“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
It’s an amazing concept. To know God is to have eternal life.
Of course, one can immediately puzzle over the thought. Demons know God but do not have eternal life. So the knowing in view here must be of a specific sort. It has to be knowledge rooted in more than merely the acquisition of propositional facts. Jeopardy contestants may answer rightly many questions about God, but they may not have eternal life. The one does not necessarily follow from the other.
There appears to be, therefore, an intimate relationship between knowing and intimacy. Here one can think of how the Scriptures often play on the idea proximity, or our closeness to God. Let your mind Google through the Scriptures. Adam and Eve walked with the LORD in the coolness of the evening. But when they sinned, they were cast out of His paradise and away from His presence. The LORD filled the Temple. The Jews entered the Promised Land. But when they spurned the Lord, like an adulterous woman, the Land spewed them out, and the Lord’s presence vacated them, flying away in that strange and thunderous wheel like movement.
God calls us to draw near to Him. His Spirit fills us. The Lord tabernacles among us. Eternal life is pictured as a bride meeting her bridegroom. It is like sitting down at a great banquet. Sharing a meal with the Lord. Ingesting Him. Drinking Him. Jesus prays that we would “all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” And there is that great and profound and mysterious doctrine of union with Christ whereby we are not merely adjacent to Him, nor simply touching Him, but we are said to be “in Him.”
Covenant captures the idea. As does adoption. And redemption. And reconciliation. It is all meant to communicate to us closeness or nearness to the Lord.
Eternal life is very much about intimate proximity rooted in true knowledge. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).
This is what we are called to. This is what we are destined to partake of. At the end, those who do not know the Lord will be cast away from His presence, but as for His sheep, those who know His voice and follow Him, they will enter into their Master’s joy forever and ever. For it will be then when we hear “a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’”