Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” When I read this Bible verse, I usually think about the imperative call to know the only true God; eternal life is tied to the true God, and none other.
But in addition to knowing the only true God, this verse calls us to know the only true God. That is, Jesus is not focusing His teaching solely on who God is, but also on our relationship with Him. He says eternal life is knowing God. An additional truth intrinsic in Jesus’ words is that if we know Him, we will also be known by Him. Eternal life is knowing – and being known by – the only true God.
Jesus talked about knowing His people intimately. He said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). Christian theologian John Piper explained this beautiful relationship between Jesus and His sheep:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them.” (John 10:27)
Jesus knows those who are his. What is this knowledge?
John 10:3 is a close parallel to verse 27. It says, “The sheep hear his voice, he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out.”
So when Jesus says, “I know them,” this means at least that he knows them by name; that is, he knows them individually and intimately. They are not anonymous, lost in the flock.
Verse 14 provides another insight: “I am the good shepherd, and I know my own and my own know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
There is a real similarity between the way Jesus knows his Father in heaven and the way he knows his sheep. Jesus sees himself in the Father, and he sees himself in his disciples.
To some degree Jesus recognizes his own character in his disciples. He sees his own brand mark on the sheep.
He is like a husband waiting for his wife at the airport, watching as each person disembarks from the plane. When she appears, he knows her, he recognizes her features, he delights in her, she is the only one he embraces.
The apostle Paul puts it like this: “The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are his’” (2 Timothy 2:19).
It is hard to overemphasize what a tremendous privilege it is to be known personally, intimately, lovingly by the Son of God. It is a precious gift to all his sheep, and it contains within it the promise of eternal life. (“Jesus Knows His Sheep”)
It is an indescribable blessing to know God and be known by Him. But not all people enjoy this intimate relationship with their Savior.
As Jesus preached what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, He warned us to “beware of false prophets”; these people look like His sheep, but they are really “ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Their message may sound attractive, but their fruit will prove otherwise (see 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Peter 2:1).
In this context, Jesus notes, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” Not everyone who has knowledge of Jesus, not everyone who does “many mighty works” in His name, will receive eternal life. Jesus said “many” will appeal to Him for admittance into heaven on this basis, but He will send them away: “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me.’”
Juxtaposed against Jesus’ tragic declaration is its polar opposite. Eternal life is in knowing the only true God – and being known by Him. Personally. Intimately. Lovingly.
The great tragedy is that Mormonism, while demonstrating what look like “mighty works” in the name of Jesus, still leads people away from the one true God. Mormonism leads people to follow and worship a different god. Whatever this different god is, knowing and being known by it cannot lead to eternal life. Jesus made this very clear.
Friends, turn away from the impotent god of Mormonism; seek to know the one true God. His promise is sure: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish” (John 10:27-28).