• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • January 2013
    M T W T F S S
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Knowing the Character of God

James M. BoiceIf we know God, we know His character. If we truly know His character, we will desire His character in ourselves. James Montgomery Boice writes:

[K]nowledge of God is important, for only through the knowledge of God can an individual enter into what the Bible terms eternal life. Jesus indicated this when he prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (Jn. 17:3). At first glance even this does not seem important enough to the “natural man” to make him want to know God at all costs. But this is because, lacking eternal life, he cannot begin to understand what he is missing. He is like a person who says that he does not appreciate good music. His dislike does not make the music worthless; it simply indicates an inadequate ground of appreciation in him. So also those who do not appreciate God’s offer of life indicate that they do not have the capability of understanding or valuing what they are lacking. The Bible says, “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

It might help such a person to be told that the promise of eternal life is also the promise of being able to live life fully as an authentic human being. This is true, but it is also true that eternal life means more than this. It means coming alive, not only in a new but also in an eternal sense. It is what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (In. 11:25-26).

[K]nowledge of God is important because … it also involves knowledge of ourselves. Our day is the day of the psychiatrist and psychologist. Men and women spend billions of dollars annually in an attempt to know themselves, to sort out their psyches. Certainly there is need for psychiatry, particularly Christian psychiatry. James Montgomery BoiceBut this alone is inadequate in the ultimate sense if it does not bring individuals into a knowledge of God against which their own worth and failures may be estimated.

On the one hand, knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is humbling. We are not God nor are we like him. He is holy; we are unholy. He is good; we are not good. He is wise; we are foolish. He is strong; we are weak. He is loving and gracious; we are filled with hate and with selfish affectations. Therefore, to know God is to see ourselves as Isaiah did: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Is. 6:5). Or as Peter did: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk. 5:8). On the other hand, such knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is also reassuring and satisfying. For in spite of what we have become we are still God’s creation and are loved by him. No higher dignity has been given to women and men than the dignity the Bible gives them. (“On Knowing God”)

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