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Knowing God | Transcent vs. Immanent | Bible Says | Can I Know God? | How can I? 1 | How can i? 2-4 | What changes? | Reflections
Knowing God: Handout pdf | Study Questions | Video
For more materials: pdf | epub | ppt | | audio mp3 see the D3 Discipleship Library
Series Introduction| Knowing God | The Revelatory God | Goodness of God | Holiness of God | Power of God | Omnipresent God | Exalted God | Faithfuness of God | Wisdom of God | Mercy of God |Wrath of God | Love of God | Sovereignty of God | Providence of God
Purpose: We will investigate whether we can personally know God by focusing on a study of the word fellowship (koinonia) in 1 John 1:3 and other means.
“And indeed our fellowship is with the Father” (1 John 1:3-4).
The first important question to ponder is whether man can actually get to know God. This would assume God is knowable and that He reveals Himself to us.
People familiar with the Bible and the church know this Greek word for fellowship, koinonia. It refers to the deep and meaningful interchange with others. Although Elder John does not use the word ‘know’ here, he surely infers a personal relationship with God through the usage of ‘fellowship.’
The word fellowship is the same word translated fellowship in Acts 2:42, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
What is needed to have fellowship? ‘Fellow’ refers to personhood. People can hold meaningful communication with each other. It is not only people and people have this type of intimate relationship, but God with His people, the church. John wrote to a community of God’s people (the ‘our’ refers to them as believers). Part of the definition of being part of God’s people is to have this meaningful relationship with God.
Just think for a second, how many people who profess to be part of Christianity in some way actually think of their relationship with God as a personal relationship? In many cases, Christianity has become an empty shell of profession of the true God without the relationship and changes issuing from a close relationship with God.
This is the reason many people despise Christianity – rightly so. We need to go back to the scriptures to get a right perspective of what the followers of Jesus are to experience.
Let’s expand our this sense of relationship that we are to have with this great God by examining how John uses this phrase, knowing God.
In the Gospel of John, John says the world does not know Him, “He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10).
Jesus throws a bigger challenge to the crowds, “And so they were saying to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me, nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also” (John 8:19).
Although both these verses refer to knowing Jesus, note how Jesus widens their concepts of God by calling Him ‘Father’ (which he also does in 1 John 1:3). Since the only way to know God is through Jesus, if they do not know Jesus, then they do not know the Father, that is, God.
He said that if they know Him (Jesus), then they know the Father. That is very intriguing. “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
God is personal and to be known on a personal level. God is not just a force or energy. All those programs that teach about god as a force, strip God of His personhood. So do those who assert a pantheistic concept of God.
God is all around since He is Spirit, but He is also a person. He is not limited to the identity of what exists. He is greater than all that exists but through Jesus He has entered this world and made a way to find peace with God.
God is both transcendent but also immanent. Though God be great and glorious, He makes Himself to be intimately known through Jesus. The Bible lifts up characters who knew God, dialogued with Him and in fact co-worked with God by carrying out what God wanted. Closeness is not defined to a mystical feeling of presence, but by personally getting acquainted with through a personal relationship.
God mystically blends aspects of transcendence and immanence. Those that emphasize God’s power and sovereignty to the neglect of His personhood, have wrongly described God. But so are those who speak of God as an intimate friend and yet ignore His fully glorious person (i.e. He is light). Our challenge is to desire to know Him and not be held back by our fears or distractions.
Others deny God’s person by stripping the Lord of His will and focus on fuzzy feelings and source of energies. One thing that distinguishes persons is their own desire and purpose, not just a blur of existence. Atheists strongly deny God’s influence in this world and go a step further by admitting no extant being out there or nearby.
Just as people can know things about others without personally knowing him or her, so they can easily draw wrong conclusions about God because they have not sufficiently got to know God. It is necessary to grow in our relationship with God, largely enhanced by a good study of His Word, so that we could further understand what God might do in a given circumstance.
The One who made us is the same One that makes it so that we can have and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. God is simply great in this way. If one opens him or herself to an understanding of God outside of the Bible, then all sorts of distortions necessarily arise. These in turn cause multiple problems in our daily lives.
Instead think of the Bible as God’s personal diary we are invited to read through which enables us to gain all sorts of special insights of how and when He does certain things.
Jesus, who came alive, fully affirmed the scriptures of old. We should constrain our search to what is revealed within those sacred pages and then we will begin a spiritual journey that will never end in more intimately knowing our glorious God who welcomes us into His presence.
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988