What It Means To Know God

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

One of God’s many Self-revelations is that He so much desires to be “known,” yet since He is infinite it might take a little while. In the West, in America, knowing is understood as an acquisition of facts, or, in the case of a relationship, it means we know one’s name, perhaps other personal information or have had a few conversations with the person, but it does not tell us about the quality and significance or impact of a relationship.

For those who do not understand Biblically knowing someone, beyond the idea of having had sexual relations, it is near impossible to understand this reference,

“‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in You name cast out demons, and in Your name preform many miracles. And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness.”” (Mt 7:21-23)

The Bible’s understanding of knowing is vastly different than our common understanding. To God, understanding whether or not a person truly knows Him is not primarily based on what people do and don’t do, although it is of great, secondary importance. In this passage, it may be confusing that they repeatedly call Jesus “Lord” and were able to perform what we Christians might say is even further evidence of their faith and salvation—miracles, etc. But, according to Jesus’ response, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Consistence of behavior is one critical determinant of true knowing. One cannot do the Lord’s work and then live a separate and contradictory life when one is off from work. To be clear, all of this is not meant to say that it applies to any one who still commits sins, for we all do. This message is for those who practice sinning, meaning they do it over and over AND that without caring, without confessing and sincere attempts at repentance. Those who practice sinning have justified their freedom to sin whenever they want and without consequence, their conscience having been defiled. And yet, that is not the most salient point of what biblical knowing means.

The central point of Biblical knowing is whether or not the person one knows has resulted in an experience that has changed one’s life. Romantic love, for example, can dramatically change a person. Salvation and a true relationship with God is an encounter that profoundly affects not just the mind, but the heart and makes alive one’s spirit. It is not less than seriously transformative. And that transformation holds and lasts a lifetime.

Psalm 46:10 says, “‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”’ This well-known verse says, forsake striving and let it alone and discern with certainty (“know”), who I really am. When we deeply know Him we can do no other than see His unmatched greatness in character and deeds and then esteem Him and be moved to worship the thoughtful, life-giving, humble, friendly, God of integrity. This true knowing God results in our change and His glory.

Yet, we all know there are many things about God that are unknowable. “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face, now I know in part, but then I will know fully”, says 1 Corinthians 13:12. When we see God we will know Him according to truth and experience and not our theology or our created image and representation of God. When we see Him we, for a second time, will be profoundly and eternally changed. Twice, we will become new people.

We are encouraged to spend our lives searching out the character and actions of God. The search destines us to change who we are, to become more Christlike and bring continued glory to the only One who eternally deserves it.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).

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