Knowing God: Why and How?

Good morning brothers and sisters in Christ.

One of my English students has been grieving the death of her husband. She said, “When my husband was alive, I didn’t appreciate him. But now that he’s gone, I don’t really have a reason to live. Now I know the meaning of life: the purpose of life is relationships.”

I absolutely agree with her: the purpose of life is to be in relationships, especially with the God who created us.

Recently, a well-known Christian writer named J.I. Packer passed away. Over the years, people have recommended his books to me. I want to read a quote from one of his classics, called Knowing God. He says, “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we have in life? To know God. What is the ‘eternal life’ that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. . . . What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God.”

When J.I. Packer says “knowledge of God,” he doesn’t just mean factual knowledge. He means having a relationship with God.

So today, I want to explore the theme of knowing God, through three questions:
1) Why is it important to know God?

2) How can we get to know God?

3) What prevents us from knowing God better?

1) Why is it important to know God?

The first question is “Why is it important to know God?” First, it’s important because God wants us to know him. The Bible says in Jeremiah 9:23-24:

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.’”

God speaks and he is a person. He has thoughts, feelings and opinions.

Elsewhere in the Bible, God uses the metaphor of marriage to describe his relationship with people. A marriage is meant to be a close relationship, and God wants a close relationship with us.

We all start life without knowing God. That’s because of sin. From the beginning of human history, we broke our relationship with God by doing what God asked us not to do. But God wants to repair this relationship, so he pursued us by sending his Son, Jesus Christ.

Knowing God through Christ is necessary. The Bible says in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” In other words, only through Jesus Christ do we have forgiveness of our sins and a healed relationship with God. This will determine the course of our life, now and in the next life.

Jesus once defined eternal life like this: in John 17:3, he said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” So eternal life is not just about living forever in a happy place. Rather, having a relationship with God is true life itself.

To summarize, knowing God—through Christ—is important because it is what God wants and because it will affect our lives greatly, both now and forever.

2) How can we get to know God?

So how can we know God? The short answer is this: The main way to know God is through reading the Bible.

It’s good to re-read the Gospels, which are four books in the Bible which record the life and words of Jesus. If you ever wished that you could see God and listen to his voice, you can, by spending time with Jesus in the Gospels. According to Hebrews 1:3, Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being. He reveals God’s character and thoughts.

Aim to spend time with God each day, through reading and thinking about the Bible. And by talking to God about matters in your life—just as you would with a friend or a family member you love.

As you spend time doing that, the Holy Spirit will enable you to hear the voice of God and discover who he is more and more.

Now, how can we be sure that we know God? One test is to see if we obey him. 1 John 2:3-4 says, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”

The more you know God, it will manifest in your life through greater trust, greater obedience, and changes in yourself. The more you know God, the more you can trust him. The more you trust, the more you can obey and do his will. The more you obey, you will see your thoughts and habits and character changing. That doesn’t mean it will happen quickly. It usually doesn’t.

Have you ever heard people say that couples who have been married a long time often become more like each other? As I get to know my wife, I learn what she likes and dislikes. For example, I know she hates price tags, so I remove them from things that I buy. That means, over time I have become more like my wife.

To summarize: We get to know God more by seeing his actions and listening to his words. This is by reading the Bible and experiencing him in our daily life. The Holy Spirit will help us recognize and obey God. And as we know God more, we will become more like God.

3) What prevents us from knowing God better?

Lastly, what prevents us from knowing God better? Here are 3 things that can hinder us:

1) lack of reading and obeying the Bible,

2) lack of community support, and

3) sin

First, we cannot know God better if we don’t make Scripture-reading a regular habit. I understand that most of us are very busy. It’s hard to juggle between work, house chores, and taking care of family. COVID-19 has made it even harder for young parents to have private time to themselves at home.

For myself, it’s hard to read the Bible like I used to. My baby will try to grab the Bible. She recently tore out one page, but thankfully it was blank page. So instead of reading, I now listen to an audio version of the Bible on my phone. I listen while I cook or look after the baby.

So we need to find creative ways to listen to God’s Word. Or maybe we need to ask our family to give us a short time each day to be alone, even if it’s just 15 minutes.

Another thing that can make it harder to know God is lack of community support. It’s hard to be a Christian all by yourself, without really talking to other Christians about your life and your relationship with God.

Recently a study was conducted by the American Bible Society, in collaboration with a survey company called Barna Group. They found that during this time when many churches closed because of COVID-19, fewer American Christians were reading the Bible. Meanwhile, Christians were more likely to read the Bible and live by its principles when they joined a small group for Bible study or fellowship, or if they had a spiritual mentor.

But I think we don’t need a survey to tell us that we’re more successful in reading the Bible when there is community around to help us. It’s the same with exercise. We need friends to encourage us, check on us, and challenge us. How about taking the initiative to call a Christian friend and talk over phone? Or choose to regularly meet online with a few believers, share prayer requests, and talk about a Bible verse you have read recently?

Lastly, another thing can hinder us from knowing God more is sin. Sin is anything that goes against God’s character or God’s will. Sin is also when we love anything more than God. In a marriage, when one spouse hurts another spouse, it creates a wall in the relationship. Likewise, sin creates walls in our relationship with God, making it harder for us desire him and do what he wants. We need to examine our hearts regularly and ask the Holy Spirit to show us those walls and help us to break them.


 In closing, knowing God more should be our greatest aim in life. The more we know God, the more we will become like him. It is what he made us for. To fulfill this purpose, let’s prioritize spending time with God, especially through meditating on the Bible and conversing with him.

If this is difficult, let’s ask our Christian friends to help us. Maybe we should try to have more conversations with each other about our faith and matters of life, not just about the weather. Let me suggest one way to start. How about asking each other, “What did you think about today’s message?”

I am praying that the Holy Spirit will help us all to know God better. Let’s pray.