The Ultimate Concern
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! (Psalm 128:1)
Is it not a fact that a love for God’s revealed truth, and a desire to know as much of it as one can, is natural to every person who has been born again? Look at Psalm 119- “Teach me your statutes!”; “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your las”; “Oh how I love your law”; “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”; “Give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!” ( Psalm 119: 12,18,98,103,125) Does not every child of God long, with the psalmist, to know just as much about his Heavenly Father as he can learn? Is it not indeed one proof that he has been born again? And is it not right that he should seek to satisfy this God-given desire to the full?
Yes, of course it is. But if you look back to Psalm 119 again, you will see that the psalmist’s concern to get knowledge about God was not a theoretical, but practical concern. His supreme desire was to know and enjoy God Himself, and he valued knowledge about God simply as a means to this end. He wanted God’s truth in order that his heart might respond to is and his life be conformed to it.
Observe the emphasis of the psalm’s opening verses. “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,who seek him with their whole heart. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” (Verses 1,2,5) He was interested in truth and orthodoxy, in biblical teaching and theology, not as ends in themselves, but as means to the further ends of life and godliness. His ultimate concern was with the knowledge and service of the great God whose truth he sought to understand.
J. L. Packer
The apostle Paul In Philippians, one of the last letters he wrote before being executed for his faith, cries out, “ that I may know Him”. Here is a man who had seen Jesus at his conversion on the road to Damascus, a man who had been caught up to heaven and given revelations that he could not talk about, and a man who would write to the Corinthians, “for I received from the Lord Himself, which I passed on to you….” and yet his expressed desire at the end of his life is to know Christ. There can be no doubt that Paul knew a lot of theology. He describes himself as a “Hebrew of Hebrews” indicating that he had studied and so knew about God from the writings of Moses and the prophets. In his conversion experience, Christ had made Himself known to Paul,
“As he traveled he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him [displaying the glory and majesty of Christ]; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice [from heaven] saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting and oppressing Me?” And Saul said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
What we are pursuing is not theoretical knowledge about God, but to know God Himself. Let me illustrate. There are a lot of facts you may know about a person. You may know, for example, their height and weight, the color of their hair and whether it’s long or short, and you may know about their level of education and what they do for a living. You may know some of their opinions about things, such a color preferences or vehicle preferences and so on. You may know a lot of facts about someone such as their genealogy or their background but never really get to know the person. In theory, courtship is designed for a couple to get to know each other. In practicality that usually doesn’t happen for few dare to make themselves known fully.
Many can tell you a lot about God but those who seek to know Him are few. We read about Him in the Bible or we hear Him described through the perceptions of others but to know Him is a different matter. Those of us who have been married for a while certainly understand this knowing. I have no doubt that after 41 years of marriage Sherry knows me and I know her. We have learned to anticipate each other’s needs, to read each other’s feelings, and to respond accordingly. When we first met, we knew only what we could see or hear and what others told us about each other. I remember when we started to date, Sherry’s mother called my pastor’s wife to ask about who I was. Sherry’s grandmother had told Sherry about me from her perception of me. But until Sherry and I began to spend time together, where we opened our heart and our inner person to each other, we really didn’t know each other. Such is our relationship with God. As we spend time with Him, we come to know His heart and we become more and more open to Him, revealing all that’s in our hearts. I know someone is going to say, “ But what can I make known to God that He doesn’t already know?” I believe that since God is so loving and respectful of us, He doesn’t force us to reveal all we are but He gently and lovingly helps us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and in the safety of His protection and grace, we make known the real us. There is no sense of probing or analysis but as our trust and relationship with God grows, we open our hearts to Him and He makes known His heart and His desires to us. Without any ego, I can say I know a lot about God. I have given myself to study His Word and have sought to know everything about Him that I can. But my passionate pursuit is to know Him fully, to see His glory, to know His heart and desires so that I may in someway make known to Him my love for Him. The beauty of heaven for me is that moment when I see Him face to face and bow before Him in adoration and worship. Until that day I will seek to know Him more and more everyday.
Dr. John Thompson