David Jeremiah - Knowing the God You Worship
I heard a story about a little girl who was in her 3rd grade class and they were in art and she was drawing a picture. Almost all the other students had left and she was laboring over this picture and her teacher went back and said, "Honey, what are you doing"? She said, "I'm drawing a picture of God". And her teacher who was a Christian lady said, "Well, that's gonna be really hard 'cause the Bible says nobody's ever seen God and nobody knows what he looks like". And the little girl said, "Well, when I'm finished with my picture, they will".
And I hope that when I'm finished with this series, we will know about God a little more than we do but I tell you the truth, it's very intimidating and I'm very humbled and honored to be standing here and telling you about the God that I love. I guess I should just make this statement right up front: God is a person. And one day we will all see him, face-to-face. According to the Bible, our God is this awesome person. He's the everlasting Father, he's the God of hosts, he's the Lord of heaven and earth, he's the Author and Finisher, the Alpha and Omega. He's the Comforter, the Counselor, the Creator. He's the great physician and the God of all grace. His name is I Am and the Holy One of Israel. We call him Jehovah the Most High. He's the Lord of the living and the Lord of the dead. He is maker, mediator, and man of sorrows. He is our Prophet, our Priest, our King, our Redeemer, our Refuge, and our Rock. He's the ruler of heaven and earth and he's the friend of sinners. He's wonderful.
And the study of God, that we are about to begin, reveals to us that God can be known because God reveals himself in the Scripture. It's the greatest subject we will ever, ever explore for God is the apex of reality. If you wanna have an investigation that takes you to the highest of your intellectual powers, if you wanna study something that will challenge you at the very limit of your ability to comprehend, study God. It often intrigues me that people criticize the God that we talk about because they don't understand him as if God and that person would have a cup of coffee someday in a restaurant and God would say, "You bring your universe and I'll bring mine, and let's have a discussion". Or they don't understand why God is so hard for us to comprehend. He is so far beyond anything we could ever know. His ways are higher than our ways, his words greater than our words. But that does not mean that we cannot know him.
We will never know him in his totality or we would be equal to him but we can know what he reveals about himself. Perhaps this verse from the book of Deuteronomy will help us. It's Deuteronomy 29:29 and here's what it says: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever". There are some things about God that are secret we will never understand and maybe even in heaven we will not be able to comprehend it all. But the Bible says there are secret things and there are revealed things. And we're gonna talk about the revealed things. We're gonna learn what God has given us to know about himself and the Bible says this is something we can treasure and our children can treasure it forever.
We can all know more about God than we know and we can be closer to him than we are. Because, you know, we are made to know God. We were created to relate to him, to know him personally as a Father, as a friend, as a Creator, as a sustainer. And when everything around us fails, he never does. And when the foundations tremble, he is changeless and immovable and eternal in the heavens. When our hearts are overwhelmed, the Bible says: "He is the rock that is higher than we are". The Apostle Peter was nearing the end of his time on this earth, writing his last very letter and he wrote in his last words, these instructions to us: "But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". Peter said, "Make it your goal to grow in your knowledge of the Lord God".
So I want to begin by giving you some reasons why we should be concerned about knowing God and, along the way, perhaps some things we learn from the Scripture that help us to do that. First of all, it's important to know that knowing God is a high priority. The priority of knowing God. King David is a poster child for all of this. Psalm 100, verse 3 says: "Know the Lord, that He is God; that He has made us, and not we ourselves". Let me just say to you if evolution is true, if we are just evolved from primordial sludge through random mutations caused by improbable biological accidents, we are as good as dead. But if we have an eternal Creator who made us in his image, nothing could be more important than learning all we can about him in whose image we have been created. Because if we learn about God, we learn about ourselves. And the more we learn about him, the more we're awestruck with the majesty of his being.
Our priority is not just knowing about God. This is not just an intellectual pursuit. I hope we don't end up saying, at the end of these messages, "Wow, I know a lot more about God than I did before". I hope we end up saying, "I know God better than I did before". We know about him and then we know him. The Apostle Paul was like David of the Old Testament. If you read his letters, you discover it pretty quickly. When he wrote to the Philippians he said this. He said, "I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord". Paul said, "Everything else is totally unimportant to me compared to my desire to know the Lord".
I know this is high and holy territory and, once again, I confess to feeling very intimidated about this. But if God says we can know him, we can know him. And if God says that in his Word he will help us learn how to know him, he will indeed. Let's don't make this so theological and so complicated that we don't get it. And I warn us all and myself, you will never be happy or fulfilled by just doing the outward things of your religion or your relationship. It's all about what's in the core. It's all about do you know the God you're worshiping. Is he really important to you? Have you entered into a relationship with him? Here's the principle that we cannot afford to forget. We can only worship someone we love and we can only love someone we know. And our goal is to know him better. It's a priority. Here's the second thing. Did you know that in knowing God there is great dignity?
Listen to these words from the Scripture: "'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, and judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord". God says the thing that we should brag about if we're gonna brag about anything is that we know God. That we know him. Paul wrote in Galatians: "God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ". What turns your crank? What gets you up in the morning? What do you brag about? What do you tell people about yourself?
The Bible says all of that stuff that we talk about at the water cooler, most of it isn't that important. But if you know God, you got something to brag about. Knowing God brings dignity to your life. Knowing God is something that makes you special. Thirdly, I wanna talk to you about the maturity of knowing God and I wanna show you a passage of Scripture that you may not have read recently. It's in 1 John chapter 2, verses 12 and 13. I'm going to read the passage and then we're gonna talk about it for a moment. Here's what it says: "I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one".
According to this passage of Scripture, there are three stages of growth and maturity in the family of God, just like there are in the physical human family. Some people are children. John writes, "I write to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven". Do you know people who have been in the faith for a long time but when you try to have a spiritual conversation with them all they know is their sins have been forgiven. They've been saved but they don't know anything else except they're going to heaven. Now that's pretty good to know. And if you gotta know any one thing, I would suggest you start there. But after you become a Christian, isn't it important that you know more than just your sins are forgiven? And the writer says that if you haven't grown in any more knowledge than just the fact that you're going to heaven, you're still a child.
And then, a man who is a young adult, he's working against the evil one. He's probably won some victories. He's built some of his spiritual muscles up so now he's gained a certain level of maturity that tells him when the enemy comes, I got something to throw in his face. I can do battle with the enemy. That's another level of maturity. Now there's a great gap between being a child and a young adult but the gap between being a young adult and a father, that's a huge gap. John said that a person who is like a father is someone who is described like this: "he has known him who is from the beginning". Maturity comes as you get to know God who is from the beginning, progressively, more deeply and intimately. Through his Word, through my conversations with him, through my opportunity to serve him, to know God and to grow in him.
That's the maturity of knowing God, but here is one of my favorites. It's the authority of knowing God. Knowing God gives us a sense of authority in our lives. When you know God, you're connected. Do you know what it means to be connected? If you know God you know the supreme person in all of the universe. If you know God, and you know that he knows you, where do you go from there? What's the next step up from that? Daniel says it this way: "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits". When you read the Bible, you see all these heroes and, of course, Hebrews chapter 11 is a whole list of them. But one of the things you begin to know as you study the people that jump out of the pages of the Bible is the people who did great things for God were people who had this incredible relationship with God.
Think about Daniel for a moment. Think about him. In case you've questioned the validity of what Daniel wrote, all you have to do to cure your problem is to read how he stood up in his life. How he stood against the king's dietary requirements because they violated his faith, his relationship with God. Read how he refused to obey the prohibition against prayer and continued to pray three times every day. Why? That was how he had a relationship with God. Read how he walked with his God through a pagan environment and never violated his commitment to holiness and stood for the things he believed because Daniel was a man of God and he did great exploits for God.
And if reading about Daniel doesn't get you all fired up, go back and read the speech of his three friends. The speech they gave when they were being told they were gonna be thrown into the fiery furnace 'cause they wouldn't bow down to the idol. I always love this speech. I find every excuse I can to read this privately and publicly. They said, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up".
Every time I read that speech I stand a little straighter and a little stronger. I don't know about the rest of you, I'm tired of Christians always being the victim. We aren't the victims, we're the victors. And the only difference between being a victim and a victor is knowing God. Knowing God. "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits". You wanna do something great? You wanna be strong? Start with knowing God. Knowing God will give you the strength you need to be good at what you do, to excel in your particular purpose of life. It starts with knowing God. Don't ever forget that verse: "Those who know their God will be strong and do great, great things," amen. Finally, the humility of knowing God. Nothing so humbles you as to study God. Your own pride says, "I don't need God. Why should I study God? I'm everything I need".
When you're always looking down, you can't look up. I've always said one of the things that happens to you when you get really sick and go to the hospital, they put you in the bed and sometimes strap you in and the only thing you can do is look up. And that's the best thing you can do when you're in a hospital is look up 'cause your answer is there. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul described God like this. He said, "He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings". Do you know what that means? I looked up the word "sovereignty". It's one of the most wonderful terms in our vocabulary. The word "sov," S-O-V, well, it's the Latin prefix for the words "over and above". And then if you look at the rest of the word, the rest of the word is "reign," sovereign, which means to rule.
What that little word means, sovereign means, over and above and ruling everything that there is. When we say God is sovereign we say he is over and above everything and he rules. Ephesians puts it this way: "Far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come". Listen to me. God is in charge, you guys. He's in control and when you know your God you can put your head on your pillow at night and you can go to sleep. No matter what is going on, I'm not in charge, it does not depend on me. I have a God in heaven and I can trust him 'cause he is sovereign. He is above and over all.
What I take away from this sermon, personally, is this: yes, it's important for me to know God but the takeaway is he already knows me and he cares about me. The Bible says he knows the numbers of hair on your head. He knows every detail about us. Why does he know us like that? Because he loves us like that and when you get to know him you get to know more about how much he knows you and it gives a strength to your relationship that's hard to describe. Oh my friends, I want you not to get lost in the verbiage that often accompanies such a journey as we're on, and get to the real core of what it's all about. It's all about first of all knowing that God knows you and he loves you. And then making it your purpose to know him better. All of us are on that track, all of us have that goal.
Samuel Clemens, the American author and humorist, had been a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi for many years, and he chose his pen name from a phrase which I didn't know before: Mark Twain is a river man's phrase for water that is 12 feet deep. That's where he got his name: Mark Twain. A short while after he became famous he was traveling in Europe and he took his little girl with him, just the two of them. Everywhere they went, royalty, well-known artists, scientists, all honored Mark Twain. Toward the end of their travels, the writer's little girl one day said to him, "Papa, you know everybody but God, don't you"? You know everybody but God. The Bible says: "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent".
Is it possible that there's someone here today you know just about everybody in your world except God, who is at the center of your world whether you want it to be or not? Let's don't go through life, our relationships with everybody are sweet but our relationship with God is almost non-existent. So here's my final question. Here's what I want you to think about. Do you know God? Not do you know about him, but do you know him? Do you talk to him? Do you hear him? Do you listen to his voice? Do you have any idea how much he loves you and how much he knows you and whatever you're going through, it's not unknown to God.
Cultivating our relationship with God is our number one priority. Let's figure it out for ourselves. I don't want you to feel guilty if you don't think you know as much about God as somebody else. I just want you to just jam into your own situation. See, this week, next week, during these weeks, I'm gonna know God better. How do you know God better? You spend more time with him, just like you'd get to know anybody else. Learn from him, revel in him, come and worship him. Know him. If you're here today and you don't know God at all, because you get to know God through his Son Jesus Christ my invitation to you is begin your journey now by inviting Christ into your life.