Knowing the Person of Jesus Christ

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The Song of Solomon from "The Bible and Its Story," published 1909This weekend proved to me again that we must scrutinize our walk with Christ.

Note that phrase that we use so effortlessly: walk with Christ.

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for the last two weeks, so I’ve missed the latest hubbub on the Web. Without a doubt, some feelings have been hurt, someone called someone else a heretic, fighting words duked it out with other fighting words, and a brand new systematic theology was hatched.

That’s the problem with where our faith has taken us. In the midst of all the discussions, I wonder if we still remember that it’s not about systematic theologies, or clever apologetics, or myriad other things. It’s about Jesus Christ.

Have we lost the person of Jesus? Do we treat Him like a person or do we treat him like an aesthetic, a systematic theology, a mascot, or a code of living?

This verse continues to startle me:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
—John 17:3 ESV

We tend to think of eternal life as living on in heaven after we die. But Christ Himself says that eternal life is knowing Him.

The last part of that verse should intrigue us all. The whom you have sent gives us the why of Jesus’ coming in the flesh. We know that when He’s asked about showing the disciples the Father, Jesus tells them that seeing His own person is enough. See Jesus = See the Father.

The expectation that we are called to know Christ sets a high standard, one that calls for intimacy like that found in Song of Solomon. The disciples knew Jesus before the coming of the Holy Spirit, but afterwards they knew Him even more intimately. And so it is with us. The expectation that we have that deep intimacy can’t be avoided.

This brings up a sticky subject: Do we truly know Christ or merely know about Him? I suspect that many Christians equate the two, but I can’t agree with them. Something altogether different occurs in the life of some Christians versus others and that key distinction comes down to knowing.

That knowing goes even beyond faith. I know some Christians who have tons of faith, but when pressed their explanation of how they know Christ is lacking. I read a book like A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy (a book everyone must read) and I see in those pages a tangible knowing that transcends the experience of most Christians I know, myself included.

To use the lover illustrations from Song of Solomon, it is quite one thing to receive a letter from the Beloved (think the Bible here) or to glimpse Him from afar (when we minister in His name or when we reach out to Him briefly in worship), but that face-to-face meeting is wholly different. Some would be satisfied with that, but the bedchamber calls and there we are to experience another level of intimacy, the pinnacle of knowing.

All too often we get sidetracked by arguments, performing, and rules so that we never achieve that face-to-face meeting so essential to knowing, much less ever make it to the bedchamber. Our knowledge is like that of fans of an unapproachable celebrity; we collect all the trinkets, chair the meetings, write letters, and on and one, but we don’t know that celebrity at all. That celebrity probably doesn’t know us, either.

But if eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ, we must have a face set toward the bedchamber or else we’ll miss it.

How many of us do? How many of us truly know the Person of Jesus Christ? Not about Him, but Him as a real Person?

Our answer makes all the difference.

13 thoughts on “Knowing the Person of Jesus Christ

  1. Job

    ty for your site. This is my first visit.
    I would not say I know christ but have seen him in others work miracles in many lives, and my understanding grows everyday.
    I probably know more of temptation and the way the devil can ask your soul. But I now thank God for the redirection, signs, coincidence, alpha course, church, people of christ he sent me in my life to turn away from this path of foolishness.
    I have asked him to be within my heart rather than on the outside of my life. The telescope had to my eye has been shattered, and the truth is thier before my face, and ringing in my ears. Christs message to forgive myself means however I have to keep working at it. I am searching for the truth. Suppose we all are in some way.

    Eternal life is always linked with death for non christians. And the physical pasing of the body. But it has come to light in my life that death in this world can happen mid term. To be reborn. To let your old life go, and thank god for the new path he has choosen can bring fear. But my tears will flow, I pray for the sin of my past, and the slate to be clean, and eternal life for the rest of my life will be heaven on earth till the end of time and he returns.

    Let this be soon, let this be today, let this be now. For everyone.

  2. DPT

    This made me think of Jer. 9:23-24: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom…but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me.” One trip around the block in the blogosphere shows you that plenty of people know theology in a way they don’t know God. But Jesus said to make disciples, and disciples know him. There’s a world of difference.

  3. You have stated it very well. We confuse the knowledge with the person all too often. Anytime there is strife between Christians, it can generally trace itself back to conflicting belief systems — not Him. His grace covers us all within relationship. We continually learn (or should) and that will gradually change our point of view in our belief systems (systematic theologies), however, if the concentration is not on His person, all our knowledge will not give us what only an indepth knowing in Him can impart.

    I enjoy your new “look” on the blog.

    Blessings,
    Iris

  4. Peyton

    Dan, I hate to quibble (not true — I love to quibble), but the verse says:

    Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.(John 17:3, NIV)

    Knowing Jesus is second in order, by His own reckoning, yet we make such knowledge the sine qua non of our faith. Surely there is an imbalance here?

    When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28)

    Peyton

  5. Pavel,

    Welcome!

    And thanks for letting me know that Google likes me—I thought I might lose that in the double transition. What you’re actually seeing is a blog transition. I was on Blogger on another host, but now I’m on WordPress on a new host.

    Last time I knew, you were engaged. Any progress in that arena? Still holding down the Orthodox fort over at The Ooze? Last time I checked, the conservatives were in a full on retreat! Still, I keep it linked in the sidebar.

    Blessings!

  6. DPT

    Peyton,
    At least you’re candid about quibbling. What exactly is the useful distinction you’re making here? (There isn’t one.)

  7. “Pavel,

    Welcome!

    And thanks for letting me know that Google likes me†“I thought I might lose that in the double transition. What you’re actually seeing is a blog transition. I was on Blogger on another host, but now I’m on WordPress on a new host.”

    yes it works pretty well. The last few months I was troubled with some of the things I’ve heard about Mclaren and emergent, and I ended doing some key word searches and ran accrosed you an number of times as I surfed a number of times as I searched with some of those key words.

    “Last time I knew, you were engaged. Any progress in that arena?”
    Not quite yet, basically due to money problems. Specifically the fact I work with a start up Gourmet food company. Holy Chocolate. And as you probably remember rent and cost of living in Silicon Valley is very expensive. I think that may change very soon, and get those plans moving, as far as getting a second job, and helping my best friend with his company a more secondary priority. I think by this summer we might be able to get things finalized with the engagement. In the Coptic church that actually a kind of mini wedding in itself as far as a seperate church ceremony, and mandatory party and so on. As far as the wedding… I’m hoping next year…

    Still holding down the Orthodox fort over at The Ooze? lol Well that may be over. I think I pretty much made the decision to leave the ooze today.
    There actually has been a divide between the Orthodox and conservative Protestants vs. the liberal Emergent establishement. It really is a kind of split between people who really have a strong Faith vs. those that want to open minded about all kinds of stuff. The proverbial “Being so open minded that your brain has fallen out”. Right now, actually I’m handing out at Pursuing Truths reactived blog. He summed the ooze conservatives there to talk because with school he doesn’t have time for the ooze but still wants to get in a good chat.

  8. by the way I was also going to add that you should stop Pursuing Truth’s don’t have a handy url, but searching for “pursuing truth” should bring up the exact blog, since it’s named after his online handle.

    Cya

  9. Jeff

    Hello all. Good post Dan. This is a topic that’s full of challenges. It seems to me that, as it is with many things, the problem is when we go to extremes. I totally agree with you that we must know Christ rather than merely knowing about Him. But there is an extreme view that seems to say that it’s all about knowing Him…so far so good…but, it doesn’t matter so much who “Him” is. In other words, it’s as if some are saying “it doesn’t really matter what you think about Christ’s diety, atonement, resurrection. Those are just theological disputes.” This is where knowing about Him comes in. I don’t think it can be neglected. The extremes seem to be knowing a “Jesus” of your own imagination whether or not it bears any resemblance to the Christ of Scripture and knowing orthodox doctrine about Jesus while lacking a closeness with Him. Good topic.

    Btw Addai, I think there should be a link to my blog with this post. If not, Dan has it in his sidebar anyway.

    Keep up the good work, Dan.

  10. Jeff

    Dan said: “Last time I checked, the conservatives were in a full on retreat!”

    Ugh! When you put it like that I want to jump back into the fray. 🙂 But, yes, seems like some of the “conservatives” are at least taking a breather for now.

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