We Know of God But Can We Really Know Him?

Pastor Chuck Smith shares three keys for a personal encounter with the living God.

The thing that matters most for all of us is this: to have an encounter with the true and living God, that we may know Jesus Christ.

All Else is Rubbish

Paul the apostle was a brilliant scholar; he had everything going for him. He was on his way to the top when one day he had a dramatic experience that changed his life forever—an encounter with the true and living God on the road to Damascus. Later, Paul wrote, Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8). The most important thing in life is knowing Jesus.

Jesus prayed in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Yes, we can know Him. Listening to all the various concepts man has about God can lead to confusion. But if we go to Scripture to learn what God says about Himself—a far more reliable source—then we can have a personal encounter with the living God.

Remember that God Loves You

God tells us many things about Himself: He is love. He loves you more than you could ever dream—so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins so that you could have eternal life. The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy (Psalm 145:8). That makes me want to know Him.

When I get to heaven, I pray I will see all of you there, and we’ll share in the glory of His love and goodness and grace to us. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). There are two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and death, and the kingdom of God. Jesus desired that you and I would enter into His glorious kingdom. That was the meaning of His shocking statement: “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off. … It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than … to be cast into the everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8). Jesus wanted us to realize the most important thing is that we enter into the kingdom of heaven—and that we encourage as many others as possible to know Him.

Keeping a Right Perspective

We need to keep a right mindset. First, our time on earth is very short. I realize this more each passing day. I used to say, “Where did the day go?” and now I say, “Where did the year go?” Pretty soon I’ll say, “Where did my life go?” Time is short, especially if you compare it with eternity. Second, realize that eternity has no end. It is beyond our finite mind to comprehend. We must use the few short years we have here to prepare ourselves and others to spend their eternity with Jesus.

Also, we know that the material things of this world do not last. Look how quickly the fads and fashions pass away. Last year’s fads line the shelves, unwanted today. John said: And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17). Thus, it is foolish to invest my life in things that are going to pass away when I can invest in things that will last forever.

We need to use the little time we have to serve the Lord. God cried out concerning His people: “Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (Deuteronomy 32:29). The latter end: He wanted them to realize that the end result of a life of sin was empty compared to a life lived in fellowship with God. Living in selfishness, a life of the flesh, is worthless compared to the richness of those who live for God.

Redeem the Time

Paul encouraged the Ephesians to be redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). We have “only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last” (C.T. Studd). What I do for myself has no eternal lasting value, but what I do for Jesus Christ will last for eternity.

One day, you and I are going to stand before Jesus Christ and give an account to Him of our lives. What matters most to me is to hear those words from my Lord: “‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’” (Matthew 25:21b). At that moment, I’ll look back over my life and thank God that He brought me into a personal encounter with Him. Look at your own life: What matters most to you? Will you spend eternity with Jesus?

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4


Condensed from a message by Pastor Chuck Smith at a 1998 conference. Pastor Chuck is the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement and was the longtime pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA.


(Sponsor Message: Calvary Bible Institute is a one-year program designed to equip those who are called to serve the Lord in full-time ministry. Visit CBI’s website to learn more about their programs at calvarybi.com)

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