Knowing God is the Gospel
We are aware of the difference between the believer’s standing and state. The believer’s standing is unmovable in Christ, yet his state, his condition, must progressively increase in godliness. God has made us righteous by position; therefore, we must pursue righteousness. God has made us holy by position; therefore, we must pursue holiness. Though the believer has been crucified with Christ, he must ever learn to live a cross-originated life.
So it is with the knowledge of God. What we attempt to pursue in theology God has fully given us in the gospel. What we first believed unto salvation is what we pursue into eternity. The gospel is more than “Christ died for our sins; therefore, believe and be saved.” Thank God it is that! But it is also how God would have us view Him. It is how God would have us worship Him. It is that body of truth that teaches us how a man can and must approach a holy God.
Knowing God is Knowledge
Before going to the cross, the Lord in John 17 prayed for Himself (v. 1-5), for His disciples (v. 6-19), and for all believers (v. 20-26). The kindness of His intercession and care never ceases to touch the hearts of God’s people. In the section of His prayer where He speaks of the equal glory of the Son with the Father, He said these words: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (v. 3). How fitting that the Son, Who alone knows the Father, would centralize the knowledge of God in His mission to save men.
John picked up on this theme and expanded on it in his first epistle: “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so 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” (5:20). Both passages emphasize the coming of the Son to reveal God, and both emphasize the “true God.” However, John’s epistle expands the theme by speaking of the sphere of our relationship, “in Him,” and by speaking of our understanding.
The gospel is not satisfied with a vague conception of deity. It demands a conscious understanding of the only true God by the revelation of the only Son of God. We preach a cognitive gospel; is this not why it comes to men in the form of a message (Romans 10)? But we also preach a spiritual gospel, for men can only know God by means of specific revelation from the Son.
Our pursuit of God is not found in comparative religion classes nor in academic institutions nor in personal sentiments. No, our pursuit of God is founded upon an exclusive gospel and an exclusive means of understanding it. May we never separate our theology from the gospel. May we never separate the gospel from the Son of God. And may we never separate the Son of God from His exclusive power to grant us the true knowledge of God.
Knowing God is a Vision
The devil’s chief goal is to keep men from the knowledge of God. He does not keep men from hearing the gospel so much as he keeps men from seeing the reality of the gospel.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
The devil is not threatened by abstract discussions of theology, nor does he attempt to detract from them, except to add confusion perhaps. No, the devil’s real threat comes when the sinner begins to be attracted to Christ; this is where true knowledge of God begins. The knowledge of God is a vision of something that draws our hearts and compels our wills to gaze longer into such glory. While we forget facts and figures, we do not forget life-altering visions; the gospel impresses the sinner like nothing else.
Thus, we pursue the knowledge of God because we have seen the beauty of God in the face of Jesus Christ and know His full glory to reside in Christ’s Person. Theology proper, that is the specific study of Deity, is not proper theology unless it pursues Christ in order to reach the true God. This is where knowing God starts.
Oh, how practical this becomes! Though knowing God is a matter of knowledge and revelation, it is more: it is a matter of experience, of a spiritual “Aha!” that indelibly marks the beholder. Dear reader, perhaps you have known God by the hearing of the ear, but has your spiritual vision beheld Him? Salvation comes only with beholding God. Job could say, “I have heard You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”
At this, you may say, “Yes, I have seen the beauty of Christ.” But do you continue to see it? Has He remained the pull of your affection? Has He given you both clarity and joy in considering God? Yes, you have seen the light, but do you bask in that light from day to day? Believer, this is where the knowledge of God starts. It began in the gospel, but it grows only when we embrace the Christ of the gospel day by day and dwell in the sunshine of His face. Knowing God is knowledge, yes, but it is also a vision.
Knowing God is a Relationship
We continue to go deeper than knowledge and deeper still than a vision. The knowledge of God is a relationship. This culminates as the true definition of knowing God. It builds upon knowing about God. It builds upon having seen God. But it completes the sequence, and it brings the individual to the very center of God’s heart in a mutual favour and affection.
This was Paul’s summary of his gospel preaching: “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” This comes out in his Galatian letter (4:8) when he speaks both of knowing God and being known by God, as if they were simultaneously necessary. There can be no knowing God without God’s knowing us. Therefore, it has to be a mutual relationship. This is the fulness of the gospel’s power. It teaches men. It baffles men. It reconciles men.
If we understand the gospel correctly, the knowledge of God will have a full meaning. It will be equivalent to pursuing God Himself. If God has taught us of Himself and if God has manifested His glory, nothing but personal knowledge and experience will satisfy our longing. This is what the gospel teaches us to do.
 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, emphasis mine.
 Job 42:5-6
 2 Corinthians 5:20, emphasis mine.