On Sunday nights, my church, First Baptist Church of Durham, forgoes Sunday Night meetings at our building in downtown Durham in lieu of Home Fellowships. Our group meets in North Raleigh, and we are studying Knowing God.
Tonight, we discussed Chapter One.
Ryan Hutchinson, our leader, asked us (paraphrase), “What do you think about theology?” Later, he asked us what he hoped to learn in reading Knowing God.
These were great questions. In chapter one, Packer quotes C. H. Spurgeon,
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 Father.
In other words, we only understand ourselves and can cope with our own existence as we immerse our minds, hearts and lives in the knowledge of God. Packer states:
The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God.
He is absolutely right. Evil and suffering confuse us and make life unbearable (without some irrational coping methods), unless we trust in God’s sovereign providence over all creation.
But one has to make some mental commitments:
- God has spoken to man, and the Bible is his Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.
- God is Lord and King over his world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him.
- God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly.
- God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it.
- Godliness means responding to God’s revelation in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s Word. This, and nothing else, is true religion.
Read these five again and notice how they all build upon each other. Ultimately, our knowledge of God occurs through relationship founded on a faith commitment of obedience to God’s revealed Word–the Bible.
But, as with any knowledge, there is a real and present danger–arrogance. Knowledge puffs up! Knowing God includes doctrinal truth, but not for the sole sake of knowledge of that truth. Doctrinal knowledge is a means to an end, not the end itself. The end is God himself:
Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are.
Packer concludes his chapter asking us to meditate on God, applying the truth to our mind and our heart. As we move the knowledge from the head to the heart, it will be evident through our humility, peace, strength and joy.
Ryan concluded the session asking us to consider how we could improve our discipline of meditation. Even with our busy lives, we can make better use of our time so that our lives would be changed by our theology. Remember, theology without obedience is mere religious opinion.
Will you make a faith commitment to God, the Father, Son and Spirit?
How can you put your knowledge of God to use through meditation?
In what ways would you recommend to do this?