Andy Hynes is a PhD candidate at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him @ABHYNES on Twitter.
Have you ever thought about the difference between “knowing about God,” and “being known by God?” There is a vast difference between the two. When the information about God is transformed into a relationship with God, a life change occurs. Is it possible to know a great deal about God and not be known by Him? Could our churches or even our pulpits be filled with individuals who have never had a genuine encounter with the true God of the Scripture? Maybe they have conjured an idea of God based upon knowledge and information. Maybe they have sought to come to God on “their” terms.
J. I. Packer in his book Knowing God gives some evidences of when an individual has been encountered by God, resulting in a genuine relationship with Him. These are not fool proof, but they are a good place to start for examination.
1. God’s Spirit dwells in us – 1 John 4:12-13 tells you and I that God’s Spirit abides in us. The proof of this evidence is “Loving one another.” I wonder what exactly John meant when he penned the words, “if we love one another?” What I do know is that thought displays the genuine aspect of God’s Spirit dwelling in us, as evidence that we have been encountered by God. Also, Paul said in Romans 8:16, that “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God . . .” (NASB). Do you and I display fruit that God’s Spirit dwells in us?
2. Great energy for God – Packer uses the example of Daniel as one who took significant action when there were anti-God trends taking place around him. When he saw God being defied and defiled, Daniel and his friends stood up and would not back down. Our energy for God in a godly way shows the world that God has encountered us.
Allow me to insert an excurse. We have got to stop bickering and back biting about theological battles. Why don’t we unite together against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons? They preach a FALSE GOSPEL, and defile the TRUE GOD. Why don’t we unite on a front to reach the Muslim population and the billions of others lost in darkness, due to false religions? Let’s exhaust our energy on that, and not on fighting each other.
3. Great thoughts of God – Philippians 4:8, dear brothers, let’s think upon the lovely, rich, and pure things of God. Let’s dwell upon Him and not each other. When we display and have great thoughts about God, then we are identifying that God has encountered us. What do you think about? Do you dwell more on dividing theological things? Do you think more about what the next blog or interview will attack?
4. Great boldness for God – History has shown us time after time that an individual that has encountered God will exert great boldness for Him. Peter prayed for such boldness in the midst of opposition. Stephen needed boldness to stand up to the Jewish leaders, which eventually lead to his execution. Boldness for what? Boldness to approach the throne room of Heaven in prayer. Boldness to be a living/speaking witness for Christ. How bold are we, how bold are our people, for the Gospel? Are we showing them what boldness looks like?
5. Great contentment in God- Is there a peace inside of you that you are in right fellowship with God? An evidence that you have been encountered by God, and not just possessing great knowledge of God, is a settled peace in your heart. Trial and tribulation will come. Distress and anxiousness will come. However, through it all, there is a peace in the midst of a storm, that only the living God of Scripture inside of you can calm. Additionally, contentment in God is all you need. Do you see God as the total supplier of all things? Do you recognize that He is allowing or even bringing circumstances into your life for your good? Philippians 1:6, as God is the one working these things out. James chapter one, as we face trials, allowing them to bring about perfect faith. How content are you in God? Do we allow circumstances to dictate our contentment or even commitment to God?
What do you think???????