TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  Being Close to God

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Chapter 24  Part I

Being Close to God

Being or growing close to God involves consciously seeking God and focusing on him. Additionally, we can actually meet with God and also should live throughout each day in awareness of his presence. In growing close to God, we come to know him – the importance of which is emphatically stated by the Bible.

Seek God

The Bible tells all people to seek God in order to find him and become one of his people – as spoken of in the first two of the above cross references. But it also shows that God’s people are to continue seeking him – the focus of this section. “Seeking” typically entails intense effort, which is very much applicable to seeking God and fellowship with him. Seeking God also requires prayer, worship and obedience – along with persistently focusing on God, as per the following section, Focus on God.

Seek God – with all your heart

1Chr 22:19a  Now seek the Lord your God wholeheartedly and with your entire being!  NET

Ps 119:10  [A psalmist, to God:] With all my heart I seek you. Do not allow me to stray from your commands!  NET

Seek God wholeheartedly and you will find him

Deut 4:29  [Moses, to the Israelites:] But if you seek the Lord your God from there [in exile], you will find him, if, indeed, you seek him with all your heart and soul.  NET

Seeking God should be accompanied by obedience to him

2Chr 14:4  He [Asa] ordered Judah to seek the Lord God of their ancestors and to observe his law and commands.  NET

Seek God and his help through prayer and fasting

Dan 9:3  [Daniel:] Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.  ESV

Blessings of seeking God

Ps 34:10  Even young lions sometimes lack food and are hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.  NET

Lam 3:25  The Lord is good to those who trust in him, to the one who seeks him.  NET

Not seeking God has detrimental results

2Chr 12:14  And he [Rehoboam] did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.  ESV

Zeph 1:6  [God:] I will remove those who have turned away from following the Lord and those who no longer seek the Lord or ask him for help.  GW

Note: Desire God and things of God

Ps 73:25  [A psalmist, to God:] Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  ESV

Matt 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.  NET

1Cor 14:1  [Paul, to believers:] Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.  ESV

 Questions for Section A

Focus on God

See also:

Keep thinking about God

Ps 63:6  [David, to God:] I remember you while I’m lying in bed; I think about you through the night.  NCV™

Ps 26:3  [David, to God:] For I am ever aware of your faithfulness, and your loyalty continually motivates me.  NET

Keep thinking about what God has done

Ps 143:5  [David, to God:] I recall the old days; I meditate on all you have done; I reflect on your accomplishments.  NET

Think about Jesus Christ – and his example

Heb 12:2-3  We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne! 3So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up.  CEV

Look forward to what is to come in the afterlife . . .

2Cor 4:17-18  [Paul:] And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. 18For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts for ever.  GNT

In v. 18a, “things that are unseen” has primarily in view the “tremendous and eternal glory” (v. 17) to come - which “lasts for ever” (v. 18b).

. . . Do not dwell on the past

Phil 3:13b-14  [Paul:] Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 14with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  NET

Further godly things to focus on

Rom 8:5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  ESV

Phil 4:8  [Paul:] Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.  NET

 Questions for Section B

Meet with God and Live before Him

We are to come before God – in the sense of coming into his presence, i.e. intentionally being aware of his presence – to meet with him. Christians typically set aside some time everyday to do this, focussing fully on God. Generally this involves reading the Bible, prayer and even meditation.

Additionally, we are to constantly live before God in the sense of living in awareness of his presence, companionship, help and discernment of our lives. As such we should think, speak and act accordingly.

Prepare yourself to come before God, as shown in the OT practice of consecration

Ex 19:22  Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves. Otherwise, the Lord will break out against them.”  ISV

To “consecrate” oneself means to set oneself apart for God or to dedicate oneself as sacred to him (cf. Consecrate yourself to serve God . . .). It is also spoken of in the OT in regard to cleansing oneself before approaching God or entering his temple. In both cases it signifies ridding oneself of all that is sinful. As such, a parallel can be drawn between the OT practice of consecration and the need for believers to rid themselves of sinful practices in order to approach God.

Draw near to God . . .

Heb 10:19-22  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.  NET

. . . Come before God, meeting with him

Deut 31:11  [Moses, to leaders of Israel:] … when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses, you must read this law before them within their hearing.  NET

Just as the Israelites at times together came before God, believers can both individually and corporately come before God, to meet with him. Believers are in fact freer to do this, because of Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished (cf. Heb 10:19-22 ⇑).

Continue to live before God, in his presence . . .

Acts 23:1  And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.”  ESV

Isa 23:18b  Her [Tyre’s] merchandise will belong to those who live in the presence of the Lord so that they will have plenty of food and expensive clothing.  GW

. . . “Walk” with God

Gen 6:9  This is the account of Noah. Noah was a godly man; he was blameless among his contemporaries. He walked with God.  NET

To “walk” with God involves living before him. It suggests a personal and interactive relationship, inclusive of such things as prayer and trust in God.

Act before God – in awareness of his presence and scrutiny

2Chr 31:20  This is what King Hezekiah did in Judah. He did what was good and right and obedient before the Lord his God.  NCV™

2Cor 4:2  [Paul:] Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful ways. We do not use trickery or pervert God’s word. By clear statements of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God.  ISV

Paul in effect claims to “tell the truth before God” (NLT), “in the sight of God” (NASB, NKJV, NRSV) – acting in accordance with what upright people would think to be right. Paul suggests that he spoke not only in awareness of God’s presence, but also of his scrutiny.

 Questions for Section C

Know God

In verses included in this section, occurrences of the term “knowledge of” in relation to God (or Christ), have been interpreted as encompassing knowing God (or Christ) in a personal sense, rather than just simply knowing about him. (This is reflected in some of the comments.) Moreover, knowing God in a personal sense is intertwined with knowing about God. For it is in coming to know more about God that leads us to respond to and interact with God – and thus develop a personal relationship with him.

Know God and Jesus Christ

1Jn 2:14a  [John, to believers:] I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, parents, because you know the One who existed from the beginning [Christ].  NCV™

Jer 9:24  [God:] If people want to boast, they should boast about this: They should boast that they understand and know me. They should boast that they know and understand that I, the Lord, act out of faithfulness, fairness, and justice in the earth and that I desire people to do these things,” says the Lord.  NET

We are to understand and know God – which includes appreciating that he acts in “faithfulness, fairness, and justice”.

Knowing God is linked to obeying his commands

1Jn 2:3-4  Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. 4The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.  NET

Knowing God is linked with loving and caring for others

1Jn 4:7-8  Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 8The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  NET

Jer 22:16  He [King Josiah] upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.’  NET

Knowing God is manifested in caring for the poor and needy, amongst other things. Note that like 1 John 4:7-8 above, this verse may be implying that one who knows God reflects his character and deeds.

Knowing God aids godly living

2Pet 1:3  [Peter, to believers:] His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, …  ESV

Note that the Greek for “knowledge” indicates a complete or additional knowledge, here implying a very close, personal relationship with God (cf. The Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Knowing God and Jesus Christ is vital for spiritual growth

Prov 9:10  Wisdom begins with respect for the Lord, and understanding begins with knowing the Holy One.  NCV™

2Pet 3:18  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on that eternal day.  NET

Believers grow spiritually through Christ’s grace and knowledge of him. As noted earlier (cf. 1:3 ⇑), the latter probably encompasses personal knowledge of him or knowing him personally.

Further blessings of knowing God

2Pet 1:2  [Peter, to believers:] May grace and peace be yours in full measure through your knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  GNT

John 17:3  [Jesus, to God:] Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.  NET

Eternal life involves knowing God and Jesus Christ in an ongoing, progressive, intimate relationship. While this verse is not explicitly saying that eternal life is a blessing resulting from knowing God and Jesus Christ, it certainly at least associates knowing them with eternal life.

Note: Not knowing God leads to sin and evil

1Thes 4:5  [Paul, to believers:] Don’t use your body for sexual sin like the people who do not know God.  NCV™

3Jn 1:11  [John:] My dear friend, do not follow what is bad; follow what is good. The one who does good belongs to God. But the one who does evil has never known God.  NCV™

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians