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The Knowledge Of God

The Bible speaks to us with authority about God. It does not set out to prove His existence. It commences with the sublime statement "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," thus disclosing at once that there is one God and that He is the sole Cause of creation. It may be possible to establish His existence by the application of pure reason, but that is not our approach to the subject in this paper. We commence where the Bible commences. We accept that "God is" and, further, we acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures comprise a revelation of God which is authoritative and infallible. It is not that Scripture contains a concept of God which men have reasoned out for themselves and which we may value as a contribution to the store of human knowledge on a profound subject. Such an approach to the Bible is all too common today a subterfuge which panders to human pride.

The nature of the disclosure of God in Holy Scripture is that of self-revelation. So that the knowledge of God to which men may attain is confined to what He has chosen to reveal about Himself. This is a very important consideration to be borne in mind in approaching the Holy Scriptures. Herein God reveals Himself and the true knowledge of God can be acquired only by unquestioning acceptance of what is written; to go beyond it is presumption. And over against the danger of presumption must be placed the equally serious danger of negligence. To be in possession of a divine revelation and to treat it with indifference is surely an affront to the divine Being. Thus Moses counselled the people of Israel regarding the revelation of God given to them:

"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children" (Deuteronomy 29.29).

This is a caution which needs always to be heeded. We must neither go beyond what is written nor fall short of it. And because of our tendency to form concepts from our own imagination we need to bring our minds back continually to the consideration of what is revealed in Holy Scripture.

In all the range of subjects available for human investigation there is surely none so important nor so satisfying as the knowledge of God. And like all other branches of knowledge it can be acquired only by diligent and earnest application:

If thou seek her as silver,

And search for her as for hid treasures;

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD,

And find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2.4, 5).

There is, however, in the pursuit of the knowledge of God, one important factor operating which does not occur in other fields of learning. Man's spiritual condition makes the true knowledge of God unattainable to him unless he is enlightened by God's Spirit. This is made abundantly clear in Scripture. Human intellect and perception in ihem8elves are not the key to the hidden treasures of God's Word. In Scripture God is revealed and yet concealed. Many men of brilliant intellect have spent many years in the study of the Bible and vet have failed to discover its spiritual treasures. Such were the Pharisees to whom our Lord said:

"Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life ; and these are they which bear witness of Me; and ye will not come to Me, that ye may have life" (John 5.39, 40).

If further emphasis of this fact is needed it is found in the words our Lord addressed to His Father:

"I thank Thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes; Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in Thy sight"

(Matthew 11. 25, 26).

Here, then, are the essentials to progress in the knowledge of God earnest inquiry and diligent application to the Holy Scriptures, a child-like mind, unquestioning faith, and the enlightenment of the Spirit of God. What untold riches await the discovery of those thus furnished! The words of G. H. Pember are appropriate in this connexion:

"If a man be so favoured as to be indwelt by the Spirit of God, he 7c ill perceive divine wisdom shining in ever clearer light in the words of Scripture. Unspeakable awe will fill his mind as he perceives that he is becoming possessed of the secrets of God; and yet more wonderful that divine virtue with which those secrets are instinct, is gradually transforming his whole being."

It should be observed that the revelation of God in Holy Scripture is progressive. There is a gradual and orderly unfolding. In the dealings of God with men through the ages there have been great crises and these have been marked by further manifestations of Himself, e.g. the dealings of God with Abraham, with Moses and the people of Israel, and with David. But the climax and fulness of divine revelation was reached when God sent His only Begotten Son into the world.

It should also be noted that the revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures is not only authoritative and infallible, but also complete. The writings of the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ constitute the final inspired communications of God's truth to men. The Faith has been once for all delivered to the saints." This makes Scripture the final court of appeal. Human tradition, no matter how ancient or revered, cannot add to the revelation of God which we have in the Holy Scriptures. Many attempts have been made to append to the Christian faith doctrines which are completely devoid of Scriptural authority. Glaring examples of this are the Romish doctrines of Immaculate Conception and the Bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary. These heresies are based on supposed tradition; they have no basis whatever in the revelation of God contained in Holy Scripture. Other examples could be quoted, even in Protestant circles, where the traditions of men are given almost equal authority with Holy Scripture.

We mention now some of the basic facts regarding the Being and Nature of the God who is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. Firstly, consider the fact that " there is one God " (1 Timothy 2.5, see also Galatians 3.20, 1 Corinthians 8.4). Such a statement is by no means commonplace. We should not allow it to pass through our minds as a mere platitude ; it has profound and staggering implications. It is one of the facts God has revealed to us about Himself. In Old Testament times the Jews alone believed in the existence of one God and this they knew only by divine revelation (Deuteronomy 6. 4, comp. Mark 12. 29). The heathen nations surrounding them believed in a multiplicity of deities. Such a belief is called Polytheism. It is shown by Scripture to be completely erroneous. That God does employ created beings in the administration of the affairs of the universe is clearly taught in Scripture, but these beings are separate from, and subject to, the one supreme God.

Underlying many of the religions of the East and some of their Western equivalents (e.g. Christian Science) is the doctrine that God is everything and everything God. This is called Pantheism. It is a denial of the personality of God and reduces Him to a mere force or influence. But Scripture reveals not only that there is one God, but that He is a living God (Jeremiah 10.10, Joshua 3.10). He is a living personal Being, not an abstract force or influence. There is a great gulf between a God who is a force and the living God revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.

This one God is not only living and personal; He is eternal and self-existent (Isaiah 40.28, Psalm 90.2, Romans 1.20). And He is the Cause and Creator of all material and spiritual existence. If anything existed apart from Him or did not owe its existence to Him, then He could not be God. The Bible does not teach the eternity of matter as do some false religions. It teaches

"Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they were, and were created" (Revelation 4. 11).

The Scriptures, then, reveal that there is one God, that He is a living God, and that He is the primal cause of all created existence. What do they teach with regard to the position He now adopts towards His creation? There is a heresy known as Deism. Deists do not accept the Bible as a divine revelation. Many of them believe that the God who created the universe no longer exercises control over it. Everywhere Scripture denies this. God is infinite, He exists apart from, and is not subject to, the material universe. He is the Sovereign Creator and Judge of the world and yet He pervades the entire universe. Speaking to the philosophers on Mars Hill, the apostle Paul made a statement regarding the God who reveals Himself in Holy Scripture, which expresses concisely some of the important truths we have been emphasizing:

"The God that made the world and all things therein, He, being Lord of heaven and earth ... giveth to all life, and breath, and all things

He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts i7. 24-28).

God has not abdicated His position as Lord of this earth. What comfort lies here! The forces of evil may appear to us to be in the ascendancy, but God is on the throne. In His infinite wisdom He allows much to occur which is incomprehensible to us because of our finite understanding. But it is still true

"God everywhere hath sway,

And all things serve His might,

His every act pure blessing is,

His path unsullied light.

We comprehend Him not,

Yet earth and heaven tell

God sits as sovereign on the throne,

And ruleth all things well."