Ways to Know God
defines eternal life as knowing God
(John 17:3). What are the ways? In how many
different ways can we know God, and thus know eternal life? When I take an
inventory, I find twelve.
- The final, complete, definitive way, of course, is Christ, God
himself in human flesh.
- His church is his body, so we know God also through the church.
- The Scriptures are the church's book. This book, like Christ himself,
is called "The Word of God."
- Scripture also says we can know God in nature see
(Romans 1). This
is an innate, spontaneous, natural knowledge. I think no one who lives by
the sea, or by a little river, can be an atheist.
- Art also reveals God. I know three ex-atheists who say, "There
is the music of Bach, therefore there must be a God." This too is immediate.
- Conscience is the voice of God. It speaks absolutely, with no
ifs, ands, or buts. This too is immediate. [The last three ways of knowing
God (4-6) are natural, while the first three are supernatural. The last
three reveal three attributes of God, the three things the human spirit
wants most: truth, beauty, and goodness. God has filled his creation with
these three things. Here are six more ways in which we can and do know God.]
- Reason, reflecting on nature, art, or conscience, can know God
by good philosophical arguments.
- Experience, life, your story, can also reveal God. You can see
the hand of Providence there.
- The collective experience of the race, embodied in history and
tradition, expressed in literature, also reveals God.You can know God through
others' stories, through great literature.
- The saints reveal God. They are advertisements, mirrors, little
Christs. They are perhaps the most effective of all means of convincing
and converting people.
- Our ordinary daily experience of doing God's will will reveal God.
God becomes clearer to see when the eye of the heart is purified: "Blessed
are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
- Prayer meets Godordinary prayer. You learn more of God from
a few minutes of prayerful repentance than through a lifetime in a library.
Unfortunately, Christians sometimes have family fights about these ways,
and treat them as either/or instead of both/and. They all support each other,
and nothing could be more foolish than treating them as rivalsfor example,
finding God in the church versus finding God in nature, or reason versus experience,
or Christ versus art.
If you have neglected any of these ways, it would be an excellent idea to
explore them. For instance, pray using great music. Or take an hour to review
your life some time to see God's role in your past. Read a great book to better
meet and know and glorify God. Pray about it first.
Add to this list, if you can. There are more ways of finding and knowing
God than any one essay can contain. Or any one world.