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Catechism Class – Really Knowing God

26/01/2021

Catechism Class: Lord’s Day 47, Q 122

Really Knowing God.

READ. Jeremiah 9:23-24  Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

Let’s continue our examination of the Lord’s Prayer looking at the first petition – and it IS a petition – not a declaration.  It is us asking ‘May your name be hallowed.’

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Q122. What is the first petition?  A. Hallowed be your name.  

What does this mean?  Does it, for example mean that God’s name is so holy that we should never even speak it? Let’s see what our instructor teaches…  Remember the God’s NAME is a revelation of his nature.  We want his revealed nature, his attributes, his Name to be rendered holy, in this world and in our lives.  So we must know him,  who he is and what he is like.  So, the Heidelberg Catechism teaches us that ‘hallowed be thy name’ firstly means:-

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1 That We are to REALLY KNOW the Lord GodGrant us first of all that we may rightly know you, and sanctify, glorify, and praise you in all your works, in which shine forth your almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth.

Sometimes as Christians we think about ‘knowing God’ or ‘knowing Jesus’  in a subjective sense, and perhaps that’s why the catechist speaks of our ‘RIGHTLY knowing’  him – to know him as he is, to know his true characteristics as revealed to us in Scripture, so that we won’t allow our subjective experiences and feelings to shape, or even cloud or distort our God’s revelation of himself to us.  So, RIGHTLY knowing God is:-

  • Knowing God Experimentally.  I’m not promoting a ‘head religion’ as opposed to a ‘heart religion,’  Of course as those whose lives have been transformed by God the Holy Spirit working within us, convicting us of sin, calling us by his grace and in regeneration applying the work of Christ to our innermost being, we are brought to a personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour.  We know him experimentally.  Isn’t that why every sermon, needs a firm application. We want to know God better all the time.    
  • Knowing Him Observationally.  We see his works all around us, in creation.  The psalmist declares in Psalm 19:1  He created the world, and everything that is in it, including us, mankind, as the pinnacle of his creating work, making man in his own image.  Genesis 1:26-27      Admittedly this can be hard for us.  
    • As believers. We NEED this prayer.  We need to ask God to help us to appreciate him, and know him.  Psalm 145:1  
    • As sinners.  Our unregenerate nature rejects God, and rejects his creation.  Modern ‘Earth Worship Religion’ stands the created order on its head. That’s the religion of the Climate Change Pietists.  It’s not true, and we ought to be praying that the people of those world would recognise the true and correct order and nature of Gods creation that we would give him glory for the wonderful works of his hand.  
  • Knowing God Scripturally.  To know God is to understand something of his divine attributes and we ONLY know that through His own revelation in the Inspired Word of God.  The catechist speaks of God’s  Mighty Power, Wisdom, Goodness, Righteousness, Mercy and Truth.  There is no other way to fully appreciate who God is, and what He is like unless we learn about him in his word.  God perfectly displays and demonstrates all of these attributes in the Bible, where we are taught what he is like.

Why is it so important to know God?  To know him by observation, to know him intellectually and to know personally?  Jesus gives us the answer in John 17:3  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  Unless we REALLY, TRULY KNOW Jesus, and through Him know the Father, we cannot be in heaven, we cannot have eternal life.

2 That We are to Live to Please the Lord God. Grant us also that we may so direct our whole life – our thoughts, words, and actions – that your name is not blasphemed because of us but always honoured and praised.

Now, knowing God is essential for our salvation, and so it is the first thing we pray for, that God would be known, so that he would be rightly glorified.  But surely when we know him we, RIGHTLY know him, it should have a profound effect on or lives.  A VERY profound effect indeed.  Like Moses.  Exodus 34:5-8  The catechist reminds us to pray that our knowledge of God will so affect the way I live that every part of my life will bring Him glory.  Psalm 115:1 This includes: What I think,  What I say., and What I do.  So others will see and know that there is something different about us, that in in our less than perfect lives, we reflect a little of our heavenly Father’s character into this dark world, as Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:16  

Even the most humanistic and godless parents will want their children to follow in their example.  Hopefully they will have been a good example to their children, and taught them manners, and courtesy and good behaviour and respect and imparted to them a work ethic.  Our heavenly Father wants us to be like him, and to please him by walking in his ways.  

So, to sum up this petition then: Before we ask for ANYTHING from God, for ourselves or others, we acknowledge that the real purpose of prayer is the Glory of God.  For God to be rightly known and rightly praised, by myself, by those who are in my prayers and by the whole world.  This is what we ask for first.

© BobMcEvoy January 2021

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