The God Who Wants to be Known
There is much in life you cannot know—even fewer things you can know well enough to perform proficiently or understand well enough to explain. It’s the finite condition of the human being. We are limited. Amazing, but limited nonetheless.
The good news though—indeed very good news, is that we can know God. That reality should cause a geyser of gratitude, humility and relief to gush from within.
God is not made of the stuff we are. In fact, God wasn’t made at all—he simply is. Absolute reality. The first sentence in the first book of the Bible is Genesis, Bereshit, in Hebrew. It plainly states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
It is a rock-solid foundation on which a comprehensive theological structure will stand. It can be accepted or rejected, neither action adding to or subtracting from its veracity.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix, 1999
Neo had questions—and assuming you’ve taken the proverbial red pill, you do too. The essentials will be answered but others you’ll wait for. Waiting for revelation, that’s another phenomenon of the human condition. We can’t know it all, understand it all or experience it all at once. We are supposed to chew, and slowly—swallowing the nutritious and spitting out the gristle.
You can know God, because God has initiated revelation of himself. He already knows you. Indeed, he’s always known you. Now it’s your turn. Person meet your creator! This is the most valuable relationship you’ll ever have.
“Wait!” you say. “I’ve got questions. I’m not sure God is real. Or good. If he wants a relationship with me than why have I suffered, doubted, feared or been oblivious like I have?”
In the beginning God.
The Story of All, isn't about you. Not in the way you want to think. You're a unique part of creation though and get to image God in your neck of the world.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1
All that exists beyond your window is pointing to and telling of its maker. The trees full of leaves or barren of leaves. The flowers in their glory and demise. The breeze that blows gently or fiercely. The seasons in their rotation. Gravitational force. Thermal Energy. Other people.
The infinite doesn’t fit inside the finite. We can’t squeeze complete knowledge of God into our bitty selves any more than a pail can hold the Pacific. But we can begin to hydrate our parched hearts—Christ promised as much. Here’s four ways God has initiated revelation of himself.
1. God reveals himself through the natural world. 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. Romans 1:20
According to Paul the author of Romans, we learn that even though God is invisible—his goodness, namely his eternal power and divine nature have been seen, on some level, by everyone, always. That is staggering! A honeybee in lavender and a skyscraper in Dubai testify to God’s power and divinity. Furthermore, this revelation extends to all people groups—from modern Americans to Norse seafarers to Babylonian kings.
2. God reveals himself through conscience. My children and their friends were sledding recently and were interrupted by older children who were vaping and cussing. They didn’t feel comfortable, came home and told me as much. In our bible study time I asked how they knew cussing and vaping weren’t normative and they were wrong for not participating. Their expressions were priceless!
We could ask this question of ourselves. Why is rape wrong? On what basis are school shootings evil? Why do we cringe or weep upon learning of the abuse of a child? How do we know the rapist, shooter and abuser are acting reprehensibly and it’s not the other way around? They are living out “their truth” “following their heart,” “doing what they want and not caring what others think.” Why aren't we celebrating their ability to throw off the repressive conventions of society? (I feel gross even writing this.)
Romans 1:20 works again. We’ve clearly perceived the divinity of God woven into life and it bears witness to truth. Humans are valuable because they are made by an infinitely valuable creator. God requires our love and we show our love for him by loving people. Raping, murdering and abusing the people God made is inconsistent with love—and therefore wrong.
3. God reveals himself through the Bible. There was a time before God’s word and law was written and codified. There was a time when there were only five books. A time when prophets were speaking on behalf of God and scribes were writing holy texts and people had to wait for revelation. And there’s today where biblical translations and formats abound. NASB, ESV, NLT and non-English translations in Mandarin, Tamil, Arabic and 666 other languages. (That was correct as of 2017, let's hope for a new translation soon!) There are phone apps and websites dedicated to accessibility of God’s Word.
This is good! The Bible was made to be translated. How else could the multitude representing every nation and language in Revelation 7:9 exist? God’s desire to be known is no secret. God initiated contact with one man, grew a family, built a race and extended grace to all the families of the earth.
Yet despite these three revelatory invitations—the party isn’t as full as God desires. Something opposes the delivery and interpretation of knowledge: Sin. Or more specifically, God’s judgment against it.
This is bad. Soul cancer needn’t be acknowledged by its host to thrive. In truth, it grows fastest when undetected. Unsuspected. Ubiquitous.
Sin gouges out eyes and deafens truth’s cries. It causes us to exchange, repress and deny. It makes us forgetful and boastful. Selfish and illogical. It distorts. It defaces. It is diabolical.
So, we misinterpret the signs of the natural world. Instead of the sun pointing us to the Sun Maker, we worship the sun or throw our hands up and deny the existence of the Sun Maker altogether.
Our consciences become seared and callous. There was time when our heart was pricked and bled but we’ve learned to numb it—gag it, so it beats only to the rhythm of our will.
I define right and wrong. My will be done.
Sin is the impediment to knowing God. Creation can’t overcome it. Conscience won’t cure it. Even the inspired words of God, if inactivated by God’s Spirit fall before it. Sin needs a destroyer. A warrior unhindered, unashamed, untainted by sin’s darkening stain.
4. The epitome of God’s revelation about himself is his son, Jesus Christ.
You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 1 John 3:5
An intentional understatement. Christ brings clarity where there was confusion. Confidence where there was doubt. Courage where there was fear. Cleanliness where there was filth. Compassion where there was indifference.
Humanity may have exchanged God’s sober truth for sin’s drunken deception, but Christ our Redeemer came to exchange his righteousness for our rags. He is the only one who could bridge the chasm, eradicate the cancer and get everyone to the party.
Now we can know God the way we ought—first in part, one day in full.
Knowledge of God begets love of God. And loving God requires obedience. God defines good and evil. His will be done! Indeed, this is the essence of being God. And obedience to God—as unbelievable as it may sound, is freedom.
Christ sets us free from sin’s entanglements so we can resume our divine purpose. What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. *
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
*Westminster Shorter Catechism
Bible Doctrine for Younger Children Book A, James W. Beeke
Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "