Scripture and You

Knowledge of Jesus Christ: The Christian's Number One Priority

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Many pastors will tell you that soul-winning is the Christian's number one priority. But Scripture says that an ever-growing knowledge of God and Christ must be number one for the believer.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 5 (final) of a series. Read part 4.

Many pastors will tell you that soul-winning is the Christian's number one priority. But Scripture says that an ever-growing knowledge of God and Christ must be number one for the believer. In this article we explain why.

The theme of this series has been the great fact that knowledge of Jesus Christ is the foundation of everything for the Christian. Because that is true, you as a Christian need to eagerly pursue proficiency in your knowledge of Jesus Christ every day of your life on earth.

The Dangers of an Unteachable Mind

You need to be ready to listen to what God's Word has to say; you need to have a teachable spirit. This is an area in which your need to make progress never stops as long as you live. You can never be at a standstill in your knowledge of God. You can never say, "I've arrived - I know enough, I don't need to learn any more." You can never say, "My knowledge of God is superior to other people's knowledge of God - I know enough, I don't need to learn any more."

An unteachable mind is a dangerous thing. God commanded that every king of Israel was to study the Word of God to the extent of writing out his own copy of it. I have never done that myself, but I know others who have. They say it is a soul-arresting, deeply edifying exercise. But the history of Israel and Judah in the Old Testament makes it clear that very few of the kings ever did this. A few, like Josiah (2 Kings 22-23), were brought to their knees in repentance and reformation when confronted with the reading of the Law of God. Others, like self-willed Saul and even Solomon the wise, clearly knew the Law of God but strayed far from it. Saul lost his throne and his life. Solomon sowed the seeds of the later destruction of the kingdom, bringing exile and captivity upon the descendants of the generation he had ruled. Jehoiakim defiantly burned portions of the Word of God in a fireplace (prophecies against him given through Jeremiah, chapter 36). Following the ungodly examples of their kings, as God declared through Asaph and Nehemiah, the people of Israel and Judah threw the Word of God behind their backs rather than study it, much less obey it (Psalm 50:17, Nehemiah 9:26).

Many professing Christians today, and many visible churches, exhibit the same unteachable spirit. We have cited some examples earlier in this series.

None of Us Has "Arrived"

In sharp contrast, we must note well what the Holy Spirit declares through Paul later on in Colossians chapter 1, beginning at verse 27: "...Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Every Christian needs to be warned. Every Christian needs to be taught. The goal of this is so that every Christian may be presented perfect, mature, in Christ Jesus - no exceptions. There are no spiritual elites in the kingdom of God. We all need to grow into the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ.

Obedience to the knowledge of God that you have already received is therefore a necessary ingredient for the reception, assimilation, and application of further knowledge of God. If you are not of a teachable mind and heart, you cannot progress in your knowledge of God or of His will. Your heart attitude needs to be the same as that of David in Psalm 25, verses 4 and 5: "Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day."

The Christian's Number One Priority

If you are a Christian today, your number one task is to grow into the knowledge of God. Some readers may say, "Oh, but my pastor tells me that my number one task is soul-winning." How can you win souls to Christ if you do not truly know the Christ of whom you are to bear witness? How can you win souls to Christ if your life is not being conformed more and more to His image? How can you win souls to Christ if significant areas of your living and thinking resemble the ways of world more than the ways of your Savior? How can you "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16) unless you yourself are burning with the light of the knowledge of Christ? The Holy Spirit through Peter gives the answer:

But sanctify [Greek hagiasete, set apart as holy] the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready [Greek hetoimoi, to always be in a state of equipped preparation] to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

The ability to always be ready to give testimony to the reason for the hope that is within you demands a growing, deepening knowledge of Christ and His Word. Here, dear friend, are deep riches. Deeper than anything the world can offer, and something unregenerated sinners completely lack. To bear faithful witness for Jesus Christ, you must be continually equipping yourself with an ever-growing knowledge of Him. That is the Christian's first priority. All else must be built on this foundation.

Even the mighty Apostle Paul declared this to be his number one priority in the latter days of his life on earth:

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.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. (Philippians 3:7-15)

Vital Questions

And so I ask you this question: Are you growing into the knowledge of God, by growing in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, by growing in your knowledge of the Bible, the written Word of God?

And if you are not a believer in Christ, do you understand that you need to know God by coming to know Jesus Christ? I invite you to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin, right now. Acknowledge before God today that you are a sinner, that you have broken God's holy law, that you are lost and without hope on your own. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the One who died for sinners, who shed His blood in order that hopeless sinners might have eternal life. Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life. Repent of your sins - and that involves a change in your thinking brought about by the power of God. Place your faith in Christ alone for eternal life, and begin living a life that is pleasing to Him by growing into the knowledge of God, by reading and studying His Word.

If you have received Christ today, or you have questions about what it means to be saved, I invite you to contact us. It will be our privilege to help you.

 

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