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Sunday Service 8-30-20 - Apprehending The Incomprehensible

Standalone  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:04:10
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God: Apprehension vs Comprehension - What can Pi (and numbers in general) teach us about God? Intro: College Professor, Liberal Theology (aka Progressive Christianity): God is SUPERnatural ... as if that answered everything. (Satan in the garden's strategy is to get us to doubt the clear, plain revelation of God. Did God really say?) Cannot God communicate accurately about Himself? There are only two choices: Revelation or Speculation. Isn't that the point of John 1 and many other passages in John and other parts of Scripture? That's why these words are so incredible and amazing in the Gospel (the Good News) and should never be lost on us or taken for granted as insignificant ... John 1:15 The word was made flesh came and dwelt among us. This is why the prophecy in Isaiah was so amazing. You shall call his name Emmanuel, which means God with us (Isa 7:14, Matt 1:23). It's why the words and goal of the Covenant are "I will be Your God and you shall be my people." (So many verses: see appendix 1). ... what people has a god near to them we do Deut 4:7. (Holy Spirit indwelling us, etc) Can we know the unknowable? Eph 3:14-21 14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every familyc in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. We may apprehend Him and are commanded to (take hold of Him, taste and see, seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart), like taking hold of the smallest branch of a great tree or the tail fin of an enormous whale. (Elephant and blind men analogy) But we may not comprehend Him (Deut 29:29). This is the answer to both modernity and post-modernity. We can know anything/everything. We can't know anything. Modernity: We can know anything and everything. Post-modernity: Because we can't know everything, we can't know anything. This is like Pi (and all irrational numbers vs rational numbers). We can't know the square root of 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, etc. But, we can know the square roots of 0, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, etc. In fact we can know a lot that is true about the square roots of 2, 3, etc even though we can't know all that is true about them. In fact, we can apprehend God's incomprehensibility. If we could know nothing about God, then we wouldn't be able to know that we can know nothing about God. (We can know nothing about God? ... Can we know that?) The Apprehensibility of the Incomprehensible God Richard Trench: "How important is it to keep in mind ... the fact that we possess the two words 'to apprehend' and 'to comprehend,' with their substantives, 'apprehension' and 'comprehension.' For indeed we 'apprehend' many truths which we do not 'comprehend.' The great mysteries of our faith the doctrine, for instance of the Holy Trinity: we lay hold upon it, (ad prehendo) we hang on it, our souls live by it; but we do not 'comprehend' it; that is, we do not take it all in; for it is a necessary attribute of God that He is incomprehensible; if He were not so, either He would not be God, or the being that comprehended Him would be God also. But it also belongs to the idea of God that He may be 'apprehended,' though not 'comprehended,' by his reasonable creatures; He has made them to know Him, though not to know Him all, to 'apprehend,' though not to 'comprehend,' Him." What would be worse, a God who could be comprehended, or a God who could not be apprehended? The God known in Scripture is neither; rather the opposite: The apprehensible incomprehensible. Incomprehensibility Scriptures: Job 11:7 - "Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? Psalm 106:2 - Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? Exodus 15:11 - Who is a God like you, O LORD, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Psalm 89:6, 8 - Who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD? O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are with your faithfulness all around you? Psalm 89:8(ESV) Psalm 86:8, 10 - There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Job 40:9 - No creature has an arm like God, or can thunder with a voice like his. Acts 17:24-25 - The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Job 10:4-5 - You are God and not man; you do not have eyes of flesh, nor do you see as man sees. Your days are not as the days of man, nor your years as a man's years. Job 26:14 - Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? Isaiah 55:8-9 - For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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. Isaiah 40:15, 17-18 - All nations before you are like a drop from a bucket, or the dust on the scales; and you take up the coastlands like fine dust; they are as nothing, and are accounted by you as less than nothing and emptiness ... All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? James 1:13 - Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. Romans 11:33-34 - Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" (cf. Job 42:1-6; Ps. 139:6, 17-18; 147:5; Isa. 57:15; 1 Cor. 2:10-11; 1 Tim. 6:13-16) Apprehensibility Scriptures: Tozer: The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any another person or thing that comes within the field of their experience. The same terms are used to express the knowledge of God as are used to express knowledge of physical things. 'O taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalm 34:8), emphasis added). 'All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces' (Psalm 45:8, emphasis added). 'My sheep hear my voice' (John 10:27, emphasis added). 'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God' (Matthew 5:8, emphasis added). We don't keep ourselves from knowing other people even though we also can't know everything about them (even our spouses, perhaps even ourselves). This is built into us - the desire to know and be known ... Paul prays this for us in Ephesians 1:17 (of all the things he could pray) that we would know Him. He says that one day we will fully know even as we are already full known in 1 Cor 13. Gen 1:1 (and the entirety of the Bible) - In the beginning, God ... Psalm 19:1-4 - The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Romans 1:19-23 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Deuteronomy 4:5-9 - See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' 7For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? 9"Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children. Isaiah 6:3 - "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" Exodus 33:6 - Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. Hebrews 11:6 - Whoever would please God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Jeremiah 29:13 - You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (No one seeks God...) Jeremiah 9:23-24 - Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." 2 Peter 1:2-3 - May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 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, Ephesians 1:16-19 - I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, Acts 17:22-31 - 22So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.' 29Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." 2 Corinthians 4:6 - For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1-3 - Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. John 1:1-18 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") 16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. John 17:3 - And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Phil 3:8-11 - Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 1 John 4:7-8 - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Heb 8:11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 John 3:2 - Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. Philippians 3:12-16 - Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Deuteronomy 29:29 - The secret things belong to the LORD, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children, that we may obey all the words of this law. 1 Corinthians 2:10 - these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (We have God's Spirit. We have God's Word.) Eastern Mysticism, Post-modernism, Pluralism: No one can lay claim to THE Truth. (How about that?) The only heresy is to claim that there is heresy. Appendix 1 ... Covenant Words: I will be their God and they shall be my people. Genesis 17:7-8 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." Exodus 6:7 Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Exodus 20:2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Exodus 29:45 I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. Leviticus 11:45 For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.'" Leviticus 22:33 who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord." Leviticus 25:38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. Leviticus 26:12 I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. Leviticus 26:45 But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.'" Numbers 15:41 I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God." Isaiah 41:10 'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:13 "For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.' Isaiah 43:3 "For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Jeremiah 7:23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.' Jeremiah 31:1 "At that time," declares the Lord, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people." Jeremiah 11:4 which I commanded your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, 'Listen to My voice, and do according to all which I command you; so you shall be My people, and I will be your God,' Jeremiah 30:22 'You shall be My people, And I will be your God.'" Jeremiah 31:33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 32:38 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; Ezekiel 14:11 in order that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me and no longer defile themselves with all their transgressions. Thus they will be My people, and I shall be their God,"' declares the Lord God." Ezekiel 11:20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. Ezekiel 37:23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 20:5 and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "On the day when I chose Israel and swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, when I swore to them, saying, I am the Lord your God, Ezekiel 20:7 I said to them, 'Cast away, each of you, the detestable things of his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.' Ezekiel 20:19 I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and observe them. Ezekiel 20:20 Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.' Ezekiel 37:27 My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Ezekiel 34:31 "As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God," declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 36:28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 34:24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken. Zechariah 8:8 and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.' Zechariah 10:6 "I will strengthen the house of Judah, And I will save the house of Joseph, And I will bring them back, Because I have had compassion on them; And they will be as though I had not rejected them, For I am the Lord their God and I will answer them. Hosea 12:9 But I have been the Lord your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, As in the days of the appointed festival. Hosea 13:4 Yet I have been the Lord your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me. Joel 2:27 "Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the Lord your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame. Joel 3:17 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, Dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, And strangers will pass through it no more. Psalm 50:7 "Hear, O My people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you; I am God, your God. Psalm 81:10 "I, the Lord, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. 2 Corinthians 6:16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Hebrews 8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold! The dwelling place of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them and be their God. Revelation 21:7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
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