Growing In The Knowledge Of God
August 8, 1999 / No. 2953
One of the great questions and concerns of the Christian life is this: What am I doing to know God?
In Hebrews 8:11 we read that the blessing of the covenant of God, as it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, will be that all of God’s children shall know God. We read: “And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” Again, Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” The child of God is one who must delight to grow in the knowledge of God.
Are you? Are you growing in the knowledge of God? What are you doing to know God? What are you doing to increase in that knowledge and in that walk with God? Do you feel sometimes that God is far from you? Do you lack His presence and His comfort?
It is our great calling, as children of God, to know Him and to press ever more unto that knowledge which is above all things most precious, the knowledge of the true and living God.
Last time we saw that the knowledge of God is, of course, God’s initiative. God must open our hearts that we might know Him. But we saw also that God calls us to be diligent and that He calls us to assume, by His grace, the attitude of godly sincerity, profound humility, and heartfelt purity.
Today we want to continue in that same line and talk about how we come to know God, how we come to know Him better.
God has given means. Those means are many. God, through trial and sorrow, is working the knowledge of God. In a very intimate way, through trials and sorrows, He works a wonderful thing. He works in us to know the character of our God. So we may say, in a certain sense, that all things in the life of a Christian are sent of God for one purpose: that we might know Him and grow in the knowledge of God.
But we may be more specific. God has given certain means whereby we gain the knowledge of God. Some of those means are the following.
First of all, and central, are the Scriptures. The Scriptures are given to us as the way whereby we come, by His grace, to a knowledge of the living God. In John 5:39, Jesus says to the unbelieving Jews, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” In Proverbs 6:22, Solomon describes the holy Scriptures in a very beautiful way. He says concerning the Scriptures: “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.” The Scriptures are the talking book. They speak to our hearts. They give to us the knowledge of God.
That is because the Bible is the revelation of God. It is not a human book. It is the book that God Himself wrote through holy men, men whom He inspired and gave to write His own Word. On its pages God reveals Himself. The pages of the Bible, to the believing heart, are like mirrors, mirrors reflecting God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We must, then, study the holy Scriptures if we are to know God.
Now, you certainly have time for what is important to you. Is the knowledge of God important to you? Do you thirst after that knowledge of God? Then you are called by God to spend much time in the study of His Word. How glorious is the language of the Bible. In the Bible we hear the voice of God throughout teaching us, comforting us, correcting us, lifting us up to know Him as the true God. Surely it is not a light thing for me to ask you today, What are you doing with your Bible? Tell me what you are doing with your Bible and you have told me more about you and where you are than anything else. What is the Bible to you?
As believing children of God we condemn those who in subtle ways deny that the Bible is word-for-word the Word of God. Always there are those who insinuate that the Bible is, after all, a marred book, filled with errors. We decry that. We believe that the Bible is word-for-word God’s Word. We quote from Timothy: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” It is all God-breathed. But while we condemn those who deny that the Bible is God’s Word, what are you and I, as believers, doing with that Word of God? The devil is as pleased when we do not read the Bible as he is when men stand in the church and deny that it is God’s Word. The devil does not care if we, on the one hand, decry the fact that men say the Bible is not God’s Word and, on the other hand, we ourselves do not read it. He is equally pleased.
Liberalism, that is, the denial that the Bible is word-for-word the Word of God, leads the church on the path of destruction. But so does dead orthodoxy: a mere nodding and outward assent to the truth but no reality of that truth in our own lives.
If you do not read the Bible at all, I cannot speak to you of peace and I cannot speak to you of heaven. I can only bring the Word of God to you and to me: Read! Read the holy Scriptures. Read the holy Scriptures with reverence. Read the holy Scriptures with a thirsting heart. Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
How do we grow in the knowledge of God? We grow in that knowledge through the holy Scriptures.
But more. We grow in the knowledge of God through prayer. We read in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” That is the Word of God to Jeremiah His prophet who has been cast into a pit because of his faithfulness to God. In that pit God says to Jeremiah: Call unto Me, pray, and I will answer. I will do more than just answer. I will show you things that you do not yet know, great and mighty things, things concerning Myself.
Prayer is essential in the knowledge of God. We are bidden by the holy Scriptures, we are bidden by God to come to Him, to talk to Him – reverently, for sure. We are called to pray. Through that prayer we gain and grow in knowledge of God.
As you pray, do not look at yourself. Do not ask whether or not your words are adequate. Do not concentrate upon your own worthiness or upon your words of themselves. Pray from your heart. Pour out your heart before Him, says Psalm 62.
How can we know God without prayer? Prayer becomes the power for holiness. Prayer and sin cannot exist at the same moment in the heart. Prayer strengthens us by drawing us closer to God so that we live before His face. Prayer gives to us confidence in God, contentment in God, and the peace that is found at God’s right hand.
We grow in the knowledge of God through Scripture. We grow in the knowledge of God through prayer. We grow in the knowledge of God through, thirdly, fellowship with godly people.
In II Timothy 2:22, we read: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” God has given to us the fellowship of the saints, Christian friends, as an instrument in His hand to draw us closer to Himself. That means it is your calling as a young person, and the calling of all of us, to choose as our friends those who bring us closer to God, those whose lives teach us the truth about God.
One of the greatest blessings that you will find in your life is developing friendships with older children of God. That is one of the most blessed things that you can do – have a friendship with an older child of God. Older saints have much to teach you.
Sometimes young people will say, “I have friends. My friends will back me one hundred per cent.” That may be the whole problem. What kind of friends do you have? And what will they back you in? A good friend will not back you one hundred per cent if you go your own sinful way. Proverbs says that a good friend is like iron sharpening iron. A good friend will challenge you and call you to walk in the way of the Lord.
That applies, of course, to dating, to that time of life when you are seeking one to marry. Is the one you are seeking to marry one who knows God, one who prays to God, one who is sincere in his faith? You are not ready to date, you are not ready to be married, if someone is more important to you than God. If you have made someone more important than God, and God is not first, then you are on the wrong path. You are on a terrible path. This is the rule: God must be first. Those whom we marry and those who are our friends and those with whom we have fellowship must be those who know Him and will be aids to us in knowing Him.
We gain the knowledge of God through the Scriptures, through prayer, through fellowship with godly people, and fourthly, through attendance at worship services where the Word of God is preached. This is central. This is chief. We must hear the Word of God purely preached. Then we shall gain and grow in the knowledge of God.
I am talking now about biblical worship. I am talking about the fact that biblical worship on the Lord’s day stands at the center of our Christian life and stands at the center of knowing the true God. You must not only attend church. Oh, you must do that. God calls you to do that twice on the Lord’s day, whenever the church gathers together for public worship. You, as part of that body, are to be there. But what type of worship do you attend? Is it the worship which has as its center the preaching of the Word of God in the belief that the Bible is indeed word-for-word the Word of God, powerful and able to save – preaching which expounds the holy Scriptures unashamedly and makes that the central part of the worship service? In that way one comes to the knowledge of God. Through the ordinances of worship and through the ordinances of the preaching of the Word of God He gives us to know Him. In such worship services God says, “I will meet with you. I will be there. I will reveal Myself to you. Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Or what we read in I Corinthians 14:25. The apostle there is speaking to the church in Corinth and to us of the orderliness that must characterize a worship service. The central element of such a worship service will be the exposition or prophecy of the Word of God. Then he says, if that is the character of your worship service – prophecy, proclaiming the Word of God – then, when an unbeliever or a visitor comes into such a worship service, this will be the effect: “And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.”
What is the distinguishing characteristic of that worship service which evidences that God is there? It will be a worship service where the preaching of the Word, the proclamation of holy Scripture in its truth, has the central place.
We grow in the knowledge of God through Scripture, through prayer, through fellowship with godly people. We grow in the knowledge of God by attendance at public worship where the Word of God is sounded forth in its beauty and truth.
Do you want to know God? It is the knowledge of God which is the only stability in a world which is insane, which is a horrible mess, which is filled with wasted and twisted lives, and which is given over in soul to sin. Jesus described our present society in Luke 21:26 when He said, “Men’s hearts failing them….” Evil abounds, perversions, drugs, Satanism, evil at high levels, winds of sin blowing at a hurricane force. In the midst of that world, what stability, what a wonder it is to say, “I believe in God, God who is the living God to whom I belong.” It is this knowledge of God which gives the only satisfaction in life. Apart from God is only emptiness and vanity, burned out souls, souls that can never be happy. One can be satisfied only in the knowledge of God. Then it does not matter if you are attractive. It does not matter if you are the most popular. No, if you know God, then you are full. You can say, “I have all and am satisfied. I am content, for I have learned to be content. I possess the living and the true God.”
Do you want to be like God? Do you want to reflect His grace? Do you want to be conformed after His knowledge? Do you want to know Him more and more? Do you want to draw near to this God, the God of matchless glory and grace? Are you growing in the knowledge of God? Are you godly? Is your great desire in life to be pleasing to God, the living and the true God? Is the great dread of your life that He would ever look down upon you and frown upon what you have thought, done, or said?
Does your heart understand today that the greatest treasure is the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ? That is peace. That is rest. And that is peace and rest because the knowledge of God always involves one thing centrally. It is this: It is not I who know God so much, but it is God who knows me. It is God who has written me upon the palms of His hands. It is God who knows me in eternal grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. If God knows me in His love, and gives me to know Him – that is eternal life. That is the most precious thing a creature could ever know.
May God increase that knowledge in you and in me more through the Scriptures, through prayer, through fellowship with God’s people, and through public worship – bowing before His face and hearing His Word.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for the holy Scriptures. We thank Thee that we are given, by grace, to know Thee, the living God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. Cause us to grow in that knowledge. In Jesus’ name, Amen.