Known and Loved
(1 Corinthians 8:3) But if any man love God, the same is known of him. I recently received an e-mail about a phrase in an old gospel song commonly taught to children: “Jesus loves me; this I know, For the Bible tells me so...” Another person who had received the same e-mail responded that his daughter has a plaque in her kitchen which reads, “Jesus knows me, this I love.” The beautiful simplicity of the children's gospel song is true: the scriptures declare God's love in Jesus Christ for sinners. But there is a great truth also in that plaque: scriptures declare that Jesus in a very special sense knows a sinner, and to the humble sinner who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, that message is dearly loved. Scripture affirms that God's elect are foreknown and thus are guaranteed to be glorified: (Rom 8:29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. From the foundation of the world, God knew them in covenant and wrote their names in the Book of Life (REV 21:27 c/w REV 17:8) that they should be represented by Jesus Christ in due time. They are thus “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ...” (1PE 1:2), and have been saved “...not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2TI 1:9). Jesus Christ knows them even as the Father foreknew them. He speaks of those elect as His sheep given him by the Father and who exclusively follow him in the resurrection unto eternal life: (Joh 10:14) I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (Joh 10:15) As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (Joh 10:26) But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. (Joh 10:27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (Joh 10:28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (Joh 10:29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. The elect are therefore not only foreknown, they are exclusively and savingly known of Jesus Christ. Further, they are not only a mere collective flock to Him: the Good Shepherd “...calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out” (JOH 10:3). That makes their salvation very special: they are personally known. The redeemed are a great number (REV 7:9), but it is of great comfort to realize that they are more to God than just a number. The savingly known sheep stand in contrast to those who shall be put to judgment in the day of Christ, even though they thought they knew him: (Mat 7:21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Mat 7:22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (Mat 7:23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. In His deity and glorified position of the Judge of the quick and the dead (ACT 10:42; 2TI 4:1), it cannot be that Jesus never knew them in the sense of awareness---that would deny that He is omniscient. Rather, He never knew them as the sheep are known: foreknown, exclusively known, personally known and savingly known to the taking away of their sins by the offering of Himself to God in sacrifice (HEB 9:26-28). Of that elect crowd that are thus known of God in covenant, there are some that have not known of Him in understanding. For example, it is evident that from the time of Moses unto Jesus Christ, only one nation, Israel, had the knowledge of God from the scriptures (PSA 147:19-20; ROM 3:1-2). Yet the redeemed family of God who are savingly known by Him are from among all divisions of men: (Rev 7:9) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (Rev 7:10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Many will be in glory who knew Him not on earth but He knew them from heaven. God is not at all confused about which knowledge is most important (men knowing Him or His knowing them). Paul said of some believers who had erred from the truth: (2Ti 2:19) Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. The New Covenant of Jesus Christ is such that it depends not on outward teaching by man to know God in order to procure His mercy and forgiveness. It rather depends upon God Himself inwardly teaching them because of His own promise: (Heb 8:10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: (Heb 8:11) And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Heb 8:12) For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Heb 8:13) In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Indeed, all the elect shall without fail know the Lord because God has written that information in their inward man. That knowledge of God and His forgiveness remains hidden to the understanding until conversion to the truth: Jesus Christ “...hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2TI 1:10). At that time, the Holy Spirit's testimony of Jesus Christ resonates with what God has written inwardly: “The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (ROM 8:16). For some, that conversion to the truth may not come in this life, as in the case of REV 7:9-10 (see the earlier remarks). If one believes that a baby who perishes before the possibility of conversion will be in heaven, one concedes this reality. If one believes that any who perish without a chance of hearing the gospel will be in heaven, one concedes this reality. God's knowledge of His own that gives them eternal life is the security and comfort of the child of God whose knowledge of God is deficient. Imperfect knowledge of God is the lot of all the elect until Resurrection Day, at which time, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1CO 13:12) and “...all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (HEB 8:11). The importance of God knowing us is even seen in one's acceptability of service to God. God's elect among the Gentiles prior to Christ's resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit to evangelize the world were suffered to walk in darkness (ACT 14:15-16; ACT 17:29-30). Gentile worship was/is devil-worship (1CO 10:21) and unacceptable to God. Israel alone had God's word and form of service (ROM 9:3-4). Of them, God said: (Amo 3:2) You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Again, it was not for lack of awareness that the omniscient God did not know the other nations; it was for lack of covenant. That all changed when Jesus Christ died and rose again, taking away the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile (EPH 2:11-15) and uniting believers of both camps under the common ensign of faith. To Gentile Christians whose service to God was sanctified by their conversion to the truth of Jesus Christ, Paul said (in a rebuke): (Gal 4:8) Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. (Gal 4:9) But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? The New Covenant of Jesus Christ which redeemed them as God's foreknown also had made their service to God acceptable because God through that same covenant now knew them as He had once only known Israel. In all things relating to both one's eternal salvation and one's acceptability of service to God, it is of paramount importance that God knows him through the covenant of Jesus Christ: (Heb 13:20) Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (Heb 13:21) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. That covenant takes away our sins. That covenant also makes our acceptable service to God possible. Indeed, Jesus knows me; this I love.