The Glory of God 10

Acts 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

If it is utterly vital for the people know God and know about God, then the ministry should indeed make that a primary focus. But instead it appears that they are making great efforts at hiding the true God from the people. But again, we have focuses on raising money for expensive buildings, doing things about the physical things of a building, moral issues, political issues, and encouraging people to do good works. We have a great emphasis in our day on expositional preaching, but apart from teaching people what it means to know God those things are doing nothing more in the results than the results of the Pharisees. So what if people know many things about a text of Scripture if they don’t know God! So what if ministers can give the people vast knowledge about the text of even a book of the Bible if they don’t know God! Heresies can abound in a professing church while the minister is focused on preaching texts of Scripture in an expositional way that ignores the living God.

It is also true that orthodox ministers can preach orthodox messages from the Bible and miss the point of knowing God. Orthodoxy is no guarantee that a minister is preaching in a way where men can come to know the true and living God through the Gospel. Having a solid creed or confession is another way that men can hide their own hearts and hide the truth of God behind. Men can pursue doctrinal precision without knowing God. Men can pursue great academic knowledge about God without knowing the true God. Men can puff themselves up with knowing things about the Bible and not know God. Men can give great lectures on the history of doctrine and on the Reformers and not know God. Men can know many theological truths about justification and yet not know God and so not be justified.

It is also possible for men to give themselves to the academic study of Christ and yet now know Christ. It is possible to be strong on the creeds and confessions in terms of what they say about Christ and not know Christ. Only God can teach us about the true Christ and this is done in the inner man. The true knowledge of God is beyond the ability of men to teach, yet men must teach these truths in such a way that will point men to the truth of God as only found in Christ. It is utterly vital for men to know God in Christ if they are going to be saved. The true Gospel is all about the glory of God as found in Christ. One can be ignorant of a lot of things that people teach in the modern world about Christianity and yet know the truth of God as found in Christ. It is not through academic preaching that a person comes to know Christ. It is not in some formal way of expositional preaching that a person comes to know God in the Gospel. It is by preaching the living God as found in the face of Christ and using Scripture to point to Him that God uses as preaching which Christ calls men to Himself.

In order for men to come to know God, preachers must preach the living God in the face of Christ. It is not enough to do a ritual, no matter how orthodox it is, but men must know God. While the hearts of men are repulsed by the true God, yet they must hear about this God if they are going to be converted. God uses the preaching of His Word as a primary way He does this, but it is not just any old way of preaching. When Paul said he preached nothing but Christ and Him crucified, he was preaching the way to know the living God and he was preaching the shining zenith of God and His glory.

If ministers will not preach the true God, then how are men to come to know the true God? We can have social clubs, people with high morals, and we can have so many things to keep us busy in church buildings; but apart from the knowledge of God in Christ all those things are just ways to cast sticks on our own fires in hell. When will ministers wake up from taking ease and trying to please men and keep men happy in the professing churches so they can build edifices that honor themselves and begin to preach God to the people? When will ministers repent of the false Jesus they preach who is weak and can do nothing apart from the power of men and preach the sovereign God-man who can save to the uttermost those whom He will? The professing churches that are not dead appear to be so weak in the spiritual realm that they are truly on their last legs. Will they take their last gasp to cry out to God for grace that they may return to Him and proclaim His glory? If not, they will perish like so many before them. We must know God or we will perish.

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