Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mathetes 8 - How can we know God?

This is a continuation of my series on Mathetes letter to Diognetus. If you are unfamiliar with Mathetes or his letter to Diognetus, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.

Philosophy originally was simply the study of the natural world, but with Aristotle and Plato Philosophy shifted to being a search for the ultimate good, the first principle, that which our whole attention and focus would be worthy of. But how was man to know and understand God. Mathetes asks this question.
"For, who of men at all understood before His coming what God is? Do you accept of the vain and silly doctrines of those who are deemed trustworthy philosophers? of whom some said that fire was God, calling that God to which they themselves were by and by to come; and some water; and others some other of the elements formed by God. But if any one of these theories be worthy of approbation, every one of the rest of created things might also be declared to be God." (Mathetes 8)
Prior to His coming there were many guesses and speculations as to who God was, but most of them were wrong. Even Plato, though he understood that there was one supreme God, came far short of truly understanding him, and further short still of knowing His message. Man, in searching for God by his own reasonings, failed to find Him.
"But such declarations are simply the startling and erroneous utterances of deceivers; and no man has either seen Him, or made Him known, but He has revealed Himself." (Mathetes 8)
In previous ages, it may have seemed that God did not care for us; that He purposely hid Himself from us, that He let us grope in darkness trying to understand Him and His Word. In truth, however, God is and has always been good.
"And He has manifested Himself through faith, to which alone it is given to behold God. For God, the Lord and Fashioner of all things, who made all things, and assigned them their several positions, proved Himself not merely a friend of mankind, but also long-suffering [in His dealings with them]. Yea, He was always of such a character, and still is, and will ever be, kind and good, and free from wrath, and true, and the only one who is [absolutely] good; and He formed in His mind a great and unspeakable conception, which He communicated to His Son alone." (Mathetes 8)
God is and has always been good, but while He kept concealed His plan to rescue and reconcile us, we did not perceive His purpose of properly understand His character.
"As long, then, as He held and preserved His own wise counsel in concealment, He appeared to neglect us, and to have no care over us." (Mathetes 8)
But now God has revealed Himself and He has sent His word to reveal the Father to us. Now we can fully understand and appreciate the truly good nature of God. Now we understand God's care for us that has always existed since the beginning of time. God has revealed Himself and, with that revelation, has brought us all of His blessing as well.
"But after He revealed and laid open, through His beloved Son, the things which had been prepared from the beginning, He conferred every blessing all at once upon us, so that we should both share in His benefits, and see and be active [in His service]." (Mathetes 8)
We may not have understood God's purpose before His appearing, but God always had a purpose; a purpose shared and know between Him and His Son. We may not have understood His plan or anticipated what He would do but God knew, and all of history was a prelude to the salvation He would one day bring to mankind.
"Who of us would ever have expected these things? He was aware, then, of all things in His own mind, along with His Son, according to the relation subsisting between them." (Mathetes 8)
God has now appeared to us, He has given us His Word and His message, and with these also His blessings. It is now ours to both "see and be active" in His service; it is now ours to behold Him though faith.

David Robison

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