Knowing God personally is one of the greatest joys in life. It’s also one of the biggest needs people have today. Many may not realise it, but knowing God personally is not only essential for finding fulfilment in life, but is also possible.
The ability to build a close relationship with God is one of the outstanding truths of Christianity. It is about knowing God personally, not just serving a ‘distant divine being’. He desires a personal relationship with each one of us and to get involved in our lives in a positive way.
Jesus enjoyed close fellowship with the Father, and we can enjoy that closeness too. We can get to know God personally, and once you realise that He is exactly who you need Him to be, it will drive you to get closer to Him.
In this article we will discuss
- That being introduced to someone does not mean you know them personally.
- The difference between knowing God personally and just having a technical secondhand knowledge of Him.
- The difference between relationship and fellowship.
- That it is important to get to know God and not just seek what He can do for you.
- The fact that knowing God personally will help you be able to recognise Him at work.
Being introduced to God does not mean you know Him personally
We often use the term ‘know’ very loosely. It can mean:
a) knowing someone as a general acquaintance
Someone may ask you, ‘Do you know ‘so and so’’, to which you may answer, ‘Yes’, because you have met them and know who they are.
You may not have even met a person, yet would still say you ‘know’ them. For example, there may be a famous person you have heard of, seen in a movie or read a book about. If someone says do you know that person, you again answer ‘yes’ because you are familiar with who they are.
We use ‘know’ to mean ‘acquainted with’, when in reality we have hardly spent time with the person and do not really know the depths of who they are. We don’t know them personally and intimately.
b) knowing someone closely and intimately
When the Bible speaks of knowing God, it is referring to far more than just being introduced and acquainted with Him. The ‘knowing God’ that we are talking about here is far more intimate than simple acquaintances, which is why I am talking about knowing God personally.
After a person receives Jesus, they can say that they know Him. However, for many it stops there and they never really get to know Him any better. They know Him in the sense that they have been introduced to Him, but their knowledge is very surface level. They don’t know Him intimately and personally because they have not yet spent time with Him.
When you know someone personally, and have spent time with them, you know what they like and what they don’t like. You know how they respond in certain circumstances and the kinds of things they would and would not do.
People who have merely been introduced to God, but have not gotten to known Him better, do not know what He is like. They are unsure of His will to heal, answer prayer, move in their lives, because they really do not know Him personally.
To know more about what God is like, see these articles on The Character of God
It is possible to be a Christian for many years and never really know God personally, if you do not spend time with Him.
Friendship only develops as you spend quality time with a person. You can either get to know God personally by spending time with Him, or you can remain content with merely being acquainted with Him.
Make knowing God personally your lifelong pursuit
:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
When Paul wrote this in Philippians, he had been walking with God for many years and had a thorough understanding of the Bible. However, he was not content with settling back in his knowledge of God. He continued to press in for more, making it his lifetime goal to know God better. His heart cry was to ‘know Him’ more intimately and personally.
I encourage you to not settle with just becoming acquainted with God. Follow Paul’s example and make knowing God your ongoing goal. Press on to know Him better.
First or second-hand knowledge of God?
In John 4, Jesus stopped by a well to rest in a city in Samaria. While there, he began a conversation with a woman, who soon came to realise that Jesus was no ordinary man.
:28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
:29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
:30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
After a while, the woman headed back into town to tell the people about Jesus, resulting in the town coming out to see Him for themselves.
:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
:40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.
:41 And many more believed because of His own word.
:42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
Here we find a powerful revelation about knowing God that many people have not yet walked in. The people of the city made a fascinating statement regarding their belief.
Verse 39 tells us that many of them believed ‘because of the word of the woman’. Then verse 42 states, ‘Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we have heard Him’.
This shows the difference between first and second-hand knowledge of God.
When we first come to Christ, we are introduced to Him by someone else; either through a preacher or someone speaking to us one-on-one about him. In other words, our knowledge of Him is based upon what someone else has told us. It is second hand. We all start there, and there is nothing wrong with it as a starting point. However, we have to go beyond this and get to know God personally for ourselves.
These people moved beyond a second-hand experience of Christ, into first-hand knowledge and experience of Him.
Many today only know Him based upon what others have told them. Their knowledge of God is based upon what they have read in books and heard at church. They have never moved beyond that to knowing God personally for themselves by spending time with Him one-on-one.
Even if they have received Jesus and ‘been introduced to Him’, they continue to build their knowledge of God solely upon second-hand information.
It is important that we go to church and listen to teaching of the Bible. That is part of how God intends for us to grow. However, we are also to get to know Him one-on-one for ourselves.
Initially, you may hear of Him through others, but you then need to pursue Him for yourself and come to a firsthand knowledge of Him, by spending time with Him and in His Word.
Some people are struggling to get answers to their prayers because they only know what someone else has told them about God, rather than getting to know Him themselves. They are relying solely upon second-hand knowledge of God.
Technical or personal knowledge?
It is also possible to have only a ‘technical knowledge’ of God, but not actually know Him.
This often happens when people study theology. They think that they know all there is about God because they can tell you the Greek and Hebrew; they know all the technical definitions and doctrines, but they have no experiential knowledge of knowing God personally for themselves.
The Pharisees are examples of people who had a ‘technical’ knowledge of God, but no intimate fellowship with Him. They knew the technicalities of the law and the Scriptures, but when God walked right in front of them, they didn’t even recognise Him! They even claimed that Jesus was not from God (John 9:6) and completely missed what God was doing right in front of them.
Their Scriptures spoke of Jesus, yet they did not recognise Him because they did not know Him.
The Bible is not just there to reveal formulas, doctrines and definitions, it is there to reveal the person of God, so that you can know Him. He is to be the focus of our faith, everything else is secondary to Him.
Many people who think they know God, because they have a technical understanding of the Bible, really do not know Him. They actually completely misunderstand Him and who He is.
He is regularly misrepresented on this earth by people who claim to be an authority on God and theology. I would rather learn the Bible from people who actually know God for themselves.
You can understand now why Jesus made such rebuking comments to the Pharisees like the following:
:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
:14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
The Pharisees were going around ‘in the Name of God’, acting as His representatives, making converts to ‘their way’, which was not God’s way at all. Rather than drawing people to God, they were stopping people entering the Kingdom of God. All because they were completely misrepresenting God, claiming they knew Him when in reality they did not.
A lot of damage has been done to people’s faith by those who claim to know God, but don’t; people who convert others to their way of thinking about God that is not based upon truth. People have been deceived and actually drawn further away from God as a result, all the while thinking they were going the right way toward Him.
It is so important that we get to know Him for ourselves, so that we are not misled by others; and so that we can recognise the truth about Him and His character.
The difference between fellowship and relationship
There is a big difference between relationship and fellowship. You can have relationship with someone without having any fellowship.
For example, I have family that I have a relationship with, but haven’t seen for many years, so we have no fellowship. I have friends in other countries who I know, but have no fellowship with them because I haven’t seen them for years.
Fellowship is about actually spending time with someone.
Many receive Jesus and become related to Him through entering God’s family. They have a relationship with Him, but never enjoy fellowship with Him.
We get closer to God through fellowship. Fellowship is the joy of relationship. It is what makes the relationship special. Spending time with a person, enjoying their company and getting to know them better is what makes the relationship worth it.
We fellowship with God by spending time with Him and in His Word for ourselves; not just by listening to what other people say about Him.
Knowing God personally brings a greater quality of life
:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Here, Jesus defines ‘eternal life’ as ‘Knowing God’.
Usually when we think about eternal life, we think of it in terms of living for eternity with God in Heaven; however, Jesus shows that true life starts with knowing Him. Eternal life, therefore, is far more than just length of life, but also speaks of the type of life and what it involves. It is a life of knowing God.
The word translated ‘eternal life’ here is the Greek word ‘zoe’, which does not just speak of ‘length of life’ but also quality.
This life increases in quality the more we know Him, so receiving eternal life is more than just a ‘one time’ event where we get saved. Rather, it is also an ever increasing process that develops as we get to know Him more.
Jesus did not just come to give us length of life, but also to raise the quality of our lives.
This verse shows that the key to living this higher quality of life is found in knowing God. Again, this is about knowing God personally by spending time with Him.
Knowing God personally and intimately causes you to enter into a superior level of life
Many Christians have received Jesus, but never come to experience the increased quality of this eternal life because they have not taken the time get to know Him beyond just becoming acquainted with Him.
Knowing God personally in different areas
There is so much that is possible with knowing God. We can get to know Him in different areas. When we receive Jesus, we come to know Him as our Saviour. However, this is not all He is. He is the Healer, the provider, the baptiser and more.
The Bible reveals many aspects of who He is and we can get to know Him in each area. This is part of knowing Him better. You can know Jesus in some areas, but still not know Him in others.
As we become more intimately acquainted with Him in each area, we begin to experience His life more in that area. The quality of our lives improve in each area that we get to know Him.
All we need to know of Him is revealed in His Word. Don’t stop at a limited knowledge of Him instead pursue more, and get to know the different aspects of who He is. The more we know Him, the more we will experience Him and His life in us.
Seek Him, not just the benefit
Our goal should be to know God, not just to get the benefits from Him.
There is more to ‘healing’ than just receiving healing.
We are not just to ‘get healed’ we are to come to know The Healer. Healing is not just something He does, it is part of who He is. Many people are uncertain of the will of God in the area of healing because they do not know Him as the Healer. They simply see healing as something ‘he does’, rather than part of who He is.
Knowing God as Healer enables us to experience Him more in this area, increasing the quality of our lives.
Many want the blessings, but neglect Him. They want to receive what He offers, but don’t want to take the time to get to know Him. However experiential knowledge of God Himself brings more of His blessings.
- For salvation, get to know the Saviour
- For healing, get to know the Healer
- For provision, get to know the Provider
Don’t settle for a second-hand knowledge of God, which is not enough to build a solid relationship with Him. Pursue Him, make ‘knowing Him’ a priority in your life and take the time to get to know Him one-on-one for who He really is.
This article, along with others by the same author can be found at www.exceedingfaith.com
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.
© 2016 O. Walton / Exceeding Faith
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