Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Knowing God

The word “knowledge” bears several senses, and it can take different kinds of objects. You can know persons, skills, or propositions (a proposition being an item of information). When we say we “know that” something is the case, we’re talking about knowing propositions, as when I say I know that Phoenix is in Arizona. When we say we “know how,” we’re talking about knowing skills, as in “I know how to play lacrosse.” When we say we “know him,” we’re talking about knowledge of persons, which is usually a matter of friendship (or perhaps enmity), rather than just the knowledge of facts. Someone may know a lot of facts or information about Colin Powell without being able to say that he knows Colin Powell. To know Colin Powell is to have a personal relationship with him in friendship or enmity.

In the Bible, the most important kind of knowledge is the knowledge of persons, or, I should say, one person in particular. In John 17:3, Jesus says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” In Phil. 3, Paul states the great goal of his life: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead.”

Knowing God, knowing Christ; is that the center of your life, the center of your quest for knowledge? It ought to be. And that should mean that all other knowledge is knowledge in relation to God. On the first page of his Institutes, Calvin says that he can’t know himself apart from God—or, significantly, God apart from himself. The most important part of knowing anything is knowing how that thing is related to God. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.


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