The Incomprehensibility of God

Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power who can understand? Job 26:14

We want to avoid the theological error which says that God is totally unknowable to us. The Scripture affirms again and again that God can be known by everyone in a real sense that leaves them accountable, even if they do suppress that knowledge out of sin. But God will always be a mystery to us on some level, and even those who know God in a saving way still cannot say that they know God exhaustively. In fact, even as the Bible commends to us the knowledge of God, at the same time it reminds us that we still know comparatively little about him. This is what Job is saying: what we know about God is but a "little portion" and even when God thunders at us with remarkable displays of his attributes, we still come away with less understanding than we might wish.

The incomprehensibility of God stems from two realities: from our own finiteness and the infinite nature of God's being. To claim that you exhaustively know God is like saying you have grasped the natural numbers because you can count out to a trillion trillion trillion. But the reality is that, even when you have counted out that far, you still have an infinite number of numbers to go! Even so, no matter how much of God we know and grasp, there is still an infinity about God that we will never comprehend. The imperfection of our knowledge, therefore, stems ultimately from the unsearchable greatness of God. There is no one like God. There is no one you can compare to him.

Seeing this could lead to terror and fear, but the reality is that this God who spreads the heavens like a curtain has descended to us in the person of his Son. He took on human flesh and became a man. The unsearchable and invisible God became visible and approachable in Jesus. The Infinite became finite. The Eternal One embraced death and on the cross the Holy One who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21). He welcomes us to embrace him in all his perfections by faith in Christ. All that God is becomes for us in Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:31-34). And so the terror of the Infinite and Holy turns through Jesus into grace and mercy for the finite and sinful.

Through Jesus we can come to truly know God in a saving way (Jn. 17:3). We can come to know the love of Christ which passes understanding (Eph. 3:19). But because God is infinite, this means that through eternity, we will never come to the end of new displays and revelations of the glory of the love and grace of God, but through eternity we will be continually amazed and in wonder at the greatness of our God. We enter into this wonder even now. May today be such a day in which we see a "little portion" of God and may we then turn this sight into new worship and enlarged faith and fresh obedience.

By: Jeremiah Bass