Why do you want to know God?

Knowing-God-J.I.Packer

What we don’t know, we often fear.

If I hadn’t known who lived behind this door, I never would have knocked (not that I fit into any of the categories, mind you).

sign-on-door

But because I did know the man—and knew him to be kind to me—I knew it was safe.

How much do we know about God?

  • Are we afraid of him because of what we don’t know?
  • Or because of what we think we do know?
  • Has he been kind to us?
  • Is he safe?

This is week 1 in reading J.I. Packer’s classic book, Knowing God.

A group is gathering at Tim Challies’ blog for the next several Thursdays. Today we discuss chapter 1, “The Study of God,” and chapter 2, “The People Who Know Their God.

Knowing-God

Packer immediately confronts us—and rightly so—with why do we want to study God? In the Foreword he writes:

“Ignorance of God—ignorance both of his ways and of the practice of communion with him—lies at the root of much of the church’s weakness today.”

So, if ignorance promotes weakness, then knowledge can develop strength.

Strength to do what?

Packer says knowledge for its own sake “is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited.”

Instead, more knowledge about God is meant to turn into more knowledge of God (i.e., knowing God).

For me, that translates to this:

Knowing God more, leads to loving God more.

And loving God more, leads to loving others more, too.

That’s the kind of strength I want. Strength of purpose to live a life of love.

In chapter 2, “The People who Know Their God,” Packer summarizes these four benefits of knowing God:

  1. Those who know God have great energy for God.
  2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
  3. Those who know God show great boldness for God.
  4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.

But how do we come to know God better?

One way is, of course, through the Bible. But the Bible alone isn’t enough.

We can read about a person all day long in a book, but unless we’ve interacted with them, how much do we really know them?

We all have friends (or ourselves) who are overflowing with Bible facts and lofty academic explanations of theological doctrines. “All very fine—yet interest in theology, and knowledge about God, and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes, is not at all the same thing as knowing Him.”

How we treat our families at home, or how we talk about our friends when they’re not around, or how we talk to God (or not) in private is often more revealing about our relationship with God than how many Bible verses we can quote. (Preaching to self.)

Packer suggests thus we recognize our lack of knowledge of God and ask the Lord to show us more.

Seek the Savior’s company.

Then we can “turn each truth that we learn ABOUT God into matter for meditation BEFORE God, leading to prayer and praise TO God.”

* * *

How do you get to know a fellow human? Do any of those strategies work with getting to know God? Let’s talk in the comments.

It’s not too late to grab a copy of Knowing God and read along with us.

Next week:
Chapter 3, “Knowing and Being Known”
Chapter 4, “The Only True God”

Knowing-God-Packer-summary

12 thoughts on “Why do you want to know God?

  1. blankBarbara H.

    I enjoyed the truths you highlighted. Many of the same stood out to me. I loved the first chapter for the admonition to study abut God as a means to getting to know about Him personally rather than just gathering facts.

  2. blankAndrew Budek-Schmeisser

    This question gives me the mental image of the amoeba staring back up the microscope into the eye of the scientist.

    If you want to know God, go find a frightened and hurt stray dog, and bring him home. Lavish love and care, and hold him until the tremors stop. Make your heart and your home a place of safety.

    The you’ll know God, because He wants our love, which really costs us so little, in the most desperate way possible.

    It’s something He’s dying to have…and it’s exactly what He did.

  3. blankJerralea

    “Seek the Savior’s company.” THAT’S how I want to know God more. Of course, I want to be a student of His word but the main thing is building relationship, not being a fact-collector.

    This is the second time this week I’ve seen this book mentioned … maybe it’s a sign! 🙂

  4. blankKim

    This is my first time reading through Knowing God and I’m loving it! I also loved that sentence…seek the Savior’s company. Reminds me of Acts 4:13–>Now as they (the religious scribes and leaders) observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

    That’s what I want…for others to know that I have been with Jesus. Not just once or twice but that I’ve been with Him just that morning seeking His wisdom and insight, and that I’ve been with Him that afternoon seeking His love and patience and that I’ve been with Him that evening seeking His grace and mercy. Sitting at His feet and seeking His company. But far too often my to-do list overwhelms my mind and I forgo sitting for striving. It’s a constant battle.

  5. blankCeil

    Hi Lisa! I prefer to think of continued studying God as a constant search to know His deeper and deeper. I’d rather not see it as some kind of deficit on my part/church… I think we are all ‘ignorant’ of God in many ways, no matter how much we pray or study Him. Persistence and perseverance on our way is a good thing.

    I do agree that we have to develop that so important personal relationship, or all the reading in the world will just be fruitless. Studying in groups is so effective too. We can learn a lot from each other!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

  6. blankDavid

    Yes, I want to feel him near me, that is the main thing. Jesus that is. From childhood I’ve though of God as the Punisher and I still have a remnant of that feeling. The Holocaust was God’s will. Jesus redeems God.

    Since I’ve been working at this, I feel Jesus near me when I pray, especially at bedtime, and when I read the Bible. I’m starting to feel him near me when I am with my wife. It’s like a groove or a flow. And sometimes it’s suddenly gone.

    David

  7. blankDolly@Soulstops

    Lisa,
    I always appreciate your book reviews and that quote…yes, to know God in an intimate way requires knowing and experiencing Him in our hearts and sharing all of ourselves with Him as well as seeking Him …the more I know of God, the more I love Him and the more I realize how little I know because He is so big…sorry if this doesn’t make sense…I like to pray Ephes. 3:14-21 sometimes….

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      A beautiful testimony of relationship, Beverley! That doesn’t come overnight, but is proof of your devotion to him over the long haul. And of course his devotion to you over a lifetime. Thanks for sharing this.

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