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?
God reminds us who He is because we are creatures, the product of His creation, and we could not understand God without Him revealing Himself to us. We also could not understand purpose in our lives apart from the God who made us. And it turns out that He made us for a special purpose.
Among the various revelations that can be read in the various books that we consider Scripture is the revelation of a God who created humankind in His own image. We reflect many of the characteristics of the God who fashioned us. Perhaps of greatest significance is the ability He has given us to direct our own wills.
We can choose to see and relate to God for who He is. We can choose to be the captains of our own souls. We can either commit ourselves to our God and Maker, or we can choose to go our own ways. If we choose to go our own ways, however, we go it alone, without the blessing or sustaining grace of the God who made us.
“Return to me, for I have redeemed you,” says God through Isaiah. (Is. 44:22) The God who gave us this capacity to accept or reject Him, calls us to Himself.
In the end, God is all that we could want, all that we are made for and all that we need. In Him is love and peace and eternal life. He is reminding us who He is. Our destiny rests on our willingness to grasp this reality and to submit ourselves to it.
We will not need to be told to “sing for joy….” (Is. 44:23) when we do submit and yield to our Maker because in Him is our joy. It is the natural expression of the child returning home to her Father. God is who He says, and God reminds us who He is in His lovingkindness.
I listened to a Tim Keller sermon about John 1 in which he focused on the revelation that “the Word was in the beginning; the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. You can follow the link in the last sentence to read a summary of the beginning of the message.
Keller made the following statement that is the subject of this piece:
“Jesus is the supreme revelation. If we are to know God, neither rationalism nor mysticism will suffice. For God chose to make Himself known finally and ultimately in a real historical human being.”
Keller doesn’t break that statement down, but he provides an illustration of how rationalism is insufficient to know God. I will summarize Keller’s illustration and provide one of my own for why mysticism can’t be relied upon for knowing God. Neither rationalism nor mysticism are sufficient, alone, to enable us to know God, and the reason why is that God revealed Himself in the person of Jesus.
If I can’t find something I am looking for, does that mean it doesn’t exist?
In the context of searching for God, if I can’t “find Him”, does that mean He doesn’t exist?
My inability to find something I’m looking for is not proof that the thing I am looking for doesn’t exist. Ask my wife. She will often describe an object to me and asked me to go retrieve it for her. I am reluctant to say how many times I have come back without what she sent me to retrieve. I might even be embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve wanted to tell her that the object doesn’t exist
How many times have we said to ourselves when looking for something, “It isn’t anywhere!”? Do we mean, literally, that the object isn’t anywhere? Not usually. Intellectually we know that it is somewhere, but we just can’t find it.
Maybe I am looking in the wrong place. If I’m looking for an object I’ve never seen before, maybe I have the wrong picture of the object in my mind and I am not looking for the right thing. Maybe the object isn’t where I thought it was. Maybe the object is hidden and needs to be uncovered.
These examples are allegorical when it comes to the idea of searching for God.
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. (John 7:17)
Jesus spoke these words after his own brothers expressed their skepticism about who Jesus appeared to be suggesting he was, the long awaited Messiah from God. (John 7:2-5) He spoke these words to a crowd that was also largely skeptical, wondering who he really was. Some were saying he was a good man, but others were claiming that he was leading people astray. (John 7:12)
I keep coming back to this verse (John 7:17) since I heard Dr. Rosaria Butterfield give her testimony of her journey from liberal, lesbian professor who was highly critical of Christians and Christianity to becoming a believer and later a pastor’s wife and having a ministry of her own.
In her world of academia, she was used to doing research and coming to conclusions before being willing to put her faith in a proposition. That is the academic process.
As she was listening to a sermon after having spent many months becoming friends with a pastor and his wife, reading the Bible, and considering the evidence for Christianity, she made a life changing realization. She was approaching Christianity academically. She was not willing to believe until all of the facts were lined up and could be reduced to a certain answer.
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