Is It Possible to Know God?
This simple yet weighty question depends upon the meaning of “know God,” as the Scriptures attest to the apparent paradox of the incomprehensibility of God and the “knowability” of God as they bear witness to both truths. This discussion will not be concerned with the knowledge of God which does not lead to a saving relationship per se such as that possessed by the demons. We will therefore look at four characteristics of the knowledge of God which are: Its source, its content, its progressiveness, and its purposes.
Its source flows from the very God which we seek to study, for with out Him no knowledge of Him can be obtained. Its primary venue is the Scriptures themselves and it should be noted that knowledge from the Scriptures, if it is to be more that just the obtaining of facts, must be deeper. It must go beyond the mere intellectual accent of the words on the page and for that one must rely upon God the Holy Spirit. It is He that testifies of Christ for He is the Spirit of Truth. It is God that must open the eyes of the spiritually blind if they are to see for they (the Scriptures) are the testimony of God.
Its content is both factual and personal. The Christian’s access to the factual is the same as is generally available to all men. However, it is only through the personal relationship that the believer is able to transcend the facts found on the page thereby gaining an intimate knowledge of our Lord. For instance, I have many acquaintances which may know many facts about me; however, it is my spouse which has obtained personal and intimate knowledge through daily interaction, through a love of closeness and mutual desires and adoration. Likewise, the believer may also experience the personal relationship with God of which marriage is but a type.
The acquisition of knowledge must also be progressive however, as observed by the progressive nature of the revelation of God in the O.T. God gave brief glimpses of Himself from Adam and even through David, a man after His own heart; it was not until the N.T. that man had the complete revelation of God, or as much as God was to reveal. It is through the process of learning that the believer becomes mature just as the infant progresses to adulthood.
So, what is God’s purpose in giving knowledge of Himself? It seems He does so to 1) give eternal life, 2) to foster Christian growth, 3) to warn of the judgment to come, and 4) to generate true worship of Himself. Let us consider them each, first “to give eternal life,” Jesus’ very reason for coming was that the believer could have life and have it more abundantly. And when He spoke to the Pharisees stating “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life…” (John 5:39), He was speaking of their reliance upon the law; since it is the Scriptures which speak of the only way of eternal life which must begin with a knowledge of God.
Second, “to foster Christian growth,” Jesus invites us to learn from Him. Paul echoes this in his letter to the Church at
in which he chastises them for being babes and later encourages them to grow and “be mature” in their “understanding.” This growth must be with proper doctrinal knowledge and a discerning lifestyle. Third, “to warn of the judgment to come,” Peter, in contrast to the willing ignorance of those who blinded their eyes to the coming judgment, warns the believer that God is not slack He will judge the wicked. This is also the testimony of the writer of Hebrews i.e. God judges the sinner. Corinth
And forth, “to generate a true worship of God,” to this much could be written. True worship must be firmly rooted in truth for it is impossible to worship the God of Truth any other way. Too many believers, although well meaning, will sing songs that are not grounded in truth; in fact some are down right unbiblical. Yet they will leave the service feeling good but have in fact not worshiped God at all. The worship of God must be rooted firmly in truth and manifested first by obedience.
Thus, we can not obey that which we do not know, for this reason a proper knowledge of God is paramount in this endeavor. Not only is it necessary, it is commanded.