(Today's post is taken from a series of articles written for my local paper last month. Part 2 tomorrow!)
We have been using J.I. Packer's Knowing God (available at Intervarsity Press - click here) as a springboard to examine and contemplate various aspects of the person and character of God. Recently, we have considered God's wisdom and majesty. Future articles will look at God's love, His grace, and His wrath. But how do we even know anything about God in the first place? And how do we make the cosmic leap from knowing about God to knowing Him personally?
Certainly, the world around us speaks about God. "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." (Psalm 19:1-2, English Standard Version) The intricate detail and incredible precision of the tiniest cell astounds us. Massive planets hurtling through great chasms of space in a delicately choreographed ballet...this, too, challenges our comprehension! Creation is covered with God's fingerprints, so to speak, giving us glimpses of the great God who designed, created, and sustains our world.
Paul writes, "...(God's) 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 (those who reject God) are without excuse." (Romans 1:20) In fact, Paul tells us that denying the existence of and the holy character of God requires deliberate, intense effort on our part - we "press down" the knowledge of God, much like we might compress a coiled spring, holding it down only under great tension.
God reveals Himself to us through His creation, but we also learn of Him through the changed lives and the testimonies of others who have encountered Him. In chapter 9 of the book of John, we read of a man who had been born blind. When Jesus healed this man by restoring his sight, his family and neighbors were astounded. "Who healed you? How did he do this amazing thing?" Many responded by placing their faith in Christ. The religious leaders, on the other hand, questioned the man repeatedly, refusing to accept the miracle and to acknowledge Christ. Finally, the healed man answers them in exasperation, "I have told you already, and you would not listen." (John 9:27)
Likewise, many of us know people whose lives have been radically transformed by Christ, people who have moved from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom, from self-absorption to God-focused living. If we bump up against these people often, we must respond either by acknowledging God's work in their lives, thereby glorifying Him, or by persisting in resolute unbelief. Like a willful child plugging his ears, like the religious leaders mentioned in John chapter 9, we refuse to listen.
But maybe you say, "God did not reveal Himself to me in creation. No, my science teacher told me this world is a product of materialistic, naturalistic, evolutionary processes. I don't see God here at all."
Maybe you say, "I did not hear about God's justice, love, and mercy from my transformed neighbor. I have never heard of Christ's atonement or of forgiveness."
Yes, God speaks to us through creation and through the lives of others, but He speaks to us most clearly and most directly through His written Word.
J.I. Packer writes, "God...knows all about us before we say anything (Psalm 139:1-4); but we can know nothing about Him unless He tells us." Packer continues, "God sends His word to us...to woo us as well as to instruct us; it not merely puts us in the picture of what God has done and is doing but also calls us into personal communion with the loving Lord Himself."
God knows all about you, Reader. What do you really know about Him? Maybe you feel like God is angry. Maybe you think God is disengaged. Maybe you assume that God cares more about your personal happiness than your personal holiness. But what do you know?
God wants you to know Him and to love Him...and He's written an entire book for precisely that purpose. Today would be a perfect day to start reading God's Word to you. What could be of greater value than a life lived in personal communion with the Creator and Lord of the universe?!
4 weeks ago