Wednesday @ Westminster: Growing in the Knowledge of God
March 9, 2016
Do you know God? How easy it is for us to profess that we do merely with our lips. The visible church of Christ is full of people who profess to know God, but do we really? To know God is to have knowledge of him, to actually know something about him. But to know God is also to have a deep, intimate, relationship with him through his Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. So let me ask you again, do you know God?
One of the beautiful truths of the Christian life is we who “have come to know God, or rather to be known by God” (Gal. 4:9) also get to know him more and more over the course of our lives. You are called to this. Jesus calls you to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). The apostles prayed for this in the lives of their hearers, that they would be “increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10) and that they would “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
So how can you and I grow in the knowledge of God? When I ask this question, I do not intend to answer it with techniques and tips. Those should be fairly obvious: reading, prayer, meditation, and conversation about God. Instead, the Westminster Larger Catechism focuses our minds and hearts upon the object of our knowledge—God: “What do the Scriptures make known of God? The Scriptures make known what God is, the persons in the Godhead, his decrees, and the execution of his decrees” (Q&A 6).
I need to grow deeper in my knowledge of God’s being. He is a Spirit, he is eternal, he is infinite, he is immutable, and the list goes on of all the amazing attributes of our God that we need to know about him. Knowing whom he is in by knowing these attributes benefits us. These attributes of God increase our knowledge of God. But we must not stop there. Knowledge of God needs to lead us to know God. And to know God’s being beneficially is to know what he is for me, for us.
We come to have this knowledge by meditating upon such amazing texts of Scripture as Exodus 3 and the burning bush, Exodus 33–34 and Moses’ vision of the Lord, and Psalm 145 with all of God’s beauty portrayed in his attributes for us. Let me encourage you to do what the Puritans were known for doing. Pray God’s promises back to him and see how your prayer life, your confidence, and your wonder at God grow and grow.
I need to grow deeper in my knowledge of God’s persons. Our God is not just a singular being off somewhere in space. We have a personal God whom we come to know in the Word is distinguished in three persons. Have you stopped to wonder at what it means that there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit?
The fact that Scripture reveals there is a Father and a Son means that they have eternally been a Father and eternally been a Son. The Father has always loved his Son. The Father has always related in the most intimate of ways with the Son. God is love.
The fact that there is a Son means he has eternally been so. Unlike us who came into being at a certain point, the Son eternally was begotten. He has eternally loved his Father. God’s relationship is eternal.
The fact that there is a Holy Spirit means that he has eternally proceeded from the Father and the Son, with whom he has eternally dwelt in the closest of love, fellowship, and unity.
Because God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are persons, we can have a personal relationship this “one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity” (Athanasian Creed). And this allows us to have personal communion with the persons of the Godhead, as John Owen so masterfully described in his treatise, Of Communion with God.
I need to grow deeper in my knowledge of God’s decrees. He planned from eternity to create all things. While it is important to learn about when God created, how long it took him to create, why he created, and in what way he created, we do not want to miss the most important point of all: God decided to create in the first place! When you think of the decree to create you should be filled with awe. The eternal God decreed to share his eternal life with you!
He also planned to save sinners for himself. Again, it is important to think about the order of the decrees—where in relation to his decree to create did he decree to save sinners—but do not miss the profit of meditating on the wonder that out of a fallen race God decided to salvage it! As you meditate upon Ephesians 1 do not forget to be filled with praise that God decreed your election, that he knew you before time began, and that he placed his love on you before you even knew it.
I need to grow deeper in my knowledge of God’s execution. In the narrative of creation (Gen. 1 cf. Ps. 104) we read of a master builder, whose wisdom and skill are seen in every detail. We see the creativity and ingenuity of God in every genus and species of plant, animal, fish, and bird. We see his power in calling everything to be out of nothing and into nothing.
But it is when we meditate upon the execution of our redemption in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ that we particularly grow in our intimate, personal, and relational knowledge of God. God eternally decreed the execution of his Son that I might be a son (Acts 2:22–23). God set Christ forth, put him on display to display God’s wisdom, righteousness, and love for a lost sinner like me (Rom. 3:25).
So do you know God? Yes; now continue to grow. Grow from infancy to childhood and into adulthood. Grow from drinking merely milk to eating the meat of the Word. Come to know what your God is like and what your God does. Come to know how your God has eternally related within the persons of the Trinity and the who, how, when, where, and why of his plans and execution: that we might “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).