Intimate Knowledge of God
What is intimate knowledge of God? The Bible says that it's not intellectual knowledge or head knowledge like the secular word means. What, then, is it?
Over the past several months we have been exploring Romans 12:1-2: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed [how?] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We have learned that renewing our minds means to put off "things that are not of faith" and to put on the Mind of Christ. When we put on the Mind of Christ, what are some of the gifts that we receive? Isaiah 11:1-2, which defines the Mind of God for us, says that we receive the Spirit of the Lord, His Wisdom and Understanding, His Counsel and Strength, His Knowledge, and the ability to walk in the Fear of God.
In this series of articles, we have already explored the first five gifts of the Holy Spirit that give us God's Mind. In this particular article, I would like to explore the Spirit of Knowledge, the sixth capability or function of the Mind of Christ.
The Spirit of Knowledge (Daath - Oida)
The Spirit of Knowledge means "experiential" knowledge. It means something you know through "living experience" of it working in your life. Some people understand the Bible backwards and forwards, and yet, they still do not have this kind of intimate knowledge of God-they don't know His Life as their own.
The Greek word for intimate knowledge is oida. Oida knowledge of God means that God's Life has come forth from our hearts and is now flooding our souls. It means that His Agape Love has become our Love, His supernatural Thoughts have become our thoughts and His Power, our power. In other words, we have exchanged lives with Him. We have given God our own life (our own thoughts, emotions and desires that are contrary to His), and in return, He has given us His. This is intimate knowledge of God. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
Two Ways to Know God
See, there are really two ways we can "know" God:
1) Oida knowledge, which means intimate knowledge of God; or,
2) We can simply know Christ as Savior. And the Greek word for this kind of knowledge is ginosko, which means impartial, objective knowledge that we gain from reading books about God or from what we hear others say. I like to call ginosko knowledge "beginning knowledge" or knowledge with lots of self effort (or "works"). It's simply knowing Christ after the flesh. This is where many Christians spend most of their spiritual life.
The Hebrew word for "beginning knowledge" is yada. And yada in the Old Testament often refers to the marriage act. It's interesting because we can be married to someone and even have sex with them for years, and yet never actually experience that intimacy that God designed for each of us to have. We are simply "going through the act." The physical act alone is not what gives us intimacy. Intimacy occurs when our hearts, souls and bodies become one.
And it's the same thing with our relationship with Jesus. We can know Him as Savior and yet still be totally consumed with ourselves and thus conformed to this world. God says the result of this way of thinking is captivity, imprisonment, and total bondage to the flesh. "My people are destroyed for lack of (intimate) knowledge...." (Hosea 4:6)
I believe many Christians never quite progress beyond "beginning knowledge of God" because they don't trust God enough to relinquish everything to Him. These precious people see things in their lives going just the opposite direction from what they hoped would happen, and rather than trust more as God would have them do, they pull in, get bitter and blame God. Fear and doubt then cover their hearts, quench God's Life and, as a result, they never go on to experience intimacy with God.
Here's an example of a Christian who had "beginning knowledge" of God, but was too fearful to go any further.
After years of marital struggles, Linda's husband finally left. During the entire last year they were together, Linda was convinced that God was going to restore their marriage. When her husband left, however, Linda was devastated and her faith completely evaporated.
After a year and a half, the husband came home again and Linda was thrilled. "See, God is faithful after all and He did hear my prayers." Unfortunately, like many other similar stories, not long after they had reconciled, there were again signs that the husband still wasn't happy and thinking about leaving for good. This time, Linda was determined not to leave it up to God, but to be in complete control herself. She was afraid to relinquish everything to God, because she remembered what had happened the last time and she feared losing her husband permanently.
As it turned out, Linda did stay in control herself, but that only pushed her husband out the door sooner. As a result, Linda lost her faith and, as far as I know, she has not come back to the Lord since.
This is an extremely sad, but good example of someone who had "beginning knowledge" of God only. If Linda had truly known God intimately, she would have had confidence in His faithfulness and His trustworthiness. She would have known that no matter what was occurring in her life and no matter what she could see or understand to be happening, God would never leave her or forsake her (even though His way of doing things is often completely different than our own).
I know trusting God like this is difficult, especially in the middle of crushing trials. But this is what "faith" is all about. I believe God is allowing hard times in all of our lives to teach us how to "walk by faith only" - not by sight or by our emotions. He wants each of us to be able to say and mean, God "though You slay me, yet will I trust You." (Job 13:15)
I used to read that verse and think that I could easily say it and mean it with all my heart. Until the truly hard times came. Then, that Scripture took on a whole new meaning for me. God wants us to look to Him for everything, not only the outward things (our jobs, our houses, our families, our friends, our possessions, etc.), but also the internal things (our identity, our reputation, our personhood itself).
In the last few years, God has been dealing with me "internally," by carefully removing or putting a distance between me and every "crutch" or every "thing" in my life that I have relied upon, other than Christ. He wants me to look only to Him for these things. Then, I will be able to say and truly mean, "Though You slay me, yet will I trust You." And also, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: "[I am] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [I am] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed...." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) This is intimate knowledge of God.
Knowing God Loves Us
One of the reasons many of us do not experience intimate knowledge of God is that many of us don't really know that He loves us. When we doubt God's Love (like my friend in the above example), then we won't have the confidence or the trust to continually lay our wills and our lives down to Him. Thus, we will quench His Spirit (His Life) in our hearts, which will limit our intimately experiencing His Love, not only for others, but also for ourselves.
This does not mean that God is not in our hearts, loving us. He is! It just means that we won't have that daily living experience (personal, touching, loving intimacy) of encountering and seeing God's handprint and His Love at every turn.
When we know that God loves us, however, then we'll have the confidence to continually lay our wills and our lives down to Him. This will assure us of intimately experiencing (knowing) His Love not only through us for others, but also, in us for ourselves.1
Isaiah 43:2-4 says, "when thou passest through the waters (trouble), I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned: neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God...Thou wast precious in My sight... and I have loved thee."
Knowing God Intimately
Oida knowledge is a mingling of two things - a union-like a marriage relationship. We not only have become one heart with God as a result of our born again experience, but we have also become one will and one life with Him. This is what Matthew 22:37 means when it says we are to "love God" (agapao) - we are to so bind ourselves with Him that we actually become one.
Oida comes from the root word, eidon, which means "to see." To "intimately know" Jesus means to see Him in everything. In every circumstance of our lives, good or bad, we see His face, His handprint, and His Love.
Remember the Old Testament saints, who "endured" because "they saw Him Who was invisible." (Hebrews 11:27) And Job, who exclaimed, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear (beginning knowledge); but now mine eye seeth Thee (intimate knowledge)." (Job 42:5)
A Personal Example
Here's a personal example of how I came to "see Him who is invisible."
After a three week trip to Israel, in which almost everyone got sick, I continued (even after I was home) to be very weak and nauseous, so I decided to go in for a routine checkup. After the initial examination, my doctor advised me to get an upper and lower G.I. x-ray.
During the x-rays, it was quite obvious that the doctors had found something, because they kept muttering and whispering to themselves. However, when I asked what they had found, they wouldn't tell me.
My personal doctor finally called me several days later, and in the typically "professional" manner told me not to worry, but he advised me to go in the next day for a cat scan. He still wouldn't tell me any of the details. During the cat scan I became so frustrated and so upset at not knowing what really was going on, that I finally asked one doctor point blank, "Please, will you tell me what you have found?" He looked me straight in the eye and said, "You have a growth on your liver the size of a baseball and we're not sure if it is malignant or not." Wow! What a blow! First, the x-ray doctors and my own doctor wouldn't tell me a thing, and then this guy bluntly tells me everything.
On the way home from the hospital, I began to pray and, again and again, I committed my body to God. I began to sing songs of praise and adoration and I kept giving my fears and apprehension over to Him. (I seem to be able to handle the "big" things pretty well. It's those little everyday choices that I fall down in!)
Coincidentally, I had been asked to teach my first Be Ye Transformed class that coming October and I had been earnestly seeking God's Will in this. I was very concerned that it be God's timing for this class, and not my own. Obviously, this medical situation would be one way He could let me know what His Will was.
When I got home from the hospital, there was a phone call for me. It was a gal from the East Coast that I had never met or talked to before. She had no idea where I had just come from or what had just occurred in my life.
She began to share that she had recently moved to California from the East Coast and had heard The Way of Agape series. After a few more minutes of general sharing, she told me that God had given her the gift of prophecy and she believed that God had given her something for me. She asked if I would mind if she read it to me. "No, of course not," I said, thinking to myself, "How sweet."
As she began to read the prophecy, however, it was as if God was standing right there beside me with His arms wrapped tightly around me, speaking directly to me.
(Again, bear in mind, I had been earnestly seeking God as to whether or not I should teach this upcoming seminar. At the time, this was even more important to me than the medical problems.)
The first part of the prophecy was very general with God telling me not to fear and that He had everything under control and in His hands. Then she read, and I quote: "I have heard your cries. Your prayers have come before Me as a sweet smelling savor. Do not hold back, for I have prepared you for such a time as this...I will bless you with wisdom and knowledge as you teach and minister to My children. I will do exceedingly above all you have asked and thought possible and I will show Myself mighty on your behalf. I will move through you giving you all you need to minister to My children...Now, My beloved, go and feed My sheep...."
I began to cry. This was definitely God's answer, not only about the seminar, but also about the outcome of the cat scan. Through that prophecy (and the Scriptures that God gave me subsequently to confirm this), God not only specifically answered my prayer about teaching, but He also let me know the status of the growth on my liver.
Sure enough, the next day my doctor called and told me not to worry, the growth was benign. I responded, "I know, I know! Praise God!" He seemed rather bewildered as to how I could possibly know!
This is just a little example of what it means to know God intimately, but it's one that is inscribed in my heart and one that I will never forget. Intimate knowledge of God is abandoning ourselves to God and seeing Him orchestrate our circumstances according to His Will. It's knowing that we can't do anything, but simply yield ourselves to Him and then watch as He "works all things together for good." (Romans 8:28)
The purpose of all of our lives as Christians is to intimately know the Lord of the Universe, not only as our Savior, our Lord, our Master, our Friend, and our Counselor, but as our very life itself. Like Paul, we should be able to say, "For me to live is Christ...." (Philippians 1:21)
Intimate knowledge of Christ is the climax of our relationship with Him. We have finally let go of "self-life" and have been filled with His Life.
As Philippians 3:8,10 says, "...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 refuse, that I may win Christ." (emphasis added) "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death."
Knowing Christ as our very Life itself-becoming one with Him-is a completely different kind of knowledge than many of us have ever experienced. This is the type of knowledge that the Mind of Christ brings us.
"Through wisdom is a house builded; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches."
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