At a New Year’s Day service a couple of weeks ago, the minister said that it would be a really good year if we came to know Christ better than we have ever known him before.
Often, whether consciously or subconsciously, we make New Year’s resolutions. We plan to do this thing, or not to do that thing. But really, if we successfully make knowing Christ better our goal this year, everything else will fall into place too. It would have a wide-ranging impact on our lives – if we know the Lord Jesus better, we’ll love God more and we’ll love our neighbour more.
Bible authors use a lot of superlatives to describe the Lord Jesus. Solomon describes him as ‘the chiefest among ten thousand…the altogether lovely. This is my beloved and this is my friend…’ (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16). Maybe, like me, you feel to come a long way short of this type of language…but, in your heart of hearts, you really do want to know him better, you really do want to love him more. If so, let’s pray for it this year.
Knowing more of Christ should be the aim of all Christians. Peter encourages us to ‘grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’. Paul goes a step further. His aim is ‘That I may know him’. Not just to know about him, but to actually know him. There is a subtle but very important difference. Of course, we need to know about Christ in order to be able to know him personally. But, as we learn more and more about Christ, our desire should be to be closer to him, to actually know him better. There is a progression, but it is important that we’re not content with just knowing about Christ.
The desire of the Lord Jesus is to have a close relationship with each of his people. Ultimately this will be when they are with him in heaven. ‘And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’ (John 14:3). However, this relationship starts whilst we are still on earth. Often our sins and hard hearts get in the way, but Christ dwells within each of his people and God has promised that if we seek him we will find him. We’re told, draw near to God and he will draw near to you.
This seems very simple, but is perhaps easier said than done, so where should we look for Christ?
God has given the means of grace as the way in which he reveals himself to his people and through which they come to know him. The ‘means of grace’ is perhaps an old fashioned expression, but it means, Bible reading, prayer, listening to preaching and the Lord’s supper. It’s in these things
- The Bible is the written word of God and Jesus is the Word made flesh. The Bible is where God has written down all we need to know about him. It’s where we find out about the Lord Jesus and what he has done. Through the influence of the Holy
Spiritit is the key way in which he speaks to his people.
- Building on this, preaching is the exposition of the Bible and the application of it to our lives. True preaching is doctrinal, practical and experimental (what the Bible says about the Christian’s spiritual experiences), but it will also always point to Christ as a central theme. Do you pray for your preachers that they will be able to lift up Christ?
- Prayer is the way we draw near to God and speak to him. We come through the Lord Jesus as our great High Priest who knows and understands us. Have you ever thought ‘I wish I could sit down and talk that through with the Lord’? Well, you can!
- The Lord’s supper was put in place by the Lord Jesus himself. It makes us stop and specifically remember his sufferings on our behalf. ‘For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he
come.‘ (1 Corinthians 11:26)
If we approach the means of grace in the right way, sincerely and prayerfully desiring to find more of Christ in them, the Holy Spirit will honour this in fulfilment of God’s promises. And, in knowing Christ better we’ll find more joy and peace. ‘The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.‘ (Isaiah 29:19)
A couple of years ago I wrote about the trap of trying to fix everything else in the hope that we will then get closer to Christ, suggesting that it is better to turn our eyes upon Jesus and let everything else fall into its rightful place. Looking away from ourselves and toward him is surely the place to start in the quest to know Christ better.
[A00100 – 16/01/2019]
‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.‘(Romans 15:13)