Ease into the Bible: Five Stages of Knowing God More
In the previous article in our “Easing into the Bibleseries,” we asked the question if reading the Bible is worth the bother. We answered with a resounding Yes! But where do we start? How do we even begin to wrap our brains around a Bible that takes two hands to hold and teaches us about a God we can’t see? This is today’s challenge.
As I pondered how best to ease us into the Bible, I considered how God leads us into knowing Him better. Throughout the Bible and the life of the disciples, we see God move His people into greater spiritual growth through a life-changing progression of five stages: know, trust, obey, experience, and love. If God uses this pattern to move us toward knowing and loving Him more, surely He’ll also use it to lead us to know and love His Word more. After all, Jesus is the Word (John 1:1).
Following God’s wisdom, I’ve organized our series using the same know, trust, obey, experience, and love progression. Not only will this make easing into the Bible logical, but we’ll also get a head start in understanding our great God—a God we can’t see but we can know and love.
1. Know: The more we know God, the more we will trust Him.
Every day we place our trust in strangers—bus drivers, cab drivers, and airline pilots. But we’ll never fully trust anyone more than we know them. The more we get to know some people, the more we know we can’t trust them. But the more we know God, the more we realize He’s impeccably trustworthy. It’s the same with His Word. God’s Word is supernatural and does a divine work in our hearts as we faithfully read and study it. The more we know and understand the whole Bible, the more our trust grows—even in the hard parts.
The more we know God’s Word, the more we will trust it.
Those who know your name trust in you
because you have not abandoned those who seek you, LORD.
2. Trust: The more we trust God, the more we’ll obey Him.
We’ll never willingly obey someone we don’t trust. Hold a gun to my head, and I might obey you—unwillingly. Fear is a great motivator. But depending on what you demand, I might take my chances with the bullet. If I fully trust you, however, you only need to ask me, and I’m very likely to obey. (Though it still depends on what you’re asking.)
God never asks us to do anything without a perfect purpose. We can trust Him. Each other, not so much—even though we usually try to be trustworthy. God’s Word is true. Jesus Himself affirmed this when He prayed, “Sanctify them [the disciples] by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
In our modern culture, we’re encouraged to declare our own truth. This modern mindset makes it harder for us to understand the full weight of Christ’s testimony. God’s Word isn’t just “a” truth. It’s the unchanging, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. It never fails. It always accomplishes everything God sends it out to do (Isa. 55:11).
My grandchildren love to leap off the sofa into their dad’s arms. They trust him so fully, they’ll launch themselves into the air whenever he calls them—even if he isn’t looking. The more we trust Christ and His Word, the more obedience flows out as a natural response to our confidence in Him and His Word. The more unwavering our confidence, the more natural our obedience.
The more we trust God’s Word, the more we’ll obey it.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
3. Obey: The more we obey God, the more we’ll experience Him.
As we walk in obedience to what He’s shown us to do through His Word, we’ll discover that everything Christ has revealed about Himself and His commands are true. We’ll experience God’s Word as a firm foundation that holds us strong when the storms swirl. We may lose a shingle or even a whole roof at times, but our faith won’t fail when we delight to walk in His ways. We’ll be like a house on a hill that miraculously stands despite the hurricane that batters against it.
God’s supernatural peace envelopes our hearts and minds as we trust in Him, even as our hearts cry out in the midst of our storms. But faith without works is dead. Our obedience, not our confession, reveals the true level of our trust in Christ and His Word.
The more we obey God’s Word, the more we’ll experience it.
Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
4. Experience: The more we experience God, the more we’ll love Him.
As we obey God and witness His Word proven true, our experience of His glory deepens our love for Him—and His Word.
Tears streamed down my friend’s face as she reflected on the grace God had shown her in the worst trial of her life. “Who am I that God would do this for me?” What had He done? He’d softened her hard heart as she obeyed His Word in Ephesians 4:32 to forgive as Christ had forgiven her. She marveled that she genuinely praises God in her trial. She praises Him because she’s come to know and love Him in ways she never knew possible as she’s obeyed His Word—even when she didn’t understand.
My friend loves God because He first loved her. And her love keeps growing as she knows, trusts, and obeys God and His Word more.
The more we experience God’s Word, the more we’ll love it.
But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete.
— 1 John 2:5
5. Love: The more we love God, the more we’ll want to know Him better.
Love drives us to know the object of our love deeper. It’s not enough to scratch the surface. We want to know everything about our beloved. In our sin-stained humanness, we don’t always want to be fully known. To have our thoughts and intentions revealed. But not God. He delights to be known, and there’s no greater joy for us than to know Him and to be made like His Son Jesus. God gave us His really big Book for this purpose—that we would glorify Him as we come to know Christ and His salvation.
The more we love God’s Word, the more we’ll want to know it better.
We love because he first loved us.
—1 John 4:19
And around and around we go: know, trust, obey, experience, and love. May God give us eyes to see and a heart to know, trust, obey, experience, and love Him and His Word more.
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
—2 Peter 1:3
In our next article, we’ll consider the main point of the Bible. If we’re going to take the considerable time it takes to read it, we want to know the point—the main point. Is it a literary masterpiece for our enjoyment? A manual for good living? A love letter from God? Knowing the main point of the Bible will help us understand how to read it and how to understand what we’re reading.