Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has shared many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we discuss the problem of knowing the true God.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
To A God Unknown
The Apostle, Paul, said, "I perceived that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar this inscription, "To Unknown God, whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’’" Acts, Chapter 17, Verse 23
Brothers and sisters, throughout the ages, mankind has become aware of the being we know as God through progressive experience and revelation. These two processes are intertwined; because of the nature of man’’s progressive experience, revelation has been hampered
Revelation cannot exceed the capacity of the mind receiving it. During very primitive times, then, when man was a savage and barbarian, God could not be revealed as a God of love. Primitive man thought of God as a God of battle. So long ages were consumed in making petitions to this God of battle. And today, a large part of the world still sees God as being on their side during their interminable wars. They fail to know his character or his personal nature.
It has only been recent, relatively speaking, that the true nature of God and his character has been revealed to mankind. This occurred some 2,000 years ago when the Son of God incarnated and took on the form of a human being and revealed the nature and character of God. He made it clear that God was love and that we were his children. However, this revelation of God as love and our heavenly Father has not been completely received, even by those who purport to believe that God incarnated in the flesh in the form of his Son. And there are many religious groups that refuse to accept the revelation of the Jesus, the Son of God, as the true revelation of God as he relates to us. God is our heavenly Father and we are his children. Other religions do not accept this truth, and thus they fail to consciously experience the love and security that come with being his children. They fail to know that we are precious in God’’s sight, and that his ears are always open to our petitions. He delights in us. They fail to know that they have a personal relationship with him as their heavenly Father.
But we know that the heavenly Father is a loving and merciful God. He takes note of our frame; he knows that we are dust. The heavenly Father is perfectly aware of our status at all times. He is our Creator. And he knows that it will take some time for us to recognize the great truth that he is our heavenly Father and we are his children, even though we may recognize the fact. Recognition of the fact of sonship with the heavenly Father is not the same as recognizing the truth of sonship with the heavenly Father. There is a difference between being consciously aware of what we experience and not being consciously aware of what we experience.
When a child is born into the world, as a helpless infant, he does not consciously respond to his mother. His response initially is by reflex. He is born with the sucking reflex intact. And whatever his mouth comes into contact with, he sucks. In this way he receives nourishment from the mother. As times goes on, the infant becomes more and more conscious of his mother and begins to consciously respond to her
He begins to make eye contact with her and responds to her voice. He begins to vocalize, making cooing sounds, the precursor of verbal sounds. It will be a while before he can say mama, but as he continues to develop, his conscious recognition of his mother increases, and he is able to call her mama. From here on he continues to make rapid progress in recognizing his mother Now the mother all along has recognized the infant and has responded to his needs in whatever manner he has expressed them. She has not insisted that he call her mother before feeding him or changing him. She knows her child. But it will take even longer before the child recognizes his earthly father, and even longer before he recognizes the role that his father plays in his life.
In a similar sense, since we are spiritual infants, not adequately developed to recognize our spiritual mother-Son or spiritual Father, the Father through his Son provides all the essential nourishment necessary for our moral and spiritual growth. And it will take some time before we are able to recognize this Son and even longer before we recognize the Father. All of this is true despite the fact that the Son has taken on our form and revealed the Father to us. But we are too immature to comprehend.
Due to our immaturity, we accept intellectual facts about this Son and his Father in the place of actually knowing them. But this Son has left his Spirit of Truth behind to continue to reveal himself and his Father to us. And since the immaturity of our souls has accepted intellectual facts as the only way to know the Son and the Father, it is obvious that we suffer under a great experimental handicap. We are dependent upon other human beings to tell us about the Son and the Father. And for those of us who cannot read, or cannot accept the so-called intellectual facts of the Son and the Father, it would appear that they are left out in the spiritual cold.
But such is not the case. The Father is too perfect in all of his attributes and his nature to allow us to be handicapped when it comes to knowing him due to our intellectual deficiency. His spirit that lives with us and surrounds our souls guarantees that we will know him if we truly desire to. And like the infant, he accepts all petitions by whatever name as long as they are directed towards him and the Son. When we pray to that being we define as God, whatever designation we call him, he hears our petitions and responds to us.
When we pray to God, we are actually praying to his Son, Jesus, who is the personal revelation of God. If we are sincere in our desire, his Son communes with us, nourishes us with truth, beauty, goodness, and all of the spiritual values and meanings that we can comprehend during our present state of development. It becomes obvious that the values of love, mercy, patience, and forgiveness are obtained by communion with the Father through his Son. For those who don’’t recognize the Son as the revelation of the Father, it does not matter. They still receive suitable spiritual nourishment. They are like the helpless infant who has his needs met whether he is aware of the source of those needs or not. The Father knows that as the spiritual infant develops he will come to recognize the Son as the revelation of the Father.
What is the explanation for those who pray to a God unknown and find themselves being transformed into the image of this unknown God’’s Son? All over the world, we find that those who are true of heart and of purpose find themselves developing the same kind of character, a character motivated by love and dominated by mercy. For all of these people to develop the same kind of spiritual character means that they are under the influence of the same spirit. Now we know that before the Son came and revealed the Father to the world, no spiritual character transformations took place in any individual. People lived and died praying to a God they called ““God”” and who did not recognize God by his character, his nature, or their personal relationship to this God. All of this was made clear when the Son took on the form of a human being and revealed the nature of the heavenly Father and his relationship to us. Having done this, he left behind his Spirit of Truth to continue this same revelation to each generation.
Now as time continues to pass, and more of these individuals from disparate groups begin to recognize that they all have the same spirit and all share in the character manifestation of this spirit, they will recognize that indeed they all serve the same God and that they all have the same information about his character and his relationship with them. As they continue to reflect and search their minds and souls, they will find that in all of history, there has only been one individual who perfectly reflected the character they are on the way to acquiring, and this individual is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. They will recognize that Jesus was and is truly the revelation of the Father, whom they have been worshiping all along. And in this way, all the Father’’s children will be drawn towards the Son and towards each other in a band of love. When they do recognize the Son, they will be inspired more than their fondest dreams. When they see the Father incarnate in the Son, living the human life just as we do, they will be inspired to live their lives even as he lived his and will attempt to master this human life even as he did. All of the Father’’s children will know him, and he will no longer be a God unknown in character and in relationship but will be recognized as the loving spiritual Father of his spiritual children. All will worship him for his goodness.
This concludes today's message on seeking to know the unknown God. We hope you find something to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.