Three Ways of Knowing God

As Christians we are seeking to know God, but in what way or to what degree?

“He made His ways known to Moses; His acts, to the children of Israel.” -Psalm 103:7

God’s ways are different from His acts. His acts are His activities; His ways are the principles by which He acts. The children of Israel knew only His acts, but Moses knew His ways (Psa. 103:7).

-footnote on Hebrews 3:10, Recovery Version

Three Ways of Knowing God

  1. According to His acts
  2. According to His principles
  3. According to His being

We all start out only knowing God’s acts. These are the most apparent of the three and fit in with the most basic concept of God- He’s the Sovereign, calls the shots, rules the universe and yet is somehow privy to our needs. We ask for something and He acquiesces. I have a job interview and pray that God will give me the job. I have a test and pray that God will help me get a good grade. I have an annoying roommate and pray that God will help me be understanding. This is the initial experience of a new believer and don’t get me wrong, it’s a precious and comforting experience to realize that God is your provider, protector, and source of material blessing.

In this stage, we may fall into trying to buy God’s deeds with our deeds. It goes like this. We have a need and want Him to do something for us. But then we are painfully aware of how much we haven’t done for Him. So we make promises to God in hope that He will act for us. We promise to live for Him, to be better, to try harder. We may not think this consciously- I’m bribing God to act for me- but nonetheless it’s something along these lines.

There is nothing wrong with this early in our Christian life, but ultimately we need to begin to know God in a further way.

His principles are the ways in which He acts or the reasons behind His actions. Thus, Abraham knew that God was righteous and thus could negotiate for Lot’s rescue from Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). Moses knew God’s faithfulness to His word to the patriarchs and thus could ask God not to destroy the children of Israel in the wilderness for His sake (Exodus 32:9-14).

This is an advancement but eventually we need to know God according to His being.

“Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and you who have no money; come buy and eat…”

Isaiah 55:1

The waters here are the many rivers of the Spirit for our enjoyment and drinking.

To us the divine waters are free. Our deeds are not money to Him. To the religious and natural man their money is their good behavior. We just need to come and drink. This is how the Bible ends. The Spirit and the Bride are calling out to thirsty sinners to come take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).

To God the waters cost greatly. The lead up to Isaiah 55 is Isaiah 53, a seminal chapter on the crucifixion of Christ. He paid the highest price not merely to forgive our sins but to prepare the divine drink. On the cross He was pierced, but out came blood and water. The water is not what He does or why He acts but His being, essence, and element- the Spirit.

The price we pay for these divine waters is what we are. We get His being for our being. Not His doing for our doing. This is the highest thought of God- drinking God to gain God. In this way God gains us and we gain God.

Our highest thought of God may be that He shed His blood for us. But Isaiah 55:8 indicates otherwise. God’s highest thought is to become a drinkable salvation to man as the Spirit.

What should we do for all that God has done for us? Drink.

What shall I return to Jehovah for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of Jehovah.

-Psalm 116:13-14

8 thoughts on “Three Ways of Knowing God

  1. Amen, brother. There’s a great difference between knowing someone’s actions and knowing someone as a person. The Lord wants us to know Him personally – not just to see that He is sovereign over everything and does a lot of things for us…

    The best way to know Him is to DRINK Him! Hallelujah! This reminds me of 1 John 2:27, about the anointing – the way we know God is by being anointed with all that He is, by drinking of Him as the all-inclusive, life-giving, compound Spirit! This is more intimate than just outwardly seeing what He does or knowing the principles of the way He operates.

    Lord, we REALLY want to know You! Keep us drinking You!

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    • Stefan,
      Definitely! I like how 1 John 2:20 also connects knowing the Lord with the anointing. We can know the Lord inwardly by His moving within us.

      I also like Hebrews 8:11- “And they shall by no means each teach his fellow citizen and each his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all will know Me from the little one to the great one among them.” Two different Greek words are used for ‘know’ here. The first is objective the second experiential. All will not only know about the Lord through teachings but will have an inner ability to know the Lord through His life.

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  2. This is an excellent article Kyle. I especially love this summary, “This is the highest thought of God- drinking God to gain God.”

    It reminds me of the overspoken, yet underused declaration that kicks off the Westminster Shorter Catechism, that a “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

    Just drink deeply!

    This gospel would set so many people free if they weren’t being fed the “doing for doing” garbage you mentioned.

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    • As believers we are so conscious of how much we’re doing for God. Why don’t we have this same sensitivity to how much we’re drinking? The doing that really glorifies God is that which comes out of our enjoying God.

      A great illustration of this is the story of the prodigal son. Most people forget about the older brother. He never left home or squandered his inheritance, but neither did he ever enjoy his father’s riches. Just look at his reaction to his brother’s return home. He was slaving away and had never neglected his father’s commands. But neither had he ever enjoyed the fattened calf. How many Christians do we know like this? Slaving away for God with little joy.

      The prodigal son on the other hand definitely messed up. And we may look down on him for that. But in the end he was the one who feasted with the father and enjoyed his provision.

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  3. Amen bro! Awesome blog! Very sweet. All we need to do is DRINK. This is a huge point that many Christians unfortunately miss. Everything has been accomplished. Not our doing for His doing, but our being for His being. Hallelujah!
    Also, this blog reminded me of the Bethel series given by Ron in 2008 in which he mentioned, from a broader perspective, four aspects of knowing God. As:
    1) The Creator.
    2) The Redeemer
    3) The Life-giver
    4) and The Builder.
    Creation, redemption, and Life-giving are all for the building.

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