Saturday, June 12, 2021

210613 Knowing God

 How important is it, within a reasonable doubt, to know God? The answer – very important! Christians are commanded to know what they believe and why they believe it. They are commanded to give answers to those who ask, 1 Peter 3:15, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

We are designed to live in such a way that we demolish arguments against the Christian faith. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.  Since God is reasonable, Isaiah 1:18, He wants us to use reason. Christians don’t get points for being stupid. In fact, using reason is part of the greatest commandment which, according to Jesus, is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” Matthew 22:37.

Note that Jesus said “all your mind” not “all your emotions”. I am not opposed to emotions I often enjoy my feelings but most of the time I would rather put them aside. The older I get the more I experience intense emotions. I want you to imagine a train that hauls freight as well as people. Emotions should be the freight wagons and our mind must contain the faith, the power source.   Our entire being is designed to reflect God. We are not doing a good, effective job. There are many cracks in the path designed by the devil to cause us to stumble.

The Apostle Paul certainly believed that it was important to know that  truth really exists and must be acted on. Paul believed in gospel truth so much that he was willing to give up everything he had previously based his life on in order to know Jesus.

We find evidence of this driving force in, Philippians 3:8-11 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

When Saul/Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus the Holy Spirit began a process in him. A process of knowing Christ. This work in him was determined by God. The place and the purpose was foreknown by God. Paul saw himself as the “chief sinner” for the rest of his life because he had persecuted the church resulting in some being imprisoned and others were even put to death.

He had thought he knew God and God’s will. He believed he was carrying out God’s will God’s way. The men who were with him on the road that day heard the sound and saw the light. I have wondered if any of those men became believers. We know that Paul immediately began to preach Christ in Damascus but we have no record of his words or the results. We know there were some who listened to him. When the ruler of Damascus tried to arrest him his followers let him down the city wall in a basket and got him to Arabia. He didn’t stay away instead he returned to Damascus and ministered there for the larger part of 3 years. He must have learned how to be a stealth preacher.

Every person born into the human race has an inner sense of God. When Paul was on his own in Athens he spoke to the leading men and women of the day Luke recorded the event in, Acts 17:22-23, So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

There is in everyone a God-shaped blank that can only be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to remember that we are witnesses to everyone who knows us or comes in contact with us. In 1994, Jackie DeShaonnon wrote, What the world needs now.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No not just for some, but for everyone.

Faced with the massive evidence surrounding the existence of God some choose to deny Him. Psalm 14:1-7,        says, The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. 2The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. 6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the Lord is his refuge. 7Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

This must be an important Psalm since it is repeated as Psalm 53.

I am not educated in Hebrew but a dear friend of mine once told me that this Psalm should begin “The fool says in his heart, No God for me”. That makes sense to me. Someone who rejects the massive amount of evidence is clearly rejecting the very existence of God.

Such a fool has God’s evidence rubbed in their face. Sinful people misinterpret God’s revelation of himself that is seen by all people.

David the king must have spent many nights under the stars, tending his sheep, as he recognized the strength of the natural evidence.

Psalm 19:1-3, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

Paul began the letter to the Romans 1:18-20 pointing out the common guilt we all share. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

The world we live in is filled with people who suppress the truth. Who reject the knowledge of God. And since the natural order is rejected by them the scriptures need to be made available in every possible manner.

Therefore, we need Scripture if we are to interpret natural revelation rightly. Hundreds of false religions in the world are evidence of the way sinful people, without guidance from Scripture, will always misunderstand and distort the revelation about God found in nature. But the Bible alone tells us how to understand the testimony about God from nature. Therefore we depend on God’s active communication to us in Scripture for our true knowledge of God. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)

Satan has deceived the unbelievers. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Consequently, Romans 1: 24, 26, 28 tells us that the result of their choice to reject God is clear! Three times in those three verses the words ring out: “God gave them up!” Father God please do not give me up to what I would be without you.

None of us who are born sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are free from guilt. All have sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)! All are condemned. God demonstrates His love in the fact that He gave his only Son to die in our place. (Romans 5:8). 

So that “if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.


All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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