Growing in the Knowledge of Christ (1)
Opportunities for learning Jesus abound.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works. Psalm 119.27
Believers in Jesus are called to know Him, and to increase in that knowledge, by learning Jesus continually, in as many ways as they can (2 Pet. 3.18; Eph. 4.17-24). As His disciples, we are called to learn, and whatever may be the subject of our learning, it is neither fully understood nor sufficiently resolved until it aids us in knowing Jesus better.
Knowing Jesus, we know God the Father – of Whom He is the express image (Heb. 1.3) – and God the Holy Spirit – the “other” Comforter like Jesus, Whom Jesus and the Father have sent to us, and in Whom we have the very Person of Jesus Himself (Jn. 14.15-18). Knowing God and Jesus is the essence of eternal life (Jn. 17.3). The people who truly know God will grow strong in Him, and in the power of His might, so that they do many good works to manifest His glory and channel His grace to the world. Our light will be brighter, our salt more savory, and our leaven will work its transforming effects as we grow in Jesus, to know, love, and serve Him with all the things He freely gives us each day.
This is what Jesus wants for us, but unless we want it ourselves – want to know and learn Him more perfectly every day of our lives – we will stagnate in our faith and fail in our calling to advance the Kingdom and glory of God. We must make up our minds that we will seek and live within the Kingdom and righteousness of Jesus, and that we will strive to increase in the mind of Jesus day by day.
As we do, we will increase in our vision of Jesus; we’ll see Him more clearly as we submit readily and consistently to all the means by which He shows Himself to us.
In his Treatise on Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards explained the transforming power that comes from seeing and knowing Jesus: “By the sight of the transcendent glory of Christ, true Christians see Him worthy to be followed; and so are powerfully drawn after Him; they see Him worthy that they should forsake all for Him. By the sight of that superlative amiableness, they are thoroughly disposed to be subject to Him, and engaged to labour with earnestness and activity in His service, and made willing to go through all difficulties for His sake. And it is the discovery of this divine excellency of Christ, that makes them constant to Him: for it makes so deep an impression upon their minds, that they cannot forget Him; they will follow Him whithersoever He goes, and it is in vain for any to endeavour to draw them away from Him.”
Is this the Christian life you know, or long to know? Fully engaged with Jesus? Entirely committed to Him? Following Him at every moment, in every situation, with whatever He has freely given to you for glorifying Him? Resisting every temptation to drift from Him, and reinforcing every compartment of soul and life with the Presence, promise, and power of the Lord? Increasing in the righteousness, peace, and joy of His Kingdom, as you carry out your calling to be His witness in the world?
Make up your mind, commit yourself now and every day, that you will press on in knowing Jesus, so that you will love Him as is His due, and serve Him with all your time, strength, and resources. Unless you begin here every day, you will be easily distracted from your highest calling, greatest privilege, and only source of unfailing peace and joy: knowing Jesus Christ.
Sources for knowing Jesus
We don’t have to look far to discover opportunities for increasing in the knowledge of Jesus. We have the Word of God, which is all about Jesus (Jn. 5.39); and we have the world that Jesus has reconciled to the Father, in which His works declare His character and glory (2 Cor. 5.19; Ps. 14.10-13).
But in making best use of these resources, we need to keep them in proper relationship with one another.
In the revelation God makes of Himself, that which His Word contains has priority of place. The more we understand His precepts, the better able we will be to understand His works. Only God can enable us to understand His Word, so we must look to Him continually for guidance and understanding, not merely of the precepts of Scripture, but of the way of life they commend. As we increase understanding of the Word of God, and begin to see Jesus more fully there, our ability to understand the revelation of Christ in His wonderful works will increase accordingly.
We will not grow in the knowledge of Jesus apart from daily, disciplined, deep consideration of the Scriptures, with a view to discovering all the ways Jesus reveals Himself to us there. This requires faithful reading of all the Word of God, consistent meditation and reflection, comparing Scriptures with one another, and pleading with Jesus to make Himself known to us. It is not enough to know the books of the Bible, nor to grasp the various doctrines Scripture presents. Nor is it enough merely to listen to good preaching, or participate in a Bible study group. These can be helpful, to be sure, but only if we are grounded in the daily disciplines of God’s Word. These, as well as whatever else we may gain from other learning resources, are but means to the larger end of seeing and knowing Jesus. We must search the Scriptures, poring over them, making the critical connections, and following every path of revelation as it leads us into the life, death, resurrection, reign, and soon return of our glorious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
At the same time, we can begin to seek the revelation of Jesus in His works – works of creation, culture, and all the other gracious works that He ordains and upholds throughout the world. The works of creation and culture are His handiwork, and even though men abuse and misuse His gifts, still, something of His Presence, promise, and power can be discerned wherever we look. As Thomas à Kempis wrote, “From Him alone all creation takes its origin, and therefore all creation has but one voice for us; He, who is its origin, is also its interpreter. Without Him, nobody can understand it, or form a true judgment about it. Until all things become One for you, traced to One source and seen in One act of vision, you cannot find anchorage for the heart, or rest calmly in God.”
We must apply ourselves to both books of divine revelation, but the Word in Scripture must be our guide, standard, and touchstone in all things, including how we understand and use the works of God in creation and culture. We must make a daily commitment to know Jesus, and follow that commitment with the disciplined pursuit of the knowledge of our Lord by every available means.
1. What does it mean to make a commitment to knowing Jesus?
2. Why must all our reading and study of Scripture end with some revelation of Jesus? How can you make sure that’s actually the case?
3. Why do we need to look to both “books” of divine revelation – Scripture and creation – in order to increase in knowing Christ?
Next Steps – Preparation: Will you make this commitment? Write it out. Put it in your Bible. Share it with some Christian friends. Review it in prayer every day. And get ready for the exciting adventure of increasing in the knowledge of our Lord.
T. M. Moore
One place to begin learning is in understanding the times and the world around us. Our book, Understanding the Times, outlines the broad scope of what we need to understand to live as witnesses in this secular world. Order your copy by clicking here. To see how and why the small stuff of your life matters, order a copy of our book Small Stuff (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.