Knowledge of God

God is incomprehensible

The fact that God is incomprehensible “does not mean we cannot know anything about God but rather that we do not have an exhaustive knowledge of Him; we cannot totally comprehend all that He is.”

The finite cannot grasp the infinite. Our minds are finite, lacking the capacity to grasp or understand all that God is. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He surpasses our ability to comprehend Him in His fullness.

God has revealed Himself in human terms

God in His graciousness and mercy condescends to address us in our language, just as a parent might talk “baby talk” when speaking to an infant. And because God has made us in His image, He can speak to us in human language we can understand.

We find this idea in the Bible’s anthropomorphic language. The term anthropomorphic simply means “in human form.”

The Scriptures tell us that God is not a man – He is Spirit (John 4:24) and therefore not physical – yet He is often described with physical attributes. There is mention of His eyes, His head, His strong right arm, His feet, and His mouth. God is described in human terms because it is the only way man knows to speak about God.

Three ways to describe God

1. The way of negation: we describe God by saying what He is not. For example, God is infinite, which means “not finite.” Human beings change over time. They undergo mutations, so they are called “mutable.” God, however, does not change, so He is immutable, which means “not mutable.”

2. The way of eminence: known human concepts are taken to the ultimate degree, such as the terms omnipotence (“all-powerful”) and omniscience (“all-knowing”). Here, power and knowledge are taken to the ultimate degree and applied to God. He is all-powerful and all-knowing, whereas we are only partially powerful and knowing.

3. The way of affirmation: we positively make specific statements about the character of God, such as “God is one,” “God is holy,” “God is sovereign,” and “God is good.” But when we say that God is good, we mean that His goodness is not identical to our goodness, but it is similar to our goodness, so that we can talk meaningfully with each other about it.


[Adapted from Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]