Those who are anxious to find God and to know Him, are confronted by two possible ways of doing so. The first way, and the one that comes instinctively to us because of our fallen condition, is to believe that we, by our own efforts and seeking, can find God; and from the very beginning of history men and women have been engaged in this quest. They have done so by two main methods. One is to follow this kind of instinctive, intuitive feeling that we have, and that is put in various forms. People sometimes talk about an `inner light’, and say that all you have to do is to follow that light and its leading. . . . The other method that has been adopted has been the one that is based upon reason and wisdom and understanding. People may start, perhaps, with nature and creation, and they reason on from that. They maintain that as a result of that process they can arrive at a knowledge of God. Others say that by looking at history, and by reasoning on the course of history, they can arrive at a belief in God. Yet others say that the way to arrive at God is to indulge in a process of pure reasoning. . . .
But the Christian answer is that that method is inevitably doomed to failure. The apostle Paul puts it in those memorable words: `The world by wisdom knew not God’ (1 Cor. 1:21); and it is significant that he said that to the Corinthians, who were Greeks, and who were therefore familiar with philosophical teaching. But in spite of Paul having said that, people still rely on human ideas and reasoning to find God.
It seems to me that this is not a matter to argue about, because it is just a question of fact; and the fact is, that one cannot arrive at a knowledge of God along those lines, for two very obvious reasons. The first is (as we hope to see later as we consider these particular doctrines) the nature of God Himself: His infinity, His absolute character and qualities, and His utter holiness. All that in and of itself makes it impossible to have any knowledge of God by means of reason or intuition.
But when you add to that the second reason, which is the character and nature of men and women as they are in a state of sin, the thing becomes doubly impossible. The human mind is too small to span or grasp God and to realise Him. And when you understand that because of the fall all human faculties and powers are affected by sin and by natural enmity, then, again, a knowledge of God by human endeavour becomes a complete impossibility.
Now the Bible has always started by saying that, and yet people in their foolishness still try these outworn methods which have already proved to be failures. So we must start by laying down this postulate: our only hope of knowing God truly is that He should be graciously pleased to reveal Himself to us, and the Christian teaching is that God has done that. So clearly the first doctrine which we have to consider together is the biblical doctrine of revelation. I cannot arrive at God by my own unaided efforts. I am dependent upon God revealing Himself. The question is: `Has He done so?’ The answer is: `Yes, He has,’ and the Bible tells us about this.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible: God the Father, God the Son; God the Holy Spirit; The Church and the Last Things (Kindle Edition)