Dear Adoniram,

I got your text about the “knowledge of God”. Honestly, like you, I’m really struggling to understand what it is. I read the chapter in Ellen White and looked up every verse I could find with some form of the “knowledge of God”.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

In this life of our’s, we are called to seek a knowledge of God. A knowledge that should affect all things “that pertain to life”. A knowledge that brings us upward and onward toward virtue, glory, and “the divine nature”. In 2 Peter, an encouragement is given to“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Knowing God is the stuff of the Christian’s life. With a knowledge of God you will not sin (1 John 3:6), and without it, you cannot love (1 John 4:8). We know Him “if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3-4). In a place where “there was no knowledge of Him;” His “people was destroyed for lack of it” (Hosea 4:1, Hosea 4:6). The Christian’s life is the “fragrance” of this knowledge to the rest of the world (1 Corinthians 2:14-17). If man is to “glory” in anything he should glory in that “he understandeth and knoweth Me” [God] (Jeremiah 9:24), A knowledge of God is eternal life (John 17:3).

Instead of clearing up this issue, the above paragraph sounds more like a riddle than a description. After some prayer and some thoughtful quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy, I think we can synthesize it down to what it is instead of what it does.

But to do that, I need you to tell you a story.

There was once a family doctor, beloved of all his staff and patients. He often would get into trouble with his staff for spending too much time with the patients — which I suppose is better than the alternative. For you see, he genuinely wanted to see his patients improve and do better. One of these patients was a man who had been a chain smoker for many years. Each time he came in with his various ailments the doctor would begin to ask the patient about his smoking habit. As if on cue, the gentleman would simply respond, “I know what you’re gonna tell me Doc. ‘Quit smoking’ — well it’s not gonna happen.” The doctor would stress how much this choices was going to hurt him in the long run, but the patient simply wanted to smoke.

However on one such trip to the doctor’s, the conversation took a very different turn. The physician looked at his chart as he walked to the exam room, knowing this man and his typical ailments very well. He stopped short in the hallway as he read the purpose for the gentlemen’s visit: Wants To Quit Smoking read the chart.

“Just can’t be…” the physician squinted at the words. This man had for years on end had refused any and all encouragement to stop smoking. “What could have changed his mind?” “Some new scientific study maybe…no it couldn’t be that.” “Perhaps a friend of his has passed away due to lung cancer?” “What could have possibly changed his mind.” The baffled physician stepped into exam room #3. Before he could even ask the question-the gentlemen, looked up, and met the physician’s confused look.

“See, doc, I’ve just got to quit — you have to help me quit.” The doctor taken aback by the unusual sincerity in his patients’s voice answered, “Believe me, I’ve been wanting to hear that from you years, but what could have possibly changed your mind?” “You were committed you would never quit…” Such a shift of gears seemed to jolt the physician’s usual flow. As if a dam had broken, and his patient had lost all of his fight.

“Well Doc, it happened like this.” “My wife and I were visiting our grandkids, which is probably one of our favorite things to do. Our youngest granddaughter who’s just the cutest little thing you ever did see, she loves to talk, play house, and sit on my lap whenever I come to visit.” The physician could see the gleam of joy in the old gentleman’s eye as he continued his story.

“One evening, my little granddaughter had on a princess dress and was pretending she was getting married. I watched her prepare and go through all the motions and mid-“wedding” she ran over to me and sat on my lap- looked up at me and asked me a question. “Grandpa?” “Yes,” I replied, “Do you love me?” she asked. “Of course I do,” I replied. “Are you going to be at my wedding grandpa?” “Yes of course I will be there — wouldn’t miss it for anything!” She then replied, “But if you love me and you want to be at my wedding than why do you keep smoking?” “If you keep smoking grandpa you won’t be at my wedding ‘cause you may not live that long grandpa.” With that she jumped off my lap and continued her wedding preparations.

I realized she was right. And I supposed, just supposed, that maybe if I kept at it, smoking that is, her little wedding play is the closest I’d ever get to the real thing.”

“Boy that got me.”

“I’d never seen it that way. Got kinda choked up.” That’s why I called in here to get an appointment as quick as I could. Please Doc — tell me what to do.”

Take a minute.

Adoniram, that’s where the story ends. That man is still in the present tense as far as I know. He may have gone back or sworn off of smoking ever since. But let me ask you to play pretend a little bit yourself. You’re the doctor now, what’s your prescription? More science? Counseling? Electronic Cigarettes? What would you prescribe?

Stay with the granddaughter.

“Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him” (1 John 3:6).

The devil’s greatest ploy is not to get you to make mistakes. It is to separate you from the “little girl” — the knowledge of God. It is to twist and malign that knowledge so that your knowledge of God is powerless. He doesn’t exist, He does but He doesn’t care, He does and He hates you, or the all time favorite — you are God: the ultimate authority. In many ways the descriptions I have just listed are the true idols we worship. Not of wood and stone, but of ideas and culture. Powerless unlike Philippians 3:10 which reads, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.” The power of His resurrection is the power of living a victorious life.

Who then could crush these ideological idols? 1 John 5:20 sums it up nicely, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

“We must know Him as He reveals Himself. A knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation. It is this alone that can make us like God in character. This is the knowledge needed by all who are working for the uplifting of their fellow men. Transformation of character, purity of life, efficiency in service, adherence to correct principles, all depend upon a right knowledge of God. This knowledge is the essential preparation both for this life and for the life to come.” -Ministry of Healing p. 409, emphasis added.

What is a knowledge of God?

You know when people try to explain a seed sprouting? All the different things that have to be just right? Water, light, soil…and then…it just starts. That’s it. It’s that thing that makes a seed that goes from dormant to living. I think its that moment when all the Bible study, prayer, service, baptism…and then…it just starts. Your life just starts. Eternal life just starts.

 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).

When was the last time your knowledge of God changed?

Without your knowledge of God would you be in the same place in you life? I hope I wouldn’t. There’s a country song I heard recently called “That’s How I Got to Memphis”. I’m not a huge country fan, but I really like this song. Look it up if you get the chance. There’s a line in it that goes something like this, “If you love somebody enough, you’ll follow wherever they go, that’s how I got to Memphis”. Definitely a sappy song, but essentially this fellow ends up in Memphis because he’s looking for his lost love. Story goes that the word “Memphis” is interchangeable with wherever the listener is. So how did you get to Memphis? To where you are now? Hopefully it was out of a knowledge of God.

If there was a first step to the knowledge of God I think it would be this.

His Memphis was Calvary.

So in all our righteous desire to know God, to follow Hosea’s exhortation “Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord,” remember that He first knew you and loved you (1 John 4:19).

That’s how He got to Calvary, It was the knowledge of us, Adoniram, that got Him to Calvary. Such is the narrative we are called to emulate — to reproduce. Remember that the power of the knowledge of God is found not in your ability to “know God,” but rather in that you are “known by God” (Galatians 4:8, 9).

We’ll talk soon,

Mark