J.I. Packer laid out the primary and basic themes that men need “to think about”, “ponder and digest” in order to know what it means to “know God.” Before we talk about those, ponder these questions:
- Can you name an attribute (essential character that makes Him who He is) of God?
- Do you know any Bible verse that clearly speaks of the nature of God?
Here are the basic themes about God (not exhaustive):
The Godhead of God is, “The qualities of deity which set God apart from humans and mark the difference and distance between the Creator and His Creatures” (p.20)J.I. Packer
- Godhead of God: Self-existence, Infinity, eternity, unchangeableness
- Powers of God: almightiness, omniscience, omnipresence
- Perfections of God: Holiness, love, mercy, truthfulness, faithfulness, goodness, patience, justice.
- What pleases, offends, displeases, and glories Him.
Erik Thoennes in his article on ESV Study Bible on the Biblical Doctrine (pp. 2510-11) enumerates for ways in which God reveals Himself:
- Actions. creating, judging, sanctifying, etc.
- Names. LORD, God, Master, etc.
- Images. Father, Rock, Husband, etc.
- Attributes. Incommunicable (independence, unchangeableness, etc.) & communicable (holiness, goodness,etc.)
After listing out the attributes of God, J.I. Packer lamented the fact that the time when men know God is lost. There was a time when adult members are expected to know the character of God and all children were taught about it.
- Few worshippers have ever heard a series of sermons about the divine character.
- Few pulpits preach God’s attributes/characters.
- Few parents catechize (Greek: katekeo, “to teach orally“) their children.
- Few have ever read anything on the subject of the nature of God.
What kind of sermons do you hear every Sunday? Do you simply hear messages about how to be rich, successful, happy, etc? When was the last time that you heard thundering messages about God’s glorious characters? If you still hear God’s nature and characters being preached every Sunday, be grateful!
Do we still see parents catechize their children? As parents, do we spend time teaching them about our Christian faith at home?
What’s the content of the last book that you read? What kinds of books do you find interesting? Do you read books about the nature of God?
J.I. Packer encourages his readers to consider going back to catechism, to read and teach it. Consider this one question from the Baptist Catechism (Question # 7):
Q. What is God? A.God is a Spirit (John 4:24), infinite (Job 11:7, 8, 9), eternal (Ps. 110:2), and unchangeable (Jas. 1:17) in his being (Ex. 3:14), wisdom (Ps. 147:5), power (Rev. 4:8), holiness (Rev. 15:4), justice, goodness, and truth (Ex. 34:5-8).
Questions for meditation:
- Which characters of God are you not yet familiar with that you want to learn better?
- Why do you think few preachers today put emphasis on the character of God?
- Why do you think we need to explore God’s characters? Isn’t it enough to know that God exists?
Note: This is from our Youth Bible Study. Citations are from Packer, J. I. (1993). Knowing God. Intervarsity Press. pages 20-21