This is part 5 of the 5-part Bible study Knowing God’s Word. This study seeks to understand how knowing the Bible bring us close to God and responding to God’s will. Click here to join the Thomas Nelson Bible email list and receive the full 5-part Bible study.
We Know God Through His Word
Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.
One of the most vital teachings of Scripture is that God can be known. The highest knowledge to which men and women can attain is a personal knowledge of God (Jer. 9:24). People do not naturally possess this knowledge (Rom. 3:10, 11), even though they know that He exists (Ps. 14:1; Rom. 1:19, 20). Knowing that God exists is not the same as knowing God personally, just as knowing about the President does not mean that you necessarily know him personally. This knowledge of God is crucial, however, since to know God personally is to be saved and have eternal life (John 17:3). People should rejoice in the fact that God earnestly wants them to attain this knowledge. That is why He has spoken to us in His Word, revealing Himself and disclosing the means by which we may know Him.
QUESTION FOR THOUGHT:
How might you thank God for this wonderful gift of knowing Him through Scripture?
While God surely can be known, there is always more to be learned about Him. There are many Scriptures that teach that our knowledge of God is partial. It is said to be “too wonderful” (Ps. 139:6), “unsearchable” (Ps. 145:3; Rom. 11:33), and “infinite” (Ps. 147:5). Since our knowledge of God is incomplete, we must increase it through spiritual growth. Paul, for example, prays to know God better (Phil. 3:10). We are even commanded to grow in the knowledge of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). The development of one’s intimate knowledge of God constitutes one of the greatest delights of the Christian life.
The Bible also reveals that God cannot be known personally apart from His Word. It contains the gospel that must be believed (Eph. 1:13), and the gospel brings forth saving faith in itself (Rom. 10:17). The gospel can therefore be called “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16). The part that the Scriptures and the gospel contained within them play in bringing people to know God is described in three important illustrations: the gospel is the agent of the new birth (James 1:18), that is, it is like the implanted seed without which the conception of new life cannot occur; it is also a cleansing agent through which God gives the believing sinner a spiritual bath that results in salvation (Eph. 5:26); the Scriptures are like an educator bringing the wisdom that leads to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).
We Know God’s Will Through His Word
I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.
Knowing the will of God must not be thought of merely as finding a certain vocation in life. That aspect represents only a small part of God’s will. Rather, the will of God is for everyone to live in conformity to His revealed will in His Word.
First of all, and most important, the will of God means believing Christ (John 6:40). If we do not take this first step in doing God’s will, we will not be saved from judgment (Matt. 7:21; 12:50); if we do, we will live forever (1 John 2:17).
Second, there are clear statements of Scripture teaching that God’s will for every Christian includes sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3), giving thanks to God (1 Thess. 5:18), doing good (1 Pet. 2:15), and suffering for doing the right thing (1 Pet. 3:17).
Third, the Bible is God’s will and must be applied to our lives (Deut. 29:29). This fact involves commands to be obeyed, principles to be followed, prohibitions of things to be avoided, and living examples to be imitated or shunned. An attitude of delightful desire should fill all attempts to do God’s will (Ps. 40:8). God takes great joy in those who cheerfully do His will.
Although the Bible is a complete revelation of God’s will, there are always decisions we must make that are not covered by specific statements of Scripture. In order to know God’s will in such instances we must be in fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:6, 7), seek principles from the Word (1 Cor. 10:6), obtain advice from godly counselors (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6), use common sense, and remember that God works through our own minds and desires to do His will (Phil. 2:13). When none of these principles seem to work, we must simply make the best possible decision, realizing that God will shut the door if it is not His will. Paul, for example, planned to go and see the Roman Christians, although not knowing if God would actually permit it in His will (Rom. 15:22–32). In most cases, however, the believer who thoroughly searches the Word will find the basis for an intelligent decision.
This study plan is based on the study commentary in Thomas Nelson’s Open Bible. To learn more about the Open Bible, please visit www.TheOpenBible.net.