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Deeper Roots + Wider Branches

Pursuing Sanctification, Community & Mission

Tag Archives: Knowing God

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  (1 John 5:20)

Last night at community group a discussion came up about the idea of knowing God vs. knowing about God, and whether or not this distinction is helpful or unhelpful. I’m hoping to explore this topic in several posts, this one being the first. While on the one hand it seems quite obvious that there are many in the world who know about God but clearly do not know God, scripture passages like this and many others point out the necessity of a Spirit-given understanding of God. The progression seems to be that God opens our eyes by his spirit and that this spiritual healing  leads to an intellectual ability to take in and comprehend information (knowlege) about God. We then respond to this information in faith (“faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”- Romans 10:17), entering into a relationship with “him who is true”.

This is just me trying to connect the theological dots (not 100% confident of my analysis here), but it would seem that sanctification then becomes much more than a process of behavior-modification (becoming more “Christ-like”), but rather a progressive process of cultivating an intimate relationship with Christ where we actually know him…and of course this will have implications for our behavior as well. This verse (the 2nd to last verse in 1 John) encourages us that Christ came not just to give us knowlege about him (although that is important), and not just to know him in the sort of way that acquaintances know eachother, but tells us that we are actually somehow “in him who is true.” I can’t say that I fully understand this phrase, but these words are clearly speaking of our relationship with Christ using the language of intimacy. To think of sinners not just being pardoned by the God of the universe but actually being in an intimate relationship with this God is truly an amazing thought!

So back to the initial “Knowing About God vs. Knowing God” question. I suppose my hypothesis is that creating a dichotomy between knowing about God and actually knowing God is unhealthy and unbiblical. To merely know about God is to divorce this knowledge from the work of the Holy Spirit. To minimize the importance of intellectual knowledge about God seems to me to be an unhealthy elevation of subjective emotional experience, and a rejection of the riches of God’s revelation to us in his word. Those are my hunches. But like anything, I need to go to scripture, and confirm or challenge these thoughts. That is what I hope to do in the coming posts.

Feel free to join the conversation.

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