In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, Who has known the mind of the Lord? How unsearchable His judgments and His paths beyond tracing out. A theologian said this about God's wisdom, It's way over our heads, we'll never figure it out.
Well, if it's true that God's ways are mysterious, how can we possibly know Him? Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues his series called, Growing Deep in the Christian Life. And during the next half hour, he'll tackle this question and more. Chuck titled his message, Knowing God, Life's Major Pursuit. I want to talk for a few minutes about why it is important to know God. Because I can assure you He hasn't hidden Himself. There's a special revelation in history as well as in His book. And I want to capitalize on four or five reasons it's important to know God.
Here's the first reason. Knowing God gives me the desire to be like Him. That's right here in verse 24. Knowing God gives me the desire to be like Him. Let him who boasts boast of this that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth. For I delight in these things declares the Lord.
Interesting, isn't it? That when the Lord talks about Himself, He tells you His attributes, His character traits. Loving kindness, justice, righteousness. Over in Peter, we read that the Lord is holy. In fact, we even read the command, you be holy as I am holy.
Now there's a flip side to that. And it's the second reason it's important to know God. Knowing God reveals the truth about myself.
When you study the Lord God, you discover He's holy and you're unholy. You discover He's perfect and you're imperfect. You find that He's strong, but you're weak. You discover that He's patient and you're impatient.
He's impartial and you're prejudiced. And something occurs in that contrast that causes His character to overshadow your need. And the knowledge of the Holy One equips you to change.
I don't know how it works. I just know it does. Knowing God enables me to interpret my world. Daniel chapter 4. Turn there, please. Way over in the Minor Prophets, or almost to the Minor Prophets, Daniel, locate the end of Daniel 4. And you'll come to a remarkable story.
Remarkable. The man's name is Nebuchadnezzar, the king. He's strutting around the kingdom with his thumbs under his suspenders saying how great I am, how wonderful I am, look at this kingdom I built, how magnificent a person I am. Everybody together say it again and again, Nebuchadnezzar.
Let's all say it together. And suddenly he lost his mind. Verse 33.
Immediately, the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. And he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle. And his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagle's feathers and his nails like bird claws. It means just what it says. This once great man is reduced to a beast and he's living in the field.
Day and night, claws like an eagle and long hair and animal-like existence. For some people, it takes insanity to come to an end of themselves and to find God. And in this horrible breakdown in Nebuchadnezzar's life, he switched in his mind. The next passage you're going to read, 34 and 35 into 36, will amaze you.
Same man. At the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me. And I, what? Blessed the Most High. He used to bless himself. I praised and honored God who lives forever. He used to praise and honor himself. For God's dominion is an everlasting dominion. His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. And God does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth. And no one can ward off God's hand or say to him, what hast thou done?
At that time, my reason returned to me. It's the 35th verse that interests me. Once Nebuchadnezzar saw God and came to know and began to understand God, his whole perspective changed. He saw the earth as under God's control.
God, if you please, is calling the shots, not this king. Chapter 11 of Daniel is the fourth reason. Knowing God makes me stronger and more secure.
Goodness knows we need this. Daniel 11 32. Knowing God gives me desire to be like him. Knowing God reveals me as I really am. Knowing God enables me to interpret my world correctly.
Fourth, knowing God makes me stronger and more secure. Chapter 11 verse 32 is in a tough scene. It's a scene of conflict and warfare.
There's a battle going on between good and evil. And right in the middle of verse 32, Daniel inserts, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. James Boyce writes these words about the strength of our God. We do not have a strong church today, nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace the cause to an acute lack of sound spiritual knowledge. Why is the church weak? Why are individual Christians weak? He answers, it is because they have allowed their minds to be conformed to the spirit of this age with its mechanistic, godless thinking.
They have forgotten what God is like and what he promises to do for those who trust him. Ask an average Christian to talk about God. After getting past the expected answers, you will find that his God is a little God of vacillating sentiments. He is a God who would like to save the world, but who cannot. He would like to restrain evil, but somehow he finds it beyond his power. So he has withdrawn into semi-retirement, being willing to give good advice in a grandfatherly sort of way.
For the most part, he has left his children to fend for themselves in a dangerous environment. Such a God is not the God of the Bible. I want to ask you a direct question. Don't answer out loud so it won't embarrass you. Isn't it true, more often than not, that your God is old and has a long beard?
Now wait, no out loud answer. Isn't it true? You picture him standing in the north winds going, don't you?
Sure you do. He wears a robe, has big toes, sandals. He's not too sure about nuclear physics and the computers have him greatly concerned, right? I mean the world explosion is way out of sorts and he's just sort of a grandfather that is going to be there when you need him.
You can trust him because he could handle things yesterday and probably could pretty well handle it today. That's your God, isn't it? That is heresy.
It is heresy to think of God like that, men and women. He isn't intimidated. Computers don't bother him. The nuclear warheads don't have him worried.
Things aren't out of hand. He's in control. He can handle it. He can handle you. He even knows the number of the hairs on your head and for some of you that's not a big deal to know, you know. He's got it wired.
He's got it together. He is the sovereign God of the universe and he's never once lost control. He strengthens and he secures his people. Those who know their God operate like that. See the value of knowing God. See what it does to your perspective. See how already more calm you are about those worries you dragged into where you're sitting right now.
It isn't out of hand. He can take care of it. Lift your eyes. Behold his glory.
High and lifted up. Worthy is the lamb that was slain to give power and authority over this place. His kingdom will not fail. That's our God.
Now I've saved the best till last. Why is it important to know him? John chapter 17. Because knowing God introduces me to the eternal dimension of existence. John 17, 3.
Jesus is praying, talking to the Father and he says in verse 3, This is eternal life that they may know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent. Knowing God introduces me to the invisible world of God's kingdom. I see through eyes that aren't given to everyone. I have not seen, neither has ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things that God has promised to those who love him. The natural person isn't born with this kind of insight.
It's given at the new birth. That's why you will hear us often talk about coming to know Jesus Christ, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, turning your life over to Christ, coming to the door, opening it by faith and saying Jesus Christ come into my life. Take charge because when he comes in he introduces to you an eternal dimension for living. And you are lifted in your heart and in your mind above the present irksome details of life. You're able to see through his perspective. What you've gained is an eternal dimension of life. Now, we have sort of dissected reasons to know God. I have a little fear, I have to confess.
My fear has to do with what I've communicated and what you might do with it. You might have the idea that if you take pen in hand and open the Bible and start in Genesis and work your way through when you're all finished, you'll have it all put together. You'll understand all the mysteries.
Wrong. Romans 11 33 tells me it won't happen. It says that he is unsearchable and he is unfathomable.
In fact, Romans 11 33 talks about the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways. So when you travel down the road of knowledge to discover your God, you're going to come to some streets that are mysterious. And if you determine you're going to track them all the way until you understand all of them, you're going to wind up crazy. Just to tell you, I'll just save you from insanity. Let me give you four areas that are incomprehensible.
You'll be glad I gave it to you when you get serious about this study. Four areas. First is Trinity. He is one God, three persons, co-equal, co-eternal, co-existent. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, end of my knowledge. Trinity.
Rest is a mystery. Second, glory. The Trinity has to do with the person of God. Glory has to do with the presence of God. It has something to do with light, the effulgence of his brilliance. His presence was felt in the tabernacle, in the temple.
There was light there. There was the glory of God that was lifted from the place of worship and removed because of the unbelief of the people. Something about the glory of God revealed through Scripture is terribly mysterious. Third, sovereignty.
Sovereignty. This has to do with the plan of God. Somehow, he is in control of all things and yet even though he is perfectly holy, he has permitted sin. He's directed it.
He's allowed it without being contaminated. The only people that can explain that are nuts. They're the only ones I know that can explain it. Quit searching it out. Quit trying to reconcile it. Take it by faith. He says he's in control and yet he still says we are to decide whether we want Jesus Christ or we don't want Jesus Christ. Leave the mysterious part of the plan to him.
Trust me, just come to know Christ. Trinity, glory, sovereignty, majesty. That's the fourth one. His position. He is unseen and probably will remain unseen throughout eternity. I'm not sure if we will ever see him even in a glorified state and yet he's there in all of his glory. Somehow his majestic position will not be diminished and yet I'm not sure we'll ever be able to grasp it.
Ever. I just believe it. I bow before his almighty majesty. I sing of that.
But I can't explain it. Job is full of thoughts like that and I won't take the time to quote them. But there are some things that are very practical and very essential. And I close with them.
I've closed three times so I promise you this time I'm closing. Number one, God is pleased when we walk by faith. The book is full of that fact. God is pleased when we walk by faith. Second, God is glorified when we worship in truth.
I come to something that I can't handle. He's pleased when I trust him by faith to get me through it. I gather in an assembly with other believers and in truth I worship my God. He's glorified in it. He is honored when I obey his word. That's the third.
Make no mistake about it, that's not a mystery. When I obey what he has written, he's honored. He's lifted up. He's honored when I obey his word. Fourth, he is our father when we believe in his son and not until. He is our father when we believe in his son and not until. He isn't the father of everyone even though he graciously gives rain and sun and cool and warmth to all on this earth by grace. He becomes the father of those who believe in his son. What a message to prepare and to present.
I commend you even for sitting there as we've worked our way through this heavy duty subject. Or have we really? You know my answer to that?
In three words, time will tell. Those who get serious about the knowledge of God find that it alters their lifestyle. Changes their whole reason for living. Now am I saying it's wrong to ever have money? It's wrong to ever be in an influential position? It's wrong to be educated and to have knowledge and be resourceful? You know that's not what I'm saying.
I'm saying it's wrong when any one of those things becomes your major pursuit. God knows we need resourceful people in the family who are in places of influence. God uses wealthy believers in places of generosity to keep his works moving and going. Modeling what that's all about.
But I am not convinced in my heart that a person can really be used if those things become and end in themselves. Our goal is to know our God. So it's amazing what that does to our drive to be mighty, resourceful, successful.
It's amazing. Let's bow together. Let me talk to you for a few minutes, just briefly, but I'll wrap it up. If you hear this talk and then buy a big study Bible and go to work on just discovering facts about God, you've really only gotten part of what I've talked about. True knowledge affects the way we live. It affects our attitude, affects our heart, our response. It changes our direction. It alters the way we make decisions. It even takes away our worries. It brings us wall to wall with the truth of God and what he says about himself. If there's never been a time in your life when you have bowed your heart and simply said, Lord God, like Isaiah, I'm a sinner and I have seen you exalted and lifted up.
I believe in your son today. If you've never done that, do that now. I'll never give you better advice. Don't put that off. In fact, without doing that, you'll never really know God.
He'll continue to be a distant deity that's sort of washing around the heavens. But he holds out a gift and it's his son. He says, take it. Just take it.
Just take it right now. What a profound and magnificent subject, our Father, is your person and your work. We want to think about loving you in return, but that comes next. Right now we're thinking about knowing you, understanding your ways. We leave the mystery part to you, that there's enough revealed about you to change our entire frame of reference.
That's the part we want to grab hold of. I pray it might begin to take place among your people, that we might be different. We might set aside that major pursuit of life as being something about myself and turn that major pursuit toward you.
And I know that you'll honor that. I pray for those without Christ, that they may be drawn simply by the majestic person of your son, Jesus, to faith in him. In whose name we pray. Amen. In whose name we pray. Amen.
In whose name we pray. Amen. The more I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
In fact, I'm convinced that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. This statement has become the centerpiece of a new book from Chuck. With just seven chapters, Chuck has written about finding joy, maintaining relationships with the people in your life, and how to diffuse disharmony.
Whether for yourself, a son or daughter, or perhaps a grandchild, we believe Chuck's new book will help you gain a new perspective on life, one that's squarely founded on the Bible. To purchase a copy, go to insight.org slash store, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. And then as God prompts you to support Insight for Living with voluntary donations, we invite you to become a monthly companion. By giving a monthly donation in the amount of your choice, you play a significant role in making this daily program available. So call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
You can also sign up online at insight.org slash monthly companion. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun. All in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.
Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.
When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444 or learn more at insight.org slash events. The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. More from Chuck Swindoll on growing deep in the Christian life next time on Insight for Living. The implication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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