How God Is Both Incomprehensible and Knowable at the Same Time
By Erik Thoennes
Why God Is Incomprehensible
The main reasons for God’s incomprehensibility are:
1. God is infinite and his creatures are finite. By definition, creatures depend on their Creator for their very existence and are limited in all aspects. Yet God is without limitations in every quality he possesses.
2. The perfect unity of God’s attributes is far beyond the realm of human experience. God’s love, wrath, grace, justice, holiness, patience, and jealousy are continually functioning in a perfectly integrated yet infinitely complex way.
3. The effects of sin on the minds of fallen humans also greatly inhibit the ability to know God. The tendency of fallen creatures is to distort, pervert, and confuse truth and to use, or rather abuse, it for selfish ends rather than for God’s glory (Rom. 1:18–26).
4. God can never be fully known is that in his sovereign wisdom God has chosen not to reveal some things: (Deut. 29:29).
Implications of God’s Incomprehensibility
Because God can never be fully known, those who seek to know God should be deeply humbled in the process, realizing that they will always have more to learn.
The Knowability of God
Knowledge of God in Christ should be our greatest delight (Jer. 9:23–24; 1 Cor. 2:2; Gal. 6:14). It is the basis of attaining eternal life (John 17:3); it is at the heart of life in the new covenant (Heb. 8:11–12); it was Paul’s primary goal (Phil. 3:10); and it leads to godly love (1 John 4:7–8). God will never be known absolutely, but we can know things about him that are absolutely true, so much so that we can be willing to live and die for those beliefs. God has provided knowledge of himself that is personal, relational, and sufficient for fruitful, faithful, godly living.
Implications of the Knowability of God
God’s personal and sufficient revelation of himself should foster solid conviction among believers. We need not live in ambiguity and uncertainty about who God is and what he demands of his creatures.
God’s knowability should lead to eager, diligent, devoted study of God’s Word so that we can understand him as he has revealed himself and avoid any false view of God that will dishonor him. We should never grow apathetic in seeking to know God because we are in fact able and equipped to know him and to please him with our lives.
Taken from How God Is Both Incomprehensible and Knowable at the Same Time by Erik Thoennes, adapted from the ESV Study Bible. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.