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Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:54 pm

The Messenger, April 28, 2011
Knowing God: Knowing and
Being Known — Part 1

By RICHARD SMITH
Special to  The Messenger
What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God.
Thus begins Chapter 3 of J.I. Packer’s book “Knowing God.”  
The Bible teaches in John 17:3 that the “eternal life” Jesus gives is knowledge of God. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, we are taught that knowledge of God is the best thing in life and brings us joy, delight and contentment more than anything else. We learn in Hosea 6:6 that of all the states God sees man in, that knowledge of Himself gives Him the most pleasure. A lot has been said in these few sentences and provides a foundation, goal and shape for our lives, plus a principle of priorities and a scale of values. The main business we are created for is to know God. Once we realize this, most of life’s problems fall into place.
But how do we achieve this?
Dr. Packer explains that what makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something that catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance. The Christian has this in a way no other person has. The highest and most exalted, most compelling goal is to know the only true God, the Sovereign, Holy, Triune God of the Bible and to seek the sanctification of the Holy Spirit to achieve holiness in our lives.
What are we talking about when we use the phrase “knowing God?”  Packer asks, “Is it a special emotion?  Shivers down the back?  Tingling thrills and exhilaration, such as drug takers seek? Is it a special sort of intellectual experience? Does one hear a voice? See a vision?”
Dr. Packer warns that, according to Scripture, this is an area in which it is easy to be fooled and to think you know God when you do not.
Knowing God involves more than “knowing” another person, just as “knowing” my neighbor is more complex than “knowing” a house or book or even a pet. Knowing living things is much more complicated because one must know their past history and how they are likely to behave under specific circumstances. In the case of animals we usually come to know as much about them as we will ever know in a short period of time. When it comes to another human, “knowing them” becomes much more complicated by the fact that, unlike animals, people keep secrets. They don’t show all that are in their hearts and often, after months or years, we may say, “I really don’t know him or her at all.”
Thus the quality and extent of knowing others depends more on them than it does us.
But in the case of the one true merciful and Holy God, He comes to you in the person of the Holy Spirit and talks to you through the words and truths of His Holy Scriptures. As you listen, you find yourself brought very low as He talks to you about your sin, guilt, weakness, blindness, folly. He compels you to judge yourself hopeless and helpless and to cry out for forgiveness. But you also come to realize that God is actually opening His heart to you and enlisting you as a colleague — in Barth’s phrase, a covenant partner. This is staggering! God is enlisting sinful humans to be on His staff, so to speak, as fellow workers and personal friends. (ICorinthians 3:9).
So how does Dr. Packer sum up the activity of coming to know God?  
(1) Listening to God’s Word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit interprets it, in application of oneself;
(2) Noting God’s nature and character, as His Word and works reveal it;
(3) Accepting His invitations and doing what He commands; and
(4) Recognizing and rejoicing in the love that He has shown in approaching you and drawing you into this divine fellowship.
(Next week, Part 2: “God in The Flesh”).
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Editor’s note: Richard Smith lives in Union City and is a member of Grace Community Church (PCA) in Troy.

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