Have You Known God?
Does it ever seem strange to you, that men and women in the Bible should rejoice in the face of great trial and affliction? How could Joseph, after suffering for years as a result of the violent hatred of his brothers, say to them, “as for you, you mean evil against me; but God meant it for good”? And how could Paul write while in prison under false charges write to the church at Philippi, saying, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? Could Peter really expect the Christians to whom he wrote to “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” while suffering persecution for their faith? Is it really realistic for us to say, in light of the knowledge of God that we have come to enjoy, that past disappointments and present heartaches don’t matter? Isn’t that a bit like living in denial? Well, consider what the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…that I may know Him.” J. I. Packer says of these verses, “When Paul says he counts the things he lost rubbish…he means not merely that he does not think of them as having any value, but also that he does not live with them constantly in his mind: what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure? Yet this, in effect, is what many of us do. It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God.”
In this second chapter, Packer offers 5 evidences that one has known God.
Those who know God believe that what we have gained in Christ is so much better than what we have lost that it is rubbish by comparison.
Those who know God have great energy for God. Packer says, “those who know their God are sensitive to situations in which God’s truth and honor are being directly or tacitly jeopardized, and rather than let the matter go by default will force the issue on men’s attention and seek thereby to compel a change of heart about it – even at personal risk.”
Those who know God have great thoughts of God. Consider the prayer in Daniel 9 for example, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments…O Lord, righteousness belongs to You…To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness…for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does.” Here was a man who knew God well, and, as a result, was filled with thoughts of his greatness, majesty, and sovereignty.
Those who know God show great boldness for God. Throughout Scripture we find examples of men and women who were willing to put themselves at risk. Not daredevils who rushed into danger in a foolhardy manner, but people of courage and conviction who were determined to take a stand in loyalty to their God, even if it meant costing them their lives.
Those who know God have great contentment in God. Packer explains, “There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death and on forever.”
How then do we go about finding such knowledge of God? Well, Packer closes this chapter with two helpful steps with which to begin. First, we must recognize how little we actually know God. He says, “We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, nor by our gifts and responsibilities in the church, but by how we pray and what goes on in our hearts. Many of us, I suspect, have no idea how impoverished we are at this level. Let us ask the Lord to show us.” And second, we must seek the to know the Savior. Packer writes, “The Lord Jesus Christ is now absent from us in body, but spiritually it makes no difference; still we may find and know God through seeking and finding Jesus’ company.” Can you sincerely say that you have known God?