Summary: There is much more to God--who He is and what He is doing--than we can ever hope to grasp. God is His own category. God knows all about us…we can never know all there is to know of God.
Now that we’ve finished examining God’s attributes, we need to recognize that what we know about God still isn’t enough. There is much more to God--who He is and what He is doing--than we can ever hope to grasp. God is His own category. God knows all about us…we can never know all there is to know of God.
Job11:7-8, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know?” The prophet Isaiah writes that, “as the heavens are higher than the earth, God’s ways are above our ways, and His thought are above our thoughts” (55:9).
This is a humbling notion. “God is inexpressible, beyond our concepts, beyond our language…God is uniquely and categorically different from the world” (Volf). If He could be grasped, He would not be God. Theologian R.C. Sproul admits, “The more I learn about God, the more aware I become of what I don’t know about Him.” “God overwhelms our ability to understand Him” (McGrath). God is unguessable, unsearchable. Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord.”
According to our reading in Romans 11, we’ve only just begun to understand who God is. God is “wholly other;” He is not like us but beyond our finite, limited, human comprehension. He is unquantifiable, too big to measure; He transcends our grasp; we cannot wrap our mortal minds around Him. In fact, “A comprehended God is no God” (St. Chrysotom).
So can we know God at all, at least in part? There are limits to what mere mortals can know. We’re tempted to think we’ve got God all figured out, and sometimes we even dare to speak for Him, when He has not spoken for Himself.
For us to know God, He must reveal Himself to us. Paul writes in Romans 1:19 that what we can know about God is only because God has shown it to us. Within all people is a “God-shaped void”, an awareness that there is a Higher Power, confirmed by nature (God’s visible handiwork). But people suppress the evidence of God, preferring to make their own truth, to live by their own, fallible and arbitrary wisdom.
The Bible tells us who God is, but it doesn’t tell us everything. Neither do books about God. If you were to visit Gordon-Conwell Seminary, you’d find a normal-looking library, but with a difference. The books are nearly all about religious subjects: Bible commentaries, theology books, church history, archeology, and every sacred topic you can think of. With all that accumulated knowledge about God, you’d think there’d be little mystery regarding who God is. But not so. Gordon-Conwell’s library is but a fraction of what we know about God. We know a lot, yet there’s so much more we don’t know. “We cannot ‘know’ God in a way that explains everything about Him. We cannot reduce God to our experience or our understanding of Him” (Eugene Peterson).
There are things we need to know about God. We’ve covered some of those things in this series, and perhaps we now know Him better. We need to know that our Lord is a God of justice and mercy, love and grace, power, wisdom, and righteousness. But we know only in-part. Perhaps even when we see God there will still be an unknowable aspect to Him. Some students of the Bible try to put God “in a box”; in other words, they think they have Him figured out. They don’t.
Could we be mistaken about God? Perhaps, in some ways…especially if we’ve misinterpreted His word. Or maybe if we’ve formed a faulty view of God, based on how we think God ought to be. God is who He is. Phil Yancey was trying to share his faith with a college student. The student said, “I don’t believe in God,” and Yancey said, “Tell me about this God you don’t believe in. The chances are I don’t believe in him either.” The God people reject may not be the God revealed in the Bible.
We should try to know what we can about God. The more we read His word, the better understanding we’ll have. Can we be certain about our knowledge of God? In some things, yes, if we accept the Biblical record. Reject Scripture, and all we’re left with is speculation.
In Jewish thought, to “know” God means to experience Him” (Marvin Wilson). We do so in prayer. As we pray, we offer ourselves to God. We speak to Him, and He speaks to us through His word. God may wish to hide Himself from those who have no desire to encounter Him, while revealing Himself to those with open hearts. Sin suppresses any desire to know God; it clouds spiritual sensitivity. Leo Tolstoy declared, “God cannot be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.”