New Albany, MS: Media Gratiae, 2013
Over a period of several months our small group at church studied Behold Your God: Rethinking God Biblically, by Pastor John Snyder. While Snyder was completing his doctoral work in Puritan and eighteenth century theology at the University of Wales: Trinity St. David, his family attended an evangelical church that impacted them greatly. Upon returning to the US Snyder sought to put into practice what he had learned, both in his studies and in the church his family attended. The church he planted in Mississippi, as well as this study came out of those experiences.
BEHOLD YOUR GOD is “born out of a desire to see the glory of God manifested among His people.” The author strongly believes that the church in the United States faces a huge obstacle – indifference. People are worshipping a “God” of their own imagination. He contends that “the greatest need of the church and the world is to be reintroduced to the One who cannot give us anything better than Himself.”
BEHOLD YOUR GOD: Rethinking God Biblically is designed for individual or group study over a thirteen week period. It includes daily personal study, as well as an hour long video to watch and discuss as a group at every meeting. Each DVD includes a story about the life of a great Christian from the past, a message from the Word of God by Snyder, and reflective comments on the lesson by contemporary pastors and theologians. Besides the DVD there is a workbook for each participant. Every lesson is divided into five sections or “days.” Each day takes about 20 to 40 minutes to complete. It includes questions that are designed to help the participant understand what the Bible teaches about God and reflect on their implications for his life and church.
The following is a list, in no particular order, of some of the main themes in BEHOLD YOUR GOD, at least from my perspective. Others may draw up a slightly different list.
- We cannot completely fathom God. We can only perceive the edges of His ways.
- Our view of God should be based on what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible.
- Right living and right doctrine planted deeply in our heart by God are inseparable.
- Pride, unbelief, and selfishness often hinder us from turning our lives completely over to God.
- We can learn much about God by looking at His revelation in His Son Jesus Christ who came to earth to save us.
- God’s work to bring sinners to Himself is the clearest window into the heart of God, His greatest display of His glory.
- Beholding our holy God demands a response of holy living on our part.
- God has created us and saved us for His glory. The worship of God should be our main occupation in life.
- If we look closely, we will see that in reality our church life, i.e. our hymns, sermons, evangelistic methods, Christian service, etc. are often more man-focused than God- focused.
- When we gather together in worship it is to view God’s worth and respond to it. This should be the primary goal of our Sunday worship service.
- Everything we do in life should be God-centered – our worship, our evangelism, our Christian service, our daily lives, etc.
- We should beware of lesser gods, which are really just idols.
- We should avoid pragmatism in our lives and in our churches, i.e. choosing to do what appears to work, rather than what God has commanded us to do.
- Our deserted prayer meetings reveal that we live our lives like deists, rather than theists.
- The law of God prepares people to hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- True revival can’t be conjured up by emotions and activities in the church. Yes, we should repent of our sins and pray for revival, but revival is a work of God that He alone can bring about.
My only criticism of the book is that I think the author sometimes presents a caricature of Christians and churches in America. Just the same, I found this 13 week study quite impactful in my own life. Though I did not actually learn anything completely new about God, it caused me to reflect deeply about Him and how truths about Him should influence my life and my church.