This Is the Definition of Eternal Life
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17:3).
Life is about relationships. Knowing and being known. I was privileged to know my dad. As I grew older, people told me I was a lot like him. I can think of no better compliment. Through our relationship, I learned more and more about him, and he rubbed off on me. His values became my values. Watching him, I learned the importance of responsibility, telling the truth, and sticking to your convictions.
As a husband, he put real flesh and blood to the command to love Mom as Christ loved the church. She was the most important person in the world to him. It’s not that they never fought or disagreed or got out of sorts. They did, but it never lasted long. When Dad died, there were no regrets. Nothing was left unsaid. Nothing was left undone. Mom knew she had been truly and genuinely loved.
I also knew that he believed in me and trusted Christ’s work in my life. The day I moved to Dallas, he put my face in his hands and prayed for me. It was a father blessing his son. His words were simple, but they imparted courage and hope and assurance. When I left, I cried the first 600 miles of the drive to Texas.
I admire my dad more than any other man. Every time I think about him, I thank God for his life and for the pleasure of calling him my dad. I also think about a verse in the Bible that has become my favorite. In my mind, all roads in the Bible lead to John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
This is the only verse in the Bible that defines eternal life. Jesus defined it in terms of relationship. We Christians are quick to point out that Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. That’s true, but it is so much more. This relationship, our knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ, constitutes eternal life. It is a “by grace through faith” relationship, a spiritual union that conforms us to the likeness of Jesus. In other words, through this relationship, God rubs off on us, and we become like Him. The Bible gives this stunning compliment to those who are called children of God: “In this world we are like Jesus” (1 John 4:17).
Knowing God personally and intimately is one of the promises of the new covenant. Let me share the promise with you again: “No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:11).
God took away your sins, reconciled you to himself, justified you, sanctified you, made you alive, and poured his Spirit into your life for this single purpose. The great story of the gospel is that you’ve been raised to walk in the newness of life. You have been raised to know and enjoy him. This is ultimate freedom.
This is eternal life.
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