We Know God Because We Know His Spirit

This is from the fourth chapter of New Life in Christ Jesus

When Jesus left earth and went back to heaven, the paradigm for knowing God shifted a bit.  While He was on the earth, knowing God and knowing the Spirit were by means of knowing Jesus.  But starting at Pentecost, when the Spirit of the living God first took up residence in the hearts of men, knowing God and knowing Jesus were by means of knowing the Holy Spirit.  In some regards, this is only a superficial distinction, because God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one (1 John 5:7).  But on the other hand, it is not merely superficial because our experience with God and our interactions with Him are by direct and intimate personal contact with His Spirit.  We know God the Father because we know His Spirit.  We know God the Son because we know His Spirit.

Jesus made it clear that the one and only way for a man to know God after His resurrection would be through interaction with His Spirit.  He had already previously said that all authority had been given to Him to make God known or to keep Him hidden: “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.  Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27).  In His final words to the disciples He revealed the means by which He intended to execute His authority to “reveal” God to man.  It started with a simple statement of fact:

A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me (John 14:19).

Immediately after Jesus said this, Judas (not Iscariot) recognized what Jesus was saying.  But he could not imagine how Jesus would be able to show Himself to His disciples and simultaneously hide Himself from the rest of the world.  So he asked Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world” (John 14:22)?  It was to that question that Jesus gave this answer:

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him (John 14:23).

Jesus was telling His disciples that after His death, He and His Father would take up permanent residence in the hearts of men, and that They would reveal Themselves to them from inside their hearts.  Those who would be privileged to have God in their hearts would experience the blessings of getting to know God better over time.  But those who would not have God in their hearts would remain ignorant of Him altogether.

With these words, Jesus revealed exactly how God intended to fulfill the promise He made to Jeremiah concerning the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34).  Every one of His people would know God, from the least of them to the greatest of them, because God would reveal Himself to them personally and show them His glory from the depths of their own hearts.

Some people say that we don’t need anything but the Bible to teach us about God.  But they are wrong.  The Bible’s testimony is clear.  If we have the Spirit of God living in our hearts, then we have everything we need to know God because He teaches us about Himself from the depths of our own hearts.

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5 Responses to We Know God Because We Know His Spirit

  1. Hi Bret! I agree with Amy…CONGRATULATIONS on all your achievements with your book to this point. I administer a blog for our church, and I know how much work it is, so nice job on the blog.

    I should probably know your thinking on this, maybe better than anyone, but it seems you and I always come back to this point of the discussion–about the place of scripture in our lives. It seems to me that we always come VERY close to agreeing completely, but we don’t get all the way there, yet. You know that I admire your book, that I have learned A LOT from it, that you have caused me to think deeply about the role of the Spirit in my life, that you have changed some of my views, and that I’m speaking out of love. So I know you will interpret my comments in that context.

    The last sentence of your post is pointed, and I know that’s intentional because this has been such a significant issue in your life. “Some people say that we don’t need anything but the Bible to teach us about God…. If we have the Spirit of God living in our hearts, then we have everything we need to know Him because He teaches us about Himself from the depths of our own hearts.” First, I don’t know of any Christians who believe that we “don’t need anything but the bible to teach us about God.” To believe that they would have to deny the bible itself. Besides that, I think I agree with every word in your post except one word in the last paragraph: “everything.”

    We also need the written scripture. If that were not true God would just call us to himself without the use of scripture, illuminate our hearts without scripture, teach us the gospel without scripture, and save us without scripture. Once we were saved he could then teach us about the riches of his kingdom without scripture. God COULD easily do all those things. But for his own reasons he has chosen to give us his written word and he desires us to use it in our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is an example: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV) Scripture is not just for the lost, but is for equipping the people of God.

    The bible is NOT sufficient. If it were, we would not need God in our hearts. God in our hearts COULD BE sufficient, but that is not how he has chosen to do his work and to teach us. He indwells us and teaches us directly, but he also teaches through our relationships, and he teaches through all of creation in our circumstances. God DOES teach us about himself from the depths of our hearts. He does teach us and show us his will in every facet of our lives. But sometimes he chooses to do this through scripture. Because scripture is one of God’s chosen tools, it is essential.

    I love you, Bret, like the 2x brother that you are, and I pray your book accomplishes God’s purposes.

    • Bret Griffin says:

      Thanks, Vic.

      Concerning your first point, I should have used better wording. I did not mean to be critical of the Bible, but of Christians who say we don’t need to listen to the Holy Spirit because we have the Bible. As wild as this may seem, some people actually hold this point of view. Contact me privately and I’ll share some links where people have said as much.

      Concerning your second point on God’s role as our teacher and guide, I think we are close on our thinking. But I would reword the learning process this way:

      God is personally and directly responsible for all of our learning. He teaches us all things (John 14:26) and guides us into all truth (John 16:13). Many times, He teaches us and guides us without providing any corroborating evidence. Sometimes He uses the Bible to aid in His teaching. Sometimes He uses people, or nature, or circumstances, or a combination of these things. But in every circumstance, whether God uses an agent or not, our learning is advanced only when we yield ourselves to the view of the truth that God Himself personally presents to us.

      This is especially true when it comes to learning about God. Jesus made it clear in John 14 that the only path to knowing God after His death, burial, and resurrection would be through direct revelation by His Spirit after He comes to live in our hearts. So I believe I am on solid ground when I say that we have everything we need to know Him if God lives in our hearts.

      • lydia says:

        Well, now. It is pretty difficult to respond to such learned men who obviously have spent much time with our Lord. It is a joy to listen to you speak about the things He has taught you. The marvelous thing to me is that God speaks to His people.

  2. Amy Griffin says:

    Well, first off, congratulations on your first post! I pray this will be a very fruitful site and that it will encourage many.

    People need to hear this message – that God communicates with us personally through His spirit. It is such a precious gift to hear from God and anyone who hasn’t experienced hearing His voice is REALLY, truly missing out.

    Thanks for following the Lord’s leading and creating a place where people can come together as believers in Christ and learn about our new life in Christ Jesus together.

    • Bret Griffin says:

      Thanks, Amy. You are right that it is a great blessing to have the God of the universe living in our hearts. In fact, it is our greatest blessing. We are so blessed to have been given this privilege.

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