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Volume 22 - Page 169 of 214 Index | Zoom | |
Scripture reveals all that we can apprehend of the infinite and eternal God, surely this is
sufficient for our needs, and the metaphysics may well be left alone. With the attitude of
our critic we are in complete agreement; and if we were never tempted to pursue lines of
teaching beyond scriptural limits, nothing more need be said. But the question is an
important one, because whole systems of theology are built up upon what it is conceived
God will do, or should do, or even must do. Such arguments assume a knowledge of God
that lies outside the scope of revelation.
We may remind ourselves of the question of Zophar, the Naamathite:--
"Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto
perfection?" (Job 11: 7).
The answer to both questions must be negative. We cannot find out God by searching.
We are shut up to revelation, and know nothing, absolutely nothing, apart from that
source; and what we do know, however penetrating our perceptions or large our faith,
will never "find out the Almighty unto perfection"--we shall still only "know in part".
Yet we must by no means allow these limitations to damp our enthusiasm or quench our
eagerness, for Scripture itself urges us to pray that we may get to know something that in
reality transcends our knowledge--the love of Christ (Eph. 3: 19). Such a statement
involves neither contradiction, nor impossibility.
At the threshold of our study, we have to face the fact that the Scriptures do not set out
to prove the existence of God. This fact is assumed in the opening verse of Genesis, and
in every mention of God to the last chapter of Revelation. Human logic and the human
mind are inadequate to deal with this problem, and if we attempt it within the limits of
human philosophy, we may soon find ourselves driven to atheism. Within the limits of
our own experience, and the universal experience that underlies all human knowledge
and thought, it is true that that which never had a beginning cannot now exist. But if we
attempt to apply this kind of reasoning to the question of the existence of God, where will
it lead us?
Again, it is only too true in our experience, that no person can be in two or more
distinct places at the same time--yet this is manifestly untrue of God.
The metaphysician must ever feel that the God he seeks is infinitely beyond him. All
human knowledge is inadequate. God is invisible to our physical senses; He cannot be
pictured or imagined. And our knowledge of Him must be indirect. Even Scripture, or
the manifestation of God in Christ, involves a translation of the ineffable into the lower
terms of the human.
"The world by wisdom knew not God" (I Cor. 1: 21). The works of creation testify of
their Maker, but their testimony is limited. "That which may be known of God is
manifest" (Rom. 1: 19), but that which may be known of God by the works of His hands
is small when compared with the revelation of His Word. Instead, therefore, of
attempting the impossible, "he that cometh to God must believe that He is" (Heb. 11: 6).
"That He is" lies outside the scope of revelation to discuss or prove. "What He is" is its