How can I know God? Paul's Letter to the Romans tells the important true story about who we are, what we need, and what God has done for us. Paul writes that "There is none righteous not even one... there is none who does good, not even one" (Romans 3:10-12). We have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23) – separation from God. But God offers the incredible gift of eternal life by belief in Jesus (Romans 6:23). We can be justified (or declared by God to be righteous) by grace through the redemption in Christ (Romans 3:24), by belief in Him (Romans 3:28). We can know God in a personal way.
Being declared righteous (or justified) gives us peace with God (Romans 5:1), so we are no longer condemned by Him (Romans 8:1), and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:34-39) – so we are secure in Him forever! What a joy to know that one day we will be like Christ and will be glorified with Christ (Romans 8:28-30). Then we will know God face to face!
John records the words of Jesus telling the story this way: that we are in need of being spiritually reborn (John 3:7), and that by believing in Jesus we are granted eternal life (John 3:16, 6:47) and we can know God (John 17:3).
But what do we need to know about Jesus to believe in Him? Paul answers this in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, in what he calls the "gospel" (or good news): "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried, and He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures. He adds that this gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). We need to understand that He died to pay for sin on our behalf (so we wouldn't have to pay the un-payable debt ourselves), and we need to understand that He was qualified to pay that debt – His resurrection proved that He was capable of paying that price for us. Anyone can die, but only Christ could die for someone else, because He had no guilt for which He had to pay. So, we are saved by grace through believing in Jesus, and we can believe in Him (or put our trust in Him), understanding who He is and what He did for us.
Some might think that is the end of the story: believe in Him and have eternal life. But that is really only the beginning. Those who have believed in Him are new creations, and old things have passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have new life in Him, and that new life is designed so that we can know Him – to have a close relationship with Him (John 17:3). We get to know Him better by studying the Bible (Colossians 3:16, 2 Timothy 3:16-17), and we talk to Him in prayer (1 Peter 5:7, Colossians 3:16-17). The more we study what He has said, the better we can understand what is His design for our lives (Romans 12:1-2).
We can be very thankful for His grace – that God loved us (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:4) enough to give us life by grace through faith in Him (Ephesians 2:4-10). We can be encouraged, knowing that life has meaning (Ephesians 2:10), and that we can know God and walk with Him, confidently facing the challenges of life.
—Dr. Christopher Cone, Th.D, Ph.D, Ph.D, serves as President of Calvary University and as Research Professor of Bible and Theology. He has formerly served in executive and faculty roles at Southern California Seminary as Chief Academic Officer and Research Professor of Bible and Theology, and at Tyndale Theological Seminary as President and Professor of Bible and Theology. He has served in several pastoral roles and has also held teaching positions at the University of North Texas, North Central Texas College, and Southern Bible Institute. He is the author and general editor of more than a dozen books, and his articles are published at http://www.drcone.com. Christopher lives in the Kansas City area with his wife Cathy, and their two daughters, Christiana, and Cara Grace.