What do I mean when I say, “The knowledge of God?”, what I mean is not only that we grasp the fact that there is some God, but also understand what relevance it has to us, and what brings Him glory, really what I am saying is, what is relevant to mankind with regards to knowing God. WHATS THE POINT?.
If we have to speak properly we cannot say God is known where there is no religion or holiness. I am not talking about how people who are lost and under God’s curse understand God as a Redeemer in Christ or anything like that, I simply mean, a knowledge of God that humans would have had if Adam did not sin and fall. Of course now, no man in the current ruin and lost state of this human race can see God as their Father, or author of Salvation, until Christ makes peace for them. Still it is one thing to understand God as our Maker, Who supports us by His power and rules us by His providence, leads us with His goodness and gives us all kinds of blessings; and its another thing to embrace the grace of reconciliation offered to us in Christ. A knowledge of God as Creator and then as Redeemer.
Although we cant think of God without giving Him some worship, no one will worship Him and only Him alone, unless they see Him as the fountian of all goodness, as the spring of all joy, hope and meaning. What I mean is, we must be persuaded, not only that He once made the world, and sustains it by His power, governs it by His wisdom, preserves it in His goodness, rules the human race with justice and judgment, bears with them in mercy, shields them by His protection; but also that not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or genuine truth can be found anywhere that does not flow from Him. By the way must learn to expect all things from Him, and thankfully praise Him for whatever we receive. It is this understanding of God’s perfections that teach us holiness, out of which genuine religion comes.
*By holiness I mean a union (a marriage, a mixing) of the fear and love of God, which is inspired by a knowledge of what He does and Who He is.*
You see, because until people feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by His parent-like care, and that He is the author of all their blessings, so that they should look nowhere else but to Him, man will never submit to Him in voluntary obedience; even more so, unless they place their entire happiness in Him, they will never give their whole life to serve Him in truth and sincerity (Where do you place your happiness? What things do you do to make you happy? Eating, movies, porn, relationships, sports? Do you get happiness apart from God in these things, since they are not all bad in and of themselves? Or do you realize that He is the one that gives everything good, and your happiness even in these things is due to Him?)
People who argue about what the essence of God are rambling with silly speculations- it is much more important for us to know what kind of being God is, and what things relate to us in His nature. I mean whats the point of knowing a ‘God’ who doesn’t care about anything but His own ease, and has nothing to do with us? The effect, read carefully, the result of the knowledge of God should be first to teach us reverence and fear; and secondly to cause us to ask for everything good from Him, and when we have received it, to praise Him for it.
How can the idea of God even come into your mind without causing you to think, “Hmmmm? I am His workmanship (He made me), I am bound by every law of nature to submit to His authority” (Ah! the folly of making a God to suit yourself, ‘to me God is…?’). I mean how can you think of God without knowing that you owe Him your life (you did not choose to exist), that whatever you do should have something relating to Him. If you can think of God without that, then sadly your life is corrupted, you are not in obedience to Him, because His will should be the rule of our lives. On the other hand you understanding of Him is not clear if you don’t see Him as the fountain of all goodness.
I think we would have confidence in God and a desire to hold onto Him, if the sinfulness of our mind did not lead us away from this kind of proper thinking.
First of all, the Christian (and holy) mind does not try and make up a God, but looks alone to the one true God, the Christian mind also doesn’t make up characteristics of God, but is happy to accept God in the character that He reveals Himself in.
The person who understand God like this, sees how He governs all things, confides in God as His protector and guardian, and throws himself on God’s faithfulness- understanding that He is good and merciful, he rests on God with sure confidence, and does not doubt that in calamity, a divine remedy will be provided for every time of need- understanding Him as Father and Lord, he considers himself bound to respect His authority in all things
Listen to the words of Calvin, “Such is pure and genuine religion, namely, confidence in God coupled with serious fear- fear, which both includes in it willing reverence, and brings along with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed by the law. …. only a few truly reverence Him. On all hands there is an abundance of ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare.”
Dedicated to Book 1 of Calvin’s Institutes