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- Can God be known?
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- God transcends creation!
- The universe is beyond comprehension. Its existence is more a mystery to the human mind than a reality defined by human knowledge.
- Yet, the universe was created by God, who is even more infinite, more absolute, than his creation.
- Thus, people sometimes conclude that God’s nature is not knowable, that his true being and essence are beyond human understanding.
- However, emphasizing the transcendence of God too much can become an excuse merely to avoid any genuine effort to know him or an objective sense of morality.
- The Bible testifies that God actively desires to be known by humankind.
- Christians maintain that the Bible, written over 1,500 years by more than 40 authors, actually is the inspired Word of God, which sets forth his purposes and plan for history, and which reveals everything that can be known about him until the end of time. [See What Is the Bible?]
- However, the Bible discloses that humankind has chosen to be self-willed and opposed to Godly morality, which at the beginning of time drastically altered the nature of all creation, and which led to everyone having an inner tendency to resist the revelation of Scripture, Isaiah 1:3; Romans 1:19–21.
- Still, the Bible represents God as seeking fellowship with all humanity. Although we can never know God completely, with the help of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can have an adequate and true knowledge of him.
- Scripture conveys the being of God in very personal terms, that anyone can relate to or understand.
- [Note: to say God is a person begs the question — what is a person? Most people think of a person as a human being, a body of flesh with a spirit, having will, emotion, self-consciousness, and a complex intelligence capable of attempting rational explanations for all existence. The Bible indicates that God is Spirit and not flesh, John 4:24].
- The Bible describes God as all powerful, Jeremiah 32:17; all knowing, Psalm 147:4,5; present everywhere in creation, Jeremiah 23:23,24; eternal, Genesis 21:33; unchanging, Psalm 102:27; sovereign, Ephesians 1:21; loving, I John 4:8–11,16; righteous, Romans 3:25,26; merciful, Psalm 103;13; longsuffering, Romans 9:22; gracious, Ephesians 1:5–8.
- The Bible also notes that human beings are made in the image of God, Genesis 1:26,27, with a spirit, I Corinthians 2:11. Like God, they have existence, power, presence, knowledge, love, goodness etc. However, in humans these attributes are finite, while in God they are infinite.
- Humans have a limited existence in relation to God, who alone has life within himself, in an absolute sense, John 5:26. To possess any personal trait in an infinite manner is beyond the understanding of the human mind, and consequently, God is incomprehensible. And yet, God is comprehensible, for he is like us.
- By referring to Scripture, we may offer an introduction to the person of God, his interests, likes and dislikes, even motivations and commitments.
- God is interested in his creation and sustains its order and all of life.
- Genesis 8:21,22: And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground anymore for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Citations KJV unless indicated)
- Psalm 145:15,16: The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openeth thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
- Acts 17:26: And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.
- Colossians 1:17: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist, cf. Proverbs 16:9; Matthew 6:26; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 1:3.
- In particular, God watches over the moral order of the universe, with concern for every living person, and for everyone’s personal sense of righteousness.
- Deuteronomy 28:1,2, states: If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments…All these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee… And verses 3 to 13, form a comprehensive list of blessings. For example, verse eight sets forth: The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
- However, verse 14, emphasizes the importance of not turning to false gods. Verse 15, states: If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments…all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Then, verses 16 to 68, form a comprehensive list of life’s curses. For example, verse 66, sets forth: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shall have none assurance of thy life.
- Because a moral order sets at the very foundation of the structure of the universe, God came to the earth 2,000 years ago, as himself but also as a human being, Jesus Christ, that he could pay the penalty for our moral failures. Those who claim the crucifixion of Christ as their own deserved punishment for sin will receive eternal life, overcoming death just as he was resurrected from the dead, John 3:16; Romans 3:25. [See Who Is Jesus Christ? The story of Jesus is found in the Gospels].
- The Bible warns that a clear distinction exists between good and evil.
- Evil originated before human history, when a high level assistant to God, known as Satan, led a revolt in the spiritual world to seize all power, Isaiah14:12–20; Ezekiel 28:11–19;
- Although the rebellion failed, God withheld final judgment on the devil;
- and the conflict spread, as then he schemed to have the first human beings in history, who represent all humankind, to turn against godly morality, Genesis 3:1–6.
- To this day, Satan rules over the demonic world, carrying on the battle to influence all people to deny God, Ephesians 6:11,12.
- After Christ’s resurrection, he ascended to heaven but promised to return and to set up a worldwide political system for all eternity, Matthew 24:29–31.
- At that time, judgment will be pronounced on everyone who ever lived, to be eternally rewarded for following God, or to receive condemnation for rejecting God, Matthew 25:31–46.
- For now, Satanic power is limited, but just before Christ returns, God will permit all restraints against evil to be removed, and the devil will make a last great effort through his own world government to pressure humanity into taking a part with him and to make a commitment to evil, by subtly twisting the regard for sinful actions as good and proper, II Thessalonians 2:6–8; II Timothy 3:1–8; Revelation 13:7.
- The Bible places special emphasis on the loving nature of God.
- I John 4:16: And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him, cf. John 3:16.
- God’s love for his people is that of a father and mother for their children.
- Isaiah 49:15,16: Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
- Luke 12:29,30: And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
- And, God desires that his people should love him and each other.
- Matthew 25:34–36,40:…Come…inherit
the kingdom…For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethern, ye have done it unto me.
- I John 4:19,20: We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
- However, the Bible clearly makes obedience to God the essential act in loving him.
- John 14:23: Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and mine Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
- I John 5:3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
- However, God requires faith from his people. No one can come to know God or have any relationship with him without faith. [See What Is Faith?].
- Romans 1:16,17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that beleiveth. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
- I Corinthians 2:11,12: For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
- Romans 8:16: The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
- Isaiah 55:11: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Romans 10:17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
- Matthew 21:22: And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
- Hebrews 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- Having a relationship with God requires a mature character, and to ignore the instruction of Scripture only leads to God’s displeasure.
- God seeks people of integrity. Proverbs 17:3: The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.
- He resists the proud. James 4:6: But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
- Finding God takes courage. Psalm 31:23,24: O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.
- We only can serve God fervently. Romans 12:11: Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. Ecclesiastes 9:10: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest, cf. Acts 18:25; Colossians 4:12; James 5:16; I Peter 1:22.
- And, God has no time for murmuring and complaining. Philippians 2:14,15: Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.
- As God insists that we love each other, he does not tolerate unforgiveness or strife. Psalm 133:1: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethern to dwell together in unity! Matthew 6:14,15: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
This outline constitutes a chapter from Only The Essentials: Clear and Simple Outlines on Complex Theology. Copyright 2001 by Montgomery Paul Webb. All rights reserved. However, permission is granted solely to private individuals to make ten copies of any disc containing this book, to include whatever other publications are available therein from the Church of the Love of Christ, for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the contents of the disc is copied;— 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.
From printed material, photocopies only of any chapter can be made privately by individuals for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the chapter is copied and distributed, including the pages of the chapter rendering the name The Church of the Love of Christ, the author’s name, and the copyright notice; — 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.
Chapter outlines include — What Is the Bible? | Can God Be Known? | Who Is Jesus Christ? | Who Is the Holy Spirit? | What Is the Trinity? | What Is the Kingdom Of God? | What Is Faith? | What Is Holiness? and What Is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus? | What Is the Church? | New Testament Giving and Prosperity. | What Is Spiritual Warfare? | Can Anyone Understand Predestination?
Additional chapters include — A Second Call to Reform and the Philosophy of the Church of the Love of Christ. | The Constitution of the Church of the Love of Christ.
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