What does it mean to know God?

Do you know God, or do you just know about Him? What does that mean? We get caught up in reading or hearing about God from others, and just know about Him. We sometimes never get to the purpose of Bible study, to engage in relationship with God, to know God personally. It’s easy to let knowledge get in the way of knowing, really knowing someone.

Do you know the story of Job? Job was an upstanding man—a man with lots of wealth, possessions, family members, and friends. Yet, in a matter of days Job’s world was turned completely upside down. He lost everything except his life and his wife. He ended up sitting in ashes, covered with sores, scratching himself with a broken piece of pottery. Three of his friends came to visit and comfort him, and sat silently with him for a week.

When the conversation finally began, Job declared his innocence before God, and that he had been treated unjustly. His friends insisted he was obviously guilty or he wouldn’t have received such harsh treatment from God. Their ideas about God conflict. Either Job was right, or they were. Either Job knew God, or they did.

What happened to Job was a result of Satan’s accusation that Job feared God because God gave him good things. God took up the challenge, because He knew Job, and knew Job knew Him. God was confident Job would not turn away from Him because of affliction because Job didn’t just know about God, that God gives good things, but Job knew God, and that adversity comes from Him too. And in both, God is to be worshiped.

His friends thought they knew God. They were sure that Job’s affliction was due to Job’s sin. After all, God is a just judge. Job insisted that they were wrong. He didn’t know why he had been afflicted, but he was sure it was not judgment for sin.

Personal relationships are born of personal experience.

In the last chapter, Job responded to God with:

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore, I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.

(Job 42:5–6)

Job didn’t know God as well before his ordeal as he did after, through his personal experience. He did not know why he was being afflicted, but in the end God revealed Himself to Job in ways Job had not known before. Their relationship grew.

How do you engage in relationship with God?

To engage in relationship with God, you must get to know Him. There are two main ways to get to know anyone. One way is to hear about them from someone else. Another is to hear from them yourself and walk with them in life.

The advantage we have in developing our relationship with God is that He tells us about Himself in Scripture, His self-revelation. So step one is to study God’s Word. Don’t skip the Old Testament, because He reveals Himself there.

Step two is engage in prayer. Listen for His response by keeping your eyes open to see Him reveal Himself by what He does and says in His Word.

Step three is walk with Him. Daily. Trust Him in all circumstances, live according to His Word. Surrender to Him, choosing to allow our own personal will to be swallowed up in His. This is the key to knowing God deeply. It may mean we never have answers for the troubles we have faced like Job. Or it may mean saying yes to His will before we even know what that means. Surrender to God comes before intimacy with God.

How can I grow in a deeper relationship with God in Bible Study?

The way to grow deeper with God is to know His Word and let it become a part of your life. How you live, how you speak to others, and how you engage in relationship with God. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, God’s words are “God breathed”—not meaning some kind of vague power or ghost breathed into man’s preexisting words—but literally breathed or spirited out of the mouth of God. These words did not originate in the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

God’s Word is precious, valuable, and a treasure. Psalm 138:2 says, “You have magnified Your Word according to all Your name.” That means God ranks His revelation of Himself together with His name.

The Word sanctifies (purifies, cleanses) our hearts so we can live a godly life. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” It is demonstrated by Jesus’ apostles who, according to Acts 6:4, gave themselves to prayer and the Word of God.

You may be asking, “How can I grow closer to God?” As you grow deeper with God by studying His Word, you will live close to God. God’s Word tells us that He is present and personal. Psalm 46: 6-7 says, “The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered…the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” In verse 10 of the same chapter we read, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

Where can I go in the Bible to see verses about knowing God personally?

The Bible has many verses about knowing God, but we recommend you start with Psalm 46. Plant its words deep in your heart so you can truly know God deeply.  We encourage you to use the Precept Bible Study Method to see what the text says, understand what it means, and personally apply it to your life.

  1. You can print out a copy of the text here.
  2. Read the Psalm in its entirety.
  3. Make a list of everything you learn about God in this Psalm.For example:
    1. God is our refuge and strength (verse 1)
    2. A very present help in trouble (verse 1)
  4. Evaluate your list and see how it applies to you.When I find myself in trouble I need to act on what I what I know is true. For example:
    • I can run to God my refuge and strength and not to my friends.
    • I pray.
    • I go to His word for strength and direction.
    • I cling to the truth of the Bible even when I don’t understand my circumstances.

You can also use a few resources to help you grow deeper in your relationship with God. One that we’d like to recommend is Lord, I Want to Know You. This study is about the names of God. In the Old Testament, the names of God reflect the character of God. When you know God by studying His names—Creator, Healer, Protector, Provider, and many others—you’ll gain power to stand when you face trials, comfort for pain and heartache, and provision for your soul’s deepest needs. This study will change the way you view God, and serve as a great foundation as you pursue getting to know God.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org.