Monday, June 30, 2014

The goal of the Christian life - To know God

Exodus 6:2-3 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.

Why knowing the Lord is central to the Christian's faith-walk
In the passage above we see God revealing His identity to Moses.  He uses the Holy Name "Yahweh" (translated "LORD" in all capital letters).  God is literally giving Moses further insight into the revelation of His character, authority and reputation. Yahweh makes mention of the three patriarchs of Israel - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to show their level revelation in comparison to what He was revealing to Moses.  When God reveals Himself to people in the scriptures, two things are occurring:

1. He is making Himself known
2. He is aiming for them to know Him

When He states at the end of Exodus 6:3 - "but by my name, LORD (Yahweh), I did not make Myself known to them", it is not that God was not Yahweh in Genesis and then suddenly became Yahweh to Moses in Exodus.  Rather, as God was making Himself known to the Patriarchs, their level of illumination that was affected by His revelation to them was at a more fundamental level than Moses'. 

The Patriarchs "Knew God" in the level of understanding and experience of Him as "El-Shaddai" or "God Almighty.  They knew what kind of God that was making Himself known to them, and thus they walked out their faith in that measure of light.  However as you go throughout the scriptures, God is slowly but surely "increasing the level of understanding" for His people each time He reveals Himself.  Knowing God is an ongoing activity in the life of the saint.  There will never be a time that the believer ever fully comprehends all of God in who He is.  As Jesus states in John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

The experience of knowing God proceeds from knowing the works of God, to the ways of God to God the Way

The first level of illumination is knowing  the works of God
God tells Moses that He "appeared" to the Patriarchs as "El-Shaddai" or "God Almighty" in our English Bibles.  Five particular texts are in mind where we see God appearing to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and (we'll include) Joseph:

Genesis 17:1 "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless." 

This is the first mention of God's name "El-Shaddai" (God Almighty in our English Bibles).  Clearly it was indeed the LORD (Yahweh) appearing here, however He expressed to Abraham the name "El-Shaddai" (God Almighty).  Recall that all the names of God with "El" are expressions of the main name "Elohim", which answers the question: "What kind of God is God?"  In this instance He is revealing to Abraham that He is mighty enough to follow through in the promises He made to Abraham in his faith-walk.  Four other passages are listed below without commentary, and the reader is encouraged to look at them and draw further conclusions: Genesis 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3. 

The next level of illumination knowing the ways of God
As Psalm 103:7 states - "He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel".

In Christ, the fullest level of knowing God is knowing Him who is the Way
When we speak of our Christian experience, we understand that we come to know God by the scriptures through Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 1:1-2 notes "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world."  Christ of course is the fullest level of illuminating light by which we can truly know God - since He is the LORD, Yahweh Himself. 

The name "Yahweh" or "LORD" signifies the purpose of the faith-walk - to know God
2 Corinthians 3:18 says this about our knowing God the Way (Jesus Christ) in comparison to Moses: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." As we said in the beginning, God in the scriptures makes Himself known in order to prompt His people to further know Him.  By God revealing Himself as Yahweh, God's people could not only know the works, but also the ways of God.  By He coming as God in Human flesh, God's people could truly know God the Way. (John 14:6)  That dear friend, is the chief concern of the Christian life - to Know Him.


  1. I am praying for Gary everyday. His view of God from the Old Testament is so very twisted now that he is calling God obscene names. Some passages in the OT are difficult and can cloud one's thinking drastically if their previous theological training had been faulty -- or perceived to be faulty.

    “…. Since the Fall every man has been a philosopher, for he has taken his experience of the world and his knowledge of reality — which he has succeeded in describing scientifically — as a standard by which to measure God. But the intellect does not suffice to grasp the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He must be apprehended through the Scriptures. The “God” created by man is a false god of his own making. (Heiko Oberman, “Luther: Man Between God and the Devil,” 170)

    So if Scripture now is defined as "worthless" and tossed aside, then hope is lost. For without the Word the Holy Spirit cannot teach us and keep us close to Him. Using Scripture passages is a futile effort for they are just thrown back in one's face.

    "“Christ would indicate the principal reason why the Scripture was given by God. Men are to study and search in it and to learn that He, He, Mary’s Son, is the one who is able to give eternal life to all who come to Him and believe in Him. Therefore, he who would correctly and profitably read Scripture should see to it that he finds Christ in it; then he finds life eternal without fail. On the other hand, if I do not so study and understand Moses and the prophets as to find that Christ came from heaven for the sake of my salvation, became man, suffered, died, was buried, rose, and ascended into heaven so that through Him I enjoy reconciliation with God, forgiveness of all my sins, grace, righteousness, and life eternal, then my reading in Scripture is of no help whatsoever to my salvation. I may, of course, become a learned man by reading and studying Scripture and preach what I have acquired; yet all this would do me no good whatever.” Luther, (WA 51,4)

    By throwing out the OT, we don't have Jesus as the Savior. Which is exactly what happens. The NT Jesus is used only for "ethics" and "morals." We cannot truly know God without the OT.

    How could a man like Martin Luther, and many many more scholars of the Bible, read all the difficult things about God and remain in the faith? How can atheists believe that suddenly they are smarter than all the theologians ever in the world? (These are not questions I'm asking answers for.)

    (Pastor, I always trust your discretion about posting any of my comments. You are always free to hold anything back, and I will appreciate that because they may not make sense for your other readers.)

    Peace in Christ,

  2. To Abby:

    Unfortunately the accusations of skeptics who try to blaspheme the God of the Old Testament and make him out to be different than Jesus is no different than the heretic Marcion in the 2nd century, who got rid of every book of the Bible save ten of Paul's letters and the Gospel of Luke.

    The Gnostics in the second and third centuries did the same thing, blaspheming Yahweh and making him out to be the demiurge who created the "evil" material world. Forgeries like the Gnostic Gospels (Gospel of Thomas, Phillip, Judas) all present a Jesus who never went to a cross, provided atonement nor had any connection with the Old Testament.

    These accusations and attacks have been around since antiquity and like blights and diseases make their cycle through different fads and trends of culture. The church's best and most able minds have defended the scriptures and shown the fallacy of such assertions. They come and go, yet the truths of God's Word and the exalted, crucified and risen Christ remains. Blessings.

    Pastor Mahlon