Question: "What is the key to truly knowing God?"
Answer: Within all of us there exists a strong desire to be known and to know others. More importantly, all people desire to know their Creator, even if they are not professed believers in God. Today we are bombarded with advertising that promises many ways to satisfy our cravings to know more, have more, be more. However, the empty promises that come from the world will never satisfy in the way that knowing God will satisfy. Jesus said, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3).
So, "what is the key to truly knowing God?" First, it is imperative to understand that man, on his own, is incapable of truly knowing God because of manís sinfulness. The Scriptures reveal to us that we are all sinful (Romans 3) and that we fall well short of the standard of holiness required to commune with God. We are also told that the consequence of our sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that we will perish eternally without God unless we accept and receive the promise of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. So, in order to truly know God, we must first receive Him into our lives. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12). Nothing is of greater importance than understanding this truth when it comes to knowing God. Jesus makes it clear that He alone is the way to heaven and to a personal knowledge of God: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6).
There is no requirement to begin this journey besides accepting and receiving the promises mentioned above. Jesus came to breathe life into us by offering Himself as a sacrifice so our sins will not prevent us from knowing God. Once we have received this truth, we can begin the journey of knowing God in a personal way. One of the key ingredients in this journey is understanding that the Bible is God's Word and is His revelation of Himself, His promises, His will. The Bible is essentially a love letter written to us from a loving God who created us to know Him intimately. What better way to learn about our Creator than to immerse ourselves in His Word, revealed to us for this very reason? And it is important to continue this process throughout the entire journey. Paul writes to Timothy, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-16).
Finally, truly knowing God involves our commitment to obey what we read in the Scriptures. After all, we were created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) in order to be part of God's plan of continuing to reveal Himself to the world. We carry the responsibility to live out the very faith that is required to know God. We are salt and light on this earth (Matthew 5:13-14), designed to bring God's flavor to the world and to serve as a shining light in the midst of darkness. Not only must we read and understand God's Word, we must apply it obediently and remain faithful (Hebrews 12). Jesus Himself placed the greatest importance on loving God with all we are and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22). This command is impossible to keep without the commitment to reading and applying His truth revealed in His Word.
These are the keys to truly knowing God. Of course, our lives will involve much more, such as commitment to prayer, devotion, fellowship, and worship. But those can only follow making a decision to receive Jesus and His promises into our lives and accepting that we, on our own, cannot truly know God. Then our lives can be filled with God, and we can experience knowing Him intimately and personally.