Thursday, July 14, 2016

P2 - Why knowing God is the most important thing - further and final reflections

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

In yesterday's post we began considering why knowing God is the most important thing. We zeroed in on how knowing God answers the common purposes for both salvation and life in general. In reading the first three questions contained in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, each answer given highlights the priority of knowing God:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

This series of questions and answers represent what truly lies at the heart of Christianity: namely the need to know God. As author J.I. Packer notes: "The question is not whether we are good at theology, or 'balanced' (horrible, self-conscious word!) in our approach to problems in Christian living; the question is....that we have known God; and because we have known God the unpleasantness we have had, or the pleasantness we have not had, though being Christians does not matter to us? If we really knew God, this is what we would be saying, and if we are not saying it, that is a sign we need to face ourselves more sharply with the difference between knowing God and merely knowing about Him."

Today's post will continue and conclude our reflections upon why knowing God is the most important thing in salvation and in life by noting this theme in both the Old and New Testament scriptures.

The emphasis of knowing God in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, knowing God represented the center and circumference of spiritual life. Take Moses for example. It wasn't enough for him to just know about God or to observe Him from a distance. Natural knowledge can at best know about God. Morally religious people can marvel at the trappings of religion without marveling at the God which they represent. Do you and I want to know God? Or are we just satisfied to stand as it were from a distance? We see these contrasting stances in Exodus 33:10-15 "Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent.11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp,his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. 12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” 14 And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here."

The emphasis of knowing God in the New Testament
The New Testament speaks to this same fundamental truth. The Apostle Paul expresses the need to know God in Jesus Christ in Philippians 3:8-11 "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Conclusion: May we ever make it our aim to know God
As a Christian, I know my main aim is to know God. Yet there are times I waver in that conviction. Why? A.W Tozer notes in his book, The Pursuit of God , page 52: "But the very ransomed children of God themselves; why do they know so little of that habitual conscious communion with God which the scriptures seem to offer? The answer is our chronic unbelief. Faith enables our spiritual sense to function." Knowing God is all at once a growing reality for the Christian who at the same time must grow in his attendance to it by prayer, Bible reading and fellowship with God's people. May we make it our aim to know God and desire to know how we can desire more to know Him. God, and the knowledge of Him, defines the purpose of life and spiritual life found in Jesus Christ.

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