Sunday, February 18, 2007

Knowledge of God (Tozer) Part 2

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.


That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.

A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. 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.

It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.

All the problems of heaven and earth, though they were to confront us together and at once, would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God: That He is; what He is like; and what we as moral beings must do about Him.

The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer, 1961, pg. 9-10

Knowledge of God (Tozer)

True religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear upon time. The messenger of Christ, though he speaks from God, must also, as the Quakers used to say, "speak to the condition" of his hearers; otherwise he will speak a language known only to himself. His message must be not only timeless but timely. He must speak to his own generation.

The message of this book does not grow out of these times but is appropriate to them. It is called forth by a condition which has existed in the Church for some years and is steadily growing worse. I refer to the loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.

The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.

With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, "Be still, and know that I am God," mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper in this middle period of the twentieth century.

This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the forces of religion are making dramatic gains and the churches are more prosperous than at any time within the past several hundred years. But the alarming thing is that our gains are mostly external and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider field.

The only way to recoup our spiritual losses is to go back to the cause of them and make such corrections as the truth warrants. The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.

The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer, 1961, pg. 6-7

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Knowledge of God (Spurgeon)

It has been said by some one that "the proper study of mankind is man." I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God's elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise." But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass's colt; and with the solemn exclamation, "I am but of yesterday, and know nothing." No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel

Great God, how infinite art thou, What worthless worms are we!
But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. He may be a naturalist, boasting of his ability to dissect a beetle, anatomize a fly, or arrange insects and animals in classes with well nigh unutterable names; he may be a geologist, able to discourse of the megatherium and the plesiosaurus, and all kinds of extinct animals; he may imagine that his science, whatever it is, ennobles and enlarges his mind. I dare say it does, but after all, the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead's deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead...

A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 7th, 1855, by the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon, at New Park Street Chapel

Increasing in the Knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10)

Our knowledge of God should always be growing. Since we are finite and God is infinite there is never ending room for our knowledge of Him to become greater. This knowledge is not just a list of facts but is a full, intimate, and practical knowing that affects the way we think, feel, and live. The knowledge of God is revealed through scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-12) and creation (Romans 1:19-20).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians: 2:9-12)
What may be known of God is manifest in [us], for God has shown it to [us]. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead... (Romans 1:19-20)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fruitful in Every Good Work (Colossians 1:10)

Our lifestyle is to be full of all kinds of excellent deeds and activities. We cannot do this on our own. Only Jesus can make us fruitful workers (John 15:4-5). Just as a vine dresser removes dead branches so a vine will produce more fruit, God removes bad works and attitudes from our lives so we will produce more good works (John 15:2). The best effect of our good works is that God is glorified through them (John 15:8).

Some examples of fruitful good works are evangelism (1 Corinthians 16:15); praise to God (Hebrews 13:15); giving to the poor (Romans 15:26-28); a righteous and virtuous lifestyle that is acceptable to God (Hebrews 12:11); love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Worthy Walk (Colossians 1:10)

Our walk is the way we live our day to day lives. We are to live in a way that is deserving of God having called us "into His own kingdom and glory" (1 Thessalonians 2:12) through the "gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). We walk worthy when we are humble, gentle, patient, loving one another, and unified in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-3); behaving honestly, properly, and decently (Romans 13:13 KJV, NKJV, NIV); contented (1 Corinthians 7:17); living by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7); doing good works (Ephesians 2:10); loving sacrificially (Ephesians 5:2); in the light (Ephesians 5:8); wise (Ephesians 5:15); in the truth (3 John 3-4).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

God's Will and Prayer (Colossians 1:9)

As a relevant aside, fully understanding God's will concerning a situation is a requirement for effective prayer. Confidence in prayer comes from knowing that we are praying for what God wants to happen. Scripture teaches that if we pray for anything according to His will then we will have what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15). Prayer is ineffective when it void of wisdom and understanding of God's will.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wisdom and Understanding (Colossians 1:9)

Wisdom and understanding are practically synonymous. In relation to the knowledge of God's will revealed through scripture, they are both spiritual in origin. The only difference between them seems to be that wisdom is more general and understanding is more specific.

Wisdom is the ability to pull together the big picture from all that scripture teaches on a subject. Many topics in the bible are addressed in more than one place. Wisdom allows us to piece together what is taught to fully know God's will on a topic. For instance, teaching on marriage is spread throughout the bible so we are wise concerning marriage when we have gathered that teaching together into a coherent whole.

Understanding is the ability to apply biblical knowledge to a specific situation. When we are wise and know God's will on a topic, understanding allows us to apply what we know to a situation we are dealing with. For example, if a friend is contemplating divorce we will be able to apply biblical teaching on marriage to help them understand God's will in their situation.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Filled with the Knowledge of His Will (Colossians 1:9)

Many people believe God's will is mystical, subjective, and virtually unknowable. They search for it, pray for it and hope they will some how find it. Paul seems to have a different point of view as he prays for the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of God's will. He literally asks God to make them completely full, all the way to the top, with correct, exact, and full knowledge of what He wishes for them to do.

How can this be? How can we know what job to take, who to marry, or where to live? The answer is what, who, and where we want given some conditions. God has clearly revealed His will to us and we can know it. It has been revealed through the scripture. It does not tell us which job to take but it does tell us about how to earn and use money. It does not tell us which person to marry but it does tell us what kind of person to marry. As long as we fulfill what the bible teaches concerning money, marriage and every other area of life we are free to do as we please.

There are basically two reasons why we struggle with God's will in our lives. First, we are ignorant of what God has revealed concerning the issues we deal with. Hence Paul's request that God fill us up with complete knowledge of what He would have us do. Second, we refuse to do what we already know is right in favor of doing what we want.