The pursuit to know God has been mankinds mission for millennia. The reality of man’s pursuit to know God is something the Bible speaks about and is evidence that God exists. The wise writer of Ecclesiastes even made that point9. More broadly this pursuit has been to know about any higher, spiritual being greater than man himself.

Evidence of this carries from the writings of the great philosophers (e.g. Plato, Nietzsche, etc.) to the many religions of the world today, from the Abrahamic (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) to the Indian (e.g. Buddaism, Hinduism, etc.). It was Gnosticism (from the Greek “gnosis” meaning knowledge) that “considered the principal element of salvation to be direct knowledge of the supreme divinity in the form of mystical or esoteric insight. Many Gnostic texts deal not in concepts of sin and repentance, but with illusion and enlightenment.”

How Scripture answers "How do we know God?"

We know God through belief in His Son, Jesus Christ4,7,8 and obedience to His word3,9,11,12,14.  Sin is what separates man from God1,6. However, God very much wants man to know Him2,5,10,15. He has provisioned it2,13 (e.g. seek Him or “call on His name”) through His creation5,9,10 and ultimately by sending His Son3,7. It is only8,9 through belief and obedience to Him that man can know God3,4,6,11,12,15.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
He [God] drove man out of the garden of Eden with its tree of life and at the east end placed an angel and a flaming sword to guard it.

In the garden of Eden when God has discovered Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  He pronounces judgment on the Tempter and shares the curses for both man and woman as a result of their disobedience.

Scripture-block application to this question

Man knew God in the Garden of Eden, but man’s sin separated them.

Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.

God says that a truly wise man’s confidence should not be in his [earthly] knowledge or in any material gain, but rather that he has come to know the God that practices enduring love, justice, and righteousness on earth.  This is what pleases Me, says the Lord.

God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah during the days/years leading up to Judah’s captivity to Babylon.

It’s from this passage that Paul likely refers and loosely quotes in both of his letters to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:31, 2 Cor 10:17). In both of those passages, he is advocating for the power and precedent of God’s word over human wisdom and defending himself against false teachers (e.g. ‘super-apostles’).

Scripture-block application to this question

Man’s confidence is based on coming to know God. God says that He can be known.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

He [Christ] is the atonement for our sins, and not ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.  And if we keep his commandments, we come to know him and his atonement.

John, in his letter to brethren, makes refrain after refrain for them to continue to “walk in the light”.  In the first chapter he states it as, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1:6).  John emphasizes here and throughout our “walk” to be in accordance with Jesus’ word and His walk (vs 6).
Scripture-block application to this question

Knowing Him (God/Jesus) comes through obeying His commandments (His word). John goes on to equate knowing him with being “in him” (vs 5).

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

To be sure, I [Paul] consider nothing above knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For Him have I suffered the loss of everything, considering it all worthless anyway, in order to pursue Christ and be found in Him, not based on works of my own law-keeping, but based on faith in Christ and the good works that it produces — coming to a knowledge of Him and the power of His resurrection, sharing in His sufferings, becoming dead to the flesh, that at any cost I may achieve life after death.

Paul’s letter to the Christians at the church in Philippi, established during his second missionary journey.
Scripture-block application to this question

Paul chronicles his own journey to “knowing Christ Jesus.” It began with recognizing its worth above all other things. He had “faith in Christ,” being “found in Him” and living the “righteousness from God” that involves sharing in His sufferings and being dead to the fleshly desires. His “knowing” journey continues until he attains life everafter (“the resurrection from the dead”).

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
God has revealed His invisible attributes and made them plainly evident.  In particular, His eternal power and divine nature have been manifested in the creation of the world and all the things He made, so they have no excuse.
Paul’s letter to the Christians living in Rome expressing his eagerness to come there and preach (vs 15).  He praises them for their faith being “proclaimed in all the world” (vs 8) and contrasts living by faith (vs 17) with those that know God but have not honored him as God (vs 21).
Scripture-block application to this question

Knowing God should be “plain” and “clearly perceived” since God has revealed Himself to all through creation. Not knowing God is inexcusable!

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Nobody that abides in him [Jesus] keeps on sinning, and nobody that keeps on sinning has known or seen him.

John is stating the case for fellow believers to continue in the love of God, here reminding them of the contrast between those that practice sin (e.g. “lawlessness” vs 4) and those that have accepted Jesus and been cleansed of their sin.

Scripture-block application to this question

The one continuing in sin does not know or have fellowship with Jesus/God.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Eternal life is knowing you, the only true God, and knowing Jesus Christ whom you sent.
Jesus’ prayer in his final hours on earth, sometimes referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer.” He addresses it to God, the Father, and prays for the apostles and for all “those who will believe in me through their word.” (vs 20)
Scripture-block application to this question

Knowing God leads to eternal life and includes believing Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.

Jesus said to him [Thomas], I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Nobody can come to the Father except by/through Me. If you knew Me, you would know My Father as well.  From now on you know Him and have seen Him.

Jesus and the apostles in the upper room on the eve of His trial. John’s account of this begins in chapter 13 and concludes with Jesus’ prayer in chapter 17.  Jesus has just said that He is going to prepare a place for them (vss 2-3) and Thomas has asked, “How can we know the way?” (vs 5).

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus is the only way by which anyone can know God. Knowing Jesus is to know God.

I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
I’ve seen what God has tasked mankind to be engaged in, and He has made everything to be appropriate and good.  He has also placed within each person a longing to seek after things eternal, yet has limited him in knowing all that God does from beginning to end.

Observations of the folly of life without acknowledging God and His authority.

Scripture-block application to this question

God has placed the yearning for a higher purpose (“eternity”) in the heart of mankind, while at the same time has kept him from knowing all that He has done.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

How God has limited man’s ability to “find out what God has done” is qualified in the overall context of Ecclesiastes. The qualification is best articulated in the close of the book with the conclusion to, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (12:13)

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
He [God] made from one man [Adam] every nation to live and cover the face of the earth, having determined from the beginning their dwelling times and boundaries.  And God made them to want to seek after Him in hopes they would search and find Him, since He is not far from any one of us just as it’s said, ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ and from your own poet, “For we are indeed his offspring.”

These two quotes from Paul, while confirming Biblical concepts to be sure, are taken from secular writers that would have been familiar to the Greek Athenians.  The first is likely from Epimenides of Crete and the second is from Aratus’s “Phainomena.

Paul’s sermon to the Athenians from Mars Hill while he awaited his companions to join him from Macedonia during his second missionary journey.  Here he quotes two sayings they were apparently familiar with and placed some credibility in their source.  The first seems to be from Epimenides of Crete, a semi-mythical 7th or 6th century BC Greek seer and philosopher-poet. The second is from the poem, “Phainomena”, written by a Greek poet named Aratus.
Scripture-block application to this question

God is nearby, able to be found if He is sought. Paul confirms this desire of mankind was part of God’s creation9 and echos the prophet’s writing13.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

This [persecution] is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, deeming you worthy of God’s kingdom for which you are suffering.  It’s a truth that God considers it just to repay tribulation on those persecutors, and to give you relief together with us in Jesus’ return from heaven together with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting repayment on all those who do not know God, not obeying the gospel of Christ.

Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica, encouraging them regarding their present “persecution and afflictions” (vs 2).
Scripture-block application to this question

Expressed in the negative, Paul couples not knowing God with not obeying the gospel of Christ.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

God hears (“is near”) to anyone that calls on Him “in truth” or His word (

John 17:17
).

David’s song of praise (about 1,00BC).

Scripture-block application to this question

God is there for any that call on Him according to His word.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Seek the Lord, calling on Him while He is near; let a man turn from his evil ways and sinful thoughts and turn to the Lord so that he might be forgiven by a compassionate God.

God is speaking through Isaiah the prophet around 700BC.  This chapter, along with the entire latter half of Isaiah starting around chapter 40, contains many confirmed Messianic prophecies along with images and foreshadowing of Christ and His coming Kingdom.  In this context, he mentions an “everlasting covenant” (vs 3) and includes the Gentiles (“a nation that you do not know” vs 5).

Scripture-block application to this question

At least for some time period, God is “near” and “may be found” by any that “call upon him”.

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.
Seek God all you who are humble and do His commands; whose interest is in righteousness and serving others.  They are the ones that might escape the wrath of God’s judgment.
Zephaniah prophesied during the time of King Josiah in Judah (1:1).  Therefore, Israel had already been led away by Assyria. Judah’s fate of Babylonian captivity has already been decreed by God thanks to the wickedness of the people by prophets that have come before Zephaniah (e.g. Isaiah, Micah, etc.).

Although not quoted by any New Testament writers directly, Zephaniah may be the most “packed” prophet with Messianic language and foreshadowing. God, through Zephaniah, decries the “day of the Lord” throughout, and while at times it’s regarding Judah, he’s also clearly speaking of a much larger and all-encompassing “day of the Lord”.

Language pointing to Jesus/Day of Pentecost and/or a final judgment day:

  • 1:7 – The “sacrifice” and “consecrated guests”,
  • 1:15 – “a day of clouds and thick darkness” (xref Joel 2, Acts 2),
  • 1:16 – “a day of trumpet blast”,
  • 1:17 – “distress on mankind” (not just Judah),
  • 1:18 – “all the earth shall be consumed for a full and sudden end”,
  • chapter 2 – judgment on all nations (not just Judah),
  • 3:8 – a “gathering of nations” (xref Acts 2)
  • 3:11 – introduction of God’s “holy mountain” (xref Isaiah 2),
  • 3:14 – Zion
  • 3:15 – “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst” (xref Acts 2:38-39 and the “gift/promise of the Holy Spirit”),
  • 3:19 – “save the lame and gather the outcast”
Scripture-block application to this question

God through Zephaniah instructs people that are humble and “do His just commands” to seek Him.

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
Solomon, my son, know the my God and serve Him wholeheartedly and intentionally. For He knows your intentions and every plan and thought you might have. If you are truly seeking Him, He will make Himself to be found by you. However, if you neglect Him, He will cast you from His sight.

King David is nearing death and is transitioning the kingdom to his son Solomon. The first big task for Solomon will be the building of the permanent temple in Jerusalem (vss 10ff).

Scripture-block application to this question

God will be found if you seek him and wholeheartedly and willingly serve Him (and cast away if we don’t).

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