Gary: Here is this week’s question: “Dear Dave and T. A., I find your program interesting, but from time to time you come up with something that floors me. One item is your statement that everyone can have a personal relationship with God. I have no particular religious background but do think that there probably is a Creator. Yet the idea of being buddies with the creator of everything seems beyond reason. How could that possibly be—and especially since, as you have pointed out, God, being a spirit, which no one can see or approach, or something to that effect?”
Tom: Dave, I can understand this person’s bewilderment, but it does seem to push credibility to think that we can have a personal relationship with God, but it’s true nevertheless. The first book of the Bible reveals that in no uncertain terms. Adam and Eve had close personal fellowship not only with each other but with God as well.
Dave: I guess the questioner is imagining that somehow to have a friendship—relationship, personal relationship—with God, you’ve got to be on a par with God, intellectually…
Tom: Yeah, that’d be the first thing that might hit somebody.
Dave: …and spiritually and so forth. Abraham, in fact, was called “the friend of God,” and the Bible says…well, for example, Jeremiah:9:24, God says, “Let him that glorieth (or rejoices), let him rejoice in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me.” And Jesus, in John:17:3, said, “This is life eternal, that they might know Me, the only true God.” And the Bible says, “God’s judgment is against those who know not God.” So, we are, in fact, called—all men are called—into this relationship with God, and God created man in His image. He gave us the capacity to know Him, to love Him, to experience His love—not so that we would not use that capacity, that we would just have this “experience” with one another—but the greatest experience is to know God. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m on a par with God, that I know everything about God, or that…. You know, He doesn’t need me. It’s God’s grace, it’s His mercy, that draws me into this relationship. It is not my worthiness of friendship with God.
Tom: Dave, what this questioner is saying, it is an interesting point, but he acknowledges at least, to some degree, God is Creator. Well, if God is indeed Creator, He can create us, as you said, with that capacity. He wants…see, he’s looking at it from his standpoint rather than from God’s standpoint, but as we go through the scriptures, we find numerous scriptures showing fellowship and relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Dave: I often put it like this, Tom. You know, wouldn’t it be wonderful—we have namedroppers, and I can drop the name of some great man, some great athlete, some great political leader, whatever, you know, as though I know that person. And people would think, Wow! Wouldn’t it be great if you could just know this person, or know that person, and so forth. And yet, God wants us to know Him. And Christians are called to this, especially. But all mankind is called to this relationship with God. And yet, what a tragedy!
In Isaiah chapter 1, for example, God says, “I have raised children, and they’ve forsaken Me. They’ve turned away from Me. The ox knows his owner, the ass his master’s crib. My people do not know.” He says, “My people have forgotten Me days without number.” And, as Christians, may the Lord speak to my heart and to the heart of each one listening. Do I neglect this relationship with God? Do I neglect this friendship that He wants me to have? And how often do I tell God that I love Him? How often do I commune with Him, really fellowship with Him through His Word, and all day long as I’m talking to Him and thanking Him for His grace and His mercy?
So, man is really incomplete without this relationship with God. This is what we were really created for—not just a relationship with one another but a relationship with God himself! He gave us this capacity, He created us for this, and what a tragedy that we really neglect this friendship with God that we ought to be experiencing.
Tom: Right. Dave, we’ve been talking about your book, An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith, but our relationship with God is on the basis of the faith that we’ve been talking about. It is difficult in once sense, because God is… Jesus…they’re not right visibly, physically here with us, and that’s sort of the way we think sometimes: They’ve got to be here. But they are here! Maybe in a way more true and closer to reality than in our thinking, in a sense.
Dave: Mm-hmm. The questioner rightly complains about the idea that we can be “buddy-buddy” with God. No, we are His close, intimate, personal friends! He loves us, but at the same time, there must be awe and respect, the solemn fear of God. I don’t just put my arm around Him and slap Him on the back, you know, and… No, God is awesome, frightening, terrifying; He is so great in His holiness, His purity. But at the same time, He draws me by His grace and mercy into this personal relationship with Him.
So, it’s not a buddy-buddy thing, and sometimes some of the televangelists, for example, you get the idea that they’ve got God by the tail. There doesn’t seem to be any reverence, any fear for God. They can make God do anything they want. They can throw the “Holy Spirit” around, throw the “Holy Spirit” at people, and knock people down and pick them up and knock them down again, and so forth—I don’t see any reverence. I don’t see any solemnity about this. But it’s like they are running the show. It’s showmanship.
So, we have to be very, very careful. There can be a beautiful, wonderful love relationship with God. At the same time, there must be respect and awesome reverence.