|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|KNOWING GOD BY EXPERIENCE
Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King
I AM REVEALED
Feb 24 2013
This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent – Jesus Christ. (John 17:3)
EXPERIENCING GOD’S PROTECTION
One day, I was travelling in a mini-van with my wife Marilynn and two men on an extremely busy freeway near
Washington D.C. It was rush hour, and the multi-lane expressway was jammed with vehicles as impatient drivers rushed
to their destinations. Suddenly, our van swerved to the left and almost collided with an eighteen-wheeler in the next
lane. We all braced ourselves, certain we were about to be crushed by the behemoth. The truck blasted its air horn,
and our driver veered back into our lane. But before long our vehicle again drifted into the busy lane of traffic beside
us. We asked the driver if he was OK, and he assured us he was. But his driving became increasingly erratic. Finally,
we insisted that he pull over and eventually discovered this dear man was having a stroke. He barely knew what he was
doing. It had been a miracle we had not had a serious accident.
I had known that God was my Protector since I was a little boy (Psalm 41:2; 121:7). Yet on that day, I experienced His
divine safe-guarding. There is a world of difference between knowing something to be true in your head and
experiencing the reality in your life. When we finally arrived at our destination that evening, I had a profound new,
experiential understanding of God as my Protector.
Scripture is filled with descriptions of God’s character. You can read these accounts and believe them to be true about
God. Yet God does not merely want you to read about Him, He wants you to know Him. For the Greeks, to know
something meant you understood a concept in your mind. It was an academic process. For example, a Greek orphan
might grow up and know the concept of a father. He could describe what fathers do and what it looks like to relate to
one. He could conduct research and know all the nuances of the Greek word for father. Yet a small child who had a
loving father would know much more about fatherhood than the expert who had studied the concept abstractly his entire
In contrast, for a Hebrew person – like Jesus – knowing something entailed experiencing it. In fact, you could not truly
say you knew something unless you had dealt with it personally. The small child who had a father might not understand
the various grammatical uses of the word “father,” but he would know a great deal about what it was like to have one. So
it is significant that, when Jesus spoke about knowing God, He was speaking as a Hebrew.
When Jesus said eternal life is knowing God – including God the Son, Jesus Christ – He did not mean that eternal life is
knowing about God. He was not referring to someone who has read many books and attended numerous seminars
about God. He was talking about a firsthand, experiential knowledge. We come to truly know God as we experience Him
in and around our lives. Many people have grown up attending church and hearing about God all their lives, but they do
not have a personal, dynamic, growing relationship with God. They never hear His voice. They have no idea what God’
s will is. They do not encounter His love firsthand. They have no sense of divine purpose for their lives. They may
know a lot about God, but they don’t really know Him.
Merely knowing about God will leave you unsatisfied. Truly knowing God only comes through experience as He reveals
Himself to you through His word and as you relate to Him. Throughout the Bible, we can see that God took the initiative
to disclose Himself to people through their life events.
KNOWING GOD THROUGH HIS NAMES
In biblical days, a Hebrew person’s name represented his character or described her nature. Peoples’ names gave
insight into what they were like.
Similarly, biblical names, titles, and descriptions of God identify how men and women personally came to know Him. The
Scripture is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to people. Each of the many names for God represents a different
aspect of His nature.
THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
Genesis 22:1-18 tells us that God was in the process of developing Abraham’s character so he could be the father of a
new nation. God put Abraham’s faith and obedience to the test by asking him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. This
brought Abraham to a crisis of belief. He had to decide what he really believed about God. Until this time, Abraham had
known God by experience as “God Almighty,” for God has miraculously provided him with a son when he and his wife,
Sarah, were old and beyond the human limits of childbearing. It was wonderful to know God as “Almighty,” but God
wanted to expand Abraham’s understanding and his experience of who He is.
The command from God to kill Isaac seemingly contradicts everything we know about God. However, in Abraham’s day,
people sometimes would sacrifice children on altars dedicated to their idols. They believed that demonstrating such
devotion to their gods would earn them divine pleasure and, in return, bring bountiful crops. Nowhere else does the
Bible record God ever asking someone to sacrifice a child to Him. Clearly, God was testing Abraham to see if he was as
devoted to the true God as his neighbors were committed to their false gods.
Of course, any such sacrifice would be horrendous, but putting to death your only child – for whom you had waited
twenty-five years – would have been an agonizing assignment. Obeying such a command required Abraham to trust
God at a new and deeper level of faith than he ever had before. On the way to the place of sacrifice, Isaac asked his
dad, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). Can you imagine how sobering this moment was for
Abraham, knowing his beloved son Isaac was to be the sacrifice?
“Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (Genesis 22:8). We don’t know
all Abraham was thinking as he trudged up the mountain with his son, but clearly he trusted God to provide everything
he needed for the imminent sacrifice. He acted on his belief that God was his Provider. He did what God told him to do.
When God saw that Abraham did not merely claim to have faith in Him but that he was willing to act out his trust through
obedience in this excruciating task, He stopped Abraham and provided a ram for the sacrifice instead. Abraham named
that place after the characteristic of God he had just come to know by experience. This is the first time we see the name
Jehovah Jireh in Scripture, meaning “The Lord Will Provide.” Abraham came to an intimate knowledge of God that day
through the experience of God as his Provider.
This is how we, too, grow to know God. As we experience God firsthand, we come to know Him in new and increasingly
deeper dimensions. We can learn that God provides as we read this story about Abraham’s walk, but we really know
God as Provider once we experience Him providing something specifically for us.
GOD’S PERFECT PROVISION
For twelve years I served as a church pastor in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. When we started our first mission
church, we called Jack Conner as our mission pastor. Although the new congregation needed a full-time pastor, we had
no money for moving expenses and no provision for his salary. But we knew God was asking us to invite Jack to come.
He had three children in school, so we needed to pay him at least a modest salary with which to care for his family. We
began to pray that God would provide for his moving expenses and his salary once he arrived.
Jack had a secure job as a senior pastor in California. Yet we were asking him to move his family to a new country with
no guarantee of a steady paycheck. Jack and his wife Bonna prayed, and they, too, sensed God’s hand at work. Jack
began to take his family up a mountain just as Abraham had done, without knowing just how his need would be met when
he arrived. I did not have an extensive list of contacts I could canvas for Jack’s financial support. I felt the full weight of
what I was asking Jack to do, and I began asking myself, “How in the world will God make this provision?” Then it
dawned on me that as long as God knew where I was, He could cause anybody in the world to help me. He could place
my need on the heart of anyone anywhere.
Jack was approved by Canadian immigration and began his trek of faith. As he prepared to move, I received a letter
from a church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The pastor said, “God has laid it on our hearts to send one percent of our
mission giving to Saskatchewan missions. We are enclosing a check to use however you choose.” I had no idea how
they became involved with us at that time, but a large donation was included with the letter.
Not long afterwards, someone called me and pledged to contribute funds every month for Jack’s financial support. That
promise brought the monthly financial package to the level we had hoped to pay Jack. When Jack drove into our
driveway with his family, I asked, “Jack, what did it cost to move you?” The amount was almost exactly what the church in
Arkansas had sent us.
We began that step of faith by believing what the Bible teaches: that God can use anyone, anywhere, to be His
instrument of provision for those who trust Him (Philippians 4:13). We had believed God, and we followed through in
obedience. We already knew academically that God was One who provides. But after that event, our whole church
came to know from experience that God is, indeed, the Provider. Calling Jack by faith and seeing God provide for him
led us to a deeper love relationship with an all-sufficient God.
THE LORD IS MY BANNER
The Bible is filled with examples of God helping His people come to know the reality of who He is through their
experiences. As Joshua and the Israelites were fighting their relentless enemies, the Amalekites, Moses oversaw the
battle from a nearby mountain. While he held his hands up to God, the Israelites were victorious, but whenever he
lowered his weary arms, the Israelites would begin to lose.
God gave Israel victory over the Amalekites that day, and Moses built an altar to commemorate the occasion. He named
it “The Lord Is My Banner.” A banner was a standard or flag that armies, tribes, or nations carried in their front ranks to
identify who they were as they marched into battle. It could be difficult at times to recognize an army as it marched
through dusty fields. But when you saw its banner held high in the air, you could immediately discern if the army was a
friend or foe, and you could gain a sense of its strength by understanding which king or nation it represented. The title,
“The Lord Is My Banner” indicated that the Israelites belong to God and that to oppose them was to battle against the
power of God.
Moses’ uplifted hands gave constant glory to God, indicating the battle was His and that the people of Israel belong to
Him. Israel came to understand God in a fresh and powerful way that day as they realized anew that they were God’s
people and that He was their defender (Exodus 17:8-15).
I AM WHO I AM
When Moses encountered God in a burning bush, he asked, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your
fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13).
“God replied to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus
3:14). By this God was declaring, “I am the eternal One. I will be what I will be.” In essence this declaration held a
promise: “Whatever you need me to be in your life, that is what I will be. I AM everything you will need.” During the next
forty years, Moses came to experience God as Yahweh, the Great I AM. God was everything Moses and Israel needed
Him to be.
A RELATIONSHIP – NOT JUST A NAME
Whenever God reveals His nature in a new way, it is always for a purpose. He created you for a love relationship with
Him. When He encounters you, He is allowing you to know Him by experience. Encounters with God are always an
expression of God’s love for you. Jesus said: “The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves
Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him” (John 14:21).
If you have a love relationship with God, you will experience Him actively working in and through your life. For instance,
you could not truly know God as the “Comforter in sorrow” unless you experienced His compassion during a time of grief
The various names of God found in Scripture can become a call to worship for you. The psalmist said: “Happy are the
people who know the joyful shout; LORD, they walk in the light of Your presence. They rejoice in Your name all day
long, and they are exalted by Your righteousness” (Psalm 89:15-16). Acknowledging God’s name amounts to
recognizing who God is. Calling on His name indicates we are seeking His presence. To praise His name indicates we
are seeking His presence. To praise His name is to exalt Him. God’s name is majestic and worthy of our praise.
EXPERIENCING GOD TODAY
Watch for ways God may bring you to a deeper knowledge of Him through the experiences of your life. Then take time
to worship God as you have come to know Him. To worship is to revere and honor God, to acknowledge Him as worthy
of your praise.
The names of God in Scripture reveal something of His nature, activity, or character. You come to know God by
experience – at His initiative – as He allows you learn something new about Him. As you experience God, you grow to
know Him more intimately and personally. As you grow in your knowledge of Him, you will naturally want to express your
praise, gratitude, and worship to Him. One of the ways to worship Him is to praise and honor Him by acknowledging His
EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.