And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.—(John 17:3)
The greatest of God’s promises is also the highest of man’s duties. Foundational to all of God’s covenant words are these: I will be your God (Exod. 6:7; Jer. 7:23; 11:4; 30:22; Ezek. 36:28). And immediately adjoining that promise are these words: And you shall be my people. Intimacy with God, then, is at the center of our Biblical faith. Or put another way, Christians are those who know God and are known by Him.
Knowing, in the language of the Scriptures, has a stronger flavor than the word possesses in modern English. Our conception of knowing, influenced largely by ancient Greek thinking, focuses on data and facts. To know something is to know about it; to be able to explain its being and characteristics. While that sense of the word does occur, the Biblical usage of the words translated into English as “know, knowing, and knowledge” are drenched in the idea of intimacy. The first occurrence of the word “know” in the Bible is found in Genesis 4:1 and 4:25. This knowing refers to marital sexual relations. To know is to be intimate with.
It is the same with the knowledge of God to which all believers are called. We are not commanded to know facts about God, though that is important. We are not to be satisfied with a mere acquaintance with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are invited, yeah required, to experience the fullness of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). We do so as we draw near in prayer, in reading and hearing the Word, and in worship. The goal of our faith is nothing short of a penetration into intimate love and fellowship with our Lord.
To know God is to experience the fiery holiness of His presence. In that presence, men are always strongly inclined to fall on their faces (Isa. 6; Rev. 1; etc.). The God with whom we have to do is a consuming fire (Duet. 4:24; 9:3; and Heb. 12:29). Knowing God means standing in awe of His glory and bowing before His radiant holiness. Knowing God means living in light of His glory every day of the week, not just on Sundays. Knowing God means framing our whole lives in response to the searing holiness of our Lord.
To draw near to God requires knowing that our sins are forgiven. God’s great holiness and our radical wickedness places us in a terrible dilemma but for the grace and forgiveness of our God. Christ Jesus our Lord has suffered and borne upon Himself on the Cross the bitterness of God’s wrath against us in consequence of our sins. When Christ died and then rose again on the Third Day, the retributive judgment of God against us was fully lifted. Now, by the grace of Christ and by the mercy of our God, we may boldly come before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). In the fullness of Christ’s forgiveness we are welcomed without hesitation or shame, we receive the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), and we are encouraged to embrace and be embraced by the Father.
This is the sum and substance of the Christian faith. Know God. Be known by Him. Such knowing is not natural to any son of Adam or daughter of Eve. It must be given by grace. But it must likewise be striven after. It must be sought for daily. To know God is the great object at which each of us must aim. The books and other resources listed below are dedicated to helping you in that glorious pursuit; the pursuit of the knowledge of God.
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