God reminds us who He is because we are creatures, the product of His creation, and we could not understand God without Him revealing Himself to us. We also could not understand purpose in our lives apart from the God who made us. And it turns out that He made us for a special purpose.
Among the various revelations that can be read in the various books that we consider Scripture is the revelation of a God who created humankind in His own image. We reflect many of the characteristics of the God who fashioned us. Perhaps of greatest significance is the ability He has given us to direct our own wills.
We can choose to see and relate to God for who He is. We can choose to be the captains of our own souls. We can either commit ourselves to our God and Maker, or we can choose to go our own ways. If we choose to go our own ways, however, we go it alone, without the blessing or sustaining grace of the God who made us.
“Return to me, for I have redeemed you,” says God through Isaiah. (Is. 44:22) The God who gave us this capacity to accept or reject Him, calls us to Himself.
In the end, God is all that we could want, all that we are made for and all that we need. In Him is love and peace and eternal life. He is reminding us who He is. Our destiny rests on our willingness to grasp this reality and to submit ourselves to it.
We will not need to be told to “sing for joy….” (Is. 44:23) when we do submit and yield to our Maker because in Him is our joy. It is the natural expression of the child returning home to her Father. God is who He says, and God reminds us who He is in His lovingkindness.
I listened to a Tim Keller sermon about John 1 in which he focused on the revelation that “the Word was in the beginning; the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. You can follow the link in the last sentence to read a summary of the beginning of the message.
Keller made the following statement that is the subject of this piece:
“Jesus is the supreme revelation. If we are to know God, neither rationalism nor mysticism will suffice. For God chose to make Himself known finally and ultimately in a real historical human being.”
Keller doesn’t break that statement down, but he provides an illustration of how rationalism is insufficient to know God. I will summarize Keller’s illustration and provide one of my own for why mysticism can’t be relied upon for knowing God. Neither rationalism nor mysticism are sufficient, alone, to enable us to know God, and the reason why is that God revealed Himself in the person of Jesus.
If I can’t find something I am looking for, does that mean it doesn’t exist?
In the context of searching for God, if I can’t “find Him”, does that mean He doesn’t exist?
My inability to find something I’m looking for is not proof that the thing I am looking for doesn’t exist. Ask my wife. She will often describe an object to me and asked me to go retrieve it for her. I am reluctant to say how many times I have come back without what she sent me to retrieve. I might even be embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve wanted to tell her that the object doesn’t exist
How many times have we said to ourselves when looking for something, “It isn’t anywhere!”? Do we mean, literally, that the object isn’t anywhere? Not usually. Intellectually we know that it is somewhere, but we just can’t find it.
Maybe I am looking in the wrong place. If I’m looking for an object I’ve never seen before, maybe I have the wrong picture of the object in my mind and I am not looking for the right thing. Maybe the object isn’t where I thought it was. Maybe the object is hidden and needs to be uncovered.
These examples are allegorical when it comes to the idea of searching for God.
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. (John 7:17)
Jesus spoke these words after his own brothers expressed their skepticism about who Jesus appeared to be suggesting he was, the long awaited Messiah from God. (John 7:2-5) He spoke these words to a crowd that was also largely skeptical, wondering who he really was. Some were saying he was a good man, but others were claiming that he was leading people astray. (John 7:12)
I keep coming back to this verse (John 7:17) since I heard Dr. Rosaria Butterfield give her testimony of her journey from liberal, lesbian professor who was highly critical of Christians and Christianity to becoming a believer and later a pastor’s wife and having a ministry of her own.
In her world of academia, she was used to doing research and coming to conclusions before being willing to put her faith in a proposition. That is the academic process.
As she was listening to a sermon after having spent many months becoming friends with a pastor and his wife, reading the Bible, and considering the evidence for Christianity, she made a life changing realization. She was approaching Christianity academically. She was not willing to believe until all of the facts were lined up and could be reduced to a certain answer.
Dr. William Lane Craig is a Christian philosopher of the highest caliber.[i] He has multiple doctorate degrees and has taught at various colleges and universities. He is a prolific writer, and has debated nearly two dozen of the more outspoken atheists, agnostics and skeptical thinkers of the world on philosophical, theological and other issues.
In the short clip below, which is a segment from a longer interview on the various arguments (proofs) for the existence of God, he discusses an additional basis for knowing that God exists apart from rational bases for believing in God. This basis, or claim for the existence of God, is personal experience.
This is not an argument for the existence of God. It isn’t rational proof. Rather, it is more like a personal proof or confirmation of the existence of God apart from (not contrary to) reason. It isn’t a substitute for reason, but neither is reason a substitute for the experience.
The main ways that Dr. Craig (and most theists) usually discusses the proof of the existence of God is logic, scientific evidence and philosophy, but these aren’t the only proofs we have.
We might be apt in the western world to discount personal experience and to be suspicious of it, and for good reason. Charles Darwin was suspicious of his own intuition, being the product of evolution from lower life-forms.[ii] A good friend of his got lost in the morass of spiritualism, and that experience of seeing his friend get lost down the rabbit holes of irrational, spiritualistic notions influenced Darwin to distrust his own intuitions.
“Now we see as if in a mirror dimly… but then we will see face to face.”[a]
The filter through which we see God is the physical, spiritual, emotional and conscious person we see staring back at us in the mirror. Our image of who God is comes filtered through our own selves.
Think about that for a moment….
If our sense of who we are is distorted, our view of God is distorted. If we don’t see ourselves accurately, we can’t see God accurately. Having an accurate view of God requires us to have an accurate view of who we are.
Isaiah declared that the Lord says, “I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God…. Is there any God besides me?” (Is. 44:6, 8)
Is this arrogant for God to say? My son says so; he says, “I cannot respect a God like that.” He believes that statements like this in the Old Testament were written by men and do not accurately reflect the Creator of the Universe.
Certainly, if you or I made a similar statement, it would be the height of arrogance. Imagine how our siblings, parents or friends might respond if we made a statement like that?
No, actually, it would be delusional. Though we sometimes may act like the world begins and ends with us, we might be committed if we actually said something that like.
But, is it out of character for God to say something like that? If there is a God, the world actually does begin and end with Him.