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This is the final article in our series concerning man's knowledge of God. Appropriately, in this article, we will discuss what our response should be to our knowledge of God.
"...[W]hat may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them..." (Rom. 1:19)
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Rom. 1:22)
"[A]scribe to the LORD the glory due to his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness." (1 Chr. 16:29).
"[Y]ou were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Cor. 6:20).
In this series, we have looked at man's knowledge of God. We have talked in detail about the three ways that God has revealed Himself to us: through our innate knowledge of Him, by manifestation of Himself through His creation, and through direct revelation by His Word and His Son. We have also studied some classical philosophical proofs for the existence of God. Finally, we considered the irrationality of atheism and agnosticism. So, we have fairly well established that rational man should, not only believe in God, but know God.
Now, the question before us is: what should we do with this knowledge? Here are some answers from prominent theologians: "The knowledge of God, which is set before us in the Scriptures, is designed for the same purposes as that which shines in creation--viz. that we may thereby learn to worship Him with perfect integrity of heart and unfeigned obedience, and also to depend entirely on His goodness... For how can the idea of God enter your mind without instantly giving rise to the thought, that since you are His workmanship, you are bound, by the very law of creation, to submit to His authority?--that your life is due to Him?--that whatever you do ought to have reference to Him? If so, it undoubtedly follows that your life is sadly corrupted, if it is not framed in obedience to Him, since His will ought to be the law of our lives" (John Calvin);[Footnote #4] and: "The notion of God was not stamped upon men, the shadows of God did not appear in the creatures, to be the subject of idle contemplation, but the motive of a due homage to God" (Stephen Charnock).[Footnote #5] And the Bible says: "[Y]ou were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Cor. 6:20).
Our knowledge of God requires a response in our lives. The bare fact that there exists a Creator of the universe requires that we honor Him, seek His will, and obey Him. When we realize that there is a God, we must choose to properly respond to this information and acknowledge Him, or choose to ignore Him, which would (deservedly) bring down upon us the Creator's wrath in all its power. There is no middle ground. As always, knowledge brings responsibility. Our knowledge of God demands a response in our lives. Unfortunately, "many a man's knowledge is a torch to light him to hell."[Footnote #6] If we do not respond properly to the knowledge of God that we have, we risk the consequences of turning our back on the giver of life. Such a requirement upon us is all the more strong because God, as we have seen in this series of articles, has gone to great lengths to make Himself known to us. "We cannot plead ignorance, without being at the same time convicted by our own consciences both of sloth and ingratitude."[Footnote #7]
The proper response to our knowledge of God must first be the worship of God. "[A]scribe to the LORD the glory due to his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness." (I Chr. 16:29). And in concert with worship, there must be in our lives service, peace, purity, delight in His works, appreciation for His Word and, most of all, faith in His Son. These things constitute true faith in God. There is a great difference between the world's concept of faith in God, and true faith in God. Those of the world claim a faith in God with a mere acknowledgement of His existence. True faith in God "is not so much of the bare existence of God, as what God is in relation to them that seek him."[Footnote #8] True belief elicits a response, a changed life, a demonstration that we truly understand that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him. Abel had true faith in God because he responded to his knowledge of God with proper worship of God (see Heb. 11:4; Gen. 4:4). We would not, however, call Cain a "believer" (in the strict sense of the word), even though Cain certainly knew of God's existence (God talked directly to him!, see Gen. 4:6). James points out that even demons believe that there is a God (James 2:19). Clearly, such bare faith cannot save one from the wrath of God.
Unfortunately, though all have an innate knowledge of God, very few act upon it, and fewer still live by it. "[T]hough experience testiies that a seed of religion is divinely sown in all, scarcely one in a hundred is found who cherishes it in his heart, and not one in whom it grows to maturity, so far is it from yielding fruit in its season."[Footnote #9] As Paul put it: "[A]lthough they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21). Some even speculate about God, ponder His works, discuss who He is and what He's like, but do not seek to obey Him, worship Him, or serve Him. Many others ignore God completely, through vanity and selfishness, and live their lives as if God did not exist, as if He was not the Giver of Life, Creator of the heavens and earth. They ignore the grace of God as He reaches out to them through His Son, ignore the mercy of God as He is willing to forgive their apostasy, ignore the hope of God that is available through belief in Christ.
Lord, forgive us for not responding appropriately to our knowledge of You. Strengthen our faith, so that it would (by Your Spirit) result in greater obedience, more consistent service and more fervent worship. Be glorified through our lives. We praise You for revealing Yourself so fully to us, through Your creation, through Your Word, and most of all, through Your Son, in whose name we pray these things, Amen.
4. John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, pg. 88-89, 41.
5. Stephen Charnock, Discourses on the Existence and Attributes of God, pg. 87.
6. Thomas Watson, cited in A Puritian Golden Treasury, ed. I. D. E. Thomas, pg. 163.
7. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, pg. 62.
8. Stephen Charnock, op. cit., pg. 27-28.
9. John Calvin, op. cit., pg. 46.
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