“What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
This insightful statement opens A. W. Tozer’s classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy. Tozer goes on to explain that our view of God—what we believe God is like in the deep recesses of our being—shapes the whole course of our lives.
That thought isn’t new to Tozer. It’s as old as Eden, where the serpent first called into question the trustworthiness and goodness of God. It’s been his tactic ever since—distort and twist and undermine what is most precious, our “knowledge of the Holy,” to use Tozer’s phrase.
In the Christian Belief class I have been teaching over the past few weeks at Christian Fellowship, we’ve been using the Apostle’s Creed—an ancient 2nd century creed still used widely by Christians today—to explore the core truths of our faith. Front and center in the Creed is the knowledge of God.
The opening line of the Creed confesses: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” If you’re in need of a “front-end-alignment” on how you think about God (and we all do from time to time), this is a great place to start.
In confessing God as Father, we are not simply confessing that “God is kind of like a father,” but rather that God is eternally Father, which means there has always been a Son. From the outset, the Creed reminds us that God is not a lonely, all-by-Himself kind of God who needs creation to give Him meaning and fulfillment. He has always existed in the fullness of relationship.
It’s for this very reason we can say that “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Love is not just something God began to do once He created human beings. It’s His very core. His nature. His essence. The Father, Son, and Spirit have eternally existed in self-giving, joy-filled, loving relationship. And this love gives shape to the whole story of the Bible and is meant to give shape to our lives.
Creation is about the Father, Son, and Spirit sharing their eternal love with others—creating a world where the beauty and joy and delight of God might be put on display, and creating humans to be drawn into the loving fellowship of the Trinity.
A Christian, then, is one who knows God as Father—who shares in the very sonship of the Son. This is the heart of the gospel. United to the Son in His death and resurrection, we have been “brought near to God” (1 Peter 3:18) and share the Son’s cry through the Spirit: “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
The Creed also reminds us that this Father is almighty, maker of heaven and earth. He is not a being like us, only greater—as the Greeks and Romans and every other civilization has conceived of their gods. Rather, the God revealed in Scripture and believed on by the church through the ages exists in an altogether different kind of way. He is, in fact, the self-existent One who does not depend on anyone or anything for His existence. His being gives rise to all other beings. Christ, the writer of Hebrews says, “upholds all things by the word of his power.” All other beings, all other powers, derive their being and their power from Him. There is no rival to Almighty God.
As almighty, God has infinite power and ability to achieve His purposes. His power is not limited by anything beyond his own character and being. What confidence this is meant to instill in us. God, our Father, is almighty, the maker of heaven and earth!
As we talked in class about the Creed’s confession of God as Father, then about what it means that He is the Father Almighty, and then that He is maker of heaven and earth, I could see hearts come alive. That’s what knowing God does. He becomes greater and more wonderful in our esteem, and our hearts soar. One lady in the class said afterward that she went away in awe, thinking, “That God loves me!”
When thoughts like these are the first thing that come into your mind when you think about God, what a difference it makes! And that is Tozer’s point in Knowledge of the Holy.
So if you’re hungry to have your heart expanded in your knowing of God, I commend to you Tozer’s book, Knowledge of the Holy, as a helpful place to start. It’s a short book with short, powerful chapters on different attributes of God, aimed at drawing your heart into the majesty of God.
Grab a copy and plan to join us for our Pastor’s Pick Book Discussion on Knowledge of the Holy happening Sunday, April 7, at 5 pm. You can get a pdf version of the book free online, or order a copy at Amazon.