Where can you learn about God? I suggest there are five places: Nature, People, the Church, You, and Scripture. Before going into each of these, consider: is the study of God possible? Yes, the study of God is called Theology.
Is any knowledge of God possible?
Agnostics say that it is not. Many religious teachers from all brands of beliefs are agnostic. They reason that God is too big for us to see. His mind and ways are beyond our ability to comprehend. It’s like, if an ant can understand that men have been to the moon, then we can understand something about God. This ideology can be alluring but it is false.
Even Job is perplexed in Chapter 23: “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.”
However, God wants to inform His people, so He answered some questions for us. In the midst of Job’s book is his testimony.
Chapter 19: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
The Bible says we can learn something about God.
Is it right to study God?
In case you find the concept uncomfortable, perhaps somewhat irreverent, consider these verses.
Job 23: “I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.”
Proverbs 25: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.”
Acts 17: “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”
Jeremiah 29: “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”
2 Timothy: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The Bible says it is right and good to study God.
So where can we find information about God? Who is He, what does He do? What is He like?
We will look in five places: Nature, People, the Church, You, and Scripture.
Can you learn about God from nature?
Let me answer this question with a question: Can you tell things about an artist by his work?
If you walk up to a painting by someone you never heard of, can you deduce something about the artist? You would say the artist exists. Is his work well respected? Is it hanging in a museum or a garage sale? You could decide if he has talent. You could by the subject matter decide about his morals. You may try and guess the emotions he felt based on the colors, tone and structure of the work. You can decide if you like the work, and by extension the artist.
What can you tell about God from His work, the things He created?
- He exists.
- He is talented.
- He works on a scale from the most minute to the grandest, unimaginable in both directions.
- The splendid universe of the tiny is as stunning as all far flung galaxies.
- All over creation you see a genius at work.
In two passages in Luke, our Lord invites us to think on a more humble level.
“Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?”
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
We can learn something about God from what He has made.
But can nature tell you all important things about God?
Nature, although beautiful, is vicious – heartless – cruel – snarling face – snapping teeth – sharp claws – sickness – disease – loneliness – hunger – thirst – death. Men reasoning from nature, seeing both the good and the bad, have decided that good and evil are in cooperation, that life is a circle, life and death are mirror images or two sides of one coin.
This philosophy is magnetic. Most of mankind believes it in one form or another. There is in fact no good argument refuting it based on reasoning by experience.
However, here God has not left us alone.
Genesis 1: “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
Romans 5: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”
Although we can learn about God from what he has made, we need what he has personally spoken to us in the Bible to come to a sound conclusion.
What is the conclusion? This is not the way it is supposed to be. Death is not natural, he is an enemy, he is an intruder, his days are numbered. You would not be able to deduce this from observing the state of creation today.
Can you learn about God from people?
Revelation 21: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
When John the Apostle put the period after the word “Amen,” the Bible was complete. His people now have everything they need to know about God’s plan for them in this life. John died soon after, and some disciples of Christ were still living in the world. Was the future going to be easy for Christians?
In John 17, Jesus Christ the Son of God said:
“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”
So imagine one generation of Christians after another struggling in the world. One generation under severe persecution; the next free and prosperous. They dealt with heresies, false teachings, fools and murderers. As liars began claiming a new and better gospel, the Christian of the day rose up, pored over the scriptures, and explained why the heretic was wrong. Then he informed others about what he had found. By doing this he showed love for the flock of Christ, protecting them from wolves, preaching sermons, denouncing lies, reasoning with the confused, doing his job. The writings of each generation should be studied; the life work of our forefathers in the faith has value.
The teachings of the first generation of Christians must be compared to the Holy Scripture. The next generation’s teachings must be compared to the first as well as the Scripture. The third generation’s teachings must be compared to the second, first, and with the Scripture. And so on.
This is orthodoxy. To be orthodox in your thinking means you agree pretty much with what most church fathers have taught and have passed down through the centuries.
This approach is logical if you believe that God answered Jesus’ prayer mentioned above, and God in answering has taken effective action.
Jesus’ prayer in John 17: “Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.”
Jesus’ prayer was and is effective. The long line of teachers known only to God from Moses, the Psalmist, the prophets and apostles then through the years to today and to you is unbroken. No link has failed.
Although the writings and teachings of any man after John do not rise to the authority of the Bible, they can often help us to understand the Bible’s meaning more clearly.
You can learn from people. In fact this is how God said it must be. He gave Christians the job of telling unbelievers about Him.
You can also learn from non-Christians. They are made by God as well. Other religions, atheists, anyone can have something of value to a Christian.
When you witness to a non-Christian (by definition they are the only person you can witness to), then you are definitely not preaching to the choir.
If you have the good fortune to run into an atheist who thinks diligently on hard questions and is willing to discuss, you will quickly find out how prepared you are in the Gospel.
Much error within the Church is exposed by atheists who have no dog in the fight.
Isaac Asimov said, “If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.”
What would you say to Dr. Asimov? As an evangelist you will run into a variant of this over and over.
Émile Zola said, “The road to Lourdes is littered with crutches, but not one wooden leg.”
Many times in evangelizing you will run into someone disappointed by faith healing. What do you say?
Caution: there are some ways you should not seek God. Some ways are prohibited in Scripture; for example, seeking an encounter with the dead. Looking for a spiritual medium. Do not do it. God forbids it for a reason.
Can you learn about God from the Church?
We are living in eternity. Each moment is where we can take action in eternity. The past is set, the future awaits, but this moment is where we can obey or rebel or be indifferent. We can contemplate the past and plan the future, but thinking and planning are in the moment.
The Church today is where we meet other Christians, Worship God as a body, seek spiritual wisdom. The Church today meaning the body of all believers living on earth, including those in the local congregation, is part of a history of God’s people. Compare any and all teaching to the earlier fathers and especially the Scripture.
If anything I say today drives you to the Bible to see if it is true, then praise God Brothers and Sisters.
Can you learn about God from you as a Christian?
You are an image bearer of God. You are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit. You are immortal.
Your conscience is not audible to any other person than yourself. You agree that God is righteous when you are happy doing what He wants you to do. You agree that God is righteous when you feel guilty for not doing what you should.
People’s own philosophy and ideas about things are personal and not always right. God is rational. He thinks clearly. He made us rational. Our reason is darkened at the moment, and God fills us with His spirit to guide us and sends teachers to help us, and has given us his Bible as a standard to think correctly.
Your feelings are certainly something that can tell you about God. He gave you the ability to feel.
But this is truly the most dangerous place to look for information about Him. Many bad errors come from feelings about God. A person led by erroneous feelings who has killed his conscience and decides his own truth is a good candidate to start a new religion.
Compare what you are thinking and feeling with authority.
- Bring it up with other people.
- Talk with Christians.
- Mention it in Church bible studies or other forums available.
- Read Christian authors.
- Study Christian history.
- Most important, read the scriptures.
Can you learn about God from yourself if you are not a Christian? No.
Can you learn about God from Scripture?
God revealed Himself to us in His Holy Word. Jesus is the Word. He is both fully human and fully God. The scripture we have today is God’s Word. In all the ways you can learn about God – nature, people, church, you – it must be based on the scripture alone.
The prophets and apostles are the foundation of the church, Jesus is the cornerstone. Our brothers and sisters in Christ and you are the building blocks. This is how God has built His Church.
Don’t take my word for it: read the Bible daily. Step outside yourself, reach out to the church for instruction and guidance, reach out to non-Christians because you are ordered to as well as for pity’s sake, observe God’s world, listen, think, speak against falsehood, praise and spread truth.