Summary, Part 4 (final) e) FALLEN MEN ARE INCAPABLE OF KNOWING GOD THROUGH HIS WORD UNLESS THEY ARE CONVERTED BY A SUPERNATURAL WORK OF DIVINE GRACE (v. 14) [38:15]. An unsaved person is like someone who has AM frequency but not FM: he has reception, but it isnât clear; he can read the Bible, but he wonât get the meaning. God hasnât opened his heart; he is dead in his sins. CONCLUDING APPLICATIONS: 1. YOU CANNOT KNOW GOD SAVINGLY APART FROM THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST AND APART FROM GODâS CONVERTING GRACE [44:50]. If you donât know Christ, you donât know God. Finding Him through the conscience or heart are dead ends. 2. YOU NEED NOTHING BEYOND GODâS GOSPEL AND SPIRIT TO COME TO KNOW GOD SAVINGLY [45:55]. The new eyes, ears, and heart are given by God. Things like apparitions or warnings from the dead donât change hearts (cf. the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man). His grace is operative in those who cry out to Him. 3. THAT GOD SENT HIS SON, SPIRIT, AND GOSPEL INTO THIS WORLD PROVES THAT HE INTENDS FOR SINNERS TO COME TO KNOW HIM [49:40]. Christ was sent to remedy the problem. The gospel isnât men seeking God, but God seeking men (MATTHEW 11:25-30).
Summary, Part 3 b) GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN INTIMATELY THROUGH SELF-DISCLOSURE, FOR GOD ALONE KNOWS HIS HIDDEN THOUGHTS AND PURPOSES (v. 11) [27:30]. There is a sense in which knowing God is like knowing a man. God bares His heart to His people by His Spirit. c) GOD IS BOTH WILLING AND ABLE TO REVEAL HIMSELF TO MEN, FOR HE HIMSELF HAS DELIBERATELY ENABLED CHRISTIANS TO KNOW HIM (v. 12) [29:50]. The God who knows everything about Himself and His creation condescends to us to reveal Himself. This exposes the transcendentalistsâ folly. The truth is that God goes out of His way to reveal Himself and is the one who initiates it. d) GOD HAS IN FACT REVEALED HIS DEEPEST THOUGHTS AND PURPOSES IN THE SCRIPTURES (v. 13) [34:45]. Paul says that these are things we also speak. Before God gave us His Holy Spirit, we couldnât understand His word (cf. 2 THESSALONIANS 2:13). Verse 9 is often read at funerals, but the subject is not Heaven: verse 10 shows that it is salvation in this life.
Summary, Part 2 a) ITS ABSOLUTE NECESSITY [16:18]. No man knows God as Father without knowing Christ (JOHN 14:6, 1 JOHN 2:23, 5:20, 2 JOHN 9). The Bible makes it plain: one must know Jesus Christ savingly to know God. All other gods are just that: other gods. b) ITS UNIQUE SUFFICIENCY [20:15]. Christ has complete and intimate knowledge of God. Beyond Him, there need be no further revelation (JOHN 1:18). c) ITS GOSPEL METHODOLOGY [21:55]. Christ conveys saving knowledge only through the gospel. Reformation theology calls this the General Call, or the Free Offer, with what follows being the Effectual Call (RBCF, 7.2). In other words, The General Call is effectual to those whom He chooses. ii. THAT GIVEN TO SAINTS BY THE SPIRIT IN SCRIPTURE (1 CORINTHIANS 2:10-14) [24:15]. The depth of God is the focus of this text. By knowing the following things we can know Him intimately. a) GOD HAS COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE OF HIMSELF, EVEN OF HIS DEEPEST THOUGHTS AND PURPOSES (v. 10) [26:20]. If God couldnât know Himself fully, we couldnât be sure of anything about Him. So we can trust the Holy Spirit.
Summary, Part 1 [Pastor Nutter credits his former professor, Pastor Greg Nichols of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the outline of this message, which can be found in Pastor Nicholsâ book, *What does the Bible say about God?: The Biblical doctrine of God*.] Last week, we opened Part VI: MANâS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, and considered A. THE UNIVERSAL KNOWABILITY OF GOD. Today we move on to B. THE KNOWLEDGE SOME MEN HAVE OF GOD: GODâS SAVING KNOWLEDGE [staring at 1:15 of the audio]. This knowledge is intimate and experiential, not mental and abstract. Some biblical witnesses for this knowledge: JEREMIAH 9:24, 31:34, DANIEL 11:32, MATTHEW 11:27-28, JOHN 10:14-15, 17:3, EPHESIANS 1:17-18, PHILIPPIANS 3:10, COLOSSIANS 1:9-10, HEBREWS 10:30, 2 PETER 1:2-3, and 1 JOHN 4:6, 5:20. All these witnesses teach that some throughout the Bible knew God savingly. 1. THE MAJOR FEATURES OF A SAVING KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. a. THE SOLE SOURCE OF GODâS SAVING KNOWLEDGE [12:35]: special revelation, which rests on two pillars: i. THAT GIVEN TO SINNERS BY CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL [14:45]. MATTHEW 11:27-29a establishes three things about this revelation:
Summary, Part 6 (final) b. MERE BELIEF IN A GOD DOES NOT SAVE ANYONE [48:25]. We donât know God truly until we know His Son savingly. Being âbasically goodâ makes people no better than Eliâs sons. Countless souls have followed this lie into the pit from where it came. Even the demons believe in the true God, yet theyâre not saved. Show such people ROMANS 1-2 to show them their folly, and then to ROMANS 3 to show them Christ crucified. c. MAY THE DAMNING KNOWLEDGE OF SINNERS URGE US TO TELL THEM THE TRUTH OF CHRIST [50:30]. They need to know the creator Himself; they need to know Christ.
Summary, Part 5 4. IMPLICATIONS [44:45]. a. THE IMPOTENCE OF GENERAL REVELATION TO SAVE THE WICKED. Natural revelation tells us that there is a powerful, creative, and righteous God. But we need the gospel to tell us that His the savior of lost sinners. We should also be warned to not take the conclusions of creation science as the gospel: they are confirmation for the saved and perhaps a matter of interest to the lost, but those lost still need to be led to Christ. We should further heed the warning to not appeal to a sinnerâs guilty conscience without telling him about the remedy of Christ. We must also not confuse such conviction with conversion. Feeling bad about sin does not mean forgiveness: thatâs the sorrow that leads unto death (2 CORINTHIANS 7:10). We may appeal to general revelation but, like Paul, only as an introduction to special revelation.
Summary, Part 4 3. IMPORTANT LESSON ABOUT THIS KNOWLEDGE [34:50]: we should never focus upon general revelation for two reasons: a. THE BIBLE DOESNâT FOCUS ON IT. b. GENERAL REVELATION IS POWERLESS TO SAVE SINNERS. Paul would often start with general revelation, but then move on to special revelation. PSALM 19 does as well: it starts with the works of God and ends with the word of God. If Paul had stuck with general revelation, his pagan audiences would have embraced him, but not been saved. It is unbiblical to impose the gospel onto the stars or some aspect of creation because none of it points to Christ. To know God savingly is to know Him as a redeemer. 1 CORINTHIANS 1:21 â this verse teaches three things: that natural revelation doesnât save souls, that God designed this as such, and that it is only through the preaching of the gospel that sinners are saved. All of manâs extra-biblical insight on God sums up to ignorance about God. Attempts to worship God through the creation lead away from God, not toward Him. We did not find salvation by reaching the conclusions of our searches; God had to open our eyes from blindness and our ears from deafness. He had to cleanse our hearts of filth and shed light into our darkness. He reveals Himself naturally, but intervenes supernaturally.
Summary, Part 3 Like a hammer hitting a nail, the Bible over and over again strikes the point that wicked men do not know God. We infer that not all Old Testament Hebrews knew God, not even some sons of priests; that many Jewish religious leaders didnât know God, and that even some early church members did not know God. If such proximity to the special revelation doesnât guarantee knowledge of God, what can we say of those with only general revelation? The scope is much larger than âthe heathen who never heard.â The Bible speaks of two ways of knowing God: generally and specifically; and we can draw some lessons from sinnersâ knowledge of God: a. THEY KNOW HIM IN ONE SENSE, BUT NOT ANOTHER [31:50]. It could be expressed as awareness of God, but not abidance in Him. b. THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS IMPOTENT IN BRINGING THEM TO SALVATION [32:20]. If general revelation could save men, there would be no need for special revelation. General revelation can condemn men, but not convert them. c. ONLY THE BIBLE CAN BRING SAVING KNOWLEDGE OF GOD [33:15]. Faith doesnât come by beholding the universe or heeding the conscience, but by hearing the word of God (ROMANS 10:17).
Summary, Part 2 2. RADICAL INADEQUACY OF THIS KNOWLEDGE [18:35]. This message is not exclusively doleful: man needs to know the bad news of ROMANS 1-2 to set up the good news of ROMANS 3, and its urgency is alluded to throughout the scriptures. 1 SAMUEL 2:12 speaks of the worthlessness of the sons of Eli (NASB) because they didnât know the Lord. [The King James uses the term âsons of Belialâ; Belial is a demon whose name means âwithout valueâ. -IM] In PSALM 79:6, Asaph calls for Godâs wrath upon the nations that donât know God. In JEREMIAH 9:3, 6, the prophet calls his own people liars who donât know the Lord. In JOHN 8:19, 54-55, Jesus accused the Pharisees of never knowing God, since they donât know who Jesus was. In JOHN 16:3, 17:25, He warned the disciples of impending persecution from the Pharisees who didnât know God, but thought they did. In 1 CORINTHIANS 15:34, Paul tells some in that church that they are unrighteous and keep sinning because they donât know God. In GALATIANS 4:8-9, Paul warns of turning to old ways after salvation: knowing God. In 1 THESSALONIANS 4:5, he links ignorance of God with bondage to the passions, with retribution in 2 THESSALONIANS 1:8, and with denial despite profession in TITUS 1:16. John links it with disobedience in 1 JOHN 2:3-4.
Summary, Part 1 [Pastor Nutter credits his former professor, Pastor Greg Nichols of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the outline of this message, which can be found in Pastor Nicholsâ book, *What does the Bible say about God?: The Biblical doctrine of God*.] ROMANS 1:18-2:16 is the source text of, Part VI: MANâS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, and today we will consider, A. THE UNIVERSAL KNOWABILITY OF GOD [starting at 9:05 of the audio]. 1. REVIEW AND SUMMARY. a. PROMINENT FEATURES. i. SOURCE [10:15]: He is known in creation (1:19-21) and the fall has not blinded us to this reality. He is also known in the conscience (1:32, 2:14-15). ii. SCOPE [11:25]: He makes Himself known to all men. The most precivilized person has this endowment as much as the most lettered academic. iii. SUBSTANCE [12:45]: He makes Himself known as the creator (1:20, 32, 2:14-15). It is absurd to look upon the universe and not understand that something bigger made it. b. DECEPTIVE RESPONSE [14:10]. Even atheists live lives dedicated to silencing God. c. DAMNING IMPACT [15:40]. Manâs mere knowledge of God is not a saving knowledge. It is informative, but not transformative. It is convicting, but not converting.
Summary, Part 5 (final) III. GOD CHASTENS THE BELIEVER WITH THE INCOMPLETE HEART [47:20]: 2 CHRONICLES 16:9 â if we should run from anything, it is unbelief: doubting God. Unbelief calls God a liar. We should expect Him to trouble us when our heart is divided. But when it is complete, he promises His strength. ABIDING MESSAGE [50:00]: 1. GOD MEASURES OUR COMMITMENT TO HIM NOT BY THE WORDS OF OUR MOUTHS OR EVEN BY OUTWARD ACTIONS, BUT BY THE CONDITION OF OUR HEARTS. God knows our hearts completely. Our actions can be sanctified, but God is the searcher of hearts. 2. GOD IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR HEARTS COMPLETELY HIS THAT HE MAY STRONGLY SUPPORT. Are our besetting sins attacking us with unknown strength? Victory is ours if our hearts are given to the Lord. Our failures teach us that we are weak and dependent. 3. YOU MUST FORSAKE THE SINS AND OBSTACLES THAT PREVENT YOU FROM GIVING YOUR HEART WHOLLY TO THE LORD. What is clogging your heart? Do we fear our enemies without calling on God? Do we harbor lusts? Pride? Do we keep carnal company? 4. YOU SHOULD EXPECT GODâS CHASTENING IF YOUR HEART IS NOT WHOLLY HIS. Expect it. When God has the heart, He has everything else. He demands and deserves nothing less.
Summary, Part 4 So we can draw this observation: the heart of a Christian is better than his actions, while the actions of the unbeliever are better than his heart (PSALM 28:3, 55:21 (cf. ROMANS 7:15)); Christianity is a religion of being before it is a religion of doing. Formalism is only such when built upon an unconverted heart; otherwise, it is sanctification. Though they may appear alike, they are completely different. D. CHARACTERISTICS OF WHOLEHEARTED BELIEVERS [36:35]: 1. They fear the Lord (PSALM 86:11); 2. They hope in God (PSALM 33:18, ROMANS 8:24-25); 3. They live upright lives (PSALM 34:15, JOB 36:7). II. GOD SUPPORTS THE BELIEVER WITH THE COMPLETE HEART [40:55]. A. WITH HIS PROMISED PRESENCE IN ALL THEIR CONDITIONS OF LIFE [41:10]. PSALM 121:4 â Godâs eye is always upon us. He was with Peter just as much as when his heart wavered in the boat as He was with him at the transfiguration. His eye is always on the sparrow. How much more is it on the complete heart? B. BY INSTRUCTING AND GUIDING THEM WITH HIS WORD [43:15]. PSALM 32:8 â the Bible guides our every step. A whole heart is a teachable heart. C. BY ANSWERING THEIR PRAYERS FOR DELIVERANCE FROM THEIR ENEMIES [44:25]: PSALM 34:15-19 â the Christian life is an exegesis of this passage.
Summary, Part 3 The writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is looking at the totality of Asaâs life. There is a similar proclamation for David, despite his grave sins (ACTS 13:22). [Think of people we remember with fondness, especially children. We might say, âHe was always such a good boy.â Of course, thatâs not literally true of anyone. But the idea is that such people have good natures: they struggle with sin, respond to correction, and have genuine regret for their faults and mistakes, even big ones. They donât justify themselves, deflect blame, project, or dismiss their actions. Some look at others and focus only on their faults. But even God, who knows all and speaks only perfect truth, can look at the totality of oneâs life and declare it to be âperfect with the Lord all his daysâ. âIM] C. SOME PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS [29:15]: 1. There is indwelling sin in the best of Christians. Usually, the greater the man, the greater the weaknesses. 2. God does not accept us on our merits, but on Christâs merits. 3. God alone scrutinizes the heart infallibly; thus, we should judge others as charitably as possible. Another principle to draw is that mere outward obedience is no sure indicator that that personâs heart is the Lordâs (cf. 2 CHRONICLES 25:2); we canât âfoolâ God with our actions.
Summary, Part 2 In 1 KINGS 11:4, we see an example of an incomplete heart: Solomonâs heart divided between God and the gods of his wives. But in 1 KINGS 11:11-16, the parallel to our present text, we see the ways in which Asaâs heart was complete [18:00]: 1. He banished the cults and pagan shrines; 2. He stood for God even when his family stood against Him (cf. MATTHEW 10:34ff); 3. He returned the things dedicated to God by his father to the Temple and added his own holy dedications. [23:05] It also needs to be inferred that the complete or perfect heart is not sinless; it is united in its devotion to God, but harbors remaining sin. Though Asaâs heart was complete [23:30], 1. He failed to completely eradicate Judahâs âhigh placesâ. Commentators have suggested that this could have been because Asa left up the ones dedicated to the true God, or that he just wasnât able to get rid of all of them. 2. He suffered a lapse of faith; 3. He exhibited unrighteous anger, even vindictiveness, when he retaliated against the prophet who told him the truth. We canât excuse his sin (as God doesnât), yet when Asaâs life is viewed in its totality, the Bible proclaims that âAsaâs heart was perfect with the Lord all his daysâ (1 KINGS 11:14). Is this incorrect?
Summary, Part 1 2 CHRONICLES 14-16 records the 41-year reign of Asa, king of Judah. Today, we will focus on its latter end. As Christians, we hope to finish the race stronger than we began. Even the great kings in the Bible were not perfect. Unlike in his past, Asa had made the mistake of seeking manâs help instead of Godâs; in this case, using the Temple treasury to buy an alliance with an enemy against Israelâs aggression. From verse 16:9 we can infer some lessons: I. GOD SEES THE BELIEVER WITH THE COMPLETE HEART [starting at 7:50 of the audio]. A. THE EYES WITH WHICH GOD SEES [8:00]. There is the warrant in the text that there is such a thing as Godâs providence (cf. JOB 34:21, PROVERBS 15:3). God knows everything about everyone and governs all effectually to His own ends. He not only watches His people, but actively brings blessing to their lives; He creates opportunities to bless them. He doesnât just watch and convict, but also blesses. B. THE COMPLETE HEART WHICH GOD SEES [11:45]. The âcomplete heartâ is the inner man; the totality of his being (see PROVERBS 4:23). The heart that is complete is blameless, united, and entire in its focus on the Lord (e.g. 1 CHRONICLES 12:38, 28:9, 29:19).
Summary, Part 5 (final) 3. GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING HE BROUGHT INTO EXISTENCE [44:10]. REVELATION 4:11 - this life and everything in it has meaning and purpose. Why? Because God exists. The salvation of sinners is only possible because God exists. His chief end in His creation is that it glorify Him, as the very first question of the Catechism answers. God's existence is practical to us: it is the meaning behind our own existence. Do we live like it? Whatever commands our life reveals what we believe to be its meaning. If it is not God in all things, then what else is it? Does it bestow dignity the way God does?
Summary, Part 4 C. GODâS EXISTENCE IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS THE BASIS AND RATIONAL FOR THE EXISTENCE OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE [39:00]. This universe makes no sense unless God has created it; His existence grounds the existence of creation. Three points about this: 1. GOD BROUGHT EVERYTHING INTO EXISTENCE [40:30]. Nothing didn't become something. If unbelievers were critically objective, they would see that a creator causing everything is far more logical than nothing causing everything. God tells us in His word that He created everything as a display of His sovereign power and pleasure in fulfilling His divine purpose; He didn't need anything. Everything from the angels to the atoms displays His glory. 2. GOD KEEPS EVERYTHING INTO EXISTENCE [42:40]. COLOSSIANS 1:17, HEBREWS 1:3, ACTS 17:25 and other passages reveal God to not only be a creator, but a sustainer.
Summary, Part 3 Again, mental acknowledgement of "a God" is one thing, but communion with Him is another. It's also worth noting that harassing His people is distinct from hating Him (LUKE 21:17). B. GODâS EXISTENCE IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT AFFORDS TO ALL MANKIND THE HOPE OF DELIVERANCE FROM SIN AND DEATH [28:00]. All other gods are false and do not offer this hope. ISAIAH 45:22 proclaims that there is a remedy to the death and disaster from which man cannot escape. Only a merciful God can offer this remedy. Christ came to seek and save the lost; He came to heal the sick, not the healthy. 1. THE SUBSTANCE OF GODâS CALL TO EXPERIENCE HIS DELIVERANCE [33:20]. We cannot save ourselves. Sinners can't become saints. False gods can't save. God calls upon us to turn from our self-righteousness and to trust Him and Him alone for salvation. 2 THESSALONIANS 2:14 - the substance of this call is for sinners to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and to obtain His glory. 2. THE SCOPE OF GODâS CALL TO EXPERIENCE HIS DELIVERANCE [36:15]: all the ends of the earth. We've just seen the gospel in Isaiah. ACTS 17:31 - all need salvation. Sin is the great leveler of mankind, but so is the gospel.
Summary, Part 2 2. THE DENIAL OF GODâS EXISTENCE IN THE HEART IS THE TRAGIC FOLLY OF ALL MEN IN ADAM [14:55]. By nature, heart atheism is our native condition; we are infected with a moral virus called depravity. Paul used the PSALMS text in the preamble of his letter to the ROMANS (1:16-32). Without God's mercies, without restraints such as conscience and civil government, native sin would make life unlivable. The only remedy is the saving power of Jesus Christ. 3. THE DENIAL OF GODâS EXISTENCE IN THE HEART MAKES MEN HOSTILE TO GODâS PEOPLE AND PRAYERLESS BEFORE GOD [19:30] (verse 4). One telltale sign of heart atheism is hostility toward God's people. History bears this out, as does today's news. It began in the very first family, yielding Cain's murder of his brother Abel. Heart atheists claim that they don't want to spend Sundays with "hypocrites", but why are they then willing to spend eternity with such people in Hell? The truth is that they don't want to be around the saints. They are not only hostile, but irrational. Another telltale sign is a disaffection toward God Himself; they do not call upon Him. Prayer is one's heart directed to God.
Summary, Part 1 [Pastor Nutter credits his former professor, Pastor Greg Nichols of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the outline of this message, which can be found in Pastor Nicholsâ book, *What does the Bible say about God?: The Biblical doctrine of God*.] V. THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF GODâS EXISTENCE [starting at 2:50 of the audio]. What does it mean that God exists? Is it theoretical or practical? A. GODâS EXISTENCE IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE ITS DENIAL IN THE HEART IS THE VERY FOUNTAIN OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY, AND THE SPRING OF ALL THE DECADENCE AND IRREVERENCE IN THE WORLD [3:25]. We can simply acknowledge that God exists and have nothing further to do with Him. That is practical denial. The Bible teaches, and history confirms, that a life without God is a life without a moral anchor. 1. THE DENIAL OF GODâS EXISTENCE IN THE HEART BREEDS GREAT WICKEDNESS IN THE LIFE [5:55]. PSALM 14:1-4 â We live out of the heart. Godlessness breeds ungodliness. Remember that the word âfoolâ comes from a root that signifies the extinction of life. Faith in Christ is the living principle, and denial is the putrefying one. In the same way, heart atheism yields corrupt fruit; it profanes everything and cannot sustain moral decency.