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Knowing God


1 Corinthians 1:21, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”


This is a paradigmatic verse. Notice that the world did not know God through wisdom, therefore it pleased God to save those who believe the word of the crucified Lord (v.17-18, 23). What is the logical connection here? It seems to me that Paul is equating knowing God with being “saved.” By God’s wise design, the world could not know God through its own wisdom, therefore He was pleased to save them through the word of the cross. Paul has placed “save” in a parallel position to “knowing God” in his thought, such that to know God is to be “saved” and to be “saved” is to know God.

This, of course, lines up beautifully with emphasis on salvation / eternal life as primarily knowledge of God in Christ which we find in John’s writings. Paul too, it seems, teaches that salvation is primarily (or, at least, is an interchangeable concept with) true, affectional knowledge of the Living God (this is made even more clear in 2 Cor.4:6).

The world did not, could not, know God through its own efforts. Human wisdom simply could not create a true image of YHWH. Therefore, YHWH was pleased to savingly reveal Himself to the world through the crucified Christ. THIS—indeed, HE—is the message by which GOD is revealed. There is no other way to know Him. Consider it, there is no other way to attain true knowledge of the living God, there is no other way to behold the one for whom our souls were made, there is no other way to attain to life than to know, to meet, to receive God declared to us in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth who is raised.

This manner of revelation is so at odds with the fallen human mind that it shatters our pride, it shatters our wisdom, it shatters our expectations of power and glory and beauty and strength and establishes in their place the true, spiritual knowledge of who God is; the “depths of God” (1 Cor 2:7-10). The Wisdom of God, the Power of God, the Glory of God appears with infinite fullness and complete perfection in, on, and through the crucified Lord, and until we recognize the Name of God in the crucified One, we will never know God and so never have life…….and, to recognize God here necessarily dismantles every flesh-made idea of wisdom and power and glory and establishes in their place the true Spirit-made images of these realities.

May the Father continue and complete this crucifying and resurrection work in our minds and imaginations and affections as we, by the Spirit, behold His glory in the face of Jesus Christ.