Within all of us there exists a strong desire to be known and to know others. The most important Person to know is our Creator. In fact, Jesus taught that eternal life is not just a span of time; it is a relationship: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
The key to truly knowing God is found in what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible. He wants to be known (see Acts 17:27). The problem is our sinfulness. We are all sinful (Romans 3), and we fall short of the standard of holiness required to commune with God. We have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:23). So, in order to truly know God, we must first acknowledge our sin and repent of it (see Acts 3:19).
In turning from sin, we must turn to Jesus Christ, the only Savior from sin. In Jesus alone is salvation (Acts 4:12). We receive Jesus by faith: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NKJV). Jesus’ death and resurrection provided for the forgiveness of our sin, and He alone is the way to a personal knowledge of God: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6, NKJV).
Jesus revealed to us who God is, so in knowing God we must look to Jesus: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. . . . Believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me” (John 14:9–10; cf. John 17:6). Every work that Jesus did was in obedience to the Father in heaven (John 5:19). Every word Jesus spoke was straight from the Father (John 12:49). To know God, we must know Jesus.
Another key ingredient in truly knowing God is reading the Bible, God’s Word. In the Bible we have God’s revelation of His character, His promises, and His will. It is through the Bible that we know that God is “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). It is through the Bible that we know that God is “mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes” (Deuteronomy 10:17). It is through the Bible that we know that God is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible,” worthy of “honor and glory for ever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17).
Truly knowing God also comes through our commitment to obey what we read in the Scriptures. We were saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10), and, as we obey the Lord, we become part of God’s plan of continuing to reveal Himself to the world. 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. Jesus Himself placed the greatest importance on loving God with all we are and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–40).
These are the keys to truly knowing God. Of course, those who know God will also be committed to prayer, fellowship with other believers, sincere worship, and walking in the Spirit. Jesus taught His disciples about the Holy Spirit, contrasting the world’s ignorance of Him with the disciples’ knowledge: “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). It is through the Spirit of God that we have “adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15–16). Through Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, our lives can be filled with God, and we can experience the joy of truly knowing Him.