Eternal LifeObtained Through Knowledge, #767
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (JOH 17:3).
There is so much confusion about what constitutes salvation. There are so many different private interpretations of the Bible. We have heard of the group of 39 people who committed suicide, thinking they were going to ride a comet to heaven. To them that was salvation. However, we need to rightly understand the authority of the Word of God. The Word of God tells us what constitutes salvation, and any private interpretation, no matter where it comes from, we must put aside. We need to understand what life eternal is.
Spiritual or eternal life does not begin after death. It begins in this life, and if it does not, it will never begin. There is no turning after death. As the tree falls so shall it lie. If we do not become partakers of eternal life in this life, we will never become partakers. Eternal life consists in knowing, living on, having communion with, and enjoying endless satisfaction with the Triune God. If the things of this world are what fills our life, we have an empty religion. The lack of this relationship with Christ is what we read of in JOH 1:11, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." There is much controversy between those who believe in free grace and those who believe in the Arminian doctrine as to what this verse means.
This word received comes from the Greek word paralambano, which means "to associate oneself in an intimate relationship." Our text is talking about those who know God and Jesus Christ. The scribes and Pharisees knew Him and they could not wait to kill Him. That intimate relationship, which He deserved, was missing.
This intimacy with the Triune God is the vehicle or channel through which all blessings flow. The Scriptures show us what it means to know God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1CO 2:9 says, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
What can any logic claim as more positive evidence of this intimate relationship, which is the conduit through which eternal life flows, than our attitude toward what pleases the Triune God? The marriage relationship is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and His church. What tells you that your spouse loves you? Is it when he says he loves you and then walks all over you and disregards everything that you would ever want done and disregards you as an individual? In the relationship between Christ and His church, it is not those who talk much, but those who love much. It is those who understand that the way to express love is to have every desire to do everything the other wants done to please them. This is the way the bride should express her love for her Bridegroom.
JOH 14:21 says, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." How do we measure our love for God? By the intimate desire of our heart to do His pleasure. In our marriages, when we have a self-sacrificial love, and we sacrifice ourselves for our spouses, and that our whole hearts desire is to please our spouses, what is the response? As this verse says, Those who love me will be loved. Our spouses respond with self-sacrificial love toward us.
Do you want to have assurance of eternal life? Is it not by Christ manifesting Himself to us by the tokens of His love, by Him revealing His love to us? Do we expect Him to do that while we ignore His will? An intimate relationship was what was missing between Christ and the Jews.
See the relationship Christ revealed between Gods commandments and eternal life in 1JO 2:3-5, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." This is not talking about legalism. We are talking about the response of a heart of love. This is talking about evidence that we know Him. The evidence that we love Him is that from our hearts we desire to do what pleases our heavenly Bridegroom. A relationship is established. There is a difference between doing the will of God and doing the orders of God. Legalism is the dos and donts done at the crack of a whip. Salvation and eternal life are doing the will of God from a motive of love.
See the blessed principle taught in Scripture that the intimate knowledge referenced in our text finds its source in what has been done for us. The source of my love for Christ is when I rightly learn to understand what He has done for me, that is if I have a right understanding of the price He paid for my sin. I need to understanding the love of the Father in giving His Son and restraining the love He had for Him while He pled in the Garden of Gethsemane that this cup might pass. He restrained His own love for His Son for the love He had for me. This provokes our love for Him. 1TH 5:12-13 says, "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves."
The knowledge spoken of in our text is not mere intellectual knowledge. It is a relationship that builds trust. PSA 9:9-10 says, "The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." These are the ones who have obtained the knowledge spoken of in our text.
A carnal man may have great intellectual knowledge of God and yet have no faith and live in total confusion of mind. Many love to study the Word for the purpose of debating others. 1JO 4:7-8 says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
It is so awesome that the plain truth about the knowledge spoken of in our text, which begins with and increases unto eternal life, is so little understood. Think of the masses today who think they have salvation, but listen to their conversation. They undermine other people and have hearts of bitterness. They have never learned to know the love of God. They have never learned to understand the commandment of love, to love our neighbors as ourselves. They become judgmental, saying, He did that because he thought . To be judgmental means to try to judge what another person was thinking. People may do horrible things against us, but only God knows why they did it. We must forgive and let God be the judge.
Even as light was the first object created in the beginning, so it is with the new creation. When the Lord begins to work grace in the heart, light is the first object of that new creation. As the light of the gospel shines into your soul, then the knowledge spoken of in our text is the first step toward eternal lifeto learn to know God, to start to understand the love of God, to start to have that intimate relationship we have between God and us. COL 3:9-10 says, "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." We start to receive knowledge of the character of God and the self-sacrificial love of Christ. We learn to forgive as God for Christs sake forgives us.
EPH 5:1 says, "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children." That word followers means imitators. The last verse of chapter four says, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christs sake hath forgiven you." We must be imitators. We must have forgiving spirits. Who should we forgive? Christ came to forgive the chiefest of sinners. No matter who it is, we must forgive them. That person may have actually thought that he was doing something for our good even though we think that it is the worst thing that he could have done to us. We cannot judge what he may have been thinking. We must forgive what he has done of offend us.
The Holy Spirits work of regeneration is to conform us unto the pattern established by Christ. The heart is changed into the image of Christ by the transforming light of the Holy Spirit. 2CO 3:17-18 says, "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." As we start to have the new creation light in our hearts, we look into the reflection of the holy Word of God and in there we have the mirror whereby we see the character of God and we see ourselves. The holy Word of God, the image of God, the character of God, become a looking glass to us. If we have the Spirit of Christ, as we study the Word of God, as we see Christ reflected there, we will be able to witness that same Spirit in our hearts. When you encounter trials, the Holy Spirit will take Christ and raise Him up before our eyes of faith, and in that we will see the pattern of our lives, the image that we are now beginning to conform unto.
It is in this revelation of the glory of the Father in His unspeakable gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, that our attitude toward sin is altered. I think back in my own life, things I used to cherish, today I hate with a passion because I see that they are displeasing to the Lord. I have learned to see the sinfulness of sin. I have learned to see that Christ had to sweat blood over those sins. That takes the glitter out of sin. As we grow in grace, our attitude toward sin is altered.
EPH 4:21-24 says, "If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." This is talking about those who come to know God. Our character is being transformed into the image of God. We start seeing the sinfulness of our old conduct. When I think back when I was a child and the conversations I had with my brother Henry, our whole hearts were one big mass of lusts, and we used to think that that was so funny. However, today it makes me shiver to think back about the corrupt nature of my heart. What was I feeding on? As we become conformed to the image of Christ, sin becomes sinful. Those things we used to cherish, we now hate, and we hate them with a greater hatred than the love we used to love them with. We become a new man created in righteousness and true holiness.
It is as we become convinced of the heinous nature of sin that our will is broken into submission. My mother used to restrain me, and I was rebellious. I would go out and milk the cows and my heart would burn and I pondered what I would do when I was 21.
PSA 110:3 says, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." We start to understand the heart of all godliness. Much has been said about free will, free grace and doctrines, but the Bible says that He makes us willing. Now we do not serve the Lord because we have to or because we have a fear of hell, we serve the Lord out of love. It is my chiefest delight to do the will of God. That relationship is what constitutes salvation.
We are admonished to serve under Christs yoke that we may grow in the knowledge of the "beauties of holiness" in the power of the image of Christ. 2PE 3:17-18 says, "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." There is no standing still. We do not come to the point where we are saved and go on and serve the world. We grow in grace, and if we turn from our first love, we fall from our first love. As we grow in grace we grow in that knowledge that Christ is talking about, that intimate relationship.
I have been married forty-six years, and I have found in the last few years that the intimacy and the love and the reliance on each other grows daily. Our relationship with Christ cannot turn stale. As that relationship between us and Christ grows, that is life eternal. Our eternal life begins today and it gains momentum as we enter eternity.
Growing in grace is growing in that knowledge or intimate relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent to redeem us from all iniquity. The older you get the more you will realize the wonder of His grace that He came to redeem us from iniquity. We have no might against sin, but He came to break its power. As soon as our eyes are taken off from the things of this world and are fixed on Christ, all that trash has no value anymore. Then Christ becomes the altogether lovely. He becomes the object of our love.
2PE 1:2-4 says, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Grace and peace keep compounding. If you have children you know you love them when they are born, but as they grow older your heart goes out to them even more, especially if you have one who is outside of grace. You cannot just leave them over to the power of Satan and sin, yet you have nothing you can do to redeem them, and that is when Christ becomes so precious, because He can redeem them. This makes us flee to Christ.
Knowledge is the channel whereby we become one with Christ. Analyze your own relationship with your spouse. Is not that love and intimacy the cords that hold you together? It is not a business transaction. It is an intimate relationship. This is what binds us to Christ. By this relationship and knowledge and the holiness that results from it, we become partakers of the divine nature.
Mere intellectual knowledge only puffs up the flesh, but spiritual growth in grace enlivens the soul as our judgment becomes stable in the Word. Theologians can go to school and they can become more versed in the Bible than you and I could ever imagine, and still be as empty as a paper bag as far as grace is concerned. Someone once told me, "That pastor is a doctor of theology. Do you not think that he is the one we should call?" I replied, "To me, that does not have a thing to do with it. I can tell you of many people who graduated from schools of theology. I was visiting with a Roman Catholic nun one time, and she had graduated from a school of theology, but she did not understand the basics of salvation." That alone does not do it. What we need is the new creation. We need the Holy Spirits work. Until the love you have for sin is broken, you will never escape its corruption. You may not go out and do it physically, but the Lord looks at your heart. Does your heart still yearn for the things that are forbidden? If it does, you need to grow more and more in the knowledge or intimacy that we have with Christ. Then we come to see how precious it is that He came to redeem us from all iniquity.
Why are there thousands of denominations in the world? Because they all interpret the Word differently. However, we come to a solid foundation of our judgment of what the Word says in HEB 5:13-14, "For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
Our judgment in discernment between good and evil grows as we become more and more conformed to the blessed image of Christ through a more perfect knowledge of Him in the Word. PSA 17:15 says, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."
The unspeakable satisfaction for those who have grown in grace through the knowledge of the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ whom He has sent is to eternally walk in the light of the glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. REV 21:22-24 says, "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it." Our eternal portion is to walk in that light.
Think of the horrible bondage man is fallen into through the lack of knowledge. HOS 4:6-7 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame." We lack knowledge because we have rejected it. Those who reject knowledge reject the light. He turns their glory into shame by leaving them to themselves as we see in JOH 3:19-21, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
Think of the eternal shame that is the wages of sin. PRO 19:1-3 says, "Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth. The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD."
If we begin to fret under affliction, we are admonished of our lack of knowledge of Gods love. HEB 12:4-6 says, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Chastening does not come by chance. Chastening comes because our heart has left its first love, and the Lords love is not altered. If the Lord has ever loved you, He will love you from eternity and to eternity. When our loves starts to wax cold we must not fret against the Lords chastening, because He chastens us out of His love.
The Fathers dear son Ephraim confessed how ashamed he was after receiving knowledge of Gods loving hand in his chastening. JER 31:18-19 says, "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth." Ephraim was fighting it, but then he woke up and came to himself and asked to be turned. A bull that is accustomed to the yoke will cheerfully bear the yoke. As Ephraim became accustomed to serving God he asked to be turned and understood the loving relationship between the Father and His children. He chastens us because He loves us.
Have you ever become bitter at the instrument that the Lord uses to chasten you? Then the Lord opens our eyes to show us that the chastening is for our own good. Then we can kiss the instrument. We grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through this chastening.
Should we not constantly cry unto God for wisdom to know His perfect will? When we become recipients of grace we do not get upset about others or the circumstances we are in. These trying circumstances just bring us back to the Lord, and we ask Him what He wants us to do and how He wants us to respond, and then the Lord answers and He causes us to understand and gives us that intimate relationship. It warms the heart of a father when his children, even after they are thirty or forty years old, ask the advice of their father. The heart of a father is warmed by the intimacy of the children.
The Lord will sometimes bring His chastening hand to bring us into that right spirit. JAM 1:5-6 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." If there is something we do not know, we ask God. If you understand the heart of a parent toward a child you will understand that the Father is not waiting to see if He can find something to lash at you with. No, He wants to give you constructive advice. If the Lord opens His Word and gives us an answer, we must not waver. We must do it.
In the perfection of human honor we find nothing more than confusion and ignorance. PSA 49:20 says, "Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish."
See how the knowledge of "the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent," excels the wisdom of "the beasts that perish." JOB 35:8-11 says, "Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man. By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make the oppressed to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty. But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night; Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?" This is by nature what man is. We do not recognize the hand of God.
If any man should glory in anything, it should be in the knowledge spoken of in our text. JER 9:23-24 says, "Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." We may glory in knowledge, but it must be the knowledge of the Lord. When we glory in the things of this life, it is an abomination to the Lord. If we want our relationship with Christ to grow, we not only think of Him and serve Him, but we think about Him. We praise the Lord by telling others about Him and what He has done for us.
As we walk in the things in which the Lord delights, we become fruitful in the knowledge spoken of in our text. 2PE 1:5-8 says, "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
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