[forthright] Knowing God by Reason

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 01:09:38 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Final Phase

Knowing God by Reason
by J. Randal Matheny

A new religious catechism has been released in
question-and-answer form. Ten of them have been
translated into English so far. In the next weeks,
we'll provide biblical answers to several of these
religious questions.

The first question published is this: How is it
possible to know God only with the light of

One may know about God without personally knowing
him. But one cannot know him without knowing about
his nature, character, and will. With the light of
reason alone, one cannot know God. The human mind,
in and of itself, has no innate knowledge of the
true God. However, one may know many things about
him by observing creation,/1 because "the heavens
declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1).

In Romans 1, Paul declares what we may know about
God from creation:

"For what can be known about 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" (vv. 19-20).

Thus, those who do not honor God are culpable,
because creation reveals some things about God.
But man has rejected even that limited knowledge
and preferred to invent his own gods.

Creation is then limited as a revelation of God.
It cannot reveal the plan or will of God for man,
necessary things for knowing God. For that, one
must turn elsewhere, to Holy Scripture.

In order to know God one must consider the Christ
as his definitive revelation: "No one has ever
seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's
side, he has made him known" (John 1:18; see also
17:3; 1 John 5:20).

The knowledge of the glory of God is seen in the
face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The
prophetic writings make the gospel of Christ known
to all nations (Romans 16:25-27). By human wisdom
it is impossible to know God; only through the
message of Christ is it possible (1 Corinthians
1:21). Thus Scripture equates knowing God with
obeying the gospel of the Lord Jesus (2
Thessalonians 1:8). Professing to know God is
insufficient; it must be demonstrated in one's
manner of life (Titus 1:16). True, godly love is a
result of knowing God (1 John 4:7,8). Those who do
not know God give themselves over to their sensual
passions (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).

Knowing God is a description of the very essence
of Christianity (Galatians 4:8,9). As such, it
constitutes man's most important concern and
should drive us to the Christ and his cross.
1/ Scripture does not call creation "nature," as
is common today.

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