What Does It Mean to Know God? Part 2

God makes Himself known to those who earnestly seek Him. He has gone out of His way to reveal Himself to mankind, and He awaits our response. Would you like to know Him in a deeper and more personal way?

   In Part One of this Bible study, we saw that God first revealed Himself to man through the glories of the creation, and later through His interactions with the Jewish people with whom He had a special relationship. Here are five other ways in which He has made himself known:

(III) God Chose To Reveal Himself In Human Form Through The Miraculous Birth And Ministry Of Jesus Christ 

To make Himself known to man in a fuller and more personal way, God manifested Himself on the earth in human form through Jesus Christ, who was the Word of God incarnate. John 1:14 says: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The invisible God became visible through Jesus. As John 1:18 explains: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

To say that God has gone out of His way to reveal Himself to mankind is an understatement, since He sent Jesus—the most well-known, most influential, and most celebrated figure in all of human history—to leave an unforgettable picture of who He is. Jesus came all the way from heaven to meet us where we are!

As the “God-man,” both divine and human, Jesus was the perfect representation of God in human form. He was, Hebrews 1:3 tells us: “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” The NIV calls Him “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”  That is why when Philip asked Jesus to “show us the Father,” he replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9). As one preacher once put it, “If you could turn the Bible into a man, it would be Jesus.”

The great evangelist E. Stanley Jones described Jesus this way: “Jesus is God’s photograph. We look at Him and we see God… Jesus is God becoming understandable and lovable… coming to me personally and intimately.” 

Through Jesus’ life and teachings, we learn about: 

• God’s loving nature—His divine, heavenly, soul-healing,
    self-sacrificial, and unconditional love;

• God’s patience, longsuffering, mercy, forgiveness, and grace;

• The kingdom of God and its high and holy principles for living;

• God’s miracle-working power and the privilege of prayer;

• The reality of heaven, hell, Satan, and eternal life;

• God’s hatred for sin and His coming judgments against sin; and

• God’s gracious plan of salvation.

There is no other religious figure in all of history who can match the divine wisdom, supernatural power, heavenly teaching, and flawless character of Jesus Christ. He alone was God in the flesh, exercised authority over evil spirits, was able to walk on water and command nature to obey Him, and transcended death. He is absolutely the most arresting figure in the history of the world, and has had more impact upon the human race than anyone else who ever lived.

(IV) God Has Also Revealed Himself In Great Detail In The Bible. 

God is a great communicator. Has anyone else ever sent you a letter composed of 31,000 verses arranged in 66 books? This is what God has done by giving us the Bible—a vast compilation of God’s thoughts, pronouncements, desires, hopes, purposes, incomparable holy wisdom, and moral instructions. It is, in one sense, like an autobiography or personal journal in which He shares His heart and tells us perhaps more about Himself than we know about anyone else we have ever known. 

The Bible contains records of God’s communications to man through dreams, revelations, and interactions with specially chosen prophets and leaders to whom he spoke directly. It also gives a history of His actions and interventions in the affairs of men during the history of Israel and the times of the apostles, along with detailed prophecies regarding future events.  

Those who hold that God is unknowable are most often those who have never really read what God has written! There is enough learning about God in the Bible to last a lifetime if anyone is earnestly seeking to get to know Him. The problem with knowing God is not that He is unknowable or does not do enough to reveal Himself, but that most people do not earnestly seek to know Him. Those who do find true the words of Jesus who said: “Seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7).

(V) Through The Indwelling Holy Spirit, We Can Know God In An Even More Intimate And Personal Way. 

Through God’s external revelations of Himself, we can learn much about Him, but through the salvation of Jesus Christ, God has made it possible to know Him in an even deeper and more personal way. He has invited us into the most intimate relationship possible with Himself—that of being indwelt by His Holy Spirit and filled with His perfect and pure heavenly life. 

This relationship is even more intimate than the closest human relationship that we can experience; it is even more intimate than marriage, because God’s very spiritual essence—His “divine nature” (II Peter 1:4)—comes to dwell within us. I John 4:13 (NIV) says: “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.”

To have Jesus Christ living within us is the greatest experience which a human being can know. It fills us not only with the assurance that God is real, but with the power to live a new life filled with God’s own love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22). We know Him because He lives in us, and, as Colossians 3:4 tells us, He “is our life.” Billy Graham calls this “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) through the Spirit “[l]ife with a capital L.” It is the life that the Puritan writer Matthew Lawrence called “of all things is most sweet,” and “the perfection of all other comforts.” Robert Dingley (1619-1660), another Puritan, said: “When you have tasted the goodness of God, you will esteem God above all earthly things.”

(VI) God Manifests And Reveals His Nature Through His New Testament People –The Church. 

Although God manifested Himself “to” his Old Testament people, the Israelites, he manifests Himself “in” His New Testament people: The church. The church is not a specific denomination, congregation, or building; rather, it consists of those people who have been called out of the world into a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and who are God’s representatives on the earth. They are those in whom Christ lives and through whom He works. They are “his body” (Ephesians 1:23)—His eyes, ears, hands, and feet (I Corinthians 12:12ff). 

The church is Jesus Christ’s chief building project—His chief purpose in coming to the earth.  In Matthew 16:18, He said: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It is God’s intention to make the church the showplace of His glory to the unbelieving world (Ephesians 3:21), and a storehouse of testimonies of His grace. It is His plan, Paul writes, “to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10 NLT).

The noted Scottish preacher Alexander MacLaren described the church this way: “The Christian Church is a great, continual, supernatural community. Every believing soul possesses something of the life of Jesus Christ [and] has been the seat of a miracle as real and true as when He said, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’” Each individual “saint” or reborn Christian is a proof of God and a witness of His supernatural ability to change lives. E. Stanley Jones tells this humorous story about one such testimony:

“A skeptic was heckling the Christians. ‘Do you believe that Jesus turned water into wine’ he asked. ‘Well, I don’t know,’ said one man, ‘but this I do know, that in my home he turned beer into furniture.’”

Jesus explained His mission statement for the church to His earliest followers in these words: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). 

We are all, individually and corporately, meant to be revelations to those around us around us of the reality of God, who He is, and what He is like. Ultimately, He will take the church to its heavenly home to “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but…holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). Even on earth in our imperfect state, we are to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), revealing Christ to those around us.

(VII) God Reveals Himself To Every Seeking Saint Who Develops A Personal And Interactive Relationship With Him.  

It is one thing to believe in God and to know that He exists, and another to have heart-to-heart communications with Him, to walk with Him in agreement with His plans and purposes, and to live in a cooperative and interactive personal relationship with Him. Every Christian chooses their level of surrender to God and intimacy with Him, and this choice determines the extent to which they get to know Him. 

God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and all men have equal access to Him, but all men do not know Him equally. To those who keep their distance from God, live independently from Him, and treat His interests as of little import, He may seem to be unknowable. But to those who draw near to Him walk closely with Him, and know that they need Him, He is as close as the breath we breathe.

Every individual Christian develops a “track record” of personal interactions with God which allows him or her to “grow in grace and knowledge” of Him (II Peter 3:18). This track record includes answers to prayer; divine guidance; God’s orchestrating events in order to help, or bless, or even chastise the believer; His faithfulness to provide for physical and spiritual, and even monetary needs; His power to set us free from sin and transform our character, etc. As each one of us grows in association with God, we “know that we know that we know” that He is real because He has proven Himself over and over and over again in our lives.

Lloyd Ogilvie, who served as Chaplain to the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2003, observed: “Prayer is a cumulative friendship with God. It is communion and conversation. He created in us the desire, not just to tell Him about our needs but to be with Him. The Creator and Sovereign of the universe has created us for communion with Him.”

How Much Does It Matter Whether Or Not We Get To Know God? 

For starters, Jesus said that the “first” or Greatest Commandment of all is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). How can we even begin to fulfill this commandment if we do not know God? Jesus also told His disciples to “[s]eek…first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). This means that priority number one while we here are on Earth is to make a connection with God, get to know Him, discover the ways and purposes that should characterize our lives, and take our place in His kingdom. Nothing else is more important than this!

As atheist-turned-best-selling-Christian-author Lee Strobel said to himself the first time he heard the gospel preached in a church, “If this is true, it has huge implications for my life.”

To know God in a personal way is also life’s greatest blessing. Bible teacher Le Baron Kinney put it this way: “Considering that God is the only perfect Being, that He is infinitely glorious and good the greatest good that can possible come to man is that he may know Him.”

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