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JOHN 17:1-5

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (verse 3)


It turns out that in the spiritual life, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Jesus’ words here bear witness to the fact. So often we think of eternal life as something future, in the sweet hereafter. We see it as a treasure or commodity we’re looking forward to acquiring once we’re in heaven. Certainly it is the sure hope for our future – being in Jesus, we will indeed experience life for all eternity.

But it’s too narrow a view. My Dad, who came to faith as an adult, always delighted to tell people that Christians are not looking forward to eternal life. No, he’d say, they’re living eternal life right now.

He got it completely right. It’s exactly what Jesus says here. It turns out eternal life is not a commodity for the future, but is instead a relationship that’s already started. Indeed, the essence of spiritual life is relationship with him. It’s not that we enter into that relationship in order to get eternal life. Relationship with him, it turns out, is actually eternal life itself.

One of the commentators, D.A. Carson, puts it this way: “Eternal life turns on nothing more and nothing less than knowledge of the true God. Eternal life is not so much everlasting life as personal knowledge of the Everlasting One.”

I love that insight. “Personal knowledge of the Everlasting One” – that’s what I want. That’s what I want to grow into, more and more.

So, how does it happen? Perhaps we can get an insight from other relationships. We’ve just had several days vacationing with two sets of friends we hadn’t seen for some time. Friendship grew. We prepared meals together, went for long hikes that taxed our endurance in summer heat, reminisced about pivotal moments in our relationships, laughed uproariously over old memories, shared recent struggles, sat quietly reading as we enjoyed one another’s presence, and played games into the evening, leading to further laughter and enjoyment (and mostly friendly competition!). I’ve come away appreciating each one more. I’ve got further insight into what makes them tick. I know what’s exciting them at this stage of life, and something of what’s weighing on their hearts. Our closeness has been refreshed.

Living life with the Lord yields the same. Of course the scale of the relationship is immensely different. He’s immortal, invisible. It’s possible, then, for me to be vacantly unaware of his ongoing presence for stretches of time, missing out on that “personal knowledge of the Everlasting One.” But awakened, if I nurture an awareness of his presence, there is no impediment of time or space that need get in the way. He is always with me. I can step right into intentional times of conversation through scripture and prayer. I can enjoy his presence as I walk in the beauty of nature, or sit quietly still waiting on his voice, or step into another of the good works he’s prepared in advance for me to do. I can delve into memories of his faithfulness, or speak to him of his worth, or immerse myself in songs of worship that lift my soul to him in adoration.

Spend the time. Deepen the relationship. That’s the message. Eternal life opens for us as we know him better.


Loving Father, thank you that you desire for me to know you. Lord Jesus, thank you that you have promised to never leave me or forsake me. Holy Spirit, thank you that you have come to dwell in the very heart of my life. O Sovereign Lord, awaken me to know your presence at every step, that I might walk in the fullness of life you have given. Knowing you – it’s life eternal.


Take time: Plan now to pause several times during the day to intentionally nurture that “personal knowledge of the Everlasting One.” Set a timer if you need to. Sit quietly, simply knowing his presence. Or, talk with him about the day thus far. Or, read a scripture and listen for his voice. Enter again into relationship. Know him.

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