Church family, I want to dedicate this article to a topic I explored in yesterday’s sermon. It is one that naturally came out of our series on Creating Culture, but more specifically, on creating a culture of knowledge. This specific aspect of knowledge is one of utmost importance in the Christian life. It is encompassed in our worship and teaching, but it is also a call which beckons every believer to it every moment of every day. It is the call to knowing God.
A Sense of Honey
Jonathan Edwards made a very important distinction for us about knowing God: “There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet and having a sense of its sweetness. Thus there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace.”
What is Edwards getting at? Edwards is making a clear point that there is a stark difference between knowing about God, and knowing Him intimately, abiding in Him, and walking with Him daily. Much like there is a difference between knowing rationally that honey is a sweet element, and actually tasting honey with your mouth, having a personal sense of its sweetness.
Abide in Me
But how exactly do we know God? Not just knowing certain truths or facts about Him, but how do we know Him personally, in the way we know our spouses and our children so intimately, and even more so than this? John 15 gives us some clarity on knowing God, where Jesus is clear in His teaching that if we are to bear any fruit (daily manifestations that confirm which Kingdom we belong to), then we must abide in Him. At Center Church, we use a phrase at our gatherings that I think is helpful here. In defining why we gather, we say that “we gather (on Sundays) to reorient our worship around Jesus.” And in similar fashion in John 15, Jesus is commanding that we must reorient our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our thoughts, on Him every day, and in every possible moment.
To do this, we study, meditate on, and even memorize Scripture. We pray without ceasing, to take advantage of the most imperative form of communication in the Christian life. We fast to hear from God and then we rest in what God has accomplished for us. We read and study works from fellow Christians, to learn more about the character of the God we are to abide in. We gather with the local church to be taught the Word of God and express our delight in God in spirit-filled and truthful worship. This list is not extensive, but these are the primary ways in which we are to abide in Christ and know God. Finally, as John Piper puts it, abiding (in a general sense) means “trusting in Jesus, remaining in fellowship with Jesus, connecting to Jesus so that all that God is for us in Him is flowing like a life-giving sap into our lives….abiding is believing, trusting, savoring, resting, receiving.”
Taste and See
So church, may we be a people who consistently and daily walk with Jesus, abiding in Him. May we often, as David says in the Psalms, “taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8)” There is no greater riches to be had on this earth than a closer walk with Thee, our precious and faithful Savior. As Wayne Grudem puts it, “Indeed, this personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit may be said to be the greatest of all the blessings of the Christian life. Both in community and especially on our own, let us as a church seek to consistently, in every moment, abide in Christ wholly and completely, bearing fruit for His name and for the Glory of God.
Practical Help and Recommended Reading:
Knowing God - JI Packer
Prodigal God - Tim Keller
Desiring God - John Piper
Recovering Redemption - Matt Chandler
Confessions - St. Augustine
Pilgrim’s Progress - John Bunyan
Sermons and Videos:
Abiding in Christ - Josh Reeves
Knowing vs. Knowing About - Timothy Ateek
When You Love Jesus, But Don’t Spend Time With Him - Timothy Ateek
How Do We Abide in Christ? - Matt Chandler
What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ? - John Piper