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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

God Known and Unknown

We know Him truly, but not fully.

A Celtic Christian Worldview (3)

Therefore He is good without qualification, great without measure, eternal without [limit of] time, pre-eminent without position. Since He has no [fixed] place He is imparted to all His creatures and embraces all His creation. No creature holds Him, no intelligence comprehends Him.

  - The Book of the Order of Creatures I.2[1]

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

  - John 17.3

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

  - Ecclesiastes 3.11

The great, unfathomable mystery of eternal life is that it consists of the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.

God’s intention in entering into a new covenant with us is that we should know Him (Jer. 31.33, 34). The sense of this knowing God is one of intimacy, relationship, identification, companionship, love, and rest. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we know God – that He is good, great, eternal, sovereign, wise, beautiful, and faithful. We understand His Word to us, and we delight in His self-revelation and see into His Person and His will, which we gladly submit to, knowing it to be in our best interests.

We know God. Imagine! Who among us can even say that he knows the governor of his state? Or has a relationship with the President, or his Congress person? If we were burdened with some deep fear or burden of worry, we could not pick up the phone and call the head of the Mayo Clinic for advice, or the president of some financial institution for a little help. We do not know these people, and just as important, they do not know us. Nor, understandably, do they care.

But we know God. We know Jesus Christ, Who is the exact representation of God, and sits in heavenly places at His right hand, upholding the cosmos and everything in it by His Word of power (Heb. 1.3). We know this divine, eternal Being, and more importantly, He knows us. God invites us to come to Him, promising to bear our burdens and teach us His ways (Matt. 11.28-30). He keeps an open channel of communication with us through prayer, promising that when we call on Him, He will hear and answer and show us great things and mysteries we have never known before (Jer. 33.3). He has stationed His own Holy Spirit within us, to teach, guide, convict, renew, empower, and transform us into the image of His Son (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

We know God. God knows us. Basking and growing in the knowledge of God is our greatest joy, highest objective, consuming passion, and constant quest.

We know God.

But, in another sense, we do not know God at all. As our anonymous scholar reminds us, our knowledge is partial and limited by our being mere creatures. We cannot contain God, Who knows no limits to His Being and understanding. We cannot even fully explain His goodness, for it is far vaster and more all-encompassing than we can ever know. God is immeasurably great, unlimited in His spiritual Being and eternal existence, and pre-eminent to such an extent that no definition, no office, no place can contain Him.

God has put eternity in our hearts so that we may know Him, and knowing Him, fear, love, and serve Him with our entire being and all our time (Deut. 10.12, 13). But we cannot know anything as completely and thoroughly as God knows. Much less can we know Him to the fullest possible extent, for He is immense and unmeasurable and incomprehensible to all but Himself.

And yet we know Him. We know that He loves us. We know that He is with us always, and that He will never fail us nor forsake us. We know that He knows what we need and is already working ahead of us to see that our needs are met. We know that He sends His angels to serve and protect us. We know that He does all things well and works all things together for our good. We know that when we worship Him, we enter the delight He takes within Himself and share in the majesty and wonder of His Being, Presence, and power.

Knowing just this much of God, we are content not to know Him fully. But we are not content not to know Him more. God is always willing to reveal more of Himself to us and to draw us more completely into His love, so that we abide in Him and He abides with us. Like the apostle Paul, we are determined to press on day by day, that we might know Him better and love Him more (Phil. 3.7-11).

The author of the Liber de Ordine Creaturarum compiled his report to invite, even entice us to greater knowledge of God, by the sheer delight and reverie he took in telling us that we can only know so much of Him, but that we can know Him, and know Him truly. And it is this confidence and warmth and depth of relationship with God that is so little in evidence in our day.

We thank God for the example of these great saints who saved civilization and turned their world rightside-up for Jesus. Let us learn from them all we can, that we may know God, Whom they knew, and Who moved and empowered them to such marvelous heights of achievement for His Kingdom.

For Reflection
1.  How do you experience the knowledge of God throughout the course of your day? What can you do to improve that experience?

2.  Since eternal life is knowing God and Jesus Christ, what does this suggest about how we should share the Gospel with people who do not know Him?

Psalm 43 (Hyfrydol: Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners)
Vindicate me, Jesus, plead for me! Make my case against my foes.
Rescue me, do not ignore me, God of strength, relieve my woes!
From deceitful men and spirits, from oppression, mourning sore –
heed my prayer, receive and hear it, keep me to You forever more.

Let Your light and truth precede me, bring me to Your holy hill.
To Your holy altar lead me, let me dwell within Your will.
Lord, my joy and consolation, You, Who grace to me impart,
hear my joyful adoration; I will praise You from the heart.

When my weary soul is troubled, when despair upon me falls,
let my hope in You be doubled, let me on Your mercy call.
God, my help, my great salvation, I will praise You to Your face.
In Your care my soul I station; let me know Your glorious grace!

Lord, as much as I can, help me know You so that I…

Your vision of God
Seeing Jesus, exalted in glory (Col. 3.1-3), is the best way to improve our vision of God. Our 28-day devotional, Be Thou My Vision, follows Scripture and Celtic Christians as they lead us to focus more consistently and clearly on Jesus. Order your free copy by clicking here.

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T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from
The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Davies, p. 1

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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