Updated: Aug 1, 2019
In today’s post-modern version of Christianity, the phrase “It’s more important to know God than it is to know about Him” is becoming more popular as the days go by. In fact, I even saw a quote this week where a pastor said, “Know God, don’t know about Him!” Now, if you were to ask the question, “Which is more important, knowing God or knowing about Him?” the obvious answer is that it is more important to know God. The argument is that even the demons know about God, and yet they are not saved. It would also be right to state that simply knowing a lot about God does not save you. However, that is in relation to justification, not sanctification, which is a completely different issue.
To become justified, you simply place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and then you are saved “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8). There is no prerequisite of knowledge that one must have about God, except for that which is necessary for salvation (i.e. Jesus dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, we are sinners, etc.).
Sanctification, on the other hand, is completely separate from justification. Justification is simply God declaring you saved, whereas sanctification is the lifelong work of the Holy Spirit to make you more Christ-like. How does He do this? Through God’s Word and understanding who God is in relation to us. Yes, there are some who study strictly for the head-knowledge and become prideful at how much they know about God. However, for those of us who desire to follow after God, the more we know about God the more humbled and grateful we are that He would save us and, in turn, become more Christ-like.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than the thoughts of God… He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe…The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.” (New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, England, January 7, 1855.)
In the American Church today, the lack of Bible teaching is staggering. “Super Star Pastors” like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, Ed Young, and Brian McLaren have led Christian pastors away from teaching God’s Word and replace that with creative marketing techniques that “church growth experts” deem necessary to grow the business known as The Church. Bible teaching pastors are deemed “legalistic” and too “old-fashioned” when, in fact, all they are doing is sticking to what God says. God’s Word is meant to be studied, preached and applied. The problem is, how can you apply something to your life, if you have not been taught it. How can you love a God with whom you know nothing about?
In order to help you understand, let me give you an example. Let’s say that a guy just met a girl, and from the get-go he liked her just by his first impression. He decides that he wants to marry her. So, they run off to Vegas and get married the next day. How long do you think that marriage will last? Now, if that same couple was to date, get to know each other, and then get married, that marriage will typically last longer. Why is that? They know each other. If you love someone, you want to know their past, their likes and dislikes, and their personality. This enables you to do things that make your spouse happy.
The same goes for our relationship with God. Since we cannot interact with God in the same way that we could interact with our spouse, God gave us His Word so that we can learn about His past, His likes and dislikes, and His personality. By learning these things we are able to grow closer to Him and do the things that please Him. The more we know about God, the more we can please Him.
For those of us in ministry, we need to take God’s Word seriously. Why? It’s just that: God’s Word. We should be teaching God’s Word in order for the people in our churches to get to know God better. Topical sermons that are “relevant” and “practical” are typically devoid of any mention of Christ, theological positions, or the personality of God and when they do, it’s just in passing. They are typically no better than speeches by motivational speakers or “self-help gurus.” We are called to something much greater than that. Our message is one so powerful that there is no need to try to make it appealing, relevant, or positive. Our message is so powerful that our only job is to speak it and live it, and let God do the rest. Let’s begin to do it God’s way by focusing on Him and His Word.
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