Perhaps the most basic question any Christian church must be able to answer is: How can we know God? If God exists and He created us with a plan and purpose for each of us, would not an omniscient, loving God communicate His plan and purpose to each of us? We believe He has in at least two ways:
Through the revealed Word: Note that Christ said that “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Christ never wrote a book or even a sermon. And if Christ were only an uneducated carpenter how remarkable is it that today over 2000 years later that the words of Christ as they appear in our most ancient manuscripts match Christ’s words appearing in our current Bible.We know the Bible is unique. We can support that claim a number of ways. Consider this one. The Bible is the only volume ever produced by man or a group of men, over a 1500-year span in which is to be found a large body of prophecies, some accurately made hundreds of years before their fulfillment. The probability of many of the prophecies being fulfilled by chance are less than 10-150 which is reasonably considered a probability of zero. Consider the ancient prophecies about the nation of Israel, some of which we can see being fulfilled in our lifetime. Some of the most awesome prophecies are those about the One who came to Earth as our Messiah…prophecies foretelling of the Messiah’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. How can this happen? According to 2 Peter 1: 21 (NKJV) “for the prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”. We call the preserved written Scripture our Bible, our answer book for life questions. We can learn about God and his plan for our lives through our individual study of the Bible, as well as through group Bible study led by knowledgeable and wise Bible Teachers/Pastors.
A second and the most ancient way of knowing God, other than direct revelations, still works today. It is through studying the things He has made. Men of old did not have a complete Bible. Still, in Romans 1:20 we have an important insight about how past generations without the Bible became acquainted with the same God revealed in the Bible. Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and deity: so that they are without excuse.” The ancient ones, not unlike today’s generation, were able to search for answers to questions like: what really is and what is its nature? …and discover truth. Some truths discovered in more recent generations such as the science-based law of cause and effect (everything that has a beginning has a cause and the causer is greater than the cause) coupled with the general agreement among scientists that the Universe had a beginning, seems to strongly suggest there being a Causer of our Universe. More interesting truths surface as we search for answers to what could be the nature of the Causer. Our advantage is that we have not only nature but revealed Scripture to study for truthful answers to such questions. It is through the combined study of God’s revelation and God’s creation that we can “know” God.
BECOMING A CHRISTIAN: What is one to do after they become aware to the extent they “know” God. The answer is they have a choice to make, a life changing choice. Understand that by “know”, in this case we mean more than head knowledge about God. Recognize that Scripture reveals that Satan “knows” God…but Satan chose to rebel, deceiving himself thinking he could become God. (Ezekiel 28:17). Scripture reveals that Satan now leads the battle to deceive mankind into thinking they can be as Gods, e.g. Eve in Genesis 3:4-5 “…in the day that ye eat thereof, then shall your eyes be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” An amazing insight into God’s priorities is, the high importance God placed on creating beings that have the freedom to choose how we react to His Deity. Our choices reveal our own heart’s true nature, similar to the way Christ’s and Satan’s choices reveal Christ as the Messiah and Satan as the deceiver. The bottom line is that God loves us so much (John 3:16) and he wants us to know Him and CHOOSE to establish a very special personal relationship with Him….a relationship God promises will last for eternity.
Let’s be clear. If you have an interest in becoming a Christian then here is what the Bible reveals about you. It is by God’s Grace that you have this interest. Think of Grace as being the desire and power to do God’s will. Only by God’s grace can us rebellious humans become Christians.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
What else does the Bible say about you?
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”
This actually applies to the entire human race. You are not alone. But some may say, SO WHAT? The Bible answers the “so what question” with a VERY IMPORTANT WARNING!
Romans 6:23a “For the wages of sin is death;”
Revelation 21:8 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:”
John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
There is a God provided eternal separation and punishment for those rejecting him like those in Revelations 21:8, for those that are lovers of darkness rather than light as in John 3:19. Most important, there is a God provided escape available to all who desire it. God’s solution is a mystery to us in so far as to “how” Jesus Christ transferred to himself the payment of our sin debt of death, eternal punishment, and eternal separation from God. But the scripture reveals that from the beginning, God/Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross was God’s plan to demonstrate his love for mankind and to reconcile sinful man to Himself. God always knew when He created mankind, mankind would demonstrate their freedom of choice by making some wrong unholy choices. Holiness and sinfulness are like light and darkness, they cannot co-exist. For mankind to have a relationship with a Holy God we must be Holy. Just like Jesus Christ transferred to himself our unrighteousness and paid our death penalty, God transfers the Holiness of the risen Christ to repentant sinners thereby providing an escape and Holiness to all who seek it: Rescuing all who would repent of their sins and choose a personal relationship with Him.
John 3:16 & 17 are clear. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
For those ready to ask forgiveness for their sins and seek an eternal relationship with God here is how, from Romans 10:9-10:
Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Rm 10:9-10 is not a “magic” formula, i.e. mouth these words and get a get-out-of-hell-free card. Look at Matthew 7:21-22, if you think that. But for the truth seeker, perhaps weary of so much darkness, seeing the evidence and promises God has richly provided, recognizing that the resurrection of Jesus Christ authenticates everything God has revealed to us, and sincerely repents from the heart is the one to whom the promise of Romans 10:9-10 applies. Know that as a new baby requires food, liquid first then solid to grow so does a new Christian (babe in Christ) require Spiritual nourishment. Consider these three sources of spiritual nourishment:
PRAYER – spiritual nourishment via prayer is a special privilege God created for His people. Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” is written to God’s people exclusively. We know God answers anyone’s prayer of repentance as revealed in Romans 10:13 “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. But we are talking one-on-one spiritual nourishment here. Knowing that like light and darkness cannot coexist neither can holiness and sinfulness. Our Holy God has prearranged for repentant sinners to have the righteousness of Christ so that we can have a personal relationship with Him and through prayer we can actually communicate with our creator. Even the newest Christian has the gift of holiness through Christ and the privilege of receiving spiritual sustenance through prayer to a Holy God.
BIBLE – Just as in the physical world there is health food and junk food, in the spiritual world there is truth and there are lies. Both healthy food and truth are nourishing. In John 17:17 Jesus said to the Father, “Your word is truth”. The psalmist in Psalms 119:160 declared, “Your word is truth”. The writer of Hebrews stated emphatically, “It is impossible for God to lie” Heb 6:18. Jesus Christ authenticated by his virgin birth, life, death, and resurrection not only Who He is but that God is the source of our Bible. Archaeological discoveries have confirmed that the Bibles we have today are accurate transmissions of what existed two thousand years ago. How remarkable is it that even though the ancient copies were copied by hand for at least a thousand years (until the printing press was invented), archaeologists after examining any suspected transmissional errors in the copied text have found none to have changed any of God’s instructions to mankind. This research done by comparing the abundance of hand copied manuscripts in combination with archaeological finds, textual notes, and other devices have all helped to ensure we have an accurate translation of the revealed Word of God. (Ref The New Evidence that demands a verdict, Josh McDowell, pg349).
CHURCH: For all Christians the spiritual battle field was set by Christ when in John 14:6 Jesus Christ declared “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In our culture, it is a given that if “A” is true then “Not A” cannot be true. Following the “A” versus “Not A” logic means that if the Bible is true then all religions and so-called spiritual leaders, that deny that Christ is who the Bible reveals He is, is misleading at best and at worst is purposefully lying. Sharing the truth of the exclusive claim of Jesus Christ with yet-to-be-Christians is a Christian’s privilege and responsibility and in today’s world the result is often laughter, mocking, vicious ridicule, and even death in some areas of the world. A Christian can standalone if necessary. Noah did. But when possible, God’s Word admonishes us to …” Not forsake the assembling of ourselves together…. Hebrews 10:25. And in Hebrews 10:24 to ”consider one another (our brothers and sisters in Christ) to provoke (meaning to encourage each other) to love and to good works:” This is the purpose of the Church. The church is a place for Christians and those seeking answers about Christ to assemble, to collectively worship God, and as noted in Proverbs 27:17 so like “Iron sharpeneth iron: so, a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” We can by joining in the work of a Bible teaching, Christ believing church “sharpen each other” in our own spiritual walk and accomplish more working together with our brothers and sisters in Christ than as an individual working alone.