Week Eight: Can we really know God?
Last week we discussed several ways to know that God exists—we see his handiwork in the sky, we see his fulfilled prophecies in the Bible, and we see evidence of his brilliance and intelligence when we do something as simple as lift our hands and twiddle our fingers. (Could you design the bones, tissues, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves of a human hand? I couldn’t.)
Isaiah 55:8 tells us, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Since God is so awesome and so far above us, can we know him? Yes, we can. We see his desire to know us in the fact that he has given us a wonderful world to live in (Romans 1:19). We see his desire to communicate with us in his word. We see his desire to fellowship with us in the simple fact that he chose to create us.
Jesus told us that he and his Father want to know us:
“No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:27-29).
When we surrender our lives to Jesus, He draws us close to him and begins to teach us. He speaks to us in three ways: 1) through his word, the Bible 2) through the voices of our parents and the spiritual authorities he has placed in our lives (Hebrews 13:17), and 3) through that still, small voice that sometimes speaks directly to our hearts. When we listen to Him speaking in these three ways, we grow to know many things about Him. We begin to know Him.
We learn that God is love, He is light, he is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is like a shepherd, like the bread of life, like the guardian of our soul. He is like a mother bird, like a strong protector, and as close as the shade on our right hands.
Though we can know God, we will never fully understand God, nor will we ever know everything. Some people think that we’ll know everything once we get to heaven, but only God is omniscient and all-knowing. We will never be God. We will be better able to use our brains in heaven, and we will learn a great deal more than we ever knew on earth, but we’ll never have the understanding of God.
God is infinite—without boundaries or limitation—and we are finite, with boundaries and limitations. Every finite thing has to have a creator, but a finite thing can never create an infinite thing.
Because we have limits and boundaries, God can know us perfectly—our every thought, our every need, our every desire. He can see into every inch of our finite brains and understand every desire in our finite hearts. We, on the other hand, cannot begin to grasp the fullness of his thoughts or feelings because God has no limits. We can know him, we can understand many things about him, but we will never understand everything about him.
Paul wrote to encourage some new Christians to live holy lives. “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Colossians 1:10).
So even though we cannot know everything about God, we are not to stop trying to know him. We are to study him, to spend time with him, to learn about him by reading his word and walking with him in faith. Then, as time passes, we will “learn to know God better and better.” And later, when we are in heaven, we will have an entire eternity to learn to know him more and more. We will never run out of things to learn about him!
Jeremiah the prophet wrote this: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
The greatest thing in the world is to know the infinite One who created you, who loves you, and who has an eternal plan for your life. So many people go through life without a clue as to what life is really all about. They think it’s about making money, gaining power, or becoming famous . . . but God says no.
The greatest thing in life is to know God. Jesus said, “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3).
If you don’t know God, you can know him today. All you have to do is ask Him to reveal himself to you . . . and give him your life.
Memory verse: “And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.” (1 John 5:20).
1. Read Psalm 139: 1-6. How does this passage describe how God knows us . . . and how we can know him?
2. What do the following verses tell us about our ability to know God?
· “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.” (Psalm 145:3).
· “How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” (Psalm 147:5).
· “And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.” (1 John 5:20).
· “So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?” (Galatians 4:9).
2. Do you think it’s ever possible to completely know a person? Even husbands and wives who have been happily married for years don’t know everything about one another. If it’s so hard to completely know another person, how could we ever expect to know God?
3. Are you excited by the thought of learning more about God in heaven? What sort of questions would you like to ask him? What mysteries would you like him to explain? What would you like to ask him about your life? About creation? About the world?