To Know Him is to Love Him

(John 17:1-3 NKJV) Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, {2} "as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. {3} "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

In this day and age when there are so many voices attempting to tell us what salvation and "eternal life" is, these verses jumped out at me in the Gospel reading last Sunday. Such simple, direct words; yet so profound in their meaning. It puts purpose to all our activities and lets us know what things we do are profitable and what is a hinderance. But above all, it tells us that a simple prayer may not be all that is needed to be "saved".

The Hebraic meaning behind to know a person is an integration of knowledge and experience. This is evident in those passages in the Old Testament where two people who come together in a physically intimate way are said to "know" one another. The Greek word used here does not convey that richness of itself, yet one is hard pressed to see how Jesus could have meant it any other way than in the traditional Hebraic manner. Most would agree that what is needed for salvation is not to just know *about* God, but to know Him in a living relationship. Salvation is to experience God in a relationship that joins us to Him as His adopted children.

The problem with this is that knowledge of God is beyond us. He is of a different nature, beyond our existence, we being created by Him. It is like an ant's knowledge of us. There is so much about God that we can never hope to know or even begin to comprehend. If so, then just how can we "know" God, and in how do we come to that knowledge? After all, if God is a "consuming fire" and that which is sinful and corrupt is burned in His presence, then how do we possible get to know such an awesome and unknowable being?

Jesus answers that here. It is the incarnation of Christ, the second person of the Godhead, which came into our world to make known the Father. Jesus told Philip, if you see me, you have seen the Father, if you know me, you know the Father. This is why in the following verses Jesus tells the Father that He has done His work, He has "glorified" or made know the glory of the Father. Christ has revealed the Father to us, and through Him we can know the Father.

This is why Paul says to us:

(Phil 3:7-12 NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. {8} Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ {9} and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;...

And what is this righteousness which is from God by faith?

{10} that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, {11} if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Does Paul feel that this "salvation" is yet finished and complete?

{12} Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Notice the synergy at work here. Paul presses on to lay hold of that for which Christ has already laid hold of him for! It is not Christ laying hold of a passive subject, but a cooperation by grace of our response to God's love and reaching down in Christ. God grabs hold of us, and we spend the rest of our life pressing on to lay hold of the same thing, a knowledge of God, a relationship only made possible by the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. If we are not laying aside everything that gets in the way, if we are not pressing on to lay hold of this relationship, of this intimate knowing of the Triune God, then we are not moving toward the true eternal life and salvation; to know God.

Yet, we have one more problem, you might say. For Christ lived 2000 years ago and now all we have are some stories in four Gospels. All we can do is read about him and the passage of time has clouded and dimmed the picture of the "historical" Jesus. How can we know Jesus Christ in order to know the Father?

(John 16:13-15 NKJV) "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. {14} "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. {15} "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

Who else can reveal the Son to us than the Holy Spirit. Many have felt that the Spirit is called the "Spirit of Truth" because He reveals empirical data about the Son. Not quite. It goes beyond that. He reveals the glory of Christ and the Father in order that we might experience that glory, that we might come to know in a personal and communal way through experience who God is. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(John 14:17 NKJV) "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

But lest we think that this is it, there is one more aspect of how we come to know God.

(John 15:26-27 NKJV) "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. {27} "And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Not only will the Holy Spirit reveal Christ and the Father, He does it through the "Church". It has been the unbroken witness, the living out of the Gospel through the Holy Spirit in our lives that reveals who the Son and the Father are. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, He testifies of the Son. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we testify of the Son to each other!

And what is this testimony? How do we reveal Christ?

(John 17:20-23 NKJV) "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; {21} "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. {22} "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: {23} "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Through shining the light of Christ in us to the world by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which makes us one as the Father and the Son are. It is no accident that the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples in the upper room when they were of one heart and mind. Unity in love is the sign of the Holy Spirit's presence, and where ever the Holy Spirit resides, there you will find love and unity, a oneness that transcends this world and can only come from God. It is the oneness that is represented by the vine and the branches. It is a oneness of relationship, a knowing of God. Eternal life.

That is our goal. That is what we are to press for, lay hold of, and judge all our activates, thoughts and motives by. In that knowing we can rest, by faith, in His life and salvation.

Rick