Of the seemingly innumerable attributes of God found in the scriptures, one that I find particularly mind-bending is what theologians refer to as his incomprehensibility. That is to say, God is beyond our ability as humans to know simply because of who he is. This is how the psalmist expresses it, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3). Why this is such a conundrum is that, though God is beyond our finite grasp, we do in fact know him. Or at least that is how we speak. As a Christian I speak about knowing God personally. So which is correct? Is it possible to know God or not? Well, both really. Yes we can know the unknowable! But only as he allows us to know him through the scriptures.
Professor Keith Matheson helps unravel this mystery somewhat when he states, “when we say that God is incomprehensible, we do not mean that we cannot know anything at all about God. What we do mean is that we cannot know Him exhaustively and comprehensively. Why not? Because God is infinite and we are finite.” Here are a few texts that speak to this somewhat complex but glorious biblical concept; • Job 26:14 And these (speaking of the powerful works of God) are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” • Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. • Dt 29:29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. In each one there is a real sense that our Creator God is simply beyond our ability to fully know him because he is God and we are not. And yet there is also the fact that because he has chosen to reveal himself to us, we can comprehend him, and not only comprehend but have relationship with him.
Theologian Stephen Wellum points out that “to say that God is incomprehensible is to gladly acknowledge that the glorious triune God of Scripture is in a category all by himself and that as such, he is unfathomable in his nature, knowledge, and works. However, due to his gracious self-disclosure, in general and special revelation, we can know the incomprehensible God truly but never fully or exhaustively”. While these kinds of discussions can easily descend into pointless philosophical debates we dare not ignore the truth at the heart of it. The Bible reminds us to, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). The way we do this is by looking to his revealed word. Let us heed the prophet; “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).