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How Can I Know God?

October 11, 2019

If you are wondering, “How can I know God,” here are three different answers you might hear: 

1. “We cannot know God.” 

This is the position of many people today. If you look at any of the recent religious surveys, it is clear that don’t knows are on the rise. That may well be your position too: You don’t feel able to commit yourself to a firm confession of faith, but on the other hand you would not want to say that you are an atheist, so you say, “I don’t know.”

Some of us will speak with a friend or colleague or neighbor who is a don’t know. They ask what you did over the weekend, and you mention that you were in church. They say, “That’s great if you find it helpful, but I’m an agnostic when it comes to these things.” 

You could say to them, “Well, I can understand why you would think that. It says in the Bible ‘No one has ever seen God’ (John 1:18). So how could any of us know? But have you ever considered the second half of this verse? It says that God the one and only has made Him known!”

John is telling you that if you get to know Jesus Christ, you have truly come to know the living God, who no one has ever seen. John’s Gospel was written so that you may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31). 

2. “We all know God.” 

This answer is surprisingly (and disturbingly) common among Evangelicals. Evangelical Christians have long talked about having a quiet time. A quiet time is an excellent thing, and I hope you have made a commitment to have a regular quiet time. But my question is, “What are you going to do in that time?” 

In the past, what Evangelicals meant when they talked about having a quiet time was a regular time of Bible reading and prayer. Christians through the centuries rightly believed that God speaks to us through the Bible and that we speak to Him through prayer. But as large parts of the church have drifted away from the Scriptures, many people have latched onto the idea that we can listen to God simply by being quiet.

It has become common among Christians to think that listening to God means being quiet and listening to our own hearts. But here’s the problem with that: God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). 

If you believe that you listen to God by listening to your own heart, then what have you done? You have put your own heart in the place of God. If you make an idol of your heart, that will inevitably lead to a life of following the impulses of your own heart. And who knows where that will lead you? 

John’s Gospel does not say, “In the beginning were our hearts, and our hearts were with God, and our hearts were God.” It says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh, and he has made the Father known.” 

That is why the Bible says that the “entrance” of God’s Word gives light (Psalm 119:130, KJV). We do not have entrance to God through any other way, except the Word of God. You won’t get to know God by reflecting on your own thoughts and feelings on the sofa with some Christian music on in the background. You listen to God with an open Bible!

3. “Jesus Christ knows God.” 

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:18) 

A. No one stands beside the Lord Jesus Christ.

About who else could it ever be said that he or she is eternal, personal, divine, creating, life-giving, incarnate Son of God? No one else stands beside Him. 

Who else could ever say to us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)? Rest assured of this: You will not find a higher way than you find in Jesus Christ. You will not find more reliable truth than you find in Christ. You will not find a better life than you find in him. 

B. No one else will ever go beyond Jesus Christ.

We live in the world of upgrades, where every product eventually become obsolete as we move on to the next model. No one ever upgrades on Jesus Christ! No one has ever gone beyond Jesus Christ, and no one ever will—in this world or even in the world to come. 

A man by the name of H. R. Mackintosh wrote this about Jesus, “Never in any experience of God here or hereafter will you or I ever find anything that is not already there for us in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.” [1] 

At the end of the Bible, John, who wrote this Gospel, was given a glimpse into heaven, a vision of the future. He saw the people of God gathered with great joy in the presence of the Lord with every tear wiped from their eyes, and he said, “The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them into springs of living water” (Revelation 7:17). 

When parents take children to a theme park, the instinct of the children when they arrive is to run off and explore the rides—the swings, the slides, or whatever else may be there. Heaven will not be like that. 

When God’s people are in His presence, it is not that they are welcomed by Jesus Christ and then go running off to explore the celestial playground. Jesus Christ is the joy of his people in heaven. He is the center of it all. They never move beyond Him. Everything that God’s people enjoy forever comes from him, and no joy is theirs without Him.  

There is no greater joy than to meet and to know Jesus. 

This article was adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Knowing Who God Is,” from his series Meet Jesus.

Photo Credit: Unsplash


The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.



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