If I were to ask a group of people what’s the greatest thing in life, I would probably get as many answers as there were people. Certainly many things contribute to a full and happy life, but I hope all believers would agree that knowing God is absolutely the greatest and most important of all. Without that, everything else loses meaning.
The Apostle Paul put it this way in Philippians 3:8:
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”
Think of this: Paul wasn’t a loser. He hadn’t hit rock bottom with nowhere else to go. He wasn’t turning from a life of failure and counting that as “dung.” He was one of the most educated and accomplished men of his day. He was the elite of the religious class. People knew him and they wanted to be like him.
Paul wasn’t writing just about the time before he was born again. He had been a Christian for decades at the time he wrote this. He had travelled the world and been used of God as few men ever had or ever will be. Yet here he was still seeking to know God more (Phil. 3:10).
Paul was saying that the best life had to offer and the greatest accomplishments and pursuits of any man, when compared to knowing God, ranked in the same category as manure. He was admitting that he hadn’t arrived but that he had left and was pressing toward that goal of knowing God more (Phil. 3:12-14).
What does it say, when the man who wrote half of the New Testament was still pursuing knowing God decades after his conversion? Certainly there has to be a depth of knowing God that goes far beyond just getting saved. Paul spoke of this in Ephesians when he prayed that the Ephesian Christians would come to know the height, length, depth, and breadth of God’s love (Eph. 3:18-19).
He said something very interesting in Ephesians 3:19:
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
At first glance this seems confusing. How can we know something if it passes knowledge? Paul is speaking about experiencing God’s love in a way that is infinitely greater than mere intellectual knowledge. And notice that when we experience God’s love in this way, we will be filled with all the fullness of God. What a statement!
All we have to do is look at our lack of experiencing God’s fullness in order to realize we don’t know God’s love the way Paul described it. If we did, we would be filled with all His fullness. Therefore, there is a dimension to knowing God that the average Christian hasn’t experienced. How do we get there?
First of all, we have to realize that there is more to knowing God than just becoming a Christian. Multitudes of people have received salvation, and if they were to die, they would go straight into the presence of the Lord. But they don’t know God.
They don’t know that He loves them because He is love and not because they are lovely. They think they have to earn God’s favour, and they are needlessly suffering condemnation and lack of fellowship with Him because they feel unworthy. They don’t know Him as a loving heavenly Father but see Him as a harsh taskmaster.
Many Christians think our Father is the source of all their troubles and suffering. They think He uses those problems as tools to teach them something or change their behaviour, even though the Word clearly proves the opposite (James 1:13). They don’t know their God as Healer or Provider, or in any other of the ways He manifests Himself to them. Truly, God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge about Him (Hos. 4:6).