First, we must ask ourselves is it even possible to intimately know the God of the universe? Can we truly fellowship with Him moment by moment? Can we really experience His presence?
The Bible says we can. And we must.
Isaiah 5:13 tells us that God’s people will “go into captivity” if they don’t know God intimately. And Hosea 4:6 warns us that if there is no intimacy with God among His people, “they will be destroyed.” “Captivity” simply means bondage. It means that the fleshly things in our lives are preventing us from experiencing the full union with Christ that God desires and, because of it, we’ll be “destroyed.”
If we are really honest with ourselves, many of us would admit that we have no idea what the fulness of Christ is or what it means to know God intimately.
Listen to what Alan Redpath says in his book Victorious Christian Faith: “I had known, believed and preached for many years… [but] I had become more concerned about knowledge of faith than about knowledge of God…. To me God had become more of a theoretical and doctrinal figure, than a saving, experiential companion.” (pages 15-16)
Many Christians feel the same way. They have become born again. They know they are “positionally” united with God. They even experience some enjoyment with Him and have borne some fruit. But very few have any clue as to what intimate knowledge of God really means. Very few really understand what it means to dwell in His presence, or to experience the ecstasy of seeing Him.
As Ezekiel 33:31 says, “…they come unto Thee…they sit before Thee as My people, and they hear Thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.”
We often do just the same. Oh, yes, we all talk about “intimacy” and many of us pray earnestly for it and exhort others to it, but how many of us really have that daily, personal, intimate union with God that the Bible talks about? How many of us are willing to be stretched? How many of us are willing to “off load” the baggage that prevents our personal growth?
Most of us do not know God on a personal, daily, intimate basis. We know what we have read and been told about Him, but it’s an intellectual knowledge that lacks spiritual experience. Thus, we don’t “act” like we believe in Him. He is not the most important thing in our lives. Our spouses, our children, our families, our relationships, our homes, our jobs, our goals and our aspirations are! This is the reason we are faltering, failing and getting captured and destroyed when our faith is tested to the max. And this is why we are crumbling in the night seasons.
It grieves me as I look at the “church” as a whole today, because I believe it’s only experiencing a fraction of the fulness of God that the Bible speaks about. As Oswald Chambers once said (speaking about the Christians he knew at the time): “I knew no one who had what I wanted…but I [also] knew that if what I had was all the Christianity there was, [then] the thing was a fraud.” (Abandoned to God, p. 82)
And he is so right. So many churches strive not for intimacy with God, but rather for experience, power, prophecy and miracles; for rituals and methods; for debates over doctrine; for the business of church building and all the other fleshly endeavors of intellectualism and impressive preaching. These are some of the things that we have entangled ourselves in and that have replaced our own personal, intimate relationship with God. Thus, many of us know about Christ and we possess His Name (we have that “beginning knowledge”), but very few really intimately know Him. We are not yet experientially “one” with Him.
Therefore, because God loves us so much, He often takes matters into His own hands and begin to allow things into our lives that will put us on the journey towards “intimacy” and towards experiencing His fulness. God desires to commune and fellowship with us—in the innermost part of our being where He now dwells. He doesn’t “save us” only to show us how much He loves us; He saves us so that we can get to know Him intimately and begin to return that love.
The process works like this: the more we intimately get to know God, the more we will see Him. The more we see Him, the more we will love Him. The more we love Him, the more we will trust Him. And the more we trust Him, the more we will obey Him.