Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: If we really knew God, we'd be radically different people.

“Faith-Full Living: If We Really Knew God”

Phil. 3:1-16

As a 6th grader our son Kevin was incapacitated by a constant headache for almost a year. During that time someone would occasionally say, to me or Barb, something like, “It must be tough taking care of him and still keeping up with work and ministry.” I always appreciated that heartfelt expression of empathic concern; yet there were times when my heart wanted to cry out for help and say, “If you only knew.” Sometimes we have information, or have had an experience, which makes us more familiar with the subject at hand and we wish we could somehow communicate it accurately and thoroughly. Such, I believe, was Paul’s dilemma when communicating about God. Knowing God was the chief aim of his life. I believe Paul was stating that IF WE REALLY KNEW GOD, WE’D BE RADICALLY DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

There is nothing more important, therefore, than to truly and fully know God. Former Chaplain of the United States Senate, Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie wrote: “With it, life is sublime; without it, there is constant stress. It is the secret of true greatness, the source of lasting happiness, the supply of wisdom beyond our understanding, the storehouse of strength to endure tough times, and the springboard to success in reaching what really counts. It is our ultimate goal, our greatest privilege, and our most urgent need...Our nation is in trouble because of the lack of this sublime quality. Lack of it accounts for the growth of moral and ethical relativism and the demise of absolutes in our society. The fabric of our values is torn and frayed because of neglect of this privilege offered to us. It is the reason we were born and the mission of our lives.” OUR LIVES CAN BE RADICALLY TRANSFORMED WHEN WE UNDERSTAND THE DYNAMICS OF KNOWING GOD.

It has always been so. Centuries prior to Dr. Ogilvie’s analysis, the prophet Hosea wrote (4:1-3, 6): “The Lord has filed a lawsuit against you, saying: ‘There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You curse and lie and kill and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing. It is filled with sadness, and all living things are becoming sick and dying. Even the animals, birds, and fish have begun to disappear...My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.’” Let’s take a close look at the words of Paul from Philippians 3: 8 &10: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord... I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection ...”

The good news is that WE CAN REALLY KNOW GOD. Throughout history the pagan world has been sadly mistaken. It has always been haunted by what it perceives as the inability to know God - that at best humankind can only grope after his mystery. Plato said, “It is hard to investigate and to find the framer and the father of the universe. And, if one did find him, it would be impossible to express him in terms which all could understand.” Aristotle spoke of God as the supreme cause, by all men dreamed of and by no man known. The pagan world has not doubted, by and large, that there are gods, but it has believed they are unknowable. Nothing is further from the truth. The apostle Paul has answered this philosophy adequately in Romans 1: 18-21: “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks.” God is knowable.

I think the issue for the church is that too many people know about God without really knowing Him. That is what is at the source of the decline in our churches and society. Understand that TO KNOW GOD IS TO HAVE INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM. The biblical word “to know” conveys deep intimacy; it is the word used when Genesis reports that Abraham knew his wife Sarah and she gave birth to a son. It means an intimacy of heart, soul, mind, body – and intertwining of whole beings. It is the same word used of the way God knows us – the godly knowledge of which the Psalmist speaks in Ps. 139: “Oh Lord you have searched me and known me.” God, through the prophet Jeremiah promised (31:33-34), “‘I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. ...For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will already know me’ says the Lord.” We can know God intimately. We are to be in a constant deep, growing relationship with Him. Paul wrote (3:12-14) that while he had not fully obtained this knowledge, this intimacy, he would strive for it until his dying day. But we can have intimate knowledge of God.

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