In undertaking this subject, it should be understood that man can never completely, perfectly know or understand God. That very fact demands that we approach this study with the greatest humility and honesty.
God is infinite in all His qualities. He is unlimited in power, knowledge, goodness, grace, love. We are man – the creature attempting to look up to – to comprehend the Creator. In our finiteness we are further limited by the sin that taints and colors every effort we make to gain some perception of the Infinite One.
For us, it is like trying to behold the beauty of the stars and the heavenly bodies on a dark, stormy night. Once in a great while the clouds may break for a moment and we gain a glimpse of the wonders that are out there, but then the view dims and we are left with only a vague memory of what we beheld. It should be our objective to rise above the occlusive storm clouds to gain a clearer view of the vastness, wonder and beauty that is there for us to see and to wonder at.
Our attempts to know God are not exercises in futility. God wants us to know Him. From the fact that we were created to be in His image to the supremely awesome act of self-revelation in the coming to the Son of God, the evidence is overwhelming of His desire for us to know Him even as we are known to Him. God’s desire for us to know Him should also indicate to us our need of knowing Him.
The contrast between God’s knowing of us and our knowing of Him is seen in this Psalm:
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1-6).
There is no way we can ever attain to a complete knowledge of God. In no way will we ever know all there is to know about Him. The impossibility of such an undertaking is dramatized by David in the last verse of this quote. The knowledge of God is “wonderful.” That is, it is unattainable. It is incomprehensible.
But that very vastness of knowledge is intended to keep us involved in the mystery of God. Far from being driven from Him, we should be drawn into this ocean of God-knowledge until we are like David as he expressed his thoughts in view of such wonderful knowledge.
“I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:1-3).
The realization of God’s greatness will humble us. It will drive us to worship and adore Him. It will, as when Job finally realized just how great God is, cause us to be humbled in His presence. Job said of himself after God had reviewed before him all His mighty works…
“I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know”(Job 42:3).
…and with this realization Job turns to God in repentance for his arrogant demands made in his ignorance…
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes” (Job. 42:5-6).
How utterly foolish are those who assume to speak for God as though they had all knowledge of Him and His will for man! How direly we need humility when we approach the study and teaching of His word. We acquire a list (usually made up by men) of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” and parade ourselves as though we have the exclusive right to speak for God. We separate ourselves off from the community of believers – fellow pilgrims on a common journey to God – and act as though we were the exclusive spokesmen for the Almighty and that everyone else must come to us to learn what God wants all men to know.
“For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:3-5).
The problem here is that men read the Bible (which is primarily God’s story of Himself) and assume that it is all about us. Reading it as our “road map to heaven” or Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” or our “How To” manual for successful living, we push God into the background. Without understanding the One who reveals Himself to us, He becomes only a character in our story.
Failing to grasp something of His greatness – His worthiness to receive our worship – worship becomes about us “getting it right” in all the peripheral details we have discovered in our search for hidden commandments. It isn’t about bowing before the Great King of the Universe in humble adoration. It becomes about us getting a good feeling about ourselves because we have done all the right things.
“Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.” (Isaiah 40:21-23).
Co-authored with Bill Van Dyke, Ph.D, Give Me Liberty: Restoring the Spirit of Jubilee examines the mission of Christ as viewed from the fulfillment of Jubilee and how legalism robs the church community of the joy Jubilee brings.
A Better Way is an exploration and critique of the traditional method of determining Bible authority and suggestions for a better approach to understanding the Bible.