Knowing God: Saving Knowledge!

“Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.” (Isaiah 46:12-13)

The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. First of all, we witness the reality of human religion in 17:16-18a. Second, in Acts 17:18b-21, we witness the reality in humans for the new. Thirdly, in Acts 17:22-23 we witness the reality of human worship. Fourthly, we witness in Acts 17:24-28 the reality of the creator. Fifthly, we witness in Acts 17:29-31 the reality of the only savior and judge.

“Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

As we must do when we share the gospel, the Apostle Paul transitions from the truth of knowing God as the only creator, to the equally important knowledge that God, in the person and work of Jesus Christ, is the only savior. While knowledge and revelation from God that He exists as creator is sufficient to condemn the idolatrous sinner (Romans 1:18-32), it is not sufficient to redeem the sinner.

Redemption, or salvation from sin’s penalty, power and eventual presence, is only through Jesus Christ. This is on the basis of Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection from the dead. While Paul only makes reference to Christ’s resurrection, it is a short hand form reference of the complete work of Jesus Christ.

Paul declares that God is not like a lifeless idol of gold, stone or any image formed from man’s imagination. Rather, God is eternal and sovereign and He commands all kinds of people to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation is not about walking down an asile or raising your hand. Nowhere in Scripture are sinners invited to come to Christ. Sinners are commanded to repent of their sins to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior. This salvation is not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles.

Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “Until the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s special redemptive revelation was addressed almost exclusively to Israel, leaving the pagan nations largely in ignorance (except for the general revelation throughout the cosmos that left them without excuse; Romans 1:18-25). God did not impose on the Gentiles the judgment they deserved, and now He has sent Paul to proclaim to all people everywhere, calling them to repentance.”

However, God is not only creator and savior, but He also is judge. He will judge the world in purity, righteousness and holiness. This judgement, as is His salvation, is on the basis of the person of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Sproul continues by saying, “The final day of judgment (Revelation 20:12-15) would be an alien idea both to the Epicureans, who believed that the gods could not be bothered by earthly events, and to the Stoics, who view history as running in endless cycles. The Athenians rejection of the Man whom God appointed will result in Jesus finally and justly rejecting them on that Day of Judgment. Paul stresses that God’s call to repentance and faith is not merely an invitation but a command.”

Often people will say that they believe in God. Such knowledge, while good to a point, is insufficient to save a person from their sins and the wrath of God. Such knowledge is only sufficient to condemn. Repentance and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone removes the sinner from the judgment of God. Resolve to never compromise the truth of the gospel.

Have you repented of your sins and placed your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ to redeem your soul? If not, God commands you to do so today.

Soli deo Gloria!

Knowing God: High and Holy Sovereign God!

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)

The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. First of all, we witness the reality of human religion in 17:16-18a. Second, in Acts 17:18b-21, we witness the reality in humans for the new. Thirdly, in Acts 17:22-23 we witness the reality of human worship. Fourthly, we witness in Acts 17:24-28 the reality of the creator.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

What may we observe from Paul’s message about knowing God as our creator? There are several things we should not ignore.

First, we need to know that God made the world and everything in it. From the minute atom to the largest galaxies and everything in-between, God created it all. Creation does not exist by chance bur rather by God’s intelligent design. You and I have been uniquely designed by God.

Second, we need to know that God is the Lord of heaven and earth. Not only is God our creator, but by logical conclusion He is the sovereign Lord of all. This is why many deny the existence of the One, True God and instead proclaim the theory of evolution. They do not want to be held accountable to the Lord of heaven and earth because of their sin.

Third, we need to know that God is self-sufficient and is not confined to temples, is not ministered to by humans as if He was in need, but rather is the source of all life. God does not depend upon us, but rather we depend upon God.

Fourth, we need to know that God sovereignly determines the length of our lives along with when, where and to whom we were born. He is control of everything. See Psalm 139.

Fifth, we need to know that God has done all that He has done, and is doing, so that humanity many know Him in an intimate and saving relationship. For in God we live and move and exist. Consider this as you mediate on the hymn High and Holy Sovereign God.

All existence flows from You,
High and holy Sovereign God.
Greatness, goodness, pure and true,
High and holy Sovereign God!
All-transcending Source and Goal,
Mighty God, our Father!
All is peace in Your control,
High and holy Sovereign God.

Who can harm us in Your hand,
High and holy Sovereign God?
Who can block what Grace has planned,
High and holy Sovereign God?
Who can part us from Your love,
Mighty God, our Father?
None below and none above,
High and holy Sovereign God!

Fill our vision day by day,
High and holy Sovereign God!
Fill and rule this house of clay,
High and holy Sovereign God!
Lift our small and fearful hearts,
Mighty God, our Father!
Fill our faith with all You are,
High and holy Sovereign God!

 

Soli deo Gloria!            

 

 

Knowing God: To The Unknown God!

The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. First of all, we witness the reality of human religion in 17:16-18a. Second, in Acts 17:18b-21, we witness the reality in humans for the new. Thirdly, in Acts 17:22-23 we witness the reality of human worship.

“So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”

The Apostle Paul begins his dialogue with the Athenians by acknowledging the obvious; the people of Athens were very religious. Paul mentions that ever since he arrived into the city, he has seen their objects of their worship. The apostle does not demean his audience, but seeks to establish a relationship with them. He acknowledges that they are a religious people.

Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “The term very religious is ambiguous, in some contexts having a negative connotation and in others referring more neutrally to pious devotion to deities. Without endorsing the city-wide idolatry that has so distressed him, the apostle opens his discourse by acknowledging the abundant evidence of the Athenians deep desire to honor those superhuman powers that they believe influence their destinies.”

Paul’s transition point in the discourse is when he makes mention of an altar inscribed with the title to the unknown God. He uses the Athenian’s own words to transition into a sermon concerning the biblical God. Paul uses this point of contact to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ.

However, in sharing the gospel the apostle does not begin with the incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary atonement or bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rather, he begins with the truth that God is the creator of the universe. He is the God who is not confined to temples and who controls the times and the seasons. He does not need humanity, but humanity certainly needs Him. Why? Because God is the creator of heaven and earth.

While I was in seminary, a guest speaker came and shared with the student body about the subject of sharing the gospel in the context of a post-modern culture. He remarked that in so doing, we cannot begin with the New Testament Gospels any longer, but rather we must begin with Genesis 1:1. People need to be first informed that there is a God and He is the sole creator of the universe. That’s where the gospel begins.

Take the time to observe potential transition points you may use in conversing with someone about knowing God. Observe positive qualities in other people which ultimately are sourced in the One, True God. Acknowledge to your friends that the positive qualities they possess are also found in the God of the Bible who they need to know; not only through creation but through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

Knowing God: Something New!

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. First of all, we witness the reality of human religion in 17:17-18a. Second, in Acts 17:18b-21, we witness the reality in humans for the new.

And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean. Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new’.”

The ancient Athenians prove the age old maxim that man is at heart a religious being. The only questions about man’s religion is not only what, or who, he worships, but also what good works does he have to perform in order to be accepted by the God he worships.

Additionally, we see the desire on the part of man to always be inquisitive for something religiously new or different. The next big thing, if you will.

I am often told about some new religious movement occurring within the evangelical church. The people bringing this to my attention are all excited about Christmas carolers singing in a mall, synchronized worship dancing in a park, or some new bestselling Christian book about an individual who died and went to heaven, or hell, and came back to life in order to tell everybody about it, as long as you buy their book. There are new styles of worship, new styles of preaching which seeks to be more culturally relevant, a new physical atmosphere in an auditorium or sanctuary (usually dark) and new techniques to entice the unchurched to come to church.

Something new! How many false religions, and false teachings, have sprung up overnight with the message that they have discovered some new truth? In fact, there are preachers who are more than willing to preach from the pulpit that God has actually spoken to them and given them some “new” revelation, belying the teaching of Revelation 22:18-19. Check out I John.

This was the attitude of the Athenians when they encountered the preaching of the Apostle Paul. Some were saying he was a babbler, or a foolish show-off who did not have anything meaningful to say. Others accused him of being a preacher of foreign gods or divinities, which could also mean demons. This was because Paul was preaching the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Finally, the people brought Paul to the Areopagus. The name means “Mars Hill” or “the Hill of Mars.” This was the hill where legal matters were conducted, and where the most serious criminals were sentenced. It was also the place where the most important questions about religion were discussed. Since Paul was not on trial, the reason for his being brought to the hill was for him to expound more fully on the content of the gospel.

The people of Athens apparently had not heard the gospel, but were most interested in hearing what Paul had to say. Not because they wanted to know God, but rather because they were interested in hearing “something new.” In fact, Luke records this statement, “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”

What about you? Are you only interested in singing songs to the Lord that have been written within the last year and once replaced by something new, to never sing the older songs or hymns again? Are you only interested in something new and exciting occurring at church, and rather disinterested when the pastor only preaches from the Scriptures? I mean, how many times can a pastor zip line into an auditorium until this act becomes old?

Ask God to purge your heart of this tendency to treat with disdain and disinterest anything that is not new in your walk with Christ. Ask God to rekindle an interest in God’s Word and in biblical worship. You may be blessed by hymns written several hundred years ago. As well as biblical hymns which are being written today. You may also be surprised to find yourself getting to know God better through the reading of biblical texts which were written thousands of years ago.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Knowing God: A City Full of Idols!

The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece as recorded in Acts 17:16-34. Let’s begin to study this narrative by beginning with Acts 17:16-18a.

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him.” (Acts 17:16-18a).

First of all, we see here the reality of human religion. Paul arrived in Athens, Greece following the persecution he encountered, along with Timothy and Silas, at Thessalonica and Berea by the Jews because of the gospel (Acts 17:1-15). As he waited for Timothy and Silas to join him, he began observing the idolatry which filled the city. The test says that “he saw that the city was full of idols.” There were statues of Greek gods and goddesses in the Parthenon, in the temples as well as in the public and commercial centers.

Included in this idolatrous atmosphere were the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “Epicurus (342-270 B.C.) taught that the purpose of life was pleasure and freedom from pain, passions and fears. On the other hand, the Cypriot Zeno (340-265 B.C.), sounder of Stoicism, stressed living in harmony with nature and depending on reason and other self-sufficient powers. Both schools stressed the quest for peace of mind. Zeno viewed God pantheistically as the world soul.”

When Paul witnessed this unbridled idolatry, whether religiously or philosophically, it upset him thoroughly. He became severely and emotionally concerned about the condition of the Athenians souls.

The text brings to our attention an obvious truth: man is incurably religious. The Westminster Larger Catechism asks the question, “How does it appear that there is a God? The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God;” Fallen, sinful man may endeavor to deny the existence of God but even as he does, he finds incalculable and countless ways of being religious. The problem in the world is not the absence of religion, but rather the absence of religious truth, which is contained most specifically in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

John Calvin writes, “Since the perfection of blessedness consists in the knowledge of God, he has been pleased, in order that none might be excluded from the means of obtaining felicity (happiness), not only to deposit in our minds that seed of religion of which we have already spoken, but so to manifest his perfections in the whole structure of the universe, and daily place himself in our view, that we cannot open our eyes without being compelled to behold him. His essence, indeed, is incomprehensible, utterly transcending all human thought; but on each of his works his glory is engraven in characters so bright, so distinct, and so illustrious, that none, however dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse.”

The Apostle Paul addresses this in Romans 1:18-23 when he writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 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. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 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 creeping things.”

The failure of fallen, sinful man in knowing God as creator is not because God has provided no revelation regarding His existence. Rather, God has revealed Himself in creation and in His Word, the Bible. Fallen man,  however, has chosen to reject this revelation from God of His person and work and has substituted worship for God for a worship of idols. See Isaiah 46.

Man is a worshipful being. The question is not whether man will worship, but rather who or what is man worshipping? For those who truly know God, nothing else and no one else is to be worshiped as equal to, or in place of, the One, True God.

Take time today to evaluate those things, and people, in your life who you may be prone to honor and worship instead of God. I had some friends who so worshiped their child and were subsequently devastated when their child was killed in an automobile accident. They never fully recovered from their loss. I’m not saying we should not love our kids, but they can never be a replacement for our worship of the One, True God of heaven and earth.

Some people worship what they possess or own. It may be a car, truck, house or boat. It may even their job. To worship anything, or anyone, in place of, or equal to, God is idolatry.

Confess and repent of those things or people in your life who you tend to worship rather than God.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Knowing God: In Him We Live!

“It is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness. And it is as we enter more and more deeply into this experience of being and exalted that our knowledge of God increases, and with it our peace, our strength and our joy. God help us, then, to put our knowledge about God to this use, that we all may in truth know the Lord.”                                                                                                  J. I. Packer

We have thus far seen that one of the initial aspects of knowing God is recognizing and understanding that He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. What kind of God could do such a thing? Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “It would take a being of unsurpassed worth, a being who is perfectly powerful—indeed, all-powerful—to bring something into existence that preciously had no existence. God did not simply rearrange preexisting matter to make the universe; He called matter itself into existence. Consequently, God possesses great glory as the Creator of all things, and because He in His glory created all things, He is worthy to receive glory from us. We are His creatures; He is our creator. Therefore, our highest honor and praise should go to Him alone. We can revere nothing greater than we revere God, for there is nothing greater than our Creator.”

The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. The narrative is as follows.

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him.

And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”

Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”

So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”

Mediate upon this text of Scripture until we meet again. It is then that we will begin to examine Acts 17:16-34 in greater detail.

Soli deo Gloria!

Knowing God: The God Who Is!

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1).

How fitting that Genesis, the book of beginnings, should begin with the phrase, “In the beginning.” It literally means that which is chief, first or the starting point. It is at the beginning moment, Genesis 1:1 says, that God initiated an action resulting in something that did not previously exist with Him in His eternal existence. What God initiated was His act of creating the heavens and the earth.

This creative act is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture (Job 38:4-7; Psalm 33:6; 136:5; Isaiah 42:1-5; 45:18; Acts 14:15; 17:24; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:10; 11:1-3; Revelation 4:11). The most familiar companion text concerning God creating the heavens and the earth is found in John 1:1-3 which says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

Who is the subject of this verse? Who was existing in the beginning? The Bible tells us it was God. The Hebrew word used here for God is Elohim. The word refers to the One, True God. He who is majestic and worthy of worship.

The Westminster Larger Catechism defines God as follows: “God is a spirit, in and of Himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.”

One commentator writes, “God—the name of the Supreme Being, signifying in Hebrew, “Strong,” “Mighty.” It is expressive of omnipotent power; and by its use here in the plural form, is obscurely taught at the opening of the Bible, a doctrine clearly revealed in other parts of it, namely, that though God is one, there is a plurality of persons in the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit, who were engaged in the creative work (Proverbs 8:27; John 1:3, 10; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2; Job 26:13).

It is interesting to observe that the Bible, from its opening book, chapter and verse, through its conclusion in the Book of Revelation, never argues for the existence of God. The Scriptures set forth the truth that God exists and always has existed. In fact, the Bible sets forth that the One, True God who eternally exists is the only True God who eternally exists (Deuteronomy 4:39; Isaiah 40:21-28; 43:10; John 1:1; Colossians 1:17). It is He, and He alone, who created the heavens and the earth.

The word “created” means to make something that has not been in existence before; to make something out of nothing. God created the universe from no pre-existing material or substance. He created the substance by speaking it into existence. Psalm 33:6 and 9 says, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. For He spoke and it came to be; He commanded and it stood firm.”

Genesis 1:1 tells us that in the beginning, God created, out of nothing, the heavens and the earth. The word heavens, samayim, means, in its plural form, not only the sky and the atmosphere but also the realm of the planets and stars along with the abode of God. God created the universe.

Once again, the Westminster Larger Catechism provides a beneficial insight. “The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning, by the word of His power, make of nothing the world, and all things therein, for Himself, within the space of six days, and all very good.”

In this universe that God created, He not only created the heavens but He also created the earth. The Hebrew word for earth, ‘ares in the singular, refers to the third planet in the galaxy known as the Milky Way Galaxy. God not only created all the universe but this tiny, pale blue dot known as earth.

“This first verse is a general introduction to the inspired volume, declaring the great and important truth that all things had a beginning; that nothing throughout the wide extent of nature existed from eternity, originated by chance, or from the skill of any inferior agent; but that the whole universe was produced by the creative power of God (Acts 17:24; Romans 11:36).”

If we are to know God, we must acknowledge the truth that He is our creator. With this acknowledgement, there is a profound sense of how incredibly powerful and mighty God is and how incredibly insignificant we are in comparison. Reflect upon the words of the Psalmist David.

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1-9).

Make it a priority today to observe God’s creative handiwork as the season of spring is about to begin. Worship Him in the beauty of His creation regardless of whether its summer, winter, springtime or harvest.

Soli deo Gloria!    

 

 

 

 

Knowing God: Five Basic Truths!

“Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”                                       J. I. Packer

There are five basic truths that we must understand if we are going to know God in the fullness of who He is. These five truths are as follows. (1) God has revealed Himself, not only in creation but also in His inerrant Word, the Bible; (2) God is sovereign. He is providentially in control of everything, and this especially includes the saving of sinners; (3) God’s saves sinners by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, ultimately for His own glory alone; (4) God is triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and (5) Our lives are to be spent working and serving to glorify God’s name and not our own. No other goal of life is greater than of magnifying the glory of God.

We will examine each of these five basic truths in the days to follow. We will endeavor to explain their continuing relevance to sinners and saints alike. Remember, we do not make biblical truth relevant. Biblical truth about God, or any other subject it addresses, is already relevant because it is biblical truth from God. The Bible establishes its own relevancy or importance.

Dr. J.I. Packer writes concerning the quest of knowing God that, “We are in a position of travelers who, after surveying a great mountain from afar, traveling around it, and observing how it dominates the landscape and determines the features of the surrounding countryside, now approach it directly, with the intention of climbing it.”

As with any mountain climber, who needs the proper tools and perspectives in approaching such a quest as climbing a mountain peak, we also are in need of the proper tools and perspectives of our quest of knowing God.

I submit that the tools of our quest include; (1) A Bible. If you do not have one, then either purchase, or borrow one from a friend. You cannot know God if you do not have His Word. (2) A notepad and a pencil or pen. Write down your questions and submit them to me in order for all of us to gain a greater understanding of knowing God. (3) A prayerful heart of submission that when, not if, but when we encounter biblical truths about God which may upset us, we will ask God to give us the understanding we need and the trust He requires of all His children who seek to know Him. Dr. R.C. Sproul once wrote, “Most of us accept the biblical testimony that there is a God who rules in heaven and earth (though we don’t always accept everything Scripture says about Him).”

It has been said, in jest, that God created man in His image and man has been endeavoring to return the favor ever since. What this means is that God created man of His own choosing, and man now seeks to create a God of his own choosing.

The goal of knowing God is not about making God fit our perspectives of who we think He is, or ought to be. Neither is it about simply gathering as much information as we can in order to fill ourselves with pride that we know more about God than the other guy. Rather, any study of God, with the goal of knowing Him more, is for the purpose of discovering God for what the Scriptures teach that He is and consequently glorifying Him with every part of our being because of who He is.

The Westminster Larger, and Shorter, Catechism asks this initial, but profound question: “What is the chief and highest end of man?” The answer is that “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.”  

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Knowing God: A Pastor’s Thoughts!

On January 7, 1855, Charles H. Spurgeon, the minister of New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, England, opened his morning sermon as follows:

It has been said by someone that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

Spurgeon continued by stating the following observations.

“There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God….

“But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…. The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.”

“And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.”

These words, spoken over a century ago by Pastor Spurgeon (at that time, incredibly, only twenty years old) were true then, and they are true now. They make a fitting preface to a series of studies on the nature and character of God; the God we seek to know.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Knowing God!

As we prepare for Easter or Resurrection Sunday this year, which is a little over a month away, I would like for us to consider what it means to know God. We should understand that knowing about God is different than actually knowing Him.

Several years ago, I preached a series of messages on the topic of Knowing God. What does the title “knowing God” mean? How does this ongoing discipline of knowing God occur? Who is responsible for knowing God? What particular people are to passionately pursue the discipline of knowing God?

To “know” biblically means to understand, to be familiar with, and to possess information. The object believers in Christ are to understand, to be familiar with and to possess information is the One, True God of the Scriptures.

Please notice that the word “knowing” is a present active participle. I am using that word deliberately. Believers never arrive at a complete knowledge of God prior to heaven. We are always on an active, progressive, and passionate journey of continuously knowing, and understanding God.

This journey of knowing God is not only about who He is, but also about what He does. What is God like? What are His attributes and is there any one attribute greater than others? What does God hate? Does God hate? What are the many things which God has chosen to do?

In what or who does He delight? Is there any way that believer can make God love them more? Is there any way believers can make God love them less?

Is knowledge about God’s existence sufficient enough to save an individual from God’s wrath? If not, what can or does save a sinner from the wrath of God. Is God a God of wrath?

As you can see, there are many questions surrounding the subject of knowing God. Our goal is to acquire biblical answers. Let’s begin.

Soli deo Gloria!