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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Can God Be Known?

Is it possible for us to know God? Is God knowable? The differences between God and us are so great; He is for example, infinite, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, completely holy and righteous, just to mention a few, and we, well, are not! The truth is that on our own, there is no way we can come to know God, but if God were to reveal Himself to us, He would indeed be knowable. Even though the Almighty exists outside everything we perceive, since we were created in His image, God is not “totally other” than us.

What we could know and how much we could know about God was entirely up to Him since He is the only source of knowledge about Himself. Many might be surprised to learn that God has actually revealed quite a bit about Himself through both General Revelation (that which has been created) and Special Revelation (both Jesus Christ the living Word, and the Bible, the written Word).

At the risk of sounding like I am contradicting myself, let me say this: in one sense God is knowable, yet in another sense He is unknowable. He is knowable in that I can know something about God, yet He is unknowable in that my knowledge of Him is only partial. On the one hand I can know Him yet my knowledge of Him is not absolute, on the other hand He is unknowable yet not absolutely unknowable. My point being this, we can know God; we just can’t know everything about Him.

Consider Job 11:7: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” The text clearly indicates that God is a mystery to us (unknowable). Then consider the words of Christ in John 14:7, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him,” a clear statement that God can be known in part (not completely unknowable).

So, can the Person of God be known? Yes, He can, the source of our knowledge of Him being the Old and New Testament scriptures. The Word of God tells us who He is, it reveals to us His characteristics, His purpose for revealing Himself, and it tells us about His wondrous works.

Here is the real question, though: can we only know facts about God, can the only way we know Him is through intellectual accent, or can God be known experientially, personally, and intimately? And what is the difference? The answer to the first is an emphatic NO, the answer to the second question is an emphatic YES, and the difference is the difference between life and death! If God has made it possible for us to know Him experientially, personally, and intimately, why would we not want to know Him that way?

The most famous of the questions of the Westminster Sorter Catechism is: What is the chief end of man? The answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1)*, and to enjoy him forever (2)*. That can only happen if we confess and repent of our sin, ask God to forgive us, and ask Jesus Christ to come into hearts and lives.

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life" (John 5:24 NLT).

"But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

*(1) Psalm 86; Isaiah 60:21; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31; Revelation 4:11.
*(2) Psalm 16:5-11; Psalm 144:15; Isaiah 12:2; Luke 2:10; Philippians 4:4; Revelation 21:3-4.

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