“The Knowledge of the Holy” BY Arthur W. Tozer
In 1968 I came across a book called The Knowledge of the Holy written by Arthur W. Tozer, which changed my life. I was struck with the importance of “Why we must Think Rightly about God.” My behavior was a result of an incorrect concept of God. I needed to correct my understanding of The Knowledge of the Holy.
In his book Tozer presented an orderly discussion about the attributes of God. An attribute is something true about a person or a thing. When we talk about a person we describe him physically and then we talk about his personality. An individual is the sum of his parts, traits, qualities or attributes. We might say that Katrina is a very kind and an honest individual. Kind and honest are words which attribute something to Katrina
As He wrote his book Tozer encountered two problems. The first problem involved dispelling the many misconceptions that people have about God. Because we cannot see God, our imagination often does a number on us. Left to ourselves we tend to make or exchange God into the likeness of our imaginations
(20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.(22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (23) And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:20-23, KJV)
How do these misconceptions develop? We are born into this world, naked, with an empty mind. We learn about this world through our eyes and ears. As we grow, we develop and become a product of our environment, education and experiences.
A person’s past experience and education give a word it’s meanings. For instance, the word father or mother may bring back memories of happiness or memories of sadness depending on our experiences. A person experiencing a bad relationship with his father takes this bad experience and pours it into the word father. He then adds the adjective heavenly and then understand the phrase “HEAVENLY FATHER” If you read the Harry Potter series of books, you might think that God gives you the power to hex, vex and curse people. These misconceptions must be dispelled with the Truth. The Truth is the Word of God. If we go through bad experiences, we come up with incorrect conclusions about God. This incorrect conclusion becomes a MISCONCEPTION.
- We must use a language reserved only for Him.
The second problem Tozer faced was that some attributes have no human counterparts or parallels in the English language. He had to teach or create spiritual concepts formerly, unknown. For instance, the concept That God is Holy and righteous is foreign to most people!
A picture is worth a thousand words. How do you describe something you cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell? A large portion of the words found in our English dictionary would are meaningless to a person who lost a few of their fives sense.
How do you describe a sunset or a sunrise to a person who has been blind all of his life.
Words are containers, like the gel capsules that contain granules of Rx we buy from our pharmacy. The granules that are contained by the gel capsule are what give the power capsule the has to heal. If you pour salt or sugar into the capsule, the capsule has only the power to sweeten or salt. A word is like a gel capsule chock full of truth and misconceptions.
If our mind and our heart contain misconceptions, they must be exchanged with Truth. Scripture calls this process of exchange “the renewing of your mind” or meditation.
Describing God requires that the writer draw a picture using words, which do not involve adjectives of the five senses and man in general. He must paint a picture using no physical analogies for God is a Spirit. This writer can only hope that each analogy that he uses is accurate and is not misconstrued . Thank goodness! We have the word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to reveal Himself and dispel misconceptions.
To understand or gain “Knowledge of the Holy” We must develop a new vocabulary. The vocabulary used to describe God must be reserved and placed in a special category. Most of our dictionary contains words used by man and for man. Words used by man to describe man other created beings can not and should not be used to describe God. For instance, because God is a Spirit. Words used to describe what we experience in our body would be useless in describing God. To describe God we would need to develop or invent a list of new words.
- God must reveal himself
One day I was walking down the hallway of a care home and a nurse’s aid asked me whether I was doctor. I laughed and said no. I replied I was just a visitor. Perhaps because I wearing a white jacket, she assumed that I was a doctor. Now if she did not stop to ask me she would have continued to hold until to her misconceptions. Her misconception was corrected because I revealed myself. Perhaps in the past she met many doctors wearing a white jacket, of Asian descent, with salt and pepper hair so she assumed that I was a doctor.
Most misconceptions can be corrected by the person revealing himself. Observation and prior experiential knowledge is not enough to make a correct conclusion.
We must dispel misconceptions about an invisible God and come to a true “knowledge of the Holy? To reach a true “knowledge of the Holy” God must reveal himself. He has done this through his Word.
I recommend this book “the Knowledge of the Holy” by Arthur Tozer and
“Your God is too Small” by J. B. Phillips.
List of attributes
Tozer a made a list of about eighteen attributes used to describe God and defined them into two groups. Those that have human counter parts and those that have no human counterparts. Knowledge of these attributes solidifies our faith. Understanding is basic to trust. The more we understand a person the more we trust that person. Those we trust, we do not question.
Once we understand these attributes, we can then discuss the relationships of the attributes to faith, trust, tribulation, trials, sickness, service and prayer. Another article will follow called attributal prayers
These prayers flow out of the nature of God IE His attributes.
The following is the list under both categories which we will discuss one by one. All attributes are tempered by all other attributes. We cannot hold to or overemphasize one attribute to the exclusion of the other attributes. His nature demands that he cannot in-congruent or inconsistent with Himself. Because He is infinite and without limit, His power, knowledge, love is without limit.
This list is a sample of the attributes of God.(A first draft of a chapter of my book) I have begun to give references for the least familiar attributes, for you to study. It is part of a book I am writing. I think I will call it”Just Cooperate, not everything you have is useful to me”. God is teaching something me about Him. He is the great “I am”. He needs no one. I must empty myself of all ideas, thought about how I can be of use to Him before He will use me.
Non Communicable Attributes.
Those with no human counterpart attributes we can not relate to
God is Eternal God is outside of time Isaiah 44:6. 57:15, Psalms 90:1‑4, 2 Peter 3:8, 1 Timothy 1:17 ,John 1:1-3
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. Isaiah 44:6 KJV
Isaiah 57:15 (15) For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15 KJV
Psalms 90:1-4* (1) Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. (2) Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. (3) Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. (4) For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Psalms 90:1-4 KJV
2 Peter 3:8* (8) But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.2 Peter 3:8 KJV
1 Timothy 1:17 *(17) Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
John 1:1-3 (1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3 KJV
- God is Self Sufficient God needs no one Psalms 50:10‑12, Isaiah 40:28‑31, Jeremiah 32:17‑18, Isaiah 44:6, 1 Timothy 1:17, Psalms 90:1‑4
Because God is Self sufficient, there is no lack, no need or necessity with Him. Words like eat sleep , replenish, help lack need money, resources .earning, acquiring,remember have no meaning. He needs no one but when faith is present, He works through anyone.
Because God is Self sufficient, He does not need our ideas, strength, our gifts and talents
Psalms 50:10-12 (10) For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (11) I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. (12) If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Psalms 50:10-12 KJV
Isaiah 40:28-31 (28) Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. (29) He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (30) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: (31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 KJV
Jeremiah 32:17-18 (17) Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: (18) Thou show lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompenses the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Jeremiah 32:17-18 KJV
Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isa 44:6 KJV)
Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1Ti 1:17 KJV)
Colossians 1:16 He existed before we all living, did (16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (17) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Colossians 1:16-17 KJV
- God is Infinite God is without limit Psa 145:3, Job 5:8-9, Job 11:7-9, Romans 11:33-34*Psalms 100:5*
uncomprehensible, and ubiquitous.
- Psalms 145:3
- Job 5:8-9*
- Job 11:7-9*
- Romans 11:33-34*
- Psalms 100:5*
3. God is Perfect He does Everything without defect or flaw. Mat 5:43-48 Jam 1:4
4. God is Transcendent He is far superior Isaiah 55:8‑9, Isaiah 57:15, Num 23:19
Isaiah 55:8-9 *
5. God is Immutable He is changeless. Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17, Psa 102:25-27, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17, Psa 102:25-27
6. God is Omniscient God knows everything Psalms 147:5, 139:1‑6, Jeremiah 1:5, Hebrews 4:13, Matthew 10:28‑31, Psalms 147:5, Psalms 139:1-6, Jeremiah 1:5 , Hebrews 4:13, Matthew 10:28-31, Jeremiah 29:11,
God’stating knowledge of things occur (Gen 11:5; Gen 18:21; Deu 8:3), none the less the principle is everywhere presupposed in what is related
he knows what man is doing, he hears prayer, he knows the futre,
The unconscious finds no place in Him (Act 15:18; 1Jo 1:5). Next to Himself God knows the world in its totality.
This knowledge extends to small as well as to great affairs (Mat 6:8, Mat 6:32; Mat 10:30); to the hidden heart and mind of man as well as to that which is open and manifest (Job 11:11; Job 34:21, Job 34:23; Psa 14:2; Psa 17:2 ff; Psa 33:13-18; Psa 102:19 f; Psa 139:1-4; Pro 5:21; Pro 15:3; Isa 29:15; Jer 17:10; Amo 4:13; Luk 16:15; Act 1:24; 1Th 2:4; Heb 4:13; Rev 2:23).
It extends to all the divisions of time, the past, present and future alike (Job 14:17; Psa 56:8; Isa 41:22-24; Isa 44:6-8; Jer 1:5; Hos 13:12; Mal 3:16).
It embraces that which is contingent from the human viewpoint as well as that which is certain (1Sa 23:9-12; Mat 11:22, Mat 11:23).
- (Jer 23:23 ff). It is also closely related to God’s eternity, for the latter makes Him in His knowledge independent of the limitations of time (Isa 43:8-12). God’s creative relation to all that exists is represented as underlying His omniscience (Psa 33:15; Psa 97:9; Psa 139:13; Isa 29:15). His all-comprehensive purpose forms the basis of His knowledge of all events and developments (Isa 41:22-27; Amo 3:7).
The world is a revelation of God. All that is actual or possible in it therefore is a reflection in created fo
- Tacit Assumption and Explicit Affirmation:
Scripture everywhere teaches the absolute universality of the divine knowledge. In the historical books, although there is no abstract formula, and occasional anthropomorphic references to God’staking knowledge of things occur (Gen 11:5; Gen 18:21; Deu 8:3), none the less the principle is everywhere presupposed in what is related about God’s cognizance of the doings of man, about the hearing of prayer, the disclosing of the future (1Sa 16:7; 1Sa 23:9-12; 1Ki 8:39; 2Ch 16:9). Explicit affirmation of the principle is made in the Psalter, the Prophets, the h?okhma¯h literature and in the New Testament. This is due to the increased internalizing of religion, by which its hidden side, to which the divine omniscience corresponds, receives greater emphasis (Job 26:6; Job 28:24; Job 34:22; Psa 139:12; Psa 147:4; Pro 15:3, Pro 15:11; Isa 40:26; Act 1:24; Heb 4:13; Rev 2:23).
- Extends to All Spheres:
This absolute universality is affirmed with reference to the various categories that comprise within themselves all that is possible or actual. It extends to God’s own being, as well as to what exists outside of Him in the created world. God has perfect possession in consciousness of His own being. The unconscious finds no place in Him (Act 15:18; 1Jo 1:5). Next to Himself God knows the world in its totality. This knowledge extends to small as well as to great affairs (Mat 6:8, Mat 6:32; Mat 10:30); to the hidden heart and mind of man as well as to that which is open and manifest (Job 11:11; Job 34:21, Job 34:23; Psa 14:2; Psa 17:2 ff; Psa 33:13-18; Psa 102:19 f; Psa 139:1-4; Pro 5:21; Pro 15:3; Isa 29:15; Jer 17:10; Amo 4:13; Luk 16:15; Act 1:24; 1Th 2:4; Heb 4:13; Rev 2:23). It extends to all the divisions of time, the past, present and future alike (Job 14:17; Psa 56:8; Isa 41:22-24; Isa 44:6-8; Jer 1:5; Hos 13:12; Mal 3:16). It embraces that which is contingent from the human viewpoint as well as that which is certain (1Sa 23:9-12; Mat 11:22, Mat 11:23).
- Mode of the Divine Knowledge:
Scripture brings God’s knowledge into connection with His omnipresence. Ps 139 is the clearest expression of this. Omniscience is the omnipresence of cognition (Jer 23:23 ff). It is also closely related to God’s eternity, for the latter makes Him in His knowledge independent of the limitations of time (Isa 43:8-12). God’s creative relation to all that exists is represented as underlying His omniscience (Psa 33:15; Psa 97:9; Psa 139:13; Isa 29:15). His all-comprehensive purpose forms the basis of His knowledge of all events and developments (Isa 41:22-27; Amo 3:7).
This, however, does not mean that God’s knowledge of things is identical with His creation of them, as has been suggested by Augustine and others. The act of creation, while necessarily connected with the knowledge of that which is to be actual, is not identical with such knowledge or with the purpose on which such knowledge rests, for in God, as well as in man, the intellect and the will are distinct faculties. In the last analysis, God’s knowledge of the world has its source in His self-knowledge. The world is a revelation of God. All that is actual or possible in it therefore is a reflection in created form of what exists uncreated in God, and thus the knowledge of the one becomes a reproduction of the knowledge of the other (Act 17:27; Rom 1:20). The divine knowledge of the world also partakes of the quality of the divine self-knowledge in this respect, that it is never dormant. God does not depend for embracing the multitude and complexity of the existing world on such mental processes as abstraction and generalization.
The Bible nowhere represents Him as attaining to knowledge by reasoning, but everywhere as simply knowing. From what has been said about the immanent sources of the divine knowledge, it follows that the latter is not a posteriori derived from its objects, as all human knowledge based on experience is, but is exercised without receptivity or dependence. In knowing, as well as in all other activities of His nature, God is sovereign and self-sufficient. In cognizing the reality of all things He needs not wait upon the things, but draws His knowledge directly from the basis of reality as it lies in Himself. While the two are thus closely connected it is nevertheless of importance to distinguish between God’s knowledge of Himself and God’s knowledge of the world, and also between His knowledge of the actual and His knowledge of the possible. These distinctions mark off theistic conception of omniscience from the pantheistic idea regarding it. God is not bound up in His life with the world in such a sense as to have no scope of activity beyond it.
7. God’s Omniscience and Human Freewill:Religious Importance:
8. God is Omnipotent God is all-powerful. Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17-20, Jeremiah 32:27-29. Mark 10:25-27, Luke 1:34-37, Matthew 17:20-21, Matthew 19:23-26, Luke 18:27, Eph 3:20-21
9. God is Omnipresent God is everywhere present Psalms 139:7‑12,Matt 28:20, Heb13:5-6*, John 14:16-17Introduction
10. God is Holy God is separate and pure Isaiah 57:15 1 John 1:5‑7
- Holy One of Israel Isa 1:4; Isa 5:19; Isa 5:24; Isad10:20; Isa 12:6; Isa 17:7; Isa 29:19; Isa 30:11; Isa 30:12; Isa 30:15; Isa 31:1; Isa 37:23; Isa 41:14; Isa 41:16; Isa 41:20; Isa 43:3; Isa 43:14; Isa 45:11; Isa 47:4; Isa 48:17; Isa 49:7; Isa 54:5; Isa 55:5; Isa 60:9; Isa 60:14;
- Holy one from toCommunicable attributes those that have human counterpart attributes we can relate to in some measure
11. The Faithfulness of God Num 23:19, 2 Sam. 7:28, psal 141:6 2 tim
12. The Goodness of God
13. The Truth of God
14. The Justice of God Psalms 9:16, 94:1-2, 80:1,89:14, Romans 12:19, Psa 103;6, Psa 146:7, Isa 46:11, Jer 5:1, Joel 2:11
15. The Mercy of God (Psalms 89:14 KJV)
16 The Grace of God
17. The Love of God
18. The Wisdom of God
Because God is …, you can ask …
Psa 141:1-5 KJV