If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of Knowing Jesus

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

Jesus directs us by these words not to some human philosophy or wisdom but to Himself and His own person. He teaches us here that He is the Savior, the only Savior, the only way by which man can come to God. This confession stands at the heart of the Christian faith. The Christian faith rests upon a saving trust in the person of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It rests upon Him alone and nothing else. There are not many ways to be saved but one way and only one way. It is exclusive. In harmony with this truth the Apostle Peter testified, "Neither is their salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts 4:12.

Jesus said, "...for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). The issue is one of eternal life or eternal death. To die in one's sins is to perish everlastingly under the just wrath of God against sin. Man stands before God as a sinner, with a debt of sin and guilt which must be paid. The justice of God requires that the guilty be punished.

Jesus came for this very purpose to, "...save his people from their sins," (Matt. 1:28). He does this by taking His people's debt of sin and guilt upon Himself to make payment for their sin, giving His life in the place of His people's life. He set this forth in the Last Supper, when He took the last cup as a token of His sacrifice and His blood and said, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins," (Matt. 26:28). As the good shepherd of His people He says, "I lay down my life for the sheep," (John 10:15). Only through faith in Him we have righteousness before God and eternal life. This is the blessing found in him: "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:15). So much is this the case that the knowledge of God in Christ, and the spiritual communion which flows from it, is eternal life. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent," (John 17:3).

This personal knowledge of Jesus Christ is also the foundation of all knowledge of the truth. Jesus says not only, "I am the way," but also I am "...the truth and the life." (John 14:6) Without that knowledge man is in the darkness of sin and death. Without it we have no true life, for life according to Scripture is communion with God. Jesus says, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life..." (John 5:24). Trust in Jesus Christ is not an emotional decision or mystical encounter. It is not a contentless "Jesus experience." Rather it is a well-founded personal trust in Him, resting upon the knowledge and understanding of His Word. In Jesus Christ is to be found the fountain of all truth: the truth of God, of salvation in righteousness, of mercy and grace, and of life eternal. Therefore Jesus said, "...the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10) Jesus' Word was not His own, but the Word of God. Jesus therefore testifies of the Word He preached that it is God's Word. He says to the Father, "I have given them thy word." (John 17:14)

He speaks likewise of the Bible, and says, "Thy word is truth," (John 17:17) for out of the Bible we know God in Christ. The Christian faith is one that has content. You cannot know Jesus if you do not know His Word. The very purpose of the preaching of the gospel is shaped by this fact. Jesus said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations." (Matthew 28:19) The truth of the gospel is to be taught. Jesus said moreover of the contents of that preaching, "...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," (Matthew 28:20). There is a doctrine, a teaching, set down in the Scriptures. It is Jesus' doctrine. It is the Word of God. He that professes Christ must know it! Jesus said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon the house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it" (Matthew 7:24-28). On what are you building? Do you know what the Word of God actually says? We may put it even more simply: Do you know what Jesus said and taught and thereby know Him?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

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