Now This is Eternal Life

“Now this is eternal life:  that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  John 17:3.

The first time I read this verse I had one of the “Aha!” moments in Scripture.  I wondered at that point why anyone would complicate the process or access to God when Jesus spelled it out so clearly.

Seems simple to me.

And it is, if you know the Greek word used for “know” here.  According to Vine’s it means “to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand,” or “to understand completely.” He goes onto contrast two words generally translated “know” from Greek to English, The differences between ginosko (No. 1) and oida demand consideration:  (a)  ginosko, frequently suggests inception or progress in “knowledge,” while oida suggests fullness of “knowledge.” If you have a Vine’s, you can read the rest of the discussion later, but the gist of his conclusions about the difference between the words used is that we are progressing in knowledge where as Christ is complete.  Jesus knows the Father in His wholeness, while we are growing in that knowledge through His revelation.

This suggests to me believers continuously seek to know God and constantly grow in that knowledge.  At the same time it doesn’t mean mere study or intellectual pursuit, rather we make the knowing more personal, intimate.  There is a great difference between knowing God exists and knowing Him personally.  I know a lot about Him through the stories of Scripture but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a relationship.  I know a great many people, for example, since I play and sing at several churches in my area, yet this “knowing” doesn’t mean I am personally acquainted with their daily habits, personal preferences or private outlook.

Jesus doesn’t consider anyone to really know God unless they own Him as such.  Like James 2:19 declares, You believe there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that—and shudder. Believing there is one God, One Creator and Savior doesn’t mean anything unless obedience follows.  A belief must evidence itself in the life or it is dead—worse than useless.  I’ve seen people argue over the nature of God, His teachings and doctrinal differences with attitudes that belie their claims to faith.  When the Word tells us the fruit of knowing God is gentleness, kindness, self-control, etc, then we behave the same way as we did before we understood, we display our disbelief and lack of faith.  I’m not saying the change happens all at once nor am I even inferring we do an about face overnight.  The suggestion of our text above speaks to a growing knowledge resulting in a growing change in our behavior.

Yet Jesus makes it clear eternal life is easier than we sometimes know.  We complicate salvation too much and too often.  For some reason it’s hard for us to accept salvation as simple, so we design all these hoops a convert must jump through in order to even be baptized.  No one starts off life as an infant completely aware of all there is to know, why would we think coming to Jesus would be any different?

Growing our knowledge of God should be directly connected to a growth in our attitude and change our behavior.  This change might be by degrees or baby steps, but it happens.

One last thing this reminds me of before I quit.

New believers should be nurtured along in both their understanding of God and the correction of their lives to conform to His Way.  The sign that a long time believer is immature in their walk with God is when they feel they have to constantly remonstrate a new believer or “discipline” them for their mistaken ideas or less than desired attitudes and behavior.  If Christ died for all of us while we were yet sinners and in this showed a mercy beyond anything we know, how can we be harsh with those under our care?

Growth won’t happen for any of us overnight, I think we have to accept the problems that come with everyone’s stumbling efforts to submit to Him.  I am the same but not the same as I was.  In other words, I’m recognizable as Jonathan Varnell but have grown towards Jesus in such a definite way that my whole attitude, and thus my behavior, has changed.  That said, I’m still not like Jesus enough to have “arrived” in any sense of that word, and every point of growth in understanding Him makes me realize how far I need to go.

Thank-you, Lord, that Salvation’s simple and You work with infinite patience for those who choose Your Way.

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One Response to “Now This is Eternal Life”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I always liken this to dating a person or establishing a friendship. What we perceive from the introduction and the view from afar versus what we see up close and personal when we spend time with that person is never quite what we thought. Knowing Christ, reading about his characteristics is head knowledge, actually following him and watching him work things out in your life, both positive and negative actually have brought me into a love relationship with him. There is a trust, a knowing, a gut if you will about my walk with him that is richer than what I perceived.

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