INTRODUCTION: This devotional series is based on J.I. Packer’s classic work, Knowing God. There is no greater quest, no more important activity, nothing that should be a higher priority than getting to know God. Too many Christians know about God without making their time with him personal. These devotionals are designed to challenge you to ask questions of yourself, bring these questions before God, make you think, and transform your relationship with God. My prayer is that your study will overflow in emotion, in touching your heart, in connecting with God, and sharing your relationship with others. The book consists of 22 Chapters, thus this series last 22 days. Dig in!
Reflections on Chapter 11: Thy Word is Truth
God is the King of the Universe who speaks his will to us through the Bible using two forms: instruction and love letter! Through His word, he instructs us in such a way as to create and sustain a safe haven (environment) for humans to come to know him. God also communicates his message to engage our minds and hearts in a relationship with him. His words are paternal – as a parent God desires to protect us and to draw us into fellowship. His message is also amorous – he desires an intimate, passionate love relationship with us.
God’s word establishes and maintains our environment
God commanded the world into existence, “Let there be…” and he commands us through his word to establish a safe environment for us to live in relationship with him through laws and instructions. Genesis 1-3 illustrates these principles, as God arranges all aspects of the creation. He forms earth out of something formless and empty. He speaks light into the darkness. Step by step he commands, “let there be…” arranging each aspect of creation in its designated place. God commands the man to work the garden, acting as God’s agent to protect and maintain Eden as a safe environment for man to walk with God.
To “protect and maintain” this safe haven, God commands man to live according to his principles. God’s word is his executive instrument to regulate human affairs – what he says goes! He promises that his word will accomplish what he purposed:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Is 55:10-11)
God’s word establishes and maintains our relationship
God is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our relationship is on his terms, not ours. This is not an arrangement of equals, but rather a “covenant” relationship between the King and his subjects. God is Father; we are children. Christ is head; we are the body. This does not minimize God’s love. God’s entire motivation for the creation is his love in relationship with us. All of his work to establish and maintain a safe and protective environment is driven out of his love for us. The entire work of creation points toward one hopeful result – man united in relation to his God.
To read the Bible in any other context would be to relinquish the very heart and purpose of God. His word is not law and instruction for the purpose of enforcement or policing us. The law establishes order so that God can fulfill his promises. That is why so much of the Bible is not commands but rather promises and testimony. Promises portray the desires of God to bless his children within the covenant relationship (making it conditional on our response to his love). Testimony reveals the heart of God – his passion for us, his desire for relationship, his works on our behalf to establish a covenant that is in our best interest. Reflect on these testimonies of his love:
Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people Jer 9:1. Jeremiah’s heart reflects God’s love.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. (Hos 11:8-9) Even when his people completely rejected him, God’s compassion was stirred.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Rom 5:8,10) Even during our darkest hour, as “God’s enemies,” God demonstrates his deepest love for us.
Let us remember the truth of God’s word that we may Know God through his word:
1. God’s commands are true (Ps 119:151) – with stability and permanence; our lives achieve their purpose only so far as we keep God’s commands.
2. God’s promises are true (Heb 10:23) for God keeps them– regardless of man’s attack on scripture, it remains his word, the only source of truth.
3. God’s testimony is true (John 17:17) God reveals himself to us so that we can be sanctified in him, clothed in Christ (Gal 3:26-27), and living the eternal life which is to know God (John 17:3).
The definition of a Christian can be as simple as one who lives under the authority of God’s word, obeying his commands, claiming his promises, and believing his testimony.