The Sonshine  May 2022    By Walter Olsen  

Knowing Him

Introduction

In many ways,  we are known by whom we know. I know that sounds kind of redundant, but I have a point. Knowing others is a significant part of our lives for many reasons. It may determine opportunity, a sense of special blessing, or any number of other things. It may be a source of pride also in declaring our special relationship to other significant people.

However, there is One whom it is crucial for us to know and that, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ. To know Him is the greatest blessing of life and not to know Him is the greatest loss of life.

In this article, I would like for us to consider the various aspects of knowing Him, that is, the various claims of knowing Him. There is a very great difference between claiming to know Him and the reality of knowing Him. Jesus said to Phillip on one occasion, A...have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Phillip?@ (Jn. 14:9).  It was not that Phillip didn=t know who Jesus was, but perhaps that he didn=t know Him more intimately. He knew Him externally, kind of from a distance. It is the way many people know Jesus today. They are generally familiar with who He is as the Son of God, and even their Savior, but often there is little or no personal fellowship with Him.

 

 

I write this article because I believe many have a false assumption of knowing Him. They thus seek to live their Christian life on a false premise.  I believe some of the false premises of knowing Jesus would include the following:

 

The matter of having been a believer for a long time. It is wonderful if one has known Jesus as Savior for many years. Hopefully, there has been a good measure of spiritual growth. However, it doesn=t necessarily follow that if one has been saved for many years that he or she knows the Lord intimately. Unfortunately, many elderly believers prove by their language, attitudes, and habits that the know little of a personal relationship with Him. Some believers adapt to the spiritual climate they are in at a given time. When with people who live consistent spiritual lives, they seem to adapt to them because that is what is expected of them. However, when apart from them, they return to their true spiritual self, a believer who is more controlled by the flesh than by the Holy Sprit of God. 

 

Such believers may be faithful church members but without much of he reality of God in their lives. Unfortunately, such believers never really enter in the true blessing of the Christian life nor do they have much of a witness for the Lord Himself.

 

The matter of church identification. People do not come to really know God on the basis of Church identification alone. Some feel that if they attend a church that is faithful to teach and  preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus that they are living a Godly life. It is very important that believers attend a gospel believing church, but that alone does not make the attendee spiritual! Many attend Bible preaching churches who have never had much, if any, of a personal experience with God. They assume that knowing Bible doctrine is enough to know God. Knowing Bible doctrine is certainly helpful, even essential in one=s walk with God. But the truth is, knowledge alone does not make one a spiritual believer! There must be a personal encounter with God Himself. We must come face to face with God and thus be brought to the cross of the Lord Jesus. Anything else is a false premise.

 

 

The matter of Christian service. By Christian service I mean the things we do publically to serve God, the things other people see and maybe even commend us for.  Christian service is wonderful when we have been truly called of God to serve Him in some specific service such as being a pastor, a missionary, musician, etc. However, just being in Christian service does not necessarily mean that we know God as we should.

 

Remember Judas Iscariot. He was one of the twelve God specifically called to be with Him and minister in His name. Yet, he was at heart a traitor! He had been with Jesus and was familiar with His life and ministry but did not know Jesus in his heart and thus followed his own agenda. His loss is beyond words to say! I fear many people serve as pastors, church officers, musicians, etc. and yet know little or nothing of the Jesus they claim to serve. They have the position of service but not the power of service, the power being the reality of the Holy Spirit.

 

The matter of living a Arighteous@ life. By righteous I mean a life that is free of any public scandal. There is nothing in their lives that they can be blamed for. They are held in esteem as a good neighbor, a good church member, a beloved family member. That is all good, but that has nothing to do with the righteousness of Jesus Christ that is imparted to the sinner when he comes to believe in Jesus Christ for he forgiveness of his sins.

 

Again, living a so called Agood@ life is not really Godliness. Sometimes parents are satisfied that their children bring honor to them by the way they live and the things they do. That is great, but they need to make sure that the goodness they see is more than a learned Christian life. The  Christian life is not a learned way of life! The Christian life is indeed the life of the Lord Jesus Himself.

 

 

If the life one lives is only what he has been taught by others, even by Christian parents and the local church, he will not know much of the reality of the knowledge of God. He may have an accumulation of facts, and that is good, but facts alone do not promote the matter of knowing God. Jesus said, ANo man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him...@ (Jn.6:44). As the Word of God is declared in one way of another, the Holy Spirit uses that truth to convict and draw the hearer to Jesus. No one ever gets saved just by hearing. There must be a response to the Word proclaimed. Remember the words of Jesus, AVerily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life...@ (Jn. 5:24). Thus, to be saved, one must not only hear the Word, but he must believe! There must be a response from one=s heart. It is only then that one can come to know God because only then does the Holy Spirit come to take up His residence in the believer=s life. 

 

Note further the word of Jesus to the Jews, AAnd ye have not His Word abiding in you: for Him whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not@ (Jn. 5:38). Do we see the relationship between the matter of hearing the Word of God and believing? The problem then, is the unbelieving, hardened heart. Jesus then said, AAnd ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have life@ (Jn. 5:40).

 

So then, it is one thing to live life on the basis of what one has been taught by others, but another thing to live on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. Personally, I believe this is a major problem in the Christian world today. I wonder, have we traded the true Gospel of Jesus Christ for another gospel of a different kind? Consider Paul=s words, AI marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another [of the same kind]; but there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ@ (Gal. 1:6-7). I am not trying to be too technical here, but just to give a warning about the reality of one=s salvation.  We have to know in our heart that we have truly been born again, not just trying to live a life we have somehow learned along the way.

 

 

The matter of having been born into a believing, Christian family. It is wonderful to have Christian parents and other believing  family members. However, belonging to a Christian family in no way makes one a believer himself. Each one must be brought to the place of acknowledging his own sin and, in turn, coming personally to Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins. John the Baptist urged the Jews, ABring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance@ (Matt. 3:8). If one is truly saved, there will be some evidence of the presence of the  Lord in his life. John goes on to warn, AAnd think not to say within yourselves, >We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham=@ (Matt. 3:9).

 

The question now becomes, AHow do we really come to know Him, not just about Him?@ The following considerations are helpful:

 

Somehow, some way, there will be a brokenness for our sins. Upon hearing the Gospel message, there will be a conviction for our sins. Where there may have been pride, indulging in the sins of the flesh, and caring not to hear the message of the Bible, we are brought up short in our relationship to God. For the first time we see that we really are sinners deserving only the judgment of God. But then God, in His grace, reveals His grace and mercy to us. He reveals to us that His Son, the Lord Jesus, died on the cross for our sins and that we can be saved if only we will turn to the Lord Jesus in believing faith!

 

This need for brokenness applies both to the unsaved and those who have already come to Him for salvation.  For the unsaved, there is the necessity to see who they are before a holy God. They are condemned sinners standing under the sure judgment of God. AHe that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but thre wrath of God abideth on him@ (Jn. 3:36). Truly, A...all have sinned and come short of the glory of God@ (Rom. 3:23). The unsaved person needs to repent of his  sins and humbly ask God for His forgiveness. He needs to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the debt of the believer=s sins. There is no other appeal!

 

 

For those who truly are born again, but have yielded to some temptation and have sinned, they need to be convicted of their sins and come in faith to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness. There is no other way to be restored to fellowship with God. Good works, church attendance and such will not bring the forgiveness needed. Apart from such repentance, many believers live with a continuing guilty conscience! It need not be!

 

There will be a willing and continuing yielding  to the Lord and his Word. This would include personal Bible study and a faithful attendance to the preaching of God=s Word. Apart from this, there will be little if any desire to really know Him. If anything, there will be a contentment with the status quo which promotes at best an uninspiring Christian life.

 

There will be a daily seeking Him for fellowship. What was true of King David will also be true of the growing believer, AO God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see Thy power and glory...@ (Psa. 63:1-2).

 

There will be a public expression of his yielding and to and walking with Christ. This may be by word of mouth, by his lifestyle, by his treatment of others, and any number of other ways. His life will be characterized by the truths of the Bible such as, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5). “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

 

*****************************************

April so far has been mostly a cold and wet month in Wisconsin. Spring is on the way, however, in reality as well as on the calendar.

 

We enjoyed a wonderful Easter dinner with my sister, Dorothy, and her husband, Harley, as well as other loved ones. It is so good and important to get together with family. We all need the encouragement and acceptance that family can give.

 

We are certainly living in tumultuous times. While we don’t understand everything that is going on, we can know that we are getting closer to the promised return of  the Lord for His church, that is, for all who are trusting Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:16-18).

 

It would be horrible beyond words to be left behind when the Lord returns. It is urgent that all who hear the message of the Word of God repent now and trust the Lord Jesus for their salvation. “…behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). Thankfully, God is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9).

 

If you would like to add anyone to the mailing list for The Sonshine, please give me their names and addresses. There is no charge.