Beginning in the early days after my conversion, I began to realize the critical nature of theology – the study of God. I was convicted of the need to study and to better understand the person and the character of God based on the Bible – on “what thus saith the Lord” as opposed to what thus saith the preacher or teacher or commentary.
Even though the church has had the Bible available in its present form for over 1600 years, there are still many people – many of them church members – who have little or no concept of what the Bible actually teaches about God.
They know what they believe about God; they may be able to explain their beliefs. However, when they are asked to biblically justify why they believe it, they have great difficulty trying to explain.
Some of that is due to personal apathy about the subject, but much of it is due to the failure of the church to put emphasis on the subject.
A couple of years ago I preached a sermon on the sovereignty of God. After the service, a woman about my own age came up to me and said, “Pastor Dan, I have been in the Baptist church all of my life. As far as I can remember, today was the first time I ever heard a sermon on the sovereignty of God.”
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963):
Man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.
To say that we believe in God without having a biblical basis for our beliefs is basically a form of idolatry, because, without the biblical basis, we are worshipping a god that is, at least in part, a creation of our own imagination or the imagination of others or of tradition which we have accepted as truth.
The truth of the matter is that we would never know anything about God at all except for His revelation of Himself.
It is interesting to read in the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome in verses 10 and 11…
Romans 3:10 None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Paul here is quoting from and at the same time interpreting Psalm 14:2-3 from the Old Testament, so that this has always been true.
Since the creation of man, no person has ever, of his own volition, sought to know God. We come to God only by His specific invitation.
Even if man were to seek after God on his own accord, he would not be able to comprehend what he discovered, for as the Psalmist said, “God’s greatness is unsearchable.” (Ps. 145:3)
And as the Apostle Paul wrote, “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:11). His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are inscrutable – past finding out, impossible to trace or search or explore. (Rom. 11:33).”
All that we know about God today is limited to what He has revealed about Himself in nature, in the incarnation, and in the written word of God. This revelation – while it does not tell us everything about God – tells us all that God intends for us to know about Him until we join Him in eternity.
Even that is too much for most people to know or to care about knowing – even for Christians. Many of us had rather protect our comfortable images of God than investigate and learn about a God who may challenge our basic beliefs about life and eternity.
I am sure you’ve heard the story of the little boy in class who was working arduously on his drawing assignment. When the teacher asked what it was that he was working so hard to draw, he replied, “A picture of God.”
The teacher corrected him by saying, “Son, you can’t draw a picture of God. No one knows what God looks like.”
The little boy assured her by answering, “When I get finished they will.”
Many Christians are like this little boy. They prefer to hold on to their own unsupported beliefs about God than to seek out the truth of God as taught in Scripture.
That is a dangerous place for Christians and the church to be in today in light of a world that has rejected God and banished any mention of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation.
In his book, The Fools of the Bible, Robert W. Lancaster tells of a Chinese man who traveled to England and discovered a beautiful microscope which he purchased and took back to China.
One of the first things he looked at through the microscope was a grain of rice. He was shocked to discover that there were tiny organisms living in the grain of rice.
Stressed over his discovery, he did the only thing he could think of to solve the issue – he destroyed the microscope.
Mankind, faced with the knowledge of a God who demands accountability of His creation and who holds out the prospect of certain judgment at the end of time, did the only thing he could do to solve the problem – he rejected God.
We might expect that from a world deceived by Satan and living under the curse of sin. But we should expect and receive much greater things from the church – from those who claim to have a personal relationship with Almighty God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In the church, we have simply ignored the truth about God, being satisfied with a shallow and limited knowledge based primarily on tradition and hearsay that does not challenge our minds or cause us to have to give up our time and convenience to study and to learn.
In the next article, we will look at what God has revealed about himself through the Prophet Isaiah.