Knowing God

"And hereby we do know that we know him--if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar; and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."
— 1 John 2:3-6

God wants us to know Him. He does not want us to just know things about Him or to just understand certain doctrines, practices, and beliefs. There is a vast difference between knowing about a person and knowing that person. Knowing God is linked to our eternal salvation as Jesus expressed in His great prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). How do we know if we truly know Him or just know about Him?

Knowing about Him is an important step to truly knowing Him, so God reveals Himself in many ways. He is in and through all things. Everywhere we look, we can see God. He told Enoch, "all things have their likeness; and all things are created and made to bear record of me: both things which are temporal and things which are spiritual, things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath; all things bear record of me" (Gen 6:66).

Davis expressed, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge" (Psa 19:1-2). It is hard to gaze into a beautiful starry night and not see God.

But God didn't just let us try to know Him through His creation. There was more we needed to know about Him that creation itself could not reveal, so He veiled Himself in a tabernacle of clay and came to earth to dwell among men. "For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent, who reigneth, who was and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay.... And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men, even through faith on his name;" (Mosiah 1:97, 102-103).

Jesus lives and walked the earth. He was visible and tangible. So, we can know the Father by knowing the Son. Because He is "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person" (Heb 1:3), Jesus is the perfect revelation of God. We come to a far greater understanding of God through Jesus Christ than we can through creation alone.

Before Paul knew Christ, he was fastidious in keeping the Law of Moses. Paul knew much about God through the Law, but he didn't know God personally under he came to know Jesus Christ. Then nothing else mattered to Paul, who wrote, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, ..." (Phil 3:8).

But how do we really know that we know Him? It is easy for us to claim that we know Him. Is a simple profession of our faith enough? Some in Christendom say that if a person makes a simple profession of faith in Christ, they are saved eternally and should be assured of their salvation, even if their subsequent life bears no fruit to back up their claim. John seems to disagree. God wants us not only to know Him through faith in Jesus Christ, but also to know that we know Him. But as many Scriptures indicate, this assurance is linked to how we live subsequent to our profession of faith, the first expression of which should be to keep the commandment to repent and be baptized.

So, John gives us the true measure that we know that we truly have come to know God. We know that we know Him if we walk in obedience to His Word-- if we keep His commandments.

Certainly, in John's mind were Jesus' words in the Upper Room. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). He added, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (John 14:21). If we missed it, He repeats, "If a man loveth me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings" (John 14:23-24). Just a few sentences later, Jesus emphasized, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10).

If is clear that truly knowing God and knowing that we know Him is inextricably linked to keeping His commandments. If we keep His commandments, then He abides in us and we in Him and if we are abiding him Him, then we walk "even as He walked". To walk as Jesus walked means that our lives should be characterized by daily dependence on God, submission to Him, and obedience to His will. Our overall aim in life will be to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness. Love always manifests itself by doing what the object of its love desires.

Written by Elder Brad Gault