Category Archives: Knowing God

Closed Doors

“The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them,

for the LORD has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ ” Deut. 17:16 (NIV)

My favorite aunt gave me a small wood plaque to hang on the wall in my office. On it are written these words, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” The inference is that God in His wisdom and providence will always provide a “way” for us.  God’s way sometimes involves closed doors.  This week we continue our series, “When God Speaks.”  God speaks volumes when He closes doors.  Ever ask yourself, “What is God saying?”

Closed doors often lead to new opportunities in our lives. Closed doors force us to try new options, meet new people, and exercise spiritual gifts and talents that may never have been used. Joseph faced many closed doors in his life. The first door closed when his brothers sold him into slavery; the second door slam in his face when Potiphar’s had him falsely imprisoned. The final door, he thought, shut tight when the cup bearer forgot him for two years. Though the closed doors were first “used for evil, God used them for good.” (Gen. 50:20)

Closed doors result in the strengthening of two important spiritual muscles–“trusting by faith” and “learning to wait.” In Hebrews 11 we see the “Faith Hall of Fame”, made up of those individuals who trusted God even when the doors appeared closed. (Hebrews 11:4-31) Though the closed doors were first viewed as obstacles, they trusted in God’s promises and waited … even unto death. The results were both rewards and “great faith.”

Closed doors position us to accomplish God’s purpose and plan for kingdom building. The Holy Spirit forbade Paul to preach the word in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). God had a different plan for Paul that would first take the gospel to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).  Though this door was first viewed as a detour from proclaiming the gospel, God expanded Paul’s ministry beyond anything he could have imaged; his Epistles would become part of Holy Scripture, read and preached in countries around the world.

In the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” contestants choose from “prize doors” that offer either a rich reward or an ugly, disgusting “zonk”. Knowing this, contestants must choose to open the right door and leave others closed. Our omniscient God doesn’t operate like this game show. Whenever God speaks through a closed door, we can be assured it will lead to our good and His glory.

SELAH:  What door has God recently closed in your life?  What was He saying to you in that action?

The Word of the Lord Came

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” Heb. 1:1 (NIV)

It’s not unusual for companies to employ individuals to interface with the public to share information about their company and its activities.  Countries appoint ambassadors to communicate their foreign policies and opinions with regard to world events.  In this nation, it is the presidential press secretary who frequently convenes press conferences with the media to communicate key messages from the White House.  Such positions, though not unusual, pale in comparison with a special groups of individuals called by God to speak His Word.  As we continue our teaching series, “When God Speaks”, we focus that unique group, the Old Testament prophets.

The Nation.  The people of Israel had become a nation.  They had been redeemed from slavery in Egypt and given the Law to guide their activities as God’s chosen people (Deut. 7:7-9).  God fully expected them to be committed to a life of obedience to those laws and to honor the “call” He had made on their life.  Unfortunately Israel constantly fell down in their calling.  God’s Law no longer proved effective in shaping Israel and the society in which they lived.

Also Read:  “Why Did God Choose Israel as His Chosen People?”

The Need.    The people’s slackness had grown into forgetfulness (Deut. 8:11-14).  Sometimes the fault was a result of the wrong priorities.  Other times, the people had allowed themselves to be pulled into the culture and worldview of their times, resulting in idolatry and sinful practices.  Even the nation’s religion was corrupted into “non-moral ritualism”—“having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5).

The Notice.  The prophets were men raised up by God to put Israel on notice—they were to return to God or suffer the consequences.  In examination of both the Major and Minor Prophets, God’s message remained consistent and sure:  The Lord is Ruler of all history and He calls all to repentance. The prophets’ pronouncements always included a blend of judgement and hope, reflecting God’s heart and His desire that all would come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).  If Israel repented and returned, God would extend mercy and receive them to Himself once again.

The prophets did not share in their writings much about how they received their instructions from God.  We simply read:  “Thus says the Lord” or “the Word of the Lord came” (Jer.47:1; Ezek. 17:1; Zech. 8:1).  Came translates the Hebrew verb “to be” meaning “the word of the Lord became a living, present reality.”    In examining the historical books of the Old Testament and other writings from ancient historians, i.e., Josephus, Philo, it is clear that, when God spoke, things happened.

So how does God speaking through the Old Testament prophets relate to us living in the 21st century? My first observation is that for both believers and unbelievers, the view of our current world strongly resembles that expressed in “The Need.”   For believers, God still expects those He has chosen (Ep. 1:4-5) to follow His Word.  It is God’s moral instruction for living; for by it we are both warned and blessed (Ps. 19:11).  Old Testament prophecy provides for believer’s “blessed assurance” that God is still sovereign ruler of all history, including the 21st century.   For the unbeliever, the words of the prophets offer an opportunity for restoration with the God who sees and knows all—in time and in eternity.  For the unbeliever, it’s time to “come and see” Jesus (John 4:29) and accept His offer of salvation.  When God spoke through the prophets, His Word did not return “void” but accomplished all that it was sent to do (Is. 55:11). Even today it is still critical to listen as God speaks through His prophets.

SELAH:  The Old Testament prophets spoke of the salvation we have received.  Read 1 Peter 1:10-12.

I Did It My Way

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.”  Psalm 19:12 (NIV)

“My Way” is a song popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra.    Although this work became his signature song, his daughter Tina Sinatra says the legendary singer came to hate it.  Although he didn’t like it, the song “stuck”.  She shared her father’s true feelings that he thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent.  Behaviors that promote an individual’s will over God’s will often result in being “stuck”—stuck in sin.  Fortunately the Psalmist sought God’s intervention in his life in order that he might be “blameless and innocent.”     This week’s study closes out our series on “The Reality of God.”  Once the reality of God is revealed, the only response is to recognize one’s own depravity (sinfulness).

What stands in the way of receiving the revelation of God—either general or special?  What is it that hinders man from connecting with God who created and now sustains all things?  (S)  What impedes man in hearing God as He speaks through His “active and living” Word?  (Heb. 4:12)  The answer is sin and more specifically, man’s determination to do it “his way”.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor and theologian, offered this observation about man’s resolve to express his will over God’s:  “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

Exposure to God, whether through general or special revelation, will always result in recognition of one’s sin (Ps. 19:6; 2 Tim. 3:16). On Mount Horeb, Moses quickly responded to God’s presence by removal of his sandals (Ex. 3:5).  Faced with the glory of God, Jeremiah confessed that he was a man of “unclean lips” (Is. 6:5).  It is impossible for sin to escape scrutiny in the presence of a holy and righteous God.

In these final verses, the Psalmist acknowledges his inability to recognize “secret faults” that hinder his walk with God.  Like the Psalmist, believers often have “behaviors” that we cannot see in ourselves but that are evident to others around us.  We call these our “blind spots”.  Faced with the reality of God, the Psalmist solicits God’s assistance in identifying his “spiritual blind spots” that escape detection by the human eye yet are easily detected by an all-knowing, all-seeing, and wise God:

“Errors” are often unintentional sins, sins of omission or even defiant attitudes that accompany intentional sin, e.g., Cain’s resentment surrounding his sacrifice to God (Gen. 4:5).

“Hidden faults” lie buried in the attitudes and veiled motives behind our words and actions e.g., King Herod’s request to the Wise Men (Matt. 2:7-8).  They can also include “toxic thoughts” that no one sees but slowly darken the heart.

“Presumptuous sins” are defiant sins, committed knowingly and deliberately, e.g., David’s affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:3-4).

The Psalmist solicited God’s intervention to avoid the “great transgression” (pasha), or rebellion.  These words sound much like the Apostle Paul’s description of the Christian’s struggle with sin:  “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24).  In both cases, the answer to the sin dilemma lie in God, our Rock and our Redeemer; then the Psalmist’s words (his actions) and his meditations (his thoughts) would be “acceptable” (ratsown) to God—a term used of literal sacrifices offered by Jewish priests (Lev.22:19, 29; 23:11).

Also read:  The Subtlety of Sin

While remaining in this earthly flesh, we will need the Spirit of God to help us combat sin and to conform us to the image of Christ (Heb. 12:1; Rom. 8:29).  By humbling ourselves “under the mighty hand of God”, we will find strength and redemption for the journey (James 4:10).  If, however, we choose to continue in our sin, living “our way”, we may, like Mr. Sinatra, find ourselves “stuck” with something we really didn’t want.

SELAH:  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal “spiritual blind spots” you may have that are affecting your walk of faith.  Then confess (own up to the sin and ask for forgiven); repent (renounce and turn away from the sin); and then, Thank God (for redemption for the sin).

Charles Spurgeon offers “A Prayer for Acceptance from Psalms 19

This is My Father’s World


“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”  Psalms 19:1 (NKJV)

We open this new year of 2017 with a study on the reality of God.  In actuality, God’s existence is not something that has to be proven, especially to those who choose to believe more in themselves and in the capabilities of political and social movements to resolve the ills of the world.  Denial of God’s reality in no way negates its truth.  God is!  However, for believers, the reality of God is foundational to our faith walk and is based on the irrefutable fact of God as seen in nature  or general revelation (Ps. 19:1-6) and the undeniable truth of God as revealed in His Word (Ps. 19:7-11).  This week we focus on the reality of God as Creator.


Read:  “Confessing Faith with Confidence”


The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.”   (Ps. 19:1-3)

The heavens and the firmament each have their part in making known the mystery of God’s glory.  God’s handiwork (ma`aseh) is proof of His intimate involvement in the creation of the world versus some random act of science.  It was God’s undertaking that resulted in the heavens and the firmaments (Gen. 1:3-5).  The Psalmist uses “declare and show” to express nature’s response in proving the reality of Creator God.  The constancy of day and night and the vastness of the heavens reveal the excellence of God’s creative work.  His work is undeniable regardless of man’s language or place on the planet (Rom. 1:19-20).

Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.”   (Ps. 19:4-6)

Dominant in the heavens is the sun, which is the focus of these verses.  The sun is metaphorically compared to a “bridegroom” and to a “strongman or champion”.  Like a bridegroom excitedly leaves his chamber (chapha) on his wedding day, the sun rises; like the strongman races on his course, the sun makes its circuit with radiance and vigor to warm the earth.  Those experiencing the sun’s rays need not listen for words, because the effect of the sun is evident—nothing is hidden from its heat.  While the psalmist did not know all that we know today about the solar system, he portrays in these verses the phenomenal way that the sun rises daily to accomplish its “line” in the work God has decreed for it (Eccl. 1:5).

 This is My Father’s World” is a well-known Christian hymn written by Reverend Maltbie Davenport Babcock.  Babcock frequently enjoyed walks to appreciate the panoramic view of upstate New York, telling his wife he was “going out to see the Father’s world”.  Every morning we awaken, confident in the fact that the sun will be there to greet us.  If we take the time, we can observe the sky, a familiar backdrop on which the sun will reflect it needed light and warmth.  Any gradation in the sky—from blue to black, can be directly attributed to changes in the weather conditions that day—be it clear, cloudy, or full of rain.  And as the day transitions to evening, the moon replaces the sun in its nocturnal work within the universe, adding planets, stars, and constellations to the now darkened sky. 

Modern theologians recognize the Creation and the plan of salvation as the most compelling witness to the reality of God and His power.  While postmodernist might argue for a more logical explanation for creation, they can offer nothing to resolve the growing challenge of navigating the 21st century with its volatility and uncertainties.  Even with our technological advancements and achievements, man has not been able to resolve the “issues of the heart” created by sin (Is. 61:1-2).  But God has!  (2 Tim. 1:9-10) The world is in need of a “reality check” that results in acknowledgment of the true God (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).  This reality begins with each of us understanding, “This is Our Father’s World”.

SELAH:  Are their areas in your life where you are denying God’s reality and sovereign rule?

A Prayer for American Christians

Father God, we come to you utterly broken over the condition of our country. It is disheartening to see the division, the hatred, the intolerance. The violence is heart-breaking, and we long for peace in this great country of ours.

We fall on our face before you, confessing our sins. We pray that we as Christians will humble ourselves and pray and seek your face and turn from our wicked ways, so you will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins and restore our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). We are in desperate need of your healing power and your grace.

As Christians, we see our country turning further from you each day. People no longer reverence you, call on you. We shut you out of our public lives. Even more discouraging is how we shut you out of our private lives. We no longer desire to walk according to your ways, your truth.

Help us remember the message of the cross is foolish to those who do not believe! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).Help us remember we cannot expect those who do not know you to understand why we live the way we do. Help us remember we cannot expect this world to live by the same holy standards we strive to live by.

As this world grows darker and more opposed to the things of God, I pray you would let our light shine brighter. May we be a beacon shining brightly in this country! May we prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:6). May others see you shining through us. 

As you look down on this great country and the mess we have created, we ask that you would raise up a remnant of faithful followers who seek you above all else, whose hearts are pure and whose hands are clean. May we have a single-minded devotion to you, desiring to know you and walk in obedience above all else.

We pray this remnant of faithful believers will have faith to move mountains (Matthew 17:20)! May our faith in the face of an increasingly dark world astound others as we see you move in our lives, providing for our needs as only you can, doing miracles in our midst. And may we never steal your glory, but always use your supernatural work in our lives to point the world back to you, to give you the glory you so deserve.

An important decision will be made next week. We don’t know the outcome, and we don’t know what either candidate will do once in office. Uncertainty abounds, and fear is rampant. We pray you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you (Isaiah 26:3). Help us remember that no matter who is in office, you still control the hearts of kings. Nothing can touch us that is not sifted through your hands. You are Sovereign, Lord! 

Our future is in your hands, and we trust you. We trust you to be our guide as we navigate the tumultuous waters of this world. We trust you to bring good out of all things, even the painful, ugly circumstances. We trust that in your kindness you have called us to share in your eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus, and that after we have suffered a little while, you will restore, support, and strengthen us. You will place us on a firm foundation (1 Peter 5:10). We thank you that even though we are living in uncertain times, we can know that our future with you is secure.

Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of living in this great country where we have freedom to openly worship you. May we never take that privilege for granted, but always guard it and treasure it. May we not live in apathy to you, but live in awe of your love and forgiveness freely poured out for us. Allow our light to shine brightly as our hearts turn to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


The God of Possible

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible,

but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  Mark 10:27 (NKJ)

When facing the challenges of life, the first question that comes to mind is whether we are able to handle them.  This response is based on our ability or power to alter or control the circumstance.   Either we have it or we don’t.  Those things we feel unable to master we describe as impossible.   As we continue our series, “In God We Trust”, it good to know that we serve the God of Possible.

The Greek rendering of the word “impossible” is adynatosThis word indicates that, a person or thing lacks the ability to do a specific action.  In our text today, this word is used as an adjective and means “powerless or impotent.”  However, what is impossible for unaided human beings is “possible” or dynatos with God.  God is more than able—excelling in power.

The Old Testament is replete with passages that illustrate human limitations.  Many times Israel called upon Jehovah to intervene on their behalf.  It was Jehovah Jireh (The Lord who provides) they called upon in time of need (Gen. 22:14).  After successfully crossing the Red Sea it was Jehovah Ripah (The Lord who heals) they promised to faithfully follow (Ex. 15:26).  In the time of battle, Israel lifted their voices to Jehovah Nissi (The Lord who is our banner) as their source for victory (Ex. 17:15).  Every name given to God in the Old Testament revealed His unalterable power and ability to handle every circumstance Israel faced.  From Genesis to Malachi, God proves Himself to be the God of possible.

The New Testament carries over this Old Testament view of human inability contrasted with God who is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask and think” (Eph. 3:20). Because of his inherent nature, God is able to help those who come to Him (Heb. 2:18), to save completely those who trust in Jesus (Heb. 7:25; Jude 24) and in short, to make every grace abound toward us (2 Cor. 9:8).    Man, though created in the image of God, apart from God is impotent—able “to do nothing” (John 15:5).

In an age where self-sufficiency is valued, it’s common to minimize God’s ability to do the impossible.  This belief may be held by those who feel there is no one who can understand their unique situation or problem.  They may feel embarrassed or even ashamed.  God’s love invites them to “cast their burden on Him because He cares for them” (1 Pet. 5:7).  Perhaps people view their challenges as insurmountable.  To them, The Creator of the universe responds, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)  Perhaps individuals are burdened by sin—sin they feel is unforgiveable.  For that group, Jesus gladly responds with open arms of acceptance and says, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”   The next time you’re faced with an impossible task, place your trust in God and shift your focus from your inability to the all-powerful, loving God of possible.

 Good to the Last Byte…  

What are the impossible things mentioned in the New Testament? Here’s a brief sampling for your personal study:  Matthew 19:26, Luke 18:27; Acts 14:8; Romans 8:3 and Hebrews 6:4.  It is of course impossible for God to lie, for His nature lacks that capacity (Heb. 6:18).  That should bring us great comfort and assurance in His Word.

Discovering God in the Psalms: In God We Trust

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3, 4 (NKJ)

There is much to fear as we look around today. The daily news is replete with things that cause us to be “fearful”. We face “tribulation and distress, persecution and famine; nakedness, peril, and sword” (Rom. 8:35); not to mention “pestilence that walk in darkness” (Ps. 91:6). How are we to respond? I offer you an alternative to fear—put your trust in God.

The background for today’s Psalm can be found in 1 Samuel 21:8-15, where we are told of David’s escape to Gath, the stronghold of the Philistines, arch enemies of Israel. The Philistines were well acquainted with David for he had championed the killing of Goliath of Gath when he was only a young shepherd boy (1 Sam. 17). Since then, he had been anointed by Samuel the prophet as the heir apparent to the throne of Israel receiving praises from the people for his many conquests (1 Sam. 18:7). However, those praises had resulted in a death wish from King Saul who now sought David’s life. Now this young man runs for fear of his life to a place of even greater peril and sure death. He now stands captured by his worst enemy, the king of the Philistines.

Psalm 56 is identified as a song for the distressed. We would agree that David was in distress. We sometimes describe it as being “between a rock and a hard place.” Like David, we sometimes find ourselves wedged between many rocks and brutal hard places. Sometimes this happens as a result of others, like Saul, and other times it is the result of our own disobedience and waywardness. In those times of distress and fear, we are to call out like David—“In God, I have put my trust.”

“I have put my trust” is translated in Hebrew, batach, which means “bold and confident”. The description means to literally “throw oneself down, extended on the ground, upon his face.” Can you imagine that picture? David, literally throwing himself on the mercy of God, fully confident and bold; defiantly proclaiming, “What can flesh do to me?” I wonder if his mind reflected back on God’s mighty hand of deliverance in his earlier battle with fear as he faced Goliath. Did he recall the many times God intervened on his behalf as King Saul sought to capture and kill him? His eye was not on the source of his fear but on the Deliverer of his soul. David’s spirit was humbled, cast down in full confidence and trust in Almighty God for his life—not the Philistine king.

As we face the many challenges of life that tend to shake the very foundation of our faith, let us “put our trust” in the one who is able to deliver us from all harm (Ps. 46:2). Remember those times that God stepped in to deliver you and brought you to a point of safety. Exchange your fear for bold confidence (Ps. 20:7). Stretch out on “mature” faith, like David, and expect miracles, signs, and wonders. Although we flippantly have inscribed on our coins, “In God we trust”, it’s now time to write upon our hearts the Psalmist’s words, “I have put my trust in God.”

Truth or Consequences

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

In the 60’s there was a game show called Truth or Consequences where contestants received two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly. If the contestant could not complete the “Truth” portion, there would be “Consequences”, usually a zany and embarrassing stunt. From the start, most contestants preferred to answer the question wrong in order to perform the stunt. Unfortunately, our inability to respond correctly to the truth of God can result in graver spiritual consequences than an embarrassing stunt. How then are we to respond to God’s truth?

When we hear the Word of God (which is truth), our first response is to decide how it fits with our current reality. Reality is the state of things as they actually exist. For believers, God is the source of life from which we derive our meaning and our reality (Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 4:1-2). Therefore, when God’s truth is received, believers are to allow it to reshape their thinking according to God’s standards and adjust their behavior accordingly (Rom. 12:2). The Holy Spirit is the Agent within believers who guides us into all truth and helps us to discern God’s will (John 16:13). However, if we choose to reject God’s truth and disregard the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can expect unpleasant consequences as a result of our willful disobedience. “If we deliberately continue sinning after we have received a full knowledge of the truth, there is no other sacrifice that will cover these sins. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.” (Hebrews 10:26-27, NLT) God’s truth leads to consequences that are either good or bad.

If one’s reality and meaning is not anchored in Christ, a dilemma arises when presented with God’s truth. The dilemma is created because a decision must be made as to whose “word” will be accepted as truth—the world’s, Satan’s or God’s? Jesus’ teaching as recorded in the Gospels created such a dilemma for all who came into contact with Him. The disciples left there safe vocations to become apostles who would witness to the truth of the gospel (Acts 4:33). Those who were healed and delivered from spiritual bondage found life and freedom in the truth that Jesus offered (John 8:32). Upon receiving the truth from Jesus at the well, the Samaritan women joyfully invited others to drink of the living water she had received (John 4:29). Jesus’ truth causes those who hear it to exchange their current reality for one that includes the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). God’s truth creates a moral dilemma for people.

So how are we to respond to the light of God’s truth? As believers we are to live a life that is “rooted and grounded” in the Lord. Our lives are to be lived “authentically” without hypocrisy, obediently giving preference to the Lord who is the Head of all things (Col. 1:17-19). Our affirmation of faith is to be more than flowery words but “love in action”—extending God’s love to all we meet. Lastly, we are to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ so that men will come to Him Who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

Knowledge of the Truth, Part 2

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you…that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10 (KJV)

Let me begin by addressing last week’s question as to the eternal salvation of the person who accepts Christ yet doesn’t live in a manner that pleases God. Bottom-line, the final determination can only be made by Christ on the Day of Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). However, God’s Word does indicate that genuine believers are expected to respond to the truth they have received and that response should then be evidenced in: (1) a transformed life (2 Cor. 5:17) and (2) good works (2 Tim. 3:17; James 3:13).

What is included in the knowledge of truth? Truth is the full realization as to who God is and acceptance of His plan for our lives. The life exposed to the knowledge of the truth should result in transformed living that glorifies God. It is not an intellectual exercise or a test of proficiency but changed behavior. What is the end product of this transformation? Conformity to the image of Christ! We may often hear that we resemble the physical appearance or behavioral idiosyncrasies of our earthly parents. Since believers are “born again” (1 Pet. 1:3), we should now begin to take on the character and behavior of our Heavenly Father, holy and pure (1 Pet. 1:15). As we daily read God’s Word and are filled by (obedient to) the Holy Spirit, we are transformed and then molded into Christ-likeness. We are renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us to the image of the One who created us (Col. 3:10). Since you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, do people see a difference in your life? Whose nature do you reflect—God’s or the world’s?

What is the evidence that we have received the knowledge of God’s truth? We walk worthy of Him “being fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10). Good works are the fruit of our faith—not the root. We are not saved through our works but our “new nature in Christ” is evidenced by “good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ep. 2:10). In this is God honored. Everything Jesus did was to honor and glorify God. On the contrary, the religious leaders of that day were untruthful and dishonoring of the God they professed to serve. When people see believers, do they see Jesus? Do they see the true character of God in our life style and our business transactions?

Increasing (auxanō) in the knowledge of God indicates progress in the believer’s walk of faith. This type of knowledge (epignosis) involves “participation by the knower in the object known resulting in powerful influence.” Such knowledge insures an unbroken and evolving relationship. Jesus illustrated this kind of knowledge in His story of the Good Shepherd (John 10). The Good Shepherd knew His sheep and His sheep knew His voice. This knowledge protected the vulnerable sheep from the neglectful hireling within and from the ravenous wolves without. Today our knowledge of God will protect us against wolves and hirelings. Satan, the world, and our unredeemed flesh attempt to entice us away from the protection and the direction of the Good Shepherd. It is the knowledge of God and the truth derived from it that help us to discern truth from the spirit of error (1 John 3:2-3). Whose voice do you listen to? Who or what is influencing your life?

Knowledge of the truth, results in the believer’s ability to “walk worthy of the Lord”. Through embracing the truth found in God’s Word and through the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to live a life that is well pleasing to God, conformed to the image of Christ evidenced by good works (Matt. 7:16).

Good to the Last Byte…

Knowledge of God’s truth offers the peace, contentment, and authenticity the 21st century world is desperately seeking. It cannot be found in materialism, hedonism, or secularism. If Jesus were personally ministering in 2015, I’m sure His solution for the needs of the world would remain the same as they were for the 1st century world: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is still the answer.

Knowledge of the Truth, Part 1

[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2:4 (KJV)

I was recently asked: “If a person invites Jesus into their life are they saved for eternity—even if they don’t live in a manner that is pleasing to God?” This is a familiar question that has been asked by both believers and nonbelievers. What lies behind their inquiries is genuine concerned for the eternal destiny of their friends and family. My response to this question is framed by the nature of God—His goodness and His greatness and the infallibility of His Word. God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

“Knowledge” (epignōsis) denotes “an exact knowledge that perfectly unites the subject with the object” versus an abstract understanding. The use of knowledge in this passage goes beyond a superficial understanding but reflects a thorough and complete knowledge. Vine’s Expository Dictionary describes knowledge as that which involves “participation by the knower in the object known” thus powerfully influencing him. This is the kind of knowledge God desires that His children have of Him (Eph. 1:17).

In this text, “truth” (aletheia) refers to the truth taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ; subjectively it refers to integrity of character. Such character is only possible by the transformative power of the Gospel and through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (John 16:8-13).

“To come to” or attain the knowledge of the truth is God’s desire for all unbelievers. The knowledge of truth—things pertaining to God—becomes the vehicle of understanding whereby unredeemed man can realized his spiritual depravity and acknowledge His need for a Living Savior. Armed with the knowledge of the truth, the unbeliever can see truth. Lies once hidden from his view are now fully exposed. The new believer is then able to participate in an intimate relationship with God and appropriate the spiritual blessings promised to him (Eph. 1:3. This includes their eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9).

With regard to the opening question, some theologians explain the believer’s continuation in sin as proof “they were never saved in the first place.” This explanation is neither for me to accept nor reject. That is a matter to be addressed between that believer and Jesus on the Day when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Next week we’ll continue discussion of the knowledge of the truth as it relates to believers and its impact on their life and eternal security.