What the Bible teaches us about

What the Bible teaches us about … Knowing God

What the Bible teaches us about .. Knowing God

Can we really know God?

INTRODUCTION.

Q> How can we know anything about God?

Q> How can we know God?

Q> How much can we know about / or know God?

ILLUS.: On a human level my knowledge of another person depends far more on him/her than on me. I meet Harry and my part is to show interest and goodwill and give him my attention. From that point on it is up to him as to how well I will get to know him. I will only know him to the extent that he chooses to reveal himself to me.

I can learn a few facts about him from others but that doesn’t help me to know him really!

The illustration is limited but it helps us to see that when it comes to our knowledge of God we are even more dependent on him to reveal himself than I would on Harry

  1. 1.     THE ONLY KNOWLEDGE WE CAN HAVE OF GOD IS WHAT HE CHOOSES TO REVEAL TO US.

Unless God tells us about himself we can’t know anything about him.

Q> What about what we can see in creation?

Creation only reveals something about God because God chooses to reveal something about himself.

Paul in Romans 1:19 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them [people], because God has made it plain to them. (NIV)

Created things don’t tell us anything about God in themselves – we only learn about God through created things because God chooses to use them to show us about himself.

Q> What about when it comes to knowing God through salvation?

The Bible is equally explicit {and more frequently} on this point. Matthew 11:27

27 “……. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (NIV)

The kind of knowledge and understanding that we need in order to know God is not acquired through human effort and wisdom.

1 Corinthians 2:14 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 1:21 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, ….. (NIV)

Without God’s direct revelation, which for us is recorded in scripture, we misinterpret even what is shown in nature. This is born out by the fact that there are so many false religions and that human thinking, without God’s help is inadequate.

Romans 1:18-25

18 … suppress the truth by their wickedness, ..

21 .. but their thinking became futile …

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, …

We depend upon God’s revelation in scripture for a true knowledge of God.

  1. 2.     WE CAN NEVER KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT GOD.

 

ILLUS.: Karl Barth was a very famous Swiss-German theologian from the first half of this century. At a seminar in the USA he was asked by student, “Dr Barth, what is the most profound thing you have ever learned in your study of theology?”

Barth thought for a moment and then replied; “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

At first the students laughed at his simplistic answer and then realised that he was serious.

His answer was simple but profound: –

1)    The simplest Christian belief is so profound that is can occupy the minds of the most brilliant scholars for a lifetime – “Jesus loves me”

2)    No matter how learned we think we become in matters of theology and the Bible we never rise above a child’s level of understanding the depths and riches of the character of God.

Q> Why are we not able to fully understand God?

We are finite and God is infinite. That which is finite cannot comprehend infinity.

In theological jargon this is called the incomprehensibility of God.

It is easy to misunderstand this concept.

We are not say that we are unable to understand anything about God.

We are saying that we are unable to fully understand everything about God.

Psalm 145:3

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

his greatness no-one can fathom. (NIV)

God is too great ever to be fully known.

Psalm 147:5

5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;

his understanding has no limit. (NIV)

David expresses this thought in Psalm 139:6

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain. (NIV)

In the NT at the end of Romans 11 Paul at the ends of a long discourse on God’s great plan of salvation history says this Romans 11:33

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,

and his paths beyond tracing out! (NIV)

In each of these verses the writer is speaking about an aspect of God’s character – greatness – power – knowledge – wisdom – judgements –

Not only are we unable to fully understand God. We are also not able to fully understand one aspect of his character. ALL aspects of God’s character are beyond our ability to understand them fully.

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the LORD.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV)

Q> Given the fact that sin, in this present life, dulls our ability to understand, does that mean that when we get to heaven and sin is no more that we will then fully understand?

NO!  – Q> Why not?

Even though in heaven we will be free from the presence of sin we will still not be able to fully understand God or even one thing about him.

The primary reason why we are unable to fully understand God is due to his infinite greatness rather than our sin, although certainly our sinfulness is a hindrance.

Because we are finite and he is infinite we are unable to understand him fully. This has wonderful implications for our lives both now and for eternity. It means we will never be able to know “too much” about God – we will never run out of things to learn – there will always be something new to discover about God and his greatness.

Don’t the words of Amazing Grace come to life a bit here –?

When we’ve been there ten thousand years

          Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun

For all eternity there will be something new for us to learn as God reveals more to us.

However, we do not have to wait for eternity to being to know God and his ways – we can begin now and as we daily come to Him and to his Word we discover new things about him and his creation and his will and his ways.

The more we learn and the more we realise there is to learn the greater should be our expectation and excitement at the prospect of a lifetime of Bible Study and prayer.

  1. 3.     YET WE CAN GENUINELY KNOW GOD.

 

We can’t know everything about God BUT we can have true knowledge of God.

In fact, everything the Bible tells us about God is true. God is Love, God is Light, God is Spirit, God is Just and Righteous, etc.

We do not have to know everything about God to know him.

ILLUS.: It is true to say that I know my children BUT I do not know everything about them. I don’t know everything about myself – my knowledge about how heart, or liver or immune system works is limited.

What is most significant is not simply that we can know facts about God but that we can know him personally.

This is not only significant it is THE most important thing in life.

Q> What are we made for?

To know God.

Q> What should be our goal in life?

To know God.

Q> What is the eternal life that Jesus promises?

Knowing God.

John 17:3 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV)

Q> What in life can bring us more joy, happiness and contentment than any other thing?

Knowing God

Jeremiah 9:23-24

23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24  but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (NIV)

Q> When God looks into our lives what is the one thing that brings him the most pleasure?

God says in Hosea 6:6 6  For I desire ….. knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Q> The Bible uses a number of analogies / pictures which illustrate the way we can know God and in which he knows us. What are some of these ways?

  • A child knowing a father
  • A wife knowing a husband
  • A subject knowing a king
  • A sheep knowing a shepherd

All point to a relationship in which the knower ‘looks up’ to the one known. And where the father / husband / king / shepherd takes responsibility for the care and welfare of the knower.

This is a the way God relates to us – as we know him, or rather as he allows us to know him, he loves and cares for us.

Q> What is the only way we can come to know God like this?

Through Jesus Christ, who is, of course, God in human form.

John 14:9, 6.

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus …: “Don’t you know me, Philip, ….? Anyone who has seen me has    seen the Father.

6 … No-one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus also used the illustration of himself as Shepherd and his followers as sheep.

He said in John 10 – John 10:27 27 My sheep hear to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (NIV)

The first disciples heard Jesus call and followed him, walked with him, learned from him – they became increasingly devoted to him.

They realised that he was their God, that he had found them, that he had called them to himself, he took them into his confidence, he commissioned them as his agents to declare to the world the kingdom of God.

They had a deep personal relationship and commitment to Jesus – to the point of being willing to die for his cause, which many of them did.

Knowing Jesus today is still as much a relationship of personal discipleship as it was for his first followers.

He is the same Jesus who calls us to walk with him.

Q> What does it mean to ‘hear his voice’?

His voice  = is his CLAIM –

John 6:35     35 .. “I am the bread of life.

John 10:7     7..,… I am the gate  [door] for the sheep. (NIV)

John 10:14   14 “I am the good shepherd;

John 11:25   25 “I am the resurrection and the life.

His PROMISE –

John 5:23-24 23 that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life …

His CALL –

Matthew 11:28-29

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, … and you will find rest …

We hear Jesus’ voice when we acknowledge his claims, when we trust his promise, when we answer his call.

Then we know him as Shepherd and he knows us as his own sheep –

John 10:27-28 27 My sheep hear to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand.

To know God we must know Jesus – to know Jesus is to know God!

It is amazing that in spite of the fact that God is so great and awesome – that we will never fully comprehend God – YET we can know personally.

We can speak to him in prayer. He speaks to us through his word. We can sing his praise. We can be aware the he personally dwells among us and within us.

Surely this is the greatest blessing of all – that we can know God (Father, Son and Spirit) personally.

There is so much more we could say – let’s praise him now in song.

“O Lord my God …. How great thou art.”

 We are finite and God is infinite.

The finite cannot contain the infinite.

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