Editor’s Note: The Theology in the Everyday series seeks to introduce and explain theological concepts in 500 words or less, with a 200-word section helping explain the doctrine to kids. At For The Church, we believe that theology should not be designated to the academy alone but lived out by faith in everyday life. We hope this series will present theology in such a way as to make it enjoyable, connecting theological ideas to everyday experience and encouraging believers to study theology for the glory of God and the good of the Church. This week, incomprehensibility.

Our finite human minds, apart from divine grace, are utterly incapable of knowing God as He is in Himself. Yes, God has manifested his “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature… in the things that have been made,” such that all people “clearly perceive” His existence and cosmic creativity (Rom 1:20); and yet, “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Rom 11:34). The rhetorical response to Paul’s famous question is clearly, “No one.”

The Creator God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:16). His ways and His thoughts are infinitely beyond our own (Is 55:8-9). No one has ever seen Him or can see Him (John 1:18). His form, or His essence, is eternally beyond the sight of all human eyes (John 5:37). No one, apart from God Himself, is able to comprehend His thoughts (1 Cor 2:11). Thus, our agnostic friends are not entirely wrong to say that God, apart from divine self-disclosure or self-revelation, remains utterly unknowable to human minds, which brings us to the beauty and grace of both Scripture and the Gospel.

In His words (Scripture) and Word (Son), the Creator God has done the unthinkable: He has graciously condescended to the confines of finite understanding, not only in the words and images of Scripture, but in the Word that became flesh and was born for us and our salvation–the man from Nazareth, Jesus Christ [John 1:14; Heb 1:1-3]. As John says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (1:17). Thus, as Bavinck says, “our knowledge of God does not arise from our own investigations and reflection, but because God on his part revealed himself to us in nature and history, in prophecy and miracle, by ordinary and extraordinary means.”

All of this has the effect of making the light of divine revelation shine all the brighter, for, in His words and Word, the incomprehensible God has made Himself known to us. Moreover, He has done this, not only to be grasped by human minds, but to be crucified by human hands (see Mt 27:1-50; Mk 15:1-39; Lk 23:1-39; John 19:30). Thus, the most incomprehensible thing about God—that He would send His only Son to be crucified and punished for us—is found in the Gospel itself.

For the Kids (A Conversation)

“Hey dad! Can I ask you a question about God?” “Absolutely, kiddo. What’s on your mind?”

“Well… I’m just wondering… How is it possible for us to know God? I mean, today at school we learned about stars and planets and how the universe is so big that we can’t even imagine it! My teacher even told us that the Sun is just 1 star among millions and millions of stars! And it got me thinking… If I’ve got a hard time understanding that, then how in the world am I going to wrap my head around the God who created it all? It just seems like too much to understand.”

“Well, son, first things first: that’s a really good question, and you’re actually not the first person to ask it–even among Christians!”

“Haha… that makes me feel a little better. I’m not alone after all!”

“No, son, you’re not. And remember: your God is big enough for your questions–including that one! So let me give it a shot… The reason you feel that you can’t understand God—especially if God is infinitely bigger than the universe itself—is because we actually can’t understand God on our own. Which means that if you’re having a hard time understanding God, then you’re actually onto something! He really is that big and that beautiful.”

“Wait… So does that mean we can’t ever know who God is?”

“Well, that’s where we get to the even more amazing part! You see, because God is so big, and because we are so small, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. Which means that, instead of us climbing our way up to God, God has climbed His way down to us!”

“So… If God has climbed down to us, then where can I find Him?”

“You can find Him in the Bible and in his Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, let me read you a Bible verse that helps us better understand it all. It comes from Romans 10 and Deuteronomy 30. “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does [God’s Word] say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:6-9).

I know that’s a lot, son, but here’s the thing you can remember: at the end of the day, you and I don’t have to climb up to heaven or dig under the earth to find God, that’s because God has come to us!”

“Wow. I hadn’t thought about it like that before.” “Neither had I, before I read the Bible!” “Thanks, dad. Now I’ve got some thinking to do!”

“Haha, you’re welcome son. Think away, just never forget to take those thoughts to God Himself!

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