Thanks to The Center of Baptist Renewal, I have been introduced to Herman Bavinck. On their 2021 reading list is the book The Wonderful Works of God. Since writing helps me think and remember, I started writing out information from the book and thought I would share. This is a paraphrase with my own thoughts interspersed with content adjusted and modified as I thought through it. My hope is that this helps you think through the Knowledge of God, its Origin, Object, Essence and Effect.
1) The Origin of The Knowledge of God
It is wholly owing to Christ. All other knowledge is learned by insight, judgement, reasoning, study, effort. But the knowledge of the One True God is given to us by Christ (Matt 11:27; 1 John 5:20). Jesus revealed God to us in all that He did, life, death, works etc. Only Christ Jesus knows the Father, He was with God in the beginning, saw Him face to face, is Himself God, the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person, the Father’s own, only-begotten and beloved Son, in whom was all His pleasure (Matt 3:17; John 1:14; Heb 1:3).
2) The Object of The Knowledge of God
All other knowledge revolves around the creature, limited to the temporal and can never discover the eternal. There is a revelation of God’s eternal power and godhead in the works of nature, such as order vs chaos. The knowledge of God derived from that source is slight and cannot reveal the personal nature of God, it is mingled with error. Imagine trying to understand complex mathematics with only a 1st grade understanding addition and subtraction. You are bound to misunderstand much! (Rom 1:20-23). How can we know God? We who are but vapor? Rom 10:6, Do not say in your heart, “Who will go up to heaven? The Word is already near you, in Jesus. 1 John 4:19, we see Christ in the mirror of His Word.
“God is known in proportion to the extent that He is loved”Herman Bavinck
3) The Essence of The Knowledge of God
We are able to now determine the essence of the knowledge of God. In the high priestly prayer, Jesus speaks of knowledge that is not mere information, but is instead real knowing. (John 17:3) Real knowledge is not just reading a tour guide, but actually experiencing it. Knowing is mind, heart and volition. We could call it the knowledge of faith, it is not the product of the scientific method, or the study of specific information. It is like a childlike faith, a simple faith. It is not only a sure knowledge but firm confidence, in the personal remission of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely by grace, only based on the merits of Christ (Matt 18:3, 5:8, John 3:5). “God is known in proportion to the extent that He is loved”-Bavinck
4) The Effect of The Knowledge of God
The effect of this knowledge is nothing less than eternal life! Creaturely knowledge may help us improve aspects of our lives. Having learned plumbing and waste management has improved the healthy of untold millions. The one who learns art or poetry appreciates certain works of arts to a greater extent. There is but only a difference in degree between the most distinguished scholar and simplest working man, both die, both experience emotional turmoil. The knowledge of visible things can enrich life, how much more will the knowledge of God enrich? Those that God has recreated after His own image and restored to fellowship, ie. born again, are raised above the level of death and mortality! Whoever lives and believes in Jesus will not die (John 11:25-26)
“Knowing God in Christ brings with it eternal life, imperturbable joy, and heavenly blessedness. These are not merely effects, but the knowing of God is itself immediately a new, eternal and blessed life.”Herman Bavinck