Can I Know God Personally?
We all feel distant from God from time to time. And very often, we resort to religious deeds to try to get into God’s graces, to try to please him. How many of us have:
• tried to do really good things to get right or even make up with God?
• tried to stop doing some things in order to make God happy?
We all have! But let me ask this: Did it work? Did you feel closer to God by jumping through those hoops?
Reverence for vs. Relatonship with Jesus
We have to be able to trust God
Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan
The greatest African-American intellectual and abolitionist of the pre-Civil War period said this:
“I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land... I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of 'stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.' I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.” Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)
Yet when because he met the real Jesus, the God of the Bible, Douglass in the second installment of his autobiography was able to state this:
“I was, for weeks, a poor, broken-hearted mourner, traveling through the darkness and misery of doubts and fears. I finally found that change of heart which comes by “casting all one’s care” upon God, and by having faith in Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer, Friend, and Savior of those who diligently seek Him.”
Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, daughter of Lyman Beecher, one of the great abolitionist preachers of the Second Great Awakening, wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Having experienced the grace of God, they too were compelled to aid in ending evils perpetuated by those who misrepresented Jesus.
These and many other accounts give us a picture of the effects of the gospel coming alive in a man or woman’s heart, turning them to Christ and overflowing to impact a fallen world. These things were not done to receive God’s favor, but as a result of his grace.
The bad news is that none of these things helps us measure up to God’s standards. But the good news is that God’s love is given to each of us freely.
• Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
• John 1:12: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
• James 4:8a: “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
John Newton and the history of Amazing Grace
“The Gospel must not be assumed. It’s to be articulated clearly and constantly...if not you get moralistic pragmatism.” - Matt Chandler
Here’s the truth about knowing God personally:
• God loved. God gave. We believe. We receive.
“The world’s full of lonely people afraid to make the first move.”
From Movie The Green Book
• God loved us so much that he sent his son to save us; if we believe in him, we will spend eternity in deep, personal relationship with him.
If we all trusted that simple, profound truth, it would change everything. Our friendships, our marriages, our work relationships, our work ethic, our contentment, our finances—everything.
The entire reason Jesus came to earth was so that everyone who trusts in him can know God personally—the relationship we were born to enjoy.
How can we also respond to God’s grace?
Turn in faith and repentance to Jesus Christ, receiving forgiveness of sins because of his sacrifice for you on the cross and resurrection from the dead providing eternal life for you.
Serve God with his people to be salt and light in a fallen world Christ is looking to redeem.
“The Place God call’s you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” - Frederick Buechner
Second City Church - Explore God - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2019