Knowing Me, Knowing You – God makes himself known to us (Session Five)
Knowing Me, Knowing You – God makes himself known to us (Session Five)
Session Five focuses on the doctrine of God's revelation.
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With the theological key God makes himself known to us, this study focuses on the doctrine of God’s revelation. The Bible teaches that knowledge of God is not just possible, but universal: in one sense, everyone knows God. However, this universal knowledge cannot save us. For salvation, we need the knowledge of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But even without sin, knowing God would be a theological ‘problem’, given our status as creatures.

The Bible shows us how to understand revelation. In the Old Testament, God ‘showed himself’, ‘made himself to be seen’, and ‘made himself to be known’, particularly at times of special significance in salvation history. This revelation was both verbal and visual (in the case of theophanies and mystical visions). In the New Testament, God’s revelation is clearly both propositional and personal, and it is focused on the revelation of Jesus Christ, clothed in his gospel.

God reveals himself to us. However, we do not know God as God knows himself, archetypally. Rather, our knowledge is the ectype, or copy, of God’s knowledge. Even so, the copy is a true reflection of the original, accommodated to our created capacity and understanding.

Knowledge of God is to be found in created things. The special revelation which we receive now through Scripture opens our eyes to the revelation of God in nature and history. Knowledge of God is supremely useful for us: ultimately for our salvation in Christ. Indeed, such knowledge is the greatest blessing – even eternal life.

Aims of study

Starter questions

WE ARE THE BEST AT KNOWING THE LEAST….and damn proud of it.

Do you have ‘agnostic’ friends or family members? Why do they say they are agnostic? Is there something positive about their position that we could affirm?

Questions to review understanding and for discussion

Bible passage: Matthew 11:25-30

Suggested application questions

For further study

The best account of revelation that I have found is in Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, Prolegomena (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 281-494. This is not for the faint-hearted, though. Bavinck calls revelation the principium externum. This is traditional (Latin) theological terminology for the foundation of our knowledge (of God) that is outside us. In Bavinck’s theology, this external principle corresponds to (or gives rise to) an internal principle or foundation, which is our response of faith. There’s so much great stuff in Bavinck, but it takes time and effort to read and digest him.

Something a bit simpler can be found in John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1987), which was also recommended as additional reading for the previous study.