Keys to Learning Jesus

Here's how we connect our studies to Jesus.

Learning Jesus (3)

The goal of all learning is to learn Jesus, and these are the keys.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4.17-24

Keys to learning Jesus
We are truly learning when we learn Jesus. Everything we have considered in this study intends to help us increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ – not just head knowledge, but intimacy of friendship, trust, and obedience, so that the love of Jesus flows through us to our world.

As disciples, called to be learners, our goal is to increase in Jesus, as John the Baptist explained (Jn. 3.30). This is what the Holy Spirit is doing within us, as He works with the revelation of God’s glory – whether from His Word or His works – to transform us into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Whatever we read or study, we must strive to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10.3-5). Learning Jesus, so that we know, love, and serve Him more consistently and more fruitfully, is our basic calling as His disciples.

Paul outlines five keys to learning Jesus: Repent of sinful ways (vv. 17, 19, 22); submit all your thinking to the light of God, that is, His revelation in His Word and creation (v. 17, 18, 23); devote yourself to seeking holy affections (vv. 18, 24); keep your eye on Jesus (v. 21); put on the righteousness and holiness you see in Him (v. 23).

I want to say a bit more about each of these, taking them in order of importance.

See Jesus
Since we belong to Jesus, and everything we might learn can help us increase in the knowledge of Jesus, so that we may live for Jesus in all we do, then seeing Jesus must be the primary focus of all our learning. This begins, of course, with learning to see Jesus in all of Scripture (Jn. 5.39). Jesus is in every text of the Bible. All Scripture gives us glimpses, perspectives, and angles on the Person or work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we must read and study with a view to build up, in the eye of our heart (Eph. 1.18), an increasingly clear and compelling image of Jesus in all the stages of His existence.

We must see Him eternally present in the mind of the Son, prior to His incarnation, and as the prophets of the Old Testament sketched out His coming and work. We must see Him as He walked the earth, heralding and exemplifying the coming Kingdom of God. We must see Him exalted in glory and upholding the cosmos and all things. And we must envision Him coming again in glory. By meditating on Christ and communing with Him in all these phases of His existence, we will see more clearly what we are to become, and what we will one day be when we see Him face to face (1 Jn. 3.1-3).

Bask in the light of God’s glory
There is no substitute for daily reading and meditation in the Word of God, accompanied by listening and prayer. Nor does anything excuse us from this daily discipline. We must be exposed to the light of God’s glory over and over, and continue meditating on that light throughout the day, and as we undertake any other studies in pursuit of the knowledge of Christ. The light of God’s Word and works will show us where any darkness yet remains in our lives, and guard us against straying into the darkness of our unbelieving age. In the light of Christ, emanating from the Word of God, we will be able to discern any other light of God in the various disciplines of study, and to steer clear of teachings that are in any way contrary to the vision of Christ and His glory.

In the light of Jesus and the glory radiating from Him, we will see our sins more clearly, and we will be able to discern the sins of our world and the errors or shortcomings of whatever we may be studying in our journey to increasing knowledge of Christ. Then we can repent of our sins and pray for the sins of the world, that men might know the striving of God’s Spirit and come under conviction and grace for salvation. By keeping the Lord Jesus always before us, we will be able to see where things we’re reading or studying deviate from His righteousness and holiness, where men prefer darkness rather than light, use their minds futilely and in ignorance, and blacken their hearts with fleshly lusts. And we’ll see these in our own lives, so that we may come to despise them, forsake them, and chart new paths. We will take whatever is good from our studies to reinforce our vision of Jesus, and we’ll allow the light of God shining through our studies to lead us to repentance wherever it may be required.

Seek holy affections
The heart is the heart of the matter in all aspects of human life. From it flow all the issues of life (Prov. 4.23), so we must be careful to cultivate those affections that incline us to seek the Lord and enable us to cling to Him. Holy affections are those that help us to increase in love for Jesus, hope for glory, desire for His Presence, hatred of sin, longing for eternal life, and zealous to obey Him in all things. Any desires or inclinations in our heart that do not move us to increased seeking of Jesus, but distract our vision and journey away from Him, must be acknowledged, denounced, repented of, and replaced with those feelings and longings which keep us moving toward Christ.

Put on Jesus
Our goal in knowing Jesus is to be like Him. Jesus fulfilled all the holy and righteous and good requirements of the Law of God, and He commands us to seek the same (Matt. 5.17-19). With the Law as our guiding standard, we will know how we must love God and our neighbors in every situation. We put on the holiness and righteousness of Jesus as we attend to the Spirit’s teaching about the Law (Ezek. 36.26, 27), submit to His convicting guidance (Jn. 16.8-11), pray for His filling and power, that we might live as witnesses for the Lord (Eph. 5.18-21; Acts 1.8). The more we make reading and meditating on the Law of God, and all His Word, our daily and continuous practice, the more we will increase in Jesus Who is revealed there (Ps. 1).

Fix these keys in mind as you take up any course of study in your journey to know Jesus, and you will find that you grow consistently – and joyfully and fruitfully – in Him.

For reflection
1. Why is it so important that we continuously nurture a clear and compelling vision of Jesus from His Word?

2. How would you explain what it means to repent of sin to a new believer? Is repentance a one-time action, or should we practice it continually? Explain.

3. In which areas of your life are you conscious of needing to do more work in learning Jesus?

Next steps – Transformation: Begin putting these five keys to work as you pursue increasing in the knowledge of Jesus. It might be helpful to keep a journal, using these keys as headings to guide your study.

T. M. Moore

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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.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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