By John C. Carpenter
Note: This article is continued from THAT I MAY KNOW HIM (Part 1)
From time to time, we hear people talking about knowing God, and we may wonder exactly what that means. How do you and I know that we, or others, know God? We see our neighbor going to church two or three times a week, and we wonder if he or she really knows God. Does going to church mean that you know God? We know a homeless person who does not have the means to attend church, yet he or she talks almost constantly about God and the Holy Spirit. Does he or she actually know the God of heaven? What is the indication or evidence that someone knows God? How do we know when we, or others, truly know God? The scriptures teach that we know God when we see and accept His Son, accept and respond to the Holy Spirit of God, keep the commandments of God, and love one another.
First of all, we know that we know God the Father when we know His son, Jesus Christ. The Lord explained this to some Pharisees when he said, I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also (John 8:18-19). Jesus added later, 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 (John 14:7). We also recognize Christ because of the intimate relationship He has with His Father in heaven. As Christ said, When ye have lifted up [crucified] the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he [Christ], and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him [God the Father] (John 8:28-29). Jesus also explained to the Pharisees that when believers know Christ, and therefore know God the Father, we know his [Gods]voice. And a stranger [someone who does not enter in by the door (John 10:1); i.e., a false minister] will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:4-5). Christ added, I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, andam known of mine (John 10:14). We also know Christ, because we see and accept His works [miracles] as evidence of who He truly is:If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him (John 10:38). There is only one way to know God, our Father in heaven, and that is through faith in Christ. Christ tells us, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto [and knoweth] the Father, but by me (John 14:6). Christ bluntly told some Pharisees, ...Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in [the sheepfold], he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture (John 10:9). Christ summarized, I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (John 10:14). When the true sheep know Christ, they, therefore, know God the Father. It is not possible to know God the Father without knowing Jesus Christ first.
Second, we know that we know God when we accept and understand the availability, necessity and operation of the Holy Spirit within our lives, and experience the fruit of the Spirit. Christ promised us to send the Holy Spirit to earth [Gal 3:14, Eph 1:13, John 15:26), He said that the Spirit was within us (1 Cor 3:16), He clarified that Spirit was necessary for our saving spiritual rebirth (John 3:5), He taught that we should walk, or live, according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ezek 36:27, Rom 8:4, Gal 5:25), and He taught that when we walk in the Spirit, we shall experience the fruit of living according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As Paul instructed the Galatian believers, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in [have been given new life from the workings of] the Spirit, let us also walk in [live according to the guidance of] the Spirit (Gal 5:22-25). Jesus teaches, It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are [result in] life (John 6:63), while the apostle Paul teaches us that the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life (2 Cor 3:6). The apostle John instructs us, Hereby know ye the Spirit of God [is operating within us]: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God [and knows God]: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (1John 4:2-3). John summarized, 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 knows God] (1 John 4:13-15). Paul taught Roman believers that the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit within us is a clear indication that we know Christ and God the Father: But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Rom 8:9).
Third, we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:3-6). The apostle John added later, And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us (1 John 3:23-24). Christ instructs us, if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Mat 19:17), as well as, 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 14:21).
Fourth, we know that we know God if we love one another. The apostle John explains: Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 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 (1 John 4:4-8), John teaches us, We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:14-16). Christ instructed His disciples, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples [and ye know Christ and God the Father], if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35). Without love, we are without God the Father.
When we know God, we also begin to learn about God the Father and His Kingdom, Christ his Son, and the Holy Spirit, as well as many other things. This knowledge does not happen overnight. It takes time and effort. Peter explained that the believer is expected to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour JesusChrist [God the Father, and the Holy Spirit] (2 Peter 3:18).
For example, those who know God understand and accept certain things about His Son. We understand that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (Matt 9:6), that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men (Matt 22:16). As Christ said, when we know God we also begin to grow in the knowledge of His kingdom: Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. (Luke 8:10). We who know God and Christ, like Nicodemus, a leader of the Jewish church, ...know that thou [Christ] art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him (John 3:2). We see the miracles of Christ and instinctively know that He could only have been sent by His heavenly Father.
Believers in Christ [and therefore God the Father] understand and accept that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world (John 4:42). They also understand that, because their salvation is found only in Christ, who was of Jewish lineage, therefore their salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). As with Paul, we also become determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). When we know God through faith in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit, and, as a result, begin to understand the gifts of grace given to us by God: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God (1 Cor 2:12). According to Paul, we also begin to understand the deep, hidden things of the Spirit of God: But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).
Further more, when we begin to know God, we begin to understand that we have Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit residing and working within us. Paul told Corinthian believers that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Cor 13:5), and that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor 3:16). We also understand that Christ was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin (1 John 3:5). As Paul taught, when we come to know God, we know we have victory through Christ, and that our labors are fruitful: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:57-58). Those who know God also understand and accept that they are the children of Abraham (Gal 3:7-8), they experience the love of Christ (Eph 3:19), they know the commandments of the Lord [1 Thess 4:2)., and they additionally know the hope of His [God's] calling (Eph 1:18).
Those who know Christ and the Father also know that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20), that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4), and that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:17-19). When we know God, we also know [or should attempt to know] how to possess his vessel [our bodies] in sanctification and honour (1 Thes 4:4), that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully (1 Tim 1:8), and that the defiled and unbelieving profess that they know God, but their works deny Him (Tit 1:15-16). Those who know God also recognize the last days when they see them (1 John 2:18), they know all things (1 John 2:20) including the truth (1 John 2:20), and know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him (1 John 2:29), among many other things.
The scriptures also teach that it is possible for some to think they know God, when, in reality, they do not. The apostle Paul taught this concept to the believers in Rome when, referring to the Jews, he wrote, Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Rom 10:1-4). Paul also referred to individuals who, when [they thought] they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Rom 1:21), Andeven as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom 1:28-32).
According to scriptures, it is also possible to think we know God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, yet not be known by God or Christ. Teaching those around Him, He said, Strive to enter in at the strait [narrow, or humble] gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We [thought we knew you and] have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity (Luke 13:24-27).
The scriptures instruct us with an interesting story. Seeing the multitudes, Christ went up into a mountain: and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying (Mat 5:1-2), Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Mat 7:21-23).
Christ provides us with a story of virgins that claim to know Christ and who believed that they should and would inherit eternal life, yet Christ denied that He knew them. Christ tells us the story: Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Mat 25:1-13).
It is also possible to know Christ and later, for whatever reason [usually fear] deny that we ever knew Him. Paul even referred to some within the early church who knew Christ, but later denied Him. Paul instructed the Corinthian believers, who claimed to know Christ and God the Father, Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some [of you believers] have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame (1 Cor 15:34). Look what happened to Peter when he feared the potentially painful consequences of confessing that he knew and loved Christ. The scriptures tell us, Then took they him [Christ], and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly (Luke 22:54-62). Peter allegedly knew the Lord because he had been chosen by Christ to be one of His disciples, yet under threat of persecution, suffering, or death, Peter fearfully denied, not once, but three times, that he even knew Jesus Christ.
The scriptures make it plain that there are many benefits, or fruits, if you prefer, of knowing Christ and God the Father. Although there are many fruits we could mention, in order to minimize time and space, only a few pertinent fruits will be mentioned.
First of all, knowing God and Christ, we shall eventually see Christ clearly, and fully understand God and His kingdom. As Paul taught, For now we see through a glass, darkly[unclearly, incompletely]; but then face to face [clearly, completely]: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Cor 13:12). Those who know God shall also eventually become judges and judge the world. Paul wrote the Corinthian church these words: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (1 Cor 6:3). The one who knows God, that is, the saint, shall not only judge the smaller things of life now, but shall in eternity judge the world and the angels.
When we know Christ and God the Father, we can also expect to inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mat 25:34), as well as understand and accept that the unrighteous shall not inherit the [that] kingdom of God? (1 Cor 6:9). Those who know God and Christ shall experience what the Greek translation refers to as an abundant, better, exceeding, higher, superior, and even supreme, knowledge of Christ. The apostle Paul compared the vanities of life to the overwhelming excellency of knowing Christ and God, writing,But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Php 3:7-9). Paul confessed that nothing in this world compared to knowing and loving Christ and God the Father.
Grace, peace, life, and godliness are multiplied when we know Christ and God the Father. In his second letter, Peter began his letter with this wonderful salutation: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:2-4). Peter later added, For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge [of God that Father and] of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8). Peter also tells us that through knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, true believers in Christ escape the pollution of the world (2 Peter 2:20).
In some of his final words of his letter, Peter exhorts us all to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ and God, when he writes, Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18).
And last, but certainly not least, because we know Christ and God, we shall inherit eternal life. The apostle John also teaches us the correlation between believing on Christ, knowing God the Father, and eternal life: These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that [because you know Christ and God the Father] ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13). In His prayer to His heavenly father just before His crucifixion, Christ clearly connects His crucifixion, His glory, and His Father's glory, to eternal life: These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour [of My crucifixion, death, and resurrection] is come; glorify thy Son [in these events], thatthy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do (John 17:1-4). The apostle Peter exhorts us, Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election [and knowledge of God] sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:10-11). Jesus explains this to us when He prayed to His father in heaven, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3). Jesus also specifically said that His sheep will know Him: I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine [those who know Christ] (John 10:14). Paul also clearly understood the relationship between knowing God and eternal life. Referring to himself and his fellow apostles, Paul wrote believers in Corinth,we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light [revelation] of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:5-6), Knowing that he [God] which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you (2 Cor 4:14). The apostle John likewise adds, And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even [specifically] in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and [results in] eternal life (1 John 5:20). Holy scriptures make it very clear that those who know God and have faith shall receive eternal life. Through Isaiah, God said, Look unto me [and know Me], and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isa 45:22). Jesus Christ teaches us, This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread [and knows Me] shall live for ever (John 6:58), as well as For the Son of man is come to seek [and to know]and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Our Lord reminds us elsewhere, 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 [and personally knoweth] 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 (John 3:17-18). Paul summarized it this way: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the deadAMEN.
TCH Mini-
                    A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few
(Ecclesiastes 5:1-2).