The Preacher Says....  
  KNOWING GOD   1970
Psalm 62

Helen Sharpley’s death.  I was depressed when I found out about it.  Went to the funeral.  Why so melancholy?  I didn’t really know Helen Sharpley.  For over 35 years, though, I have known her in the sense of who she was,–but I didn’t know what she was.  I knew she was meek, courageous, faithful, in a casual way.  But I didn’t know of her joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies.  For nearly 40 years, every Sunday, it was “Hello Helen”–“Goodbye Helen”.  I could make excuses: a great disparity of years between us, but I felt this was not right in a community of Christian believers, but this is not just a morbid confession.  There is an obvious analogy.

We can know God and also not know Him in any meaningful way.  We may only acknowledge He exists from Sunday to Sunday.  It’s possible to meet together for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, yet not know Him except in the most superficial way.  This fact is obviously no profound discovery and has been observed by many others.  One such observer  noted that there are two Greek words in the New Testament which are used for the verb “to know”: oida & ginosko.  The first, oida, is defined as comprehension with out effort; the fact of seeing something and even believing in a sort of superficial way.  The second, ginosoko, is to klnow by experience, by effort, by discipline, by will.  Thus, oida is used by the madman in the synagogue at Capernaum where, after Jesus taught, he called out, “Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?  Art thou come to destroy us?  I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God.” (Luke 4.34).  The madman knew who Jesus was, obviously, but just as obvious is the fact that this knowledge was useless in attaining eternal life.  We can see the distinction more clearly in John’s first epistle; he uses both verbs in one verse: “We know (oida) the son of God is come, and hath given us understanding, that we may know (ginosko) him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in His son, Jesus Christ.”  So we can see that oida was superficial.  John knew that Christ had come to give understanding, but more importantly, there was an opportunity to really know–to gain some understanding for this event.  This was the real blessing.

Now if we are blessed to know (ginosko), we ought not to flaunt that blessing.  We need to perceive God in more than just a superficial way.  We see this alluded to in countless places and ways throughout scripture, e.g.,  The lesson in the parable of the talents is God demanding we be compassionate to our fellows, as He had pity on us;  He that received the seed in good ground in the parable of the sower, is he that hears, understands, and brings forth fruit;  The virgins and their lamps–always ready.  We best come to know God when we first acknowledge His word and believe that Christ is His son and then obey His great commandment,  love thy neighbor as thyself.   Belief and love must be inseparable, with both forces working to strengthen each other, bringing us closer to a knowledge of God.

There are two outstanding qualities in God’s possession: power and mercy.  Power must be respected–does not the potter have power over the clay?  But God recognizes weaknesses and He makes allowances for them.  Power and mercy are what a father has and feels for his child, a better way to think of God than just the abstraction of power and mercy.  The connection is so much closer.  And unless God didn’t want us to think this way, why so much scripture to this point?  His interest in us is not distant, but close and personal.  Acknowledgment of this relationship is key to understanding or knowing God..  Only remember, it is He who established it, not we. 

Think of what a wonderful relationship is in the natural sense. Thinking this way makes it easy to know His will.  You know your Father’s will because of long association in that relationship.  You know when He is pleased–and when he isn’t–you want to please him.  We can know and obey His will if we can accustom ourselves to  constantly think in this way.  When you read the Bible, say to yourself, “This is my Father speaking to me, His son or daughter.”  It becomes easier if you always think this way.  It is not just a figure, after all, but a true relationship with promising connotations : “Behold, what manner of love hath the Father bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God . . .it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3. 1, 2).
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The one  thought that struck me at Helen Sharpley’s funeral was, “Why do I have this sense of urgency?”   Most things in life taken by themselves seem unimportant, but in the end they add up to the sum total of you and what you are.  But we need a sense of urgency in order to do our work well; so it ought to be all about our work.  We must nurture an overriding sense of urgency about doing the work commanded by our Father.
  Redeem the time, because the days are evil.