How Do We Grow in Love and Affection for God?

14 Dec

I’ve started reading J. Gresham Machen’s book, What is Faith? and it is packed with all these great gems of truth. Well, to answer the question, he first writes (contrary to the non-theological emotionalism of his day and ours) the following:

The devout man may indeed well do without a complete systematization of his knowledge… but some knowledge he certain must have.

In other words, he writes that in order to love somebody, we must know some things about them. And one of the ways (along with nature and our conscience) that he identifies that we get to know God is through the Bible. He writes:

… we rise from the Bible… with a knowledge of the character of God. There is a real analogy here to our relation with an earthly friend. How do we come to know one another? Not all at once, but by years of observation of one another’s actions.

And then he goes on to list some of those actions by a friend that helps us to grow in love and trust for them:

We have seen a friend in time of danger, and he has been brave;

we have gone to him in perplexity, and he has been wise;

we have had recourse to (sought help from) him in time of trouble, and he has given us sympathy.

So, gradually, with the years, on the basis of many, many such experiences, we have come to love him and revere him. And now just a look or a word or a tone of his voice will bring the whole personality before us like a flash; the varied experiences of the years have been merged by some strange chemistry of the soul into a unity of affection.

Then, Machen, compares that now to the knowledge of God and growing in affections toward Him:

So it is, somewhat, with the knowledge of God that we obtain from the Bible.

In the Bible, we see God in action;

we see Him in fiery indignation wiping out the foulness of Sodom;

we see Him leading Israel like a flock;

we see Him giving His only begotten Son for the sins of the world.

And by what we see we learn to know Him. In all His varied dealings with His people He has never failed; so now we know him and adore Him. Such knowledge seems to be a simple, an instinctive thing; the varied dealings of God with His people have come together in the unity of our adoration. And now He is revealed as by a flash by every smallest dispensation of His providence, whether it be in joy or whether it be in sorrow.




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