Christianity is the pursuit of God.  J.I. Packer in his excellent book, Knowing God asks, “What were we made for?  Knowing God.  What aim should we set ourselves in life?  To know God.” [1]  Unfortunately, today’s evangelical church would be quite pleased with religious platitudes, social gatherings, comedy presentations, moving testimonies, and motivational speeches from celebrities in place of a theologically rich sermon that engages the mind and heart with a biblical text.  How do we as followers of Christ know God?

Knowing God—Salvifically

God has ordained that we know him in a very specific manner.  First, only through the biblical text can we see God’s revelation of himself to the world.  Through creation, we see God’s power on display in a general way.  Only through the Word of God do sinners come to see the God of salvation in the way in which he has chosen to reveal himself—through words and sentences and paragraphs.  This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit—the work of God in breathing out holy Scripture (see 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:21).

Secondly, God has intended to make himself known to us through flesh and blood.  We read these powerful words in John’s Gospel:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

We come to know God in a saving way through the Son of God—Jesus Christ who died on the Roman cross to save sinners.  Through the substitutionary death of Jesus, we as imperfect and guilty sinners come to know God as redeemed children.  The person and work of the Son of God is the unique way in which God has made himself known to the entire world—especially to those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10; Jn. 17:3).

Do you know God?

Knowing God—Intellectually

It is possible to know a god of your own imagination rather than the God of all creation.  Many people have crossed off into eternity with a false assurance that they knew God and that he knew them.  What a tragic reality we see in Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:21-23.  The masses of evangelical Christianity in our day crave entertainment and push back against the idea that Christianity involves thinking.  James Montgomery Boice stated it well as he called the evangelical culture and era of his day, “mindless times.”

Abraham Kuyper, famously said, “There is not an inch of any sphere of life of which Jesus Christ the Lord does not say, ‘Mine.'”  If this is true of every sphere of life, as Kuyper argued, it certainly must be true of our minds.  God desires that we know him and worship him with our intellect.  That involves reading his Word, meditating upon his character, memorizing his truth, and all of this can find expression in a worship service where the mind is engaged in the singing, Scripture reading, prayers, and preaching.  We find these familiar words from the Shema repeated in Mark 12:30:

And 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.’

Through the pages of Scripture we come to know the voice of God.  We come to know his justice for the rebels and his grace for his children.  We spend this life getting to know him through his Word and we will spend all eternity knowing him on a much more intimate level as we will dwell in the presence of our God.

Do you know God?

Knowing God—Relationally

When we come to know God, we do so in very specific ways.  As the divine being, God is relational and as created beings created in the image and likeness of God—we too are relational beings.  We come to know our God in very specific ways as we see expressed in four biblical analogies.

We know God as a servant knows his King.

Psalm 24:10 — Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

We know God as a sheep knows his Shepherd.

John 10:27 — My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

We know God as a child knows his Father.

Matthew 6:9 —  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

We know God as a wife knows her Husband.

Hosea 2:16 — And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’

God is not the distant “clock maker god” who assembles the clock with great precision and then stands far off and watches it tick.  God is interested in the big picture and the small details of our lives.  Just as God has created and named the stars of the sky (Is. 40:26), he has our very hairs numbered and is interested in every detail of our daily life (Matt. 10:30).  In short, God knows his children and he has called us to a pursuit of knowing him.  This is what the LORD said through his prophet Jeremiah:

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” (Jer. 9:23-24).

J.I. Packer concludes his excellent book, Knowing God, with these words:

From current Christian publications, you might think that the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that ism, or developing a Christian philosophy and culture, or what have you.  But our line of study makes the present-day concentration on these things look like a gigantic conspiracy of misdirection.  Of course, it is not that; the issues themselves are real and must be dealt with in their place.  But it is tragic that, in paying attention to them, so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being—that is, learning to know God in Christ. [2]

Do you know God?

  1. J.I. Packer, Knowing God, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 32.
  2. Ibid., 279.
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Author Knowing God

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.