Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, April 21, 2011 1:56 pm
The Messenger, April 21, 2011
Knowing God: The People Who Know Their God
By RICHARD SMITH
Special to The Messenger
What is God? God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth (Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism, Question 4). This week we continue our study of God’s attributes as we look at Chapter 2 of J. I. Packer’s book Knowing God.
Do we really know God, or do we just know about Him? Do we know Him to the extent that we have come to better appreciate past disappointments and present heartbreaks? Most of us live with trials as our “crosses” and then slip into bitterness, apathy, and gloom as we reflect on them. But for those who truly know God, there is no place for this. While there is no shortage of material available today to teach us how to be a “happy Christian,” Dr. Packer points out that one can know much about godliness without having much knowledge of God.
Do we really know the HOLY, HOLY, HOLY Triune God on His throne, the God that the prophet Isaiah knew? When Isaiah faced the magnitude of God’s Holiness, he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5, ESV)
Do we really know the sovereign God to whom Hannah prayed, “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2)? This is the God Peter writes about in 1 Peter 1:14-16: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’.”
Do we really know the one true holy God of the Bible as these servants did? Dr. Packer describes characteristics of those who truly know God:
Those who know God will have great energy for God. In Daniel 11:32, we read that “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Those who know God take action against the anti-God trends around them. They are people who pray, and their great zeal and energy for God’s glory is expressed in their prayers.
Those who know God have great thoughts of God. “You know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”(Daniel 4:25) Packer emphasizes, “God knows, and foreknows, all things and his foreknowledge is foreordination; He, therefore will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man; His kingdom and righteousness will triumph in the end, for neither man nor angels will be able to thwart Him.”
Those who know God will have great boldness for God. Daniel and his friends were men who stuck their necks out. They knew the outcome of their actions unless God miraculously intervened. Their spirit was that of the Apostles in Acts 5:29 - “We must obey God rather than men.” Paul constantly faced extreme danger in his journeys, yet he said, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)
Those who know God have great contentment in God. Dr. Packer observes, “No peace is like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with the 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.” Paul speaks of this peace in Romans 5:1 - “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do we desire such knowledge of God? Dr. Packer says first, we must recognize how much we lack knowledge of God, as measured by how much we pray and what goes on in our hearts. Second, we must seek the Savior. We may find and know God through seeking and finding Jesus: those who truly know Christ can testify before the world that they have known God.
Editor’s note: Richard Smith lives in Union City and is a member of Grace Community Church (PCA) in Troy.