As we turn the calendar from November to December, that wonderful time of year is upon us. As we decorate our homes, play Christmas music, and wrap gifts. What a wonderful time to celebrate the Lord’s blessing to us, with the greatest being the gift of Himself to us. I hope your celebration this year will be especially sweet and meaningful.

            As I mentioned last month, we as a leadership have crafted a new purpose statement that we hope will define what we are trying to achieve as a church. The statement reads as following:

            Smyrna Presbyterian Church gathers together to:

Know and worship the Triune God

Grow in the covenant family of God as reformed disciples

Show forth the love of Christ as servants and witnesses

For the Glory of God.

            This statement is to help focus on the main objectives as a church – and not to get loss in the chaos of “doing church” from week to week. Everything we do, individually and corporately, should be focused on or around these 3 main goals of KNOW – GROW – SHOW. That is because these things summarize the discipleship making process to be disciples and make disciples. This statement helps us to focus on how to do exactly that. So the next few months I want to use these articles to help define what each of these means. We look first at the aspect of KNOW.

            If you are familiar with the language of Scripture, “know”, “knowing”, and “knowledge” have much more than cognitive ability in mind, and much more the aspect of relationship. A deep familial intimacy that comes through being in relation with someone else. The most familiar verse that demonstrates this is when it says in Genesis 4:1 – “Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.”That is much more than a cerebral knowing. They knew each other in a marital intimacy, and out of that relationship came a son. So when we speak of knowing God or knowing Christ, it is a personal knowledge with all of our beings fully connecting to the living and triune God in a personal relationship.  

            What is amazing about saying that we are to personally know God is that God has made himself able to be known and desires to be known. As God, we have no right, power, or authority to dictate upon him to be in relationship or covenant with us. But God in his mercy and grace has willingly condescended himself to us and enters into relationship with mankind. We read this from the very beginning of Genesis, God “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gn. 3:8), which seems to indicate was a regular interaction between God and man. Yet through our first parents’ sin they were banished from the garden and thus the close relationship that they once possessed. However, God was not done with mankind, or the relationship once started. No, God continues to make a covenant relationship with mankind ultimately fulfilled with Christ. The whole of the Scripture testimony of God’s relationship with man, and man’s relationship with God could be summarized by that one word – KNOW.

            To know God fully we need three vital aspects – knowledge, assent, and trust. First, knowledge as it is primarily defined means knowing – facts, information, truth, etc. about God. Second, assent (or belief) take the knowledge or truth about him believes it to be true. Third, trust is where the knowledge of the truth and assent to that truth becomes personally applied. l. These three items are vital to faith, or to KNOW God.

In our Communicants Class (going on right now) we use a chair metaphor to demonstrate this, and we ask three questions: 1) How do you know this is a chair? (knowledge); 2) Do you believe this chair could support you? (assent/belief); 3) Who will come sit in this chair? (trust). The point is that knowledge and belief are not enough. It’s not until you sit in the chair and put all of your weight down upon it that you are using a chair for what is designed to do. The same is true of our relationship with God through Christ. Knowledge and assent are vital, but it’s not until you fully trust and put all of your faith in Christ, and Christ alone, that you KNOW God and have entered into the relationship with God that we must have (James 2:19).

            You understand why this is so important for us both individually and corporately. All our reading, teaching, preaching of Scripture has this aim and focus – to increase in knowledge, belief, and most importantly trust – so as to truly KNOW God. Through this type of KNOW our relationship with God will deepen and be strengthened – and entering into that relationship with God that we were created to have, and gives Him the most glory.

            J.I. Packer in his book, Knowing God,summarizes it this way:

What are we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is eternal life? Knowledge of God (John 17:3). What is the best think in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God (Jer. 9:23) What, of all the states God ever sees man in, gives Him most pleasure? Knowledge of Himself (Hos. 6:6).

            What a wonderful time of year as we think of the birth of the Son, our Savior, to dive into this great purpose for us. He came in the flesh to know mankind and to be made known to them. May we therefore strive in all that we do to know Him, even as He has made himself known.