Apart from God we can know nothing. He created mankind in His image, in personal relationship with Him, with the ability to know and understand Him through His personal presence and spoken, intelligible words. Boundless in power, God can make Himself known to His people any way He sees fit, and He chose to use human language.
Our dependence on God and language preceded our fall into sin. Adam and Eve needed God’s revelation to relate to God and know His will. The direction to cultivate the garden was spoken, as was the all-important command to abstain from the forbidden fruit and its attendant curse. And though God is infinitely above and beyond all that He created, He can condescend to relate to His people in the most personal and intimate way through human language.
The seemingly pious belief that God is too high to use something as low as human language to reveal Himself and relate to us limits God’s power. It says, in effect, God can create us but cannot communicate with us any way He chooses. Rather than exalting God, it portrays Him as a feeble prisoner of His greatness. This idea cloaks a rejection of the divine authority of Scripture, denies our responsibility to submit to God’s revealed will, and repeats the sin of Adam and Eve by elevating human speculation over God’s revelation. The same can be said of the unbiblical notion that God can’t use fallible people to pen infallible truth. God can do anything. And to what higher authority than God’s Word can one appeal to make such claims? The opinions of limited and fallen people? (See my earlier article, “Speculation About God Apart from His Revelation Is Worthless.”). God’s special revelation (now given to us in Scripture) has always been necessary for us as created and dependent on God for all things.
Moreover, the effects of sin have made our interpretations untrustworthy. As Adam hid himself from God in the garden following his sin, so all fallen and unredeemed people continually avoid God and suppress the clear, comprehensive, and compelling knowledge of God (Romans 1:18-22). We lack the neutral objectivity to interpret God and the world without the bias of our sin-tainted will.  Apart from God’s explanation of Himself and His world, we would interpret all things to suit our own desires, like someone on a diet who knows a thousand reasons why eating an ice cream cone constitutes a moral necessity. We can rationalize anything, including the worst sins condemned by God in Scripture. Apart from His special revelation, we would never view Him or His world rightly. Indeed, “He who trusts in his own mind is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26). “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit” (Prov. 16:2). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Happily, God knows our hearts (Jeremiah 17:10) and has given us His Word as a “lamp” to our feet and a “light” to our “path” (Psalm 119:105). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Additionally, we lack the vantage point to interpret the ultimate nature of God and His world sufficiently. We are constrained by time, space, and our limited abilities, as well as three or four dimensions, five senses, and plus or minus seventy years on earth. And while all people know enough about God by what He has created to make a lack of gratitude and honor to Him inexcusable (Romans 1:20), we need additional revelation from God. Since God is infinite spirit and transcends the universe He created, we could never describe or know Him accurately without His making Himself known. God’s admonition to Job is instructive:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:2-7)
“Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Belief in God admits dependence on Him for knowledge of His excellence and His universe, while seeking God requires that we listen to Him. And “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Therefore, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:2-3). And that knowledge comes through the Word and words of Scripture. As “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), it convicts, saves, and transforms us. Indeed, “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). “Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb,” it is “more to be desired” than “much fine gold” (Psalm 19:10).
 I explain how the heart or will affects the understanding in the webinar, “The Myth of Neutral Science: Why Good Scientists Believe Impossible and Unscientific Things.”
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotation are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2017 Craig Biehl, adapted from Craig Biehl, God the Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith, Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015.
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