The Glory of God 23

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. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

The appalling ignorance of God demonstrated by pagans led them to misunderstand and be deceived about the true God, about true worship, and of the nature of salvation. The same is true today. Those who are ignorant of God may indeed fill buildings with the name “church” on the door, but that does not mean that they know God. Eternal life is to know God, though indeed eternal life is more than knowing about God, yet can we know God without knowing truths about Him? It is surely obvious that we cannot know God without knowing truths about Him. On the one hand we seem to think that great knowledge is what keeps men from knowing God, but in reality whether one has great knowledge (or knows a lot of things) or not it is ignorance of God that is the real problem. We must also add that we can only know God through Christ so ignorance of Christ is a cause of ignorance of God.

Hosea 5:4 Their deeds will not allow them To return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the LORD.

Hosea 6:6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

In Hosea 5:4, just above, a spirit of harlotry and not knowing the LORD are linked. In Hosea 6:6 we are told that God prefers knowledge of Himself to burnt offerings which would include the commanded manner of worship. The knowledge of God and knowing God are vitally important and must not be casually dismissed or dismissed in any way. We must know God or we will perish. In a sense it is that simple and it is that plain. Men do not desire the knowledge of God and so they suppress the truth about God which is in them (Romans 1:18ff). But rather than suppress the truth of God, men are to pursue the truth of God that they may know about Him and know Him.

The Gospel is the good news of God in Christ. How can we trust in the God who gives good news if we are ignorant of the true God? The Bible is the Word of God, yet how can we trust in the Bible if we are ignorant of the God who wrote it? If we are ignorant of the true God, then we will not recognize His voice as He speaks in His Word. This Gospel is about the true God making people alive in Christ Jesus and doing so by grace alone. We cannot understand what grace is apart from knowing the truth of who God is and the fact that He exists in and of Himself and holds all things in existence at His mere pleasure. We misunderstand the Gospel of the glory of God if we think that God needs our help and that we can serve Him. Where does this eternal life of grace come from? It comes from knowing Him (II Peter 1:3). We must stress and press this home to people. They must give themselves to the study of knowing God and that this great God exists in and of Himself and that this attribute has a lot to instruct us regarding the Gospel.

In light of God’s self-existence and His not being able to be served, what are man’s works and efforts in terms of the Gospel? Man’s works and efforts in order to be saved show a great ignorance of God because He cannot be served and we cannot do anything for Him. Can our works earn anything from a God who upholds our existence each moment and has no need of us? Can we earn mercy from God or can He be inclined to show us mercy when He exists in and of Himself and has utterly no need at all? What did man do for Christ to come and save sinners? What did man do for Christ to come and suffer and die in the place of sinners? What did man do to raise Christ in the place of sinners? They did nothing, could do nothing, and can do nothing. We look to God for grace alone or we are not looking to the true God. There is only one reason and one causation of eternal life in the believer and that is God Himself alone. His self-existence & self sufficiency teach man how humble man must become to look to Him for salvation by grace alone, which is to say we have nothing to contribute at all.

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