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KNOWING ABOUT vs. KNOWING

by Thomas E. Durst

John 17:3 (New American Standard Bible)
3"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jeremiah 9:23, 24 (New Living Translation)

23This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. 24Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken! (cf. 1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17)

Philippians 3:10 (English Standard Version)
10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Psalm 34:8 (New International Version)
8Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

1 Peter 2:3 (New American Standard Bible)
3if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Ephesians 3:19 (Amplified Bible)
19[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

One of the greatest deceptions that has ever existed is the confusion between knowing God and knowing about God. To know about means to "accumulate facts or information" about a topic, in this case, God. We have had much of this throughout Christian history. Hundreds of volumes have been written by scholars and well-meaning people trying to provide information about God. One can spend many years in theological study and fill their head with information about God and never know God!!!

I was talking once with a retired pastor who said he got the best seminary education that money could buy and had spent many years in pastoral ministry but felt he never really knew God personally or had experienced being born again until very recently in his life. I was visiting with a college student who was taking an introductory course in religion and said that as a result of it she was more confused than ever before.

To know God involves subjective experience. It is not a matter of information or getting correct facts but a revelation of God to one's own soul.

In the beginning in the Garden of Eden God never intended that Adam and Eve should partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was forbidden but they went ahead and defied God's command and ate of it anyway and human beings have been partaking of this tree ever since and look where it has brought us. We have hundreds of belief systems running competition with one another and setting human beings to killing each other instead of living in God's love and partaking of the Tree of Life.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and hoped to enter into a theological discussion as he was a highly educated man and thought he could surely obtain some additional wonderful information and philosophy from Jesus. But he was disappointed. Jesus did not provide information but simply went straight to the heart of the matter when He replied "You must be born again." (See John 3 for the story). He was telling Nicodemus that it wasn't more information that he needed but rather spiritual regeneration. He needed a personal experience of knowing God. Also the record goes on to indicate that such an experience came through the Holy Spirit's work in the life and only that way.

So we must understand that knowing God and knowing about God are two totally different things and it is spiritually fatal to confuse them. Thousands live in self-deception thinking that their religiosity and head knowledge will bring them inner peace and fulfillment but it isn't happening. So they keep searching, running here and there, going from this meeting to the next, always looking for more and more information, another teacher, another church, and never really experiencing the Presence of God in their lives which is the only thing that can bring fulfillment.

The experience of knowing God is a gift of God's grace and we can't make it happen. But, we must earnestly seek it in order to receive it. Yet, it is still God's grace to give us that enlightenment so that we may know God and the power of the resurrection in our lives. The promise of God is very clear that if we seek we shall find. Our part is to seek and God's part is to give. Notice these clear words of the prophet Jeremiah given in the context of the return of the children of Israel to the promised land following the 70 years of Babylonian captivity:

Jeremiah 29:10-14 (New Life Version)
10" For the Lord says, ' When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My promise to you. I will bring you back to this place.

11For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, ' plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.

12Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

13You will look for Me and find Me, when you look for Me with all your heart.

14I will be found by you,' says the Lord. ' And I will bring you back and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have made you go,' says the Lord. ' I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you away.'

Notice how beautiful is the promise of God to restore His people to the promised land. He didn't hold their backslidings against them for His plans were to give them "a future and a hope." (v. 11). But there was the specific condition that the people must pray and seek God with all of their heart (vv 12, 13).

When we earnestly seek God with all of their hearts and give that absolutely first priority in our life we shall indeed begin to live in that land of milk and honey. We shall enter the promised land of knowing God.

I believe that knowing God is an experience that never ends and will continue right on into eternity. When we see our God face to face I don't think we shall need anymore books, spiritual teachers, churches, sermons, etc. Our minds can't grasp what such an eternal existence will really be like but we can have the beginnings of it experientially here and now as we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and seek God's Presence as the most important thing that we ever could have in this life.

Written January 3, 2005 by Tom Durst of Spokane WA (509) 838-7156
tomdurst1@msn.com