Friday, May 11, 2018

Knowing the Lord

It's one thing to say you know the Lord and it's quite another thing to actually know Him. There needs to be evidence or proof that you know Him, which the Bible calls the fruit of repentance.

There is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. You can know about a historical figure like George Washington, but you don't know him. The same is true of any Bible character. No matter how well you know the life of that person, you don't know them personally. You can know all the facts about Jesus and believe they are true, but still not know Him. You can know about God without knowing God personally. But He wants you to know Him personally and to know His Son Jesus Christ. Let's see what the Scripture has to say about knowing Him.

To Know Him is to Keep His Commandments
John the apostle said, "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1Jn 2:3-4).

How do you know that you have come to know Him? You know it if you keep His commandments. The one who claims to know Him but does not keep His commandments is a liar. Such a person does not know Him, and does not have the truth within him.

To Know Him is to Love
Everyone who loves, knows God, and the one who does not love does not know God. John said, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1Jn 4:7-8). To love goes hand in hand with knowing God.

Listen to the word of the Lord spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, who said, "'He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?' declares the Lord." (Jer 22:15-16, NIV). The Lord indicated through Jeremiah what it means to know Him. To know the Lord means doing what is right and just, and defending the cause of the poor and needy. Did you ever realize that?

James said the same thing when he wrote, "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (Jas 1:26-27)

To Know Jesus is to Know the Father
If you know Jesus, then you know the Father, too. Jesus said, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." (Joh 14:7)

In fact, there is no other way to know the Father, except through knowing Jesus Christ. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (Joh 14:6). If you know Jesus, you will know the Father. If you don't know Jesus, you will not know the Father.

John wrote: "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. This is the true God and eternal life." (1Jn 5:20). The Son of God has given us understanding so that we may know God the Father who is true. He is the true God and eternal life.

To Know Him is to Have Eternal Life
He prayed, "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (Jn 17:3, NIV). Therefore, eternal life is knowing the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Paul the apostle understood this when he wrote, "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Php 3:10-11, NIV). He understood that what matters is to know the Lord and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being like Him in His death. His purpose in doing so was in order that he might attain to the resurrection from the dead. Thus attaining to the resurrection is the direct consequence of knowing the Lord.

To Know Him is to Know the Spirit
Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." (Joh 14:16-17). The reason the children of God know the Spirit of truth is because He abides with them and is in them.

To Know God the Father Like Jesus Did
Jesus declared that He knows the Father. He said, "I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me." (Joh 7:29). Jesus knew Him, because He was from Him. That's how Jesus knew God. Likewise, if you are born of God, you too will know Him.

To Know Him is to Keep His Word
Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word." (Joh 8:54-55). The Lord Jesus during His life on earth knew the Father and kept His Word.

To Know Him is to Let Him Be at the Helm
When you know the Lord, He will be at the helm of your life, guiding you through all the storms, as the beautiful painting by artist Danny Hahlbohm depicts.  He will be the one to steer and keep you from crashing against the rocks or perishing in the depths of the raging sea. He will be not only your Savior but also your Lord, which means He will call the shots and you will do as He says.

Those Who Do Not Know Him
There are many people in the world who say of the Lord, "He is our God," yet they do not know Him. They are liars. They say they believe in Jesus, but they do not know Him, since they don't keep His commandments. As Jesus said, those who know Him will keep His Word.

The world does not know Him. They may have their institutional churches where they claim to worship God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. But if someone comes along who is not part of the institutional church and is not wearing one of the denominational labels, they don't know him. The apostle John said, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." (1Jn 3:1, NIV). While the world may have religion, they do not know God, so they are missing out on the most wonderful and important thing.

In fact, their failure to know Him is so complete that even when God's Son Himself, the one through whom God made the world, came into the world, they did not know Him. "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (Joh 1:10).

The world through its wisdom does not know God. As Paul said, "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." (1Co 1:21).

Those who do not know God walk in lustful passion, but those who know Him also know how to possess their vessel in holiness and honor. Paul said, "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God." (1Th 4:3-5, NIV).

Let me cite a few examples from Scripture of those who did not know the Lord.

The first one is the Pharaoh of Egypt when Moses delivered to him the Lord's command to let His people go. Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go." (Exo 5:2). Pharaoh himself said he did not know the Lord and he refused to obey His voice. He ignorantly said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?" Thus He placed himself above God and his own will above the will of God.

Post-Joshua Generation
Another example is the generation in Israel that arose after the death of Joshua. Scripture states: "All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger." (Jdg 2:10-12). This demonstrates that even when people have a godly heritage, if they themselves don't know the Lord, then they will choose to do evil in the sight of the Lord. In the case of the post-Joshua generation, they served idols, forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, and followed other gods, bowing down to them and provoking the Lord to anger.

The sons of Eli
A great case in point was the sons of Eli the high priest, Hophni and Phinehas, who did not know the Lord, although they themselves were priests. "Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD." (1Sa 2:12). Scripture tells us that the sin of these young men was very great in the sight of the Lord. They despised the offering of the Lord by demanding the meat of the offerings the people brought to the Lord, and fattening themselves with the choicest of every offering. They refused to listen to the voice of their father Eli, who tried to tell them not to do that.

What they were doing was so evil that the Lord desired to put them to death, and ultimately He did put them to death. They both died on the same day in a battle with the Philistines, in which the ark of the Lord was captured by the enemy. That day when their father Eli heard the news, he fell off his chair, broke his neck and died. Then his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas went into labor and gave birth to a child that she named Ichabod, which means the glory has departed. Immediately afterward she died, too.

The example of Eli's sons demonstrates that even those who are in ministry, such as priests and pastors, may themselves not even know the Lord. It also teaches us how God views such hypocrites and ultimately judges them, unless they repent.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel
During the period of the Northern Kingdom of Israel's decline and fall in the 8th century BC, the people cast off the law of God and dealt treacherously against the Lord. These revolters went deep into depravity, played the harlot, and defiled themselves. The Lord spoke of them through the prophet Hosea saying, "Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the LORD. (Hos 5:4). They did not know the Lord, and even when they tried to seek the Lord, they were unable to find Him, because He had withdrawn Himself from them. As we know, the Lord sent them off into captivity, because of their sins.

Samuel the Prophet
There was even a time when the prophet Samuel, when he was a small boy living in the temple with Eli the high priest, did not yet know the Lord. Scripture says, "Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him." (1Sa 3:7). Consequently he did not yet know the voice of the Lord or recognize it when God spoke to him. But as Samuel grew, he came to know the Lord, he learned to hear the Lord's voice clearly. In fact, he became a mighty prophet of God. The Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground (1 Sam 3:19).

The example of Samuel shows us that we are not born knowing the Lord. Even those who may one day become mighty prophets of God must come to know the Lord personally at some point in their life.

Some of Those Who Say, "Lord, Lord"
Not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" actually knows Him. Jesus warned that there would be people who call Him Lord and even operate in supernatural power, but do not know Him. He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Mat 7:21-23). So while people may operate in powerful manifestations, the real evidence of whether they know the Lord is their fruits. You will know them by their fruits (Mat 7:20).

Judas Iscariot
Perhaps Judas Iscariot is the best example of one such person who was a disciple of Christ. He was appointed by Jesus to be one of His twelve apostles, and he was sent out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead. Yet he did not know the Lord, but betrayed Him for only thirty pieces of silver.

As Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Mt 6:24, NIV)

Saul of Tarsus
One final example I'd like to give is Saul of Tarsus before his conversion to Christ. As a Jewish Pharisee who did not know the Lord, he was very religious, having been educated under Gamaliel strictly according to the law of Moses. He was zealous for God, persecuting Christians to death, binding and putting them into prisons. Yet he did not know the Lord. Here is the account of his conversion:

"Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do." (Act 9:1-6)

When Jesus Christ the Son of the Most High God appeared in a blinding light to this very zealous, religious man, he did not even recognize Him. He said, "Who are You, Lord?" Again, it underscores how one can be very religious and zealous for their cause, yet not even know the Lord. But that day Saul came to know the Lord and his whole life changed. The Christians said of him "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."

Because he repented and put his faith in Christ, God forgave all his sins. Saul's namesake had been the first king of Israel, Saul son of Kish, who was said to be a head and shoulders taller than all his peers. Yet when Saul of Tarsus came to know Jesus personally, he changed his name to Paul, which means little. God called him to be an apostle and used him mightily to reach most of the known world of his day with the gospel. In fact, the Lord used him to write half the books of the New Testament Bible.

Destruction of Those Who Do Not Know Him
Paul taught that when the Lord is revealed from heaven, He will deal out retribution to those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. He said, "...when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power..." (2Th 1:7-9)

In the book of Job it speaks of the terrible fate of the one who does not know God: "He is driven from light into darkness, And chased from the inhabited world...Those in the west are appalled at his fate, And those in the east are seized with horror. Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, And this is the place of him who does not know God." (Job 18:18-21)

Those Who Know the Lord
Before I conclude, I would like to give some examples of those in Scripture who did know the Lord. I have already mentioned some of them like the prophet Samuel and the apostle Paul. Abraham knew the Lord and so did Jacob and Isaac. Noah was another man who knew the Lord, who walked with God. David knew the Lord and was a man after the Lord's own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Ac 13:22). Joseph knew the Lord and was persecuted both by his brothers and Potiphar's wife. The prophets Elijah and Elisha knew the Lord and so did Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and the minor prophets. These men heard his voice and suffered persecution for the Lord's sake.

The same is true of the apostles Peter, James, John, and the rest of the original apostles, all of whom were martyred to death, except John who was banished to the island of Patmos. The Lord used John to write one of the four gospels in Scripture, three epistles, and He gave John a tremendous, apocalyptic revelation while he was suffering on the island, which became a book of the Bible called Revelation. John the Baptist knew the Lord, because he recognized Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He prepared the way for the Lord and lived a godly life, and he was beheaded by King Herod. Stephen knew the Lord, too, and he was stoned to death. The Lord's brothers James and Jude knew the Lord, and so did the women who went to His tomb after His crucifixion. Mary the sister of Lazarus, who sat at Jesus feet, knew the Lord. And so did the one hundred and twenty disciples who were praying in the upper room in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and who received the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:1-6).

The Lord spoke through Jeremiah the prophet about the (then future) New Covenant that He has since inaugurated through Jesus Christ. He said: "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer 31:34). This teaches us that under the New Covenant in Jesus' blood, all of His disciples know the Lord from the least to the greatest.

This promise is not just for Israel but for Gentiles, too! As the prophet Isaiah said, "Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. (Isa 19:21)

Hope for the Backslider
Perhaps you once knew the Lord, but have since slidden back into a life of sin and worldliness, but you now want to return to the Lord. There is hope for you, just as there was hope for backslidden Israel during the decline of the Northern Kingdom, when the Lord said to them through Hosea: "And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD." (Hos 2:20). Be earnest, therefore, and repent.

The Lord also held out hope for backslidden Israel after they had been carried into Babylonian exile, when He spoke these words through the prophet Jeremiah: "I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart." (Jer 24:7, NIV).

May our heart's cry be like that of Hosea, who proclaimed: "So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth." (Hos 6:3).

Putting it All Together
If you know the Lord, you will love Him and others. You will do what is right and just, and defend the cause of the poor and needy. You will keep His commandments, which means you will keep His Word. You will obey Him and do what He says. It's called obeying the gospel. You will abstain from sexual immorality and possess your vessel in holiness.

You cannot know God except through Jesus Christ. To know Jesus is to know the Father, and that is eternal life. The consequence or outcome of knowing Him is attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not only do those who know Jesus know God the Father, they also know the Spirit of truth.

This is how it was for Jesus: During His earthly existence, He knew God the Father and He knew the Spirit, too. He came from God and by keeping His Word He proved that He knew Him.

When He comes back again it will be in flaming fire with His mighty angels to deal out retribution to those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be shut out of the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.

Therefore, knowing Jesus and knowing God is of utmost importance. It is critical that you come to know Him, because your very soul depends on it. That is why I urge you to seek the Lord to know Him more, if you already know Him, and demonstrate by your actions that you know Him. He is watching to see you do so. And if you don't know Him, then I hope that after reading this you have a desire to know Him now.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan. The "At the Helm" painting is by renowned artist Danny Hahlbohm of Inspired Art, © 2018, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note Also see Known by God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Pictures of Jesus Showing the Beauty of Christ, Do You Want to Know Jesus?, You Must Be Born Again, All Things Are NewIs Obedience Optional?, The Obedience of FaithFaith Works!, Walking in the Perfect Will of GodDeleted Scriptures in the Bible?Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Hearing the Lord's VoiceHoly Living in a Perverted World, Called to be Blameless, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, From Religion to RelationshipThe Law of Love in the New Testament, The Law of Christ, The Cost of Discipleship, Should You Fear the Lord?, Escaping from Dead Religion, Baptized with the Spirit, and Holy Fire Baptism.

You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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