The title used for this series is not to claim something that is imaginary or sensational, but to emphasize a truth that is real and is the basis of every other truth expressed in God’s Word.

So what is this subject of prime importance? The answer to that question is simply expressed in one word—God! It is, of course, the subject that underlies all other Biblical subjects. It is a consideration that we, who claim to be God’s children, should all focus upon regularly and seriously because it affects us all and is intended to change us all.

May I ask another question? When was the last time you heard an exhortation or Bible Class on the subject of God where the real focus was the subject of God revealed in the Bible? If your circumstances are similar to mine, the answer would be that this subject is dealt with only very occasionally, and even then in rather brief or general terms relating to His wondrous works, His mercy, His goodness, His purpose etc; or perhaps in a public lecture in a context of proving wrong the teachings of the Church concerning God.

Yet the overwhelming impression and conclusion as we read God’s Word, is that it is really all about Him from start to finish—He was there in “the beginning” (Gen 1:1) and will be “all in all” at the ending of His purpose (Rev 1:4–8; 22:13); and our vital need, as we hope to show, is to try and absorb and respond to the life-giving teachings about Him “in whose image and likeness” we have been made.

So let us devote a regular part of each day to a contemplation of Him who has revealed Himself to us in His Word and of some of the things concerning our God, set out therein; or as we do our daily reading, make it a point to notice all the wonderful things the Bible tells us about God. I am sure we will all find ourselves uplifted, spiritually strengthened and developing more positively in lives that honour Him who made us; and honour, too, His Son who died for us.

That They Might Know Thee

The very real need for us to do this is clearly emphasized in a well-known passage from Jesus’ teaching in John 17:3: “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

This is a marvellous starting point from which to open our thinking about God. Not only is a wonderful hope expressed here, but also a startling two-fold challenge. Firstly, let it sink in: our hope of experiencing “Eternal Life” is dependent upon “knowing God”. It is not dependent only on being baptised and attending meetings and doing our daily readings etc, essential as these are: it is dependent on accepting that in everything the first and greatest commandment must be allowed to direct our whole lives.

The second challenge is to recognise we need to “know” God in the way Jesus means here. The Greek word is ginosko and implies more than a mere mental awareness and acknowledgement of the existence of God. Bullinger defines it as, “A personal and true relationship between the person knowing and the object known, to be influenced by one’s knowledge [gnosis] of the object [God], to suffer one’s self to be determined thereby”; or, as other writers have said, “to come to know by experience”.

We have an old saying; “we learn by experience”, which points to the truth that “to know” something comes not only by study but also through practice.

In this sense we need to understand John 17:3. To know God and His Son is not only to learn facts about them but also to live them. In the conscious effort to copy and do the things God does, we experience what He is and what He wants us to be. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 3:19: “to know [ginosko] the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge [gnosis], that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” This can only happen, or begin to happen, if we copy or seek actively to love in the way Jesus loved.

This section in Ephesians 3:14–21 is emphasizing that God’s whole purpose in the creation of man is to be part of man’s life; that the absorption of His Word, His teaching, into our inner being and consciousness will enable us to know (by experience, by close personal relationship) the love of Christ, and be able to reveal some of the fulness of our God in our lives now, and to greater measure in the Age to come. This ‘knowing by experience’ is, by implication, not only an intellectual exercise; it must be a practical experiencing of the Ways of God, by our endeavour to do the things that God does for the same reasons He and His Son do them.

The result of such endeavour will be that little by little God, Who is the Creator of us all, and is the beginning and ending of all, will be the One who is being revealed, not only in the life of His Son, Jesus the Christ, but in our lives too. Not only because we can say that we know (ginosko) Him, but because we are knowing Him, experiencing His involvement in our lives now, His involvement in calling us, in redeeming us in His Son and in loving us, so that we are being transformed into His image and likeness. For what reason? For our glory? No! for His glory! And this is, of course, the end that Paul directs us to contemplate in Ephesians 3:21: “to Him be the Glory in the ecclesia by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen.” So we need to “know God” in this way, for this is “life eternal”. This is indeed a challenge for each one of us to face up to, and bear in mind as we do so, that this is what God expects of us and why He has called us.

John 1:1

There is another well-known passage in John’s Gospel that can help our understanding of God, and that is John 1:1. So often we consider this passage in a context of refuting Trinitarian error and we pass over the sublime and comprehensive truth contained in this short verse.

Please turn it up and look carefully, phrase by phrase, and come to appreciate what it is telling us about God.

1 “In the beginning was the word [logos]”; that is, in the beginning the logos, the eternal purpose God had determined in Himself, was declared—spoken out (for men to hear 1:5). The word logos means literally an idea expressed, outwardly. So first of all God’s eternal purpose is spoken and sent forth for men to hear, understand, believe and respond to.

2 “And the Word was with God.” Notice the word “with”—this is a translation of the Greek preposition pros, the meaning of which is, essentially, “toward”. Let’s read the statement that way and see what it is really saying: the Word (logos) was sent out with the express purpose of directing all who respond to it in Truth back towards God. Therefore John says in verse 5, the light shined in the darkness (ie in the darkness of man’s mind, who because of sin was going his way not God’s way) – those who heard and accepted were turned back towards God—those who would not hear, continued on their way, away from God to death.

3 “… and the Word [logos] was God.” That is, God’s Word is Him—it is Him speaking out for all men to hear—“this is God speaking, this is what I want you to do!”

Now, in case we have missed the point, John in verse 2 repeats the second statement of verse 1: “the Word was in the beginning with [towards] God”, showing it is vital for us to understand, that the purpose of God’s Word going out is to turn men back towards God.

John continues in verses 3 and 4 to tell us that “all” things became, came into being, by it [the logos]… in it [the logos] was life: and the life was the light of [the] men”. So right from the beginning God’s Word (the logos) held out to men the hope of Life. This, when comprehended and acted upon, brings men back “towards” God and enables them to experience (to know) God and to walk in the light truly towards God and to reveal God’s Way to others.

This same principle of the spoken (and written) Word of God being sent out to direct all men back towards God is also seen in the beautiful section of Isaiah’s prophecy, Isaiah 45:18–23. God who created all things (v18) did “not create in vain”; so therefore God spake out openly for all to hear (v19) “things that are right”. What for?—verse 20, that all should “assemble… and come [and] draw near” to God and understand (v 21) that Yahweh is “a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me”. Therefore (v22) “look unto [towards] Me and be ye saved”; for (v23), “the Word [logos] is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return… [until] unto Me [towards me] every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear”.

In his 55th chapter Isaiah returns to this theme in this way:

Verse 1 The Word goes out: “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters… come.”

Verse 3 “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live”

Verses 8–9 God’s ways and thoughts are not the same as ours; so

Verse 11 He sends forth His Word out of His mouth and it returns not unto Him void; it shall accomplish that which He pleases.

Paul too, in summing up God’s dealings with both Israel and the Gentiles in Romans 11:33–34, asks us to consider the wonder of God’s Ways, and shows in the final verse that we are to see, in considering God’s ways, that “out of Him and through Him and to [towards] Him are all things.” Why?—“to whom be glory for ever. Amen”.

In concluding this first section of our consideration of God, let us ask ourselves the burning question: are our lives leading us towards God or away from Him?