The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Study Notes on Basic Bible Truth.
Salvation is about more than going to Heaven when we die. It is about knowing God and enjoying a real relationship with Him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (Jn. 17:3)
God saved us for Himself that we might know Him, worship Him, walk with Him, and serve Him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom. 5:10)
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (2 Cor. 5:18)
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)
For most people, the purpose of life is a great mystery. What a blessing it is to know what our purpose is!
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Rev. 4:11)
In the beginning, God created Adam in His own image and walked with him in the garden.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen. 1:27)
When man sinned against God he died spiritually (Eph. 2:1) and was therefore separated from God.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Gen. 3:8)
However, in Christ, the believer has been renewed in God’s image and can therefore know Him.
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Col. 3:10)
In eternity all of the redeemed will dwell with God as He originally intended which proves that our main purpose for existence is to know God and walk with Him.
(3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
(4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
(5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Rev. 21:3-5)
That we may know God is a great privilege that we should never take lightly. False gods, such as Allah (Islam), are unknowable because they are not real. Christianity is the only faith that teaches that it is possible to have a personal relationship with God.
There is one true and living God who exists in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 Jn. 5:7)
Jesus Christ is called the Word because He reveals and declares the Father (Jn. 1:1-3, 14, 18). The Holy Spirit inspired the written word of God (2 Tim. 3:16) that we might know the Son of God (Jn. 5:39; 16:13-14).
(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(2) The same was in the beginning with God.
(3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
(18) No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (Jn. 1:1-3, 14, 18)
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (Jn. 5:39)
(13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
(14) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (Jn. 16:13-14)
What it Means to Know God
We are not talking about merely knowing things about God based on what others have told us. We are talking about the Spirit of God giving us spiritual knowledge of God through personal faith in His word. Upon salvation, we know God as our Saviour, but believers need to increase in the knowledge of who He is and all that He has done for us.
The apostle Paul prayed for saved people to grow in the knowledge of God.
(15) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
(16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
(17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Eph 1:15-17)
(9) For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
(10) That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Col. 1:9-10)
In another prayer, Paul prayed that we know the love of Christ that passes knowledge. How can we know something that passes knowledge? It passes human knowledge, but we may know it by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11).
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Eph 3:19)
The Importance of Knowing God
There is nothing more important than having a true knowledge of God. How can we trust, worship, walk with, and serve a God that we do not know?
Lacking the knowledge of God has a detrimental effect on our life.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: (Hos. 4:6a)
(33) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
(34) Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. (1 Cor. 15:33-34)
On the other hand, growing in the knowledge of God will have a wonderful effect on our life. We will trust God to the degree we know how good, loving, wise, and faithful He is. The more we know how holy, righteous, and powerful God is, the more we will desire to worship Him. Knowing that God is light, we should walk with Him by faith in the light of His word. If we know the mercies of God, we will consider presenting our bodies a living sacrifice to God to be our reasonable service (Rom. 12:1).
(23) Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
(24) But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jer. 9:23-24)
How to Find the Knowledge of God
God has partially revealed Himself to everyone through conscience and creation.
(19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
(20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Rom. 1:19-20)
(1) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
(2) Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
(3) There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
(4) Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
(5) Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
(6) His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. (Ps. 19:1-6)
Through conscience, we know that God is a moral God because there are moral laws written upon our hearts. Through creation, we know that God is all-powerful for only an all-powerful God could create this universe. Only a fool would say there is no God (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).
God has perfectly revealed Himself to His people through His word.
(7) The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
(8) The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
(9) The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
(10) More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Ps. 19:7-10)
We will not find the true knowledge of God in our thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It is only found in the pages of His word. The Bible is not everything God knows, but it contains everything we need to know about God and His purpose and plan for the ages. We will never learn it all in a lifetime of study.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Phil. 3:10)
When Paul said this, he had been saved for many years, had seen the Lord several times (he was an apostle, we will not see the Lord until we get to Heaven), and had received an abundance of revelations from Him. He had also been caught up into the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-7). This tells us that growing in the knowledge of God is a lifelong pursuit.
Like anything that is worth pursuing, we must put effort into knowing God by studying His word (2 Tim. 2:15).
(1) My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
(2) So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
(3) Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
(4) If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
(5) Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
(6) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. (Prov. 2:1-6)
David O'Steen has been the pastor of Hope Bible Church in Jackson, GA since 2005. Pastor O'Steen believes that the King James Bible is the inspired and preserved word of God (2 Tim 3:16) and that rightly dividing (2Tim 2:15) is the key to understand the Bible.