Can We Know God?
For adoration to be a lot more than delusion, it will have to be an intelligent response to some thing true. Skeptics and agnostics argue that it is irrational to speak of being aware of God.1 Some would say that if there is a God, then he is so far above us that we can’t know him. Robert Ingersoll (1833–1899) asked skeptically, “Is it achievable for the human thoughts to conceive of an infinite character? Can it consider a beginningless getting, infinitely highly effective and intelligent?”twoOther individuals say that possibly we could possibly know some thing about God, but we can’t know him personally. Aristotle stated that friendship needs a degree of equality, “but exactly where there is a fantastic gulf, as among God and man, friendship becomes not possible.”three
Surely, if theology have been man’s quest to uncover God, it could under no circumstances break cost-free from agnosticism. Even so, Christian theology arises from God’s pursuit of man.
It is achievable to know God for the reason that God has created himself identified.
God Wills To Be Recognized
Very first, our know-how of God is grounded upon God’s will to be identified. To be positive, God is infinitely higher than man, and to him “the nations are as a drop of a bucket” (Isa. 40:15). We can’t totally comprehend him (Isa. 28). Even so, God has willed that “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” and sent forth the message “Behold your God” (Isa. five, 9). We study in Isaiah 43:10, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have selected: that ye may possibly know and think me, and have an understanding of that I am he: just before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be just after me.” His message goes out to the planet: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22). To say that God can’t be identified is to say that God can’t do what he wills. It is to accuse his gospel invitation of falsehood. Agnosticism is not humility, but an insult to God.
Created in His Image
Second, our know-how of God is enabled by man’s creation and recreation in God’s image. We are not God, but God created us in his image (Gen. 1:26–27). As we discussed earlier, this implies that we can know God in a manner analogous to his self-know-how.four Our human know-how of God can’t encompass the infinite dimensions of his greatness (Ps. 145:three). Even so, an analogy can be a correct likeness, and God’s image bearers can know him really. Christ came “that we may possibly know him that is true” (1 John five:20). Martin Luther stated, “God lowers himself to the level of our weak comprehension and presents himself to us . . . in simplicity adapted to a youngster, that in some measure it may possibly be achievable for him to be identified by us.”five Even though the fall of man severely broken God’s image in us, by the grace of Christ we are “renewed in know-how just after the image of him that developed him” (Col. three:10). Consequently, we can know and relate to God.
Joel R. Beeke, Paul M. Smalley
The initially volume in the Reformed Systematic Theology series draws on the historical theology of the Reformed tradition, exploring the initially two of eight central points of systematic theology with an accessible, complete, and experiential strategy.
God’s Grace to Sinners
Third, our know-how of God is communicated via common and unique revelation that is, by his functions of creation and providence, and by his inscripturated Word applied by the Holy Spirit. Robert Reymond stated, “Our know-how of God is completely dependent on revelation.”six The Lord tends to make himself identified via the planet he developed (Ps. 19:1–6) and the Word he spoke (Ps. 7–9), by which he functions salvation and sanctification in us (Ps. 10–14). It is not that the human spirit has found God, but God’s Spirit has revealed “the factors of God” via human “words” received by spiritual discernment (1 Cor. two:9–16). We established these teachings in the prior portion of this book on the doctrine of divine revelation.7
Consequently, we conclude that it is achievable to know God for the reason that God has created himself identified. However we qualify this statement with two caveats. Very first, our know-how of God is true but under no circumstances exhaustive. The Holy Scriptures teach each God’s knowability and his incomprehensibility, just as Paul prayed for the saints “to know the enjoy of Christ, which passeth know-how” (Eph. three:19). Louis Berkhof stated, “The Christian Church confesses on the one particular hand that God is the Incomprehensible One particular, but also on the other hand that He can be identified and that know-how of Him is an absolute requisite unto salvation.”eight Second, all correct know-how of God is a present of sovereign grace to sinners. Christ says, “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Matt. 11:27).
- Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1958), 30–34.
- Robert G. Ingersoll, “Why Am I an Agnostic?,” in Essays and Criticisms (New York: C. P. Farrell, 1897), 7.
- Aristotle, The Ethics of Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics, trans. J. A. K. Thomson, rev. Hugh Tredennick, ed. Jonathan Barnes (London: Penguin, 1976), eight.7.1159a (270). See Copleston, A History of Philosophy, 1:317
- See the discussion of who does theology in chap. three and of God’s revelation to his image bearers in chap. 10.
- LW, two:45, cited in Scott R. Swain, “The Becoming and Attributes of God,” in Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary, ed. Matthew Barrett (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 223.
- Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 153.
- See chaps. 10–25 of Reformed Systematic Theology: Volume 1: Revelation and God. The 3 types of divine revelation are introduced in chap. 10.
- Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 29.