One Thing -To Know Him

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“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 3.13-14

Just what is the grand conclusion to Understanding God’s Eternal Purpose? What might we consider the ultimate in which both the heart of God and the heart of the believer become satisfied? We have filled the pages of this book with new understandings, new perspectives, with fresh revelations and visions; expanding and adding depth to our perception on such matters of salvation, spiritual maturity, end-time purposes, the demise of religion and the hope of the spirit and of divine relationships. But, what is the epitome of this message? What is the “vanishing point” to which all lines seems to converge in the distance? What is the one thing of to aim for, to press after? The apostle Paul expressed this as a goal.

The “One Thing” of Initial Salvation

What is the one thing, the essence of salvation, the indispensable quality without which it would not be salvation? Is it confessing the Name of Jesus? Or maybe water baptism? Or maybe it might be the initial act of repentance? An individual may confess the Name of Jesus and yet not be “saved.” Or repent and be baptized and yet not be “saved.” Does one need to undergo all three acts to be saved? No, for none of these are the essence of salvation, the one thing, the indispensably quality needed to be saved. All three of these are outward acts and they need to be preceded first by an inward act of the Spirit.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again!” (See Jn. 31-8) This is core, the one thing that is absolutely needed to be saved. All other outward acts must succeed this spiritual act. Jesus said that Nicodemus could not even see the kingdom of God let alone enter into the Kingdom of God unless he is first born again. By this Jesus meant that he must first be “become a child of God,… not just born of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn. 1.12-13 paraphrased) Not only Nicodemus but all believers must first be born of the divine spiritual seed of Christ. (See 1 Jn. 3.9) One can never know God as “The Father” without first being born of His seed through Christ.

The One thing of God’s Eternal Purpose

I recently noticed a large billboard along the highway that read: “Where are you going? To Heaven or to Hell?” Is this the one thing, the goal for which Paul wrote? Does eternity and eternal life come down to being in the right “place” at the end of time? Is the grand purpose in all creation to save man from hell for heaven? Absolutely not! This is an extremely narrow and immature view that maligns and demeans the purposes of God as revealed in the Gospel of Christ. It is a deception, a distraction propagated and perpetuated by the enemy of our God.

Paul wrote of eternal rewards (and/or loss thereof) and both he and Peter wrote of an awaiting crown of glory. (1 Cor. 3.12-15; 2 Tim. 4.8, 1 Pet. 5.4) But to contemplate these as some “physical” eternal benefits are also short sighted falling short of God’s eternal purpose. One thing is the antithesis for many things. A Christian will accomplish little without a singleness of vision and purpose, for he will be too busy juggling the many things that crowd his life and cloud his view life’s goal.

May it simply be stated that any view that does not focus on believers being brought by the Spirit into communion with Christ and the Father, both now and forever more, falls short of God’s high purposes and calling. “Persons and relationships” must replace “places and conditions” as the essence of God’s purpose in our thinking.

We have firmly established in these writings that the goal, the great objective of salvation is not a mystical heaven comprised of some pleasant ethereal environment where there is no death, pain or suffering. May it be said again that this is a limited childish view with no scriptural evidence to support it. But there are a few things that we do know. Eternity, in its fullness, is ushered in with a new heaven and new earth upon which God and the Lamb are found central to it as its temple; believers will have resurrected bodies fashioned in the likeness of our Lord’s resurrected body; and that it will involve an eternal relationship and interaction with God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. This life eternal, then, is not mere conscious and unending existence in a place, but a life of acquaintance with God in Christ. It is important at this time to pause and draw upon the nature of that “relationship.”

One Thing: To “Know” Him

[Please note: This now becomes a timely and very personal message.] As I awoke this morning, before my eyes were even open, thoughts began running through my mind contemplating this final note to this book; not random notions but much focused thoughts. It was then that one thing, and one thing only, began to crystallize and roll over and over in my mind to where the thought apprehended me, it would not let me go. And, the more I fixed my thoughts upon it, the more my heart yearned for its reality…to know Him! O’ we can believe in Him, testify of Him, study Him, pray to Him, and even worship Him or die for Him. But do we know Him? This knowledge of God spoken of here is not the knowledge of Him by the light of nature, and works of creation; nor is it only knowing Him from the light of reading scriptures, for many may know God in these senses and not know Him in the light of “The Christ.”

Is not the ultimate of life itself to know another? Do not take lightly this particular Biblical word for “know”, which is in the Greek ginosko. Its meaning goes beyond perception to a point of intimacy, of knowing by experience; not just to know about another as an acquaintance, but to know another with some matter of depth. Literally, ginosko means to know through personal experience (first-hand acquaintance.) For example, it is even used for intimacy in Lk. 1.34, “And Mary (a virgin) said to the angel, ‘how will this be since I do not know (ginosko) a man?’” I could not begin to measure the void in my life without those I have known so closely. With many, family and friends I have been overly abundantly blessed. One word can only describe it: precious. My “life” would be an empty hull without them.

But, this morning, the single thought that laid hold of me was Jesus’ definition of “life” (Gk. Zoe) and of this need to “know.” Zoe life is higher than the created life of man, it is the eternal life of God possessed by the Father.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Jn. 17.3

Life and knowing defines relationship. Life is the ability to have communion with another; and by communion is meant a sharing or exchange of intimate thoughts and feelings. Knowing is the actual experience communing or connecting with another. The “You” in this verse, “that they may know You,” is a personal pronoun for God. The emphasis is not knowing about Him, but being in communion with Him. Remember the two sisters of Mary and Martha and how Martha was busily serving the needs of Christ and others with perhaps food, drink, and comfort. But it was Mary who sat at Jesus’s feet to intimately commune with Him, to know Him.

The only true God! This is important! All ideas of God that deviate or fall short of “the Father” as revealed to us by Christ, are not the true God, and the knowledge of them do not lead to eternal life. God “the Father” is the source, the progenitor of life, and by this life is not meant created life, but eternal life. “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;” Jn. 5.26 This life eternal, then, is not mere conscious and unending existence, but a life of acquaintance, a life of relationship with God the Father in Christ. The Fatherhood of God expresses an everlasting relation, one that may begin now as we live and breathe in these bodies, and extends into eternity in fullness. It is life that begins in a new birth with the inception of the seed of Christ, thereby becoming a child of God, and with prospects of maturing into adult sons and daughters of God.

Do you see that life without truly knowing (ginosko) another, especially God, is not really “life” at all. Though I be a living encyclopedia and “know” (Gk. eido) much about many things, places, and people, and have not known (ginosko) another, I am to be pitied. True love (Gk agape) is impossible with mere understanding alone, but this godly love is made real and comes alive with ginosko knowledge of relationship. Once Jesus warned that in the day of judgement many will boast of doing this and that in His name, but He will have to tell them plainly, “I never knew (ginosko) you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!” Mt. 7.23 O the gap between knowing Jesus outwardly and religiously and knowing Him spiritually and experientially—it is unfathomable.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 2 Cor. 5.16-17

These many thoughts of knowing God our Father and our Lord that are flooding my mind are also simultaneously filling my heart. I sense an identity with the apostle Paul who cried out in a passion of prayer, that I may know (ginosko) Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Phil. 3.10 O’ that I might know Him! That I might know Him with a knowledge that transcends the temporal, historical and the outward but reveals the inward, spiritual and eternal. O’ there is such a profound difference between knowing Jesus according to the flesh and knowing Him as the resurrected glorious Christ. (See 2 Cor. 5.16-17)

Recall the account following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection when He joined Himself with two men walking on the road to Emmaus. Both knew Jesus according to the flesh. They were disciples, having walked with Him, perhaps even being nearby at His crucifixion. However, they did not recognize “the resurrected Christ,” not even as He opened their understanding to the scriptures regarding the recent events of the crucifixion. But there came a time, in the breaking of bread, when “their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.”  Lk. 24.31 They recognized (epi-ginosko) Him—which interpreted means fully knowing, or knowing through first hand personal experience. Their eyes were open to behold the Christ, not the historical Jesus who walked the earth and was crucified on the cross. They came to know the resurrected Christ, the living manifested Son of God. Their hearts burned within. Their passions were ignited. Their lives would never be the same again, for they have not only touched upon Christ, but in Christ they have now touched upon the Father—the author and giver of life.

NO ONE TOUCHING ANY ELEMENT OF “THE CHRIST” IS EVER THE SAME AGAIN. This is the way of the Spirit. The Spirit touches not the outward man with knowledge, senses, and emotion. Rather He touches the inward man, stirring the heart, and giving understanding to the mind. How do I know this is true? “I know that I know.” No one in all the earth can call this into question. “I know that I know.”

A Balance of Passions

Along with the rising up of a desire for “knowing Him” in these early morning thoughts seems to be a simultaneous growing distain for the counterfeit, the mundane, and this facade called religion. On the one hand I plead in prayer, “O’ that I might know You, the only true God.” On the other hand there comes along-side the desire to forsake all aspects of religion, and to even move beyond all knowledge gained burning the mid-night candle over Bible studies and scholarly writings, and all efforts to right my lopsided life for some sense of righteousness. Even apparently “good” things grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. (Song: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.) The focus is intense.

Paul said that all these things he counted loss, rather he counted as rubbish for the surpassing value of knowing Christ. (Phil. 3.7-8) All these things, in heaping measure, I now count as rubbish for the excellency of knowing Him. Yes, I am very thankful, eternally grateful for the foundational understanding laid over many years of pursuing Him, and for those the Lord has sent my way, as faithful servants, each to help lay a sure foundation in my life. But now, in the light of knowing Him, all that understanding seems distant. At one time, while building my house, I stood in the mud-filled trenches while the foundation was being laid. But then there came a time when the foundation was complete and filled in with dirt, no longer noticeable. Life became altogether different as I began to live in the house.

At this moment in time I am not satisfied with knowing about Him, or of His ways, or His teachings, or His promises—but only to know His reality; to have that increasing revelation of Christ. Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”  Mt. 16.16-17 Imagine that! Not by flesh and blood but by Divine revelation. God the Father, who is in heaven, revealed “the Christ” through His Spirit to Peter. Jesus then confirmed to Peter that upon this rock, this massive solid mountain of His being “The Christ,” that He would build His Church.

I am no longer interested in church services, in doctrines, and codes of behavior. I do not want to participate in rituals and symbolism or sit through long-winded sermons. Pardon me the formality and piety of religion, and of pretense of worship or prayer. All these things are consumed in but one brief encounter of life in knowing Him. “O’ that I might know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent,” is the prayer. When we do gather together as the Church, let us do it soberly and with full intention to draw near to God so that He will draw near to us. Let us pursue the Father with all there is within us, In Christ. In doing so, let it be a time of communion, of spirit touching Spirit and soul touching soul. Our lives will never be the same again. This is the time of transformation of the soul…for it is now God that works in me both to do and to will of Hs good pleasure (Phil. 2.13)….so that even my works now come by grace.

Thus is my heart’s desire, to be part of a people zealous for Him. O, I have been a part of people wanting to follow after Him; a people wanting to walk in His footsteps; of a people zealous for good deeds in His Name; of a people wanting to serve Him in many different ways, even to go to the ends of the earth; and of a people devoting their lives in defense of the Gospel and Christian principles. All these are good and admirable pursuits. But now, in this hour in my life, I hunger to be part of a people zealous for Him. A people “fully engaged,” apprehended by a kindred spirit, being single-minded, passionate to lay hold of the vital aspects of this eternal life by knowing Him; of laying hold of the “one thing.”

One Thing and David

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” Ps. 27.4

The Old Covenant was with an earthly people with earthly promises. With obedience came long life, deliverance from their enemies, absence of diseases, and abundance of crop and heard. Disobedience brought the loss of those things. It was in the earthly tent, housing the Ark of the Covenant, with perhaps a lampstand, incense burning, and psalmists worshiping, that David was overwhelmed. He delighted to be in that presence. It is much like today people find comfort being in a church building with all the religious fixtures, or to be at a special place they can sense a closeness to God. My sister enjoys working in her garden where she reflects upon God (and sometimes sings, “I come to the garden alone, …”

Natural settings such as these bring a sense of comfort to the soul. Yet something within yet beckons to come higher and to know Him in a deeper more personal way.

One Thing and Mary

Jesus said, “but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Lk. 10.42

Mary enjoyed and appreciated the presence of the Lord. She enjoyed sharing in His life. She witnessed His miracles and learned of His teaching…the Gospel. Jesus was present with her, subject to her senses as well. Though touched within, there was no spiritual communion for Mary, like David, was not born again…the promise was yet to be fulfilled. Today, many re-visit the historical Jesus as revealed in the Bible. The Gospel is read again and again, His miracles recounted, and His promises of salvation and resurrection read again. At Easter time Catholics re-visit the crucifixion in what is termed, “The Stations of the Cross,” in which each one of the 14 stations recounts from the condemnation death sentence to Him being placed in the tomb. This and other denominational religious practices are touching to the soul.

Yet a dimension remains of knowing “The Christ” and “The Father.” This initiates a new realm of knowing God in the spirit. And, it is in the spirit that this knowing is not in the tangible and visible, but is by faith—which we know is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Heb. 11.1

One Thing and Paul

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3.13-14

This one thing hoped for by Paul is 100% outside of the natural realm, extraneous to anything earthly or fleshly activity. Of no value are “holy” places, buildings (even the finest of the great cathedrals), objects deemed to be “sacred”, the practice of religious rituals, or reciting verbatim of passages from the Holy Book. It does not involve logic or reasoning powers or the passion of emotions. For it is by faith and faith alone; and faith does not rely upon the outward, the observable, the touchable. Rather, faith is founded solely in the promises of the Father contained in the Word of God. Faith operates in the realm of the invisible, the spiritual. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jn. 4.24

“That I might know Him,” Paul cries out, “and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformed to his death;” Phil. 3.10 That I might know Him—experientially. Paul fully understands that to know (ginosko) Him is more than merely to know a doctrine about Him. To Know Him experientially is to be brought not just to redemption, but into communion with the Redeemer Himself.

“That I may know Him”—that I may become fully acquainted with:

  • His nature and character“seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Pet. 1.3-4   To the unsaved, to the unregenerated, this is a mystery. This transformation of the soul cannot be correctly understood for it has little to do with the power, strength, determination and ingenuity of man. It has everything to do with the one thing, knowing Him. It is being in spiritual communion with God our Father through Christ. Yes, it may truly be considered a miracle.
  • His work – The Kingdom of God is not a make-believe mystical place, but a life in fellowship and function with God our Father and our lord Jesus Christ. This function in the Kingdom is according to purpose. And this purpose is according to the Father’s eternal plan predetermined before the foundation of the world. The outworking of this plan is according to the work of Christ, both through the cross and now by the workings of the Church, His body upon this earth. “And He (God the Father) put all things in subjection under His (Christ’s) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Eph. 1.22-13

This is an unmistakable call to Paul and to every believer to function, not independently with his own abilities, no matter how sincere and good intentions; but under obedience to the Head, being led of His Spirit (Rm. 8.14); and functioning in unity as a member of His body, the Church. This is more fully explained in Ephesians 4.9-16. All would do well to read and meditate upon this passage of scripture.

  • His relationship with the Father. To be brought into His unity with the Father is perhaps one of the highest goals in the mind of Christ for the believer. Truly, His blood sacrifice and death on the cross made available to whosoever will forgiveness of sins and redemption. Without which there can be no regeneration or new birth into the family of God. And that, is only the beginning of His flow of grace.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place (the inner sanctuary of God) by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near (to the Father) with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.“ Heb. 10.19-22

The enormity of this passage is beyond mental comprehension. The human mind cannot grasp actually drawing close to Almighty God, the Father, in the intimacy of communion with Him, because it is by faith and spiritually discerned. But it is written, “’For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”’ 1 Cor. 2.16 This is a mystery to him who does not have the Spirit of Christ, and therefore does not have the mind of Christ. It cannot be understood by natural man how one’s soul may be influenced and enlightened by a Higher Power. But He opens to us those secrets which by all other means are unsearchable.

The way into the Holy placed of the Father has been opened to us who believe. “For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence.”  Eph. 1.4 This promise is for now, and for all eternity. Glory!

So, one thing remains. The command is to (You) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  Jam. 4,8 So today, this hour, you who are in Christ and Christ is in you, in all confidence, to reverently and soberly, with all your heart and in faith, press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus: draw near to God the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord. His communion awaits.

Picture of Daniel DeVitis

Daniel DeVitis

Daniel P. DeVitis (Dan) has served in ministry for over 50 years. Since 1972 he has overseen a home church, Immanuel Fellowship, Shippensburg, PA, where he currently resides with his wife Petra. He was a professor of Geography and Earth Science at Shippensburg University until his retirement in 2003. He now serves as an elder in Unto Full Stature Ministries where he continues to author newsletters, write articles, and speak at leadership conferences and churches at and abroad.
Picture of Daniel DeVitis

Daniel DeVitis

Daniel P. DeVitis (Dan) has served in ministry for over 50 years. Since 1972 he has overseen a home church, Immanuel Fellowship, Shippensburg, PA, where he currently resides with his wife Petra. He was a professor of Geography and Earth Science at Shippensburg University until his retirement in 2003. He now serves as an elder in Unto Full Stature Ministries where he continues to author newsletters, write articles, and speak at leadership conferences and churches at and abroad.

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