Knowing God intimately

 

“May grace and perfect peace cascade over you 

as you live in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

(2 Peter 1:2, TPT).

What a wonderful prayer from the heart of the apostle Peter.  It is a vivid and powerful expression of God’s desire for every believer – that we come to know Him so deeply and intimately that our lives are literally flooded with His grace and perfect peace.

It is worth mentioning here that the word “knowledge” can sometimes convey a sense of aloofness. For example, we can know a lot about God – but still not really know Him personally, in the way that Peter is meaning.

Therefore, it is really helpful to note that the Greek word that is translated “knowledge”, in this instance, is “ginosko” which speaks of intimacy – the exact opposite of aloofness. Instead of knowing about God, it means coming to know God through first-hand acquaintance and personal experience. It speaks of a very intimate, one-to-one relationship.

Our verse indicates that God is calling us to “live in” – to abide in – that intimate relationship with Him. Jesus Himself expressed this same calling in these words: “You must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.” (John 15:4, TPT)

Well, this is a staggering invitation and calling!  But how do we respond to it, in practical terms?  How do we live our lives intimately joined to the God of the Universe?

We start by seeing what God the Father has done in order to bring us into intimacy with Himself. That is, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has removed the barriers to relationship, has forgiven us all our sins and brought us into union – or oneness – with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This is what happened to us when Jesus went to the cross on our behalf:

“My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me – we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!” (Gal. 2:20, TPT).

This is way beyond human comprehension, and we are not called to understand it fully with our human minds – that is impossible. But we are called to make an active response to what God has already fully provided for us. Yes, we are called to “join” ourselves to Him, in faith: “the one who joins himself [or herself] to the Lord is mingled into one spirit with him” (1 Cor. 6:17, TPT).

Then, as we keep believing and responding by drawing close to God, the Spirit Himself will gradually reveal to our hearts that which cannot be comprehended by intellect.

God is so utterly humble and patient!  It is striking indeed that the Lord waits for us to join ourselves to Him – even though the “joining” has already been carried out by God. The thing is, though, that unless we believe in this joining together with God in intimate relationship – and unless we seek and pursue it – it will have very little effect on our lives.

It is important to hold on to the truth that God longs for us to come into intimacy with Him much more than we can desire it!  So that helps to lift from our shoulders any possible sense of needing to “labour” to pursue the relationship.

It does require intention and activity, though – as any developing relationship does.  Intimacy with God grows naturally as we spend time in prayer, talking with and listening to our Father.  It grows as we meditate upon the Word of God, and especially on some of the many scriptures that speak of our relationship with Christ.  For example: Gal. 2:20, John 1:12-13, John 15:15, Col. 2:9-10, Col. 3:1-3, 1 Cor. 6:19 and the Song of Solomon – to mention just a few (and there are very many more! These can be researched through Biblehub.com and other, freely available online resources.)

Intimacy with God also grows as we share and express His Love in many different ways with other people. He wants the fruit of our union with Him to spill out of us to bring transformation and healing wherever it flows. And, as that happens, our own relationship with Christ is strengthened, often without our even being aware of it at the time.

May I conclude with the wonderful, faith-igniting verse that Peter wrote immediately after 2 Peter 1:2. Here it is from the Amplified Bible, which conveys the intimacy of relationship and the incalculable blessings – the “all things”! – which God imparts to us as we grow ever closer to Him in our hearts and prayers, and in our practical lives: 

“His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3, AMPC).

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Ann Shakespeare

Welcome to the Ann Shakespeare blog. Ann, a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, BBC World Service and The Daily Journal, is currently involved in editing and writing on Christian themes. She also ministers in a local ecumenical centre which provides prayer and pastoral support.

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