What could possibly be better than knowing an infinite being who loves you unconditionally?
Encounters with God have been the greatest experiences in my life. It may seem to the unbeliever and the skeptic that when I say I “know” God I’m making a very arrogant claim. I want to share the reasons I feel confident in saying that I know God…
KNOWING ABOUT GOD
Part of knowing God is knowing about God: God can be known to a great degree by the things he has made, “so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
When we know about God-who he is, what he’s like, what he loves and what he hates, what he’s done and what he does-we can more clearly understand God and so know him. But we can use that understanding as a step to a much deeper knowledge. We evangelicals believe that the Bible is the inspired message of God to man. As a defense of this view I’ve written posts such as this one:
Biblical scripture gives clear directions on how to come into an intimate and personal relationship with God. I’ll attempt to summarize them here:
1: We are separated from God from birth because God is holy and perfect, and we are imperfect and sinful. As Paul said,
“…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23);
2: We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God through good works or rituals, or by joining a religious organization;
3: Jesus, God’s only son, came into the world to become our “bridge”, our connection to God. He died on the cross to pay the price of our sin which is death, and he rose from the dead in order to conquer death and give us new life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come;
4: Jesus said “You must be born again” (John 3:3-8).
Being born again involves the Spirit of God, upon our invitation or/and step of faith, entering our being and bringing our spirit alive and into an inseparable and unbreakable union with his. We become acceptable to God because we associate ourselves with his son Jesus.
HEARING FROM GOD
While there are from time to time moments when God seems to speak words into our minds, I think this is by far the exception. A much more realistic way of understanding the concept of God speaking to us is that by His spirit within us he impresses ideas into our minds so that we can conclude what he wants us to think and to do.
However, if we’re not careful, this can be a very subjective method of “hearing” from God. Some Christians are guided by their feelings, when in fact feelings are entirely fallible and untrustworthy. God can “speak” to us without our emotions being stirred, though I confess that in my own experience encounters with God’s spirit do sometimes arouse a range of emotions: the important thing is not to be governed solely by feelings or emotions.
We need to compare the thoughts within us with what we read in scripture. If what we sensed is confirmed by scripture we can confidently conclude that God may have “spoken” to us. In this way we can learn to “know” God.
When we’re sensitive to God in our lives we can notice God’s intervention, guidance and presence, and we can see answers to prayer, even if they aren’t the answers we wanted. It’s these experiences which work with scripture to help us understand more about God, and when we know more about him in our own lives, we know him more.
THAT TINGLY FEELING
While I’m not one to gain spiritual “power” through all kinds of supposed manifestations of God’s spirit, popular in some Christian circles, I believe there are ways to “feel” the presence of God. The surest way of enjoying the presence of God and of sensing his spirit is by spending time giving him genuine and unreserved praise and thanks, acknowledging who he is. The sense of wholeness, peace and joy I’ve felt in times of worship are without equal: they are my number one greatest experiences in life.