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Speaker:
Rev. Dr. Caleb Su
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Christians

Ancient Teachings for Modern Man (04) : Know God through Himself

24 Jun 2020
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Dear brothers and sisters, peace be to everyone! I am very happy that we meet again. Today, we will continue with the lesson on Revelation of the Gospel. He is the eternal ‘Dao’ or ‘the Word of God’. The Word in the beginning and the Word that people do not know. Yet, He was willing to become flesh and came into the world so that people know Him. This is called ‘revelation’. We cannot help but ask, “Why is God incarnated? Why must He reveal himself?” According to John 1: 18 in the ESV Bible “No one has ever seen God.” It means that in human history, no one can find God through his own ways such as good works, accumulated acts of merits, education, philosophy, meditation or other ways. Why can’t people find God by their ways?

Why can’t people find God by their ways? 

Firstly, God is a spirit that people do not see with their physical eyes. Since God is a spirit, He transcends our time and space thus we do not know Him through our own time and space. We are very limited. In addition, our physical bodies cannot surpass material things to enter into the spiritual world to know God. We know our limits because we are created in the three-dimensional space. It is not easy for you and I to enter the spiritual world where the four-dimensional or fifth-dimensional space is. People will use their own ways to enter the four-dimensional space to seek God, for instance, through various kind of meditations and finally encounter the ‘blue fire’. If it is not done properly, the ‘blue fire’ is the evil spirit or even the god that human spirit has created it to be. Therefore, God initiates and reveal Himself to us as He is a spirit.

Secondly, people are limited by time and space. This includes our rational minds which are polluted by sins so we cannot use our logical reasoning to find the infinite God. There is a clear distinction between having limitations and being unlimited. The infinite God can understand the finite humans but the finite humans cannot grasp the mind of the infinite God. The infinite things cannot be integrated into the finite things because of their limitations. Therefore, if we use our power of reasoning to find God, it shows that we are proud, overestimate our abilities and are unaware of ourselves.

Confucius said, “True knowledge is being certain of things that you know, and being humble and accept what you do not know.” This means that if you know, just say “I know.” If you do not know, be honest to say so. This is what true knowledge means.

Lao Zi, another philosopher, said, “It is good to be aware of what I do not know but it is bad if I am unaware of it.” Therefore, it is quite good and intelligent of you to be aware of what you do not know. However, it is ignorance if you are unaware of what you do not know. We must, thus, know what we do not know so that we can humble ourselves and let the eternal and infinite God reveal Himself to us.

Thirdly, He is the supreme God who possesses absolute autonomy; humans cannot use their limited abilities to control and command God. Some people say, “If God is real, speak to me and reveal Himself to me.” Could you say to the Prime Minister in your country, “come to meet me. I want to see you.” No, because you have no authority to do so. On the contrary, if the Prime Minister wants to see me, I must meet him as soon as I can.

Although there is distinction of ranks, all human stand on the same level. However, there are differences between human nature and the nature of God. How can people find God? How can humans command God to obey Him? Dear brothers and sisters, we must be humble! God has the supreme sovereignty and is an autonomous God so he has the absolute right to reveal Himself to all. I cannot command Him. Therefore, I need to be humble, knowing my limitations. No wonder the Bible said that God wants to reveal Himself to the children. This is the meaning of James 4:6 in the ESV Bible, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Fourthly, human nature and God’s nature differ a lot. There is a clear distinction between human nature and the nature of animals. If I say, “This person is stupid like a pig.” He is like a pig but he is not a pig. If I say, “This monkey is very smart like a human.” Regardless of how smart the monkey is, monkey is not a human. In the same way, our nature is different from the nature of God. Regardless of how intelligent and capable I am, I cannot surpass my limitations and become God, thus, to elevate a person to the position of God is to show the ignorance and pride of humans. My limitations and ignorance tell me that “I do not know God.” Only the higher-order being knows the lower-order being but not vice versa. For example, if I want to know why the frog can swim in water and leap on land, I will bring it to the laboratory for dissection where I will discover more and why. On the contrary, I cannot dissect God and discover if He is truly God. As a result, it is easy for me to know a creature of lower order, like a frog for example, but impossible for me to know God who is above me. I ‘do not know’ God but when I humble myself, I embark on a journey to ‘know’ Him. Gaining of true knowledge occurs when I am aware of what I do not know.

Fifthly, there are differences between human nature and God’s nature so people cannot find Him using our ability of reasoning. In the same manner, people cannot find Him by doing good works. Can people continuously do good works and accumulate a lot of good deeds so as to surpass oneself, be equal with God and have the same nature as God? Impossible! We seek our heavenly father to give us humble hearts.

As such, God must be incarnated. Through His works and word, this incarnated God has been expressed through His life who He truly is. In this way, I know God. Apart from this, other ways of knowing Him are not right. Can I know a person through another person? Yes! However, can I know a person through a dog? No! In the same way, I must know God through God Himself. Thus, early churches had a renowned saying, “Only by God is God known.” This is right. If I want to know why the sound that passes through a microphone becomes loud, I must get to know its structure for functioning. It is unacceptable and wrong if I use a microphone to understand a person. In the same way, it is insufficient for me to know God through a person because humans have sinned. God has become flesh and is a sinless being. Thus, we can truly know God through Jesus Christ, who is a sinless person.

Finally, people have sins but God is holy so sinners cannot draw near to the holy God. Just as light and darkness, they are opposites. Where there is light, darkness will be dispelled; where there is darkness, light is absent. In the same way, God is light and we are sinners. We are in darkness and cannot co-exist with the light of God so we need the light from the incarnation of God to enter into our lives and dissipate the darkness in us. I must confess the cleansing of my sins before I can draw near to God who is the light of the world.

People can truly know God through the incarnation of Jesus Christ

Furthermore, John 1:18 from the ESV Bible mentioned: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.” It also means that people can only know God truly through the incarnation of Jesus Christ and revelation of the only son of God (in the original Greek: the only one God). For people to know God, the mystery of God has to be made known to them through revelation. It is only when God is willing to reveal Himself to them that they can know Him.

Dear brothers and sisters, if this is how we understand this verse from the Bible, the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known”, other ways of knowing Him are not right. We need to humble ourselves to tread on the right path, knowing Him through the revelation in the Bible. If we want to know a person, we must know him through his actions and words but not through our mere imagination or speculations on what kind of person he is. If we want to know whether Jesus Christ is God, we must know about His works, His Word and His life in order to affirm that He is God. Therefore, we start to know God through the events in the life of Jesus Christ.

The words, deeds and events in Jesus’ life reveal that he is God

  1. He rebuked the wind and waves, and the storm was calmed. This reveals that He is God who is above all.

Once, while Jesus was in the boat, there was a storm. The disciples were extremely frightened as the boat was about to sink so they went to look for Jesus. When Jesus got up and came out of the cabin, He rebuked the storm, “Wind, be still! Waves, cease!” He stilled the storm. Then, they bowed before Jesus and said, “You are the son of God.” Why? Even the natural world completely obeyed His commands. It demonstrated that He is God who is above all.

  1. He raised the dead to life and He was resurrected. It shows that He is the Lord of life and has overcome death.

Jesus raised Lazarus from death. Jesus said in John 11:25 that “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” People will truly find resurrected lives in God but who is in control of life? God is in control of it. Jesus is able to raise the dead to life even though Lazarus was already dead for four days, Jesus went to his tomb and called him to get up so he came out of it. He is the Lord of life. We want to seek God and know him as He has victory over death.

  1. He has the authority to forgive sins for He is the Lord who has the authority

In Matthew 9:1-8, people brought a paralytic to Jesus. Jesus said to him: “Rise and walk.” The Jews beside them could not understand and were angry and said, “Who is he? How can he say such blasphemous words?” Why? It was because blasphemous words were words spoken by someone as if he were God. Jesus knew what were in their hearts and said to them, “Forgive his sins or call him to get up and walk, which is easier?” The Jews did not answer him and the Pharisees were quiet as they were intelligent. They did not have the power to forgive sins but only God. They also could not tell the paralytic to get up and walk. Furthermore, Jesus said, “In order to show that the son of God has the power to forgive sins, I called this person to rise and walk.” As a result, the paralytic arose and walked. Who is Jesus? He gives life and has the authority to forgive sins so He is the eternal God.

4) He has the ability to transcend space that shows He is the eternal God

On another day, Jesus said to them, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20). Who is He? If I use someone’s name and He is suddenly among us, that would be scary! It is impossible! However, Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Why? Jesus has the ability to transcend space for He is the eternal God. He also said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19). If your grandfather, who was about to pass away and said to you, “Grandchild, whatever I tell you, go and tell others likewise to spread the gospel! Then, I will be with you forever.” How would you answer him? But Jesus said that He would be with us forever as He has the ability to transcend time and He is the eternal God.

Therefore, dear friends, you and I need to know God – He reveals himself to us so that we can know Him. He loves you so He is willing to reveal His gospel to us.

Let us pray together! 

Dear heavenly father, we are very thankful for God is love! You are willing to reveal yourself to us because you have incarnated and came into the world. Through Jesus Christ, we know who God truly is. Therefore, we have hope today as we have found the true God. Lord! At this moment, we are willing to open our hearts to you so that you dwell in us and be with us. You are the Lord who transcends time and space and direct our lives. We have the assurance that you will lead us in the future. We thank God and praise you for your revelation to us. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.