Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
Our salvation is not a matter of what we know, but whom we know. Christians who focus on only the Bible and their knowledge of Scripture are in danger of depending on “what” they know in order to be ready for Christ’s second coming. As Seventh-day Adventists we feel we are secure because we know about the Sabbath, tithe paying, health reform, death, the mark of the beast, the manner of Christ’s return, etc. However, remember, it was tithe-paying, Sabbathkeeping, health reformers who crucified Jesus. What we know is important, but without a personal relationship with Jesus, we will be deceived and lost in the end.
The Greek word translated “know” refers to intimate knowing, not simply an intellectual knowing. So I ask the question, Is God really real to you, or is He just an intellectual concept?
We can know things about God but not really know Him. A head knowledge of God is not real heart knowing—intimate knowing.
We don’t get to know God through doctrines or teachings about Him. Israel had the Old Testament scriptures and the sanctuary service. Yet they didn’t know their own God when He came in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Of their lack of knowing Him, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39, 40).
We can know God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (all present) without knowing Him. We can read about Creation and the other Bible stories that talk about God’s power and involvement in the affairs of men and still not know Him. Such knowledge about God is not “knowing” God.
We can be very active in serving God in ministry and even do marvelous things in the name of Jesus and not know Him. Jesus pointed out this very fact in Matthew 7:21-23:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ”
Active, apparently successful ministry in the name of Jesus is not evidence of actually knowing Him. The foolish virgins were also caught up in self-deception. They believed in Jesus and that He was coming soon. They enjoyed fellowshipping with God’s people. They believed the doctrines and lived the lifestyle. Yet Jesus told them, “I do not know you” (Matt. 25:12). Ellen White described them as follows:
The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. . . . The class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. . . . Their service to God degenerates into a form” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 411, emphasis added).
The name ‘foolish virgins’ represents the character of those who have not the genuine heart-work wrought by the Spirit of God. The coming of Christ does not change the foolish virgins into wise ones. . . . The state of the church represented by the foolish virgins is also spoken of as the Laodicean state” (Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1890, emphasis added
Note that the foolish virgins do not know God because they have not yielded their lives to the working of the Holy Spirit, which would have led them to intimately knowing God and becoming like Jesus in character. This is why the daily baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential for every believer who wants to intimately know God and be ready for Christ’s return.
Personal Reflection and Discussion
1. What does the Bible mean when it says we must “know” God?
2. Is knowing truths about God the same as knowing God? How are the two different?
3. Is having an active, apparently successful ministry evidence of knowing God?
4. Why were the foolish virgins lost when Jesus, the bridegroom, returned?
• Call your prayer partner and discuss this devotional with him/her.
• Pray with your prayer partner:
1. Pray for God to baptize you with His Holy Spirit.
2. Pray for God to revive you and His church.
3. Pray for God to lead you into a close, knowing relationship with Him.
4. Pray for the individuals on your prayer list.
Excerpt From: Dennis Smith. “40 Days.”