On Knowing God: How Can I Know God?

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THOSE EARLY GREEK philosophers reasoned that God was the “unmoved” mover. In other words, this god was only indirectly involved. He was not about to let himself fall into the trap of friendship or conversation with humankind. In their view, there was no direct communication between the Creator (if in fact he was that) and the created. This god was a general influence in the universe, but the thought of fellowship with this god was not a sound philosophical concept. “God” was completely detached from any association with mankind. He was above that.

So to the Greek mind, to speak about “knowing God” was not only illogical—it was irrational. Through their wisdom they closed the door to knowing God. Yet we need to tackle the idea of knowing God because he started it. He set it up in the opening chapters of Genesis. He began the process with Adam when he talked with him and gave him assignments to complete. He then got into the business of Adam’s loneliness with a specially created female for him who would become his soul mate.

Further on, God intervened on behalf of this created pair when they chose to rebel. He provided a way for them to escape from the death that surely was going to overtake them. He covered them with skins of animals. With that action he gave them hope that at some future time, a child of Eve would permanently restore the broken relationship. Finally, this God got involved in Cain’s problem—someone might find him and kill him. Even though he had killed his brother Abel, God spoke directly with him. So, if we had nothing else to go on, the first few chapters of Genesis make it clear that God is interested in having conversation with us. He longs to be a part of our lives even though we are rebellious and sinful.

You can see how much more hopeful the God of Scripture is compared to the god of Greek philosophy. Because they thought it was impossible to know God, they were not about to attempt conversation with him, much less enter into a relationship with him. The Apostle Paul looked into situation when writing to the church at Corinth, Greece. “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (I Corinthians 1:20, 21).

To the Greek mind God was unknowable. They were trying to figure him out from a distance. They would not chance a close encounter. But the God of Genesis and the Bible is not that way at all. He is searching for us! So how can we begin to know God?

God Is Who He Says He Is
We all start where the book of Genesis starts: “In the beginning, God . . .” I don’t know how we get anywhere with God by denying who he is and what he has done. That’s like attempting a conversation with someone by telling them they are a phony and a liar and nonexistent to boot! We would never do that with a person we really wanted to get to know. Yet, isn’t that what is often done with God in today’s culture? Before any conversation, we want to deny God his character and his power.

The starting point then is to accept God as the Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is and all that is alive. Why is that important? If we don’t start there, then we can skate around God’s authority and claim he has no right to rule the world or be sovereign in our lives. Check mate! Game over! We have ended our contact with God without ever moving so much as a pawn. But, if he is the Author of life and the Creator of all that exists, then we need to pay attention. We must by all means hear him and pattern our living on the design he has given us to follow. It would be folly to do otherwise, don’t you think?

Since we are already acquainted with Adam and Eve, let’s return to them to see how they responded to God in the Garden. While we don’t know how long they had been in Eden, there was a pattern or routine they had set up with God. God came into the Garden and talked directly with them. One day on one of God’s visits, they were hiding from him. What? Is it possible to hide from God? No, but since they were feeling guilty, they tried.

God’s call to them came in a question: “Adam, Eve, where are you?” It was more of a statement than a question. Look where are you! What have you done? Do you see what you’re doing? God’s question was a method to get them to face the truth of their situation. He knew where they were and shortly, they did, too. They were out of fellowship with their Creator and were soon to be out of the Garden. They were headed to a condition never intended for them—they were going to die rather than live forever as God had planned. That was the horrible truth they had to face if God was to work with them.

The Truth Cain Would Not Face
Let’s move ahead and consider Cain. You recall that he killed his brother Abel. But before he murdered his brother, God had spoken with him. He had brought an offering to God and God rejected the offering. The account reads like this: “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil (he was a farmer) as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock (he was a shepherd). The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (Genesis 4:3-5). A question immediately comes to mind: Why didn’t God accept Cain and his offering? Was there something wrong with the offering, or was Cain in the wrong? Let’s read on to see if there is an answer.

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:6, 7). Let’s not miss this most important principle laid down here. God rejected Cain and his offering because he was not being honest with God. Yes, he was bringing an offering, which was perfectly fine. But he was not willing to deal with sin that was in his life. God said sin was crouching at the door of his heart. Cain did not want to own up to or rid himself of that sin or talk about it with God. Yet that was God’s invitation to him: If you do right, won’t you be accepted?

Whether we are looking at Adam or Cain or ourselves in the 21st century, coming to God requires one thing: Truth! Adam and Eve did not deny their sin of disobedience in the Garden. Yes, they tried to blame someone else—Adam said (pointing to Eve), “She made me do it!” Eve, of course, turned on the serpent and said, “It was his fault!” In the end, they owned up to the truth of their actions and accepted the animal skins God provided as a covering.

Something was wrong between Cain and God that Cain did not want to admit. He was unwilling to remove the sin that was blocking relationship with God. Instead, he became angry. I don’t know if you have ever done that or not. I have! I’m in the wrong and I get angry with the other person instead of facing the truth about myself. Now, if we do that in our family and personal relationships, you can see how, like Cain, we transfer that over to dealing with God. We recognize that God requires honesty on our part, but we maneuver and slip around to avoid that one necessary thing: Truth.

The Truth Will Set You Free
Let’s talk for a little about truth telling and personal relationships as that sheds light on our knowing God. My parents told me a story that happened when I was four years old. This took place in Bolivia (my parents were missionaries there). I left the lunch table early this particular day and went into the kitchen. Shortly, I returned making my way to the front door. My right hand was in my pant’s pocket with my left hand clasped over my right hand, outside the pocket. I kept walking slowly, avoiding eye contact with my parents.

Then my Dad spoke. “What’s in your hand, Donny?” “Nothing,” as I continued my slow journey towards the front door. The question came again, “What do you have in your hand?” Same reply, “Nothing.” My Dad’s next words were a command I could not ignore: “Come over here, Donny.” Standing next to him, I had to open my hand and give up the four matches I had taken from a jar in the kitchen.

To my childhood thinking, I thought my parents could not see nor suspect what was in my pocket—particularly since it was secured doubly with my hands. Now there was a penalty that followed our conversation. The lie about the matches, however, was the major mistake. My Dad made certain I understood that. In a real sense, the truth would have freed me from the penalty my Dad gave me.

This childhood story is a parable of having a relationship with God. There are some basic principles that promote relationships. It’s one thing to do something wrong. Universally, we are guilty of that. But to lie and try to deceive the other person destroys trust. On one occasion, Jesus was talking with people about ultimate truth and values. The Pharisees were questioning the authority for his teaching. He finally drew a line between those who were arguing with him and those who were accepting him. “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ ” (John 8:31, 32).

Most of us have either experienced or heard about a person cheating on their spouse. In that situation, what is the most difficult issue the wounded partner has to deal with? Yes, you said it: I can never trust my husband/wife again! If we are not truthful with our friends, no one will trust us. Trust and truth are words that come from the same root. So, when Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free he was making a commentary on life that everyone understood. Personal, close relationships depend on trust that is a by-product of truth telling.

Going a step further, Jesus said that facing up to the truth is a liberating experience—we will be set free. Now his listeners on this occasion retorted, “Wait a minute. We are Abraham’s children and we have always been free.” Jesus clarified their thinking: No one is free who is a slave to sin. (John 8:33, 34).

Now we have come full circle from Cain’s experience. His problem with God was not that he had sin in his life. That is the common human condition. God wanted Cain to come into the open about his sin and seek restoration. Do we know what the sin was? We are not told, but there were two who did know—Cain and God. My guess is that it had something to do with his brother Abel. Perhaps it was jealousy or envy that led to hatred. Why is that? Because shortly after Cain talked with God and refused to be truthful with God about his sin, he went out and killed his brother. A person has to be some kind of angry to do that. His anger led him to murder.

Regardless of how we want to describe knowing God, our friendship with God is no different than it was thousands of years ago with Adam and Eve, or Cain. God looks for truth in our conversation with him. David, the second king of Israel, was brought back into relationship with God after terrible sin and painful repentance.

King David, you may recall, had sinned greatly. He lusted after Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. In order to have what belonged to another person, he had Uriah killed in a fierce battle. Even when Nathan the Prophet told the king a parable of what he had done, David did not recognize himself. But God knew all along and the Prophet cried out, “You are the man.” Later, King David repented with tears and true sorrow. As a reminder to himself and to us, he wrote, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:5, 6).

Do You Want To Know God?
We realize that knowing God has the same demands on us as other personal relationships. That should not surprise us since we are made in the image of God. The obligation on personality is the same. You may think that since God knows you anyway, what difference does it make? Let’s listen to a story that Jesus told a group who felt self-confident in talking with God.

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14).

Although we know that both men were sinners, only one was honest before God about himself. Only one did not try to cover up his true self. The other one ignored the truth about himself and hid behind the other to avoid exposure. God knew the truth about both men. But the tax collector (an outcaste no matter what time period) faced up to the truth about himself and God responded. He went home justified. Was he still a sinner? Yes. But he was reconciled and restored to fellowship with God for two reasons.

Two Essentials For Knowing God
All of the examples we have looked at reveal what is essential for knowing God. While the pictures have come to us from different backgrounds, they have carried the same theme. The God that we want to know is the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. He is from everlasting. He is the ultimate authority. His dominion will have no end. In other words, we come to God as the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Perhaps we don’t have all those words and titles on our minds when we come to him, but for each of us, there is recognition that he is responsible for us and we are accountable to him. Without that, we will end up like Cain—knowing about the God who wants to be our friend, but rejecting his invitation to relationship and going our own way.

One author in Scripture put it like this. He was writing about a man who had lived thousands of years earlier named Enoch. “For before he (Enoch) was taken (to heaven), he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:5, 6).

The first requirement to knowing God is accepting or believing that God is who he says he is. He is not the “unmoved mover” but the one who has moved heaven and earth to restore the broken relationship with mankind. That’s the God you are coming to. That is the truth about God. That is the one in whom you are placing your trust. God is worthy of your faith and confidence in him. As Jesus told Nicodemus the evening he came for a visit, if you believe in this God, if you put your trust in this One, you have eternal life. You have passed from death to life. You are in God’s hand and nothing and no one can take you out of his hand.

The second truth or reality that we must accept is the truth about us. The tax collector in Jesus’ parable understood who God was. He would not lift his eyes to heaven—he felt unworthy to even look in that direction. But despite his feeling of worthlessness, he did the right thing. He came to God asking for forgiveness and mercy. He faced the truth of his own sin as well as the sovereignty of God. He came to God earnestly seeking him and God responded. Jesus said he went home justified—forgiven and restored to fellowship.

I don’t know which is the more difficult requirement for humankind to accept: The truth about God or the truth about ourselves. It is one thing to come to God as the Creator of heaven and earth. It is another to bow the knee and accept his rule in our life. Relationship calls for accepting God for who he is and ourselves as we are. Is that what you are looking for—forgiveness for your past, relationship with God for the present and fellowship with him forever? As Jesus said, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!

How Will Knowing God Change Your Life
“ . . . and the truth will set you free.” In large measure those words explain the change that comes about when you know God. They are like the two words Jesus used with Nicodemus: Born again. If you are set free, if you are born again, it places you on a totally new course for your life.

Let’s imagine a NASA rocket ship at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is sitting on its launching pad, weighing in at hundreds of thousands of pounds. There is no way you can gather a team of people to go over and lift the spacecraft off the launching pad and get it going into space. But once the engines are ignited, things really begin to change. With a tremendous roar, the ship begins to lift off its pad. Soon, the spaceship is hurtling around the earth at 25,000 miles per hour. That’s the picture of being set free. It’s like being in a different world—a world in which gravity has no claim on you or your surroundings.

You may say, “Well, that’s not really a fair comparison. After all, the spacecraft was designed to do what it is doing. It would be a failure, a disaster, a total waste if it did not rise and soar into the outer reaches of our atmosphere.” Right on! And that is the point I am trying to make.

We opened our search into “knowing God” with creation. The great Designer of the universe, of our world and us as humans has a plan for everything he has made. If we don’t start with creation and the Creator, we have failed to look at the right place to find answers to our questions about life. The spaceship roaring into the sky fulfills exactly what the designers had in mind. To understand what their thinking was, we have to examine the beginning of the idea and what they had in mind for this complex machine they developed. I’ve never seen any of those drawings but the evidence points to a successful completion of what they had in mind.

Why should it be strange, then, for us as humans to seek the same information about ourselves? Why should not the Creator of heaven and the earth tell us about what he was up to in creation? Now we don’t have the “engineering drawings” from God’s work, but we do have his explanation and an ability to accept what he has told us.

A writer we already quoted said it like this: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:3). Even the scientific world would agree with much of that verse.

Here is the crucial question: Will you ever experience a ride into space if you never step into the spacecraft? Will you ever see an “earthrise” if you don’t travel to the moon? We can agree with the designers of the spacecraft about its ability to take us into orbit and even to carry us to the moon so we can see our planet rising over the horizon. Agreeing with all we have said does not set us free from the gravity of earth. We will never experience the new world of weightless flight unless we are on board that rocket ship when it takes off.

You will not be set free or born again unless you accept and adopt God’s truth about himself and about you. It will not work. How did God make the universe? I don’t have a clue. Did he make the universe? Without a doubt, yes! And I’m as convinced of that as I am that he has a plan for us members of the human race. I understand all this by faith in what God says. This leads us to the first significant change in your life: You will direct your life by what you can’t see rather than by what you see.

Living by faith
There’s an old saying: Seeing is believing. Turn that around and it becomes: Believing is seeing. There’s nothing to fear! Every person in heaven at the end of this age will be there because of faith in what God has said. “Without faith it’s impossible to please God.” We see because we believe. It’s rather simple—isn’t it better to believe what the Creator of the universe says than someone who wasn’t there when he put it all together?

You already have the faith ability and you have experienced it. The first time (and every other time) you got into an airplane, or an elevator, or went to the dentist, etc., you put your trust in that person and in that machine, didn’t you? You believed in them. And you know that is the truth because you ended up in New York, or London, or Nairobi, or Hong Kong where you expected to land.

What is living by faith in God? It means placing God at the center of your life. You believe what he has said is important. What he has done interests you. What he desires in your living becomes your desire, too. So if you accept what God has said as the driving force of your life, you have a new perspective and a different way to live. It takes the fear out of your living. It also replaces indecision with certainty. Whether our culture accepts it or not, there are ultimate values in life. If God has said it, you can’t go any higher than that. This replaces trying to figure things out on your own; you are tuned in to the everlasting God of creation. Not a bad start, is it?

Solving the sin problem
The creation account gave us the blueprint for how God wants us to live. We saw the guilt Adam and Eve went through after they sinned. They had a problem they could not solve. God, however, intervened. With the sacrifice of an animal, he said, “Blood has been shed to cover your sin. I will pass over your sin for now. At some future time, there will be a permanent, perfect and complete sacrifice I can accept. In the meantime, the animal that has just died because of your sin is the substitute until the ultimate and final sacrifice has been made.

We have looked at why you and I can’t resolve the sin problem without God. That is a fact. It is an enormous relief for mankind to place our confidence in God. When we accept this part of God’s truth, it sets us free from guilt. Guilt simply means a sense of heartfelt anguish over something we have done or failed to do that is stuck in our soul’s throat. We can’t dislodge it and it is choking us.

What did God say he would do about our problem with sin? “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear (trust) him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:10-12). As a four year old in Bolivia, I had no idea about the distances the psalmist was talking about. Yet, I had feelings of guilt over the matches I had taken from our kitchen. I knew I was doing wrong and I was lying to my Dad about it.

And who is the writer here in the 103rd Psalm? It’s King David. He had committed adultery and murdered a man to cover up the sin. David was familiar with the book of Genesis. He knew the God he sought forgiveness from was the Creator of heaven and earth. He knew mankind was created in the image of God. When he violated Bathsheba and killed Uriah, he was sinning against God’s handiwork. So he confessed in Psalm 51, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” (Psalm 51:3, 4).

David wrote majestically about God’s awesome power and the trustworthiness of his laws. If you read through Psalm 19, you saw them both. He accepted the truth about God and he recognized the truth about himself. He trusted in the mercy of God. He confessed what he knew to be true in his life. That is where you and I come in. No matter what we think our sin problem is, great or small, we can be sure that God will open the doors of forgiveness and restore us to fellowship with him. That, my friend, is the radical change that awaits you when you say, “yes” to God’s truth.

Having peace with God
After Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s requirement about the tree in the center of the Garden of Eden, they hid themselves. They knew things had changed. At a later time a prophet would write, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1, 2). That is the truth every person who comes to God experiences. I know; I have been there.

Having peace with God has more to do with relationship than with an absence of war. Those of us who have raised children, or with memories of our own childhood quarrels, we understand that just because kids aren’t fighting doesn’t mean there is peace. Like the little boy in the classroom who was told to “sit down.” He complied with a hostile response, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but inside, I’m still standing up!” That says it all, doesn’t it? Peace is much more than not having open warfare.

What is God’s declaration to all mankind? The war is over! Reconciliation with God is freely available! There may be any number of reasons why people continue to battle with God. You may have heard about the Japanese soldier who, 28 years after the conclusion of World War II, was still hiding out and looking for allied soldiers on a Pacific Island. He had never been told the war was over. Perhaps that is your situation—you didn’t hear about God’s declaration of peace.

Entering into peace with God is not complicated. It’s a matter of recognizing the truth about God and about you. Just as Adam and Eve and David and Nicodemus and millions of others have done for centuries, you step into the light and accept the reign of the Creator God in your life. You accept the truth about yourself—that you cannot redeem yourself. It is the gracious act of the sovereign God that frees you from the problem of sin. This truth not only sets you free, but also brings you into conversation and harmony with the Creator of heaven and earth. It’s like being born into a new family.

Talking With God
Conversing with God is the most significant result of creation. We all follow Adam and Eve with the same ability and opportunity to talk with God. No other part of creation can talk with God. Having conversation with mankind was God’s idea and he initiated it. We already saw that God shared the responsibility for the care of our earth with mankind but no one else. We have delegated powers to act in his behalf. Part of our job is to look after things. We won’t do that well without talking with the Creator.

Consider for a minute the immensity of the universe and the complexity of our DNA or the smallest atom. In our humanity we stagger at the prospect of the Creator designing us so we could be on the same wavelength with him. Think of it, we can know and talk with the Creator of the universe. Even so, in the swirl of orbiting spaceships, digital communication, High Definition T. V., microwave cooking and cures for almost everything, maybe our senses have been dulled. Perhaps talking with God will have to wait until the latest reality television program ends. I hope that is not the case.

Words cannot convey the amazing gift we have been given to talk with God. We may label this privilege under different terms—conversation, meditation, prayer, contemplation or even a talk with the great “I AM.” But if you truly want to reach the depths of who you are and why you are here, talking with God will lead you there. So when you ask the question, “How can I know God?” there is an answer: The major part of knowing God is to be in conversation with him. That is where we begin our relationship with him and where it grows. It’s certain we can’t know God without talking with him.

Since we are talking with the one who knows all about us, it seems foolish to be anything but honest. I make the point here so we don’t start our conversation in a way we know is untrue. Why try to disguise who we are or what we have done? That just gets in the way of communicating with him. How about the tax collector in Jesus’ parable? He went home justified. He laid out his prayer in plain language before God: Be merciful to me a sinner!

The prodigal son Jesus spoke about in Luke 15 returned to his father and home with the words, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” Neither one told God something God didn’t already know. But trying to evade and hide the truth of their living would have ended the conversation. Remember we are coming to the one with the power to forgive us—the Everlasting God. And the truth will set us free.

Getting To Know About God
Wouldn’t it be good if there were a book that would tell us about God? Well, there is and we have been making use of it. The Bible is God’s revelation of himself and his plan for the human race.
There is a principle involved in how God has spoken to mankind over the years. The author of the book of Hebrews was writing especially to Jewish people who were familiar with the Old Testament. He gives us a glimpse of that principle in the very first verse of his writing: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways . . .” (Hebrews 1:1). We read part of God’s communication through these prophets when we open the Old Testament. The writer is telling us God’s word came through a variety of people, at different times and in an assortment of ways.

In other words, God did not reveal himself all at once at the beginning of human history. He has unveiled himself to humankind gradually over thousands of years. As an example, Abraham, who is the father of the Jewish race, didn’t have any of the prophetic writings. But God spoke to him and he acted on what he knew God wanted him to do. One of the writers of the New Testament reflected on this friendship between God and Abraham. “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ ” (Romans 4:1-3). The Apostle Paul also goes on to talk about King David. Neither one of them had the Scriptures we have today, but they acted on what they knew to be the truth, as God revealed it to them. God accepted them on that basis. The issue was what they did with the truth they had—not the truth they didn’t have.

We can say the same about Adam and Eve. Without the Scriptures, God spoke directly to them, face to face. Few people have had that experience. But after they were taken from Eden, Adam and Eve acted on what God said. They took God at his word. They were restored to fellowship. They believed in what he said and their actions in living showed they had faith in God. Ultimately, that is all God wants from any of us—act on what you know to be true.

For us today, that leads us to the Bible. That is where over centuries of time, God’s prophets, songwriters, historians, apostles and others have put down their interaction with the everlasting God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Without exception, they have left a record we can rely on. Uniformly, they have told us here is what God has to say: Listen to him.

Now, does the Bible contain everything? No, but it has everything we need. Does it have a set of instructions for me for tomorrow? Not directly, but indirectly I know that I am to live in harmony with God and his word and to love my neighbor as myself. Out of that flows the actions and activities of what will make up my tomorrow.

Getting To Know God
A good friend of mine from Guatemala tells his story of romance with his wife. He lived in a small town several hours away from Guatemala City where his bride to be lived. As often as he could, he would travel to Guatemala City to spend time with his girl friend. Each time as he was getting ready to return to his town, his beloved would give him six letters—one for each day until they would see each other again. He was to open only one letter per day.

Maybe you can guess what happened. Before he ever reached his hometown, he had opened and read all six letters. He couldn’t wait for six days to see what the love of his life had written. In those letters, she was revealing her personality; she was writing about her love for him, she was letting him into her life through words in the letters. And he couldn’t stand to have them in his hand without reading them. Then he reread them over and over again to make sure he saw every detail and understood each nuance from the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

Oh, my friend, do you know that God has written such a letter to you? Do you know he would like you to read it over and over to see what great things he has planned for you? God has invited you and me to live with him for much longer than my Guatemalan friend will spend with his wife. And he is anxious to get to know you and for you to become his friend. Then think of who sent you this invitation: The Creator of heaven and earth. This is the greatest opportunity of your life!

The gift you hold in your hands when you read the Bible contains the story of God’s actions to establish relationship with mankind. As we have seen, all of the plans that God had for Adam and Eve and their offspring were seemingly dashed to pieces when they chose to sin. What did they lose? First, they lost their connection with God. They lost the promise of life and received the judgment of death. They lost their home. They lost the bodies they had received with the manufacturers’ guarantee that it would last forever. They lost a lifestyle that matched their desires. They truly didn’t like what they got in return for what they lost. Pretty depressing, isn’t it?

But God’s letter to us doesn’t end with that paragraph. The rest of the Bible is the story of how God searches us out and appeals to us to accept his offer of reconciliation. He wants to redeem us from the effect of Adam’s sin. He offers us friendship and shows us many examples of people who were friends with God. He makes available a way to live that delivers us from the cruel ravages of selfishness. He reinstates his offer to have us live with him forever in celestial happiness. He makes available forgiveness that takes us into the ages to come. And he does all this without asking us for our credit card number! You see, the truth will set you free!

The Choice of Two Destinies
To know God requires a choice on your part. Although Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, God wanted them restored to his original plan and he provided a way to redeem them. From what we read the first couple accepted God’s provision. Rather than separation they chose relationship. They began to fulfill God’s plan for them, realizing that final forgiveness would come through one of their descendants.

Cain, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to accept God’s offer of reconciliation. He would not yield the control of his life. He wanted to do his own thing without submission to the will and plan of God. Even after God talked with him, he chose to live away from God. The choice he made led to eternal separation from God. His parents undoubtedly warned him about his choice, a warning his parents paid attention to. He did not. He allowed the sin problem to corrupt and ruin his life. Like his parents, Cain had a way of escape only he didn’t accept it.

Getting to know God and enter into relationship with him has to do with accepting the truth about him. He is the sovereign Ruler, the eternal Creator of heaven and earth. We want to see just how God’s plan for forgiveness and reconciliation was worked out. It is at this point that we will connect the first verses of Genesis with the first verses of the Gospel of John. If you haven’t read this before, you will discover who spoke the universe into being: And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. The Apostle John goes from there to connect the “word” of creation in Genesis with the “Word” of redemption in his Gospel.