Knowledge of God!

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”[1]

 

 A. W. Tozer's declaration relating to the knowledge of God is of eternal importance for God's image-bearers.  Tozer continues, “Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.”[2] What are your thoughts and ideas about God? What is the source from where these thoughts and ideas arise? As Salvationist worship leaders, what we think of God is what we live, sing, teach, and preach – it is what we lead God's people to believe.

 

We read in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”[3] As creatures whose lives are divinely designed for the worship of our Triune God, we must be diligent in disciplining our minds to think about whom He says He is (His nature, character, attributes), His perfect plan for creation, perfect provision for our fallen state and His presence manifested throughout history according to Scripture. James Boice said it best, “…true knowledge begins with spiritual knowledge, knowledge of God, and that is to be found in God’s revelation of himself in the Bible and in Jesus’ own life and work, the work of the Saviour.”[4]

 

Has it ever crossed your thought-process that the Creator of the universe desires for you and I to know Him personally? Authors Boyer and Hall explain the profound mystery of God, "To approach God is to approach an unfathomable depth of reality and truth that, like the sun in the sky, is too intense, too bright to look at, but that nevertheless brings meaning and coherence and beauty to everything else. God is a mystery."[5] As astonishing and perplexed as this reality is, Yahweh still longs for His image-bearers to know Him intimately. Scripture is His revelation, which testifies of His unconditional, steadfast love for us. Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23), came down from His Heavenly throne to make His dwelling among us (John 1:14). 

 

As Salvationist music and arts leaders, our spiritual maturation continued in our ongoing, personal experience of God's knowledge, will equip us to share His good news in a powerful and relevant way through the creative ministries we serve in. How does theology reveal who God is? 

 

In the first article of this series, we acknowledged God’s nature, character, attributes and they are worth a reiteration:

God is Holy (read 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 77:13; Revelation 4:8)

Infinite/Self-Existing (read Psalm 147:5; Colossians 1:17)

God is Unchanging (read Malachi 3:6; James 1:17)

Omniscient – All-Knowing (read Isaiah 46:9-10)

Omnipresent – Always Everywhere (read Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23-24)

Omnipotent – All-Powerful (read Psalm 33:6; Job 11:7-11).

He is faithful, gracious, good, glorious, just, loving, merciful, wise, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The question is, how has He manifested Himself to you lately – especially through COVID? Furthermore, how are we displaying such knowledge of our Triune God in corporate worship? Do we sing or read Scripture about His nature, character, and attributes? 

 

Secondly, knowledge of God also witnesses our fallen state as His creatures and the need for redemption. Our fifth doctrine in the Salvation Army makes this reality plain, “We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.” James M. Boice agrees and states, 

 

On the one hand, knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is humbling. We are not God, nor are we like him. He is holy; we are unholy. He is good; we are not good. He is wise; we are foolish. He is strong; we are weak. He is loving and gracious; we are filled with hate and with selfish affections…on the other hand, such knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is also reassuring and satisfying. For in spite of what we have become, we are still God’s creation and are loved by him. No higher dignity has been given to women and men than the dignity the Bible gives them.[6]

 

            Thirdly, praise be to God that knowing Him also reassures us that a perfect, sacrificial Lamb took upon Himself our sins and gave us new life. Through Jesus Christ, we receive salvation and are born again of the Spirit (read Ephesians 1:3-14). Reconciliation is available to the 'whosoever' who declares with their mouths, "'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead."[7] As Salvation Army worship leaders, we must extend this invitation when we lead God’s people in corporate worship and within our sphere of influence outside the Corps building at every opportunity. James M. Boice once again adds, “Consequently, according to the Bible, knowledge of God takes place only where there is also knowledge of ourselves in our deep spiritual need and where there is an accompanying acceptance of God’s gracious provision for our need through the work of Christ and the application of that work to us by God’s Spirit. Knowledge of God takes place in the context of Christian piety, worship, and devotion.”[8]

Lastly, knowledge of God is evident through His redemption of our lives on a personal level. Throughout the history of Israel, we see time and again God’s redemptive footprint for His people. That same love has been extended to the 'whosoever' – you and me – and it needs to continue to echo unto eternity by bringing to the Father those who are still lost. "The love of God is one of the great realities of the universe, a pillar upon which the hope of the world rests. But it is a personal, intimate thing, too. God does not love populations, He loves people. He loves not masses, but men. He loves us all with a mighty love that has no beginning and can have no end."[9] Amen!

 

As Salvationist worship leaders, may we always remind God's people of whom He says we are in Him and also whom He says He is as we lead corporate worship (His nature, character, attributes, perfect provision/purpose, presence) – all found in His love letter to His beloved, the Bible. May our personal walk with Him also testify of the Great I AM.

 

[1] A W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God, Their Meaning in the Christian Life (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978), 1.

 

[2] Ibid., 4.

 

[3] John 17:3

 

[4] James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, revised and expanded edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018), 5.

 

[5] Steven D. Boyer and Christopher A. Hall, The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 10.

[6] Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, 11.

 

[7] Romans 10:9 (paraphrased – NIV)

 

[8] Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, 9.

[9] Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 102. 

Bibliography/Book Recommendations

 

Boice, James M. Foundations of Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, revised and expanded edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018.

 

Boyer, Steven D., and Christopher A. Hall. The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.

 

Tozer, A W. The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God, Their Meaning in the Christian Life. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978.

SA Worship magazine is a cooperative project that has contributors from around The Salvation Army World. If you would like more information on how you can contribute, Please write to your local Territorial Worship Representative.

Editor: Simon Gough - Canada And Bermuda Territory 

Music Type Setting: Nik King - United Kingdom and  Republic of Ireland Territory

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