I am a firm believer, but at times not a great practitioner, that pastors need to have a time in which they are pursuing communion with God and seeking to grow in holiness. I feel deeply that this time needs to be separate from their sermon preparation time, not because we don't grow as we wrestle with and sweat out the text because we do. However, I spend at least 20 hours a weak in sermon preparation just for our Sunday morning service. Yet, we still have Sunday night services and mid-week services at our church, and I have found that I can preach these services from the overflow of my personal time with God. This is not the purpose of my personal time, but is an outcome, along with growing in holiness and knowledge of God, of that time.
All this said, here is what I have been learning, and presented to my church last night.
We are told in John 3:16 that "whoever believes in him (the only Son of God) should not perish by have eternal life." If the gift of faith in Jesus is eternal life, then what is eternal life? We find from Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, that eternal life is "that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3)."
We can conclude then that eternal life is: A lifelong, both present life & eternity, journey of getting to know the One True God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
What then is meant by the word know? Is this implying that we know a bunch a facts about God? Is this speaking of knowing God in that we are saved?
I don't think that is all it means. I believe that to know God means: that we are pursuing to know God and to be known by God in an intimate relational way, that actually involves knowing God as you do a person.
J.I. Packer lists the following evidences that one knows God:
- Those who know God have a great passion for God.
- Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
- Those who know God show great boldness for God.
- Those who know God have great satisfaction in God.
We can be assured that if we are pursuing this intimate relationship with God, we are encountering eternal life, not in its totality but we are getting a taste of greater things to come. We are experiencing the gift that is knowing God.