By Not Known
“But if anyone loves God, he is known by God,” (1 Cor. 8:3). What does it mean to be known by God? Since God is omniscient, what is so special about being known by God? To understand these words of the Apostle Paul, we have to turn to the Old Testament.
God said to Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2). Surely God knows all things about every nation and family here on earth. However, this knowing that the Bible speaks about is the setting of God’s special favour upon Israel. It is His covenantal love towards Israel–a result of His covenant with their forefather Abraham. It is His electing love.
How did God choose Israel? Deuteronomy 7:7 explains, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” God did not choose Israel based on any merit He saw in them. Just as Roman 9:11 declares that God chose Jacob instead of Esau before they were born so that it is not by works, but by God’s calling, that God’s purpose in election might stand.
When then did God choose to love us? And what is the purpose of His election? Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4, “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” The endpoint of our election is “that we should be holy and blameless before him.” The purpose is “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6). And “by grace . . . through faith . . . not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:9-10). It is to rule out human boasting that the glory may go to God alone.
How then can we know if we have been chosen by God? Again, Paul says, “but if anyone loves God, he is known by God” (1 Cor. 8:3). Love for God is the primary mark of the elect. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” This love originates not from ourselves but from God. God’s love always causes His elect to love Him in return. And the Lord Jesus tells us, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments to love one another in His church (John 14:21; 15:12,17). Such a one will lay down his whole life to serve the church that Christ purchased with His blood (John 15:13-14). Paul is a prime example of such a man (Acts 20:24). He called the elders of Ephesus to do the same (Acts 20:28). In his last words, he reminded Timothy that God knows those who are His. They are those who set their lives apart for God. They will be used by God to serve the purpose of His house for His glory (2 Tim. 2:19-21). Such is the blessedness of being known by God.