Is God knowable? Or is he unknowable? Is he hidden from us? Can we know him?
Those who say that God is unknowable are claiming ignorance of God. Even if you say “God cannot be known,” that is a knowledge claim. Those who say God is knowable are claiming to know something of God.
If he is knowable, how can we know that—and what can we know of him?
According to the Bible, we may know him through his word. There are five dimensions of his word through which we may know him, as follows:
1. We may know God through the “Living Word” — his son, Jesus Christ. According to John, one of the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, Jesus is the Word who was with God in the creation of the world. It’s true. If you look at Genesis 1, when the world was created, the scripture says, “And God said” exactly 10 times. So the world was created through God’s spoken word — and that Word is Jesus. John writes, “All things came into being through him.” So we may know God through his son, Jesus Christ, the Word of God.
2. We may know God through the preaching and teaching of his prophets and apostles. Again and again the scripture says, especially in the Old Testament, “Thus says the LORD.” God speaks in the words of the prophets. And in the New Testament, Jesus tells his disciples that there will be many who will believe in him through their word. And the Holy Spirit will lead them into all truth. So whatever we read in the scripture shows us the preaching and teaching of the prophets and apostles.
3. We may know God through his written word — the scriptures. It is from the scriptures that we hear the words of the prophets and apostles. We have a written record of Moses and other prophets receiving the word of God from God himself. So the scriptures reveal God to us.
4. We may know God through nature. Psalm 19 and Romans 1:18 reveal that God is known through what exists — the world as it now stands — including the oceans, the land and the heavens (the blue vault of daytime and the black vault of nighttime). “The heavens declare the glory of God…” Psalm 19 says. If we look at the order and operation of the universe around us, we can come to know God’s creativity and power. According to Paul in Romans 1, we can know four things about God through nature: He is powerful, divine, eternal and invisible. By looking at what is around us, we can know that much.
5. We may know God in our hearts. By God’s word “…your servant is warned. Cleanse me of hidden sins…” Psalm 19 says. God reveals himself in our hearts. If we have his word and his spirit within us, we can know him in a personal way, in relationship. We can think of him because he reveals himself within us. I know God because he knows me. He reveals himself to me in these five ways.
Mark Berrier is the minister of Central Christian Church in Sherman. He earned a doctoral degree in divinity from Dallas Christian College. He and his wife of 49 years, Paula, have two children and eight grandchildren.