Knowledge of God

One thing I find interesting about Christianity is the strong emphasis on study and knowledge. I, more than most, come to experience this emphasis in my seminary classes and studies.

Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed reading a modern classic, The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer. It was written in 1961 but has much relevance to today. This was my favorite part:

“Knowledge of a Being cannot be gained by study alone. It comes by a wisdom the natural man knows nothing of, neither can know, because it is spiritually discerned. To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it. But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them” (page 115).

Yep, he nailed it.

I find it interesting that most churches spend a good majority of time on Biblical teaching, but really what people need is an encounter with God. That encounter must come before any teaching or preaching can really take root.

Maybe we’re focusing on the wrong thing.

[Image: Scroll Publishing]

  • Jan Owen

    I completely agree. Which is why I believe so strongly in the power and priority of worship. Gotta run now but I think you’ve made a great point.

  • Ben

    This is an interesting post because I just asked someone the same question about how they are letting the Holy Spirit encounter them. As I have met more people in Evangelical circles, I found out that an encounter is a lot different in an Evangelical church than a Charismatic one. However, I really don’t see a heavy majority of Biblical teaching either, I think we have some good cherry-picked messages to fit a specific vision or agenda but to have good teaching like in Tozer’s time, well that is another thing.

    • Tyler

      Good point Ben, it does have different meanings, sadly.

  • Josh

    This is something that I’ve tried to be mindful of in the last couple years or so…

    Do I just know about God, or do I actually know him? I know what I want my answer to be.

  • David

    Definitely. And sure, that encounter may come through a “church” experience – a word, music, drama, story, etc.

    But I think more emphasis needs to be placed on us – the church – living lives that give people an encounter with God just by being around us. Living out Love.

    And just as Tozer said…that’s both the easiest and hardest thing in the world.

    • Tyler

      Agreed, a lot of times people come to experience God outside of church and that experience pushes them into a church.

  • Jake Belder

    Maybe I’m missing the point a little, Tyler, so if I am, then just try to clarify for me. What do you mean when you say an ‘encounter’ with God? And an additional question: is the reception of biblical teaching different than an encounter with God if we believe Scripture to be his Word? In one of the comments above, Josh mentions ‘knowing about’ God versus ‘knowing’ God, but I’m not sure you can separate the two. I certainly agree that one can know about God without actually knowing God, but I don’t think one can know God without knowing anything about God. When I read this bit from Tozer, I hear him saying that spending all kinds of time studying about God won’t bring us to actually know him, unless he first opens our heart to receive the knowledge we glean from studying. Sorry if this is rambling a bit, but does that make any sense? Am I just missing his/your point?

    • Tyler

      My only point was exactly what you said:

      “Spending all kinds of time studying about God won’t bring us to actually know him, unless he first opens our heart to receive the knowledge we glean from studying.”

      Does that mean Biblical teaching isn’t important and can’t lead us to a more intimate relationship with God? Not at all. I just wonder if we put too much emphasis on that and not a pursuit of God outside of study.

      If you have confusion, it was probably my bad misuse of semantics. Sorry. What you said was what I was gunning at for a main point of some sort.

      • Jake Belder

        Okay, thanks for the clarification. I think I was just confused by what you meant by ‘encounter.’

        • Tyler

          Yeah in hindsight, it is a very poor usage of vocab from me because it insinuates that encounter with God is something we do, but really I believe what I want to say is that we need God to open our hearts and minds to him.