By Tracy Dugger
God cannot he explained, He must be experienced (bulletin board sign). This made me think of the misconceptions many have regarding God. Multitudes over-emphasize the emotional side of man and fail to give proper attention to the intellectual side. I would not for a moment deny that man is an emotional being and that emotions come into play when obeying the gospel (Acts 2:37; 8:37). Still, to say one cannot know God, but must feel him is strange; no such idea can be found within the Bible.
To say we cannot explain but must experience God is incorrect. Besides, the statement about not understanding but being able to encounter God suggests that those who have a personal, direct communication with the Almighty do understand him, while those claiming no such experience are ignorant about their Maker and do not know him. So, it is a way of slipping in by the side door. It smacks of snobbery—as in "I have felt God and know him and you, having only the Bible, cannot understand him. Poor, pitiful thing."
One cannot know everything about God nor explain every detail about deity. Isaiah writes:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my Ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).
However this is a far cry from contending that God cannot be explained or known. We may know what God has revealed about himself in the Bible and the things not revealed are for God to know (Deut. 29:29). Immediate revelations of God today are fictions and fables because all that he intends to reveal has long since been made known. The faith is once for all delivered (Jude 3).
What use would the Bible be if God could not be explained in some real sense? God's purpose in writing the Bible was to give an explanation of many things, including himself. Consider what the Bible says about coming to know God:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Eph. 3:1-5).
Paul explains that God and his wonderful plan was made known and could be understood by his readers. Paul spent a lot of time explaining God to his hearers.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (Rom. 1:16-17).
Paul says God's righteousness is revealed by the gospel message. It sounds as if God can be explained!
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:9-16).
God revealed to inspired men his will, who in turn revealed it to us that we might understand God. God can be explained. Jesus Christ came to the earth to reveal and explain God: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18). Consider the following in defining the word declared:
The verb 'declared' in Greek, exeegeesato, is beautiful. This verb was constantly used by ancient Greek writers to indicate interpretation of divine mysteries. It was an explanation to men of something divine that they could not understand by themselves. That is what Jesus Christ came to do—to help us limited human beings understand the unlimited and invisible God.... [I]ts basic meaning is 'to lead gut.' The idea is that of God, the invisible God, in a hiding place. He was inaccessible to man. Jesus Christ, who has always been with the Father, who is God Himself, brought Him out and made Him visible to all. He explained God. He was the exegete of God. In fact, the verb 'exegesis' in English comes from the verb exeegeomai. Exegesis is to bring out the meaning of something that is difficult to understand. Thus we can say that in Jesus Christ God is made understandable, and only in Him is He understandable (Sipiros Zohiates, Was Christ God?, Grand Rapids, MI: Erdman's Publishing Company 1970, p. 35-36).
When we read the Bible, we find a most wonderful explanation of God!
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him" (John 14:6-7).
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3).
"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).
Published October 1996