Not able to be understood. (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)
How does Dr. Grudem say we know God?
He must reveal Himself to us.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Boyce says “We do not know the essential nature of anything. We know not even the nature of our own essence”.
In reality, how do we know for 100% certain that anything is what it is? We can listen to scientist, we can look at the matter, but how do we know with certainty what it is we are looking at or being told?
For example, what is chocolate? A food product made from cocoa beans that contain Theobromine (a natural cough medicine), caffeine (stimulant), and Phenylethylamine (a substance that releases b-endorphin which gives pleasurable feelings such as those when people are falling in love). Chemically, it contains 47 hydrocarbons, 28 alcohols, 24 aldehydes, 41 ketones, 57 esters, 21 nitrogenous compounds, 15 sulfur compounds, 53 acids, 7 phenols, 14 pyrrols, 9 pyridines, 80 pyrazines, 7 thiazoles, 11 oxazoles, 34 furanes. But, how can we confirm that, how do we know it, how can we PROVE it exists?
At some point, we have to just accept something by faith! We can see the chocolate, we can taste the chocolate, we get feelings of satisfaction from chocolate, so…we just accept that chocolate is made up of all these things that someone else has researched and proven to be true. We can only judge what it must be from the qualities it is perceived to possess, or from its outward manifestations.
Think back to a child. How many of you had a child that asked “WHY” every time you explained something or gave them an answer? They would drive you nuts trying to answer in detail something that they did not understand OR did not want to accept. Then, after what seems like an eternity of answering “WHY”, they just say “OK” and turn around and walk off. No deep philosophical thought, no contemplation, or theorizing, just “OK”. Oh my, doesn’t that sound like us when it comes to accepting God?
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Bruce Ware makes this comment: “The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to marvel at the unity of the triune God.
The three persons are never in conflict of purpose, never jealous over another’s position or specific work, never prideful over one’s own position or work, and they are always sharing fully the delight in being the one God and accomplishing the unified purpose of God. Here is a unity of differentiation, where love abounds and where neither jealousy nor pride is known. Each divine Person accepts his role, each in proper relation to the others, and each works together with the others for one unified, common purpose. It is nothing short of astonishing to contemplate the fundamental and pervasive unity within the Trinity, given the eternal differentiation that exists in the three Persons.”
We can be philosophical, we can contemplate and theorize, we can try to understand the Trinity, but at some time we have to just accept that it exists.
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
The way for man and his world to be saved is not by the wisdom of men, but by the wisdom of God, which is the cross.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
The natural, primal, created man considers the things of God foolishness who lives primarily for his animal senses. To him the things of God are secondary, of less importance. Why? Because he cannot see, feel, taste, hear, or prove spiritual things—not with his physical senses. Therefore, to his mind, it is utterly foolish to put spiritual things first. So, it may be our own sinful nature, the separation (spiritually) from God, that prohibits us from comprehending the nature and being of God. Yet, God has revealed Himself to us so that we can know Him.
Why do we fight so hard against what has been revealed to us?
3 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.
Now, when we think of the Trinity and knowing God, we can think of many different models to describe God but one in particular is simplistic enough to diagram the nature of which we are speaking when we refer to the Trinity.
God IS the Father.
God IS the Son.
God IS the Holy Spirit
The Father is not the Son nor is He the Holy Spirit.
The Son is not the Father nor is He the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son.
But all three are God.
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
God IS, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are...
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.
We must realize one thing though, we will never fully understand God because we CAN’T understand God.
We are finite (limited in size or extent).
God is infinite (limitless in space, extent, or size)
This is where the term incomprehensible comes into play - God is unable to be fully understood. It is not true to say that God is unable to be understood, but it is true to say that he cannot be understood fully or exhaustively. We will never be able to measure or fully know the understanding of God; it is far too great for us to equal or to understand.
Psalm 147:5 (ESV)
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
David, the man after God’s own heart even goes on to say Psalm 139:6 “6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Even though he did not understand, he BELIEVED.
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
Job describes the understanding of God in this way:
14 Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
We may know something about God’s love, power, wisdom, and so forth, both from nature and (more accurately) from Scripture. But we can never know His love, His power, His wisdom,etc. completely or exhaustively. Why? Because we would have to know Him as He knows Himself, which just can’t be done.
So why do we not throw up our hands, if we cannot ever fully know God?
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
While we may not fully know, we can always grow in knowledge. Just as technology increases, knowledge improves, understanding increases, we are able to grow. If science, technology, the environment, climate, etc can change and we still continue to study and strive to learn even though we will never FULLY understand, then we should also approach our knowledge and understanding of God.
Even though we spend time in Bible study and fellowship with God every day of our lives, there will always be more to learn about God and his relationships to us and the world, and thus there will always be more that we can be thankful for and for which we can give him praise.
Truth About God
Truth About God
Even though we may not know everything about God, we can know true things about God.
1 John 4:8 tells us God is love
1 John 1:5 tells us that God is light
John 4:24 tells us that God is Spirit
Romans 3:23 tells us God is just
God is revealed throughout scripture and all scripture tells us about God is true. In reality, the relationship we have with God is like none other. The closest we may know of His love is when we feel the love for our spouse or our child. We know them, we have a close relationship with them, we see their every move, we hear their desires, we see their motivation, yet we are not a part of them. We cannot know everything about them, their thoughts, their desires, their inner workings.
If we can love our spouse or children and not be able to fully know everything about them, should we not be able to love God without fully understanding Him?
Now some people say that we cannot know God himself but that we can only know facts about him or know what he does. Others have said that we cannot know God as he is in himself, but we can only know him as he relates to us (and there is an implication that these two are somehow different). But Scripture does not speak that way. Several passages speak of our knowing God himself.
23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
We come to the Father through the Son, and with that personal relationship, we are privileged to know more than just facts about God, we speak to God directly, He speaks to us through His Word, and He draws us to Him.
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.
Write a list of the things you know about God’s love. Describe God’s love with some other words.
Now write things you do not know fully about God’s love.
The inevitable overlap on these lists shows the knowability and incomprehensibility of God in a beautiful way.