Knowing God by Reason

A new religious catechism has been released in question-and-answer form. Ten of them have been translated into English so far. In the next weeks, we’ll provide biblical answers to several of these religious questions.
The first question published is this: How is it possible to know God only with the light of reason?
One may know about God without personally knowing him. But one cannot know him without knowing about his nature, character, and will. With the light of reason alone, one cannot know God. The human mind, in and of itself, has no innate knowledge of the true God. However, one may know many things about him by observing creation,/1 because “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).
In Romans 1, Paul declares what we may know about God from creation:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (vv. 19-20).
Thus, those who do not honor God are culpable, because creation reveals some things about God. But man has rejected even that limited knowledge and preferred to invent his own gods.
Creation is then limited as a revelation of God. It cannot reveal the plan or will of God for man, necessary things for knowing God. For that, one must turn elsewhere, to Holy Scripture.
In order to know God one must consider the Christ as his definitive revelation: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18; see also 17:3; 1 John 5:20).
The knowledge of the glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The prophetic writings make the gospel of Christ known to all nations (Romans 16:25-27). By human wisdom it is impossible to know God; only through the message of Christ is it possible (1 Corinthians 1:21). Thus Scripture equates knowing God with obeying the gospel of the Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Professing to know God is insufficient; it must be demonstrated in one’s manner of life (Titus 1:16). True, godly love is a result of knowing God (1 John 4:7,8). Those who do not know God give themselves over to their sensual passions (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).
Knowing God is a description of the very essence of Christianity (Galatians 4:8,9). As such, it constitutes man’s most important concern and should drive us to the Christ and his cross.
__________
1/ Scripture does not call creation “nature,” as is common today.


Biblical Answers to Religious Questions #1: Can we know God through reason?

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet. His microblog is randal.us.

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