Knowing God

Judas (the false disciple) had gone to betray Him, and after the Passover meal was finished, in the presence of His true disciples, Jesus prayed these words out loud:

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” John 17:1-5 [emphasis added]

What is the essence of eternal life according to Jesus? To put it simply, “Knowing God.” (vs. 3) How can we have access to God; access to eternal life? Through the work that Jesus “accomplished” (John 4:34; 5:36), all who receive Him “have the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12-13). Those who receive Christ by faith and repentance will remain God’s eternal children, and can never be lost (John 6:35-40). Jesus said it clearly from the cross, speaking of the nature of His saving work, “It is FINISHED!” (John 19:30, emphasis added).

God Himself made it clear long ago that knowing Him personally is the greatest gift of all. Jeremiah 9:23-24 says this:

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (emphasis added)

At the end of this passage, God tells us that it gives Him great joy to be rightly understood and known. Then God describes three characteristics, or attributes about Himself: love, justice, and righteousness.

There are many other attributes which describe God. For example: Holy, Sovereign, Good, Wise, Patient, Majestic, Compassionate, Unchangeable, All-knowing, All-present, All-powerful, and many more! But where exactly can we go to understand these character traits of the One True God? Do we search deep within ourselves? Do we listen to every opinion out there, including our own? Does nature talk to us? No. God has chosen to make Himself known (reveal himself) clearly, through the truth of His word; the bible. Take up and read. Think about the fact that anything we currently know about God, which is true, comes from the bible. The bible is God’s self-revelation.

There was one point in history when God was made clearly known through a sinless righteous man – Jesus Christ. This was one of the central purposes for Jesus coming to earth and living as He did. To make God clearly “known.” Consider these passages:

John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (emphasis added)

Hebrews 1:1-2 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

Both of these talk about God’s self-revelation; how God has made Himself known.

First, God spoke through the prophets. Then God spoke and made Himself known through Jesus; the ultimate prophet. Once Jesus had risen and ascended, He and The Father sent the Holy Spirit to complete the scriptures and to continue applying the finished work of Christ to all who will believe in Him. In the words of Martin Luther, “When Scripture speaks, God speaks.” As God says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (emphasis added)

Do you know God? Not just know something about God, but do you know Him personally? The answer to that question will largely be seen in your life. What do you value most? If we claim to know God, then we will have a growing love for Him, and a desire to know and experience him more will be evident in our lives. Also, making Him known to others will bring us joy. Isn’t this the case with other people we claim to know and love? How much more should it be true of God?! Consider the apostle Paul’s attitude toward knowing God. After seeing and being saved by the risen Christ, coming to know Him, to love Him, and live for Him, years later, he says this:

Philippians 3:4b-11 “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (emphasis added)

We’ll never know God in His totality because God is an infinite being. But we can know Him more each day. Sometimes we overcomplicate the Christian life, distracting ourselves and the watching world from what is of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). But this is the driving passion of the church: The joy of knowing the living God and His presence at work in us!

Seek God prayerfully in His word today. He delights to make Himself known!

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

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