Knowing GOD and knowing about GOD are two different things. Knowing GOD is having a personal relationship with Him. Knowing about GOD is having information about GOD. Such information about GOD would enable us to understand Him better. But knowing GOD in person is what Christ is after, and this is the larger issue in our life with Him.
Christ tells us that we need to relate personally and affectionately to Him. He is our firm foundation in sustaining us.
- Knowing Christ our Foundation
In Matthew 7:21-23, Christ tells us how He would respond to “many” persons at the last judgement. He would dismiss them from entering heaven as He would not have “known” them. The Greek word for knew “ginosko” means, “I have never been in approving connection with you”, [W. E. Vine Expositionary Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997) p629]. Christ would denounce their claims to have been His followers. This is despite their apparent successes in doing things in His name and for Him. He would not have known them because they would have had no approving relationship and foundation in Him (Matt 7:24-27). Merely to be engaged in activities and claiming to perform these in Christ’s name is not necessarily living out GOD’s will.
Christ warned his followers not to be impressed with the spectacular results of their performance in spiritual activity. Instead, they were to rejoice about approval of their salvation (Luke 10:17-20). GOD’s acceptance of our salvation eternally, rather than anything marvellous about our activities, is the essence of the matter.
Relationship with Christ, and not performance, is the key to entering heaven. The opposite of relationship is legalism. This is following GOD’s commandments without any loving relationship in Christ. This is not in the plan of GOD (Matt 5:20). What Christ had been doing in Matthew 5–7 was to show the proper basis of following the moral and ethical law: placing an attachment to GOD with the right spirit and detachment from the standards of the world. Our success to heaven is walking with GOD in a relationship as Enoch did (Gen 5:24).
- Relating to Christ
At the last supper, Christ requested “remembrance” of Him at the event (1 Cor 11: 24&25). This word “remembrance” is from the Greek “anamnesis”. Its meaning here is more than a casual or sentimental reminder of the event or a person. Nor was it to recall the forthcoming resurrection after Christ’s death. The remembrance here involves “the ‘affectionate’ calling of the person Himself to mind” (W. E. Vine, Ibid, p946).
It is to cultivate an affectionate relationship with Christ and not just a passing recollection of Him. Christ is presently interceding (requesting our needed pleas) before the Father. This is in response to our prayers until He returns on the last day (Heb 7:24&25). Being in GOD’s will is accessing that relationship with Christ continually (1 Thess 5:17).
- How to Know GOD
- J.I. Packer lists four aspects of knowing (relating to) GOD. These are as follows:
- listening to GOD’s word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit interprets it, in application to oneself;
- noting GOD’s nature and character, as His Word and works reveal it;
- accepting His invitations and doing what He commands;
- recognising and rejoicing in, the love that He has shown in thus approaching and drawing one into this divine fellowship.
This is in Knowing GOD (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1973) p32.
The four-part listing above covers the Christian life and may be summarised accordingly:
- a life of fervent prayer—John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, R. A. Torrey and Oswald Chambers amongst others, have claimed prayer a Christian’s most important and frequent work(Luke 18:1; Rom 12:12; Phil 4:6; 1 Thess 5:17);
- conducting all our thoughts and actions solely for GOD’s glory and through His authority(1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 10:5; Col 1:27; Matt 28:18-20);
- being completely directed by the Holy Spirit and putting the lust of the flesh to death( Rom 8:12&13);
- living through and relating to GOD’s word as the active rule of life(2 Tim 3:16&17);
- living a life of joy, thanksgiving and peace in Christ alone (1 Thess 5:16,18,23).
Based on the above, we may summarise the reality of knowing Christ as follows:
- we need to develop a complete relationship with Christ: Christ is the firm foundation of that relationship;
- it is possible to be exposed to Christ but to fall short of developing an affectionate relationship with Him;
- a preoccupation solely with Christian activities would not necessarily amount to having a relationship with Christ;
- following GOD’s instructions and doing things with no delight in, or love of Christ does not reflect a relationship;
- relating to Christ involves applying the power and substance of the revealed word of GOD in the Bible, in all areas of our lives, with no exception;
- unification with, and devotion to Christ is walking with GOD.
NOTE: Tony Dibble worships at Endeavour Christian Gathering (ECG), in Perth, Western Australia. Prior to this, he was attending the Church of Our Holy Saviour (COHS), in Labuan, East Malaysia. When in Kuala Lumpur, he worships and teaches at Faith Oasis Fellowship (FOF) Subang Jaya, Selangor.
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