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Doctrine of God - Introduction Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 06 January 2008

I.  Introduction:

 Let me begin tonight with one of my favorite quotes from A. W. Tozer.  In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, which we are studying in our men’s group, Tozer writes: 

If some watcher or holy one who has spent his glad centuries by the sea of fire were to come to earth, how meaningless to him would be the ceaseless chatter of the busy tribes of men.  How strange to him and how empty would sound the flat, stale, and profitless words heard in the average pulpit from week to week.  And were such a one to speak on earth would he not speak of God?  Would he not charm and fascinate his hearers with rapturous descriptions of the Godhead?  And after hearing him could we ever again consent to listen to anything less than theology, the doctrine of God?  Would we not thereafter demand of those who would presume to teach us that they speak to us from the mount of divine vision or remain silent altogether? 1

I think Tozer is right.  If an angel was sent from heaven to earth, he would be amazed at how little we speak of God (or at least truthfully of God).  If given the chance to address us, he would speak to us of the glory of God and from that point on we would be desperate for only more.  We may not know it and we may even scoff at the thought, but all of us are theologians.  All of us, particularly believers, have thoughts and convictions and beliefs about God.  Unfortunately, we often base those on faulty sources: tradition, experience, reason.  But the glorious truth is that God has not concealed Himself from us.  We have a trustworthy and true source to look to in our thinking about God, namely the Bible.  Although it may seem academic or tedious to study through the doctrine of God, I want us to approach this with a proper understanding of its importance.  Thus, tonight I want to begin by trying to answer the question that Tozer poses in his first chapter: why is it so important that we think rightly about God?  Following Tozer 2 and my own observations from Scripture, let me give us three reasons for this study.

II.  Reasons for Thinking Rightly about God:

 A.  The worth of God, or because we can.  We have to begin in answering this question by speaking of the great value of the knowledge of God.  He is not just a treasure among others.  No, He is the treasure from which all others flow.  Indeed, the greatest gift we have been given is the right to know Him, purchased for us by Christ at the cross.  As we studied in our Advent services, John tells us that the Word became flesh to make the Father known (1:18, see also Colossians 1:19, Hebrews 1:1-4).  There is no greater knowledge for there is no being of greater worth than God Almighty.  Look at Jeremiah 9:23-24.  To pursue anything more than Him is to settle.  Thus, if God is the greatest of treasures and if the Word reveals Him, then we would be foolish to not pursue after knowing Him more.  We should pursue Him because we can.  Consider Paul’s words in Philippians 3:7-11.  May we join him in forsaking all things in order that we may gain a true knowledge of the Holy.

 B.  To avoid idolatry, or making God into our own image.  Tozer writes: “The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is—in itself a monstrous sin—and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness.”  He goes on to point out that we often dismiss the idea of idolatry because we think of people bowing down to wooden statues or something similar.  Yet, idolatry is simply giving our allegiance to something other than the true God, even if we think that we are giving our allegiance to the true God.  The psalmist speaks of this is Psalm 50.  Look at verses 16-21.  The wicked make God into their own image or after the image of something else in creation (see Romans 1:18-23).  This is idolatry. 

Consider also Jesus’ words to the woman at the well in John 4.  She is a Samaritan.  The Samaritans did not believe in all of the Old Testament, but only the first five books.  They also worshipped in a different place than the Jews instead of in Jerusalem, which had become a controversial topic between Samaritans and Jews.  She asks Jesus about this and He responds in verses 21-24.  Look at those with me.  Jesus accuses her of worshipping what she does not know.  All of this highlights our need to know what the Word of God reveals about God.  Otherwise, we will make God into our own image and become idolaters.  Likewise, if we skip parts of the text for whatever reason, we may be guilty of worshipping what we do not know.  Thus, we must, by God’s grace and the Spirit’s lead, study the text to know the great God that we love and serve.  Note: I should note at this point that our knowledge of God does not have to be perfect in order for us to avoid idolatry.  Otherwise, we would all be idolaters.  Rather, again, we must labor by His grace and the Spirit’s lead, to know all that we can through what He has revealed in the Word.  We will never have complete knowledge, but we can have true knowledge instead of false knowledge, which is the goal of this study.

 C.  To labor for the health and purity of the Church.  Writing almost fifty years ago, Tozer said: “The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him—and of her.” 4  Tozer argues, and I think he is right, that the health and faithfulness of a Church largely depends upon what it thinks and teaches and believes about God.  If we get the doctrine of God wrong, then all our other doctrines and practices will soon follow.  If we deny God’s holiness, then we will embrace impurity.  If we deny His love, then we will become cold.  If we deny His justice, then we will show no compassion for those without a voice.  Who we are as a person and as a people depends greatly upon what we think about God.  As Tozer says: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” 5  We must understand how this will impact every aspect of our individual lives and every aspect of our corporate lives together.  After Paul speaks of the idolatry of humanity in Romans 1:18-23, he then tells us of the consequences of such action.  Look at verses 24-25.  His words are harsh but true.  May we hear them and heed them as we labor to know what is true of our God. 

III.  Some thoughts on our approach:

 As you can see from our outline, I want to break up the study into three large sections: God’s Person, God’s attributes, and God’s actions.  All of these will overlap, but hopefully this will help us have some structure in our study.  There are other approaches to this doctrine, but I think this will provide a good introduction.  In light of the Advent Season and our belief in the truth that Jesus came to reveal the Father, during each of the attributes I want to take time considering how the particular attribute was clearly displayed at the cross.  I have said this before but it bears repeating, the clearest display we have been given of God took place at Calvary.  We will speak more of this in the weeks to come.  I encourage your questions and further study as we work through this doctrine together

IV.  Conclusion:

 Before we close, I want you to notice that I did not list as one of our reasons to study the doctrine of God that we study to be smart or able to win an argument.  Apologetics has its place, but it is not the primary reason why we study to know God.  Theology is not just a discipline, or a burden, or a thing to be debated.  No, theology is the beginning of worship.  We study to be amazed and awestruck and driven to our knees.  Theology fuels the fire of our burning zeal to know God and be known by Him and to make Him known.  My prayer is that God will show us wonderful and marvelous things concerning Himself and that we will respond with worship that is driven by spirit and truth.  Look at Isaiah 40:12-31.  O Lord, grant that we might know You as You truly are, for our good and Your glory.  Amen. 

1 A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1961), p. 71.
Ibid, p.1-5.
3 Ibid, p.3.
Ibid, p.4.
Ibid, p.1.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 January 2008 )

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