In the Men’s Bible Study I’m a part of, this week we talked about “Knowing God.” In the midst of a series about the basics of growing in Christ we must see our relationship with God at the center of discipleship and sanctification. We are created and redeemed to know God, commune with God, walk with God, and grow in intimacy with God. This is what it means to have a “personal relationship with God.” It is through knowing and enjoying God that we actually then begin to image him in the world we live in.
Being a disciple is primarily about knowing God, not primarily about my growth in holiness, doctrine, disciplines, or mission. All those things are important but they only have meaning and find their fulfillment when they are directly tied to knowing God. And this must be clearly said and remembered, not just assumed and ignored.
Below are a few quotes highlighting the importance of knowing and communing with God, as well as what that might look like.
“The Chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” John Piper
“Communion with God is the end for which we were created. The Bible says that we were created for the glory of God (Isaiah 43:7). Yet glorifying God is not something we do after communing with him, but by communing with him. Many human deeds magnify the glory of God’s goodness, but only if they flow from our contentment in communion with him.” John Piper
“Communion refers to God’s communication and presentation of himself to us, together with our proper response to him with joy. We say “with joy” because it would not be communion if God revealed himself in total wrath and we were simply terrified. That would be true revelation and a proper response, but it would not be communion.” John Piper
“We do not know God by defining him but by being loved by him and loving in return.” Eugene Peterson
“Communion with God was a great thing; to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way we are not. The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it. When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.” J.I. Packer
“Christ is our best friend and ere long will be our only friend. I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with Him.” John Owen “Friendship is most maintained and kept up by visits; and these, the more free and less occasioned by urgent business…” John Owen
“To behold the glory of Christ is ammunition against unbelief and power for sanctification. A life focused on Christ is a life of faith, and it’s a life opposite to a life focused on self, self-sufficiency, and self-wisdom. Christ and self are opposite aims. And when it comes to sin, in vain do we attempt to ‘beat down our corruptions’ with resolutions. Rather, a ‘believing view of Jesus does the business.’” Tony Reinke (including quotes from John Newton)
“For, very simply, if holiness is not first and foremost about knowing Christ, it will be about self-produced morality and religiosity.” Mike Reeves
“A disciple of Jesus is a person who so looks at Jesus that he or she actually begins to reflect his beauty in everyday life. The gospel gives us the eyes to see Jesus as well as the power to look like him.” Jonathan Dodson
“Repentance…is presented as a (re)turn to God and away from that which is contrary to God.” Mark J. Boda
“Trinity understands God as three-personed: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God in community, each “person” in active communion with the others. We are given an understanding of God that is most emphatically personal and interpersonal. God is nothing if not personal. If God is revealed as personal, the only way that God can be known is in personal response. We need to know this. It is the easiest thing in the world to use words as a kind of abstract truth or principle, to deal with the gospel as information. Trinity prevents us from doing this. We can never get away with depersonalizing the gospel or the truth to make it easier, simpler, more convenient. Knowing God through impersonal abstractions is ruled out, knowing God through programmatic projects is abandoned, knowing God in solitary isolation is forbidden. Trinity insists that God is not an idea or a force or a private experience but personal and known only in personal response and engagement.” Eugene Peterson
“What, then, does the activity of knowing God involve? Holding together the various elements involved in the relationship, as we have sketched it out, we must say that knowing God involves, first, listing to God’s Word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit interprets it, in application to oneself; second, noting God’s nature and character, as his Word and works reveal it; third, accepting his invitation and doing what he commands; fourth, recognizing and rejoicing in the love that he has shown in thus approaching you and drawing you into divine fellowship.” J.I. Packer