John Gavazzoni
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Knowing God
By John Gavazzoni

I must confess that I have a naturally low threshold of irritability. It can show up in the encounter with all kinds of daily, mundane stuff: things that refuse to work right; things that suddenly go wrong at the most---in terms of my plans---inopportune times, and become distractions from, or obstructions to, my getting on with some task, and often at the point when I'm in the most intense mode.

But it also often happens because of some interference against a flow of thought that has me captivated or, as pertaining to the subject of this article, I keep running into maddeningly bold assertions that pretend to resolve issues of deep spiritual importance---issues that understandably raise questions among believers, while in fact the assertions only add obfuscation to already existing confusion.

So it has been so many times, regarding the subject of knowing God. I'm speaking of that knowledge of God which runs all through New Testament writings: Knowing God experientially and intimately. As clear as scripture is about God sending His Son to give us that quality of life in the here and now, (eonian life), which quality IS the intimate, communing knowledge of God through our union with His Son who IS Himself that very knowledge, from the lofty heights of classical theology, we get a very mixed message on that core issue of the administration of God. The spectrum ranges from an outright denial, through "well maybe yes, but really not," all the way to "we doctors of the law, frankly don't know if we can know."

The most recent of those many times happened just yesterday, as I was reading the thoughts on the subject by someone who has come to invoke deep admiration on my part by his very well-considered conclusions re: the relationship of faith and love, and their relationship to the good news as found in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

As he, in the article I was reading, compared his thoughts on the subject with those of other highly regarded theologians, in contrast to his refreshingly edifying insights into particularly the element of the hope that is at the heart of our Christian faith, on the subject of knowing God, he left me irritated. The more I read, the more it seemed that I was being irresistibly dragged toward, and finally across that very particular low threshold of mine.

This brother who wrote so edifyingly on the subject of the hope-factor of the gospel, seemed to me to be in a state of befuddlement regarding the availability of the intimate knowledge of God in Christ, and as has been my experience in reading others down through history who can hardly be thought of as theological lightweights, this was, for me, a repeat of irritation.

Can we really know God? Will, and does, Transcendence condescend to be so immanent as to be known intimately here and now while we are in our stubbornly contrarian earthen formation? Can we be assured that God is immanent, so that He might be intimate? To be sure, if the answer is yes, it will be by that  condescension of the Son of God, leading to ascension in union with Him, and not by any pietistic clawing up the mountain of God by the determination of flesh and blood.

Bear with me dear reader as I introduce a perspective that I believe might be used of the Lord to bring you---as it did for me many years ago---to one of those "aha" moments of understanding: What we have opened to us in God's saving grace in Jesus Christ, is nothing less than knowing God BY God's own knowledge of Himself. When the giant veil of the physical temple in Jerusalem was rent in two at the very moment of the tearing of the body of Jesus, we, in Him, were ushered into participation in God's own self-knowledge.

The intimate, experiential knowledge of God as conveyed by the Greek word "ginosko," is not merely an explanation of Himself to man, it comes from the "We" factor within the Divine Nature. When Jesus said, "I and the Father are one," that came from His perception of His relationship with the father as a perception of "We." Any "I" statement by Jesus had undergirding it the truth that to understand His "I," we must understand that for Him, He had no knowledge of Himself except as "We."


This carries over into the fellowship of the saints. The "We" factor is always there, as in "WE know and believe the love God has for US." (emphasis mine). "That you might know WITH ALL THE SAINTS......" (emphasis mine). Everything the Son thinks and does, He does as "We,"  and that is our inheritance in Him. The truth that the Son knows the Father BY the Father's knowledge of Himself, is beautifully expressed by Jesus explanation of Himself as being "in the bosom of the Father."

When someone truly presses on to know the Lord, He does so by grace-granted participation in the Son as He eternally presses into the ever unfolding self-knowledge of the Father. God's own knowledge of Himself is so richly expressed by the Lord identifying Himself to Moses as "I AM." He is the self-knowing, self-identifying God. We need Him to show us who we are, but He has no need for anyone to instruct Him as to Who He is.

Imagine the Son's intimate knowledge of the Father. That is ours in Him. There is a subtle underlying suppression of that truth that reinforces hierarchical domination among the saints. The organization may (finally) acknowledge the deep intimate communion of someone within its ranks, but it does so to validate itself. "You are a saint because we say so, and by us saying so, we allow you to join WE who are the elite of the church. You unwashed masses must never dare to think of yourselves as among WE."

Compare that spirit to the indiscriminate identification of sainthood by the writers of the canonical epistles. The "we" of the apostolic company always affirms the blessedness of the whole believing community, so that the apostolic "we," is not exclusive, but representative of the whole, and in turn, the whole believing community is representative of the whole of humanity. What audacity, to claim that God's "We," gathers together all humanity into Itself----herein is love.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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