We must know God. In fact, those who do not know God are in the group of those who will be banished from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power (2 Thess. 1:7-9). Paul’s intent in his precisely logical presentation on Mars Hill was to produce the knowledge of God in order that man may “seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:22-30). It is a lack of knowledge of God that causes the bulk of the immorality in the world. Paul said that we are not to live “in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:5). We can only come to know God through his revelation of himself in his word. True, in nature we can know that there is a supreme being, but we cannot know who he is or what his characteristics are. Only by divine revelation can we know God and that revelation is the Bible (1 Cor. 2:9-13). To know God, we must study his word (2 Tim 2:15). The proof of our knowing God is seen in our keeping his commandments. “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to 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 the love of God has truly been perfected” (1 Jn 2:3-5).
We must know Jesus. Paul’s desire was to know him (Jesus) and the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:10). John wrote, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:30-31). Thus, we come to know Jesus just as we come to know God, and that through the revelation that is given to us in the Bible. It is only by knowing Jesus that we can have the salvation that is made possible by his death, burial and resurrection. Paul tells us of the gospel which he preached “by which also you are saved, if you hold firm the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). We must know that Jesus was born of a virgin (Lk 1:26-38), that he did signs and wonders among the people (Jn 20:30-31), that he died for me, that he was raised for my justification (Rom. 4:25), that he ascended into Heaven to sit at God’s right hand where he reigns over his kingdom (Eph. 1:19-23 f; 1 Cor. 15:24-26) and ever lives to make reconciliation for the sins of his people (Heb. 7:25). When I come to know him, I only want to love him and serve him as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).
We must know the truth. Only by our knowing the truth can we be made free from sin (Jn 8:32). The reason that “the man of sin” could deceive so many people was that “they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). The reason that many people “go onward and abide not in the doctrine of Christ” (2 Jn 9) is that they often do not know the truth. If I love the truth, I will diligently seek to know it so that I can live by it.
The writer of the majestic Psalm 119 is a dynamic example to us of love for the truth of God’s word. As he uses the Hebrew alphabet to label each section, in practically every verse he uses a term that refers to the law of God. Observe:
v. 11: Your word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
v. 14: I have rejoiced in the way of your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
v. 16: I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget your word.
v. 24: Thy testimonies also are my delight, and my counselors.
v. 47: I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
v. 72: The law of your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
v. 97: O how love I your law! it is my meditation all the day.
v. 105: Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
v. 140: Your word is very pure: therefore your servant loves it.
Our need is to develop this same kind of love for the truth. Then we will diligently seek it.
I must know the truth about salvation. In very simple language Jesus sets forth his plan of salvation in such passages as Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, and Luke 24:47. We should have little trouble understanding it. It is tragic that these demagogues of religious theology have concocted ways of salvation that are not in God’s book and deceive the hearts of the simple with such teachings as “faith only,” “give your heart to Jesus as we pray, ” etc. Jesus teaches that we must hear the gospel (Rom 10:17), believe it and confess Jesus to be the Christ (Rom 10:9,10), repent, and be baptized in order to receive the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and live faithful unto death (Rev 2:10). Not only did he set it forth very plainly, but we see it consistently in action in the book of Acts. In the second chapter Peter tells his inquiring listeners to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” (v. 38). In every case of conversion we see the same plan in operation. Now, I must know this truth in order to be saved. I cannot be scripturally baptized without knowing the purpose of that baptism (Col. 2:12). Knowing and obeying his truth will make me free from sin.
We must know how to live. The purpose of divine revelation is to teach us how to live our lives in this world. Paul wrote Timothy in order that men might “know how to behave themselves in the house of God” (1 Tim. 3:14-15). The Lord’s message teaches us to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Tit. 2:11-12). And “as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11-12). The character of God and of Jesus is revealed in the Bible. My goal is to become as God is. Therefore, I must know how to live and I can do that only as I know his truth.
We must know God’s promises. We are in a world where there are temptations, discouragements, and numerous hindrances to godly living. We need motivations to keep on living as God desires. Some of the greatest motivations are the “exceeding great and precious promises of God” (2 Pet. 1:4). When temptations come, when discouragements weigh heavy upon us, the promises of God will sustain us. He has said that he will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6). He has said that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). He has said that we will have a gloriously new body in Heaven (2 Cor. 5:1-2). He has promised eternal life (Tit. 1:2). When we know and believe these promises, we have the incentive to keep on keeping on. We have the positive assurance that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). Let us live and rely on the promises of God.
Conclusion: Our reason for learning the truths of the Bible is not that we might be a “walking encyclopedia.” It is not that we might be a master at Bible trivia. We learn that we may do. Jesus said that the man who heard and would not do is like the foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matt. 7:24-28). James gives us the graphic picture of one who looks in the mirror and then forgets what he saw and then compares the forgetful hearer to such a foolish one (Jam. 1:22-25). We must be doers of the word. John tells us how we truly come to know God. He says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 Jn 2:3). He goes on to say that a person who claimed to know and did not keep his commandments is a liar (v. 4). Our whole purpose in gaining the knowledge of God is to live as he wants us to live (1 Pet. 1:16).
Once again we look to the Psalmist as he spoke of applying truth to life in Psalms 119.
v. 33: Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end.
v. 34: Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; yes, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
v. 112: I have inclined mine heart to perform your statutes always, even unto the end.
As a result of following God’s way, we can say as the psalmist said: “Great peace have they which love your law: and nothing shall offend them” (v. 165). May we come to have the kind of knowledge in our hearts that will make us free and will keep us in the pathway of righteousness all the days of our lives.