Do you know Brad Pitt? The question is trickier than you might think.
Some people will immediately answer yes, but if I asked instead, “Do you know Brad Pitt personally?” then most of them would have to say no.
You see, you may “know” Brad Pitt in the sense of knowing something about him, without really knowing him personally and having a relationship with him.
Similarly, I could ask, “Do you know God?”
How you reply to this question may be the most important thing you ever answer. Once again, it all depends on what I mean by “know.”
Knowing God in Two Ways
Typically, people use the word “revelation” to label this topic of knowing God. The Bible teaches that there are two categories of revelation—two ways to know God.
First, there is revelation about God that is clear to all people—what we call general revelation.
The other kind is special revelation—knowledge about God only certain people have received. You can’t know this information unless someone expressly tells it to you.
Let me use some examples to clarify what I mean. As I walk around, everyone can easily see my skin color. It’s a form of general revelation about me to the world.
But what’s my favorite food? This personal fact about me is not generally something people would know about me. The only way others can realize it is if I specifically reveal it to them. This is an example of special revelation.
You see, not only does our knowledge of God work in these two ways, but our knowledge of people does too. We can only have a meaningful relationship with someone through special revelation of that person to us, and us to them.
What Can We Know About God?
1. General Revelation
The Bible says that everybody has a general knowledge of God. He has made certain aspects of himself clear by what he has made.
For example, King David says in Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV),
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
The apostle Paul similarly writes in Romans 1:20 (NIV),
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
This means that something about God not only can be known, but is known, by everyone. The Bible leaves no doubt about this. We all know that a powerful and divine God exists because his world speaks of his intentional design and power.
2. Special Revelation
However, this general revelation about God is not enough for us to have a loving relationship with him. Other than knowing some general facts about God, creation does not tell us how to relate to our Creator.
That is why God revealed more about himself through a special revelation—his very own words. God spoke to us.
And we find this special revelation in the Bible.
How Can We Know God?
We call the Bible God’s “self-revelation,” because in it, God reveals things about himself that we couldn’t otherwise know, so that we can have a relationship with him. We can know God in a personal, even intimate way. The Bible makes it clear that this happens through God’s Son, Jesus. (For more on God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit read here).
Knowing God’s Son, Jesus, is the only way we can know God the Father. Because God the Son became a human, Jesus the “God-man” perfectly represents the nature and being of God the Father to us in a way we can understand.
For, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV). We need not only have a general knowledge of God. We can know God intimately by knowing Jesus.
Do You Know God?
In a conversation Jesus had with his followers, he makes this very clear.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. . . . Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:6-7, 9 NIV)
How do we know Jesus? The best way to know Jesus is to read the Bible. A great place to start is the Gospel of John, where we are introduced to the works and words of Jesus.
So let me ask you, “Do you know God personally?”
He wants you to know him. He’s written his existence in the skies and written himself into our humanity so that you can have a relationship with him. Will you seek him today? It’s as easy as opening up that Bible.