Knowing About Christ; Knowing Christ

When I was in grade school I collected baseball cards. My favorite baseball player was Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I knew very well that he was the 1988 World Series MVP, earned the 1988 Cy Young Award, received the 1988 Golden Glove award, had 59 consecutive scoreless innings and was known as the ‘bulldog.’ I had over 100 different baseball cards of Orel, a book and pictures. I knew a lot about Orel but ultimately did not know Orel. He had never met me, he never approached me, called me or wrote me.

The reason why I share this story is that I had a conversation a while back with an individual who was reflecting on their Christian walk. They said to me, “Pastor Matt, it seems to me that I knew a lot about Christ but I really didn’t know Christ.” How can it be possible to know a lot about someone and simply not know them?

In C.F.W. Walther’s book, Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible, we read,

“What good is it if someone tells me: ‘There is a great treasure. Go get it! All you have to do is haul it off,’ yet he does not tell me where the treasure is, how to get there, what methods to use to get it. Then I would say, ‘Enough of your foolish talk about your treasure!'” Walther goes on to comment about some preachers that employ this, “…a preacher might say, ’Here I have a treasure,’ yet he does not put the treasure plainly before them or give them the key to unlock it. Then what good would this treasure be to them? They lock up the treasure in front of us that they ought to lay plainly before us… They preach the existence of a treasure in fine terms and then take away the key and bridge that would put me in possession of the treasure.”[1]

What Walther is expounding on is the grave error in renouncing or withholding the means by which we obtain Christ. In other words, Walther is pointing out that many in the church over the ages have spoken a lot about Christ but failed in delivering the Christ. Christ and the Gospel are pointed out, explained, but then the recipient is essentially told, “now go get Him.”

What are the ramifications of denying the means by which one obtains Christ and His benefits? What are the consequences of confessing Christ crucified but then telling one, “good luck finding Christ; good luck acquiring this salvation.” Essentially, this results in a person knowing a lot about Christ and in effect not knowing Him. Furthermore and tragically, the Gospel is placed within a framework of Law. “Here is the glorious treasure. Now, all you have to do is find it, then go get it and figure out how to haul it off.” All of a sudden the good news isn’t so good anymore.

In the CLBA statement of faith it states,

“The knowledge and benefit of Christ’s redemption from sin is brought to the human race through the means of grace, namely the Word and sacraments.”

What grand news that our God and Savior not only accomplished salvation for us but also delivers it to us! Salvation has been accomplished (past tense) and is continually delivered to us (present tense). No having to look! No having to ascend to God to acquire it! No having to concoct a strategy to harness and haul off this salvation! Simply delivered to us! Simply brought to us! Simply received by us through faith! This is my body and blood given for you for the remission of your sins.[2] Your sins have been washed away.[3] God has reconciled you to Himself through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.[4] As a close friend of mine once said, “salvation was achieved by Christ, delivered to us by the means and received through faith. Achieved, Delivered, Received!” Now this is good news!

We personally possess Christ and all the benefits of Calvary through the Word and sacraments; therefore, we not only know about Christ but also get to know Christ personally. We know about the treasure of salvation and we also get to personally enjoy it.

I am still waiting for my personal visit or maybe that phone call from Orel Hershiser, but in the mean time, I get to enjoy Christ and the benefits of His redemption as they are continually brought to me.

[1] C.F.W. Walther, Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible (Concordia Publishing, 2010), 179-180.
[2] See Matthew 26:27-28
[3] See Titus 3:5; Acts 22:16
[4] See Romans 1:16, 10:17

About Pastor Matt Richard

Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, ND. He was previously a Senior Pastor in Sidney, Montana, an Associate Pastor of Spiritual Care and Youth Ministries in Williston, North Dakota, and an Associate Pastor of Children and Youth in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He received his undergraduate degree from Minot State University, ND and his M.Div. from Lutheran Brethren Seminary, MN. His doctor of ministry thesis, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, was on exploring the journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran thought. Pastor Richard is married to Serenity and they have two children. He enjoys fishing, pheasant hunting, watching movies, blogging, golfing, spending time with his family and a good book with a warm latte! To check out more articles by Pastor Matt you can visit his personal blog at: www.pastormattrichard.com.

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