Roots of the Faith – The Knowability of God

My notes for Wednesday night, Jan 4th. Remember, these are my personal study notes and not a manuscript of the sermon. They are provided as an outline each week for our Tabernacle Church family. Our study over the next few months will be “The Roots of the Faith.” This study will focus on key biblical truths that will transform our thinking and allow us to faithfully live out the Christian life. The church provides a live stream of the service each Wednesday at 6:30 on Facebook. We also provide the services through YouTube. You can find Sermon Notes, Family Devotional Guides, Prayer List, and other resources at our Church Website.

Resources for this Study

50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith – Gregg R. Allision

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine – Wayne Grudem

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth – John MacArthur & Richard Mayhue


Can we really know God?

How much of God can we know?

Because of his self-revelation, God can be known, but never fully understood, by his human creatures

Gregg Allision, page 65

Scripture

Deut. 29:29; Job 11:7-8; Psalm 19:1-4; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Matthew 11:27; John 17:3; Acts 17:22-31; Romans 1:18-25; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 5:20

God reveals Himself to man

If we are to know God at all, it is necessary that he reveal himself to us.  Even when discussing the revelation of God that comes through nature, Paul says that what can be known about God is plain to people “because God has shown it to them” (Rom 1:19)

“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27)

General Revelation – God’s disclosure of Himself to all peoples at all time and in all places (Gregg Allison, page 66)

  • There is a God (creation)
  • Old Covenant – Visions, Dreams, Divine Speech

Special Revelation – God’s disclosure of Himself to particular peoples at particular times and in particular places. (Gregg Allison, page 66)

  • New Covenant – The incarnation, Scripture
  • Salvation.  The way to God.
  • The Spirit of God
  • The Word of God

We can never fully understand God

Because God is infinite, and we are finite or limited, we can never fully understand God.

  • Psalm 145:3
  • Psalm 147:5
  • Rom. 11:33

Because we can never fully know God, then that means that we should never stop learning. We can never know too much about God!

  • Col. 1:9-10

Yet we can know God truly

Because of the New Covenant/The Gospel we can TRULY KNOW Him.

  • John 17:3, Hebrews 8:11, 1 John 2:13

Indeed, truly knowing God himself, which is what happens in this personal relationship with God the Father, with God the Son, and with God the Holy Spirit, may be said to be the greatest of all the blessings of the Christian life.

Wayne Grudem, page 181

Q & A with Pastor Jon – “Can we know that God exists?

Q & A with Pastor Jon is a teaching time utilized to answer questions that I have been asked over the course of my ministry. Remember, these are my personal study notes and not a manuscript of the sermon. They are provided as an outline each week for our Tabernacle Church family. The church provides a live stream of the service each Wednesday at 6:30 on Facebook. We also provide the services through YouTube. You can find Sermon Notes, Family Devotional Guides, Prayer List, and other resources at our Church Website.

Psalm 14:1The fool says in his heart. “There is no God.”

God is known through General Revelation

  • “God’s disclosure of himself to all peoples at all times and in all places.  It comes through creation, conscience, God’s providential care, and an innate sense of God with which all peoples are wired. The recipients of general revelation know that God exists, some of his divine attributes, and basic principles of his moral law” Gregg Allison, 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018), 66. https://amzn.to/3KsqmW3

  • The natural world reveals God (Acts 14:15-17; Rom.1:19-23)
  • Human Conscience reveals God (Rom. 2:14-16)

God is known through Special Revelation

  • “God’s disclosure of himself to a particular peoples at a particular times and in particular places. It comes through historical events, dreams and visions, direct divine speech, the incarnation, and Scripture.  The recipients of special revelation know the way of salvation and how to walk with God so as to please him fully.” Gregg Allison, 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018), 66. https://amzn.to/3KsqmW3

  • Miracles revealed God.
    • When He extends natural laws (Josh.10:12-14 – sun stood still
    • When He makes exceptions to natural laws (2 Kings 6:1-7 – axe head floated)
  • Fulfilled prophecy reveals God.
    • O.T.  (Is.43:28 and Is. 45; Ezra 1:1-4 – Cyrus predicted)
    • N.T.  (Micah 5:2; Matt.2:1 – birthplace of Christ)
  • Jesus Christ Himself reveals God.  (Heb.1:1-2; John 1:18)
  • Scripture as a whole reveals God.

Arguments for the existence of God

  • Cosmological argument – How could there be anything if there wasn’t a Cause (God) who was Uncaused (Romans 1:20)?
  • Teleological argument – How could there be design in the world if there was no Designer (God – Psalm 19:1-6)?
  • Moral argument – Why would people recognize right and wrong if there was no moral Law Giver (God – Romans 2:14,15; James 4:12)?
  • Ontological argument – Where would people get the idea of a Perfect Being (God) except from God Himself (Act 17:27; Romans 1:19)?

The Existence of God

(http://faithbibleonline.net/BasicChristianDoctrine/TOC.htm – A great resource from Curt Daniel for further study)

God Is

God is. He is there. He is the real God, the God who really exists. He says of Himself, “I am what I am” (Ex. 3:14). He is the great “I Am”. God is God. He exists eternally without origin or change. He self-exists. He has necessary existence, not conditional or contingent existence. He really exists, in fact and not merely as a human thought or word. He has perpetual existence in and of Himself. He has pure existence, compared to whom everything else is but a shadow.

God is Life

God not only exists, He lives. A stone exists, a person lives. God is the living God, as opposed to the false and dead gods of pagan religions. He is life itself, self-life. He has life in Himself, not from another. He is the source of all life. He has life in Himself (John 1:4, 5:26). He has permanent and perpetual life. God is pure life. Therefore, He is immortal. One of the greatest blasphemies ever uttered was the 60s heresy, “God is dead.” God cannot die. He had no birthday, therefore no father or mother; He has no death-day, therefore no undertaker.

All Men Know that God Exists

Romans 1 and Psalm 19 state that God has made His existence known to all men. They automatically know God exists, by a “sense of the divine” kind of internal intuition as well as by external evidence. He is a fool who tries to deny this (Psa. 14:1). Therefore, there are no real atheists or agnostics. They already know God exists. They are merely lying in order to try to run from God. We do not have to try to prove God’s existence to anyone, for they already know it. We merely build upon what God has already revealed about Himself in Natural Revelation by bringing Special Revelation. See Acts 17. Indeed, a God whose existence needed to be proved would not be the true God. It is an insult to God to attempt to prove His existence, for that doubts the fact that He has already made His existence known. Man already knows God exists, but he must acknowledge this openly in order to come to know God personally (Heb. 11:6).

God is Personal.

God is not an impersonal force or thing (indeed, God is not a “thing” at all. He is God.). Liberals and philosophers think it unbecoming for God to be personal, so they denigrate Him to such things as “the Ground of Being” or “Raw Existence”. But God is personal. Not exactly like we are personal, but more than we are. Specifically, as we shall see later, God is actually Tri-personal in the Trinity. God is a He, not an It. God is also a He, not a She. He is a Father, not the Mother Goddess of pagan religions, such as Mother Earth, Gaia, Sophia, Ishtar, etc. He is personal in that He speaks, feels, thinks, remembers, recognizes, etc.

Knowing God is the Meaning of Life.

Man in sin does not know God (2 Thess. 1:8). God remains “the Unknown God” to sinners (Acts 17:23). The basic message of Ecclesiastes is that life has no meaning, only vanity, without knowing God. God created Man to know Him, and Man has a dreary existence without knowing God. God has allowed Himself to be known personally. This is only possible through Christ (Matt. 11:27). Knowing God is eternal life (John 17:3), in contrast with meaningless existence.

God is Perfect.

God is perfect (Matt. 6:48). He is complete in every way. He needs nothing. He does not need to be fed. He does not need Man. He lacks nothing in any way. He has perfect life and existence and does not grow. He is absolute perfection. He is “actus purus”, pure actuality, nothing potential or tentative or merely possible. Therefore, God is perfectly happy in Himself. God is not lonely. He did not create Man because He was lonely. There was perfect happiness, fellowship and love within the Trinity. Nothing outside of God is ever perfect in the sense God is perfect. Yet we find a degree of perfection when we are in the right relationship with God as we ought to be, lacking nothing, Happy at last.

Q & A with Pastor Jon – “How does God speak to us?”

Q & A with Pastor Jon is a teaching time I utilize that looks directly at Scripture to answer questions that I have been asked over the course of my ministry.  Remember, these are my personal study notes and not a manuscript of the sermon. They are provided as an outline each week for our Tabernacle Church Family. The church provides a live stream of the service each Wednesday at 6:30 on Facebook. We also provide the services through YouTube. You can find our Worship Guides, Family Devotional Guides, Prayer Lists, and other resources at our Church Website.

Scripture For Study

Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

INTRO

  • Phrases I have heard over the years:
    • Before making a decision…”I am waiting on a Word from God.”
    • “God spoke to me the other day.”
    • “God spoke to me in a dream.”

  • DOES GOD SPEAK TODAY?
    •  Yes, He does.

Psalm 19GOD SPEAKS

  • General Revelation – vv. 1-6
  • Special Revelation – vv. 7-9
Psalm 19

	[1] The heavens declare the glory of God,
		and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
	[2] Day to day pours out speech,
		and night to night reveals knowledge.
	[3] There is no speech, nor are there words,
		whose voice is not heard.
	[4] Their voice goes out through all the earth,
		and their words to the end of the world.
	In them he has set a tent for the sun,
	[5] 	which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
		and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
	[6] Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
		and its circuit to the end of them,
		and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

	[7] The law of the LORD is perfect,
		reviving the soul;
	the testimony of the LORD is sure,
		making wise the simple;
	[8] the precepts of the LORD are right,
		rejoicing the heart;
	the commandment of the LORD is pure,
		enlightening the eyes;
	[9] the fear of the LORD is clean,
		enduring forever;
	the rules of the LORD are true,
		and righteous altogether.
	[10] More to be desired are they than gold,
		even much fine gold;
	sweeter also than honey
		and drippings of the honeycomb.
	[11] Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
		in keeping them there is great reward.

	[12] Who can discern his errors?
		Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
	[13] Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
		let them not have dominion over me!
	Then I shall be blameless,
		and innocent of great transgression.
	
	[14] Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
		be acceptable in your sight,
		O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)

A few of the “ways” people listen for God to speak (you can google “how does God speak to us”)

  • Through His Word (The Bible)
  • An audible voice
  • Circumstances
  • Impressions
  • Angels (God’s Messenger’s)
  • Creation/Nature
  • Visions
  • Dreams
  • Godly Counsel

A few points to ponder:

  • REMEMBER… GOD HAS GIVEN US ALL WE NEED! –
2 Peter 1:3 -  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 
  • As always… we must think through this biblically and theologically.
  • God does utilize other means to encourage and strengthen us in our faith.
  • God has always spoken with the authority.
    • Through His Decrees
    • Through His Prophets
    • Through Jesus Christ
    • Through His Word… the Bible
  • Today, our authority is found in His Word… The Bible.
    • KEY WORD AUTHORITY
    • It is not one of many
    • It is the ONE.
  • No other means should compromise the Word we have already received.
    • When we value and seek out the other means… the Bible will be less of authoritative in our daily life.  We will begin to seek the “other means”
      • Small still voice
      • Impression
      • Wise counsel
      • Dreams
      • A word in my prayer time
  • LIFT HIGH THE WORD!!!!!
    • Trust in the Word
    • Advice and wise counsel are fine, but the Word is our place of real authority
    • An impression and feeling may be God confirming His presence and peace in our life, but feelings should not dictate and guide the course of our life.
    • A thought or dream (our mind) can obviously be used of God to confirm a reality from His Word, but looking for a fresh word in a vision and dream diminishes the sufficiency of the Word of God.
    • The Word is enough!

A deeper look at the progressive nature of God speaking. (From a Sermon in August)