John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
There is a big difference between knowing about God and knowing God. In the Bible, knowing God means two things. It means you have an accurate knowledge about God and that you have a personal relationship with Him built upon that accurate knowledge.
Sometimes we hear people say: “I like to think God is like this. I’ve always believed God is like that.” The Bible alone, however, is the only sufficient and accurate source of who God is, what He is like, and how to know Him personally. So, we all need to stop thinking and guessing about who God is and what He is like. We need to be reformed in our thinking about God by the Bible’s teaching about Him.
First, the Bible teaches that everyone knows that there is a God, even if they are an atheist or agnostic. Paul said so. Romans 1:18-20 says:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
Sinful men suppress the fact that God made them and all things, but deep down they all know that there is a God because God made them in His image and because all of creation cries out of its Creator.
That is why we have a conscience and sense that there is “something more” to this life than just living and dying. We know that there is “something missing.” That is God’s self-testimony to the deepest part of man’s soul. Yet men try suppress the truth in unrighteousness because they know that if there is a true God, they will have to live according to His will, not their own. Here is the root of sin that blinds men to the knowledge of God: rebellion.
Second, the Bible teaches that the only way for sinners to know God personally is through the person, words, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
In the mystery of the Trinity, to have eternal life is to know God the Father personally as the only true God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom He sent to reveal Himself to man. Jesus Himself is the proof that there is a God and how to know Him truly.
Many times in the Bible, God told Israel that He would deliver them from Egypt, take them to the promised land, deliver them from their enemies, etc., in order that they and the nations around them would know that He is the only true God. Yet, in all of His revelation of Himself through His works, still they did not “know the Lord” personally and submit to living His way. They did not unite what they saw and heard to personal faith in God. They knew things about God, but they did not know Him personally. Hebrews 4:2 says, “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
To know God personally is to be restored to His love and mercy through the person and work of Jesus Christ, to repent of sin against God and His good law, to believe in His Son’s death for atonement and His resurrection for eternal life, to submit your life and will to worship and obey the only true God. This is how God restores us to His favor and salvation. This is how we come to a personal relationship with the only true God. This is how we come to know Him as our God.
Yet, even after coming to Him for salvation, we must continue to grow in our knowledge of God and what He is like and what it means to live in personal fellowship with Him.
Third, to know God in a living relationship means that we must believe who He is and the truths He has revealed about Himself in the Bible alone.
For example, the Bible teaches that God is all-knowing about everything all the time. King David prayed in Psalm 139:1-4:
“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.”
To live knowing God by faith is to believe that He knows you and all things all the time, that He knows the end from the beginning, that He knows every thought and step in your life, that His full attention is upon your life and thoughts all the time as your Heavenly Father, that the Lord Jesus Christ is always interceding with the Father for your care and needs, every single moment of every single day. This is what makes prayer such a wonderful gift. God is always knowing you! The redeemed believer lives by faith, knowing that God knows him/her, even when you may not feel it, even if God feels far away.
Further, the Bible teaches that God is Almighty who causes all things in existence to work together for good to those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). To live a life knowing God means that you believe this about Him, even if you cannot fully understand how He is working all things together for good. As we believe this about Him, we experience the personal comfort of knowing His love and wise care of our lives. For God is love in all He does for His people, all the time.
It is one thing to know about God, but it is another thing to know God Himself. Faith in the God of the Bible as He has revealed Himself goes beyond just knowing about Him and lives knowing Him to be faithful and true to all those who have come to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what it means to live by faith, knowing God, no matter how you may feel on a certain day.