“DO YOU KNOW GOD OR JUST KNOW ABOUT GOD?” (2 THESSALONIANS 1:7,8) Kenny Burtch
When your life on this earth comes to an end you will stand before Christ, who has been given the authority to judge our lives. 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive good or evil, according to what they have done in their body.” At that time we will want Him to accept us as one of His. We do not want Him to reject us. But, why would He reject us? Does the Bible teach that is a possibility? For us to understand the answer to that question we must, again, look to the scriptures. Now, I know that this is not a popular subject, but it is a Biblical subject. It can only be denied if we refuse to accept the full teaching of the scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11:22, “Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you provided you continue in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.”
Now hear what Jesus said concerning those who will be rejected by Him, Matthew 7:22,23, “Many will say to me in that day have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name did many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Now, I must confess that I am not sure I fully understand why Jesus would reject those who say they did many wonderful works in His Name. These individuals thought that Jesus knew them. They thought they had served Him by doing many wonderful works in His Name. I, like you, have to go further into the scriptures to find the answer to this rejection. I think there is something in our text that may help us greatly. “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Pay close attention to the last part of Vs. 8. When Jesus returns, He will take vengeance on those who do not become Christians by obeying the gospel, but He will also take vengeance on those who do not KNOW GOD! You see, the relationship between you and God is of all importance! If a person does not have a relationship with God, they will be rejected.
So it is extremely important that we ask, “What does it mean to know God? What does it mean to know anyone? Here’s where the difference between knowing God, and knowing about God comes in. I know about the President of the United States. I was born in 1943. I have lived during the offices of 15 different Presidents. Being somewhat of a history nut, I have studied a great deal about these men. I know a lot about them, but I do not know them. I have never met them, I have never spent any time with them, and they certainly don’t know me. On the other hand, I know my wife. I know the things that she likes; I know that she is loving and caring. I know that she is a server and a giver. I know she is a very hard worker, both at home and with the Church. I know pretty much what she will say and do in certain circumstances. Now, given this illustration about my knowing about those Presidents who have served during my life-time, and knowing my wife, my question is, to each of us is, “Do we know God?”
We can go to the worship assembly every Lord’s Day and we can be knowledgeable about the things we hear from Bible Study, and the preaching. We can know about God, but do we really know God? Do we have a personal relationship with Him? Again, what does having a personal relationship with God mean?
There are two sections of scripture that have answered that question, for me at least. There are many more, but for this lesson I would like for us to explore two of the most important ones that involve our relationship with God, and our relationship with our brethren. They are eternally tied to each other. We cannot have one without the other, and still say we know God.
The first of these is: “Keeping God’s Commandments and walking as Jesus walked.”
(1 John 2:3-6) “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments. He that says, I know Him, and does not keep His Commandments, is a liar., and the truth is not in Him. But whoever keeps His Word, in him is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him (a personal relationship). He that says he abides in Him ought himself also so walk, even as He walked.”
Brethren, we cannot allow our works, our life style, to deny our knowledge of God. The fact that we know Him, spend time with Him, talk to Him, and allow Him to talk to us through His Word, is personal communication. It is a personal walk, as we follow His guidance, and allow Him to guide our feet down His pathway.
(Proverbs 3:5,6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Can you see the personal relationship in these two verses? You know these things about God, but have you really put your full trust in Him? Are you trusting in your own thoughts, and your way of doing things, or are you searching the scriptures for your answers? Remember what the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and Godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us to His own glory and excellence.” God has already given us all the answers, do we know Him personally enough to trust Him with our lives?
The second way we can know that we know Him is: “Having love for one another.”
(1 John 4:7) “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God. And everyone that loves, is born of God, and knows God.” God’s love is not the love of man. That love can waver, that love can be determined by circumstances or emotions, but not so with God’s “Agape,” love. You can believe this: Even after Judas betrayed Him, and delivered Him to the Romans to be crucified, Jesus still loved Him! He did not love his sin, but He still loved him. On the cross He still loved those who had mocked Him, spat upon Him, treated him brutally, physically and mentally. How could He do that? He could do that because He knew the love of heaven. He knew the love of the Father. He did not come to earth to tell us about the love of God, He came to earth to demonstrate God’s love! (Romans 5:8) “But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” And on that cross Jesus asked the Father, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36-38) He forgave those who repented, and were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.
We can know we know God when we demonstrate God’s love toward those who treat us badly, who do not love us. When they come to us asking forgiveness for those things we, because we know God, will forgive them just as we have been forgiven by God. Do you just know about these characteristics of God, or do you demonstrate them in your life because you know God, and you have that personal relationship with Him?