There are four levels in our relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Most of us might remember the parable of the sower and the seed (Matt. 13:1-8) and Jesus’ explanation (Matt. 13:18-23). Some seed fell by the wayside, some on stony ground and other amongst the thorns and finally, some did fall upon good ground.
1 Don’t know God
Seed by the wayside(hears the word but does not receive it (Matt. 13:23). A lot of people go to rallies and even to church and hear the word of God, but it goes in one ear and out the other, they don’t retain what they hear and they go on their merry way. Satan has done his job. He keeps those people from coming to know the truth. So nothing changes in their life. Until their hearts are ready to receive the word, we may as well be talking to a brick wall. However, we don’t know when a heart IS ready to receive God’s word. We continue to share, anyway.
2 Intellectually know God
There are, basically, two ways to receive God intellectually: by hearing the word and/or serving God in the church or other areas of our life.
In word - Scribes and Pharisees knew what to do, they just don’t do it (Matt. 23:1-3). The Pharisees were the Hebrew gurus or masters of the scriptures. They were supposed to know the “Law” inside out”, “left to right’ and every which way one can think of. Unfortunately, knowing the word doesn’t necessarily mean actually applying it into one’s life. Jesus reprimanded them for that.
We can memorize bible passages and cite book, chapter and verse on subjects we have learned, but the words ARE all that we know. We don’t know the true meaning of those words or even how to apply them into our own lives, but we do know John 3:16 (God so loved the world …), whether we truly believe it or not. Consider that Satan knows the bible better than any human out there. He quoted half-truths to Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11) but Jesus responded with the whole truth. Just ‘knowing’ the word isn’t enough! We have to apply it into our own lives.
In service – fruits will tell the tale. Not everyone who calls Jesus Lord shall enter into the kingdom of God. People can prophecy, cast out devils and do all sorts of wonderful works, but Jesus might say to them that He never knew them, depart (Matt. 7:2-23). Their worship is in vain because their hearts are far from Him, that is Jesus, (Matt. 15:8). Too many people get wrapped up in the belief that the more things they ‘do for the church’ is a reflection of their greater spirituality. Yes, we do need to do things for the churches. Most churches need all the help they can get and willing hearts are greatly appreciated. Unfortunately too many people get so wrapped up in serving, they forget to spend time with the Lord. Just like Martha, who at the time, was so wrapped up in preparing the meal, she forgot what was really important and complained as her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42).
All too often, these folks become like the seed on stony ground or among the thorns. Their faith is shallow so when hard times come upon them (remember the problems of Job) or they become so worldly oriented in doing things they forget that they are serving God in what they are doing. Others become discourage because things don’t go the way they wish and eventually those all will fall away.
Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10) each believed and were baptized in water for the remission of sin, yet because their hearts weren’t right with the Lord, they needed to repent. The bible gives no indication that they did. Not repenting would put them in the position of the five foolish virgins (Matt. 25:1-12), ten who waited for the coming of the Lord. But these five were left out ‘in the cold’ because they weren’t ready when He did come for them.
3 Let God into our heart
God is love (1 John 4:8) when we truly love others, God’s love is perfected in us (1 John 4:10-13).
Jesus forgave the man, suffering from palsy, his sins and he was healed. Scribes were present and thought Jesus had committed heresy – calling Himself God. Then Jesus said “Why do you reason within your hearts?...” (Matt. 9:1-7). I mean Jesus IS Emmanuel (God is with us – Matt. 1:23). As the Word, He was in the beginning and He was with God and He was God (John 1:1). The Holy Ghost was in Him (Matt. 3:11-15) making Jesus the fullness of the Godhead (Col. 3:8-10). Jesus did not lie!
So we Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). How can we love others unless we love God first? And at that, we need to love ourselves enough to invite Jesus into our hearts.
Jesus said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:14) and His commandments IS LOVE (Mark 12:30 & Mark 12:31). WE have an upward love towards God and an outward love towards those around us! Amen?
Jesus is the image of the Father (Col. 1:13-15) and we should be the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29) and that image is love (1 John 4:8).
When we truly let Jesus into our life and our heart, our transformation truly begins. From that point we should be renewing our minds (Rom. 12:1-2), yielding our lives to our Lord Jesus (Gal. 5:16-26).
Truly living in God’s love confirms that we will be with Him in eternity (1 John 5:12-15). And we have entered into a growing relationship with Him.
4 Let God into our spirit
God is Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
When we come before God, we need to always be honest and truthful. Also, our (human) spirit must come to Father in the ‘right’ Spirit (the Holy Ghost). That can only happen once we receive Jesus into our heart so the Holy Ghost can take up residence within our heart (John 14:17, 1 Corinth. 3:16). Jesus promises us the Holy Ghost
When we keep His commandments, Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit and promises us that He will be in us (John 14:15-17). After the resurrection, Jesus stands before the disciples and shows them His hands and side. Then He breathes on them and tells the disciples (& us) to receive the Holy Ghost (John 20:19-22), a command. Just before ascending back into heaven, He said “wait for the promise from the Father, which you have heard from Me.” (Acts 1:4).
And just before being taken up, Jesus tells the disciples (and us) that when the Holy Ghost is come upon us we shall receive power … (Acts 1:8), a promise.
Why the promise AND the command?
THEN (of course) the Holy Ghost comes and sets upon each of the 120 in the upper room as cloven tongues of fire and gives the disciples what to say and then causes quite a stir (Acts 2:1-18). (Paul speaks of speaking with the tongues of men and of angels (1 Corinth. 13:1).
There is a speaking in tongues, languages of man, which are not learned (but can be) and of angels (God-given) which cannot be learned but must be given by the Holy Ghost.
What is our “Spiritual” Language?
The Spirit not only helps our infirmities, but we don’t always know how to pray so He intercedes for us with the Father through groanings (G4726 stegnamos – or sigh) (Rom. 8:26) and is man’s direct communication with God, the Father (1 Corinth. 14:2) because He speaks mysteries.
In His letter to the Corinthians (Corinth. 14:1-25), in part, Paul explains that ‘tongues’ builds up the individual but we also need to ask God for understanding (v 9-15) and when we are in the church an interpretation is necessary so those in attendance might know what the Lord is telling us – for the edification of all (v 14-19).
So, should we not speak in tongues in the church? Of course we can, but our primary objective should not be to ‘show off’ (look at me, I’m speaking in tongues), but always to edify the church! Remember, the Holy Ghost prompts us with ‘Spiritual tongues’. We don’t dream it up all by ourselves or learn because others have ‘taught’ us. It is a gift from God to help us walk closer with Him.
Holy Ghost was only for the disciples in the early church.
1 Jesus promises all believers will be able to do the works He did and greater (John 14:12).
This is a promise to ALL believers. So just what did Jesus do? He healed the sick, made the lame walk, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead and cast out devils! Consider that Jesus gave the disciples authority to do these things while He was with them and then gave them the power to continue on with healing and miracles after the Holy Ghost came (Luke 9:1-2, Luke 10:1-17, Acts 3:1-10) as described in Acts chapter two. Personally, I’m convinced that ‘greater’ means that Jesus gives not just ‘special’ preachers, but neighbors the ability to pray for neighbors bringing God’s victory into their lives.
2. When that which perfect is come all these things will pass away (1 Corinth. 13:10).
Some say that when the bible was completed, that was when the perfect had come. So just when was the bible ‘complete? The apostle John tells us that if everything that Jesus told the disciples 2000 years ago were written down, he supposed the world would not be able to contain the volumes (John 20:30-31 & John 21:25). Jerome published the first ‘complete’ Christian bible in 405 AD (or ACE), containing what we refer to as the Old & New Testaments (the Latin Vulgate). John Wycliffe published he first English translation in 1382. At least half a dozen more English translations were available by the time the King James Bible published in 1611. Oh, and by the way, by 1639, the writers of the King James version decided that the seven apocryphal books were not “God inspired” so they took them out leaving us with the 66 books in most of our current bibles. And how many translation have come out since them? All ‘based on the original Greek’! I’m not discounting any bible. God forbid! What I am saying is that no matter what version we have, we don’t have the ‘whole’ picture. Is the bible perfect? I don’t think so, but it does speak about the perfect (Jesus). It speaks about what we need to know and as we prayerfully read ‘our’ bible, the Holy Ghost will show us what we are lacking in God’s love and how to apply it into our own lives. Keep in mind that the Living Bible was originally a paraphrase written to help children understand the bible, yet it can still get us where we need to be. Gotta start somewhere. The Holy Ghost will lead us into more of what we need as we grow closer to the Lord.
Jesus was made perfect so that through our obedience He has become the author of our salvation (Heb. 5:9). So ‘what is perfect? Or should I say ‘who’?
The bible IS our guide, but he Holy Ghost brings us into all truth (John 16:12-14).
Again, God is love (1 John 4:8). He operates in that love and expects us to learn to live in that love.
Needless to say, that when we are in the presence of God, THEN we will be in perfection.
Not knowing Jesus at all
Knowing about Jesus (understanding the bible, even memorizing scripture).
Taking a personal interest in getting to now Jesus. learning what He truly expects form us and what we can expect from Him. It takes two sides to come into agreement for a relationship to work. Communication brings the two sides together.
But God wants to be up close and personal – not just knowing Him to say hi and wave, but to get close enough to hug Him and feel the warmth of His essence. God had Israel build a temple so He could be with His people (Ezek. 37:27). And today we are the temple of God (2 Corinth. 6:16). In case you missed it, His desire is to be with us.
Are you getting the drift here?