Courage for life Blog

How to Know God

January 17, 2024

Reading the Bible for yourself can be as challenging as learning a new language or experiencing a different culture than your own, but it doesn’t have to be. Courage For Life wants to help you gain knowledge and understanding of how to read the Bible for yourself. The goal of reading the Bible is not information but rather the development of a relationship with the author, namely God Himself.

Relationships require time, consistency, transparency, attitude, and actions as foundational components to build secure, meaningful, and lasting relationships. There is one main difference in a relationship with God than with others – God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, and altogether perfect in His character, while you are not. However, God does not hold that against you, nor does God shy away from you because of your weaknesses, limited knowledge, finite abilities, or character flaws. God embraces you – all of you – and desires for you to know Him as intimately as He already knows you.

Part of knowing another person is learning how others think and feel, which requires listening and observation. Therefore, reading the Bible is one way of learning how God thinks and feels through observing God’s past interactions with others. Just like you can listen to and watch the interactions of others and misinterpret the meaning of their words and actions, God’s words and actions recorded in the Bible can also be misunderstood.

How does God help you derive an accurate interpretation of Himself while you are reading the Bible?

God provides Himself, the Holy Spirit, to help you. The best and most appropriate way for God to share Himself with you is for God to be present and available to you while you are observing Him (i.e., reading the Bible). When you read the Bible, pray for God, the Holy Spirit, to give you an accurate interpretation of God’s words and actions in the Bible that represent who God is. God knows Himself. Therefore, God is most qualified to present Himself as He is. But don’t expect the Holy Spirit to force you to think a certain way about God or, with just a few readings, make all the Bible understandable and clear to you. God expects you to invest in your relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit will respond to your effort to know God through time, consistency, transparency, attitude, and actions.

Before you had a Bible to read, God provided Himself, in the person of Jesus, to share what God is like (i.e., how He thinks, feels, and acts). God made Himself physically present and available for people to listen and observe Him. Someone in the past did their best to capture God’s thoughts, feelings, and actions in poetic writing. Philippians 2:5-11 represents some form of a hymn or poetry that the apostle Paul uses in his letter to the church at Philippi to express his desire to see those who claim to be followers of Jesus actually follow Jesus’ attitudes and actions.

Consider Philippians 2:5-8. How might these verses help you know God?

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position as a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

What are the thoughts, feelings, and actions of Jesus described in Philippians 2:5-8?

Immediately preceding Philippians 2:5-8, Paul writes about the disunity of the followers of Jesus. Then Paul appeals to be united by being “like-minded,” followed by instructions on how to gain unity.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me [Paul] truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:1-5

Philippians 2:5 is an introduction to the six verses that follow (Philippians 2:6-11), which describe the attitude and actions of Jesus and serve as instructions to “have the same attitude that Jesus Christ had” or “put on the mind of Christ.”

What does it mean to “have the same attitude” or “put on the mind” of Jesus? It means you think in the same way Jesus thought. Jesus understood who He was and His purpose and willingly embraced His life of humility – “giving up his divine privileges” and serving as the sacrifice for the sins of the world – “died a criminal’s death on the cross.” Knowing Jesus’ attitude and actions helps you know God and embrace God’s life purpose for you.

What does Jesus think? What represents Jesus’ mind? Philippians 2:6-9 describes the actions of Jesus, which reflect His mind or His thinking. Jesus is God. Therefore, He did not need to hold on to what He already had. Jesus is God both in nature and character. Jesus saw no advantage or benefit in holding on to something He already possessed. Yet, Jesus “was born as a human being” and “appeared in human form.” The word “form” means outward appearance or shape. Because God is Spirit and invisible, Jesus became a visual representation of Himself as a human being, born to a virgin human being (reference Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25).

Jesus “humbled” Himself, both in position and in obedience, to acknowledge His willingness to fulfill His purpose of servant and sacrifice by entering this world as a human being and dying to reconcile a relationship with God. Jesus demonstrates His divine nature by dying and raising from the dead. Jesus left His position in heaven to take on human likeness to be present and available for you to observe God. What a great effort from God to show you Himself.

Start today by reading the Bible to learn how God thinks and feels through observing God’s past interactions with others. Learn from Jesus’ example of humility and sacrifice and how God responds to Jesus’ attitude and actions. Pray that God, the Holy Spirit, will guide you to accurately interpret God’s words and actions in the Bible to reflect who God is.

Philippians 2:5-11 provides a way to know how Jesus thinks, feels, and acts and how God responds. If you could develop the same attitude and actions of Jesus, you would reflect the unity of God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and begin to demonstrate that you know God.

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