Christianity Can Never Be Satisfied with Cold Speculation

 Life in Christ is never just theory; it is also always practice. On the other hand, it is also never practice disconnected from truth. The knowledge that we have of God fills the life of our soul with content and substance. Our knowledge of God shapes our understanding of ourselves and everything else. For instance, we have no access to “brute facts” or “uninterpreted facts.” We are creatures and we are never anything but creatures. Everything that we know, therefore, we know as creatures. All of our “facts” are created facts. There is no fact that exists outside of the realm of God’s lordship as Creator. Every fact bears the mark of his existence.

Furthermore, we are creatures made in the image of God; created in covenant relationship with him. This is true of every person alive today, even if they are related to God as covenant breakers. Romans 1 teaches us that all men know God, even non-Christians who are under wrath (Rom. 1:19-20). But for non-Christians, their knowledge of God has not risen to the level of graditude. Their knowledge of God is real, but it is cold and corrupt. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). For a Christian, the knowledge of God is not this way. As Calvin comments,

“Moreover, we said at the beginning that the knowledge of God does not rest in cold speculation, but carries with it the honoring of him.” Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.12.1.

Our goal, then, should be that this would be increasingly true of us. Our knowledge of God in Christ should shape everything about us. David Powlison puts this idea more fully:

“Lest this sound overly cognitive, we also learn ‘to intend God’s intentions after him.’ Christianity is both a way of seeing and a way of proceeding. Christ enters and engages the world he sees. He acts and reacts. The mind of Christ is no mental list of theoretical doctrines. His gaze brings with it ways of experiencing, patterns of appropriate reaction, and a game plan for engaging what he sees. So we learn to pursue God’s pursuits after him, to act as God acts, feel God’s feelings, love God’s loves, hate God’s hates, desire God’s desires. When the Word became flesh, Jesus lived all God’s communicable attributes on the human scale. No, we will never be all-knowing, or all-powerful, or all-present. But yes, we will be wise and loving, true and joyous. We will weep with those who weep. We will lay down our lives for our friends, bear sufferings, love enemies, and say with all our heart, ‘Thank you.’” – David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture, p. 10


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