Equipping the Believer to Know
23 Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory
in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he
understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising
lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in
these I delight," says the LORD. NKJV
This message was preached
July 20, 2003 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the
most important thing about us.
"The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever
risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively
demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of
God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low
thoughts of God.
"For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always
God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what
he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart
conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move
toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the
individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes
the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her
idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says
about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent
than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her
witness concerning God.
"Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the
question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we
might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were
we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders
think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell
where the Church will stand tomorrow.
"Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is
the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its
word for God. Thought and speech are God's gifts to creatures made in
His image; these are intimately associated with Him and impossible
apart from Him. It is highly significant that the first word was the
Word: "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We may speak
because God spoke. In Him word and idea are indivisible."
A.W. Tozer The Knowledge of the Holy
- Why is it important to know God
- To know God is to have eternal
- John 17:3 And this is eternal life,
that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom You have sent. NKJV
- To know God is to have peace.
- Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith
into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of
the glory of God. NKJV
- To know God is to find purpose &
significance for life.
- Where do we get the knowledge of the
- It doesn't come from within us.
- We do not dream up a correct idea of
- All the philosophers who ever wrote
fell far short of a correct concept of God.
- It does not come from a mixture of world
views about God.
- In America the common idea of God is
a mix of eastern religions and liberal
- Most Americans know what they know
about God from the music they listen to.
- The American idea of God is that
everyone is right and no one is wrong unless they claim to
know the absolute truth.
- It does not come from our varied
- We all experience things differently
and our interpretation of evens is more a matter of our
prejudices than of the facts.
- The only authoritative source is the
- John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your
truth. Your word is truth. NKJV
- How do we get to know God
- By seeking Him Diligently.
- Deut 4:29 But from there you will
seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek
Him with all your heart and with all your soul.30 When you
are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the
latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His
- This passage foretells of the
captivity of Israel and how they would be forced to
- While He may be found.
- Isa 55:6 6 Seek the LORD while He
may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the
wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his
thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have
mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly
- Even with weeping
- Jer 50:4 "In those days and in
that time," says the LORD, "The children of Israel shall
come, They and the children of Judah together; With
continual weeping they shall come, And seek the LORD
their God. NKJV
- Involves cooperate worship
- 1 Chron 16:7-12 On that day David
first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his
brethren, to thank the LORD: 8 Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous
works! 10 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those
rejoice who seek the LORD! 11 Seek the LORD and His
strength; Seek His face evermore! 12 Remember His marvelous
works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of
His mouth, NKJV
- Notice that this involves:
- Giving thanks
- Calling upon His name
- Telling and listening about
- Singing songs to Him
- Sometimes it involves a separation from
- Ezra 6:21 Then the children of Israel
who had returned from the captivity ate together with all
who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations
of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel.
- God is holy and to come to know Him
we too must accept His holiness.
- The Results of knowing God
- We change
- We become more like Him
- There is a union between us and
- We become united in His
- We are more:
- There is a promised blessing to those
who seek the Lord
- Ps 34:10 The young lions lack and
suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack
any good thing. NKJV
- There is a curse on those who do not
seek the Lord.
- Isa 31:1 Woe to those who . . . Nor seek
the LORD! NKJV
- To know God is to:
- To know Jesus Christ
- In a supernatural
- Jesus referred to it as a new birth
or being born again
- But that initial encounter is not all
that there is. Our life is to be filled with continually
know Him better and more fully.
- Accept His view of me and change my view
to match His, i.e. to repent of and confess my
- To know that although I continually
fail, Jesus still loves me and wants me to have continual
fellowship with Him
- Understand certain aspects of His nature
and character as seen in the Word of God.
- To understand the mind of God:
- What He loves
- What He hates
- What concerns Him
- His mercy and compassion
- How do we know that we know Him. (From J.I.
Packer's book Knowing God)
- We have said that when people know God, losses and
"crosses" cease to matter to them; what they have gained simply
banishes these things from their minds. What other effects does
knowledge of God have on a person? Various sections of
Scripture answer this question from different points of view,
but perhaps the most clear and striking answer of all is
provided by the book of Daniel. We may summarize its witness in
- Those who know God have great energy for God.
- In one of the prophetic chapters of Daniel we read, "the
people that do know their God shall be strong, and do
exploits" (11:32 KJV). RSV renders thus: "the people who
know their God shall stand firm and take action." In the
context, this statement is introduced by "but" and set in
contrast to the activity of the "contemptible person" (v.
21) who sets up "the abomination that causes desolation" and
corrupts by smooth and flattering talk those whose loyalty
to God's covenant has failed (vv. 31-32). This shows us that
the action taken by those who know God is their reaction to
the anti-God trends which they see operating around them.
While their God is being defied or disregarded, they cannot
rest; they feel they must do something; the dishonor done to
God's name goads them into action.
- This is exactly what we see happening in the narrative
chapters of Daniel, where we are told of the "exploits" of
Daniel and his three friends.
- These were four men who knew God, and who in consequence
felt Compelled from time to time actively to stand out
against the conventions and dictates of irreligion and false
religion. Daniel in particular appears as one who would not
let a situation of that sort slide, but felt bound openly to
challenge it. Rather than risk possible ritual defilement
through eating palace food, he insisted on a vegetarian
diet, to the consternation of the prince, of the eunuchs
(1:8-16). When Darius suspended the practice of prayer for a
month, on pain of death, Daniel not merely went on praying
three times a day, but did so in front of an open window, so
that everyone might see what he was doing (6:10). One
recalls Bishop Ryle leaning forward in his stall at St.
Paul's Cathedral so that everyone might see that he did not
turn east for the creed!
- Such gestures must not be misunderstood. It is not that
Daniel, or for that matter Bishop Ryle, was an awkward,
cross-grained fellow who luxuriated in rebellion and could
only be happy when he was squarely "agin, " the government.
It is simply that those who know their God are sensitive to
situations in which God's truth and honor are being directly
or tacitly jeopardized, and rather than let the matter go by
default will force the issue on men's attention and seek
thereby to compel a change of heart about it even at
- Nor does this energy for God stop short with public
gestures. Indeed, it does not start there. People who know
their God are before anything else people who pray, and the
first point where t heir zeal and energy for God's glory
come to expression is in their prayers. In Daniel 9 we read
how, when the prophet "understood from the Scriptures" (v.
2) that the foretold time of Israel's captivity was drawing
to an end, and when at the same time he realized that the
nation's sin was still such as to provoke God to judgment
rather than mercy, he set himself to seek God "in prayer and
petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes" (v. 3),
and prayed for the restoring of Jerusalem with a vehemence
and passion and agony of spirit to which most of us are
- Yet the invariable fruit of true knowledge of God is
energy to pray for God's cause-energy, indeed, which can
only find an outlet and a relief of inner tension when
channeled into such prayer-and the more knowledge, the more
energy! By this we may test ourselves. Perhaps we are not in
a position to make public gestures against ungodliness and
apostasy. Perhaps we are old, or ill, or otherwise limited
by our physical situation. But we can all pray about the
ungodliness and apostasy which we see in everyday life all
around us. if, however, there is in us little energy for
such prayer, and little consequent practice of it, this is a
sure sign that as yet we scarcely know our God.
- Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
- There is not space enough here to gather up all that the
book of Daniel tells us about the wisdom, might, and truth
of the great God who rules history and shows his sovereignty
in acts of judgment and mercy toward individuals and nations
according to his own good pleasure. Suffice it to say that
there is, perhaps, no more vivid or sustained presentation
of the many-sided reality of God's sovereignty in the whole
- In the face of the might and splendor of the Babylonian
empire which had swallowed up Palestine and the prospect of
further great world empires to follow, dwarfing Israel by
every standard of human calculation, the book as a whole
forms a dramatic reminder that the God of Israel is King of
kings and Lord of lords, "that Heaven rules" (4:26), that
God's hand is on history at every point, that history,
indeed, is no more than "his story," the unfolding of his
eternal plan, and that the kingdom which will triumph in the
end is God's.
- The central truth which Daniel taught Nebuchadnezzar in
chapters 2 and 4, and of which he reminded Belshazzar in
chapter 5 (vv. 18-23), and which Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged
in chapter 4 (vv. 34-37), and which Darius confessed, in
chapter 6 (vv. 25-27), and which was the basis of Daniel's
prayers in chapters 2 and 9, and of his confidence in
defying authority in chapters 1 and 6, and of his friends'
confidence in defying authority in chapter 3, and which
formed the staple substance of all the disclosures which God
made to Daniel in chapters 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, and 11- is the
truth that "the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of
men" (4:25; compare 5:21). He knows, and foreknows, all
things, and his foreknowledge is foreordination; he,
therefore, will have the last word, both in world history
and in the destiny of every man; his kingdom and
righteousness will triumph in the end, for neither men nor
angels shall be able to thwart him.
- These were the thoughts of God which filled Daniel's
mind, as witness his prayers (always the best evidence for a
man's view of God): "Praise be to the name of God for ever
and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and
seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom.
He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him"
(2:20-22); "0 Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his
covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands
.... Lord, you are righteous.... The Lord our God is
merciful and forgiving .... The LORD our God is righteous in
everything he does" (9:4, 7, 9, 14).
- Is this how we think of God? Is this the view of God
which our own praying expresses? Does this tremendous sense
of his holy majesty, his moral perfection and his gracious
faithfulness keep us humble and dependent, awed and
obedient, as it did Daniel? By this test, too, we may
measure how much, or how little, we know God.
- Those who know God show great boldness for God.
- Daniel and his friends were men who stuck their necks
out. This was not foolhardiness. They knew what they were
doing. They had counted the cost. They had meas- the risk.
They were well aware what the outcome of their actions would
be unless God miraculously intervened, as in fact he
- But these things did not move them. Once they were
convinced that their stand was right, and that loyalty to
their God required them to take it, then, in Oswald
Chambers's phrase, they "smilingly washed their hands of the
consequences." "We must obey God rather than men!" said the
apostles (Acts 5:29). "Neither count I my life dear unto
myself, so that I might finish my course with joy," said
Paul (Acts 20:24 KJV).
- This was precisely the spirit of Daniel, Shadrach,
Meshach and Abednego. It is the spirit of all who know God.
They may find the determination of the right course to take
agonizingly difficult, but once they are clear on it they
embrace it boldly and without hesitation. It does not worry
them that others of God's people see the matter differently
and do not stand with them. (Were Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego the only Jews who declined to worship
Nebuchadnezzar's image? Nothing in their recorded words
suggests that they either knew or, in the final analysis,
cared. They were clear as to what they personally had to do,
and that was enough for them.) By this test also we may
measure our own knowledge of God.
- Those who know God have great contentment in
- There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds
are possessed with full assurance that they have known God,
and God has known them, and that this relationship
guarantees God's favor to them in life, through death and on
- This is the peace of which Paul speaks in Romans
5:1-"since we have been justified through faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"-and whose
substance he analyzes in full in Romans 8. "There is now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus .... The
Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's
children ... heirs of God.... We know that in all things God
works for the good of those who love him.... Those he
justified, he also glorified.... If God is for us, who can
be against us? ... Who will bring any charge against those
whom God has chosen? ... Who shall separate us from the love
of Christ? ... I am convinced that neither death nor life
... neither the present nor the future ... will be able to
separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our
Lord" (vv. 1, 16-17, 28, 30, 31, 33, 35, 38,39).
- This is the peace which Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
knew; hence the contentment with which they stood their
ground in face of Nebuchadnezzar's ultimatum (Dan 3:15): "If
you do not worship [the image], you will be thrown
immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be
able to rescue you from my hand?" Their reply (3:16-18) is
classic. "0 Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend
ourselves before you in this matter." (No panic!) "If we are
thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to
save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, 0
king." (Courteous, but unanswerable-they knew their God!)
"But even if he does not"-if no deliverance comes-"we want
you to know, 0 king, that we will not serve your gods." (It
doesn't matter! It makes no difference! Live or die, they
Unless you know God, you will never be a
Christian. And the manner of Christian that you are will depend on
just what type of relationship you have with Him.
Knowing God is not incidental to the Christian
faith, it is the Christian faith.