Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 2:35 pm
The Messenger, May 5, 2011
God in the flesh – Knowing
and being known, Part 2
By RICHARD SMITH
Special to The Messenger
As we continue to examine the attributes of God and review J.I. Packer’s book “Knowing God,” we find in chapter three biblical analogies that demonstrate the Christian experience of knowing God: (1) a son knowing his father, (2) a wife knowing her husband, (3) a subject knowing his king and (4) a sheep knowing its shepherd.
All point to a relationship of dependency where the knower “looks up” to the known, who in turn takes responsibility for the former’s welfare.
We know God in this way only through knowing Jesus Christ, who is God manifest in the flesh. (John 14:6-9, I Timothy 3:16).
Jesus’s relationship with his earthly disciples teaches that knowing Him was directly comparable to knowing the Father.
Jesus found His disciples, called them to himself, took them into His confidence and then enrolled them as His agents to declare to the world the Kingdom of God (Mark 3:14). They recognized the One who had chosen them as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). This knowledge transformed their lives.
The first followers knew Christ in His physical being. We know Him as our risen Lord. Packer observes, “The victim of Calvary is now, so to speak, loose and at large, so that anyone anywhere can enjoy the same kind of relationship with Him as the disciples had in the days of His flesh.”
His presence is spiritual and the Christian knows the New Testament witness to the deity and atoning sacrifice of Jesus which took the disciples a period of years to grasp. Christ speaks today not by uttering fresh words but by applying His words recorded in the Gospels to our consciences.
Knowing God is a matter of personal dealing and personal involvement. It is more than just knowing about God even though this is a precondition of trusting and knowing Him (Romans 10:14). Our involvement with Him includes mind, will, and feeling. Otherwise it would not be a fully personal relationship. To really know another person you have to commit yourself to that person’s company and interests, to identify yourself and be personally and emotionally involved in each other’s concerns. Knowing God is an emotional relationship as well as intellectual and volitional.
As we examine the attributes of God we must first realize that God is sovereign and knowing Him is a matter of grace. “It is a relationship in which the initiative throughout is with God — as it must be, since God is so completely above us and we have forfeited all claim on His favor by our sins,” states Dr. Packer. God makes friends with us, not the other way around. Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:9, “Now that you know God — or rather are known by God,” brings to focus that grace comes first and remains fundamental in the reader’s salvation. Believers know Him by faith because He first singled them out by grace. The word “know” here is a Sovereign-Grace word showing God’s initiative in loving, choosing, redeeming, calling and preserving. (For further reading see Exodus 33:17, Jeremiah 1:5, John 10:14-15, 27-28).
What matters supremely is not the fact that I know God but the larger fact which underlies it — He knows me! I am never off His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me. He loves me, is my friend, and His eyes are never off me. What momentous knowledge and energizing comfort this is! What a tremendous relief to know His love of me is totally realistic — based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst in me. No discovery now can disillusion Him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself. Nothing can quench His determination to bless me. There is no better cause for great humility and great incentive to worship and love God. For some unfathomable reason our Sovereign and Holy Lord God wants me as His friend and desires to be my friend. He has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose. To God be the glory!
Editor’s note: Richard Smith lives in Union City and is a member of Grace Community Church (PCA) in Troy.