Knowing God

Tom Burke

January 2004
© 2004 Scriptural Study Groups.  All Rights Reserved.

The world seems to be full of books dealing with the topic of “spirituality.” A handful of these, to the degree that they point to Jesus Christ, may be of some limited help to the individual seeking truth. A much greater number do indeed deal with spirituality, but a spirituality which can be traced to another spirit — the god of this world. Ironically, the large majority of books on spirituality appear to be written by men without spirit to men without spirit, advocating a re-defined spirituality that somehow does not require spirit!

Apart from all of these stands one book, God’s Word. God’s Word does not contain the ruminations of mere men, nor is it limited by the perceptions of men. God’s Word gives us the only true and dependable insight into the nature of spirituality, for God Himself authored it.

The Word of God reveals that man is born without spirit, and it explains why. It reveals the means by which that spirit can be restored to man. It reveals everything the born-again one needs to know about who he now is, and how he is to spend his life.

But above all the Word of God reveals its Author. And this is fundamental, for until I know the Author, how can I come to trust His words, His promises, His plan?

Much can be learned from a detailed and thoughtful study of the names by which God refers to Himself in His Word. For example, in the Old Testament, He is called Elohim, which points to His position as the only true God, the Creator of heaven and earth. He is also called Adon or Adonai, the Lord. He revealed Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai, the Almighty God, the one who leads, defends, and supplies.

Also in the Old Testament, God was known to His people as Jehovah, the One who would become whatever He needed to become for their benefit. A study of the compound forms of Jehovah (Jehovah-nissi, Jehovah-shalom, etc.) will yield tremendous understanding of what God was willing and able to become for Israel. Following are a few other names by which God revealed aspects of Himself in the Old Testament:

Psalm 42:2
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

God is referred to as the living God, contrasting Him with all other so-called gods, the work of men’s hands, powerless to help those who worship them.

I Samuel 15:29
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that He should repent.

Here God is called the Strength of Israel. Leaders, armies, and wealth might come and go, but God was the true strength of Israel, as He will be for His people today.

Isaiah 65:16
That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.

God is certainly the true God and the God of truth. This verse, however, reveals something further, for the word translated “truth” is actually the Hebrew word amen which is more precisely translated as … amen! When we end a prayer with “amen” we are saying that it shall be so, that it is unalterably confirmed. And this is true of everything that God says and does. He is the God of Amen!

Both the Old and New Testaments abound with terms that God uses of Himself, names which teach us more about who He is. Perhaps one further name deserves special mention. It is a name that the believer of Israel wouldn’t have dared to use and which the Gentile wouldn’t have dreamed of using. And yet, because of the completed work of Jesus Christ, those of us who believe can address God using this name, anywhere, anytime. We can call Him Father.

It is essential that God’s people study His Word to learn about who we are and about our purpose here on earth, and these truths are indeed precious. But they seem to speak more loudly and ring more truly the more intimately we know the God who so loved that He gave His son for us. And so, first and foremost, we study His Word to know Him.