By Ben Swift
Seek Adonai while he is available, call on him while he is still nearby.
Let the wicked person abandon his way and the evil person his thoughts;
Let him return to Adonai, and he will have mercy on him;
Let him return to our God, for he will freely forgive.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:6-9)
As humanity seeks to find meaning in life, searching for the truth about who we are, it’s difficult not to wonder in awe at the universe that surrounds us, and to ask questions about God in the midst of this wonder. Alister McGrath puts it this way, “What if nature is studded with clues to our true meaning and destiny, and fingerprinted with the presence of God?”
What is it that we find when we truly seek to know God? What will be revealed to us when the Holy Spirit works in us to be transformed by the Word? Can we, in reality, know God?
Reformed theologian, Neil Cullan McKinlay, suggests it is impossible for humanity to comprehend the truth about who we are until God is acknowledged as the beginning and the end of all existence. It is for this reason humanity needs to study God, seek to know Him as He is revealed in Scripture.
There would be no point in continuing to seek God in this way however, if Scripture is not divinely inspired. If the Bible isn’t of God then the truths presented in Scripture are not truths about God at all and the words recorded in each book can be taken or left in the same way as any other books presented as truth.
The starting point must then be to establish the reality of Jesus Christ who claims to be the ‘Living Word’. Are the records of his life supported by evidence that points to historical truth?
John Dickson in his book ‘Investigating Jesus’ concludes, ‘There is the sense in which historians of all persuasions agree that, while many doubts remain over the details, the core elements of Jesus’ life are in fact known. Whatever those on the fringes continue to say, there is an overwhelming scholarly consensus today that a Galilean teacher and (reputed) healer named Jesus proclaimed the arrival of God’s kingdom, wined and dined with ‘sinners’, appointed a circle of twelve apostles, clashed with religious authorities, denounced the Jerusalem Temple and wound up dead on a Roman cross; shortly after which his followers declared they had seen him alive again.’
With historical evidence supporting biblical accounts we have no reason for reluctance in seeking to know what Scripture reveals to us about the reality of God, or at least the reality He chooses to reveal to us.
While God remains a hidden God in many ways, as we cannot fully know Him, Martin Luther provides us with his understanding of a God who has also revealed himself to us. In fact it has been said that Luther flees from the God who hides himself and toward the God who became human and who reveals himself in a most hidden way on the cross.
Louis Berkhof in his book, ‘Systematic Theology’, claims that to Calvin, God in the depths of His being is past finding out. “His essence is incomprehensible; so that His divinity wholly escapes all human senses.” It is therefore only through special revelation, under the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit that we can acquire true knowledge of Him.
It is true that we cannot know everything about God. We can be reassured however, that we have been given the great gift of the Holy Spirit who helps us to know something of His nature, His plan for us and the revelation of just how much higher He is than creation itself.
Apologist Ravi Zacharias once said, “I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put him”. So let us do the opposite, continuing to seek God while we still can, holding fast to the truths He reveals to us and growing in our understanding of who we are in relation to who God is.
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)