Knowing Jesus starts by entering into a personal relationship with Him.
God, whose very nature is love, desires to have an intimate love relationship with His people. He wants us to experience the reality of His presence moment my moment in our lives: “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me” (Hosea 6:6, TLB).
We begin to know and love God through personal revelation that comes to us by faith. This dawning of relationship takes place in our lives as we come to the light. Jesus is the Light. When we come to Him, we are enlightened. When we come to Him, we come to truth.
We come to know God. Jesus said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14:7, NASB).
Knowing about Jesus is not Christianity. Christianity is knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is knowing a fellowship with Him that results from the transforming work of the Spirit in the heart. It is heart knowledge, not head knowledge. It is possible to be a learned biblical scholar, skilled in theological debate, and still not be living in communion with Christ. God is not an idea to discuss. He is the reality we participate in.
We enter into the knowledge of God when we enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus tells us that without faith we cannot even see the Kingdom of God, much less enter it. “. . . unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5, NASB).
I had been attending church for some time, participating in the rituals and routines of church life. Though I experienced no real fulfillment, I believed that this must be what it meant to be a Christian. If I was lacking in inner joy, I thought that was because I needed to work harder at it. Then one day, walking into the adult Sunday School class, my eyes became fixed on these words the teacher had written in bold letters on the chalkboard: CHRISTIANITY IS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST.
These simple, straightforward words impacted me like dawn breaking after a long, dark night.
I saw that I had been “playing church,” I had been involved with externals while Christianity is a matter of internals. I had been substituting ritual for relationship. I had no personal knowledge of God, no soul attachment to Him.
Soon after reading the message on the chalkboard, I reached out to Jesus in faith. He took my hand and guided my steps into the Kingdom. In the awe and beauty of that moment I came to know God. Thereafter, life, both in the church and out in the world, took on fresh vibrance and rich meaning, for it was new life—life lived in the personal, vital awareness of God.
Jesus issues an invitation to all the world: “Come to the light. Enter the knowledge. Cross over into the Kingdom. Abide in Me.” A wondrous thing happens when we accept Jesus’ invitation and open our lives to His touch. A miracle occurs. We are given a new heart that loves God; a new spirit that communes with God; and a renewed mind that is open and receptive to spiritual truth—a mind eager to learn from the counsel of wise Christians, and a mind that delights in studying the Scriptures. Mysteriously, Jesus Himself, within us, is our Teacher, Counselor, and Guide.
As we learn to recognize His voice and listen to Him we are freed from self-centeredness and conformity to the world. We are transformed. Christ becomes the center of life and life is flooded with hope and gladness. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, NASB).
The words “to know” as used in the Bible mean far more than “to be acquainted with.”
Biblically “to know” also signifies the intimate union between husband and wife, the two who are made one. God has chosen to use the illustration of marriage to describe the love relationship between Himself and His people. “Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord” (Hosea 2:19-20, NASB).
In the New Testament, the Church is referred to as “the Bride of Christ.” The Bride-Bridegroom relationship is one of love, fulfillment, intimacy, and joy. It is also a relationship wherein each participant lays down his own separate life for the other. Jesus gave His life for His Bride, the Church. “. . . Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25, NASB).
As the Bride, our entry into personal union with Christ also involves laying down our lives for Him. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20, NASB).
To know Christ speaks of the mystery of divine union with Him, of the reception of Christ into the heart.
There is no greater joy than to be aware that He who is pure love is present within us.
As the light of His love enlightens the eyes of our heart, we become more lovely, loving God more and reaching out to others in love. As William Penn said, “Love is above all; and when it prevails in us all, we shall all be lovely and in love with God and one with another.”
Valkyrie Murphy was a free-lance writer and member of the Bend, Oregon Church of the Nazarene.
Originally published in the Herald of Holiness, February 15th, 1983.
Holiness Today, Jan/Feb 2019