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Like many, I had the privilege of knowing Denny Terry, an elder at the church I attended during seminary. By the way he served the church and seemingly all those around him, you would have never guessed he was in the midst of a long battle with cancer. He seemed to do all things with joy and a spirit of thankfulness to the Lord. He lived life before God.

Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul introduced me to the concept of coram Deo: “before the face of God.” Living all of life before God in some sense captures the biblical exhortation, “In all your ways, acknowledge the Lord” (Prov. 3:6). This command to “know Him” is simply the active and conscientious recognition that all of life is from Him and to Him and through Him (Col. 1:16). In short, it is about living in communion with God.

The great promise of the Old Testament and indeed the Bible is about communion with God: “I will be your God and you will be My people.” It is the promise given to Moses in light of his inadequacies (Ex. 3). Joshua is exhorted to be strong and courageous since the Lord was with him as He was with Moses (Josh. 1). Even our exhortation to take the gospel to the ends of the earth is accompanied by the promise of Christ’s Spirit wherever we go (Matt. 28).

This heartening truth is always accompanied by various expectations and requirements placed on the people of God. Whether it is living a life worthy of the calling received (Eph. 4:1) or the warnings against joining the members of Christ to sin (1 Cor. 6:15), the communion believers enjoy with the living God has implications for all of life.

Despite the temptation to forget or ignore the Lord, this proverb presses us beyond mere selective acknowledgment of God. Just as He is omnipresent, our communion with the living God must pervade every facet and every moment of our lives. The proverb, then, reminds us that our relationship with God is not limited to corporate worship or private prayer and devotional times. Instead, all of life is about knowing and enjoying God even in the mundane tasks of vocation and the drudgery of everyday life (1 Cor. 10:31). It is rather easy to suffer from spiritual amnesia relegating our relationship with God to a moment here and a thought there, but our union with Christ transforms our entire existence in this life and in the life to come.

These truths are the indicative that lie behind the imperative to acknowledge God. That is to say, the command to know God flows from our being known by Him. There are numerous ways in which this spiritual discipline or practice can be manifest in our lives. Our communion with God and the implications of it are not suspended when we arrive at our place of business, the classroom, or anywhere else we might be. Everywhere we go and whatever we do, if we are resting and trusting in Christ as He is freely offered in the gospel, Christ is with us. As those who have been bought with a precious price, we are to acknowledge and honor our Lord in all things.

Know God in all things, because God knows us, and one day with undivided hearts we will truly know God.

In the immediate context, the command to acknowledge is preceded by an encouragement to trust in the Lord. This charge to trust God asserts that He is trustworthy, and as such we are warned against limiting God by our own understanding. Such trust requires us to value God’s wisdom and indeed His goodness above our own limited knowledge and understanding. While we often think that we must understand to believe, the Bible holds before us an even better way. After all of his suffering and trials, Job was not given a lengthy explanation of the ins and outs of God’s purposes in his life; instead, Job learned to find satisfaction in the greatness and glory of the living God (Job 38–40).

The command to acknowledge God in all our ways is followed by the promise that He will make our paths straight. The imagery of this straight path conveys the idea of security and blessing. So often, we can be tempted to feel that we have to have all the answers in order to protect ourselves and live a fruitful life, but in knowing God we find blessing. It is not a promise of ease or the absence of strife this side of glory. In fact, this proverb anticipates the struggles that every believer faces. When trials increase and many questions go unanswered, the God of the Bible calls us to trust and to acknowledge Him above all things.

Christ, in complete obedience to the law of God, demonstrates most poignantly what it means to trust and acknowledge God in all things. With sweat-like drops of blood, Christ, in full recognition of the weight of the cross and the consuming wrath of God, humbly prays: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). But in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we receive much more than mere examples. Just as we are united to Christ in all things, we share in His perfect obedience and His blessing, which transforms this command from a burden to a blessing. Outside of Christ, our failure to trust and acknowledge God in all our ways condemns us. Yet in Christ, we know that God is producing in us that which is pleasing to Him. While perfection is not attainable this side of glory, when we enter into His kingdom, we will see Him as He is and become like Him (1 John 3:2).

Knowing God in all our ways means that we are to live life before God and in communion with God at all times. The proverb strips us of excuses where we might be tempted to suspend the implications of our union with Christ. Know God in your work. Know God as a parent. Know God as a child. Know God as a student. Know God in retirement. Know God in all things, because God knows us, and one day with undivided hearts we will truly know God.

A few years ago, Denny lost his battle with cancer, but he won the prize Christ died to give him. Now, Denny, along with the saints of old, truly lives life before God. As Paul writes: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). That glorious picture is abundant life lived coram Deo.

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From the February 2019 Issue
Feb 2019 Issue