March 23, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – March 23rd, 2019
Meditations upon God
2). The way whereby we should know God
We know little of God, because it is faith alone by which we know Him here. I shall not now discourse about the remaining impressions on the hearts of all men by nature that there is a God, nor what they may rationally be taught concerning that God, from the works of His creation and providence which they see and behold. It is, confessedly, and that upon the woeful experience of all ages, so weak, low, dark, and confused that none ever on that account glorified God as they ought, but, notwithstanding all their knowledge of God, were indeed “without God in the world” (Eph 2:12).
The chief and almost only acquaintance that we have with God and His dispensations(89) of Himself is by faith. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6). Our knowledge of Him and His rewarding (which is also the foundation of our obedience or coming to Him) is believing. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2Co 5:7); by faith, and so by faith as not to have any express idea, image, or form of that which we believe. Faith is all the argument we have of “things not seen” (Heb 11:1).
I might here insist upon the nature of faith; and from all its accompaniments and concernments show that we know but the back parts of what we know by faith only. As to its rise, it is built purely upon the testimony of Him Whom we have not seen: as the apostle speaks, “How can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1Jo 4:20)—that is, Whom you know not but by faith that He is. Faith receives all upon His testimony, Whom it receives to be only on His own testimony. As to its nature, it is an assent upon testimony, not an evidence upon demonstration. And the object of it, as was said before, is above us. Hence our faith, as was formerly observed, is called a seeing darkly, as in a glass. All that we know of God, we know this way; and all that we know this way is but low, dark, and obscure.
a). Objection: Christ reveals Himself to believers
But you will say, “All this is true, but yet it is only so to them that know not God, perhaps, as He is revealed in Jesus Christ. With them who know Christ it is otherwise. It is true, ‘No man hath seen God at any time, [but] the only-begotten Son…he hath declared [that is, revealed] him’ (Joh 1:18); and ‘the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true’ (1Jo 5:20). ‘The light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God,’ shines upon believers (2Co 4:4). Yes, and ‘God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (4:6). So that though we ‘were sometimes darkness,’ yet we are now ‘light in the Lord’ (Eph 5:8). And the apostle says, ‘we all, with open face beholding…the glory of the Lord’ (2Co 3:18). Therefore, we are now so far from being in such dark-ness, or at such a distance from God, that our communion and ‘fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son’ (1Jo 1:3). The light of the gospel whereby now God is revealed is glorious: not a star, but the sun in His beauty is risen upon us, and the vail is taken from our faces. So that though unbelievers, yea, and perhaps some weak believers, may be in some darkness, yet those of any growth or considerable attainments have a clear sight and view of the face of God in Jesus Christ.”
To which I answer the following.
1). The truth is, all of us know enough of Him to love Him more than we do, to delight in Him, serve Him, believe Him, obey Him, and put our trust in Him, above all that we have hitherto attained. Our darkness and weakness is no plea for our negligence and disobedience. Who is it that has walked according to the knowledge that he has of the perfections, excellencies, and will of God? God’s end in giving us any knowledge of Himself here is that we may glorify Him as God—that is, love Him, serve Him, believe and obey Him, and give Him all the honor and glory that is due from poor sinful creatures to a sin-pardoning God and Creator. We must all acknowledge that we were never thoroughly transformed into the image of that knowledge which we have had. And had we used our talents well, we might have been trusted with more.