Knowing God 2
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Knowing God 5
Knowing God 6
Knowing God 7
Knowing God 8

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Knowing God 1


If you only had a short time to tell someone about God, what would you tell him?


          What is the most important thing to know about God?


          IN a way, we may think we don’t know much about God. But when we have to choose among the things we know in order to tell someone about God, we find we know a great deal that is very important.


          But if we think very long about this, we are liable to find that some of the things we know about God are contradictory.


          And that suggests that we may have taken a wrong turn someplace. We have developed an idea of God that is too complex, that allows contradictions.


          And that leads to an important principle:

(Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV) "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."


          There are things we can know about God and things that are unknowable for us.


          So naturally, we busy ourselves about the secret things, create dogma around them and decide who is a Christian and who is not on the basis of things we cannot know.

(Romans 11:33-34) "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! {34} For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?"


          A little humility might be helpful as we try to answer this question.

(Jeremiah 9:23-24 KJV) "Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: {24} But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."


          So God himself says that the important things to know about him have to do with his character.


          God exercises: Lovingkindness, Judgment, and righteousness. These are not merely the things God is, they are the things he does, he exercises.


          This is really a lot. Loving, kindness, these imply an affectionate person.

          Judgment, a wise person. Who is firm.

          righteousness implies that he has standards.

          And the existence of standards suggest that he is not whimsical, that he can be depended on to be constant.

Now if a person can come to understand and believe these simple things about God, a lot of bad ideas will never gain a foothold with him.


          For example, if someone argues that God did away with his law, he is saying that God will change his standards.


          Some arguments about covenants suggest that God will go back on a deal.


          Some people believe that God will stop loving them when they have made a mistake.


          They take the chastisement of God as rejection.

The curious thing about man is that we become quite sure of things about God that we really can’t know, while we doubtful about the things we can know.

But back to my question. If you only had a short time to tell someone about God, what would you tell him?


          I think Jeremiah had a good start on it:


          But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."


          God himself reveals that it is possible both to know God, and to understand him.


          This, in spite of the mysteries surrounding God.


          So a person has to ask himself what it is that he wants to know. Do I want to speculate about the unknowable, or am I prepared to understand what can be known?


          The things that are revealed are The fundamentals of the Character of God.


          If you can nail these down, you can safely conclude that anything that seems to contradict these basics has to be a misunderstanding–something you can resolve later.


          And these are things you can know, and you can understand.

So if I only have a short time to tell someone about God, I have to decide what is the most important thing. I will tell you what I think that is after this message.

Here is what God says is important to know:

I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness.


          Which raises the question: is there a difference between kindness and lovingkindness.


          The NIV and the KJV translators struggled with this. The NIV translates the word as kindness in some places and love in others.


          The KJV translate the word mercy in some place and lovingkindness in others.


          The fact is, the Hebrew word means, not just kindness, but lovingkindness.


          I suppose it is the difference between the kindness you would show to a stranger and the kindness you would show to someone you really cared about.

In history, there have been men who encountered God, who knew him, interacted with him and understood him.


          They have told us their story in a book we call the Bible.


          One of these was a man named Lot.


          He had the misfortune, or the lack of judgement, to live in a city called Sodom.


          After escaping the city, He describes the actions of God in getting him out of there as lovingkindness. KJV translates it mercy, but it is the same word.


          The story surrounding this is so revealing about the lovingkindness of God that it deserves special attention.


          Lot’s uncle was a wealthy man named Abraham, one of the great characters of the Bible, and a man called “The Friend of God.” That’s fascinating all by itself, because it reveals the simple fact that God has friends.


          You can pick up the story in the 18th chapter of Genesis

Genesis 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,


          Now it turns out that these three men are actually two of what we would call angels and a third who happened to be God. It is a truly strange encounter until you begin to understand the relationship that exists here.

3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.


          Abraham knew that his nephew, Lot lived in that town.

23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack

of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.

30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.


          A new testament writer, James, describes this kind of character:


          (James 3:17 KJV) "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

When we are dealing with God, we are dealing with some petty oriental tyrant who just as soon take your head off as listen to you.


          God will listen to entreaties from ordinary men. He is a kind person, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated.

Now you have to acknowledge that there is another side to this coin. That other side is Sodom.

Read the story in Genesis 19

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