1. Cultivate a Desire: If I want to know you, first you must open up to me and share yourself with me. But I am still not going to know you very well unless I respond to your self revelation. The quality of my response will depend to a large degree on the intensity of my desire. Has my first insight into your personality whet my appetite to know more? Do I wish to pursue the relationship and carry it to a deeper level? While you were the key originally, now I am the key. I decide whether or not I will ever know you better.
Some Christians have not made much of a response in their relationship with God. They have learned enough about Him to acknowledge their need for salvation, and they have met Him personally and experientially in a saving relationship, but they have never moved on from there. Unfortunately they have gotten lousily entangled in too many other pursuits, and their time for getting to know God better has been crowded out. Though they know Him, it is not a very intimate and thorough knowledge.
The overpowering passion of Paul’s life was to know Christ (Philippians 8:10). That may have been one of the prime reasons God used him so powerfully. The desire was there. Ask God to give you that same desire, to help you cultivate a thirst for Him. Then begin reading His Word with an eye open to what He says about Himself. Each new revelation will create a desire to know more.
2. Accept What God Reveals. After cultivating the desire, the next step in our response to God’s self revelation is to accept what He makes known about Himself. That is the body of information we call the attributes of God. An attribute is an inherent characteristic, whatever God reveals as being true of Himself. It is not so much a part of God or a quality that He possesses as how He is or what He is—the essence of His being, His nature, His character. God and His attributes are actually one. As we study these attributes we are going to learn not only what God is like, but who God is.
As we see God reveal Himself in His Word we may say at times, “That is not the way I have always thought about God.” But what we have always thought is not particularly important. Concentrating on that may only confuse us. We need to focus on what God has told us about Himself. For example, if I have preconceived ideas about you that are inaccurate, yet I continue to hold on to those ideas after you tell me the truth about yourself, I will obviously never get to know you. I must accept what you tell me about yourself. Just so, when God tells us who He is and how He acts we need to believe Him. That is essential to knowing Him. But there is still something more that we need to understand.
3. Involve Your Entire Being. After the desire has been cultivated, and the decision to accept what He reveals has been made, there must be a definite commitment to Him that involves our total being. I cannot get to know you intimately unless I commit myself to spend time with you, take an interest in what interests you, get concerned about what concerns you, and rejoice in what brings joy to you. I must become totally involved in your life. Unfortunately, many of us have stopped short of that point in our knowledge of God.
If we really want to know Him, it is going to involve our total person— intellect, emotions, and will. All three parts of our personality are involved in knowing God.
First, we learn about Him with our intellects. We study the Word, absorb the information He reveals about Himself, meditate on it, then think through its implications and applications to our way of living. That is all the function of the mind. The mind must be involved in knowing God. If we do not have accurate information about Him, we cannot say we know Him.
As we learn more about Him we become more emotionally involved with Him. There is no reason to back away from the emotional expression of our faith. When we see the depths of His love for us it might bring tears to our eyes or shouts of joy to our lips. It will certainly inspire greater love for Him. When we understand the far reaching implications of His goodness and grace toward unworthy sinners such as we are, we may burst into song, even if we cannot carry a tune. When we realize how deeply we have hurt Him by our sin we will feel grief. When we experience the reality of His forgiveness we will feel relief, and love, and joy, and a sense of security. When we see people spurn Him our hearts will be saddened. These are all emotions, and a true knowledge of God cannot eliminate them.
We must do something about what we have discovered. We must choose by an act of our wills to live in a manner consistent with the information we have received and the feelings we have encountered. Not everyone does that. Paul told us about people who professed to know God but denied Him by their deeds (Titus 1:16). John went so far as to say that the person who says he knows God but refuses to obey Him is a liar (1 John 2:4).
If I have gotten to know you intimately, you will expect certain things from me, things such as loyalty, faithfulness, trust, fellowship, an open sharing of myself with you, and a desire to please you. Those are things I must choose to do by an act of my will.
We cannot really say we know God just because we have accumulated some facts about Him or had an emotional experience with Him. If we truly know Him we will choose to do what He wants us to do. We will talk with Him, freely tell Him what is going on inside us, honestly admit where we fall short of His expectations, implicitly trust what He tells us, depend on Him, submit ourselves to Him, obey Him, and worship Him all because of who we have discovered Him to be. As we relate to Him in that way our personal knowledge of Him will grow even more meaningful and fulfilling.
Our willingness to obey God can increase our understanding of Him immensely. If I express my willingness to obey your instructions, I am going to learn a great deal about you from the things you ask me to do. The more I obey, the more you will instruct me, and the more I will learn. When I stop listening to what you want me to do I will stop growing in my knowledge.
Obedience is the gateway to our knowledge of Him. Some of us have reached a roadblock in our relationship with God. Knowing Him better will first require yielding our wills to Him fully and deciding to obey Him unreservedly.
If that issue is settled and you want to go on growing in your knowledge of God, I would like to help by bringing together some of the information He has revealed about Himself in His Word. I feel most inadequate to do that, but I want to try. The rest is up to you. You will need to believe what God says, then commit yourself to total involvement with Him. It may mean some changes in the way you live, but the benefits will be enormous. Maybe it would be profitable to review a few of those benefits before we go on to explore God’s attributes.
Determine first that you will ask God daily to show you something about Himself, and secondly that you will read some portion of Scripture daily, looking for some truth about Him. Begin right now.