How do you know that God is good? That He’s trustworthy? How do you know the Bible is true?
Many times we’re told we just have to believe these things by knowing and accepting them. In my life, these questions required much more than acquiring knowledge. Coming to answers involved knowing about God, yes, but also experiencing God.
TASTE AND SEE
Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Notice the progression in this verse. First you taste, experiencing the fullness of flavor as your taste buds fire signals to your brain about what you’re eating.
Then your brain interprets those signals and you notice the food is perhaps a bit undercooked, too salty, or—like those scenes in Ratatouille—fireworks go off in your mind as you’re overcome with delight.
Tasting opens our eyes and allows us to see—to know—something for ourselves. Taste and see are experiential words. They involve the senses, which are able to bring abstract concepts to life.
When I think of food, I think of donuts. I’m an evangelist for Jesus, but I’m also a part-time evangelist for a local donut shop.
These things are amazing. The donuts themselves are like a mix between funnel cakes and the donuts most people think of—crunchy and slightly crisp on the outside, soft and delicately fluffy on the inside. And then come the toppings. Oh, the toppings! The glazes, frostings, sprinkles, even bits of bacon. My personal favorite is a simple maple glaze.
Now, I heard about these donuts for a while before I tasted them for myself. Everyone promised me I would love them, and I figured I would because, hey, I like donuts. But I wasn’t able to understand the fullness of their glory without tasting them for myself, allowing me to experience them through my senses in a way that brought those promises to life.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good” works in the same way. It’s an invitation to try out the promises of God, and as you do, you’ll find that He is good.
PREPARING FOR THE FEAST
This is how I came to trust that God is good and trustworthy. It’s how I came to know that Scripture should be my source of truth and only guide for living. Several years ago my heart was gripped by the reality of what the Scriptures teach, and the eyes of my heart began to be enlightened (Eph. 1:18) to the truth of God’s word.
I began to understand that Jesus’ promise to be with us in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) was linked to our participation in disciple-making. I came to see that if I wanted to experience the power of God’s Spirit, I had to be engaged in speaking the gospel, the primary purpose for which the Spirit was sent (Acts 1:8). I realized that how I treated the poor and spent my money were measures of my faith and how much of my heart Jesus really had.
As I came to understand what the Scriptures were teaching, I had to know if it was true. I was tired of the supernatural stuff being stuck between the pages of Scripture. I wanted it to break out into my life in the here and now. So I started tasting.
The first thing I “tasted” was discipleship. I had never been discipled one-on-one or as part of a group, so I didn’t really know what it looked like. But if it was the last thing Jesus said to do before ascending to his heavenly throne, it must be a big deal.
I read some books, talked to some people, and started praying for God to send me guys to disciple. I knew, based on materials I had reviewed, that one of the crucial elements in discipleship is availability – the person you disciple needs to be available to spend time learning to study and apply the Scriptures.
So I prayed along those lines. Within a couple of months, God made it clear who the guys were going to be. And the guys he sent me had just been laid off – making them highly available and incredibly open to learning and applying Scripture to their lives.
The next six months was a prolonged opening of my eyes. I had never really committed to investing in the lives of other men in the ways we see in the New Testament – spending time with them, encouraging them, challenging them, memorizing Scripture with them – which means I had never experienced the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in these awesome ways. I witnessed all of us grow closer to Jesus, and become more like him, as we spoke the truths of Scripture into one another’s lives.
I tasted the Lord and came to see that what God promised is true – that we sense Jesus’ nearness as we make disciples; that we tap into the power of the Spirit as we speak the gospel; and that wherever two or three gather in the name of Jesus, he is there with us (Matt. 18:20).
Not only are those things true but they are so, so good. For the first time in my life I felt like I was participating in the New Testament for myself and seeing the promises of Scripture come to life in my time.
Naturally, I wanted more. So I kept tasting.
I was convicted by the materialism that ran rampant in my heart. I knew Jesus called us to put our treasure in heavenly things, not things of this world.
I read Luke 12:33 and didn’t see any wiggle room in the command to “sell your possessions and give to the needy.” At the same time, I wondered why Christians don’t use their homes for ministry as in the early church, and wrote an article suggesting ways to do so. One of my suggestions was to invite a homeless family to live with you, particularly if you live in the suburbs. So I started praying for God to show me what he wanted me to give up or to be open to.
A week later, I was notified at church that someone needed to speak with a pastor. I headed across the building to speak with them. After a couple of minutes of waiting, a mother came to me with tears in her eyes and told me the story of how she lost her home and ended up sleeping in her car. Her three kids were sleeping at their dad’s place so she could keep it a secret that they didn’t have a home anymore.
It was about a week before Christmas, so none of the normal referrals I would connect her with would be open, and she had no family nearby because she was an immigrant. As I was listening to her story, God showed me that this was what I had been praying for. I’m a middle-class guy with a wife and three kids in an affluent suburb—precisely what I had written about a week earlier. It was time to taste and see.
So on Christmas Day, this woman and her three children showed up at my house and spent the evening with my family. It was awkward at first. We didn’t really know each other well; my family wasn’t quite sure what we were doing; and my children moved into the same bedroom to make room for our guests.
But the discomfort was nothing compared to the blessing we received by having their family join ours for a time. We bonded with her children, and they joined our family worship times. We cooked meals together and laughed and cried together. That time transformed my family’s willingness to be obedient to whatever God calls us to do.
SWEETER THAN HONEY
So why do I trust God? How do I know He’s good? How do I know the Bible is true and its words are authoritative?
Because I have tasted God’s promises and seen that they are true. I have savored His goodness and found myself craving more.
Now, when I taste God’s Word, I have the same experience as Ezekiel. In a vision, God told the prophet to consume a scroll with his words written on it. As Ezekiel eats God’s words, he finds that “it was in my mouth as sweet as honey” (Ezekiel 3:3).
Scripture is not only the authority in and for my life, it is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10).
Grayson Pope is a husband and father of three as well the Managing Web Editor at GCD. He serves as Pastor of Community at his church in Charlotte, NC and has earned a MACS at The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Grayson’s passion is to equip believers for every day discipleship to Jesus.