Thursday, May 14, 2015

"To know the only wise and true God"

God's nature is one of the most important doctrines to understand, but it is also historically one of the most widely debated topics. Many ecumenical councils were held on the subject in the second and third centuries A.D. Unfortunately, the creeds, in seeking to pacify all opposing parties to solidify power for the emperor, destroyed the fundamental understanding the church had previously held on God's nature were brought to naught, and relatively few people have any semblance of who God is.

Compare the feelings you have while reading the Athanasian Creed:
"we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
To the feelings you have while reading The First Vision:
It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally. After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
You only need to meet someone to know what they are like, and God is no exception to the rule. The Lord is not some distant, detached mass or force somewhere out in space. His whole work and glory is intimately intertwined in us. He loves each one of us very much, even those He does not trust, and especially those who wander and stray far from him. Indeed, we have a God who looked upon "the people, and...wept" (Moses 7:28).

Knowing God's nature requires us to share this knowledge with the world. No man can be saved unless they know who God really is. In the High Priestly prayer Christ himself prayed, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). You cannot do that with "The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible," but you can do that with God.

Coming to know God is a quest of a lifetime. We cannot perfectly know Him now, because of the difference in degree we have with Him, but remember: "when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). We can only be like Him if we follow Him, and we can only follow Him if we know Him.