Spiritual Basics – Knowing Christ 1

Tampa-332Grace Martial Arts is a Christian program that emphasizes spiritual training along with physical self-defense training. It is our long-held belief that while training in self defense is important for our lifetime on earth, training in spiritual defense (faith defense) is important for now and forever.

We’ve broken spiritual training into four sections:

  1. Spiritual Basics
  2. Spiritual Forms
  3. Spiritual Defense
  4. Spiritual Focus

Let’s begin with Spiritual Basics and see what we can learn to help us follow Christ in ways that are pleasing to Him.

Knowing Christ

One evening long ago a ruler of the Jews by the name of Nicodemus approached Jesus Christ. Nicodemus told Jesus he knew He was a teacher who had come from God because no one could do the signs that Jesus performed unless was with Him. Jesus knew Nicodemus’ heart and his real need, so He told Nicodemus that the only way to see the Kingdom of God was to be ‘born again.’ Nicodemus looked at things from a physical perspective, so he couldn’t understand how anyone could be born when he is old. “Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4)

Jesus opened Nicodemus’ mind to the concept of a ‘spiritual’ rebirth – “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

As you might imagine, Nicodemus struggled to understand what Jesus was saying. He asked the Lord, “How can these things be?”

Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ‘He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:10-21

Jesus introduced Nicodemus to a deeper understanding of ‘heavenly things’ than the teacher of Israel had ever known before. Jesus quoted a portion of the Torah that Nicodemus had repeated and taught many times, but gave him a new understanding that opened the significance of what God was doing through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that God ‘loved the world’ so much (to such a degree) that He sent His ‘only begotten Son’ (one and only Son) into the world to be ‘lifted up’ (crucified) so that everyone who ‘believes in Him’ (trust in Christ’s finished work on the Cross) would be saved and have everlasting life.

What a remarkable statement! What we have here is God’s “Declaration of Purpose and Intent” concerning the people of this world. God wants people to ‘know’ Him and have a ‘relationship’ with Him. Even as God called out His people from bondage in Egypt thousands of years ago and saved them from the death of the ‘fiery serpents’ in the wilderness (Numbers 21), He was calling out people who were in bondage to sin to save them from condemnation and everlasting death.

Jesus said that not everyone who hears this Truth will believe it. Jesus is the ‘Light’ who has come into the world, but many people will love ‘darkness’ rather than the Light. Why? ‘because their deeds were evil’ and light exposes those evil deeds. However, the person who does the Truth ‘comes to the light.’ The deeds of the ‘believer’ in Christ will be clearly seen, ‘that they have been done in God.’ To ‘know’ God is to ‘glorify’ God.

The first step in knowing Christ is knowing who He is. Jesus is Truth and the Light of the world. The second step is knowing what He did. He came to offer salvation to everyone who comes to Him believing that He is sent from God. He came to save us from death and give us life everlasting.

In John 17, Jesus prays to His Father and equates ‘knowing’ Him with eternal life:

Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:1-3

The Apostle Paul wrote that ‘knowing’ Christ was more important than anything this world could offer:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

‘Knowing’ Christ in a spiritually personal way is where Christianity begins. It is our first lesson – the most basic of basics. As Paul told the Philippian jailer – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) That’s where ‘knowing’ Christ began for that jailer and his family. How does ‘knowing’ Christ affect a person? This is how it affected the jailer – “he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (Acts 16:34b) Knowing Christ personally as Lord and Savior fills a believer’s heart with rejoicing. It will also impact the lives of those people who know you best. They will see the change in your life and know that you have met with God.

‘Knowing’ Christ in a spiritually personal way also involves obedience to Christ. If we believe Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, then we will obey Him.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:3-6

Do you ‘know’ Christ personally? If you do, you will agree with what Jesus Christ said about Himself. You will agree with what the apostles said and wrote about Christ. You will not agree with anyone who says or writes anything less about Christ than what the Bible reveals about Him. You will rejoice in Christ and you will obey Christ. That’s basic Christianity. It’s where we begin.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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