Knowing God . . . Intimately

Now that you know God personally, He wants you to know Him intimately.

What should you do?

First, confess openly that you are committed to Christ, that He has captured your heart, that He is your Lord and Savior.

When my wife and I were married, we announced it to everyone that we knew. During the marriage ceremony, she slipped a gold ring onto the third finger of my left hand. That was over 50 years ago, and that ring has seldom been removed. It tells everyone that I have entered into a bond with her that is paramount to any other human relationship.

It is contradictory to call Jesus “Lord” and insist on a secret relationship with Him. He said, “Everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

Today, openly acknowledge Jesus as your Lord by telling someone that you have committed your life to Him.

Baptism

Edmond’s First Baptist Church preaches and teaches the Bible as the error less, inspired word of God. Our church offers opportunities for study, fellowship and service. This is a church where you can confidently make a public profession of your faith in Christ and be baptized.  

Spiritually, baptism is similar to putting on the wedding ring at marriage. But, it is much more. It is a public testimony that you have died to self and been raised to new life in Christ. It is a picture of life out of death.

“Baptize” is an anglicized Greek verb baptizo [bap-tid-zo]. Its primary meaning is to dip, to immerse or to submerge.

When you are biblically baptized, you are immersed in water and raised up. For those who witness your baptism, this is a vivid picture of your having died to sin and death and been raised to a new, full and eternal life in Christ. It says that He has washed away the stain of your sin; you are now immersed in Him.

Following Jesus’ resurrection, there is no New Testament record of a person acknowledging Him as Lord and not being baptized. When Peter preached the first sermon after the resurrection, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them.” (Acts 2:31)

During a journey, Phillip, an early evangelist, shared the good news about Jesus with a government official from Ethiopia: “As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, ‘Look, there’s water! What would keep me from being baptized?’ [And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart you may.’ And he replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’] Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:36-38)

Paul was preaching in Corinth and “Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed the Lord, along with his whole household; and many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8)

Do everything possible to make your baptism a special occasion for sharing the good news about Jesus. Send invitations to everyone you know, just as you would to announce a wedding, a birth or a significant anniversary. Ask family, neighbors, friends, co-workers or classmates to attend. Print copies of your Christian testimony, stating what your life was like before you came to Christ, how you were drawn to Him, and what your life is like since acknowledging Him as Lord. Give these to everyone attending your baptism. Ask the pastor to explain the Gospel and make an appeal for people to come to Christ.

Bible Study

Begin immediately to study the Bible. It is impossible to live a victorious Christian life without knowing God’s word. It has been said that the Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.

As you listen to the radio, watch television, read and talk with other people, you will hear many things regarding God and the Christian life. Be careful. The Bible cautions, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

Paul warned the Christians in Galatia that “there are some who are troubling you and want to change the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!” (Galatians 1:7-9)

Test everything against what the Bible says.

As a young Christian, I was encouraged to memorize Psalm 119:9 & 11, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word…Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (King James Version)

You will probably find Bible study more meaningful if you are reading from a good modern English translation of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Either The Holman Christian Standard Bible or The New American Standard Bible is a good choice. You will want to select a Bible that has a good concordance. This is an alphabetical index of principal words with their immediate contexts. References within the text, directing you to other relevant passages, are also helpful. As a student, I purchased a copy of The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, co-published by B. B. Kirkbride Bible Co., Inc. and The Zonderzan Corporation. I still keep it close at hand. It has excellent study helps.

A Bible dictionary will help you understand the history, geography, names, and context of the Bible. The Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Holman Bible Publishers, is a good choice.

As you study the Bible, remember that it is a compilation of 66 books written by many men over hundreds of years. All of these writers were inspired by God. The Bible is without error. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

It is the good news about Jesus that gives the Bible its unity. He rebuked religious leaders who failed to understand this: “You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:38-40)

As you study a passage in the Bible, find answers to these questions:

  • Who wrote this?
  • When did he write it?
  • To whom was he writing?
  • What was the culture in which they lived?
  • What were the circumstances in which they lived?
  • Why did he write this?
  • What was the message for those to whom this was written?
  • What is the relevance of this message today?
  • How should this message be applied to my life?
  • What lessons are to be learned?
  • Is there a command for me to obey?
  • Is there a segment that I should memorize?

Keep a notebook with your study Bible. Record what you discover in your personal Bible study. Take notes as your pastor preaches and teaches. Take notes during group Bible study sessions. Make notes regarding suggested resources for understanding the Bible.

Beginning with one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) is a good way to start your personal Bible study. You might continue by studying the New Testament books of Acts and Romans, in that progression. Don’t rush. Absorb the word of God.

Rejoice because God has promised to help you understand His word. Jesus told his followers, “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:25-26)

Prayer

Bible study and prayer go hand in hand. Your time alone with God should be a conversation with Him. He speaks to you from the Bible, and you speak to Him in prayer. This is why it is good to pray with your Bible and notebook open before you. If you are going to know God intimately, prayer is essential. Immediately, establish three things: a TIME for prayer, a PLACE for prayer and a PLAN for prayer.

A TIME for prayer:

When should you spend quality time alone with God in prayer? Any time is better than no time, but it is better to give God the best time. The best time is in the morning. Jesus is our example: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.” (Mark 1:35)

A PLACE for prayer:

Wherever you are (at home, in a hotel, as a guest in someone else’s home, etc.), establish a place that becomes the right place at the right time. At any other time, it may be a place without significance, but when it is time to meet God, this is the place for prayer. What qualifies this as the right place? Again, Jesus is our example (Mark 1:35b). It should be a solitary place; a place where you will not be distracted.

A PLAN for prayer:

Without a plan, there is a tendency for your prayer times to be unfocused and repetitious. Many believers have found a plan based on the acrostic ACTS to be effective.

A - ADORATION & PRAISE

In addition to your Bible and journal, include a hymnal in your devotional time tools. Sing praises to God. If you play a musical instrument, you might play it as an expression of your worship. Just as a husband and wife give themselves to each other in exuberant celebration of their love, abandon yourself to the Lover of your soul. This is an intimate time when, without restraint, you can pour out your whole being to God in praise and worship!

Psalm 47:1 describes exuberant worship: “Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with a jubilant cry.”

There is also a place for quietness in worship. A familiar Psalm paints a beautiful picture of peaceful stillness in God’s presence: “He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.” (Psalm 23:2)

C - CONFESSION

When you wait before God, reflecting on His holiness and righteousness, you will become very sensitive to any sin in your life.

It is important to discern between the accusations of the devil and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In Revelation 12:10, Satan is called “the accuser of our brothers.”

Because you are committed to Christ, Satan hates you. He seeks to discourage and defeat you. His accusations are general and hurtful. He will tell you that you are no good, that you never get anything right, that you are never going to be able to understand the Bible and live victoriously.

God loves you. He wants to encourage and strengthen you. Because of this, the Holy Spirit is always specific when He convicts you of sin.  Don’t pray, “Forgive me of my many sins.” Be specific. If God has revealed something that is hindering your fellowship with Him, name that in your confession.  As a believer, you have this promise in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

T - THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving is not the same as adoration and praise. Just as you are specific in confession, be specific in thanksgiving. An old hymn says, “Count your blessings, Name them one by one; Count your blessings, See what God hath done.”

S - SUPPLICATION

Two things are involved in supplication, intercession and petition.

  • Intercession is praying for other people. It is difficult and necessary work. It is vital to world evangelism and missions.
     
    Paul pleaded with the Ephesian believers to pray for him. He said, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19-20)
     
    When God is ready to do a great work, He calls people to prayer. The work of the prayer warrior is crucial to any Christian enterprise. Through intercessory prayer, you can participate in world missions and evangelism!
     
    During the 19th Century, Charles Finney was used of God to lead thousands of people to Christ in the northeastern United States. A man called Father Nash seldom heard Finney preach, but he took a room wherever the evangelist went and gave himself entirely to intercessory prayer. Today, his grave is marked with a simple stone. On it is carved, “Father Nash, helper of Finney.”
  • Petition is bringing your own needs to God. The Bible encourages you to do this. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Occasionally, you might want to try writing your prayers.  Write prayers in your spiritual journal using the ACTS plan.

This is an excellent way to be alone in a crowd. You may be on a crowded airplane, sharing living space with another person, or riding with someone else in an automobile; you can still give God your full attention by quietly pouring out your heart to Him on paper. If you do this, you can anticipate spending longer in prayer and experiencing a breakthrough in praise and worship.

Christian Fellowship

A vital and exciting aspect of being a child of God is fellowship with other Christians. You cannot live the Christian life in isolation. If you attempt this, it will stunt your spiritual growth, limit your awareness of God’s plan to reach a lost world, rob you of encouragement, and cultivate introspection, selfishness, and depression. You will be more vulnerable to temptation and false teaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other.”

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Consistently put yourself in the way of blessing by meeting with other Christians for worship, Bible study, fellowship and service activities

Ministry

A pastor was asked “How many of your church members are ministers?”

He replied, “All of them.”

This is certainly God’s intention for every one of His children. One definition of “ministry” is “a person or thing through which something is accomplished.”

There is much that God wants to accomplish through you. When you were born into His family, the Holy Spirit gifted you for ministry. You may not preach or teach, but there is an important work for which you have been spiritually equipped.

1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, [his speech should be] like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, [his service should be] from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

Evangelism

Paul admonished young Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.” (2 Timothy 4:5b)

“Evangelist” is from the Greek noun euaggelistes (yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace). It means someone who brings good news. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition) defines an evangelist as “an enthusiastic advocate.”

In other words, an evangelist is someone who has discovered something good and he cannot keep quiet about it. He is a satisfied customer, and he wants everyone to have what he has.

A Christian has an added incentive to gossip about Jesus because he has the Holy Spirit living in him. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)

It is the nature of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ. He motivates and empowers Christians to talk about their Lord and Savior. Jesus promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

A Spirit-controlled believer will do the work of an evangelist.

Even after Jesus’ early followers had been beaten for teaching that He has been raised from the dead, the Bible tells us that “every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that the Messiah is Jesus.” (Acts 5:42)

Persecution of Christians became so severe in Jerusalem that they were scattered as refugees throughout the known world. The Bible says, “So those who were scattered went on their way proclaiming the message of good news.” (Acts 8:4)

When the evangelists, Paul and Silas, came to Thessalonica, the Jewish leaders incited a mob against them, complaining, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” (Acts 17:6)

While the Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:11 that God has specifically called and gifted some people to be evangelists, evangelism is more a matter of obedience than the exercising of a gift.

Here are some things you can do to become an enthusiastic advocate for Christ:

  • Be aware of the people around you and sensitive to their needs.
     
  • Study personal evangelism methods. Learn to share effectively the good news about Jesus. If you have found the right church, it will offer evangelism training and make good materials available to you. Ask your pastor for this help.
     
  • Carry a list of at least seven people whom you know who have not acknowledged Jesus as Lord. Pray for them daily. Be ready to share your Christian testimony with them.
     
  • Buy a small New Testament, one that you can easily carry in a pocket or purse. Mark and memorize these verses: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:6 & 8, and Romans 10:9, 10 & 13. This has been called the Roman Road. During the First Century, all roads led to Rome. The biblical Roman Road can lead a person to Christ.
     
  • Carry booklets such as Your Greatest Need, published by Edmond’s First Baptist Church, which explains how to become a Christian.
     
  • Expect positive results. Remember, it is your business to know whether or not a person knows Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior. Remember that the Holy Spirit is going before you, preparing the hearts and minds of those people with whom God wants you to share. Trust Him to equip and use you. Be alert and sensitive. Opportunities to gossip about Jesus are everywhere!

As you go through your everyday life sharing the good news about Jesus, here are two challenging and encouraging passages from the Bible:

First, concerning Jesus: “When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” (Matthew 9:36-38)

Finally, concerning you and me: “We are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.’” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

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Copyright © 2007, 2009 Wayne Bristow