Knowing God

In Psalm 123, the author expresses the importance of one’s attitude towards God: “Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He has mercy on us. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us! For we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled With the scorn of those who are at ease, With the contempt of the proud.”

I prepared a series of lessons several years ago on the general theme of “Knowing God.” At the heart of us being able to truly know God is our concept of God. Sadly, for most their concept of God is not formed and fashioned by the revelation of Himself in the scriptures. A. W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge of the Holy (p. 10), made this statement about most people’s concept of God:

“It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.”

Our concept of God is absolutely critical to the way we view everything. What is your concept of God? The world has many false and conflicting perceptions of God. Here are some common misconceptions of God:

  • Doting Grandfather: God is an old, white-haired, albeit stately, grandfatherly figure. His sole purpose for existence is to spoil and indulge mankind, just as a doting grandfather spoils his grandchildren. Even though He wants us to do good and most of us don’t, He will ultimately not hold anyone responsible and accountable for sin. Sin has no consequences because it is somehow automatically covered by Grandaddy’s love. After all, “Don’t you know everyone is going to heaven!”
  • Impersonal Scientist: In this view, God created the Universe as some great laboratory experiment that eventually went awry. And now He has shut Himself up in His great celestial office and only periodically glances out. And when He does, He shakes His head and mumbles, “Boy, aren’t they having a hard time of it.” This is a very fatalistic view of God. In this view, God has secluded and hid Himself from us and has only occasional and passing interest in our affairs. And, at best, His interest in us is cold, detached, and impersonal.
  • Merlin the Magician: This is the Pentecostal view of God. In this view God constantly runs around, at our behest, performing miracles upon our command. These miracles are designed to make our life on this planet more physically comfortable and enjoyable. In this view, God is some grand David Copperfield whose purpose is to entertain us and provide us with a more comfortable life in the here and now.
  • Cosmic Bug Zapper: In this view, God sits in heaven with the cross hairs of His trillion-gigawatt ray gun aimed directly at us just waiting for us to make the slightest misstep … then ZAP! We’re toast! This view of God robs Him of His grace, mercy, compassion, and love.
  • Celestial Santa Claus: This view of God can manifest itself in several ways; however, two are most common. First, is what I call the “the god of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel.” This is the god promoted so often by the “televangelists.” For example, Oral Robert’s “seed money” or “send me your money and God will bless you with financial prosperity and good health.” Second, is what I call the god of “break glass only in case of emergency.” This view of God means you don’t have to pay any attention to Him whatsoever until you have an emergency in your life. For example, there is an old saying that “there are no atheists in foxholes.” You don’t call on God unless you are really, really in urgent need and dire circumstance. Then quickly break the glass and pull Him out like a fire extinguisher. But once the fire is out, put Him back and don’t pay Him any attention until the next emergency.

Each of these perceptions of God is false because that is exactly what they are … perceptions. They are based on what people feel and not what the Bible says. Arthur Pink sums up these false concepts of God in his book Gleanings in the Godhead (pp. 28-29):

“The god of this century no more resembles the Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering candle the glory of the midday sun. The god who is talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday school, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Christian conferences, is a figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality. The heathen outside the pale of Christendom form gods of wood and stone, while millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a god out of their carnal minds. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A “god” whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits naught but contempt.”

It is impossible to spend too much of our time in searching God’s book from cover-to-cover, from front-to-back, and back-to-front, to know Him! And remember, His word alone reveals Him (1 Corinthians 2:6-13)! Let us remember these critical words from Jesus (John 17:3): “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Finally, C. H. Spurgeon sums up what should be our life’s primary goal:

“The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”

Craig Thomas