By Betty Miller
What the Bible says about knowing God…
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3
It may be difficult for some of us to believe that we can really know God, yet it is true that we can. What does God look like? When we think of God, what kind of image comes to our mind’s eye? Do we see God as some sort of superpower that hits us over the head with a big stick when we have been bad? Or does our image of God seem so ethereal that we cannot even imagine that, as humans, we could possibly see Him?
Perhaps we see God in the flowers, the birds, the blue sky, the tall pine trees and the mountains, and that is God to us. Some may even view Him as a kindly old man with a white beard and robe, sitting on a golden throne someplace out there called heaven. Maybe our position is that it is impossible to see God.
What is the real truth about God? What does He look like? Recently, numerous people, who have died and gone to heaven, have come back to life and returned to give us testimonies of how God appeared to them. Can we really see God? To answer this question, I want to share with you from my own personal experience. Not only have I seen God, but He is my dearest friend, and as His friend, I want to introduce others to Him. We can see and know Him if we turn to Him with our whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7 says, “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”
How did I discover Him? Like a lot of other people, I was told about Him. You see He wrote a book, the Bible, and I was given a copy to read. While reading it, I discovered that God had a son named Jesus. He sent Him to this world on the greatest mission of all time. The Book He inspired was unlike any book I had ever read. Many things I did not understand, but some of the lines actually seemed to be alive, and seemed as though someone were speaking directly to me through that Book.
Now after many years of reading the Bible, I am very well acquainted with that Someone; He is the Holy Spirit. He has been a real comfort and a tremendous teacher in my life. I found the Bible was written for the very purpose of answering the question posed at the beginning of this section, What does God look like? We truly can know what God looks like, and not only that, we can know Him very intimately. By reading His Book, the Bible, we can also find the answers to all of our questions and problems.
The first thing we must realize about God is that He loves us. The book of John in the Bible reveals His love in a very beautiful way. He loves us, He created us, and He has a plan for our lives. It is a very exciting and fulfilling plan, and we can know what that plan is for each of us individually. To understand God’s plan, we must read His Word, or guide Book. Most of our problems in understanding God stem from things we have heard other people say about Him. Since there are so many people with so many different ideas, we then end up with a multitude of misconceptions about God.
Some parts of the world are blessed to hear more truth about God than others. Yet, much of what we hear is still contaminated with man’s ideas and traditions. People in many lands are seeking to know God, but because some have never read or heard His Word or received Him in their hearts personally, they have devised gods of their own. We see this prevalent in many different belief systems ranging from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and others.
If we are going to know God, we must give His Book and His Word the final authority over every issue in our lives. There has to be one way, and one standard for man to follow. Confusion results when one voice is saying, This is the way, and another says, No, this is the way. Each man has a different way — his own way.
The Bible tells us about this in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” In Proverbs 16:25 we find, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
What is the right way to find God? What does God look like? Perhaps the most simple answer to this question is, God looks like Jesus. We see God by looking at Jesus. How do we look at Him? We accomplish this by studying the record of His life as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. John 14:1-9 records this account of Jesus words:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it’sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father… John 14:1-9
The way to see God is by looking at Jesus. This does not mean to look at His physical appearance because God is Spirit, and He says in John 4:24 these words: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Therefore, we must have spiritual eyes to see God since He is Spirit.”
THE BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE
How can we receive this eyesight? John 12:44-46 tells us; “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” If we simply believe on Him and turn from our wickedness with a repentant heart, He saves us and gives us new eyesight. Old things pass away and we become new creatures in Him. We not only are born again with a new Father, but within us is the potential to become just like His firstborn Son, Jesus.
John 14:12 goes on to say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
What kind of works was Jesus doing? He went about preaching, teaching, healing the sick, opening blind eyes, opening deaf ears; He performed miracle after miracle. These same works we can do. How can such a thing be possible? This can only be possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:13-21
John 15:7 gives us the key for becoming like Jesus, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” How can we become like Jesus? Very simply, it is accomplished by abiding or fellowshipping with Jesus and keeping His words. That is why Bible study is an imperative part of our walk with God. The Bible reveals to us the nature of God. The greaest attribute of God is that He is a God of Love.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:7-16
The kind of love that is mentioned here is not the kind of love that is in the world. God’s love is selfless. He gave up His Son that we might live. In Greek there are three words for love: (1) Love that is divine, called “agape”; (2) Love of high ideals, called “phileo” (our city of Philadelphia is named for this brotherly love); and (3) Love of physical passion, called “eros” (our word “erotic” stems from this word). Since the original text of the New Testament was written in Greek, we know the verse above was referring to agape love and not the other two. This is evident when we research the Greek manuscripts. (The Old Testament was written in Hebrew with a few passages in Aramaic.)
In studying the Gospels, we find that Jesus died an innocent death on a cross two thousand years ago to pay the penalty for your sins and mine. It was God’s great love for us that allowed His Son to suffer death. Jesus conquered sin, death and hell on the cross because He fulfilled the Father’s demand for a perfect sacrifice which was an innocent Man without sin. The grave and hell could not hold Him, so He arose victorious and now lives, seated at the right hand of God until the hour for His second coming to this earth. His death and blood atoned for our sins, and if we accept what He has done for us, we need not take the penalty of hell, since He took it for us. Praise God for this sacrifice of love! John 3:16-18 tells of this love: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
To sum up all the verses I have quoted, we conclude that God cannot be seen physically, but we can look at Jesus and see what He did for us on the cross. We see God’s love through the sacrificial death of His Son. When we accept what Jesus did, and turn from our sins, we are then born again in the spirit and have new spiritual eyes with which to see God.
What great love to take our punishment upon Himself! He did not deserve it; He never sinned. It was due to His love for you and me that this great sacrifice was made.
Not only did Jesus make a sacrifice by laying down His life, but the Father bore much grief also. God had to forsake His own Son at His most agonizing moment because He, being Holy, could not look upon sin.
Matthew 27:46 says, “… Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying … My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The Father’s heart was broken too, as He turned His back on Jesus while He was made to be a sin offering for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
The Holy Spirit of God was grieved, as He too endured the shame and suffering of the cross. Since Jesus offered Himself … through the eternal Spirit … (Hebrews 9:14), all the members of the Godhead shared equally in the cost of the amazing plan of redemption. What an act of love! God the Father, loving us; God the Son, loving us; and God the Holy Spirit, loving us. It is difficult for man to realize the agony the blessed Trinity experienced for man. These past few pages have covered the plan of salvation and the miracle of God, the new birth. Nicodemus, a man that came to Jesus, did not understand this and asked Jesus what it meant. You can read that story in John 3. Jesus words in John 3:6-7 were, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
When we experience the new birth we enter into the kingdom of God as a newborn baby, and we must do certain things so that we can grow spiritually.
The three most important things that hasten our daily growth are daily prayer, Bible study and fellowship with like believers. God does not want us to remain babies, but wants us to grow to maturity in Him. Spiritual growth is not measured in earthly years, as our progression can be rapid or slow depending on our submission and obedience to the Lord.
Another important factor that determines our rate of growth is the keeping of a right heart attitude before Him. We must guard this daily lest a wrong attitude settle in our heart and cause us to break fellowship with God. We must quickly repent and ask God to forgive us so we can resume our relationship. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
One of the most effective devices Satan uses to hinder our growth in God is to send an accident, tragedy, illness, financial crisis, etc., and then blame it on God and convince us that God is chastising us for some wrong. This is a lie of the enemy. Our precious Father loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins and save us. If he gave us His most priceless possession, do you think He would deny us any good thing? No, our God came to redeem us from the curse, not put one on us. Satan is the troublemaker, the robber, the thief, the destroyer and the master liar. Jesus, while on earth, went around doing good, healing the sick, setting the captives free and ministering the message of love.
The Lord chastises us through His Word and by the Spirit. When we do wrong, our spirits are chastised and the Holy Spirit speaks to us of our wrong. We step out of God’s will by our own choice, thus leaving ourselves open for an attack of the enemy. This is one way the enemy can gain legal ground to bring his forces upon us.
Ignorance of God’s Word is another means by which Satan can put things on us. Hosea 4:6, says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The enemy constantly tries to bring things on us; if we do not know our rights in Christ and resist him, he can succeed. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Satan tries to prevent us from moving foward in the Lord because he knows that when we do, we eventually overcome and defeat him. When we are determined to serve the Lord, then the Lord can take what Satan has meant for evil in our lives and turn it to good. Let us defend the Father and place the blame for evil on Satan where it belongs.
We must get a revelation of who God is and what His will is for us, or we will believe the lies of the devil; and he will destroy our faith. This is the main target of the enemy: our faith. He only uses the problems to get at our faith. He knows if he can destroy our faith in the Lord, he then can destroy us.
We need to be able to see God with the eyes of the Spirit to truly know Him. One of our major problems in fellowshipping with the Lord is that we do not know Him as He really is. Therefore, we are not able to serve Him in the way we would like. To be a victorious, overcoming Christian, we need to actually have three revelations:
- “To know who God is.”
- “To know who we are.”
- “To know who we are in Him” or rather “To know who He is in us.”
First, we must know Who God Is. Some people say that no man can see God and live because a portion of Scripture in Exodus 33:20 that says, “And he (the Lord) said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Yet we see that Isaiah …saw the Lord… (Isaiah 6:1). Looking at these two verses, there appears to be a contradiction. However, if we ask the Holy Spirit to give us revelation concerning these Scriptures, we discover that they are really not in opposition after all. We only need to view them in the proper perspective and context. This is particularly true of these Scriptures.
Doctrinal error emerges when people take a few Scriptures and build a doctrine on them. Because they are taken out of context, or out of balance, they don t interpret them to mean what the Bible is really portraying. The proper way to deal with Scripture is to view each portion of the Scripture as a part of the whole. In 2 Corinthians 3:6, we find this verse, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” An able minister will not take the letter of the law and make a doctrine, but will allow the Spirit to reveal each portion of the Scripture as a part of the whole. Perhaps a better way for us to understand this would be to see that if we took one letter out of a word, we wouldn’t have a complete word; or if we took one word out of a sentence, we wouldn’t understand the sentence.
The same is true of the Word of God. We should study it in its totality and not isolate one portion of Scripture if we are to get the whole meaning. To do this we must remember that the great theme and whole message of the Bible is that God loved us and sent a Saviour, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins that we might have life through Him. He came to save us and give us abundant life. If we lose this message in any of our Scriptures, we lose the true identity and knowledge of God. We cannot love, worship and serve a God we cannot know. We must study other portions of God’s word that deal with the same subject if we are to get complete light.
Keeping this principle in mind, let us look at our verses in Exodus and Isaiah again. The former verse says, “No man can see God and live,” and the latter, “… I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” He goes on to say in Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts”.
If we spiritually understand this, we will know that any man that really sees God will die. The old creature will die and the new creature will be born again. If we ever really get a glimpse of God and see Him for who He really is, we will die. Just as Isaiah here had the experience of seeing God, suddenly something else happened; he saw himself. He saw what he looked like and knew who he was — a man with unclean lips.
We need this same revelation of who we are today. When we come to know the Lord, we find that there is nothing good in us; “…there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). We see our sin in the light of His holiness. We see our unworthiness, our shame, our guilt; we see our need for the Saviour.
Sometimes we try to gain favor with God by our works, thinking if we do enough good things we can please Him. It is not our works that will attain a position in God, it’s our relationship. Our works come as an overflow of our being with Jesus. As we fellowship with our Father, we begin to take on His nature. We desire that nature when we have seen the beauty of the Father. I caught a glimpse of that beauty and that is what I wanted, even though I thought, I am so weak, I could never be like Him. How could I ever attain anything in God, knowing all my faults and failures? It will be too hard; I will be doing good just to get to heaven.
The Lord revealed to me these were thoughts the devil was bringing to my mind, and that it was possible to overcome and walk in victory. Though I was weak, He was strong. I needed that revelation of “Who I was in Christ ” or rather “Who He was in me”. He wanted me to know, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he (the Holy Spirit) that is in you, than he (the devil) that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). All He asks us to do is to yield ourselves completely to Him, and He will do the overcoming. He desires us to commit our lives totally, and He will do the changing and the molding. He changes our old natures to His new nature; old desires pass away and we have new desires.
Some people are afraid that if they yield everything to God they will lose their will and their personality. This is not true. He simply changes our will and our desires and brings our personalities to bloom. We really cannot become all that He intends until we give Him the right to begin that work. He creates within us a new nature.
We sometimes think that walking with God is hard when, in actuality, it is easy. We are the ones that make it hard. We often struggle and try so hard to please God with our good works and attempts to change our old nature, while His way is not difficult at all. Matthew 11:29-30 says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” By this verse, we can see if we are yoked with Him and have ceased to be rebellious to the will of God, we will have an easy walk with Him. The oxen represents a broken or tamed animal. We, in our old nature are untamed, but as we yield to the Lord, we will learn brokenness.
We are so concerned many times that if we go left instead of right, the Lord will be so angry with us and strike us with a big stick for missing Him. Our ideas of God are so warped. He is a beautiful Person and when we are truly trying to please Him, He is not angry with us.
If we think He is a harsh taskmaster, we miss the beauty of loving Him and fellowshipping with Him. If we allow Him to work in our lives, we find that we can overcome all obstacles and every problem the enemy uses to discourage us. In Him, we can do all things. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” If I know who God is, that is, His nature, His power and His love, and if I know that in me there is no good thing (so that I am not tempted to be lifted in pride and take credit for things that should be credited to Jesus), then I also must know that in Him I have all of His power and authority to overcome anything. Praise God for this beautiful truth! We do not need to lead defeated Christian lives, but can walk in victory every day! It is essential to have these revelations in the proper order, too.
If we discover Who God is without the other two revelations, we may have an abnormal view of God. If we find out who we are without the knowledge of God, we will not be able to bear it. That is why so many commit suicide. They see themselves and can find no answers within, and therefore see no way out of their problems but to kill themselves. If we discover who we are in Christ or who Christ is in us before we get a glimpse of ourselves, we become lifted in pride, soon forgetting that it is not us accomplishing the works of God, but it is the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. So we need to make our discovery of God first, ourselves second, and then ourselves in Christ third. With these three revelations we truly can be overcomers.
Betty Miller has written several books on other topics as well. To view titles or purchase those books visit our bookstore.
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Topic: What the Bible says about knowing God
Reference: What the Bible says about knowing God