In this final installment of our study of the New Covenant, we focus on the incredible promise that all who are under this covenant will have personal knowledge of God.
It will no longer be necessary to teach others to “know the Lord’” since knowledge of God will be personally given to each one under that covenant. This is arguably one of the greatest benefits of New Covenant living.
In the Old Testament age, it could be said that only prophets, priests, and kings had access to the knowledge of God as God revealed himself to them. But under the New Covenant that is no longer the case; the knowledge of God is no longer limited to those groups but is given to all who believe, regardless of their station in life (“least of them to the greatest”). It is now the purview of all the people of God.
It is important to remember how Jesus defined eternal life in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). He defined it in qualitative rather than quantitatively. When we think about eternal life, we almost always think of it in terms of life without end. While it is certainly that, Jesus defined it as a quality of life that begins for the believer now and lasts into eternity. Jesus is teaching that eternal life is knowing both the Father and the Son.
What can be greater than this promise that all those under the New Covenant are brought into the realm of the knowledge of God? And this knowledge isn’t static. Once we are introduced to the knowledge of God through the new birth, we are then called to a life of growing into the full knowledge of the Godhead. “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). Such a growing knowledge culminates at that moment when we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). But until that moment, we are to cultivate the knowledge of God daily as New Covenant believers.
Some have used the statement that “they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother” as evidence that there is no longer a need for teachers and teaching under the New Covenant. But God is not saying there is no longer a need for teaching under the New Covenant; after all, he put teachers in the body of Christ (Romans 12:7, Ephesians 4:11). No; it’s a certain type of teaching that will no longer be necessary. For example, John, in his first letter, tells his readers that they have been given the Spirit and thus already know truth from error—they do not need to be taught it (I John 2:20). This kind of teaching is not necessary.
Yet, there is still a place for teaching those who are under the New Covenant. New Covenant teaching serves more as an affirmation of the truth that believers already know and are experiencing. I don’t know how many times over the years after I have finished teaching, someone will walk up to me and tell me that I confirmed so much of what the Father was already teaching them. This, for me, is the major reason those who have come to know God and his Son under the New Covenant still need teaching. It serves to affirm that those who are under the New Covenant have come to know the Father and the Son.
This knowledge of God consists of more than mere book learning, though it is enhanced by the study of Scripture and spiritual literature. It is imparted to a person at the moment of their regeneration. Once a person is born again, they are responsible for cultivating that knowledge and making it the most important thing in their life. There is a big difference between relationship and fellowship. My son is my son no matter what he does; that relationship can never change. But just because he’s my son doesn’t mean we always have fellowship. Sometimes, things come between us making it necessary for our fellowship to be restored.
Sadly, few of those who have the relationship as sons press on to know the Lord intimately. But for those who do, one thing characterizes them—they have an enormous appetite for God alone. Having come to the knowledge of God, they know their souls cannot be satisfied with anything other than a deeper knowledge of God. So the initial experience of coming into the knowledge of God only increases our appetite to know Him more deeply and intimately.
Is that true in your life? Is the knowledge of God the most important thing in your life? Are you making knowing God your overwhelming passion? As someone once said, “God will not be found by the casual inquirer.