Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
What do you know? What do you really know? Do you know God? Do you really know God? Are you aware that there are several ways of knowing God, but only one of them results in eternal bliss? Today’s message will note a few ways that the Bible speaks of knowing God and distinguish between the futile ways and the true way of knowing Him.
Concerning the Gentile nations, Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [the Gentile nations] are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1.20-21). The evidence of His existence is all about us even as has been noticed from the beginning. However, just knowing that He exists is not enough.
Concerning certain reprobates of his day, Paul wrote, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” (Titus 1.15-16). Just declaring oneself to be a believer is not adequate either. In this passage, Paul referred to these folks who professed to know God as “unbelieving.” Knowing God and saying that one knows God are not the same thing! Some who profess to know God are “disqualified for every good work.”
To fellow believers, John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4.7-9). Herein is an essential element to knowing God in the language of the Bible. If words mean anything, John affirms that absent love, a person cannot know God. That is true because, as John says, God is love. If one knows God he knows love, and if one knows love, he knows God. The truthfulness of this statement is seen in the fact that “love is of God.” He is the essence of love; remove God from the equation and love cannot exist.
Look at the way God manifested His love toward us. He “…sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” The love of God is not a “word only” love; it is action love. Just as faith without works is dead, so is love. Paul said the same when he wrote, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.8). Of course the best known verse on the subject is John 3.16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So the Gentiles in Romans 1 knew God, but they didn’t know Him! This is an accurate statement; it recognizes that the word know is used in two different ways. Now to a point! I often wonder why people get so confused about other biblical words that are used in different senses. Works for instance; we are saved by them and we are not saved by them. Faith is another example; it is used in a comprehensive sense where it is THE saving factor, but it is also used in a narrow sense in which faith alone is dead. In order to hear the biblical writers, we have to listen with an ear to hear! But that’s yet another example of a word with two meanings. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 11.15).
1. If John’s statements about God and love are correct, can a person really and absolutely possess love without a biblical knowledge of God? Why or why not?
2. How did God manifest His love toward us? What were we at the time (see Romans 5.8)?
3. List some words in the English language which have dual meanings? Can you list some words that have dual but opposite meanings (e.g. cleave = to stick together and to divide in two)?
4. Do you think that wanting to understand is included in the idea of having ears to hear? What else might be involved? How can we make sure that we have that kind of ears?
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