If God Desires All People to Know Him, Shouldn’t All People Know Him?

On logical syllogisms, the hiddenness of God, and unimaginable treasure


Many people make logical arguments that begin with assumptions about God. The latest one I saw was a syllogism beginning with the following premise: God desires all humans to know Him…. As the syllogism goes, it states that all people do not know God, and it ends with the conclusion. “Therefore God does not exist.”

The critical thing about syllogisms on the existence of God is that initial premises make some assumptions about God. Immanuel Kant famously developed a logical syllogism proving that God exists; then he turned around and developed a logical syllogism proving God does not exist. Both syllogisms were well-constructed, and the conclusions logically flowed from the initial premises.

That’s the thing with logic: we need to set the initial assumptions, and the conclusions are dependent on those assumptions. The logical syllogism I saw this morning seems solid at first glance, but it leaves out a critical word that makes all the difference.

Logic can be abstracted from reality and still make sense. The exact terms of the assumptions are critical. If the assumptions are inaccurate or poorly stated, our conclusions will be false, no matter how logical they are.

In this case, the assumption is that God desires for all humans to know Him. For the assumption to make real sense, though, we would need to add one word.

Implicit in this premise is that God desires only for humans to know Him, and He has no other desire, purpose or goal. If the initial premise is that God desires only for humans to know him, that God has no other desire, purpose, or goal for humans, then the logic follows.

If God’s only desire, purpose, goal is for humans to know Him, He could so dominate and overwhelm us that we would have no choice but to know and acknowledge Him. The fact that people are not overwhelmed or dominated by God, and that people do not know God, would prove, on this syllogism, that God doesn’t exist.

We have to ask, though: Is that really God’s only desire, purpose, and goal for humans is to know that He exists? Is God that simple-minded?

If God is really God, God is (at least) as complex as the universe He created. Taking note of the sublime nuances of physics, quantum mechanics, biology and chemistry, we should assume God is (at least) as sublime and nuanced as the world He made with these elements.

Does it make sense that God has one singular desire, purpose, and goal for humans? Is the entire thrust of creation summed up by an unconditional desire by God for humans to know Him and acknowledge His existence?

The problem with logical syllogisms is in the initial assumptions. We have to presume to know the mind and purposes of God. If we are wrong, even if God really does exist, we will come to the wrong conclusion.

As finite, limited creatures of an infinite Creator of the universe, we do not have the capability of knowing on our own why God created the world such as it is and what His purposes are. I believe we have no capacity to know these things apart from God revealing them to us.

The Bible purports to be that revelation from God to man, so let’s take a look at what it says. If we are going to be “scientific” about the Bible, we shouldn’t come to it with preconceived notions. We should consider what it says on its own merits and come to our own conclusions.

Continue reading “If God Desires All People to Know Him, Shouldn’t All People Know Him?”

The Story of Abraham and Isaac Revisited: Here I am!

I set the stage for digging deeper into the story of Abraham and Isaac in The Story of Abraham and Isaac Revisited: Introduction. Abraham’s faith is the lesson we learned in Sunday. Faith is the basic place we start, but Abraham’s faith is only scratching the surface of the story.

This story is not simply about Abraham’s faith. We often view this story as simply a test of Abraham’s faith, which it is, but it’s much more than that.

Think about it: God does not need to test Abraham to know who he is. God already knows what kind of man Abraham is. Many decades before this story, we are told that Abraham believed God, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness.

When God called Abraham to leave his country, his people, his father’s household – which was his legacy – and God would make a great nation of his descendants, Abraham left, not even knowing where he was going. Though he was 75, Abraham responded with faith and went. (Gen. 12:1-4)

Many years and adventures later, Abraham was still childless, living in the land God showed him, and Abraham still believed the promise God made to him, though he had nothing to show for it. His faith was already counted to Abraham as righteousness. (Gen. 15:1-6)

Isaac was not born to Abraham and Sarah until Abraham was 100 years old, a quarter century after the initial promise. (Gen. 21:1-7) All the while, Abraham had faith. The story of Abraham and Isaac is not primarily a story about Abraham’s faith.

Isaac was not born to Abraham and Sarah until Abraham was 100 years old, a quarter century after the initial promise. (Gen. 21:1-7) All the while, Abraham had faith. The story of Abraham and Isaac is not primarily a story about Abraham’s faith.


Though the story begins with the statement that God was testing Abraham, it doesn’t say God was testing Abraham’s faith. (Gen. 22:1) Perhaps, God tested Abraham to show Abraham who God is!

I will explain, but first we need to understand something of the Ancient Near East culture Abraham lived in. A key factor in this story is that child sacrifice was a universal and ubiquitous practice in the Ancient Near East.

Abraham was intimately familiar the gods of his culture who were unpredictable, arbitrary and capricious, requiring allegiance and sometimes even child sacrifice to be appeased. What Abraham may have sensed, but didn’t fully understand, was that his God is not like the other Ancient Near East gods.

In our western mindset, we might expect God to announce who He is: we might expect Him simply to tell us. In the eastern mindset, we discover who God is through our lived experience and the lived experience (stories) of other people.

God doesn’t simply tell us who He is; God shows us. To “know” God is not simply an intellectual exercise; it is a lived experience. Thus, all of Abraham’s life is an example for us, and here we learn who God is through Abraham’s lived experience.

God reveals Himself to Abraham experientially through Abraham’s faith, and He reveals Himself to us through Abraham’s story. If you haven’t read the introductory article yet, I encourage you to do it now at the link above.

With this basic understanding, I encourage you to read Genesis 22:1-14 now. Following we get into the details of the story.

Continue reading “The Story of Abraham and Isaac Revisited: Here I am!”

What Does It Mean to Be Known By God

What does it mean that the Lord knows the way of the righteous?

“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalm 1:5‭-‬6 ESV

What does this mean? The Lord knows the way of the righteous. Doesn’t God know everything? Doesn’t God know the way of the wicked also?

God sees everything, and He knows everything. God numbered the stars. (Ps. 147:4) God doesn’t just number the stars; He knows each star by its own name! (Is. 40:26) He can count every hair on every person’s head. (Luke 12:7)

God knows our thoughts, our paths and our ways, and He even knows the words we speak before we say them. (Ps. 139:2-4) Why does Psalm 1 say God knows the way of the righteous (and not the wicked also)?

He certainly knows the way of the wicked. Nothing is hidden from God. (Luke 8:17 & Heb. 4:13) The statement that God knows the way of the righteous doesn’t necessarily mean that He doesn’t know the way of the unrighteous. I think He certainly does.

This passage is not talking about bare knowledge. Clearly God is all knowing. This is not a statement contrary to the omniscience of God. God must know the way of the wicked to judge them, which this verse says He will do.

This statement is about a different kind of knowing. It is a statement of familiarity and identification. God is familiar with and identifies with the righteous because the righteous have adopted God’s ways. God knows them in the sense that he knows his own ways. 

It is a statement of intimacy. God is intimate with the righteous. The righteous turn to God in good times and bad. They have opened themselves to God, and God knows them as someone knows a confidant.

It is a statement of connection. God connects with the righteous. The righteous are aligned with God in their ways. Thus, God knows them. Jesus prayed that we would be one with him as he is one with the Father. (John 17:20-23) God establishes connection with the righteous.

What connection does this knowledge have with judgment, perishing, or eternal life? (Which is the focus of the majority of this passage ) God’s knowing is somehow tied into the judgment, the wicked perishing, and implicitly the righteous not being judged and not perishing.

God is eternal. He always is, always was, and always will be. If we are aligned with God, connected with God, we partake with God in his eternal life through Christ. This was the good news (Gospel) that Jesus preached.

Abraham was counted righteous by the grace of God because of his faith (trust and commitment to God). Through Abraham’s seed came Jesus, his seed, who blessed all the nations of the earth.

In Jesus was God incarnate, emptying Himself of His glory and privilege (Phil. 2:5-7) to “connect with” us on our level. In Jesus, God demonstrated His love and character for us to see and connect with. (1 Jn. 1:2)

That blessing God promised to Abraham is the right to be called sons of God (Jn.1:12), to be born again (Jn. 1:13 & Jn. 3:3-8), to die with Christ and to live eternally in him in connection with the Father. (Rom. 6:6-8)

I think of Paul’s great words, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12) These are words of intimacy and personal connection. “Then we shall see face to face.” (Id.) This was God’s desire and his plan all along that we might have personal intimate connection with him and He with us.

God not only desires to “know” us – to have intimate connection with us; He desires to be known by us!

God the Father can seem distant and unapproachable. but He became one of us to connect with us and invite us to connect with Him in the form of Jesus. Jesus, in turn, leaves us the Holy Spirit, who is God who remains with us in intimate form who connect with us, and provides a way for us to connect with Him.

The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised…. (Eph. 1:14)

[He] has given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us. (2 Cor. 1:22)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…. (Rom. 8:16)

To Be Known and to Fully Know God is the Great Purpose of Our Lives

To whom does God say, “Depart from me. I never knew you?”

Have you ever wondered who are the people to whom God may say, “I never knew you; depart from me”?[1] If you are like me, those words ring ominously. We might be tempted to gloss over them, because they are uncomfortable to consider, but there they are.

These words contrast with the verse that inspires this article, which informs the title to this blog piece. But first, I want to focus briefly on people whom God never knew. Jesus described them for us.

They are people who prayed to God, “Lord, Lord.” They are people who prophesied in God’s name. They are people who cast out demons and even did “mighty works” in God’s name. They are highly religious people, but they didn’t “do the will of the Father who is in heaven”. (Matt. 7:23)

What does that mean?

For starters, it means that religiosity is not a ticket to heaven. Public piety is not anything that impresses God; if anything, it may even be repulsive to Him.[2]

Power and influence and doing things that amaze people, even if done in God’s name, are not keys to heaven.  An eloquent speaker who can bring people to tears and repentance is not, thereby, assured of any place in God’s kingdom. The prophet and the teacher who speak the very word of God are not, by virtue of the gift of prophecy or knowledge, assured of eternity with God.

In the “Love Chapter” of the Bible (1 Corinthians 13), Paul says,

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

These realities are at once sobering and liberating. Nothing we can “practice” or do will propel us into God’s heaven. We are saved by grace, though faith, of course (Eph. 2:8-9), but even faith that can move mountains is of no gain to us by itself.

And here is the kicker – not even sacrifice, not even the sacrifice of our own bodies, by itself gains us anything.

David knew this when he said, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.” (Ps. 51:16)

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Laying one’s life down might be considered a sacrifice, yes; but it done out of love it is more than merely a sacrifice. It isn’t the act itself that is important, but the motivation, the inspiration, the desire behind the act that matters.

Jesus is the ultimate example of love. When he sacrificed himself for our sakes, he didn’t do it to earn some heavenly brownie points. He gave himself for us out of love for us. He gave himself to us for our benefit. This is love, which focuses not one the benefit of the sacrifice to himself, but on the benefit for other another.

“For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:6) Legalism and fundamentalism and dogmatism and doctrine and theology can never save a person. It doesn’t matter how much we do, or how much we know, or how accurate our understanding is when we have not love.

God, who we are to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), is love.[3] All the Law and the Prophets are summarized in this one statement: Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:40) Thus, Paul says,

But if anyone loves[4] God, he is known by God.

1 Corinthians 8:3 ESV

This is the verse that got me thinking about these things today. If you love God, you are known by God. The people of whom God will say, “Depart from Me; I never knew you”, are people who don’t really love God. Their motivation was wrong.

Continue reading “To Be Known and to Fully Know God is the Great Purpose of Our Lives”

What It Means to Know God

God told us what it means to know Him. Do you know what He said?


What do you think God would say it means to know Him?

Perhaps, knowing God means having a deep and broad understanding of theology and biblical doctrine. Perhaps, knowing God means feeling intimate with God, having our prayers answered, entering into worship so beautiful it causes goosebumps and tears to flow. Perhaps, knowing God means being able to hear that still, small voice.

How would you define knowing God?

Does it mean knowing Scripture inside out? Is that what it means to know God?

What about the people who don’t have access to written Bible translations? If the Bible is how they must know God, how do they know God without the Bible?

If He told us what it means to know Him, how would we respond?

Would you get a theology degree? Join a charismatic church? Pray more?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Our supreme need is to know God” (God’s Ultimate Purpose [Baker], p. 342) Paul prayed for the Ephesians that God “give [them] spiritual wisdom and revelation in [their] growing knowledge of him.” (Eph. 1:18) Do we pray to know God better?

Theoretically, our greatest goal should be to know God better and to increase in our knowledge of Him. But that presupposes that we know what it means to know God.

Frankly, I was a little surprised when I stumbled on a description of what it means to know God in my Bible reading recently. Not that I should have been surprised, as it is perfectly evident when we consider all of Scripture, including what Jesus said and did. Yet, I don’t think I would have answered the question correctly if someone had asked me. Would you?

Continue reading “What It Means to Know God”