Knowing God Firsthand
Knowing God Firsthand
I remember as a child visiting my grandparents; just my sister and me, while my parents took a vacation. My Granddaddy would come from his bedroom in the mornings with a smile on his face saying, "Do you know what Jesus was telling me?" I remember glancing into his room, as if I might actually see Jesus still there! Jesus was so real to my Granddad that I wanted to know Him that way, too.
I went to church and listened to sermons, but it seemed as though the Pastor would take out a puzzle piece of a person or a story from the Bible, talk about it, and then put it back in the "box," (Bible) only to do the same thing with a different piece the next time. I had no idea how the pieces fit together for years.
When I was pregnant with our second child, I was invited to an inductive Bible study offered through Precept Ministries. As I began to study, the pieces began to come together, making sense, and transforming from dry words on a page to full-color life! God was becoming as real and personal to me as He was to my Granddad. I was determined that my children would have the opportunity to know God firsthand as children, and not have to wait until they were adults.
What is inductive study?
Inductive study is a process of learning how to learn. Today, the terminology used for inductive study is observe, interpret, and apply. In classical education, this process is called grammar, logic and rhetoric. Originally in the book of Proverbs, God gave Solomon insight into how He created us to learn: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
Knowledge is simply gathering the facts, the basic building blocks of the subject at hand. This applies to learning in all areas. Why not teach our children these tools of study in the original context of God's Word? We begin to gather those bits of information with tools applied to the text. One tool asks us to look for facts about the word "God."
For example, we can ask, "What clues can we learn about God from what He says in 2 Timothy 1:2?
To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
We see that grace comes from God. And mercy comes from God. And peace comes from God. And that God is the Father.
In time, additional tools such as questions, key words, simple lists, contrasts, comparisons, conclusions and references to time will help us gather more fact.
Understanding is seeing how those facts fit together to convey truth. The context enables us to see the truths as God intended us to understand them.
Continuing with our example, we see that the author of this New Testament letter wants Timothy to know that God gives grace and mercy and peace. If Timothy is needing peace in his life, he knows to go to God to find peace.
Wisdom is simply applying those truths to our own life. As we know and understand what God says, we then are able to choose to respond to what He says.
If we understand that God gives grace and mercy and peace, we can ask Him for these gifts in our lives. Or we can ask Him to help us understand what they are. Or we can thank Him for giving us His peace.
How do we begin? Can pre-readers learn this too?
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is our Teacher! As a family we can all come to the Scriptures together to learn what God has to share with us. Start with the tool of Key Words. If you have pre-readers, ask them to listen for the word "God" or "LORD" or "Jesus" as you read a short part of Scripture. When they hear you say "LORD" or "His," ask them to hold up their hand to stop you as you read. By directing them to listen for a specific word instead of just to "listen," you are helping them learn to focus, to grow in attentiveness.
When they stop you, ask, "What do we learn about the LORD in what we just heard?
In Psalm 100:1 we see that we are to shout joyfully to Him. The whole earth is to shout joyfully to Him! In verse 2, we are to serve Him.
How do we serve Him? He says to serve Him with gladness.
We are to come to Him and sing joyfully.
We've gathered some bits of information about the LORD directly from the text; now how do we understand it in context? The book of Psalms is a book of songs; the heart cries of joy and many other feelings as the writer shares his life experiences with God.
What are our life experiences that we can share with God?
What can we shout joyfully to our LORD?
What are some ways that we can serve Him?
How do we serve Him with gladness?
Are there songs that we could sing with joy to Him now? Let's do it!
Wisdom is responding to what God has shared with us from His Word. Sometimes we will understand what He says; sometimes we won't. That's ok. Pray it back to Him;
"Thank You, LORD, that You are God.
I'm not sure what that means, but will You help me to understand?
And thank You that You made us and we belong to You.
What does it mean that we are Your sheep?
We thank You for what You are teaching us, and we look forward to learning more from You. We pray in Jesus' Name, Amen."
God desires a close relationship with us. He begins by speaking to us through His Word. We take it in, process it as best we can, and then respond back to Him. Our response may be through prayer, praise, thanks, confession, repentance, or simply obeying what He instructs us to do. This is how a relationship is built; He speaks, we listen. We respond, His Spirit continues to speak to us. Learning to know God as He speaks to us through His Word enables us to begin to know Him firsthand. That is radically different than simply knowing about Him!
As you begin to set aside time together as a family each day to hear from God in His Word, seeking to understand what He says with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and then respond to Him, you will grow in shared understanding of knowing Him firsthand; not simply knowing facts about Him. He delights in meeting with us if we will simply make time with Him a priority.
The Bible is not just another subject; it is the foundation for all true education. In Proverbs 2:1-6 we learn that knowledge and understanding and wisdom all come from God. Real life learning that will transcend our culture and transform our lives must begin with time invested in knowing our LORD firsthand, understanding His Word, and living it out in a way that honors Him.