Blogging the Institutes–1.5.9–What True Knowledge of God Is, and Isn’t

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

What True Knowledge of God Is, and Isn’t

I don’t need to provide a bunch of long-winded arguments for God’s existence. The few arguments I’ve already made show that God is immediately within our reach. Let me clear something up again: true knowledge of God is not merely head knowledge which flutters in your brain, but knowledge which takes root in your heart and produces lasting life-change.

The Lord reveals Himself in His many perfections. When we experience God’s power and see His benefits in our lives, the knowledge of God then becomes more vivid to us rather than if we never experienced God’s presence in our lives. When we seek God, we must not try to pry into God’s essence—what He is “made” of. Rather, we should seek Him through His works. Through His works, He draws near to us, becomes familiar to us, and communicates Himself to us. The apostle Paul speaks about this reality in Acts 17:27. We don’t need to go far to find God. In addition, king David goes into great detail about God’s works (Psalm 145). According to David, it is through His works that God’s greatness unfolds.

It is our responsibility to study God so diligently that His knowledge comes to thrill our soul that it makes a life-changing impression upon it. As Augustine puts it: we are unable to fully comprehend God. Therefore, our only course of action is to think about His works and thus refresh ourselves in His goodness.

Blogging the Institutes–1.5.8–We Know God Through His Providence

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

We Know God Through His Providence

Then there’s God’s providence—how He arranges our lives. Psalm 107 explains many of the things that God does for His people. Many times God steps in and provides unexpected blessings to the miserable, especially when they are on the brink of despair. He’ll protect them when they stray off the right path and into the desert of sin. He will give them food when they are hungry. He delivers them from chains and prisons. He brings them safely home when they are traveling. He delivers them from the gates of death by healing their sickness. After burning up the fields with heat and fire, He will refresh them with the rivers of His grace. He exalts the lowly and casts down those who are proud and lifted up.

The Psalmist, after describing all the different things that God does, goes on to explain that although people many merely see such circumstances as “good luck,” they are actually evidence of God’s providence. More specifically, it is evidence of His fatherly care. Such care is joy for the righteous and shuts up the wicked.

Now, most of humanity is enslaved by error and blind to the glory which radiates from the world. But the Psalmist demonstrates the wisdom of meditating carefully on God’s works. Unfortunately, many smart people see His works but don’t really “see” them in a spiritual sense. It’s true: you probably will only find one person in a hundred who will truly see the glory of God’s works. Even so, His power and wisdom is still plain to see. For example, His power is strikingly displayed when He crushes the rage of the wicked in a single moment, even though it seemed like they are unstoppable. He subdues their arrogance, overthrows their defenses, crushes their armor, breaks their strengths, and defeats their scheme, without any effort at all. On the other hand, He lifts the poor out of the dirt, and needy out of the garbage pile (Psalm 113:7). He gives hope to the despairing: the unarmed defeat the armed, the few the many, the weak the strong. God’s wisdom is shown when He distributes everything at the right time, confounds the wisdom of the world, and ensnare the “wise” of the world in their own schemes (1 Corinthians 3:19). In sum: He conducts all things in perfect accordance with reason.

Book Review Blitz: Reason for God, Proof, and More!

Reason for God by Tim Keller

Great apologetics book. I use it all the time for my preaching in thinking of how to engage skeptical and postmodern people. Current on the trends in philosophy and sociology. Very good on the gospel. This is definitely a BUY.

Proof by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

Refocuses the infamous “Five Point of Calvinism” towards God’s grace. Proof is an acronym for Planned Grace, Resurrecting Grace, Outrageous Grace, Overcoming Grace, and Forever Grace. Book reads uneven. It tries too hard to be accessible for the average person and tries too hard to be academic (for example, one endnote is completely in German!). Strong on content, slightly weak in execution. Borrow this one.

Taking God At His Word by Kevin DeYoung

Solid treatment of the doctrine of Scripture.  The writing style is a tad dry (which is unusual for DeYoung) but the book is spiritually refreshing. It doesn’t get better than unpacking the Scriptures, which is what the book mostly consists of. For the spiritual benefits, it’s worth it to buy this book.

Developing a Strategy for Missions by John Terry and J.D. Payne

A highly technical book on doing global missions work. It’s helpful for those pursuing missions work, but probably not of much interest to the average Christian. I would bypass this book, just because of its technical nature.

Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore

One of my favorite books I read this year. It reads like a non-fiction book; it’s that engaging. Moore looks at the temptations Christ faced in the wilderness and sees in them a pattern of temptation which extends all the way back to the Garden of Eden and even afflicts us today. More importantly, Moore shows how Christ triumphed over the demonic powers and how we can live in that triumph today. Definitely buy this book.