Hello Church Devotion Sept. 11, 2013


 

K is for KNOWLEDGE

 
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 ESV)
 
As school continues (we’re more than a month into the school year), it’s interesting to see how many new things our children have come to know.  I remember, back in the days of grade school, thinking that the more I knew, the better I would do on the test.  In some ways, that’s right - as long as the teacher asks the right questions.  I remember back in college, taking courses in philosophy, wondering where those guys got so much knowledge.  (By the way, I still don’t understand half of it).  And then, in seminary, all that knowledge that got packed into us - Biblical languages and interpretation, doctrine courses, church history - and on and on and on.  By the time I got into my last year at the sem, I thought I knew it.
 
And then came the evening I was visiting with my thesis advisor.  In passing, I mentioned the words “eternal life”.  And he jumped on it.  “OK, Dunker, define eternal life.”  I started to hem and haw around.  “No, Dunker - Give me Bible - chapter and verse - that defines eternal life.”  And that’s when I just stopped dead and felt like a first grader posing as an-almost-graduate of the seminary.  His answer?  The passage above - Jesus’ own definition of eternal life as he prays his High Priestly Prayer on Maundy Thursday evening.  I’ve used that passage innumerable times in my ministry - in sermons, Bible studies, and conversations - as I’ve sought to bring people back to the “one thing needful”.  So, the memory of that evening 47½ years ago still stands me in good stead.
 


In the “For Further Thought” which follows this, we’ll look at various kinds of knowledge that the Bible talks about.  But in this devotion I want to look at the most important of them all - knowing the true God through Jesus Christ whom he has sent.  Why?
 
Because the most important way that we know God is by being in a relationship with him.  Coming to him by faith in Jesus as the Christ (the Savior) is what establishes our eternal destiny.  We can know a whole host of things about God, about Jesus - but unless we are in a living relationship with him, it’s not going to matter a whole hill of beans.  Jesus, in talking about how that relationship is established, likens it to being born again:
 
Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."  Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"  Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:3-6 ESV)
 
Born of water and the Spirit, we are the adopted children of God, brought into his family, the Church (in the widest sense of that term), able to call him “Father” (For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" Romans8:15 ESV) and to know that we are brothers and sisters not only IN Christ, but OF Christ (That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,  saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." 

And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me." Hebrews 2:11-13 ESV).  The ultimate knowing will come on the day of the Resurrection of all flesh (Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2 ESV).
 
And we pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to this world to be our Savior.  Thank you for bringing us to know you through him by the power of your Holy Spirit.  Help us all, in all the things we learn, to keep coming back to the sure knowledge that you are our God and we are your people.  If we do that, then everything else will fall into place.  Amen.
 


FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:
 
I noted that the most important knowledge, Scripturally, is being in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  But there are other kinds of knowledge in Scripture also:
 
There’s practical knowledge, knowing things that you can use in your day-to-day life - Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. (Proverbs 23:12 ESV)
 
There’s what we call the natural knowledge of God (the first two stanzas of “How Great Thou Art” fit here - see Lutheran Service Book: 801) - For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:20 ESV)
 
There’s what we can call “knowing about God”, being aware of things about God without that affecting your life and your relationship - You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! (James 2:19 ESV)
 
There’s being in a faith-relationship with God - that’s what the devotion was about (the third stanza of “How Great Thou Art” fits here - see LSB: 801).
 
And, finally, as noted in the devotion, there’s the full, final knowledge that comes on the Day of the Resurrection and lasts through the eternity which God has in store for us - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV).  The final stanza of “How Great Thou Art” fits here - see LSB: 801).
 
Happy Knowing!
 
Karl J. Dunker, Pastor Emeritus

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