One of the biggest principles to this sight is the importance of knowing God. He is a person who wants to be known and it is the Christians duty to seek Him out. In seeking God, we must start by knowing him.
In chapter 4 of The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer gives an instructive lesson on how to approach God so that He may be known.
Churches in America are filled with people with nothing more than a surface knowledge of God. While the preaching from the pulpits may be deep, little is developed in the minds and hearts of the congregations. Most just sit and listen while the one who is doing the work of seeking God opens the book and talks for 40 minutes. I know, because I’ve been preaching since I was 12. Little gets through what you hope will get through.
It wasn’t that long ago that I had the privileged of teaching a young adults Bible study. The first week I taught a chapter from Philippians. Then next week I did nothing but ask questions. For three hours the young adults struggled through the text and expected me to give them the answers. Each week we alternated. I taught, then they taught. By the end of the bible study, I was confident that everyone had learned something, and no one left without a new skill and experience from the Bible.
The church today has not been given a chance to work out their own faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), and many pastors are happy to do the work for them. But Tozer points out the product to this line of thinking.
“They have never bothered to think the matter out for themselves, but have heard about Him from others, and have put belief in Him into the back of their minds along with the various odds and ends that make up their total creed… for millions of Christians, nevertheless, God is no more real than He is to the non-Christian. They go through life trying to love an ideal and be loyal to a mere principle.” *
God wants to be known by His Children, but it is a sad reality that few actually know who He is. Tozer says, “No proof is necessary to support that statement. We have but to converse with the first Christian we meet or enter the first church we find open to acquire all the proof we need.” Look around your congregation on Sunday morning and you’ll find that the very way our churches are set us is for one person to do all the work for the rest. One preaches, while the rest sit and listen. There is no opportunity for them to be engaged or ignited. Instead they wait to be encouraged or impressed.
But the Bible is full of examples of those who knew God. I mean they KNEW Him. They understood his heartbeat as if it were their very own. They searched the Scriptures daily. A whole nation stood and wept for the reading of the law. The longest chapter in the whole Bible, Psalm 119, is about a love for God’s Word. And they didn’t have the easy books of the New Testament. They had Numbers and Deuteronomy.
“The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience.” *
God makes Himself real to us through the truths of His Word. If anyone seeks to know Him, the answers are all there. If there was a book written about a man’s wife, it would be much easier to know and love her if he could understand her. But while there isn’t a book written about each individual wife, there is a book that is written about God.
Tozer writes to cultivate a hunger for knowing God. He tells us that God can be known and invites us to learn about Him. The two terms he uses for knowing God are ‘Reality’ and ‘Reckon.’ We must first come to an knowledge that God is real. Then we must realize what I cannot understand with our human faculties before the fullness is made clear to us. This is faith.
“The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ alive now and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing.” *
The only way of knowing God is by looking for Him. No one ever found God from sitting in a pew. Tozer already taught us the doctrine of prevenient grace, but now he is teaching us how we must pursue Him. Once the believer tastes and sees God, they will find the most delight in His presence that they will be pressed on to continually pursue Him.
* Reach chapter 4 of The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer here.