Divine and Human Communication

The communication which God has made to man is true, but that does not mean it is exhaustive. This is an important distinction which we must always bear in mind. To know anything exhaustively we would need to be infinite, as God is. Even in Heaven we shall not be this. God has communicated to man, not only about the cosmos and history, but also about Himself. And God’s attributes so communicated are meaningful to God, the author of the communication, as well as to man, the recipient of the communication.  

The God who has created man in His own image communicates true truth about Himself. Therefore, this need not be thought of as only an existential experience or contentless “religious ideas.” We have true knowledge, for as the Scriptures say so simply and overwhelmingly, when God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone, or when Jesus spoke to Paul on the Damascus road in the Hebrew language, a real language was used subject to grammars and lexicons, a language to be understood. 

The biblical presentation indicates that because man is made in God’s image, the problem of God communicating to him is not of an absolutely different order from that of man speaking to man. We are finite, God is infinite, but we can understand truly. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

We Are Unique

The historic Christian answer concerning verifiable facts and knowing depends on who God is, on who is there. The God who is there according to the Scriptures is the personal-infinite God. There is no other god like this God.  

It is ridiculous to say that all religions teach the same things when they disagree at the fundamental point as to what God is like. The gods of the East are infinite by definition — the definition being “god is all that is.” This is the pan-everythingism god (pantheism). The gods of the West have tended to be personal but limited; such were the gods of the Greeks, Romans and Germans.  

But the God of the Bible, Old and New Testaments alike, is the infinite-personal God. It is this God who has created various orders of creation. How then is God’s creation related to Himself and to itself? On the side of God’s infinity there is a break between God and the whole of His creation. I am as separated from God in the area of His being the Creator and infinite, I being the creature and finite, as is the atom or energy particle. I am no closer to God on this side than the machine.  

However, on the side of God’s personality, the break comes between man and the rest of creation. man’s relationship is upward.  On the side of personality, if our relationship is upward, then everything concerning man’s “mannishness” is in place.  

The biblical Christian says that, on the side of personality, man can know God truly, though he cannot know God exhaustively.  

Man as a personality is totally separated from the other created things. Man’s only relation to creation is in the areas of Being and creaturehood. However, in the area of personality man’s relationship is upward to God, and therefore the incarnation and death of the Son of God for the sake of man’s salvation are sensible. 

The reasonableness of the incarnation, and the reasonableness of communication between God and man, turn on this point — that man, as man, is created in the image of God. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Seek to Explore and Discover ‘More’ About Our Creator

God has communicated to us, not only about history and the cosmos, but about Himself.   

As people who believe in God as Creator, we should strive to avoid the mistake of saying that because God has communicated truly concerning creation, all scientific study is wasted. This is a false deduction. To say that God communicates truly does not mean that God communicates exhaustively. 

Even in our human relationships we never have exhaustive communication, though what we do have may be true. 

Thus, as far as our position in the universe is concerned, though the infinite God has said true things concerning the whole of what He has made, our knowledge is not thereby meant to be static. 

Created in His image, we are rational and, as such, we are able to, and intended to, explore and discover further truth concerning creation. God says, in effect, “Learn of the truth that I have made in the external world.” 

Finite man in the external universe, being finite, has no sufficient reference point if he begins absolutely and autonomously from himself; thus, he needs certain knowledge. God gives us this in the Scriptures. With this in mind the scientist can understand, in their ultimate relationships, the truths that he is looking at. 

Thus scientific study in itself can be to the glory of God, for here man is functioning properly in the universe in which God has placed him. He is telling us what is truly there, and he is adding to the store of knowledge of his fellowmen. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Verifiable Facts and Knowing (con’t)

(Continued from yesterday)   

In the biblical position there is the possibility of verifiable facts involved: a personal God communicating in verbalized form propositionally to man — not only concerning those things man would call in our generation “religious truths,” but also down into the areas of history and science. 

God has set the revelation of the Bible in history; He did not give it (as He could have done) in the form of a theological textbook. Having set the revelation in history, what sense then would it make for God to give us a revelation in which the history was wrong? 

God has also set man in the universe, which the Scriptures themselves say speaks of this God. What sense then would it make for God to give His revelation in a book that was wrong concerning the universe? 

The answer to both questions must be, “No sense at all!” 

It is plain, therefore, that from the viewpoint of the Scriptures themselves there is a unity over the whole field of knowledge. God has spoken, in a linguistic propositional form, truth concerning Himself and truth concerning man, history and the universe. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Verifiable Facts and Knowing

In historic Christianity a personal God creates man in His own image, and in such a case there is nothing that would make it nonsense to consider that He would communicate to man in verbalized form. 

Why should He not communicate in verbalized form when He has made man a verbalizing being, in his thoughts as well as in communication with other men? 

Having created man in His own image, why should He fail to communicate to that verbalizing being in such terms? The communication would then be three ways: God to man, and vice versa; man to man; and man to himself. 

Someone may raise queries as to whether in fact such communication has taken place, but, in this field of reference, it is neither a contradictory nor a nonsense statement. Such a concept would be nonsense if one had the presupposition of a totally closed field of cause and effect. 

But if you are a person who holds that cause and effect has been and is totally closed, then you need to ask if such a view as yours really stands up to all we know, and specifically whether your worldview explains why people verbalize to each other. 

Why should God not communicate propositionally to the man, the verbalizing being, whom He made in such a way that we communicate propositionally to each other?  (this thought con’t tomorrow 😊) 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

We Are Wired to Know

No one has presented an idea, let alone demonstrated it to be feasible, to explain how the impersonal beginning, plus time, plus chance, can give personality.  

No one in all the history of humanistic, rationalistic thought has found a solution. As a result, either the thinker must say man is dead, because personality is a mirage; or else he must hang his reason on a hook outside the door and cross the threshold into a place of never being sure of the God Who Is There.   

When Jesus Christ becomes more to you than a great historical figure….when you place your faith in God-Jesus Christ as ‘your’ personal savior….you become ‘new’…Jesus explained it as ‘becoming born again’.  This new life brings a spiritual awareness that creates an internal revelation and you ‘know’… you have absolute assurance and conviction… that you are His and He is yours.  

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter and explains it like this:  

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV  ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’

In his record of the life of Jesus, as he (John) knew it, saw it, heard it…John wrote:

John 3:3 ESV…Jesus said ‘ no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’

Faith in Jesus Christ creates a new life ‘inside’ us wherein we ‘know’…we ‘see’…

In that same letter, a few paragraphs down… John says Jesus explained that having faith in him (Jesus) as believing that God sent him (Jesus) into the world to be the ‘Savior’…brings ‘light’ and truth to what was once darkness and not being able to ‘see’ light.   

Light is revelation and experience…through becoming a new creation…through faith in Jesus Christ…to ‘know’ the God Who Is There..is what we are made for…it is about design, purpose, intention.  

We are hard-wired to ‘know’ the God Who Is There. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

God Created ‘Personality’

No one has ever thought of a way of deriving personality from nonpersonal sources. Therefore, biblical Christianity has an adequate and reasonable explanation for the source and meaning of human personality. Its source is sufficient — the personal God on the high order of Trinity. Without such a source, men are left with personality coming from the impersonal (plus time, plus chance). The two alternatives are very clear-cut. Either there is a personal beginning to everything, or one has what the impersonal throws up by chance out of the time sequence.  

If time and chance is really the only answer to man’s personality, then personality is no more than an illusion, a kind of sick joke which no amount of semantic juggling will alter. Only some form of mystical jump will allow us to accept that personality comes from impersonality. 

Faith in the God Who Is There…is not a mystical jump or leap of faith.  The Apostle Paul describes Christian faith for us in the book of Hebrews chapter 11…

  1. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  3. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Why We Love and Communicate

Rightly understood, Christianity as a system has the answers to the basic needs of modern man. In this it differs from the modern era pantheistic, mystical, and new theological thinking, which have no adequate basis upon which to give answers which will stand up to the test of rationality and the whole of life as we must live it.  

The first basic need is caused by the lack of certainty regarding the reality of individual personality. Every man is in tension until he finds a satisfactory answer to the problem of who he himself is.  

The biblical Christian answer takes us back first to the very beginning of everything and states that personality is intrinsic in what is; not in the pantheistic sense of the universe being the extension of the essence of God (or what is), but that a God who is personal on the high order of Trinity created all else. 

Within the Trinity, before the creation of anything, there was real love and real communication. Following on from this statement, the Bible states that this God who is personal created man in His own image. A personal God created all things freely in a nondeterminate fashion, and man is created in a special situation — what I would call a special circle of creation. He is the image of this kind of God, and so personality is intrinsic to his makeup. God is personal, and man is also personal. 

The Apostle John describes this for us…1 John 4:7-19 ESV 

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.  

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Who Is God? (con’t)

Taken from an interview with John Piper  ( Presented in 6 main points.  Today, Point 6, final point)

6. God rescues undeserving people. 

Why? Why this so-called incarnation of God? Because all of God’s human creatures had failed to worship and love God and obey God as we ought. We deserve to be punished. God would be perfectly just to punish us all in hell because of our failure and our rebellion. But in the fullness of his God-like love, he planned a way before the foundation of the world — he is not only just, but he is merciful — to intrude himself into the world to rescue his own creatures, who deserve punishment, from his punishment. He rescues us from his own wrath by his own mercy. The Son of God becomes human and is punished in our place. Here’s how the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament Scriptures, the Jewish Scriptures, put it: 

He was pierced for our transgressions;
     he was crushed for our iniquities. . . .
All we like sheep have gone astray;
     we have turned — every one — to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
     the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5–6

The New Testament puts it like this: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Whoever believes, whoever trusts, whoever receives, whoever treasures Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, Jesus becomes his substitute, bears God’s punishment, provides God’s righteousness, secures eternal joy in fellowship with God. 

All That God Is for You 

So, who is God? He’s the Creator, Sustainer, Governor, and Judge of the universe. And in his justice and mercy, he devised a way, from all eternity, for sinners like us to be forgiven and to be adopted into his eternal family as the children of God and as a kind of bride for his Son, Jesus Christ, so that by sharing the joy God has in himself, our joy in him would show the fullness of his own glory. 

I invite you, I urge you, to embrace Jesus and all that God is for you in him. Jesus is who God is. 

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Providence

Who Is God? (con’t)

Taken from an interview with John Piper  (Presented in 6 main points.  Today, point 5)

5. God became man. 

Now, if that were not amazing enough — we’re over our head, I know; I’m just pointing. If that weren’t amazing enough, here comes the most amazing thing of all about who God is in his perfection and independence and fullness. He is not only completely righteous and just and holy, but overflowing — he is overflowing with his own beauty and goodness and joy, so that his creatures can know him, love him, enjoy him, be with him forever. In other words, the love that God has always enjoyed (and enjoyed is the right word) in the fellowship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, God aims to share with his creatures.  

To do this, God the Father sends God the Son into his creation to be born as the God-man, Jesus Christ. This is what the Gospel of John means when it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “And the Word became flesh [that is, became a human being] and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And you see the switch in categories from Word to Son, just to make clear that that’s who we’re talking about — the eternal Son, that other, second person in God. The Son of God has always been God, and now he is also man — the God-man, Jesus Christ. 

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Providence