Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Only True God

The Only True God
by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

John 17:1–3
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

How are we to get eternal life? Well, the essential thing we are told here is that it is ultimately a question of knowing God, and that is of course the great question that is held before us everywhere in the Bible. God is Someone who is to be known by us, and there is no possibility of eternal life apart from this knowledge of Him.

How then do we know God? The Lord Jesus Christ divides it up into two main headings. He says, ‘This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God.’ Now by using these words ‘only’ and ‘true,’ He is clearly presenting God to our consideration as over and against something else, and it is obvious that He is warning us against idols and false gods. The account in Acts 17 of Paul's visit to Athens tells us how that cultured city was full of temples to the various gods. The people of Athens were too ‘religious’ in a sense, worshipping all these gods—Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, and then, lest any should be left out, there was a curious temple ‘To the unknown God.’ And yet the whole time they were ignorant of God Himself. ‘Whom therefore,’ says Paul, ‘ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you’ (Acts 17:23). That is the great business of the Bible, to hold before us the only true and living God.

And this is as essential today as it was in the first century. It is not, perhaps, that we worship those old pagan deities, but we have a tendency today to worship philosophic abstractions in the same way as they did. You find people today writing in very learned terms about the Absolute or the Ultimate, or the Source of all being, or the Life in the universe. God, to so many people, is nothing but a sheer abstraction, nothing but a philosophical concept, and when they speak of God it is of some kind of philosophical ‘X’: God is to so many some great force or energy. The Bible is constantly warning us against all that, and, as in the words of our Lord here to His Father, the Bible is always calling us to realize that there is only one true God.

Then there are certain things we must know about God before we can possibly have fellowship with Him and before we can receive life from Him. First, obviously, we must believe He is a person. That is a very difficult concept, and yet it is vital and essential. God says, ‘I AM that I AM’; God is God, and God, therefore, is a person.

There is a poem which was very popular and often quoted some years ago, which ran:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods there be
For my unconquerable soul.
—W. W. Henley

Rubbish! That is the very kind of nonsense against which the Bible warns us. If you come to God and really want to know and please Him, you do not come in this mood of ‘whatever gods there be.’ ‘He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.’ That is inevitably our starting point. God is a living God, not a concept or abstraction or term in a philosophical category.

And the verse which we are considering here is urging us to start by a preliminary realization that this is the same tremendous truth—that He is the living God, He is the Creator. He is the One who said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’ He has brought everything into being. He is in the heavens, and everything is at His feet. So we must remember that we start with the Lord of the universe, the Creator, the Instigator of everything that is.

And then we must come on to a consideration of His character. ‘God is light,’ says John in his first epistle, ‘and in him is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). Before you drop on your knees next time and begin to speak to God, try to remember His greatness and His majesty and His might, and then go on to remember that He is life, that He is holy, that He is righteous, that He is just, and that He is of such a pure countenance that He cannot even look upon evil. Remember that you are speaking to the Judge of the whole world. All these things are emphasised by this little phrase, ‘the only true God.’

But the Lord Jesus Christ gives us eternal life not only by giving us a knowledge about God, but by giving us the very life of God Himself. That is why Christ is so absolutely vital and essential. He gives us eternal life by giving us Himself, and by this mystic union with Christ, by this relationship to Him, we become participators in His own life. We are partakers of the divine nature, we have fellowship with God, and the life of God enters into our souls.

So this is eternal life, this is the means of eternal life, ‘that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’

If we know this Christ, if we believe on Him, we have eternal life; we have already become the sons of God.

Praise God that he has imparted to his childern eternal life. He has made us to be partakers of the devine nature, and if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us! Phil 3: 10-11 - 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Bro. Pat

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