“We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” John 6:69
Today I am wondering if thinking too highly about the power of our own belief is a dangerous thing. I know that this word, “believed,” is the word “pisteuo” again. And it means to put our trust into. And at this instant in time, a lot of followers just walked away from You, Jesus, and threw whatever belief they had in You out the door, because it wasn’t lining up the way they thought it should. But Peter says that they were committed to You because they believed and were sure that You were the Christ, You were the One with eternal life. “Lord, we believe and we know.” But what about Your response? Does that commend Peter’s belief and knowledge?
“I chose the twelve of you, didn’t I? Yet one of you is a devil!” Hmm. You didn’t say, “Right on, Peter, you guys did it! You finally got it!” Instead, You point the emphasis back to Yourself. “Did you guys choose yourselves? Did You guys bring yourselves to this conclusion? Do you really believe and know like you think you do? Because there is stuff I know about you that you have no idea of. If I were to tell you right now, you wouldn’t believe it. Peter, you are going to deny me three times. What kind of belief and knowing is that? All of you, you’re going to run and scatter. Judas, you are going to actually betray me to my death, and with a kiss none the less. Yep, how’s that for belief and knowing?” Hmm, maybe sometimes we are a little overconfident in ourselves instead of in You, Lord.
Today, I’ve been looking into this word for “know,” “ginosko.” And it’s not as strong a word as I thought. Ginosko is never used to imply intrinsic knowledge. It’s not the knowledge acquired by experiencing something. There is another word for that. Ginosko “describes knowledge as a result of factual investigation,… ‘intelligent comprehension,’ including understanding, recognition, perception and informed opinion…knowing God in this manner means knowing that there is a God, that I am not God, and that He is responsible in some manner for what is.” (Skip Moen) The obligation to the divine was so strong in the Roman Empire that it was a capitol offense to be an atheist. To not acknowledge the divine as existing was considered foolishness! Wow, that’s a far cry from today. But ascent and acknowledgement isn’t really committed belief, is it? Well, Paul didn’t think so. “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21
So You mean to say that I can know all about You and think I know You and be totally off target? I can think I know You, I can confess I know You with my mouth, and yet I can not honor You as God with my life? I can think I know the truth and yet be futile in my thinking and understanding? Wow, my words, and thoughts, and discussions, and reasonings can be empty, foolish, and idolatrous? And all this in the name of belief? All this in the name of knowing You? Hey, those aren’t my words, they come from Your Word.
There was this Jewish American Rabbi, Abraham Heschel, who was alive during the Civil Right’s movement. He said, “Unless God is of supreme importance He is of no importance.” He believed that knowing God was more than knowing Scripture. Knowing God was based on “the living and dynamic relationship between God and man.” Philosophy and theology weren’t enough.
It’s not enough to conclude that there is a God from the evidences around us. That does not a committed believer make. Listen to what Jesus says in John 6:35,36, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” See, some people had seen You and touched You. But they had not imbibed You. They kept You on the outside where they could handle You and manipulate You and let go of You when they didn’t need You any more or if You became uncomfortable. But they didn’t take You inside. You didn’t become their life source, their sustenance, their food and water. They wanted You but they didn’t need You. They were superficial believers, not desperate believers.
So it all starts with seeing God in the middle or over everything. He’s sovereign and good over all. His evidence is everywhere. He’s over the serpent in the Garden, He’s over the tsunami, He’s over the typhoon, He’s over the holocaust, He’s over every personal tragedy. That’s why everyone cries out, “If God is a loving God, why?” But don’t you hear, that they are all crying out and acknowledging that it is God, it is You? But that is just the start. That is not committed belief.
There are two words used in the the Greek Scriptures to denote “knowing.” Here was “ginosko.” The other word is “oida.” “Oida” is a fullness of knowledge whereas “ginosko” is to come to know by experience, and suggests a progress in that knowledge. The danger is in thinking that we know it all. The point that You, Jesus, are trying to make here is that we need to be open to growing in knowledge in You. We have to admit that we are needful of knowing You more and knowing You more deeply and intimately. John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) We need to grow in our knowledge and experience.
I have to be willing to commit to progressing in You. I have to be willing to commit to experience the situations You put in my life and to not only experience them, but to put them in Your light and not my own. I need to stop asking “Why?” and start asking “What? What are You teaching me about You and about me?” I need to stop collecting information and start looking at what You are teaching me about You and about me. There has never been a lack of evidence, but how am I using the evidence? Has this become “internal intuitive witness”? This is what John is talking about. It’s like knowing my back is hurting. I know the realness of it. That’s how we know the witness of the Holy Spirit.
I know it when I am in harmony with You, Lord. I know the experience of the Holy Spirit. I can’t exactly explain the experience of my back pain, but I know it. I can’t exactly explain the experience of the Holy Spirit, but I know it. I can be under Your authority, I can be doing Your will, I can be living with Your view of the world. I can be fully committed in You. It’s more than words. If I say I believe something then I live it out. What I say I believe, I do. These words are real. These Words are Life. Is that what they look like in my life?
“For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21) It began with gathering the facts. I acquired this knowledge or information needed about You. I examined the evidence. I drew conclusions. That made me a scholar. I knew things and I knew things about You. But it’s not enough to know about You. That will not bring me to know You. Somewhere along the line it has to become “intuitive understanding, revealed truth and knowledge that comes from the essence of the subject.” And You are the Essence of the Subject. You have to reveal Yourself to me. I have to receive the knowledge that comes from above. I’m not “smart” enough to bring myself to this knowledge. “No man comes unto the Father, but by Me.” You draw us and You give us the intuitive knowledge of You. Without that, I am just a scholar and not a believer. “All that the Father gives me will come to Me.” I come to You, because You drew me to You.
I am a human and I will think like a human unless someone changes me. And there is only One who is able to change me like that. If I want to know You, if I want to understand You and think like You, I have to let You do that in me. You have to change me. You have to do something supernatural in me. Because, naturally, I’m just flesh and I think with my flesh. But You think in Your Spirit and You live in the Spirit. And “this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40) This is not just about getting to live forever with You. Oh my, this is all about being in You because You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE! This is all about being raised up in newness of life in You! It’s about looking on You and seeing You for who You really are, all of it. It’s about seeing the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE, and believing in all that it means and all that it entails and committing myself into that, into You. And it’s all about You changing me into Your image more and more every day. It’s about a life of living in You now, and into eternity. It doesn’t start in eternity, life in You starts the minute I allow You to place me inside of You when I commit my life and thoughts and ways and spirit into You.
All our gathered information is not enough to produce relationship with You, Lord. It produces commentaries and blog devotions and discussions. It produces theories and doctrines. But all this can just prove that people can know a lot about You, but still not have intimacy with You. Information means nothing unless it produces relationship.
I can’t tell you how to experience Jesus. All I know is that You have to listen to Him and respond. It’s not enough to listen and be able to repeat His words. They have to become reality in our lives. We have to come to the point of feeding on His flesh and drinking His blood. That’s the only way to abide in Him and Him in us. 2000 years ago that offended people and caused them to turn away. But it’s the same today. Are we willing to be changed? Are we willing to accept His words and live by it no matter what the cost? Am I willing to change my plans and dreams and values and line mine up with Yours, Lord, no matter how much it hurts or how much I don’t understand? Maybe, obedience is a precursor to understanding. Maybe it’s not about understanding at all. I mean, isn’t it a might precocious to think that I should be able to comprehend the thoughts of an all-knowing God? Maybe, I need to finally acknowlege that You are God and I am not and stop trying to understand like I even can! Maybe now would be the perfect time for me to let go of my control and just place it all in You. What a relief that would be. What a tremendous weight off of my shoulders!