Many ask the question, “Do you know God?” It’s a good question, and a biblical one, but there is another way to consider our relationship with the Lord. It is to ask the question, “Does God know you?” This question is just as important as the first.
Paul put it this way…
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God… Galatians 4:9 (ESV)
To know God puts the initiative in me. To be known by God, well, that puts the initiative with Him. And that’s really where the initiative should be.
More than that, we are in for danger if God does not know us. Famously, Jesus will say on judgment day, “Away from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23).
And so you ask, how can I be certain that God knows me?
Well, consider this: Suppose you told me, “President Obama knows me,” and I said, “Sure he does.” And you said, “Well, I sent him a letter.” And I would reply, “He gets letters all the time. What does that prove?” But suppose you answered, “Yes…but I have a letter back from Him.” Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. Now I have at least an indication that Mr. Obama really knows you.
What does this mean for being known by God? Well, if God knows you, He will speak to you in His word. There will be some times in your life when you open your Bible to read and there will be fire in the pages. It will suddenly be a living book to you with a speaking God who knows you. Now, let me be quick to say that every word in the Bible is God’s word, and this cannot be overemphasized. Every word is His word and can therefore speak to you. But if you really know God, you will have moments, likely not every day, but occasionally, when you are spending time in the Word and the Holy Spirit will seemingly put a highlight pen through a verse or a phrase. And in that moment, you will know that God is actually speaking to you. Or it may happen that you are walking along and praying about something, and suddenly, a verse will come to your mind and it will be God dealing with you personally. Or it may be that you are listening to a sermon and suddenly, you will have a sense that the word coming from the pulpit is alive and is transforming you. This is knowing God.
In Genesis 16:13, Hagar prays to the Lord, “You are the God who sees me.” And why does she put it that way? Because, God told her he was going to take care of her. He told her He had His eye on her son and his eye on her. And she knew that she was known. And there is nothing better in the world than to be known by God.
How can you know God and be known by Him? We get a clue in the passage I referenced from Matthew 7, where Jesus says,
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV)
The reason this passage is scary is that these are clearly church people. Some have done more for the Lord than I have. Yet, take note – see what the multitudes are hoping in on the Day of Judgment – They are basing their eternal hopes on the idea that they DID THINGS for Him. So many will come before God with this in mind on the final day.
The way to be known by God, though, is not to do things for Him. It is, rather, to place your faith in Him. As Paul wrote the church at Ephesus: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
When He, from His lofty throne,
Stooped to do and die,
Ev’rything was fully done;
Hearken to His cry!
Weary, working, burdened one,
Wherefore toil you so?
Cease your doing; all was done
Long, long ago.
Till to Jesus’ work you cling
By a simple faith,
“Doing” is a deadly thing—
“Doing” ends in death.
Cast your deadly “doing” down—
Down at Jesus’ feet;
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
– James Proctor