Spiritual Awakening and the Knowledge of God

Spiritual Awakening and the Knowledge of God

I have never understood or empathized with the view that knowing more about God gets in the way of loving God. And yet there are people who, it seems, build their lives and ministries inside the fog of doctrinal ambiguity.

It has been my conviction, and my experience, for over 40 years that knowing more about God from his inspired, energy-filled word puts more kindling in place so that the Holy Spirit can ignite a greater and greater flame of passion for God in our hearts.

The Mountain of Majesty

But there are people who believe that we will marvel at the majesty of the mountain of God’s truth more if we don’t try to climb it, but stay at a distance, leaving it in a cloud, hazy and indistinct. I don’t believe that. My life and ministry is built on the opposite conviction — that the fullness and clarity of the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) are a source of indomitable and exquisite joy, and passionate worship, and radical obedience, and biblical unity.

I was created — and so were you — to help people see and savor the glory of God. To that end I have devoted my life to spreading the truth that this happens when we ourselves are profoundly satisfied in God — especially in times of suffering. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

An Unspoken Assumption

But there is an unspoken assumption here. “Satisfied in him” means “him as he really is.” For God to be loved duly, he must be known truly. Reveling in some rich pastry honors the chef. But not if it turns out that it wasn’t his creation after all. Admiring the beauty of Jane honors her — unless it turns out that it really wasn’t Jane. White-hot worship only honors God, if what moves us is really true about God.

It doesn’t matter how intense our doxology is sung, if God doesn’t recognize himself in the theology that stirs us. The more closely our portrait of God truly portrays him, the more our joyful response to that portrait will honor him as he is.

Awakening

Therefore, my enthusiasm for spiritual awakening and unity in the body of Christ increases in direct proportion to the fullness and clarity of central gospel truths which are driving the awakening. And my enthusiasm for awakening and unity diminishes in direct proportion to the decrease of the fullness and clarity of the central biblical truths sustaining the awakening.

I want to see God send a great spiritual awakening marked by a passionate, God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated consensus rooted in the fullness of central gospel truths. Spiritual awakening is mainly about more and more people seeing and savoring the glory of Jesus Christ. And that glory shines most brightly when his beauty is seen most clearly, and savored most dearly.


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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.