In the Thick of Theology

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared with readers what they might find on my desk. Alongside my coffee mug and laptop this morning are: Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Michael Horton’s Pilgrim Theology, and Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology. This week’s resources beyond the weighty systematic theologies are Knowing God by J.I. Packer, The Attributes of God by Arthur Pink, None Greater by Matthew Barrett, Life’s Biggest Questions by Erick Thoennes, and The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. Close by are shelved Gregg Allison’s Theological Terms and Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. I’m in the thick of theology.

In Let’s Do Theology, a Sunday evening class, we discussed the study of God and how it has been widely recognized as the queen of the sciences. I emphasized that theology is not reserved for formal education but is actually something every single human being should desire to know. Yet, we should approach the study of God differently than other subjects. Theology is not a subject to place under a microscope or one we simply get to know. We want to be careful and cautious as we study God. We are studying the very One who spoke all things into existence. God has revealed himself to all of us and we should approach theology with prayer, excitement, humility, and expectation.

As I continue my personal study and preparation, I keep this in mind. And also, that the Scriptures from which my study flows will be working on me as God is revealed in a greater way. Unlike any other subject of study, I approach theology proper with reverence, awe, and respect. Below, I’m sharing a few of last week’s scripture passages and study notes on the incomprehensibility and knowability of God:

Hebrews 11:3 – “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Humans are always limited in their knowledge (finite), but God is not (infinite).

Psalm 145:1-3 – “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Properly understanding how great and unsearchable God is humbles us, exalts Him, and should lead to greater worship.

Romans 11:33-36 – “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Acknowledging God’s infinite greatness and our inability to fully know Him should not lead to frustration, but to worship.

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are our ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Acts 17:28-29 – “for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring we out not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, and image formed by the art and imagination of man.” Not recognizing God’s limitlessness often leads to a weak view of God and the creation of idols (seen or unseen).

Exodus 20:3-5a – “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or the is in the earth beneath, or the is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,” The worship of an idol brings God down to a god who is created by the creature.

Psalm 97:6-7 – “The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. All worshippers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!” Isaiah 44:6 – “Thus says the Lord, the king of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” God has made Himself known and we are to strive to know Him as He has revealed Himself. Although, we must be cautious and careful not to add to or subtract from who He says He is. Our God is so great (and our belief in Him so important) that even the smallest change in perspective on who He is can transform our lives. In reality, our whole moral compass and standards in life have to do with who we believe God is.

John 4:24 – “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Romans 1:18-21 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” There is really no such things as atheists, only suppressors of the truth.

Hebrews 1:1-3a – “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” John 1:1-5 & 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father, full of grace and truth.” Job 42:1-6 – “Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, and I will speak; I will question you and you make it known to me. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Even when we know God to some degree, our prayer should be to know him even more.

Erik Thoennes writes, “God’s incomprehensibility also means that beliefs can be held with firm conviction even though they may be filled with inexplicable mystery.” and “We should never grow apathetic in seeking to know God because we are in fact able and equipped to know him and to please him with our lives.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24 “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, 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.” Knowledge of the one true God should be our greatest delight.

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