Knowing God Better

Life’s Greatest Adventure

Grantley Morris

Part 2

* * *

(Part 1)

Audio    Version

Not only is it dangerous to not seek to know God as deeply as we possibly can, we dare not procrastinate. Over and over, our loving Lord warned of the catastrophic consequences of being lulled into the lie of presuming we are getting away with being less than red hot in our devotion and service to God:

    Matthew 25:10-12 . . . the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Most certainly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

    Mark 13:35-36 Watch therefore, for you don’t know when the lord of the house is coming, whether at evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping.

    More Scriptures

For a long while we might seem to be getting away with being lax. Like blissfully jumping out of a plane, unaware that our trusty parachute has a lethal flaw, the terrifying reality is that we will all learn of our error. For many of us, however, the discovery will come too late to escape disaster:

    Proverbs 6:10-11 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so your poverty will come as a robber, and your scarcity as an armed man.

This principle applies as much to spiritual destitution as to material poverty. In parable after parable our Savior kept pleading with us to realize that the impact will be sudden but the horrific consequences will persist for all eternity:

    Matthew 24:48-51 But if that evil servant should say in his heart, ‘My lord is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with the drunkards, the lord of that servant will come in a day when he doesn’t expect it, and in an hour when he doesn’t know it, and will cut him in pieces, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.

    Mark 9:47-48 If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter into God’s Kingdom with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire, ‘where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Our Astonishing Lord

Is the Lord of all so breathtakingly multidimensional that many of us have been content to settle with having a concept of God that is closer to a cardboard cutout than to the true God?

The eternal Lord is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8). Not only is he the A and the Z, I take this to be a condensed way of saying he is the A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.

What could be more different from a lamb than a lion? And yet the Son of God is called both in consecutive verses (Revelation 5:5-6). In another sense, the extreme opposite of a lamb is a shepherd. Again, in a single verse, the risen Lord is called both (Revelation 7:17).

Study this:

    Revelation 6:15-16 The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, the rich, the strong, and every slave and free person, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. They told the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb

    (Emphasis mine.)

Could there be a more startling expression than ‘the wrath of the Lamb’? What could better highlight the diversity and paradoxes that are found in God? The Son of God is the one of whom Scripture says:

    Revelation 19:15 Out of his mouth proceeds a sharp, double-edged sword, that with it he should strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He treads the wine press of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty.

    Matthew 12:20 He won’t break a bruised reed. He won’t quench a smoking flax, until he leads justice to victory. (For deeper insight into this verse, see this short note: Reed & Flax)

Trying to keep those two Scriptures alive in our mind seems as challenging as keeping a lamb in the same pen as a lion.

Similarly, Scripture likens the Spirit of God to a mind-boggling array of diverse things, such as a dove, fire and water (Scriptures). Could anything be more different than those three? As if that were not confusing enough, this same Spirit is also holy and so intensely personal that he can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30).

There is certainly nothing one-dimensional about God!

I will limit myself to just one more example. We all know that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 – for other Scriptures confirming this, see God and Light). Nevertheless, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in the thick darkness” (1 Kings 8:12 – for Scriptures confirming this, see God and Darkness). You probably already know of this rather confusing aspect of God. It merely takes a superficial reading of the Bible. No matter how deep our understanding of God, however, whenever we think we have God figured out, there is still more to him. The Almighty continually blows to shreds our presumptions about him.

He reveals himself to children and the uneducated and hides himself from intellectuals (Matthew 11:25). And to everyone, much of him remains unknowable (Read these Scriptures). He is the God who controls the galaxies and yet is intimately aware of every hair on your head (Luke 12:7).

Divine Complexities

I have crafted many webpages emphasizing how stupendously warm and loving God is (see Receiving a Deeper Revelation of God’s Astonishing Love for You in the links at the end of this series of webpages). We all need to be continually plunging deeper and deeper into this glorious truth and never let any new revelation con us into losing this awareness. But God is also terrifyingly holy. The astonishingly forgiving Lord is infuriated by sin. No matter what: he is always love, but he is likewise always immovably holy. He who made heaven also made hell.

I recall a psychologist explaining the difficulty little children have in coming to terms with the complexity of their mother’s behavior. Sometimes mommy seems to them to be like a fairy godmother and sometimes a wicked witch, even though everything she does is motivated by love and by what is best for the child.

We must seek to be continually maturing in our understanding of God and in our emotional response to him. Ideally, we should give him the highest conceivable respect while at the same time being flooded with admiration for him and overcome with awe over his power and majesty and goodness and perfection, and yet feel completely uninhibited in his presence and delight in him and be filled with the deepest, warmest, most trusting love for the overwhelmingly glorious Lord of the universe who is our best friend and yet remains our judge.

To see how tempted we are to oversimplify God, consider this critical revelation of God’s character given to Moses after he begged to see God’s glory. Please read it all:

    Exodus 34:6-7 The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord! The Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.”

I wonder if you are as tempted as I am to block from your mind the last half of that declaration.

Since I cite certain Scriptures like the above one merely to illustrate our tendency to shrink from the full truth about God, this is not the place to explore the full implications of what they reveal. Lest it trip up anyone, however, I’ll make this brief comment:

    From Adam onwards, Scripture affirms what is obvious to everyone: our actions affect our descendants. Scripture also affirms what is obvious to all Christians – since all are descendants of Adam – that God keeps on loving and keeps providing solutions for those descendants who seek him. God is always right and always kind, and our choices always matter.

As much as my mind recoils from that divine declaration to Moses, I dare not let some trick of my mind fool me into chopping in half the precise way that the one, totally consistent God, who is love, chose to describe himself. If I maintain faith in the biblical revelation about God’s love and goodness, any inability to get my head around the last half of what God said should drive me to seek deeper revelation as to how these two gel. If I try to sidestep this aspect of divine revelation, however, it could eat away at my faith in God’s goodness or entice me to close off from a significant portion of divine revelation. If God reveals something, it’s because we need to know it.

Pious people in Jesus’ day sincerely believed the Son of God was demon possessed (Many Scriptures). This shows how far we can fall into confusing God and evil. It is important to realize, however, that the danger extends in both directions. When God stuns us by extracting good from situations that seem hopelessly evil (Romans 8:28), it is solely because the Holy One is astonishingly powerful, intelligent and good. We must strenuously resist every tendency to suppose that a work of God’s enemies is God’s doing.

One attempt at closing ourselves off from divine revelation might be to try telling ourselves that revelation in the Old Testament is superseded by the New. This would be as foolhardy as it is dishonest, because both testaments emphasize the multifaceted nature of the Almighty. The God of whom the Old Testament said, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom. He will gently lead those who have their young,” (Isaiah 40:11) is the same God of whom the New Testament says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” (Hebrews 10:31) and “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

He is the one, who both “sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth” (Psalm 113:5-6, NIV) and, as the very next verse says, the one who “lifts up the needy from the ash heap” (Psalm 113:7). Put another way:

    Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. . . .

The Creator of the entire universe might feel as tenderly toward us as the most powerful human might feel toward his beloved little child even when the child is arrogant, bad-tempered and snotty-nosed. Nevertheless, the Eternal, Infinite Lord of Glory remains so incomprehensibly superior to us that receiving anything beyond an infinitesimal revelation of who he really is would fry every circuit in our brain.

Divine Beauty

Were we to see clearly every aspect of God that is currently veiled from us, our vastly increased understanding would in no way cause us to see divine love as some sort of nominal ‘love’ that is tainted by the smallest speck of hate or harshness or indifference. On the contrary, the full truth would empower us to see more than ever that divine love is so exquisitely attractive and priceless that it warms the coldest heart and floods us with wonder. It’s the tenderness that wet Jesus’ cheeks with tears. It’s the red hot, selfless compassion that impelled the Son of God to be tortured to death for the forgiveness of those who despised, rejected and shamed him.

What drove the Innocent One to the cross, however, is not just love but holiness. It was love combined with a holy loathing of sin that ripped him apart. For him to sweep sin under the carpet would be to make humanity’s Judge an accessory to each despicable act. Integrity demands that the gravity of sin must be faced head-on and dealt with fully. The buck stopped with him.

Nowadays, when my wife thinks of God’s beauty she recalls her grandmother’s baseball-sized crystal orb that used to fascinate her as a child. At a glance it seemed plain but further inspection revealed literally a hundred facets, each generating exquisite colors.

Correctly understood, every facet of God adds to his beauty. If we love God, and glimpse a facet that at first glance seems to detract from his beauty, however, our instinctive reaction is to look away and try to forget it. If we do so, we will remain haunted by the worry that our distorted impression might happen to be correct. It is better to muster faith and gaze at it more intently and prayerfully. Our faith might be sorely tested but if we hold on to the truth of God’s love while persisting in our prayerful search, our eyes are eventually likely to adjust to the brilliance so that we begin to see that what used to bother us actually perfects God’s beauty and makes us love him more than ever.

We need never fear the full truth. It is merely gaps in our knowledge and understanding that challenge our faith. But faith does not run from a challenge. Faith stands its ground and by doing so brings itself eternal glory.

Spiritual Reality

Our failure to know more than an infinitesimal speck of the Exalted One’s magnificence can leave us in such a giddy state of arrogance that it would be comical, if not so appalling and pitiful. Some of us, for example, seem to think we were generously doing God a favor by giving him our messed up lives. That’s as smart as this scenario:

    We are trapped in a burning building and someone heroically runs through the flames to save us. Too dumb to realize the danger, however, we keep fighting off our would-be savior. Finally, complaining all the way, we reluctantly let him drag us to safety moments before an explosion rips through the entire place, destroying everything. Then we expect him to thank us for letting him suffer third degree burns to rescue us.

Us serving God is God doing us an astonishing favor; not the other way around. It is the self-sufficient Lord letting us soil his perfection and blacken his name by our involvement in things of divine significance.

The Almighty wants us because he is incomprehensibly compassionate but he needs us like a busy brain surgeon needs three-year-olds to play doctors and nurses with him. Mind-boggling love and humility moves the Almighty to care about our view of him, despite him needing our praise no more than a megastar adored by multiplied millions needs yet another fan; or the world’s greatest artist needs a four-year-old to tell him his latest masterpiece has pretty colors. Likewise, believe it or not, the infinitely intelligent Lord of the universe does not need us to tell him how to do things, even though many of us seem to feel this is what prayer is all about.

The greatest of us – no more than the least of us – is one of God’s charity cases. Consider these words of Jesus:

    Luke 17:7-10 But who is there among you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say, when he comes in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down at the table,’ and will not rather tell him, ‘Prepare my supper, clothe yourself properly, and serve me, while I eat and drink. Afterward you shall eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded? I think not. Even so you also, when you have done all the things that are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have done our duty.’

If we have been totally obedient, flawlessly serving God, the highest status we deserve is that of unworthy servant.

Jesus emphasized that many apparent Christians who think they have God figured out are not only staggeringly wrong, they will never even realize it until the other side of eternal judgment:

    Matthew 7:22-23 Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’

Jesus indicated that on the Day of Judgment both the ‘sheep’ and the ‘goats’ will be shocked at how differently God views things. Both groups asked, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison . . .” (Matthew 25:44, compare with Matthew 25:38-39).

The God of Surprises

The true God is gloriously – even alarmingly – unpredictable. It is not, of course, that the Lord of all is erratic, impractical or unreliable; it is just that his omnipotence gives him far more options for every situation than we can conceive, and his infinite intellect empowers him to see inadequacies in what to us seem perfect solutions. The one “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20) can delight us with inconceivably exquisite surprises.

There is another side to God’s superior intelligence and power, however. Like the greatest Bible scholars and seemingly most godly people in Jesus’ day believing they were honoring God by killing the One who was actually their long-awaited Messiah, we can be so lulled into thinking we have God figured out that we fail to recognize him when he speaks or acts. The consequences can range anywhere from minor to disastrous.

Moreover, you just have to look at your fingerprints to know that God loves variety.

When discussing the behavior of cats, one of my university psychology lecturers pointed out that always doing things the same way is a sign of low intelligence. I assure you: there is nothing low about God’s intelligence.

Have you noticed how when the Son of God visited this planet, almost everything he did took both his friends and enemies by surprise? As already noted, he so shattered their expectations that he had even the nation’s greatest theological minds convinced he could not possibly be of God.

No one could even predict something as simple as what method Jesus would use next to heal someone. Sometimes he would heal from a distance (Mark 7:30; John 4:49-52); sometimes he would walk all the way to the sick person’s home (Luke 8:41-42; John 11:11). One moment it would be by anointing with oil (Mark 6:13), the next simply by speaking (Luke 7:7), the next it would be the laying on of hands (Mark 6:5), the next it would be the exact opposite – people touching him (Mark 6:56), the next it would be associated with him pronouncing sins forgiven (Mark 2:5). And if that, or doing it on the Sabbath, were not enough to offend and confound, he had an arsenal of other shockers. He spat on the dirt, smeared the goo on a beggar’s eyes and then told him to wash himself (John 9:6). Another time he spat directly on a blind man’s eyes (Mark 8:23). On yet another occasion, he stuck his fingers in a man’s ears, spat, and grabbed the man’s tongue (Mark 7:33).

Sometimes the Almighty deliberately acts contrary to our expectations to test us. Consider how Naaman raged after being told to wash seven times in the Jordan. “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy . . .” he fumed (2 Kings 5:11-12, NIV). Then he found himself wrestling with whether being healed was worth humbling himself.

Many of Jesus’ followers left him because they couldn’t understand his teaching about consuming his flesh and blood. The apostles were equally perplexed but they passed the test by responding, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68). We need this same stubborn commitment because we, too, will find ourselves bewildered at times.

There will always be opportunities to arrogantly exalt our own presumptions and take offence at God. Paul declared, “. . . we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks,” (1 Corinthians 1:23).

In God’s words, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8).

The Never-Ending Adventure

We tend to think of eternal life as beginning after physical death but the Bible says otherwise. It commences the moment one enters spiritual union with God through Christ (Scriptures). Eternal life is infinitely superior, not just in quantity but in quality.

What is so glorious that God’s Word speaks of having passed from death to life (Scriptures)? What could take life to such a new level as to make it as if we had been dead all our previous years? The one thing that renders life this superior is knowing God:

    John 17:3 This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

Knowing God is not only the most thrilling aspect of eternal life but the very thing that makes life infinitely superior.

Not surprisingly, the way John 17:3 is written in the original Greek suggests that knowing God is not a one-off event but a continual, progressive experience (Confirmation).

Peter pleads with his readers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18, emphasis mine).

Likewise, when telling the Christians in Colosse about his prayers for them, Paul wrote, “we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. . . . growing in the knowledge of God,” (Colossians 1:9-10, NIV, emphasis mine).

Colossians 3:10 is also interesting in that it speaks of putting on the new self “who is being renewed [the tense suggests an on-going process] in knowledge after the image of his Creator”.

Despite Paul’s full prayer for the Ephesians having different elements from the full prayer for the Colossians (Details) it contains these very similar words: “I have not stopped giving thanks for you . . . I keep asking that . . . God . . . may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:16-17, NIV, emphasis mine).

There is always more to discover about God – and not just fascinating tidbits but vitally significant insights.

Over and over the Bible speaks of people who seemed to know God and yet they did not know him as they ought until something quite dramatic happened. For example, Job was so godly and knew God so well that the Lord boasted about him:

    Job 1:8 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Job? For there is no one like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil.”

Yet still this man of God ended up discovering that he had grasped so little of God that he declared:

    Job 40:4; 42:3,5-6 . . . I lay my hand on my mouth. . . . I have uttered that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I didn’t know. . . . I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

When the Israelites were still in Egypt it is perhaps not surprising to read:

    Exodus 6:7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.

    Exodus 11:6-7 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt – worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. (NIV, emphasis mine.)

After the above events had transpired, however, and they had left Egypt, we would have expected them to now know God. Instead, we read:

    Exodus 16:6,11-12 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt . . .” The LORD said to Moses, I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’ (NIV, emphasis mine.)

And even later we read of those same people:

    Psalm 95:10 Forty long years I was grieved with that generation, and said, “It is a people that errs in their heart. They have not known my ways.” (Emphasis mine.)

Clearly, there are different levels of knowing.

One of the very few things worth boasting about is knowing who God truly is:

    Jeremiah 9:23-24 . . . Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight . . . (NIV)

Note that what this delightful Scripture emphasizes as praiseworthy is not knowing divine abilities such as his omnipresence, but heart attitudes. Of critical importance is that we know with ever-increasing depth not mere facts about God but that we know God’s heart, and that what we learn keeps growing within our own hearts until it dominates our thoughts and actions, like rain transforming an arid wasteland into a field of flowers.

It was on this critical point that Jesus’ ‘righteous’ opponents slipped up. They were so sure they knew God but they had missed his heart. Said Jesus to them:

    Matthew 9:13 But you go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Interestingly the full Scripture from which Jesus quotes says:

    Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Emphasis mine.)

Despite knowing the Bible so thoroughly, their failure to know God’s heart caused them to skim over such Scriptures as:

    Micah 6:7-8 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? . . . He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

    Proverbs 21:3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

    Isaiah 58:6-7 Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Isn’t it to distribute your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh?

    Jeremiah 22:15-16  . . . He did what was right and just . . . He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.(Last quote from NIV, emphasis mine.)

As expressed so eloquently by Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

The Apostle Paul expressed Bob Pierce’s thought even more intensely by linking knowing Christ with embracing suffering for the One who suffered for him:

    Philippians 3:8-10  . . . I count all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, . . . and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own . . . but that which is through faith in Christ . . . that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death

We know there was nothing metaphorical about Paul’s appalling sufferings:

    2 Corinthians 11:24-27 Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep. I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness.

Nevertheless, Paul endured, like his divine Hero “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Like Paul, the more you know God, the more you will know how much he is worth suffering for. In fact, you will be so in love with him that you will count it a privilege:

    Acts 5:40-41  . . . They called the apostles in and had them flogged. . . . The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

    1 Peter 4:13-16 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ . . . If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. . . . if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (Both quotes are from the NIV.)

If, on the other hand, your own comfort is your priority, you do not know God and, without a radical change of heart, you never will. Instead, you will be like the devout believers in Jesus’ day who had everything going for them – respectability, impressive Bible knowledge, high moral standards, godly heritage, smug feeling of superiority – except that Jesus shocked and angered them by saying they did not know God and were children of the devil (Scriptures).

Scripture speaks of “being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory,” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV). The context reveals that this can only happen when the veil is taken from our eyes through turning to the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16). To turn to God, we must turn away from self.

Jesus put it this way:

    Matthew 10:38 He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me.

    Mark 8:34-35 He called the multitude to himself with his disciples, and said to them, “Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; and whoever will lose his life for my sake and the sake of the Good News will save it. . . .”

When Jesus uttered those words, crucifixions were not unusual. His original hearers well knew the horrors that anyone carrying a cross was headed for. Again, history proves that there was nothing merely metaphorical about the suffering of the One they were told to follow.

And following him is essential. If, instead of keeping up with someone, you go your own way, you cannot hope to know that person, nor end up at his final destination. Denying ourselves comes first because we must choose between following him and following our own inclinations. This is so critical that Scripture speaks often about this, using a variety of terms such as dying to self and crucifying the flesh.

Let’s dive into just a few words of Scripture and see what pearls we find:

    Psalm 27:8 When you said, “Seek my face,” my heart said to you, “I will seek your face, Lord.”

This zeroes in on the most exciting thing in the cosmos: not book knowledge, but personal interaction with God.

More than any other part of the body, a person’s face reveals his personality. The inspired singer committed himself to seeking not God’s hand, but his heart; not his gifts, but God himself. Your Lord has already sent the invitation:

    Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while he may be found  . . .

    Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (NIV)

    Psalm 14:2 The Lord looked down from heaven on the children of men, to see if there were any . . . who sought after God.

    Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all those who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

    Amos 5:6 Seek the Lord, and you will live; . . .

    Matthew 7:7  . . . Seek, and you will find. . . .

Yes, the invitation has been sent. Now it’s over to us. And time is running out, because even a full lifetime of deepening our understanding of God is not nearly enough to learn all there is to know. Any delay means squandering some of our precious opportunities to know God better.

Consider all the mysteries and marvels that our Lord longs for us to know of him this side of eternity. Picture them as a gorgeous wilderness with secluded wonders, idyllic groves, hidden valleys and unexpected vistas. This vast domain has a few well-worn tracks explored originally by Christian leaders and dutifully followed by others. What if the rest of the vastness, however, is seldom enjoyed? Could we miss out simply because we humans are prone to stay with the familiar, when God longs for us to venture into the unknown with him?

Remember how God wanted humanity to populate the whole earth (Genesis 1:28; 9:1) but everyone was content where they were until God finally lost patience and scattered them by confusing their language (Genesis 11:9). Likewise, God wanted Christians to spread throughout the world (Matthew 28:19: Acts 1:8) but they remained in Jerusalem until God had to resort to using persecution to get them moving (Acts 8:1).

Whilst never straying from biblical revelation, let’s not settle for less than all God has for us. The next webpage is designed to help.


This webpage has grown so much that I have cut it into sections. In my opinion, the second half is the best. While prayerfully writing it, the Lord revealed so much that I had not fully grasped before, that if by reading it you learn for the first time just a fraction of what I gained by writing it, you need to read it.

For the remainder of this webpage, please see How to Know God Better.


Links referred to above, appear the end of this series of webpages. To go to them immediately, CLICK HERE.

Other Topics By the Same Author


Bible Versions Used
(Unless otherwise specified)

King James Version

Place mouse or equivalent over a Bible reference on-line

World English Bible
(Slightly Modified)

Appears in the text

For more information, see Bible Version Dilemmas