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TO KNOW THE TRUE GOD AND JESUS CHRIST,
IS LIFE ETERNAL.
JOHN xvii. 3.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Our Lord, having alluded to his office of giving eternal life, proceeds to declare wherein that life consists. His definition was intended to serve as a leading doctrine to the disciples; and, through them, to us. May we have light and grace from above, enabling us rightly to apprehend these words of our Saviour, which show us the path of life!
Let us consider here, whom we are to know; even the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent:—and then let us inquire, how this knowledge leads to eternal life.
1. The Being, set before us to be known, is God, the only true God; and his Son, Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent from heaven. Both are mentioned together, in this and other passages; in a way which indicates that they are one. There is a diversity of Persons, but there is a oneness in their Divine nature. Jesus, in praying to his Father, evidently addresses him as co-equal with himself. We cannot comprehend his language, except by admitting, what he has expressly declared, “I and the Father are one."
We must however, at the same time, regard the two Persons in their distinct characters. We may view the former expression, “ Thee, the only true God," as exhibiting God in his absolute being and attributes : while the latter expression, “ Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” exhibits the Mediator in his relation both to God and to mankind. He is between both, and possesses the nature of both. He is the Son of God, sent to become Son of man, for our salvation.
The only true God” then, is that One, Selfexistent, Eternal, Almighty, Unchangeable Being, concerning whom the Jews ought to have been well informed : and yet Jesus complained of them, “ Ye neither know me, nor my Father.” Moses and the Prophets had clearly spoken of him: Jesus, the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, had yet more plainly revealed him: the first and second commandments of the law describe him clearly as being One, and one only; one Lord; one Jehovah; a Spirit, to be worshipped “ in spirit and in truth.” Yet the unbelieving Jews were in darkness concerning him. Much more deeply were the Gentiles sunk in ignorance : they were covered with “gross darkness :” they “ followed dumb idols, even as they were led.” Their wisest philosophers - by wisdom knew not God.” That God is One, and that he is a Spirit, were ideas excluded from the thoughts of idolaters. Yet to have this knowledge, is absolutely essential to eternal life.
To know Jesus also, is no less essential. For fallen man needs a revelation, suited to his wants as a sinner. We need to be brought back to God, as those who have been alienated from him. For this end, Christ Jesus was 5 sent”: to mediate, and to effect a reconciliation and re-union.
God, in his essential nature; and God, in his covenant-relation to us in Christ-this is the God, whom rightly to know is life eternal.
2. But how does this knowledge lead to eternal life?
By knowledge is here meant, Faith: for it is onlyby faith that we can know God.—Now faith in the true God, brings the soul out of death into life, first, by raising it to a lively sense of things spiritual. As soon as a person approaches God by faith, he ceases to be carnal in his mind, and
grovelling in his pursuits. Was he previously an idolater? He now quits that mean, debasing system; and becomes acquainted with the glory of the eternal Godhead. Was he a mere formal worshipper? He now learns to worship in spirit and in truth. Was he an utter worldling, dead in trespasses and sins? He now begins to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, and expects a nobler state of existence in the world to come; where he shall be with God, and like God.
Again-faith in Christ gives life, by uniting us to Him, whom God hath appointed to be the Reviver and Restorer of our dead souls. In and through Christ believers are pardoned: they are created anew by his Spirit; and fresh supplies of grace are continually infused into their hearts.
They live “ by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us, and gave himself for us.”
O happy era for mankind, when the knowledge of the true God, and faith in Christ crucified, shall set millions free from their present cruel bondage in idolatry, superstition and sin: when the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea !”—The good Lord hasten it, in his time!
The life, here spoken of, continues to grow on earth, till it expands into life eternal: for it unites believers more and more intimately with their Saviour, until they attain at length to the presence of God, with whom is the Fountain of life. They who attain this blessed state, will thenceforward know the Lord, no more by faith: they will behold him face to face: and from that state they cannot fall. “ I am the resurrection and the life,” saith the Lord : he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and he that liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.”
HAVING GLORIFIED THE FATHER ON EARTH, CHRIST PRAYS THAT HE MAY HIMSELF
John xvii. 4,5.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
It is a noble declaration which Christ here makes concerning himself; and a high reward which he consequently claims at the hands of his Father. Let us consider each of these points, with deep reverence for the character of our Lord; and with the determination, by the help of his Spirit, to take him for our pattern.
1. First, our Lord asserts the hearty and uninterrupted obedience which he had paid while on earth, to the will of the Father. “I have glorified thee on the earth.”-His whole life (we may say) had been one entire act of obedience. On coming into the world, in that body wbich was divinely prepared for him, He by his incarnation virtually declared, “ Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” In the course of his ministry, he could affirm in regard to his Father, “I do always those things that please him:” “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me:” “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
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