home > Pastor’s Desk > 2018 > January 18th > Three Things You May Not Know About God

THREE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT GOD

(AND YOU NEED TO)

One day I’m going to publish a book called “5 Proofs For The Existence Of God“. As with each of my other books, I generally publish them online first as a webpage, and get readers’ feedback before publishing. My article, which bears the name of my proposed book title, has recently had a flurry of comments from some who object to someone like me claiming that God’s existence can be ‘proved’. One of the frustrating things about some of these commentators is that they are denying the existence of a god that I too would deny! But because they do not know God, they imagine Him to be something other – an ugly, horrible, mean, other. There’s three simple things I wish these people would know about God.

CAN GOD REALLY BE KNOWN?

How do we know anything? You might say that we know things by observation. While this can be true, two things are worth noting about observation. I can illustrate the first one by confessing my fascination with good magicians. Ruby and I will regularly watch YouTube clips of very talented magicians. Ruby’s constant question to me is, “How did they do that?” (I won’t admit my usual answer – but you can probably guess it). The reason she asks this question is because what she just observed doesn’t make sense. (Like what Steven Brundage can do with a Rubiks Cube!) That is, what Ruby and I thought we observed was not what actually happened. Observation can be a reliable source of knowledge – but not always

Thus, observation is generally reliable, but not always. Even when Jesus of Nazareth performed some of the most outstanding miracles – which was directly observed by His opponents – such as when He raised back to life a man who had been dead and entombed for 4 days, they still denied the reality of what they had observed.

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
John 11:41-44

The other drawback with relying only on observation to gain knowledge or certainty is that there are many things which observation alone cannot tell us. We can not observe events in the ancient past for example, yet we can be certain of historical events for different reasons such as reliable witness accounts.

 

HOW GOD CAN BE KNOWN

There are other ways of knowing things. Humans have the capacity for knowing through-

  • Argumentation
  • Intuition
  • Experiences
  • Instruction
  • Enquiry

polaroid-blaise-pascalBy these, thinkers such as Socrates concluded that the ancient Greek concept of gods was false and that logic demanded that there was only One God. (Socrates was then found guilty of ‘heresy’ and ordered to be put to death by poisoning for displeasing the ‘gods’.) 

It is, then, true that everything teaches man his condition, but he must understand this well. For it is not true that all reveals God, and it is not true that all conceals God. But it is at the same time true that He hides Himself from those who tempt Him, and that He reveals Himself to those who seek Him, because men are both unworthy and capable of God; unworthy by their corruption, capable by their original nature.
Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 557

 

THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GOD

One of the most common objections to there being a God is referred to as the problem of evil. If God is all-loving and all-powerful, then why is there evil in the world? Surely if He was all-loving He would not want people to experience evil – but maybe He can’t prevent it after all because He is not actually all-powerful? Therefore, because there is evil in this world, God does not exist, it is claimed.

#1. GOD IS BENEFICENT 

I wish more people knew that God is beneficent. If they did, they would not see evil as an argument against the existence of God. This problem of evil can only be a problem for the existence of God because we intuitively know that God is beneficent – “very good” – yet there is evil. But, we can only consider something to be ‘evil’ because we have an absolute standard of good. God is the only One qualified to meet this standard of absolute goodness.

¶ Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8

In this instance, our intuitions are right. God is not only good, He’s very good. Could it be that since we intuitively know that God is good, He always has good reasons for allowing what we perceive to be evil? I have experienced pain, loss, and disappointment. Rather than becoming disillusioned with God in these times, I have found Him to be my source of comfort and strength. In fact, in some of my most painful experiences, I have received my greatest blessings. I have come to know that God is not ‘good’ like Santa Claus, but is pure goodness.

I wish people knew how good God was.

 

#2. GOD IS BIG, REALLY BIG 

I wish more people knew how big God is. I think some people think that God is just a bit bigger than them. Let’s think for a moment about how big God must be.

Cause>Effect Principle

Firstly, God must be the ‘Uncaused First-Cause’.

The Uncaused First-Cause Principle

The Universe consisting of space, time, energy, and matter, could not have caused itself. It must have been caused by an uncaused first-cause. To begin to appreciate just how big/powerful/intelligent this this uncaused first-cause must be, we need to consider its effect. We know that no effect can be greater than its cause. Now consider how phenomenally big the universe is. Our earth appears as a “pale blue dot” from outer space. It is part of a seemingly insignificant solar system, which is part of a modest sized galaxy known as the Milky Way, which is part of a cluster of smaller galaxies known as The Local Group, which belongs to a super-cluster of other galaxy clusters known as The Local Supercluster. Our Universe is at least 13.7 billion light years in width. Now consider how big God must be! 

¶ The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1

crazy big universe

The word ‘big’ seems so inadequate to describe God. The ancients who realised just how big God must be in power, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, kindness, grace, compassion, chose to use a word to capture the bigness of God which in English is: majestic.

¶ “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
Exodus 15:11

 

#3. GOD IS BEAUTIFUL 

Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
Psalm 71:19

I wish more people knew that God is the epitome of beauty. I’m married to a very beautiful woman. When I look at her, I admire her beauty. Her beauty is not dependent on her choice of fashion or make-up, because her beauty is natural. Then imagine the most naturally beautiful being in the universe – God. It’s not just that God is beautiful, it’s that He radiates a beauty. This is known as glory. His beauty is deeper than appearance because it intrinsically involves who He is. Everything He does is beautiful. Everything He says is beautiful. All that He decrees is beautiful.  

¶ There is none like you, O LORD;
You are great, and Your name is great in might.
Jeremiah 10:6

WE ALL CRAVE BEAUTY BECAUSE WE WERE MADE BY A BEAUTIFUL GOD TO APPRECIATE BEAUTY.  

¶ One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

 I wish more people realised that God is beautiful

 

THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT KNOWING GOD

worshipOne of the things that makes human beings unique is our need to worship. We long for a connection with our Maker which drives us to worship. We are created to worship God, the Uncaused First-Cause, the Supremely Beneficent, Majestic, Glorious One. Little wonder then that when people have encountered this God they have been overwhelmed with their own inadequacy to be in His presence. Their only option is to surrender. This is why people lift their hands up in worship of God as a display of heart-felt surrender. To know God more intimately involves-

  1. Surrendering to Him in worship
  2. Learning about Him, His ways, and His will, through being instructed in His Word
  3. Submission to a fellowship of other believers whereby the grace of God is imparted to you.

remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.
Ephesians 1:16-19

Amen.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 

KNOWING GOD

In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.

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What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

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Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.

WHAT CHARMING BETRAYERS DESERVE ACCORDING TO THE PSALM OF KING DAVID, NUMBER 55

Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 23

My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.

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The Bible is an amazing book. As we look through the book of Psalms we can so unbelievably clearly see God at work. And also most poignantly, this Psalm – Psalm 22 – prophetically points to, and closely mirrors Jesus and the events of the cross mentioned in the New Testament. This Psalm is well over 1000 years prior to Jesus.There are some well known passages of Scripture that stand out as being prophetic promises of the Messiah. These prophetic words show us that God is Omniscient; He knows everything. The first Messianic prophecy shows that the seed of the woman would eventually defeat the devil.

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So many thriller movies are just funny. Of course they are not meant to be and many people would find them more like nightmare material. The producers would be horrified to see me giggling at some of their ‘scary’ bits, but it’s just the way I’m wired. I see more of the special effects than the story line and I see the absurdity of the scenes that lack the necessary rules of consistency instead of the fear factor they hope. I once watched a movie where the victim lay dead bleeding from the mouth but the make-up blood had not dripped to the ground with gravity, but rather, accidentally dripped up. The whole movie just became hilarious from that point on.