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The reality of knowing God

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by zrs6v4, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. zrs6v4

    zrs6v4 Member

    Oct 21, 2007
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    I was going back through some older books that I have when I ran across a quote by J.I. Packer in his book “Knowing God” at the opening of chapter 2. He said:

    “I walked in the sunshine with a scholar who had effectively forfeited his prospects of academic advancement by clashing with the church dignitaries over the gospel of grace. “But it doesn’t matter,” he said at length, “for I’ve known God and they haven’t.” The remark was a mere parenthesis, a passing comment on something I had said, but it has stuck with me and set me thinking.”

    When reading that I identified with Packer on this topic of knowing God personally. All of us have relationships of various types. We say we know a relative personally or a friend without having to think deeply to let the reality set in, but when we say we know God and have a relationship it sometimes seems as though what we say can be disconnected to the reality we actually profess. Packer takes this thought and runs with it a bit more as he goes on saying:

    “Not many of us, I think, would ever naturally say that we have known God. The words imply a definiteness and a matter-of-factness of experience to which most of us, if we are honest, have to admit that we are still strangers. We claim, perhaps, to have a testimony, and can rattle off our conversion story with the best of them; we say that we know God- this, after all, is what evangelicals are expected to say; but would it occur to us to say, without hesitation, and with reference to particular events in our personal history, that we have known God? I doubt it, for I suspect that with most of us experience of God has never become so vivid as that.”

    Off and on over the past 5 years of being a Christian I have come back to the heart of Christianity, that is, actually and truly knowing the true God through the work of Jesus to make that possible. I think we become disattached from that reality through all the details in the Christian life which in themselves aren’t necessarily bad. Without getting to personal here, the questions that I am going to raise below are focused in on the reality of actually knowing God.

    1. Have you ever had similar thoughts about what Packer is portraying? When thinking about passages such as Mathew 7:23, “I never knew you”, John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ…” Phil 3:8 “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” do you or have you ever thought deeply on the subject of actually knowing God?

    2. Why do you think there seems to be such an unnatural tendency to say we know God while it is natural to say we know many people without hesitation?

    3. Packer said, “I doubt it, for I suspect that with most of us experience of God has never become so vivid as that.” Here he seems to be saying that while we know God, the reality of actually knowing God in our hearts is still a broken reality that can get better. What do you think about this? Is it even possible to know God and have a disconnect in that reality at heart?

    4. In John chapter 5:39 Jesus said, “You (Jewish leaders) search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” What I hear Jesus saying to the Jewish leaders is that they have put their trust in themselves subconsciously. They think they know God because they have all the right theology, they have an excellent track record of doing no obvious evil, they are devoted to Jewish tradition, and so forth. Yet, they miss the point that all they do should lead them to God ultimately. The Scriptures in this context are obviously of Old and Jesus is actually speaking specifically about the fact that He is the Messiah and the one that the Scriptures point to (Luke 24:44). The reason they point to Him is so that we will see Him and come to Him relationally. So the question is, How do you see this Jewish error of missing the key to life in all they do with the modern day Christian error Packer is proposing?
  2. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Mar 25, 2010
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    Paul guided by the Spirit gives some help on this in Galatians:
    6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

    7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

    8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

    9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

    he explains that believers are...KNOWN of God, and then he is going to urge them to obey Him and bear the fruit of the Spirit.

    God making Himself known to us and allowing us to repent and believe the gospel is God's work. Our enjoyment and assurance of our condidtion is sometimes erratic as when we fail to mortify known sin....we will lose that assurance.

    Yes....John Owen and the puritans were true masters on this topic.Owen wrote on sin and temptation,and mortification of sin.

    here is a linked pdf file for you....enjoy
    #2 Iconoclast, Nov 18, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2012
  3. humblethinker

    humblethinker New Member

    Apr 7, 2011
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    I appreciate your post. I think of two things: the idea of 'knowing' something as in a certainty, and having faith. 'Knowing' can be presumptuous, while 'faithing' is hopeful. Some people have a need for the comfort of 'knowing' such that they 'know' too many and 'faith' too little things. Imo, Fundamentalism is particularly succeptable to this. It produces a 'house of cards' faith... let them find one thing wrong about what they once 'knew' and it all comes crashing down. "God must accommodate ignorance and 'misinformedness' or I won't believe..." and so does He? I had a KJVO friend tell me sincerely that if there was even one little thing wrong with the KJV that it might as well be just Shakespear to him. This is sad. Now, I haved moved away from your post here though... you spoke of knowing a person and I'm speaking of a 'thing' or 'things', yet my digression seems to be more to the point of the matter of the Jews' problem.
    39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,40yet you refuse to come to me to have life. ​
    It is in Jesus that we are to get our life and security. And so, to him I want to daily say, “I believe; help my unbelief!”