I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:11-12)
A common misconception about God is that He is unknowable. That He’s removed from our world, distant, and detached. That His will is secretive and hard to know. But in the first two chapters of Galatians, Paul seems to say otherwise. Paul mentions three times that he received personal revelation from God (1:12, 16, 2:2).
Any successful relationship requires that the individuals in the relationship do the work of revealing who they are. We can only know someone to the degree that they allow us to know them. They same is true for God. If God desires for us to know Him, He must reveal Himself to us.
Psalm 19 tells us that God is constantly revealing Himself to us through the created world. Verse 1-2 read, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech night after night they reveal knowledge.” Something as simple as a sunrise or sunset speaks to God’s beauty and splendor. The vastness of the ocean communicates the vastness of God. A thunderstorm demonstrates His might and power. The psalmist says that just by going outdoors we grow aware of God. But even though nature helps us know of God, it’s insufficient for us to know about God.
Before I met my wife I knew of her. I was aware of her presence at our graduate school and I knew her name, but that was it. I didn’t know anything about her. Where she was from? Her likes and dislikes? Hobbies and interests? I knew nothing. In order to get to know her I needed her words. I needed to sit down and have a conversation with her. I needed to hear her share about herself.
In order to know about God we need His words as well. Essentially, we need the scriptures. The scriptures reveal the story of who God is and how he put the world in motion. They give access to the details of His character and His love for humanity. They give us clarity on His plan for redeeming the world. The scriptures help us know about God. The danger is to stop there. To think that we fully know God because we experience God in nature and read about him in scripture is misleading.
In the case of my wife, knowing about her wasn’t enough. When we started dating, my true aim was to deeply know her. I wanted to have a close personal relationship with her. I wanted to experience her words coming to life. Early on in our relationship, I learned that she loved to sing. Knowing that about her wasn’t satisfying by itself. It only created a desire to experience the fullness of it by hearing her sing.
Knowing about God through the scriptures should ignite the desire of experiencing His words come to life. In John 1 we read that Jesus is the full embodied revelation of God’s word. “The Word become flesh and made his dwelling among us (1:14).” Knowing of God through the created world and knowing about God from the scriptures should ultimately lead us to personally know God in Jesus Christ.
God longs for us to know Him. And through creation, the scriptures, and His Son, He has gone to great lengths to reveal Himself. You could say that God is an “over-sharer.”
God’s original intent was that humanity would have a deeply intimate relationship with Him. The normal christian experience should be, just like Paul, receiving personal revelation from Christ. To experience the words of scripture as alive and active in our life. To read that God calls us friend and then experience Him a such. To sense His presence in prayer and find assurance and comfort that He is with us.
Even after ten years of marriage, when my wife begins to share and reveal more about herself, I’m all ears. My curiosity is aroused. I desperately long to know what she will share. I give her my undivided attention. God is continually revealing Himself. Sometimes it’s loud and apparent. Other times it’s quiet and subtle. The question is, are you listening? Are you paying attention? Does His self-revelation ignite your imagination? Does it leave you wanting more?
Paul will go on to say in other letters to other churches, that his deepest desire is know more of Christ. May that be our deepest desire as well. Today, may you have eyes to see and ears to hear the revelation of God in our midst.
1. What ways do you connect with God through nature?
2. What has been your relationship with the scriptures as it pertains to knowing God?
3. How would you describe your relationship with Jesus currently? How do you wish you could describe it?