that has, will and may happen - with power to create and destroy the universe and the heavens with a single word.  It would be easier for a fish in a tank to appreciate the man outside, than for mankind to comprehend an all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful God.  However, God gave us the best illustration of who He is (in a way that our tiny brain could understand) by becoming one of us and walking among us.  So, if we wish to know God, we can by knowing Jesus Christ. (John 10:30)

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God is: the ultimate Artist.

Ultimate Artist- Christian Illustrations by Ian CoateOne of the greatest pleasures artists experience is to see expressions of delight and enjoyment when people appreciate their artworks.

Is not God the ultimate Artist, who all other artists try to imitate?  God has created a living interactive exhibition.  His awe-inspiring landscapes can actually be entered.  His ever-changing seascapes are there for our recreational pleasure.  Each day, He paints a new sunrise and sunset for us to enjoy.  His exhibition includes living portraits of people and animals for companionship.  His fruit-bowls are bursting with flavour and His flowers literally smell of perfume.
God receives great pleasure from watching His sons and daughters delight in His many artworks.  When time is taken to enjoy and savour an artwork, it always pleases the Artist. (Psalms 86: 8)

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God is: not a genie.

Genies are magical beings from folklore who grant wishes if their lamp is rubbed the right way.

We often get into the bad habit of thinking God is like a genie - rub Him the right way and He will grant our every wish.  We must understand that God does not bless us on the basis of who we are or what we do, He blesses us solely on the basis of who He is.  We can do nothing to earn God’s blessings – we only receive through His grace.  Furthermore, God cannot be bribed, bullied, blackmailed or ‘suckered’.  God has many reasons why He blesses some and withholds blessings from others.  These reasons are always in accordance with His eternal plan. 
Every time we feel that God isn’t giving us what we deserve, we should stop and consider that due to our transgressions what we truly deserve is Divine judgement.  The only reason we receive blessings instead of condemnation is because Jesus Christ went to the cross on our behalf.  Eternal salvation is a free gift that can neither be earned nor deserved.  If we believe in Christ we will be eternally blessed and thankfully NEVER get what we truly deserve (judgement in time and eternity). Ephesians 2: 8-9

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God is: a protective Parent.

Christian Illustrations FreeA beautiful illustration of parenthood is a female humpback whale tending her calf. Although so great in size, she is always graceful and gentle and never seeks trouble.  Her whole existence is devoted to her helpless offspring - but often trouble comes their way.  A pod of killer whales in search of food will try to separate mother and calf.  The mother responds immediately by warning the killers to keep back.  And if these warning go unheeded, she instinctively defends her calf with an act of violence, bringing down her mighty tail on those who would harm her calf.

People are sometimes shocked that the Bible is filled with wars and violence approved by God.  We live in a brutal world (the Devil’s kingdom) where many blood-thirsty individuals and nations cause harm and havoc.  God desires to deal peacefully with everyone and wishes no-one any harm.  He paid the price at the cross so ALL may have salvation.  However, should a predator threaten those in His care, God is forced to act.  Firstly, He gives a warning and, if they persist, He will lift His mighty ‘hand of judgement’ and send it crashing down.  God does not desire this, but He has made promises to care for His children.  God knows that sometimes the only way to deal with ruthless people and violent nations is to speak in the single language they understand.  God’s violence is not unlawful, but a righteous violence to which any mother forced to protect her child can attest.

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God is: the Great Conductor.

Great Conductor- Christian Illustrations by Ian CoateConductors are directors of an orchestra.  They manage and encourage the musical talents of singers and instrumentalists.  Furthermore, the success of any orchestral concert depends on the conductor’s timing and exact reading of the score.

If we desire our life to be filled with beautiful music (happiness and inner peace), it is best to follow God’s lead.  He is the Great Conductor.  He knows the score and His timing is always perfect.  At exactly the right moment He will signal certain events to start in our life and He knows the exact moment when they should finish.  No one is more able to conduct the romances and tragedies of our life. 
Until the day we die, we will hit high notes (have good days) and low notes (bad days); however, if God is on our podium, we can be assured that every note will be synchronized into a spiritual harmony.  Furthermore, when God is conducting our lives we will soon have an audience of ready listeners.
Discord only occurs when we choose to push God off the podium in our eagerness to orchestrate our own life. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

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God is: always wanting to provide for us.

Hell - Christian Illustrations by Ian CoateThe absence of water makes a desert.  The absence of land makes an ocean.  The absence of warmth makes the polar caps.  The absence of light makes darkness.  The absence of God's provision makes Hell.

Hell, for want of a better word, is simply a place where God’s abundant providence is absent.  In life, God sustains us with oxygen, gravity, water, sunshine and all the universal laws of order - even when we make it quite clear that we want nothing to do with Him.  However, there will come a day (death) when God must respect our decision to live apart from Him - His perfection demands it.  On that day He may say to those who rejected salvation, ‘It saddens Me that you have refused all My gracious offers of salvation and shown on all occasions that you want nothing to do with Me.  I must respect your decision (free-will) and leave you in a place that has been set aside where my provision shall be absent, where I will not sustain the environment or the universal laws of order, where My light will be nowhere to be seen and where you are beyond the reach of My comfort.  It is a place where I shall respect your wish and remain absent from you for eternity.’ (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
It is foolish to say we don’t need God in our lives.  Hell is the void created when God’s providence is absent.  It is a place of absolute darkness, chaos and everlasting discomfort.  Let us not eternally regret being separated from God when Heaven is simply ours for the asking. The Bible clearly states: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).

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These illustrations may be copied or distributed without permission as long as no cost is charged and author is recognised.

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Thank you to the many people who have sat through a session of me reading Illustrations at them. Special thanks to my Mum, John Mennen and David Webb who have given graciously of their time to edit these Illustrations and to Alan and Caroline whose support has enabled these Illustrations and web page to come to fruition.