Knowing God: The Eternal Self-Existence of God: Part 3.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” (Ephesians 1:3-5).

Not only is God solely responsible for creating the universe, but He is also solely responsible for redeeming fallen sinners. Believers in Christ readily acknowledge this truth, but the question of “when” God chose to redeem sinners becomes controversial for some.

The perspective of many regarding the unfolding drama of redemption is that God chose to redeem sinners immediately following the fall of man into sin (Genesis 3). In effect, God reacted to Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey Him by providing the means necessary for them to be justified, or declared righteous.

However, Ephesians 1:3-5, along with other passages of Scripture, clearly indicate that God planned to redeem sinners prior to even creating the world. In His foreknowledge, He understood that man would sin and prior to this act of rebellion in time and space, chose to save sinners before the foundation of the world.

God was under no obligation to create the universe. Additionally, God was under no obligation to save sinners. That He chose to do so, even before mankind was created, was for His own glory. The Apostle Paul refers to this as “according to the purpose of His will.”

John Calvin writes, “The foundation and first cause, both of our calling and of all the benefits which we receive from God is here declared to be His eternal election. If the reason is asked why God has called us to enjoy the gospel, why He daily bestows upon us so many blessings, why He opens to us the gate of heaven, – the answer will be constantly found in this principle, that He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world. The very time when the election took place proves it to be free; for what could we have deserved, or what merit did we possess, before the world was made?”

Calvin continues by stating, “How childish is the attempt to meet this argument by the following sophism: ‘We were chosen because we were worthy, and because God foresaw that we would be worthy.’ We were all lost in Adam. Therefore, had not God, through His own election, rescued us from perishing, there was nothing to be foreseen.”

Titus 1:1-2 says, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.”

2 Timothy 1:8-9 says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “Through God’s sovereign will before the creation of the world and, therefore, obviously independent of human influence and apart from any human merit, those who are saved have become eternally united with Christ Jesus.”

God’s sovereign work to save, prior to the physical creation and its inhabitants even existing, should result in us praising and glorifying Him. This is what the Apostle Paul does in Romans 16:25-27 when he writes, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

This is the self-existent God who we seek to know. Praise Him today for He knowing you before the foundation of the world.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Knowing God: The Eternal Self-Existence of God: Part 2.

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

Before anything and everything existed, God existed: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Before heaven and earth, angels and humans, cattle and all other creatures great and small on earth, in the sea or in the air, God existed. In short, God was, is, and always will be. He is eternal. He is self-existent.

The self-existence of God is documented in the praises of God’s people. The self-existence of God is also documented in His most personal name: Yahweh! In English translations, the Hebrew name Yahweh is identified by the English rendering LORD.

The name Yahweh is the most personal name for God. The name focuses on the self-existence and faithfulness of God. When Moses asked God in Exodus 3:13-14 Who it was that was sending him to Egypt, in case someone asked, God replied, “I AM WHO I AM. And He said, ‘Say to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you’.”

This self-identification or self-existence by God is also important when we read the words of Jesus in John 8. In His adversarial discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus makes this climatic statement in John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” The Pharisees response is striking. “So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:59). Why would the Pharisees want to stone Jesus? The reason must be is that they knew He was calling Himself Yahweh by using the phrase “I AM.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “This is a clear reference to Jesus’ eternal preexistence. Since this is an attribute of God alone, this text is a forceful statement of Jesus’ deity. The present tense of the verb suggest the eternal present of God’s eternity. “I am” is also reminiscent of God’s name in Exodus 3:14.”

The name Yahweh shows us that God’s character is unchangeable. He is what He is and He never changes. God does not become anything more, or less, than what He is because He is always complete in all that He has ever been and ever will be.

Dr. Sproul continues by explaining, That Yahweh means “I Am” tells us several important things about God’s identity. First, it shows that the Lord’s character is unchangeable. We can say of ourselves, “I was x last year, but now I am y, and next week I could be z,” but not our Creator. Yesterday He says, “I Am,” today He says, “I Am,” and tomorrow He says, “I Am.” He cannot learn any new information or become more holy. None of God’s perfections can be subtracted or added to. He can never be anything other than what He is today. There is absolutely no shadow of change for our Creator (James 1:17). Importantly, Jesus speaks of Himself in similar terms (the “I Am” sayings of John; see 8:58, for example), which reveals that He is one with the Father and worthy of worship and praise.”

Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “A vital difference between God’s essence and our own is also revealed in the name Yahweh. Human beings and the Lord both possess the attribute of “being-ness” — we both exist. Yet our being is derivative, as we have not always existed. On the other hand, God is self-existent: He has always been and can never cease to be (Psalm 90:2).

 Every one of us is changing: either for the better or for the worse. We change our minds, our clothes, our cars, our allegiances to sports teams, while making and breaking promises. God is different. He is faithfully the same, all the time.

Meditate upon the name of Yahweh by reading these corresponding Scripture passages: Psalm 102:25–28; Malachi 3:1-6; Matthew 28:18–20; Hebrews 13:1-8

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Knowing God: The Eternal Self-Existence of God!

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

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2).

Before anything and everything existed, God existed: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Before heaven and earth, angels and humans, cattle and all other creatures great and small on earth, in the sea or in the air, God existed. In short, God was, is, and always will be. He is eternal. He is self-existent.

Theologian and author Arthur Pink writes, “In the beginning, God. There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but from everlasting. During eternity past, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied, in need of nothing. Had a universe, had angels, had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they also had been called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did, added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Malachi 3:6), therefore His glory can be neither augmented nor diminished.”

The self-existence of God is documented in the praises of God’s people. Moses, in Psalm 90, writes:

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.” (Psalm 90:1-6).

Creation has a beginning and an end. Not so with God. Creation depends upon God (Acts 17:22-28; Hebrews 1:1-3), not the other way around.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “When the Bible declares that God is the Creator of the universe, it indicates that God Himself is not created. There is a crucial distinction between the Creator and the creation. The creation bears the stamp of the Creator and witnesses to His glory. But the creation is never to be worshiped. It is not the Supreme.”

To contemplate upon the self-existence of God results in my finite mind becoming overwhelmed by the thought and ramifications of He who exists from all eternity. Everything which exists can be traced back to its origin.  Not so with God. There is no origin with God. There is no greater being that created God. God always was, is and always will be.

Meditate today upon Psalm 90. Praise the One who created you and who saved your soul. Praise the One and Only who is eternally self-existent.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Knowing God: The Attributes of God!

God has chosen to reveal Himself in order that He may be known. The purpose of us knowing God is so that we may understand, submit, worship and serve Him, resulting in Him being glorified.

We have seen that God has revealed Himself as the creator and sustainer of the universe. God also makes Himself known in His Word, The Bible. The Scriptures contain a treasure of revelation concerning the person and character of God.

Another word describing the character of God is the word attribute. An attribute is a quality, trait, feature or characteristic of a person, place or thing. An attribute explains what a person is like and why  he/she does what they do.

For the purpose of our journey to knowing God, knowing His attributes will be invaluable. To know what God is like, and what He therefore does on the basis of what He is like, will be our focus for the next several weeks.

Some of God’s attributes are familiar to us. Other attributes, not so much. Some of God’s attributes are pleasant to us. Other attributes, not so much. However, we must understand that we cannot pick and choose what attributes of God we will accept while rejecting those we find objectionable. In order to fully know God, we must recognize and accept Him for Who He is, and not what we would like for Him to be.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

Theologian and author Arthur Pink writes, “The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, not worshiped. Something more than a theoretical knowledge of God is needed by us. God is only truly known in the soul as we yield ourselves to Him, submit to His authority, and regulate all the details of our lives by His holy precepts and commandments.”

Ask God to help you submit to knowing Him for who truly He is, rather than what others would have Him and like Him to be. To do otherwise, is to fashion an idol of our own making. Let us resolve to not commit this sin.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Knowing God: Biblical Revelation of God!

God has chosen to reveal Himself in order that He may be known. The purpose of us knowing God is so that we may understand, submit, worship and serve Him in order that He may be glorified.

We have seen that God has revealed Himself as the creator of the universe. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” John 1:1-3 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.”

Psalm 19:1-6 also describes the creative work of God, which reveals His glory. This is what God says about creation, through the psalmist David.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”

How often have you paused to see the brilliance of a sunrise and responded in awe and wonder? How about a sunset on the shores of Lake Michigan? What about the darkened sky and clouds during a violent thunderstorm, which is suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightening? Do you cower when the lightening appears? Of course you do! We all do.

All these meteorological occurrences, and many more besides, declare the glory of the One, True God who is the creator. This is where knowing God begins, but it is not where knowing God ends.

In Psalm 19:7-11, David continues to share how God reveals Himself, thereby making Himself known. God not only is known by creation, which is referred to as general revelation, but God also is known by Scripture, which is specific revelation.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

There are six descriptions of the Word of God listed in Psalm 19. All point their origin and sole ownership to the One, True God by the phrase “of the LORD.” These include (1) the law of the LORD, (2) the testimony of the LORD, (3) the precepts of the LORD, (4) the commandment of the LORD, (5) the fear of the LORD, and (6) the rules of the LORD.

The statement “the fear of the LORD” may seem curiously out of sync. However, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “In a list with law, testimony, precepts, commandment, and rules, the ‘fear of the LORD’ seems out of place. But here the phrase is used objectively; that is, it refers to the body of knowledge about God, in keeping with the fact that to fear God starts with knowing God.”

Let me encourage you to read Psalm 119. List the many ways God’s Word is described. I believe you will be amazed at the length, breath, depth and height of the LORD’s Word.

Thank God today for His holy Word, in which He makes Himself known.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Knowing God: Three Responses to God.

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (I Corinthians 3:7)

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. Finally, we witness in Acts 17:32-34 the reality of responses to the gospel.

“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.”

We witness three responses to the gospel in this text. The responses given to Paul are not all that different from the responses people give today.

First, there is the mocker. This is the individual(s) who scoff at, jeer, or make a joke of the gospel. How often have you encountered people who make a joke of Jesus, the gospel and you in your efforts to share the truth? I know I have and it’s not fun to have your Savior, and your faith, made fun of. Nevertheless, it happens. It happened to Paul and it will happen to anyone who endeavors to share the truth of Jesus Christ. Mockery is an evidence that a person does not know God.

Second, there is the curious. They do not mock you or what you have to say, at least not to your face, but neither do they embrace the gospel. They rather cordially comment that what you have said is interesting and they will think about it. They are the curious but also the non-committed. I have often spoken with people such as this. However, while they may say they would like to get together again to discuss the gospel, they seldom do.

Third, there are the converted. These are the ones who repent and believe the truth of the gospel. Acts 17:34 even mentions some by name who God converted by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The names of two such converts were Dionysius and Damaris.

Remember, the response to the gospel is not dependent upon you. It is a work of the Holy Spirit when a person comes to the faith in Christ (John 3:1-8; I Corinthians 3:5-9; Titus 3:1-7). We are to sow the seeds of the gospel, as Paul did, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work to sovereignly regenerate the deadened sinner and bring them eternal life.

Let me encourage you to be faithful to share the gospel, and then rest in the sovereign work of God to bring about salvation.

Soli deo Gloria!

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!