Summary: Paul wrote to Timothy, "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day." There is a great difference between knowing about God, and knowing God. Paul knew the one to whom he trusted all.
Note 1: This sermon can be used as a companion sermon to "Knowing Christ," which is also posted on Sermon Central. They are not redundant, and may be used separately or presented on consecutive occasions.
Note 2: I have developed some PowerPoint slides that I used in presenting this sermon. If anyone is interested in them send your request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Knowing God slides" and I will send the PowerPoint file along with the sermon notes in MS Word with prompts I used to remind to advance slides or animations.
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I. Is It Possible For Humans To Know God?
2 Tim 1:11-12 NIV
…of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What had Paul entrusted to God?
His labors and suffering—to be brought forth in the day of judgment?
Only in the sense that they indicate that all of his interests in this life and the life to come.
Paul placed everything in the care and keeping of the one who has the greatest concern for the care and keeping of Paul’s interests.
Think about it--what have you or I entrusted to God with confidence that he will guard it until we stand in judgment? But that is a subject for another day.
Paul KNEW the one he believed, and was convinced of God’s ability to guard what Paul had entrusted to him.
Paul prayed that his readers would know God.
Ephesians 1:17-18 (ESV) Paul prayed:
…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
But how can anyone know God?
God is a different kind of being than humans, with a very different kind of existence.
Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 55:8-9:
...my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
A. Is it possible to know an eternal God?
How can the finite mind grasp the infinite?
What, for example, lies beyond outer space?
How can the earthbound visualize heaven except in terms of earthbound things?
How can the time-bound grasp eternity, except in terms of time?
Solomon said God's works are incomprehensible.
…then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
An agnostic is a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality of God is unknown, and most likely unknowable. Broadly, agnostics are not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God.
Agnosticism is popular today. In that thought system you don’t have to commit yourself, or entrust anything to God.
If I were to give the names of some famous people who were or are agnostics, you would recognize some of their names. It is a common belief.
B. Who Is God?
Another popular approach is “Build Your Own God” (like ordering a build-your-own pizza).
We can easily convince ourselves we know God, if we supplement any knowledge we have with our imagination, and build God in our minds, basing it on our desires for the way that we want God to be, instead of the other way around.
If it serves our purposes and appetites to think of God in a certain way, we are more likely to define God in that way so he will mesh with our purposes.
In this way we manufacture our own God, adapted to on our own value judgments of what God ought to be.
We expect the God we build to pass our approval, or not be God.