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Christian Counseling: Knowing God

Richard Cecil, an Anglican clergyman in the 1700's and 1800's, aptly said, "The first step to knowledge is to know that we are ignorant." I would add, "and that we remain more ignorant than knowledgeable throughout our lives, despite whatever knowledge we have acquired."  The wisest man on earth, besides Jesus (who was also God), was Solomon who admitted to his own limitations in Ecclesiastes 7:23-24: "I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, 'I will be wise,' but it was far from me. What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it?" This is true not only of wisdom, but any body of knowledge including knowing the Person of God.

Paul Tillich, a twentieth century theologian and philosopher, penned the phrase, "God beyond God." This presents to us the idea that whatever image we have conceived or developed about the Person of God, there is more, far more, infinitely more. After all, God is infinite and no one can grasp infinity but God Himself. The far greater number of His thoughts, judgments and behaviors are beyond us. One of understanding will eventually come to admit we humans all live a life largely in ignorance of who God is. What we largely know of Him is contained in the limited, approximately 1600 pages of Biblical revelation, which is coupled with our interpretation, imagination and wish.

The ultimate reality of God or the correct image of Him will not be understood this side of heaven, and I wonder if we will ever fully and completely know Him. I wonder if the angels have discovered and experienced new thoughts, emotions and understandings about God as the result of their observing His creating and interacting with human beings. I image that to be the case. I image that in the timeless world of heaven, God will forever be revealing Himself. I image that the wonderful and exciting path of searching out the Person of God will forever remain part of His amazing glory (Proverbs 25:2).

How do we discover who God is? Of course we study the Bible, in depth. We dialogue with God--we speak, He listens and He speaks, we listen (prayer). He lives in Christians, therefore, through one another's behavior, attitude and words we can often see God. We discover Him in nature and all His creation as Romans chapter one tells us. We discover Him by raising unending, hard, unusual and perhaps scary questions and seeking to answer them as best we can. We use our minds and imaginations to piece together disparate events and decisions of God to formulate an impression of His character and learn as we attempt to forecast some future events or actions of God. You can also ponder the process you went through in getting to know someone special and how they got to know you and then apply it your relationship with God. Finally, let the Holy Spirit lead you into all truth. Ultimately, your God beyond God or image of Him will be unique, different than anyone else. Collectively, our images, if we could blend them, would be closer to the true Person of God, so do not be quick to dismiss other's images, but first get to know and consider them.

If ever you find yourself thinking something like, I know the vast majority of things about the Person of God, know that you can add to your self-understanding, the capacity to be self-deceived. There exists a world, no an unending universe of truth about the nature and Person of God. See what you can find. In so doing you will likely find your relationship with Him energized by having a deeper connection to Him, greater trust and faith in His unfailing goodness toward you, an unbreakable emotional bond and a calm and peace that passes understanding.


1 comment (Add your own)

1. Dakkali wrote:
about using arohnoptlogy to inform our theology. That can help, since we are so much more familiar with ourselves (and since we are created in the imago Dei, then it can bring some insights, since the "Kilroy was Here" thing is true) BUT (!) this is precarious since we are depraved and our abilities to discern what is noble in the human character has proved to be less-than-accurate!I would like to get ahold Konkel's thesis. As I wrote above, D.J.A. Clines' Tyndale Old Testament Lecture spells out the "representation" idea pretty well.I'd suggest to you Michael Wittmer's Heaven is a Place on Earth and I am going to read McKnight's Jesus Creed as well.

02/08/2012 @ 12:30 AM

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