Chapter 1 – The Study of God

Why bother with the study of God? As C.H. Spurgeon outlined in his opening remarks of a particular sermon, there is no subject of contemplation that will humble the mind, more than thoughts of God. And while that is true, I also agree with his assessment that nothing will expand the mind more than thoughts of God. Spurgeon also said “I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.” He was 20 when he presented this to his congregation.

Who needs theology you ask? Surely lay people don’t need to enter into this exercise. This should be more for those in ministry. For the sake of argument, I will agree with you…..but, aren’t we all called to the ministry? A more practical answer possibly is this – why would you not want to study about the God whose world it is and from whom you were created? We are being cruel to ourselves if we attempt to live this life without knowing about God.

How do we start this endeavor? We start from where we are of course. Chances are pretty good, by doing so, we begin this journey in some type of storm going on in our lives. Just the mention of God today in our society will cause strife for believers, so we are apprehensive in even beginning the process. Do not be discouraged. Begin the journey. We can do it together.  Let’s start by plotting a course.

Packer outlines 5 basic truths, foundational principles of the knowledge of God which Christians have. These will direct our course. They are:

  1. God has spoken to man, and the Bible is his Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.
  2. God is Lord and King over his world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him.
  3. God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly.
  4. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it.
  5. Godliness means responding to God;s revelation in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s Word. This, and nothing else, is true religion.
With these general and basic truths we will examine in detail what the Bible shows us of the nature and character of the God of whom we are speaking. Next, Packer wants us to consider the themes in which we will explore during our study.
First we have to deal with the Godhead of God. The qualities of deity which set God apart from humans. Some of these qualities are: his self-existence, his infinity, his eternity, his unchangeableness. 2nd, we need to look at the powers of God: his almightiness, his omniscience, his omnipresence. Next is the perfections of God which include his moral character which are manifested in his words and deeds, his holiness, his love and mercy, his truthfulness, his faithfulness, his goodness, his patience, his justice. And finally we will need to look at what pleases him, what offends him, what awakens his wrath, what affords him satisfaction and joy.
There was time when these basic principles and themes were common place within the church but not so true today. How would you answer the following question – What is God? honestly, it took me a couple of minutes before I was able to start answering this question. The answer given in the book is this: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”
My thought is that this a pretty good start for our journey through Knowing God. I hesitate to tell you that this doesn’t even get us through the first chapter. Take some time as I did and reread through the 5 basic truths along with the themes outlined. I was overwhelmed at the amount of time, content and truths that were unveiled to me just going through these 2 things. I am several chapters ahead now and taking time with this really helped me prepare for the chapters ahead.
I would love to hear any feedback you may have. Suggestions for presenting the material. Or questions you may have, please feel free to let  me know.
Peace and thanks for reading!!