Do We Really Know God?

Have you ever thought you knew someone, only to discover you didn’t? 

I received a Facebook message the other day from a friend I’ll call Diane. She shared a prayer request for a mutual friend, mentioned a writers conference she was planning to attend, and asked me for information about a book I’d reviewed on my blog. 

I responded with the details she needed, but the whole time I was composing the message, a question kept niggling in my brain. Where do I know her from? I mentally scrolled through what I knew about her—she had a couple of grown kids, a cute Yorkie, was mutual friends with Pat and Jean, and had recently retired. 

But have I ever met her? 

I realized that even though I could rattle off quite a few facts about her life, I didn’t really know her. We might have attended the same conference. We shared a few friends, but all I knew about her I’ve gleaned from the occasional Facebook post that appeared in my news feed. I knew Diane, but I’d never met her. 

The Apostle Paul didn’t have Facebook, but he faced a similarly awkward situation. All his life he thought he knew God. Studied him. Knew a lot of details about his life. Read his book. Hung out with people who said they knew him. 

But he’d never met him. 

Listen to Paul’s own words: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today” (Act. 22:3). 

But then the surprising message came: “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” 

Faced with the truth, Paul had to admit it—he didn’t really know the God he’d purported to know: “Who are you, Lord?” he cried. 

Blinded, horrified to discover that he’d been persecuting genuine followers of God, and overwhelmed by the knowledge that he’d missed the Messiah, he came face to face with the Savior. 

"I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” 

Many people have a similar experience as Paul. They’ve grown up in religious homes. Read the Bible and perhaps even memorized it. They’ve attended church. Volunteered in the nursery. Given money. But they’ve never met Jesus. 

Paul realized what each of us must acknowledge—that Jesus is the Messiah, he died to take the punishment we deserve for sin, and he rose again to prove it was sufficient. Once Paul did, God’s instructions to him were clear: “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Act. 22:16). 

When I was 18 years old, I walked a church aisle, prayed a prayer, and shed a few tears. Like Paul, I’d learned about God, read his Word, and volunteered at church. I even put money in the offering plate. 

But I hadn’t met Jesus. 

Little by little, he revealed himself to me. Then, one day, he broke my heart over my sin. He helped me realize I’d been living my life my way and not doing a very good job of it. I confessed, repented, and trusted Jesus with my whole being—my past, my present, my future, and my eternity. 

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “. . . if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” and it was true.

From that moment on, my life began to change. I knew Christ had come to live in my heart, because I had a changed attitude about sin. I could no wantonly longer ignore God’s principles. I found myself wanting to go to church because God was there, not to see and be seen. I felt myself drawn to read and study my Bible, and even though I was naturally introverted, I began to share what God was doing in my life with others. 

Paul experienced a similar life change. Then God gave him a life-changing assignment: “The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14). 

Salvation is available to all, John 3:16 tells us, but “not everyone who says to (him), ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

If you’re unsure of your relationship with Christ, ask yourself these three questions: 

1. What are you trusting in to get into heaven? A good life? Kind deeds? Charitable giving? Parents who know God? If your answer is anything but what Jesus did on the cross, you are trusting in a false gospel. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

2. Was there a moment in your life when you confessed your sin, repented (changed direction), and surrendered your life to God? Romans 10:9 promises, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” 

3. Has there been a change in your life since then? Are you becoming more like Christ? Christians aren’t sinless, but they should sin less. “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). 

“Knowing” someone on Facebook but never meeting them is common in today’s society. So is knowing about God without ever meeting him. If this describes you, I pray you’ll surrender your life to him today. 

As Romans 10:11 says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 

Now it’s your turn. Was there a time in your life when you trusted in something other than Christ for your salvation? How did God open your eyes? Leave a comment below and share your story.

If you'd like to hear more details about how I began a relationship with God, check out this video. If you're reading by email and can't see the video, click HERE.

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