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Volume 24, Issue 35 (August 28, 2022)

Eternal Life and Knowing God
By Bob Hoekstra

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

This statement by the Lord Jesus begins in a very profound manner: “And this is eternal life.” To complete such a statement requires comprehensive truth. If the statement had started with “this is included in eternal life,” many non-comprehensive matters could be used to finish the statement. One could rightly state that forgiveness of sins is included in eternal life. One could properly say that escaping hell and securing heaven are included in eternal life. Likewise, one could say that meaning and purpose for living are included in eternal life. Additionally, one could state that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit are also included. Furthermore, one could say that fellowship in the body of Christ and new understanding of the Scriptures are included. Nevertheless, none of these individually, nor all of these collectively, are sufficient to complete the statement: “And this is eternal life.”

To finish that profound beginning, one must add an all-encompassing truth. One must speak of the full dimensions of eternal life. What is large enough to complete that majestic opening? Only the one reality of knowing God would be adequate: “that they may know You.” Yes, knowing God is what eternal life is all about. It is only through meeting the Lord that forgiveness is found. It is only by being in Christ that we escape hell and secure heaven. Then, it is only through getting acquainted with the Lord that meaning and purpose for our lives are made real to us. Also, it is only through a growing intimacy of trust in Christ that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit can properly mature. Furthermore, it is only through an increasing acquaintanceship with the Lord that Christian fellowship and biblical insight are appropriately developed.

These truths certainly concur with those prophetic words of old that promised a new covenant of grace to replace the old covenant of law. “I will make a new covenant. . .not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers. . .But this is the covenant that I will make. . .I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. . .they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer. 31:31-34). Hebrews 8:11 applies these words to followers of Christ. “All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” The new covenant provides a growing, intimate acquaintanceship for all who will walk in its terms of grace.

Day by Day by Grace: 365 Daily Devotionals. Costa Mesa, CA: Living in Christ Ministries, 2012, April 13

Editor’s Note

August 28 - September 2, Dan Chaney, of Perry, Florida will be with us for our summer Gospel Meeting. His theme is See Jesus! Dan asked us to run the preceding article to go along with this theme.

A Great Way to Spend a Week
By Kyle Pope

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:30-33, NKJV).

Cornelius, who would become the first Gentile converted to Christ was excited to hear what Peter would tell him. He was a centurion, an officer in the Roman army. He had many duties, obligations, and responsibilities, but when the Lord gave him the opportunity to hear the gospel, he gathered his household and they were “all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

How do we usually spend a week? For most of us, work fills a large part of our time. That is fitting. Paul taught Timothy that an important thing that must distinguish the believer and the unbeliever and holding to “the faith” is for a man to “provide for his own” (1 Tim. 5:8). When we are not working, we have other responsibilities and errands to which we must attend.  David was said to have “served his generation” (Acts 13:36). Serving our families and our own generation will involve both big things and small responsibilities. All of this will require time to rest and recuperate. The Preacher taught, “It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils” (Eccl. 5:18).

Next week, Olsen Park will host a gospel meeting with brother Dan Chaney of Perry, Florida. It will run from Sunday morning through Friday night on the theme: See Jesus! More information is available here: https://olsenpark.com/Meetings/Meeting22.2.pdf. With everything that we all have going on. . .

What could be gained by attending a gospel meeting?

1. We could show our love for God. God has blessed the Christian with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). God is certainly worthy of our love. Jesus taught that the first and greatest commandment is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, cf. Matt. 22:38). A few hours spent in worship of God and study of His word is a small but important way to show Him we love Him.

2. We could encourage others. It is an encouragement to other Christians when those who share faith and love for God come together to worship Him. When Barnabas saw the faith of those in Antioch, “he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23). Paul told the Romans that he longed be with them so that he could be “encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Rom. 1:12). Time together in worship encourages others.

3. We could gain encouragement we need. Paul warned the Corinthians, “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). None of us are so strong we are not vulnerable to falling to sin and apostasy. As Jesus described in the parable of the sower, far too easily “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” can overpower us, and “choke the word,” so that it “becomes unfruitful” in our lives (Mark 4:19). The encouragement we all need to make it through the trials of next week might be gained in the time we spend in worship of God this week. 

What if we miss this opportunity?

1. Work, responsibilities, and errands will still continue. Life doesn’t stop. The Preacher wrote, “The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose. The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; The wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit” (Eccl. 1:5-6). Whether we take advantage of good spiritual opportunities or not all the demands of life will still be waiting for us.

2. We will still need to find time to rest and recuperate. As life never stops, so also the need for rest and recuperation never stops. But is it only rest for the body that’s needed? Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). You can always rest you body later—worship of God brings rest to your soul.

3. We will have missed a good opportunity to show our love for God. Paul wrote, “if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him” (1 Cor. 8:3). God knows us. He knows our hearts, He knows our excuses, and He knows our priorities. He knows if we truly love Him or if it is all for show. But this text suggests that the one truly “known” by God in the sense of true fellowship and salvation, is the one who truly “loves God.” Do you truly love God this week?

4. We may have failed to be a source of encouragement to someone who needed it. When Jesus came to Bethany after Lazarus had died, his sisters said to Him in tears, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). Jesus, of course, knew what would happen and raised Lazarus from the dead. What if, in spiritual terms, our presence with our brothers and sisters in Christ could be the one source of encouragement that prevents someone from losing faith?

5. We may have missed a source of encouragement that could save our soul. Paul told the young evangelist Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16). Don’t miss out on this opportunity to strengthen your faith and grow in your love for God. Your soul could depend on it.

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