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Knowing & Doing

From the Fall 2013 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

God's Character and Personality

by Stephen Eyre, M.Div.
Director, C.S. Lewis Institute – Cincinnati

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  God has revealed Himself most completely through Jesus Christ. The first Christians came to the conclusion that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). That is, Jesus is the “visible God” and reliably embodies the character of God (Heb. 1:3). If you want to know God, pay close attention to Jesus, who He is, what He taught, what He did. Reflecting on God from the Old Testament to the New, the church through the ages discovered a complex being, a triune God, a Trinity of persons comprising one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  
What we take away from our theological reflection is that I have a Creator who provides for me, protects me, has purposes for me, and has a place for me in His world. In God I have a Savior who rescues me from the problems of the corrupted world. In God I have a Holy Spirit who indwells me: He provides insight, inspiration, encouragement, inspiration, and empowerment.
   The God revealed in the Bible from the first lines of Genesis 1 is the Maker, the Craftsman, the Workman, the Governor, the Speaker . . . How different from the unmoved mover of Greek philosophy or the “higher power” that stands and watches us from a distance. Your God Is Too Small is the title of a great little book written in the middle of the twentieth century. No matter who we are and at what stage of our spiritual journey, we can all say that the way we think about God isn’t big enough.

The Pursuit of God

  The desire to know and proclaim the knowledge of God is not only what the Bible is about. It is the subject of innumerable books—filling libraries. The mystery of God draws us. Consider Augustine’s take:

You awake us to delight in your praise; for you made us for yourself, and our heart is restless, until it rests in you.6

What, therefore, is my God? . . . most secret and most truly present . . . unchangeable, yet changing all things; never new, never old; . . . always working, ever at rest; gathering, yet needing nothing . . . You love, but without passion; are jealous, yet free from care; repent without remorse; are angry, yet remain serene.7

  The Westminster Catechism, written in the seventeenth century to instruct children in the knowledge of God, succinctly and memorably asks the question and provides the answer.

Question: What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

  Writing in the twentieth century, A.W. Tozer notes:

God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may . . . The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.8

   St. Anselm in the eleventh century said that study of God was “faith seeking understanding.” The whole history of the church shows that knowing God is a journey of delight and desire. St. Bernard in the twelfth century said it this way:  

We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

  The knowledge of the triune God is not something we merely possess, but something that possesses us. Tozer challenges us to:

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.9  

  The pursuit of the knowledge of God is not a duty or a drudge, but a journey filled with bright and shining light that leads to enjoyment and pleasure, now and for all eternity.

1. J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 15.
2. John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion I.1.1.  
3. Ibid., I.2.1.
4. R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1998), 5.
5. C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (1954; repr., New York: Macmillan/Collier, 1970), 159–60.
6. Augustine, Confessions of Augustine I.1.
7. Ibid., I.4.
8. A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (SoHo Books, 2011), 6.
9. Ibid., 7.

Stephen D. Eyre, M.Div. is the Director of the C.S. Lewis Fellows Program Cincinnati. He received his masters of Divinity at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo.  Stephen is also a consultant for Church Discipleship Services, which provides guidance, coaching and resources for small groups in churches of all different sizes and denominations. He is also Minister of congregational development at Madeira-Silverwood Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has written many books and Bible studies, including five LifeGuide Bible studies.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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