“…ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
Many people on earth believe that there is a Creator; and that the Creator is the God of the Bible. (See Genesis 1 – 2, the account of creation.) However, there are few that believe that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.
These believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, whose name was Mary (see Luke 1:35; 2:1-); and that He was God (the Creator in Genesis) in the flesh. (See John 1:1-4, 14; Colossians 1:16-20.) The Scriptures are very plain that Jesus was God, who took on a human body (yet without sin; Hebrews 4:15) and dwelt on earth among men until His physical death. But then He was raised from the dead “after” three days; and 40 days later, He ascended into heaven.
However, this devotion does not have the Deity of Christ as its primary target; the primary target is the Believer in Christ. The question that presents itself is accepting that Jesus is God, and not a second God, or just a good man. Do you believe in things “about” Him or do you believe in “Him”?
For 2,000 years, since the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the Message of the Gospel, or the “Good News,” of Jesus Christ, has been preached in all the world: “…which was preached to every creature which is under heaven…” (Colossians 1:23). (Even in the days of the Apostle Paul.) And this is even more so since Paul’s day. And yet, most believers of the Gospel only know about Him. But how many know Him (ginōsko; know by experience)?
This knowing (by experience) begins in the Regeneration Process; called the New Birth, or Born from Above by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-8). When this happens, you come to have an internal witness, from the indwelling Spirit, that you are a son of God. (See Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:5-6.) When you are first converted, all you know is – once I was blind and now I see. And you know it was Jesus Christ who gave you spiritual sight, based on His Atonement for your sins on the Cross; and He was raised from the dead for your Justification. (See Romans 3:24-25; 4:25; 10:9-10.)
Then the discipleship class begins; and you are taught not only who He was, is, and shall ever be – God. But also you start learning the do’s and don’ts of His teachings. Many people, as they grow in the knowledge of Christ, get lost in things about Him and leave off their “first love” – their love of Him. It is very easy to substitute “doctrine” for “devotion.” (See Revelation 2:1-7; the Church at Ephesus.) When this happens, you start serving God in the “letter” and not in the “Spirit.” You may even become very “legalistic” and dogmatic, even militant, toward those that do not know all the doctrines that you know and stand in.
This situation is very deceiving, dangerous, and defeating in a Child of God’s life. (That is, when you revel in doctrine and not devotion.)
The Disciple of Christ will not endure the journey of trials, tribulations, etc. without a personal, living, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. You must be in love with Him. Your communion must be in and with Him.
The Apostle Paul relates this to us in his own desire to know (ginōsko; by experience) Christ (Philippians 3:7-14). Paul had already been converted when he penned these words. Therefore, he wanted more of Christ. (God had revealed Doctrine to Him; read his fourteen epistles.)
- (Philippians 3:8d) “… that I may win Christ,”
- (Philippians 3:9a) “And be found in him…”
- And then he gives the reasons why (Philippians 3:10):
- “That I may know him,”
- “And the power of his resurrection,”
- “And the fellowship of his sufferings,”
- “Being made conformable unto his death;”
And then (Philippians 3:11), “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (This last phrase is interpreted by Paul in verses 12-14.)
What Paul wanted was “the prize”; he wanted to win “the race”; and wear the victor’s crown of faithfulness. He wanted the “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
What was and is the Prize? It is to be One in Christ; and made perfect in One; that is One in Knowledge of Christ’s Perfection, Perception, and Preeminence; and One in His Love (or Power to Perform).
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21)
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” (John 17:22)
“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:23)
“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)
What Paul desired was a close and personal encounter with Christ in his spirit, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He wanted to walk in the Power of the Risen Lord. He wanted to live his life in the “fellowship” of Christ’s suffering (that is, the joy, or communion, with Christ, on the basis of His Atoning Work on the Cross). He wanted to be where Christ was; he wanted to be One in Knowledge of Christ’s Position of Perfection, Perception, Preeminence, and Power. He wanted to behold the Glory of Christ now and for all eternity.
Paul not only knew it was a vessel that God dwelt in, but Paul wanted to know (ginōsko; by experience) the God that dwelt in the Body of Jesus. Paul wanted more than to know he was saved, safe, and on the road to heaven. He wanted a relationship on earth with Christ.
Reader, where are you? Are you living in the Shadows of Christ? Or are you in the Banqueting House with Him; is His Banner over you His Love; and you are tasting His fruit? (See Song of Solomon 2:3-5.) Can you say, He is my Husband and I am His wife? Can you say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his”? (Song of Solomon 2:16). Can you say, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me”? (Song of Solomon 7:10).
Are you in love with Christ? Or are you in love with the things about Him? There is a great difference between the two concepts.
In conclusion, Jesus had John to tell the Church at Ephesus:
“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:5)
Why? It was because “… thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4b).