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 Issues | Doctrine | The Knowledge of God

How can we as human being know about God? The study of this question, the knowledge of God, is called epistemology. The question presupposes that God exists, or rather consideration of this question and that of the existence of God go hand in hand.

It is possible to pursue the question of the knowledge of God purely from our experience of the world. However, Christians have generally made assertions about the knowledge of God based on Scripture, which in turn asserts that it is the revelation of God. This is in effect a circular argument, but it describes Christian belief, it is logically consistent, and it makes sense of experience.

Our knowledge of God depends upon His self-revelation because no-one can see Him or come to Him unaided (1 Tim 6.16).

God has however revealed Himself by His works and by His Word.

God’s Works.
The works of God declare the glory of God (Psalm 19), and they are so plain that a person should through these alone be able to come to a knowledge of God (Romans 1.20). The fact that we do not see this is not the fault of God or the inadequacy of His works but because our hearts are darkened by our rebellion (Rom 1.21).

In respect of our knowledge of God His works achieve two things. First, they ensure that we are without excuse, and thus they are sufficient to condemn us. Secondly, they cause us to seek God, to desire to know Him, and so they prepare us for salvation.

Nevertheless, though in all religion people are seeking after the knowledge of God it is granted only by grace: because of our blindness we cannot truly come to God unless the Father grants it (Jn 6.65).

God’s Word.
Though the heavens declare the glory of God it is the law and the testimony of God that are perfect, sure. converting the soul and able to make us wise (Ps 19).

God has spoken, He has not revealed all things, but He has revealed sufficient for us. Above all else God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ so that those who know Christ know the Father (Jn 14.9). Our knowledge of Christ comes through the Bible, but more than this Christians believe that the Bible is the self-revelation of God, not simply the word of men, but the Word of God (1 Th 2.13).

The ability of God to communicate with is in language is not in the least surprising. After all God has created us, made us in His image. We have the gift of language by which we may listen and speak.

God’s Spirit
The Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles to lead them into all truth (Jn 16.13). Christians believe that the New Testament scriptures are the fruit of this promise. Nevertheless the Holy Spirit is given to all believers that we may know God (1 Cor 2.12). The fact that God does not lie (Tit 1.2) means that what we know of God through the Holy Spirit in us is not contrary to what God has revealed in His Word.

See Also

The Authority of the Bible

 

Articles relevant to this issue

Knowing God. Cross†Way article by Alan Hogarth outlining how God has revealed himself to us, through his Word and through Jesus.

'The Oracles of God': Andrew Fuller and the Scriptures. Churchman article by Michael Haykin.

The Suffering of Man and the Sovereignty of God - An Examination of the Relationship between the Problem of Evil and the Purposes of God. Churchman article by Melvin Tinker

John Calvin's Concept of Divine Accomodation. Churchman article by Michael Tinker examining Calvin's teaching about how God relates to mankind.

The Authority of Apostles. Churchman article by Mike Ovey.

Churchman 117/1 (2003) A Case for 'Reformed Evidentialism.'
John Johnson discusses the advantages and disadvantages of Reformed Epistemology and Reformed Evidentialism in Christian Aploogetics.

 

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