The apostle Paul calls the Galatian Christians to account in his letter to them. They once knew God through Paul's preaching of faith in Jesus Christ. But now he has learned that they've rejected his preaching. And more importantly, they've rebelled against God's will that was revealed through Paul's preaching.
Some apostles had come up to Galatia from Jerusalem. These were disciples of Jesus' disciple, James, who taught that Paul had misled the Galatians for profit and gain. Paul calls them "false apostles" in his letter because they taught the Galatian Christians that Paul's preaching was errant. As a consequence, the Galatians were led to embrace other beliefs about their salvation. Now, because of the false apostles from Jerusalem, the Galatians were allowing themselves to be circumcised. They were observing the laws governing Jewish ceremonies and customs. They didn't embrace their new status as children of God through faith in Christ. Instead, they turned back to focusing on how they could be blessed by God through their beliefs and works.
So Paul corrects the Galatians, reminding them that they did not come to know God by their beliefs and works. It was God who made himself known to them. As he writes, "But now you have come to know God. Or rather to be known by God" (Gal 4:9).
The Galatians were seduced by the false apostles. They accepted that obedience to the demands of the law, not grace, was their means of salvation. They rejected Paul's preaching that their knowledge of God's will for their lives was passive, not active. It was God who made himself known to them and revealed his grace and mercy to them through faith in Jesus.
Like the Galatians, we commit the same error. We allow false apostles, however they come to us, to seduce us with sweet-sounding words and the promises of heavenly rewards if we just...
If we just observe certain ceremonies, we can be saved from God's wrath.
If we just abide by certain customs, we can gain heaven for ourselves.
If we can just do what's demanded of us, God won't condemn us to hell.
All this assumes we can know anything about God's will apart from what has been revealed to us through faith in Jesus Christ.
But we don't know God. Original sin makes that impossible for us. Instead, as the apostle writes, we can only be known by God. We are known by God. God sends his Spirit to deliver the word into our ears, which creates faith to believe Jesus is Lord and Savior.
We cannot hear God's word unless the Spirit opens our ears. Our ears are opened by the Spirit through the word. Then, faith in Christ is present in us. The Spirit and word have taken possession of us. That is, we are grasped by faith. This is proof that we are known by God. We become, in essence, guests of the word, even in our own bodies.
Faith is gifted to us by the Spirit, and in this way, we are also given new life. All the customs and ceremonies commanded by the law are rendered null and void for us when it comes to our salvation. The only obedience we care about is Jesus' obedience to the Father's will that saves us from God's wrath. The only works we care about are Jesus' works by which he set us free from our bondage to sin to be children of God.
We know God because he made himself known to us through faith in Jesus Christ.
As Jesus says, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Matt 11:27).
Our knowledge of God is not grasped by our beliefs and works. It is purely passive. God makes himself known to us through faith in Jesus Christ. This knowledge and belief are gifted to us by the word through God's grace and mercy toward us.