John 17:3

“And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee the only true
God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

Having asked the Father to glorify Himself, having stated His absolute authority over the universe, having alluded to the concept of a definite redemption. Jesus, in John 17: 3, defines what life eternal is.

A definition is needed because the common assumption is that life eternal is life that does not end; life eternal is life beyond the grave; life eternal is going to heaven— and all of this is true. But Jesus defines life eternal not in terms of time or place but in terms of a relationship. “And this is life eternal, that they [i.e. the elect] might know thee the Only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Therefore, note that life eternal is more properly and specifically defined as knowing Someone [not just something], and having the proper object of faith and knowledge. The proper object of saving faith is God the Father and God the Son for there is equality in the godhead.

A.W. Pink observes that “the knowledge spoken of here is not speculative but practical, not theoretical but experimental, not intellectual but, spiritual, not inactive but saving.”

The question comes, “Do you know God?” “Do you know His Son, Jesus Christ?”

The question is not, “Do you know about God?” but, “Do you know God?”

A lot of people know about God. Many people believe that God exists. It is the fool who says in his heart there is no God. People know that God is supreme and that He is alone, there are not other gods before or after Him, only idols. People know that God has certain attributes such as justice, love, and mercy.  And yet for all these theological facts, it can still be said of this same multitude “They do not know God.”

Why? Because they have dismissed God from their consciousness in a practical manner. This is exactly what so many of the Enlightenment Era did in the eighteenth century. They were called Deists. The Deists said that God established natural laws and the natural laws controlled everything. Individuals had no use for a prayer hearing, prayer answering God. People did not know God through the power of His word, or through the presence of His Spirit. They had no One to put their trust in. They were not like the Psalmist who wrote, “…they that know thy name will put their trust in thee” (Psa. 9:10).

How tragic it is to not have life eternal as defined by Christ. In contrast the greatest privilege in all the world given to some is to come to a knowledge of God and enjoy Him forever. The great question arises, “How can I know God?”

The answer is this. A person can say they “know God” in a practical way when His Word is meditated upon and then acted upon so that His commandments are kept. 1 John 2:3 says, “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” Nothing brings more glory and honor to God than for individuals to trust Him, love Him, and serve Him—and to put away sin.

It is not easy to put away sin for we grow to love certain things, if the truth were told. Our love for illicit passions, and people and pleasures lead to a private provision for personal enjoyment. The result is a secret double life.

The double life brings no lasting pleasure, but neither does it bring an end to self-centeredness. With a growing sense of depression some people turn to psychology to try to understand why they engage in self-destructive behavior never realizing that sin is a great mystery that defies logic.  Sin is not something to analyze or rationalize. It is something to put away, as hard as that can be.

The reward for putting away sin is life eternal, which contains the essence of all blessings. Life eternal is the promise of God fulfilled. “This is the promise that He hath promised to us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25).

Does God keep His promises? Of course, He does. When does God keep His promises? Both in time and in eternity. Life eternal is something that can be a present reality by faith in Christ for though God the Father is the only true God, the Son is not excluded from being divine, for He is of the same essence as the Father. “I and the Father are one,” said Jesus (John 10:30). “The Father is in me, and I in Him” (John 10:38).

Now, while God the Father and the Son are not divided in essence, they are distinguished in personality. In the order and economy of salvation, it is the Father who plans salvation. It is the Son who executes the will of the Father as the Lamb slain. But the Father will never be known apart from the Son for the Father has sent the Son. This means the Son is on a holy mission from heaven. The incarnation has taken place so that the mission might be accomplished. Galatians 4:4 says, “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son made of a woman.”

Because He is made of a woman and subject to death, the Son is able to hold the offices of Mediator and Redeemer. Hebrews 3:1 says that Jesus is “The apostle and high priest of our profession.”

As the Redeemer, Jesus has purchased His own from the slave market of sin. As mediator, He makes intercession for their sins. By being an obedient Son, by being a worthy Redeemer, and by being a holy Mediator Jesus Christ brings glory to the Father who sent Him on this grand mission.

Every time Jesus Christ did something worthwhile, it glorified the Father. Christ glorified the Father by His miracles (Matt. 9:8), by His words (Matt. 11:25), and by His work of redemption (Luke 9:35). Compare the glory that Christ brought to His Father with other names of earthly royalty that you are family with. What a contrast there is.

In history, to offer one example, there is the story of Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). Marie Antoinette was born one of sixteen children of Maria Theresa, the queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and Francis I, the emperor of Austria.  In 1770, she was married to the dauphin (crown prince), Louis XVI, who became King of France in 1774.  Her marriage was arranged to strengthen France’s alliance with its longtime enemy, Austria.

Marie ignored her husband and confined herself to a narrow circle of friends.  She also sought diversion in expensive, extravagant entertainment.  She gambled, danced, acted in amateur theatricals, and incurred debts for luxurious clothing and jewels.  The French people distrusted her because of her Austrian interests to the point that she also became the target of scurrilous pamphlets inspired by her enemies at court.

After the first of her children were born, however, Marie is said to have become a more mature queen.  She abandoned frivolity and began to perform her duties soberly.  Unfortunately, her reputation had been ruined by her involvement in several affairs and scandals, including the “Diamond Necklace Affair,” where she supposedly sold herself to Cardinal de Rohan for a piece of jewelry.  She was neither loved nor respected by her people, who called her “Madame Deficit” for the crown’s bankruptcy and the people’s own severe economic distress.

Not too many years ago, there was the sad sage of the British royal family. On Thursday November 21, 2002 a news paper in London ran this story. “Public support for Britain’s royal family has sunk to its lowest level for 15 years amid its worst crisis since the death of Princess Diana, a new poll showed on Wednesday.

Accusations of homosexual rape and fraud by members of Prince Charles’s staff, the collapse of a theft trial of Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell and his subsequent revelations of private-life secrets have pushed support for the royals down to 43 percent The Guardian newspaper found. The figure compares with 59 percent support earlier in the year after the funeral of the popular Queen Mother and the queen’s wildly successful Golden Jubilee celebrations, and is the lowest since the poll began in 1987.”

In contrast, Jesus Christ never brought shame to the Father. For this reason He was able to whisper in prayer, “I have finished the work” and then later on the Cross to cry out, “Telelesti! It is finished.”

Because Christ knew He would not fail to complete the plan of salvation He made a final plea, “Father, glorify thy Son!” Why? “Because I have finished the work!”

The beginning of the end for the great drama of redemption began the moment Christ entered into the world (Heb. 10:7). By the time He was twelve years of age Jesus knew He had a Divine mandate at Calvary as He told His parents one day when they were looking for Him. “What,” He asked to their astonishment, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). There was no Passover Plot that developed in the mind of Christ over unfolding years. As a child Jesus knew why He had come into the world. He had come to do the Father’s will. And He never wavered in that endeavor, not in childhood and not in manhood.

It was as a mature Rabbi or Teacher that Christ declared, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish the work.” Now, just a few hours away from death, He declares His work is finished (John 17:11). “Now I am no more in the world.”

What was it that Jesus finished? The prophet Daniel proves an answer. Speaking of the future of the Messiah, Daniel was given a prophetic time period. In 490 years, it was revealed, Messiah would come to the Holy City “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).

When Jesus went into the Holy City of Jerusalem for the last time He did so to finish the transgressions and to bring in everlasting righteousness.  Jesus finished the transgression by destroying the work of the devil in that He became a substitute for sinners and so was able to satisfy the wrath of God against sin. Jesus brought in everlasting righteousness by His resurrection triumph over the grave.

Is it any wonder that the Lord legitimately pleads to be glorified and to be honored by the Father? He is entitled to honor. But it is not for himself alone that the Lord asks that honor be bestowed upon Him. There are specific concerns on His heart. 

First the Lord asked to be honored in order to comfort the apostles who were troubled over His impending humiliation in death.

Second, the Lords asked to be honored in order to be able to give instruction in righteousness. The Lord wants to teach Christians that suffering for God is the highway to glory.

Third, the Lord asked to be honored to that Church could one day prosper not only numerically but also spiritually (A.W. Pink). The Church grows spiritually when its members are saved, sanctified and serving the Savior because of a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Church grows spiritually when individuals understand what is true eternal life.

“And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee the only true
God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

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