Glorying in Knowing God
byRev D.H. Kuiper
Jeremiah 9:23-24, "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth lovingkindness, and righteousness and judgement in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."
The proper study for the child of God is the Godhead. the redeemed saint has every reason to search out the Scriptures to discover all that he possibly can about his merciful Father who has saved him by sending the Beloved Son to the cross. In fact, one's enjoyment of salvation is directly proportional to one's knowledge of God. Not only ought the individual saints be endlessly fascinated with God's revelation in the Holy Scriptures, spending a goodly portion of his life in the study of them, but the Church of Christ ought to be busy joyfully proclaiming the knowledge of God. the Church ought not busy herself in politics, social improvement, and the like; the Church has the mandate and the privilege of being busy with the knowledge of God that God has provided for her in the Bible. She ought to set forth, according to the Scriptures, the Names, the Virtues, the Counsel, and the Works of God! With this little pamphlet we wish to introduce the subject of Knowing God in the light of the text quoted above. In following pamphlets, we hope to develop the various attributes (or virtues) of God's Being. We do this with the purpose of setting forth the glory of God, and of bringing home to the reader what a great, good, and wonderful God we have as his redeemed people.
There seems to be something in man that wants to glory, to boast. Man, apart from the grace of God, likes to glory or boast in something that he is, he has, or is connected to in some visible way. Jeremiah tells us that although all boasting is not sin, there are many dangers in this matter of boasting. God does not forbid us to glory, but God is very insistent that glorying be where it ought to be: in Him (I Cor. 1:31) or in this "that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord..."
By the contrast that he presents in the above verses, it is clear that Jeremiah considers this matter of boasting as an either/or proposition. Either a man will boast in his wisdom, might or riches, or he will glory in the Lord. He cannot do both, and he cannot find a third possibility. By wisdom we are to do understand the wisdom of this world, the wisdom of the philosopher, the doctor, the scientist, the lawyer, and the professor; think also of the ability to run a business and to make money. Might has reference to the dynamic political or military leader, to the skill and endurance of the professional athlete, to the fanaticism of the sports world, to the ability to command vast sums of money to artistic, dramatic, or musical skills. And riches? It is clear that man likes to boast in his houses and lands, his possessions, his bank accounts, the prestige and ease that the life-style of the rich affords. These are things that the human race goes after in every age! So it was in the ancient civilizations, and so it is today! Learning, power or might, and riches are the goals, the end-all and be-all, of human endeavor and striving.
Clearly the prophet does not forbid the people of God to be wise, or mighty, or to be rich! There may be learning and education in the church, and there may be riches and influence held by those who worship the Lord Christ in truth. But the Word of God is: there may be no boasting in those things! Do not let those things occupy the heart so that all the inner life of the soul revolves around them! Do not allow these things so to fill your mind that your conversation is always returning to them, with bragging or with subtle reminders and hints. Do not arrange your lives so that everything must serve those natural things you glory in, so that whatever stands in the way of that thing must go, and everything that serves glorying must stay and decrease!
Rather, "Thus saith the Lord ... Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me ..." All earthly glorying is sin; glorying that is spiritual, that is based upon possessing a spiritual good, that is right glorying! Glory in the knowledge of God! The knowledge of God is something so precious, so sublime, so other-worldly, so rust and moth-proof, so enduring, and so satisfying, that there is nothing that can be compared to it. Hear the Lord Jesus according to John 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent." Glorying in the knowledge of God cannot mean glorying in some vague notion that there is a supreme being of some kind out there, some mysterious kind of deity or higher being. this knowledge is of Me, saith the Lord, that I am Jehovah! A very definite knowledge of a very definite God, and that is Jehovah God of Israel!
Secondly, this knowledge that is to be a matter of glorying and joyful boasting cannot be a mere intellectual knowledge about God. There are all kinds of people, in Jeremiah's day and in our day, who have knowledge about God; but they do not really know God, they do not glory according to that kind of knowledge, and thus they do not speak of Him either. The prophet has in mind a personal knowledge of God that is comprehended by the mind, but also that has seeped down into our heat so that a relationship results between that man and Jehovah, a relationship of love and friendship!
Thirdly, this knowledge of God is not to be confused with emotional feelings which are merely subjective, but this precious knowledge has specific doctrinal content. The prophet makes this clear when he says hat we must glory in this, "that we understand and know God." Notice that! We are called to know what kind of a God God is. We must have a thorough understanding as to what His nature is like, what His perfections and virtues are, what His holy will is, what His law requires, how great His works in creation, history, and salvation are!
This kind of knowledge comes from the Holy Scriptures applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit of Truth!This deep understanding comes through the faithful, lively preaching of sound doctrine, sound doctrine is precisely what the child of God needs in order to know and enjoy God! We must know that He is Jehovah, the eternal, independent, sovereign, living God. As the great I AM He is unchangeable in Himself and in His determination to save His people!
That the prophet has in mind a doctrinal knowledge is shown further by the words "That I am the Lord that executeth lovingkindness, judgement and righteousness in the earth." Clearly, the knowledge of God that we glory in is revealed in Jesus Christ! This is the knowledge of salvation, nothing less! Mentioned here are the great works of God in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, which deliver us worthless, guilty sinners from all our sin. God provides the sacrifice who satisfies for all our sins, and God justifies the ungodly and quiets their fearful consciences by preaching to them their innocence by faith in the blood of Christ. In this we are to glory, and in nothing else! As Paul writes to the Galatians (6:14) "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." No one in all the world has any right to boast in anything else; not in wisdom, not in riches, not in might. The only thing worth boasting in, the only boasting God approves, is boasting in the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ by faith.
Is that your glorying and your boasting? Is it mine? If so, we show that in our lives by seeking to grow in our knowledge of God. Is the Word of God precious to you? Do you attend a church where the Word of God is faithfully explained and applied to you? Do you faithfully attend the worship service, striving to understand the preached Word so that you may more and more know God? Further, since knowing God by faith establishes a personal relationship of friendship with God, is this relationship a matter of daily joy for you? for the child of God, prayer is not a hard task, but a wonderful privilege; walking in God's commandments is not irksome but delightful! And since a man always talks about the thing he glories in, do you love to speak the knowledge of God that is in you? A tongue-tied Christian is a contradiction in words. Both King David and the apostle Paul said, "I believe, therefore have I spoken." the Christian's speech is not in the abstract, either; he speaks of his own personal faith, of what the knowledge of God that he has been given means to him. He glories in it!! He makes it the center of his life, the object of his seeking, the jewel of great price for which he stands willing to let other things go!
This is a command of God! This is a requirement of the same God Whom to know is the highest good! The God of heaven and earth, to Whom all power and authority belong, stands before every man and commands, "Do not glory in yourself or in any earthly thing. but I, the God of all glory, say unto you: Glory in Me! Glory in what I have done in My Son!" And then one more thing. Let us make sure that we do not parade our knowledge of God before others, make sure that we do not call attention to ourselves with all our doctrinal knowledge. Make sure that we speak with meekness and fear, giving God the glory also for the understanding and knowledge that He has so graciously given us.
God requires this of us because, as the prophet explains, God Himself delights in these things. God Himself rejoices in, glories in, finds endless pleasure in, the exercise of mercy, judgement, and righteousness. Always His good pleasure is in Jesus Christ through Whom He works these things. What must God think of the proud human boasting that fills this world? He take no delight in it! He takes delight in Himself! And he requires that His redeemed children delight in what He delights in. Then do we show ourselves to be His sons and daughters. "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."