Do You Know Jesus?
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made without him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it...The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14)
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through who He made the universe. The Son is appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn over all creation. . .For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Colossians 1:15, 19)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has now appeared to us. (1 John:1-2)
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you knew Me, you would know the Father as well...Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:6,7,9)
That's mystical language: "The Word was with God. The Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt for a while among us." But it's really not just poetry! Jesus is the Word.
Often we use the term, "Word of God," to refer to the scriptures, the Bible." But what do we mean when we call it the Word? We're claiming that the Bible, this God-breathed thing, did not come from men's conception, man's hand, or man's mind applied to philosophical or religious matters, that instead it is a recorded manifestation of the very breath of God.
Jesus Christ, however, is so much greater than that! He is the incarnate manifestation of the Word of God. If the Bible is the Word become words, Jesus is the Word become flesh. Remember that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God. "The Lord thy God is one God"-not three Gods, but one. Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father but by Me." Jesus of Nazareth if the expressed heart and Word of God Himself. He is the manifested thought of God Almighty.
I want to take this step back to help you to see that the qualities the Bible speaks about - patience, humility, holiness - are not just noble character traits that we must strive to imitate. Jesus Christ Himself is the Word of God. What we read about in the written Word is simply a description of Jesus Christ in language we can understand. "He came and dwelt for a while among us." He lived out God's character and life. He spoke it. He taught it. He was the breath of God. Again, "No man comes to the Father but by Me." Jesus was and is the road to the Father, expressing and manifesting and personifying the character and thought and mind of God. He was the "exact representation of the Father."
"Have you been with me so long and do not understand?" Jesus asked. "When you see Me, you have seen the Father." You can see right through the incarnate word of God into the heart and mind of God, into the very Person of God Himself. That's who Jesus is! And that's why John spoke of Jesus as being "the eternal life." That's why John could say, "Our hands touched, our eyes saw, our ears heard the very eternal life of God." He didn't say that Jesus was a "really good man Who told us all about God, a man who lived a perfect Christian life to show us how to live it, too." Instead, John-reflecting back sixty years after he saw Jesus ascend to heaven-said that he had touched the eternal life, not just a good man.
Paul called the incarnation a "mystery"-something unfathomable by man, yet revealed by God. Paul himself, the holy apostle, one of the most fruitful men ever to walk the face of the earth, admitted that it was a mystery to him. He could never have figured out how God could breathe and a baby be born. Yet God revealed that it had really happened. The very Word of God cried in a manger! The very thought, mind, heart, intent, purpose, vision-the very Spirit of the Living Godhead!
"The Lord thy God is one God." That's why both John and Paul could write that "Jesus created all things," that "all things were created by Him and for Him."
Wait. Didn't the Father do that?
Not without Jesus. They are one!
"No man comes to the Father but by Me."
"When you've seen Me, you've seen the Father."
"The eternal life appeared to us."
You need to understand this mystery of the Incarnation to understand why there are no "things" called patience, goodness, self-control, or holiness. These are not external qualities you can attain by reading your Bible a whole bunch or by praying to receive them as individual things. That's no way to live! You'll never be a "good Christian" by trying to add Christian qualities to your life. "Things" don't equal Life! How do you get life out of a test tube! You don't! You don't put all the right ingredients in a test tube and shake it up and put a Bunsen burner under it and then have life.
It isn't like that in the spiritual realm, either. Life is found in Him, and those qualities come from being in Him. Those "things" are merely a description of both your current standing and your eventual destiny in Him. They're a description of the heart and mind and soul of God Almighty as manifested in Christ Jesus, the Living Word. And now you are living epistles, with the Word of God written indelibly on your hearts and in your minds. You are transformed from one degree of glory to another into the very image and likeness of God.
"Unto the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Hallelujah! That's why all of these "things" are really of no consequence. That's why pursuing them as goals to be achieved leads to a series of failures and frustrations and shallowness and emptiness and fear. If Christ Jesus is not your All in All, you will feel the frustration, that hollowness, that lack of fruitfulness-all those desperate things. But all the "achievements" you desire are already in the Son. "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." There is nothing else. All things are held together in Him, by Him, through Him, and to Him. All things would ever have any value are already in Him.
That is why, when the rich young ruler called Him a "good teacher," Jesus replied, "You don't get it-no matter how much you know-for only God is good." Jesus didn't go on to explain it, but we know the mystery of the Incarnation. The rich young ruler went off frustrated that all of his good deeds were for naught. Maybe he tried to justify himself: "Well, I do good deeds. Who does this young carpenter think he is, anyway?" I'm sure he tried to prop himself up on his own self-life, until it all came collapsing again, and he remembered what Jesus had said.
But suppose you and I approach our lives in a radically different way? Let's begin with the decision that Jesus Himself will be our All in All, believing that He alone is the way to the Father and that every spiritual blessing exists in Him.
That decision will have some revolutionary implications for our lives...
"From Now ON, You Know Me"
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him." (John 14:5-7)
It Takes a Bunch of Kids!
We look in the mirror and wonder, "Hey, do I really know God?" It's interesting that Thomas and Phillip and the others had been with Jesus so long yet were still asking these same sort of questions. They really didn't understand exactly who Jesus was; they didn't know who the Father was; they didn't know how the two were connected. After all this time with Jesus, it still wasn't clear.
But Jesus made the comment: "From now on you know God." I'm sure they scratched their heads at that point and said, "We do? I mean, five minutes ago we didn't. But now we do-right! I'm certain Jesus' words were a little frustrating for them. It is encouraging that, while there's a part that we play in being fertile soil and in not letting weeds take the place of God's crop, the "work" of our knowing God seems to be God's responsibility. The rest of John 14 records that Jesus went on to talk in great detail about the Holy Spirit's place in the believer's life in nurturing that relationship.
So I feel OK being dumb and having Jesus look at me and say, "You don't know God, but now you know God." The faith the Father is speaking from through His Son is that He knows the end as the beginning. It's clear in His mind, and He's actually trying to pass on a confidence to us that we won't measure ourselves by how we feel or perform. There's something bigger than that going on!
If you have ears to hear, understand this: Jesus' commitment to you is more real than your current introspect.
"Now you know Me."
"We do?" Well, I can live with that. If Jesus says I know Him and His Father, then I'm not going to argue with Him. And while I may not be expressing the fullness of it, isn't it also true that "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world?" Isn't it true that it is by faith that we can throw mountains into the sea? Doesn't Christ dwell in our hearts by faith? As a prerequisite for our experiencing what He said, we must believe what He said. And if He says that my knowledge of Him in His mind is real, then the only question is whether I'm willing to believe that my knowledge of Him is complete in Him.
If I don't believe that Jesus is the Way, I'm going to be constantly frustrated and wandering and experimenting in confusion. But if I believe Jesus is the Way, it's a pretty simple matter to escape the confusion that Satan would try to throw into my mind. As God has promised us that we can know Him-and that in His mind, we already do-then we must believe Him before we can live it out.
That's a real mystery. I admit it to you freely. We're wired in such a way that wee tend to demand proof before we actually accept something as true. Jesus came to re-wire us! He told us, "What I say is true. The Word became flesh. I am the Truth. Forget what you've heard or experienced-what I say to you is truth." It takes a bunch of kids to live that way!
"Now you know Me."
"OK! I don't know what that means, but I know its' true. Now all I have to do is find out how it's true." There's no debate about whether it's true; it is true.
"Now you know Me."
"Help me to see how I know you. I didn't think that I did, but I'm obviously wrong, because You said I do. So I do!"
Actually, there are a lot of Scriptures that call us to make that kind of response. For example: "Reckon yourselves dead to sin."
"Unh, unh! I'm not dead to sin. No way! Why, just this morning..."
And in your mind you can argue with God! I don't recommend that. For one thing, you're going to be wrong every time! For another, you're never going to experience life in Christ as long as you're walking in unbelief. You're never going to be able to experience the reality of the gospel of Jesus in your life, and you will be like millions of others who have gone to their graves never experiencing Christianity, although they profess it. Why is that? Because they walked in unbelief. Just like the Hebrews, they didn't combine it with faith. They heard the words, but they didn't believe them. They let their experiences dictate how they felt and how they looked at themselves. Whether they considered themselves dead to sin depended on how they did this morning, not on what God said.
I am dead to sin. I am dead to sin. How do I know that? Because God said so. My experience doesn't measure up? Well, that's my problem. God said it's true, so it's true! Now I just need to believe that. The living out of that truth will follow belief. It won't precede faith!
You have to get that straight about Christianity. That's the point Jesus was making when He said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." If you'll just understand that your ability to have the Way, the Truth, and the Life-zoe life, the eternal life, the power of the galaxies inside your mortal body-depends on whether you are hiding in Jesus for their fulfillment. To attempt to attain those things by your own effort is futile! You will never attain the Way, The Truth, and the Life; they are hidden in Christ to the glory of God. The only way to have them is to rest in Jesus, to find your life and your hope in Him, no matter how you feel, to "believe in the One whom the Father sent.
Stop right at Jesus as the answer to your questions.
"Am I saved?"
"Is Jesus saved?"
"Am I wise?"
"Is Jesus wise?"
"Am I holy?"
"Is Jesus holy?"
"Am I dead to sin?"
"Was Jesus dead to sin?"
"Am I happy?"
"Was Jesus content?"
"Can I pray?"
"Well, could Jesus?"
answer to every question is in Jesus. He is the answer. He doesn't give a big rule book so that we can figure out the formulas and memorize the answers, and-provided we figure all the formulas right-then: Yay! "The Victorious Christian Life" (whatever that is). Or "the perfect church." Life in Christ is not a matter of formulas, and neither is corporate life. The church consists of a bunch of people that are totally sold out-not just in a committed sense, but in the sense that Jesus is the answer to their every question about their lives. Otherwise, you can be saved, but you can't experience salvation in this current life. If Jesus isn't the answer to every question about who you are and what strength and abilities and talents you have, what impact you can have on another's life, how you feel about yourself-if He's not the answer, then you'll continue to live a futile frustrated life. That's not God's will for you. Jesus came that you could have life in abundance. Frankly, as you know, not a lot of people have experienced that.
Your willingness to love the truth is the beginning of your ability to walk in the gospel, the good news of Jesus, and to "taste the powers of the coming age" in this current age. You really can experience that kind of walk! Paul did. He wrote of being "seated with Christ in the heavenly realms." Did he learn about that in theology class under Gamaliel? What Old Testament passage was he quoting? There isn't one! The truth was that Jesus had revealed to Paul his position in Christ. As a result, he was living a life seated with Christ, and he simple described what he was seeing. "Best way I can describe it is that it's kind of like being seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Yeah, that would be a good way to say it." He was expressing what he was experiencing. That's the way God wants us all to live. That is your destiny! That's your place! That's who you are-as you are willing to accept and believe that God said so, and as you allow Him to write it on your heart.
Announce that it's true, to the world and to the accuser of the brethren and to your own face in the mirror. Proclaim that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's every requirement of you, that Jesus is the "Yes" and the "Amen" to every promise and every hope of God-past and future. I don't know another way to say it-just settle this stuff in your heart. When you look in the mirror, and you've failed, and you're frustrated and tempted, when the kids are crying in stereo, when stuff is happening to you, make sure that you do not falter or waiver from this foundational point: Whatever else may be true, Jesus is the answer. The answer has already been given. It's been spoken. The Word has become flesh. The Father's every hope and every dream have been fulfilled in you, as you believe on the One He has sent. Jesus is the Way.
"Am I going to make it?"
"Did Jesus make it?"
"I made it! I made it! Can you believe that? Can you look into the Father's eye and say, "I made it!" Or are you busy looking at yourself, not believing what God has said and kicking in the dirt, asking, "Am I going to make it or not? I don't know. I wonder if I can?"
Don't live that way! God will love you anyway, but He doesn't want you to live a frustrated, miserable low life. So don't! And while you are at it, "Encourage one another with these words." When you see somebody who isn't seeing things as Jesus would, who is looking at himself in a way in line with the hope and promise of the gospel, the good news of Jesus, then encourage one another. "Go forth and multiply and fill the earth"-with the good news of Jesus. He has fulfilled Father's every requirement of you, and He is the answer to every question about your worth, your value, your potential-the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
An Answer, Not Just a Theology!
Do you know God?
How do you know that you know Him?
Because He said so.
You have to think straight to be a Christian! You do know Him.
"I don't know Him."
Hey, that's not an admission of immaturity, that's of immaturity, that's an admission of unbelief! Now all of a sudden mature enough to know Him, that's out of my control. "Maturity" is way out there someplace. How would I get mature overnight? What could I mix together in a jar, add water, and shake it up to make a mature Christian? I just couldn't do that. It's too large, too out of my control. And if it's out of my control, I'm not responsible. I might do a couple of right things here and there to get on the right track, but it's such a long journey!
"I don't know how we'll ever make it. By the time I do two right things, I'll probably do three wrong things immediately thereafter, or I'll get prideful about doing the two right things, and then it will all be over."
Well, if you view things that way, you're going to live a long, miserable, tedious kind of life. The good news is that you don't have to!
So do you know God?
Yes, I know God. And that's the only way to think!
Do I know God?
The answer isn't "Hmm. Let me see if I know God. Well, I don't pray enough, and I'm not holy enough, and I don't love enough, and my temper sometimes..."
Listen: I don't want your temper to get away from you. Jesus doesn't either. And you probably don't pray enough! But that isn't really the point. Do I know God? The answer isn't measured by my performance. What I want to ask myself when someone inquires whether I know God is, "What did God say about that?" Isn't that a different kind of answer? "What did God say? He said I do know Him!"
What we're trying to get at here is how to think, how to answer questions. How did Jesus Answer Satan's accusing questions? By using God's thoughts. That's the way we need to answer, too. If Jesus had reflected on how He felt, I don't know what He would have said. But He determined that how He felt would be governed by what God said.
So if you ask me if I'm perfect, there may be a lot of ways to answer. But in my spirit, I'm going to say: "Well, was Jesus perfect? What do the Scriptures say about someone who's been washed in the blood of the Lamb? 'White as snow.' Bingo! There's my answer." Am I as white as snow? If I wanted to answer by my performance, by my knowledge, by assessing things as men do, I would have to say that I'm not white as snow. If I were trying to assess things the way God sees them-which is the only right answer!--I would have to say: "If it cost Jesus His blood, I guess so. Though my sins were as scarlet, they are now as white as snow-if I call on the name of the Lord. If He's my hope; if He's my Rock, my Refuge, my High Tower, my Salvation, my Wisdom, and my Righteousness-my Way and Truth and Life-then how could I be otherwise? I guess I'm all right! I must be white as snow."
Do I want to improve? Yes. I do want to improve. I'm not creating some slackardly way that could still be called Christianity. But the only way you're going to be able to live your life in faith, and actually see the victories that you've longed for from the heart from the first time you heard Jesus' name, is to begin by answering every question with Jesus. Fill in the blank with Jesus. Whatever the question is, whatever the accuser of the brethren would throw at you, whatever the wisdom of the world or your employer or your circumstance or the religious status quo would throw at you-answer every question with Jesus, and you're going to be on a very safe ground.
What does God think? How does he view it? That's my answer. That's not some alibi. That's not some cutesy way to throw something new into my theology. No, that's my answer. That's not my theology; that is my answer, because it's the truth! You can with your mind say, "Am I righteous? Well, my theology says He is my Righteousness"-but all along in your spirit you still feel dirty, because you haven't really accepted that He is your Righteousness.
What I'm encouraging you to do right now, if you don't already live this way, is to refuse to accept any other answer in your life. And please-encourage one another, Don't let anyone else live a half-life either, a mere existence with minimal life in it. Make sure that you encourage one another that the answer is Jesus, that your salvation is as secure as His, if you believe in the One your Father sent.
Lord Jesus, we want to say some really basic, simple things to you.
We know that You're a Person, not a concept. We want to follow you, the Person, not just an historical teacher or a bunch of ideas about a way of life. Because You are risen from the dead, You're alive. Because You're alive, we can follow You, as much as John or Peter or James or any of those men did. We want to be like them. We want to leave our nets, our tax tables, or whatever it may be, and follow You, not knowing exactly where we'll go, but knowing there's nowhere else to go. You have the words of eternal life. You have the words of depth and meaning and truth. You are the one we want to be with. We want to touch You. When questions come up, we want to touch You. When fears arise, we want to hide ourselves in You. We want to feel what You feel and believe what You said, as absolute truth and fact, regardless of past experiences or the accusations of the devil or man. We want our lives to be placed foundationally, totally and absolutely, in You as a Person and in all that You did-all that You were to the Father, and all that You therefore are to us. We want Your reality to be a secure foundation in our lives, and may the answer to our every question and shortcoming be found in You.
We believe that You are the One the Father sent. We believe that with all our hearts. We believe that God raised You, Jesus, from the dead, and gave You a Name above every name. We believe that You pleased Him, Jesus, in every way, and that by Your blood sprinkled on the earth and in the heavenlies there is a way to The Father. We believe that, and we'll grab a hold of that, and we'll never let any man steal our crown. Help us to see and to experience all that You intend for us, that there might be a testimony on the earth of Your blood and Your infinite grace.