30th May 2023

  Jon Bloom says


Intimacy with
God is available to you.

It is as accessible to you as God's promises.

And God's invitation, to you, to enjoy intimate fellowship with him,
is that thing that is putting your faith to the test,
more than anything else (James 1:2-4).

Intimacy is what we call the experience of really knowing and being known
by another person.
We frequently use spatial language when describing this experience.

An intimate friend is someone we feel very close to; they know us
at a deep level.
If something happens that damages the intimacy with our friend,
they could feel distant from us.

But of course intimacy is not spatial but relational.
We all know what it's like to be sitting right next to a person
with whom we feel distant and
we can feel close to a person who is four thousand miles away.

"Biblical knowledge is far better than gold when it fuels our trust in God.
Otherwise, it only fuels our pride."

Trust is at the heart of intimacy.
The more we trust someone, the closer we let them get to us.

This is as true in our relationship with God as it is in our relationships
with other human beings. Our experience of God's nearness or distance
is not a description of his actual proximity to us,
but of our experience of intimacy with him.

Scripture shows us that God is intimate with those who trust him.
The more we trust God, the more intimately we come to know him.
A felt distance from God is often due to a disruption in trust,
such as a sin or disappointment.

This reality is vitally important to understand.
As Christians, we want to experience intimacy with God.
With the psalmist we say,

"for me it is good to be near God"
(Psalm 73:28).

And we want to heed James's exhortation and realise its promise:

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you"
 (James 4:8).

But we can seek that nearness in ways that don't produce it.

One common mistake is thinking that nearness to God can be achieved through
knowledge accumulation. Now, of course, to intimately know God,
we must know crucial things about God.

Jesus said,

"you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"
 (John 8:32)

and he pointed out that many worship what they do not know
 (John 4:22).

But never in the history of the Christian church has so much theological
knowledge been available to so many people as it is today.

The American church enjoys perhaps the greatest amount of this abundance.
It is awash in Bible translations, good books, insightful articles,
recorded sermons, interviews, movies, documentaries, music, and more.

And much of it very good.
It is right for us to be very thankful.

But America is not abounding in Enochs
(or finding them frequently disappearing),
saints who walk with God in a profoundly intimate way.

Because knowledge is not synonymous with trust.

That's why Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day,
some who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture,

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them
 you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."
 (John 5:39-40)

Think of it like this:
A candlelit dinner with romantic music may encourage a sweet
moment of relational intimacy between a husband and wife,
but only to the degree that the environment encourages and
deepens their mutual trust and love.

If there's relational distance between them due to a lack of trust,
the aesthetics themselves have no power to bridge the distance.
Only restoring the trust will do that.

The secret to drawing near to God and having him draw near to us
is revealed clearly in the Bible:
we draw near to God through faith in Jesus who alone gives us access to him
and we put our trust in all of "his precious and very great promises"
which find their Yes to us in Jesus.

And without faith it is impossible to please him,

for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

When God sees someone whose heart fully trusts his promises and lives by them,
God comes to strongly support that saint and manifests himself to him:

"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them,
he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
(John 14:21)

God's Invitation to Intimacy

"What you must trust God most for right now
is where he means for you to draw closer to him."

Staff writer, desiringGod.org
Jon Bloom serves as teacher and cofounder of Desiring God.
He is the author of four books, including Not by Sight and
most recently True to His Word.
He and his wife have five children and make their home in the Twin Cities.