Knowing God: Conditions and Consequences
- Wednesday, May 21, 2008
. . . then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5)
In its simplest form, the promise of the Christian faith is the privilege and glory of knowing God. Jesus put it this way: “For this is life eternal, that they might know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
We need to understand this because, at present, there is a certain amount of confusion concerning what Christianity is all about. Just looking at the various expressions of Christianity in our own country, it would be easy to conclude that Christianity is primarily about conservative values and politics, or feeling really good about yourself, or finding the prosperity you desire and deserve, or holding people’s feet to the fire of a fairly narrow and narrow-minded moral code.
Of course, all Christians will insist that Christianity is about Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, and everlasting life, especially this last. But just what does that mean? Again, for many this simply means that they will be going to heaven when they die. In the meantime, they just have to hold on and do the best they can to keep from doing any really bad stuff, which, even if they do, they hope God will forgive them and not revoke their heavenly privileges.
In fact, I believe that Christians from all communions—however many different things they may disagree on—will affirm that gaining eternal life is the end game of the faith of Jesus. And certainly eternal life does involve a heavenly destination, but even that is subject to a variety of interpretations. Jesus said that eternal life is knowing God. If we want to realize the promise of the Christian faith, it will be found in this direction. Every true follower of Jesus will want what Jesus offers, the knowledge of God that is eternal life. But how is that knowledge gained? And how may we know when we possess it?
CONDITION FOR KNOWING GOD
In Proverbs 2, Solomon sets forth a concise catalog of what it means to know God and how we might expect that knowledge of God to find expression in our lives. Let’s consider first of all the conditions for knowing God as Solomon explains them.
Solomon insists that knowing God comes by receiving His Word (v. 1). If we are to know God, it will be on His terms, and only as much as He is willing to reveal about Himself. God reveals Himself in a variety of ways, each of which is an expression of His “Word,” or His “Reason” and “Meaning”—what the Greeks referred to as logos. This Word of God comes to us in three forms.
First, the Word of God is revealed in the things of creation (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-20). It is the testimony of Scripture throughout that God makes known His being, character, and some things concerning His will in the works of creation, culture, and the human conscience. People can learn to “hear” the Word of God through creation, and the record of history indicates that, for many peoples, responding to the mysteries, wonders, and powers of the created world has been an impetus to religious expression. But as true a revelation of God as the things of creation are, listening for the Word of God there can be difficult, and can even lead us down wrong paths toward knowing God. Because of our sinfulness, we need more light than the creation can provide if we would know God truly.
Second, God reveals Himself through His Word in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). In fact, we may only know what God is revealing about Himself through the creation by looking to see what He has to say about Himself through the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the lens through which we may discern the revelation of God in the created order. The more we read and study the Scripture, the more we learn about God and the better equipped we will be to discern His revelation in the creation.
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