Do You Really Know Jesus the Christ?

 

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10 KJV)

What does it mean to know someone?

It is quite funny, almost comical sometimes to hear people talk about popular or famous public figures as if they have actually met them and are their personal confidantes. They talk as if they are among the few who are privy to the intimate details of their lives. They will vouch for the authenticity of the information they are sharing but when pressed to reveal the source, it is either something they heard on Television or read in a magazine.

People go as far as owning and vouching for everything about the person, becoming so attached and willing to stand by and defend what they believe they know about the person. They believe wholeheartedly that they KNOW this public figure just because they hear him or her, read about him or her, sing his or her songs, fantasise about his or her life etc. They hang on every word he or she says. The most dangerous kind of public figures to idolise this way are the Christian public figures. Most often than not those who idolise them get traumatised by a negative occurrence in these public figures life as they simply cannot reconcile what has happened with what they believe they know about the person.

I say the most dangerous type to idolise are Christian public figures not because they are not deserving of public accolade but because they are not masters of their own destinies. Their anointing, skills, networks, organisations and very popularity are simply loaned to them and embedded in the grace of God more so than just their own hard work or merit. They are maintained by an invisible hand which cannot be controlled by any man.

‘The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up’. (1 Samuel 2:7 KJV)

‘He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them’. (1 Samuel 2:8 KJV).

So what does it mean to know someone?

To know someone is to be intimately acquainted with all aspects of their lives by the means which they themselves open up to you to the exclusion of others. Knowing someone is a private matter not a public one. There are facets of a person that are not for public consumption. They are revealed through the daily intricacies of life when opportunities for trust and private interaction abound so that such things as have been gleaned about the person can be subjected to the rigours of testing to evidence if they be real or not.

So someone came to Jesus and called him good master. He asked him, why do you call me good? He did not ask this because he was not good but because the person’s comment was flippant and baseless and shouldn’t have been said without him proving it first.

On the contrary when it came to his disciples he made the distinction clear. He himself asked them two questions. One was about who the public thought he is and the second was who they his disciples thought he is. You see there is a distinction between the two and Jesus knew it. What the public think you are is just near the truth but not the whole truth. What the people in your private life say about you is very important and you have to ask for it because it is the real measure of your journey. It shows you what to change and it reveals to you what you are really like because they KNOW you and if you give them the permission, they can tell you who you really are. Beyond this kind of knowledge, knowing Jesus involves having a personal revelation of his divine nature as the son of God, the annointed one of God sent to earth by God to reconcile the world back to God. The testimony of men and women alone does not bring this revelation. It is the testimony of God himself through the conviction that the Holy Sprirt gives which makes this ‘Knowing’ unshakeable, valid and authentic. Otherwise it simply becomes a case of hearsay and brainwashing. The proof of the taste of the pudding is in the eating of it.

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath ot the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:9-12 KJV)

The only way to not doubt that you truly know Jesus the Christ, the only way to prove it is if your belief in him cannot be undone by the arguments and the common sense philosophies of the world. Without this, your knowledge is vain and unreal.

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ: not water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For, there are three that bear record in heaven, the father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. (1 John 5:5-8 KJV)

Blood and water signify humanity. That is what we are composed of as humans. Unless our human capacity agrees with what the Spirit of God is saying about who Jesus, the Christ is, we can have no real enduring knowledge of him. He came by water and blood, in otherwords he was a man like us, but beyond that he was and still is the Son of God and that is the revelation of him that makes the difference between those who really know him and those who simply know about him, have learnt about him, have read about him etc.

So in finding out whether his disciples really knew him or not, he had a conversation with them which went like this;

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar–jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:13-18 KJV).

See, in the middle of this private conversation, Jesus also shared with Peter who he sees him as. He said People see you as a stone (Simon) but I know you as a rock (Peter). Peter’s answer to Jesus was succinct and precise, not attained via public means but by a revelatory process based on what he himself had seen, heard and experienced since being with Jesus.

Apart from private knowledge via the process of private interaction, there is a higher way to know someone. Jesus demonstrated this as well in the passage above. He told Peter, the knowledge you have of me was not revealed to you by flesh and blood (human beings) but by my father in heaven.

In this day of identity crisis, where people do not even know their own selves very well and wait for public affirmation to confirm to themselves who they are, it is important to have revelatory knowledge of people from God. Otherwise we hold in high esteem those that God does not and we disdain those who God is lifting up simply because we have no revelatory knowledge of them. When dealing with people it is important to pray and ask God, ‘please show me who I am dealing with’. Sometimes we do not even know who our real enemies are and who are friends or helpers of destiny are. Yes , it is important to know your enemies so you can locate the table God is preparing for you, because he will dress your table right in their presence and if you do not want to die before your time you better know where the battle is.

‘Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more’. (2 Corinthians 5:16 KJV)

Know no man after the flesh. God does not expect you to know him after the flesh either. And yes there are people who know God through Jesus but only after the flesh. They love what he did when he was here on earth. They love the fame, the popularity and the openness with which he led his life. They love the stories of the things he did and said, they can quote him verbatim and can even make profit off what they know about him. They can even tell others about him as if he were their best friend. But they have not really known him.

Paul mentions wanting to KNOW him in our main scripture at a time when he seemed to be the one who knows him best. He however did not define what that knowing entails but said that in addition to knowing him, he Paul will like to also know the power of his resurrection, and also know the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be made comformable – modelled, redesigned, adjusted, re – fashioned according to the measurements and dimensions of his death. I don’t know about you, but apart from Paul and the other apostles in the bible I have never really met anyone in these modern days who wants their life adjusted, shaped, re- designed in conformity with death, even the death of Christ. To deserve to die like he did, nailed to a cursed cross, you will have to believe and say the non politically correct statements he made which will incite others to want to kill you. Who wants to do that? And even this kind of life, Paul considers as only an addition to actually knowing him. The actual ‘knowing him’ must really entail so much. Which is why towards the end of his life Paul was still saying things like;

‘Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13, 14 KJV).

It is only when you have followed unto the end that you can say you have really known someone. If you really know someone and accept them, even the threat of death will not compel you to turn away from them.

We must be willing to follow even unto death. That is the measure of a ‘calling’. The measure of a higher calling demands a higher level of following and a higher level of knowing.

‘Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him’. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 KJV)

So next time you say you know someone ask yourself the question? What kind of knowing am I talking about? Also if they do not know you, you certainly do not know them. Real knowing happens as a transaction, as an exchange.

‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’. (Matthew 7:22, 23 KJV)

‘Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ’ (Philippians 3:8 KJV).

I tell you, Paul understood very well that he had to win Christ. It had to be an exchange. Real Knowledge of Christ is not just there for the taking. It has to be saccrificed for by a willingness to make yourself known to him as well, to win him.

Even the demons know Jesus. They have to for their own protection because, when he appears they know they are done for. So you who say you know him, do you really know him?

‘Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble’. (James 2:19 KJV).

‘Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded’. (Acts 19:13-16 KJV)

Enough Said!!!

Not Even The Son of Man

For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45 KJV).

Be an observer in a classy restaurant for a few minutes. Sit and watch the interactions between the waiters and the customers / diners and you will understand how nice it is to be waited on. For someone to just be standing waiting, discretely attentive to every gesture you make, even to your non verbal and facial expressions, just waiting to please you, to serve and cater to your indulgences; this feels great indeed. After dining in such a restaurant, you are most likely to remember the service even more than the food you ate.

Ensuring customer service and satisfaction is paramount for securing repeat business. Any good business person knows that everyone wants to be treated well. People go to great expense to get good customer service. It is therefore only really accessible to those who can afford it.

Now imagine that you do not have to pay for it. Now that will be heaven indeed. But it is hard to find genuine, well organised, hands on, undelegated service which is free.

The problem is that people will rather belong to the group that receives more so than the group that gives. We are not always keen on giving direct service to others if it will not benefit us in some way. Infact we find it degrading and menial especially if the recipient is in a ‘lower class’ than we are. We may be affluent and wealthy enough to give financially to others who are not so blessed but to get our hands dirty doing the actual serving, oh no, we won’t. This is too demeaning. Don’t be deceived. We are good at talking the talk but walking the walk genuinely is something of a rarity.

Society is therefore full of people who are oriented towards taking rather than giving. Where giving is done, it has to be convinient and in some way self benefiting even if indirectly. The world has a lot of charity donors and philantropists who give what they can afford in order to make a name for themselves but as popular and praiseworthy as that is, there are only a few that directly ‘touch’ the needy in society.

I like the TV program, ‘Secret Millionaire‘ because, at the end of each episode, the millionaire who has dared to live undercover amongst the needy and be part of their daily struggles comes away with a better sense of the worth of the people so that what he gives in terms of money becomes a secondary matter and pales in significance to the richness and the worth of the people he is trying to help. These secret millionaires become inwardly enriched and directly acquainted with the struggles. They are not just touched by the people’s plight from the comfort of their millionaire empires but from the dung pit of suffering and struggle. This experience is humbling to the soul and expands the heart of the giver. It makes the giver experience true greatness which money cannot buy.

‘Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud’. (Proverbs 16:19 KJV)

On the otherside of the divide, are those who are determined to become rich by taking advantage of the poor. They want to be able to afford the lifestyle of being pandered to and catered to. The celebrity lifestyle. They turn to illegimate shorthanded dealings to enable them afford the ‘affluent, everyone at your beck and call’ kind of life. This represents greatness to them.

Recently, there was a news item on BBC1 about how the police have been able to raid, established syndicates of criminals and confiscicate imitation designer items that were being produced on a large scale and being pumped into the market. Bags, shoes, watches, coats and the like with authentic looking designer logos were being sold at half the price of the genuine ones.

The question is; why will criminals make imitations of these brands and try to sell them off as the real thing? It is because of the value that the original brands have now got. Someone started them, worked hard, paid the price over many years to get the brand to where it is now. The ‘give me satisfaction quick criminals’ wanting to live affluent lives, take advantage of the ignorant poor and sell these counterfeit stuff to them.

These criminals are the takers in society, not the givers. Even the little the poor has they take away from them for consumption on their own lusts – a life of luxury and indulgence where money allows for every whim or desire to be pandered to. The police were previously destroying the counterfeit items but a Christian charity now takes them and removes the fake labels and donates them to ex- offenders and homeless people and others in need.

As bad as these criminals are, they are at least blatant in their evil scheme of defrauding others. They are no worse than the Christian, who having received the genuine authentic love of God begins to sit in their ivory towers wanting to be served and waited on by the masses in the name of Christianity.

We refuse to roll up our sleeves and serve others directly. We will rather package the grace of God and re – sell it to meet our own needs. We want the titles, the affluence and we desire to be waited on. The world is presently awash with christian celebrity superstars. The main theme if you look carefully is ‘ give me a dollar and I will pray for you’.

We are like Criminals not willing to pay the price, but wanting to benefit illegally from the popularity of the brand. The brand we are counterfeiting is no ordinary brand. The Christian life is a life paid for by royal blood. Not just any royal blood but the blood of the only begotten son of God.

We can still hear his voice calling out. ‘Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me’. (Isaiah 6:8 KJV).

Jesus Christ redefined greatness. The greatest is not the one being served but rather the one doing the serving. He not only redefined it for us but he lived it too. He rolled up his royal sleeves and agreed to be demoted from his throne to live and dwell with the objects of his creation and to serve them in the most menial forms possible to the point of dying for them all at his own cost. Amazing!

‘Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’. (Philippians 2:4-8 KJV)

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:12-17 KJV)

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11, 12 KJV)

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? (Romans 2:21 KJV)

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, (2 Timothy 3:4-6 KJV)

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27 KJV)

Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. (1 Corinthians 7:21, 22 KJV)

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:24, 25 KJV)

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 KJV)

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27 KJV)

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:10 KJV)

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 KJV)

Enough said!!!

Why Do Some Say ‘I DO’ and Others Just Won’t?

John 8:24 KJV

What makes someone run into your arms can make another person run as far as they can away from you. There isn’t that much distance between COURAGE and FEAR.

Most often this is the basis for the decisions we make. Two people can be presented with the same situation. One may respond with fear and the other may respond with courage. Sometimes the one responding with fear may see elements of the situation that makes it so much more of a challenge or even an impossibility. The only logical response must be one of retreat or suspicion or fear.

There are times that our intellectual prowess and ability to think through things and weigh them in every way possible becomes an impediment to exercising courage. Those who exercise courage tend to do so in the face of uncertainty. Those who exercise fear tend to do so after considering the variables and being more certain of failure than success. This plays a factor in all major decisions we make about whether we go ahead with something or whether we retreat or withdraw from it.

Those who withdraw usually have good reasons to substantiate their fear. Those who exercise courage usually do so often  inspite of evidence of one sort or another to suggest that they shouldn’t. They take a step into the unknown often based on a conviction which they may be unable to fully explain. Does it mean they are being illogical? Have they lost their senses? Not necessarily.

We are confronted often with the need to make decisions about relationships, carreers and jobs, changes in our lives, entrepreneurial ventures  and other matters.  We can base all our decisions on logic but once so often we base it o something beyond logic. on a conviction that we canot shake. I see that this also applies when it comes to making a decision about whether to believe the good news of the gospel, whether to make a decision for Christ or to reject him. I find that many reject him out of fear. Fear for what he stands for, fear about the almost overly simplistic nature of the salvation he offers, fear about what it implies for their own life, fear from what they have observed happening to others who accept him and many other fears that the human mind can come up with. Many will not call it fear. When it is all stripped down however, it boils down to fear. Fear of what others will think about us. Fear of the changes we will have to make in our lives. Fear of the loss of previous privileges and relationships.

I imagine an invisible line. Let’s call it the start line that all human beings stand on. Following our birth irrespective of our background, as we live our lives, there comes a day when we each are confronted in one form or another with the opportunity to make a decision either to give our live over to God‘s control or not to do so. Irrespective of whatever form it might take, whether, through sickness, through a miracle we have observed, through devastation in someone else’s life or our own, through hearing the word of God being preached, there will be a time, a day in each person’s life when we each have to make a conscious choice with regards to the issue of belief or faith. The decision you make is based on whether you exercise courage or fear. Courage will make you run into God’s arms but fear will make you run in the opposite direction. Afterall there is so much unknown and ununderstood about the whole notion or concept of the existence of God. There are many reasons we can find to excuse ourselves.

‘But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV).

It takes grace to believe. But to speak in a layman’s language, it takes great courage to exercise faith. The evidence we have about God is around for everyone to see inspite of arguments to the contrary. We each in our lives and particular circumstances will have enough evidence if we so choose to  see that God does exist. We may not like what we see of him or the things we see around us but we will each have the evidence to gain the conviction that God does exist. What we do with that is however entirely in our hands.

‘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 Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools’, (Romans 1:20-22 KJV).

We are all presented with the same view. The ‘wise’ are unimpressed with the evidence and choose to reject him. Those who choose to exercise courage and allow themselves to be drawn to him by the evidence before them, he rewards with his grace for salvation and the promise of eternal life. Friends, the difference between a believer and an unbeliever (atheist etc) is simply the distance between FEAR and COURAGE. This is why we have different responses when it comes to God.

The evidence that Jesus is Lord is so clear that in my view, it takes more faith not to believe than it takes to believe. To look at everything around you, all the events of our days, to look at creation and all the miracles around us and to refuse or reject the Lord, that must take a lot of faith in the validity of your own reasoning power and your FEAR.

I hope that you will take a second look and exercise COURAGE instead. You will find that you made the right choice. See Jesus‘s own words below, possibly the most chillingly conclusive words I have ever read. Instead of fear and the thought of retreat, these words propel should propel you forward. They should give you the courage to run into his arms and to acknowledge that he is Lord.

“And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins”. (John 8:23, 24 KJV).

Enough Said !