It seems, in my perception, that far too many people in the church today are content with knowing Jesus merely on a secondhand basis…
Let that thought sink in…
Do you know Jesus for yourself? Or is your only knowledge of Him coming to you secondhand because of the insights /someone else/ has received from His Word?
How long can we go on living off of pre-digested food?
If our only source of knowing Jesus, and if our only supply of spirit-food, comes to us from a preacher on a Sunday morning, then (if I may be so bold), we are a far cry short of being real disciples of Jesus Christ.
We are a starving people… starving for the words of the Lord.
It is like Amos 8:11:
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign Lord,
‘when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.'”
The only problem is, there is no reason for us to be starving! Most of us have the Word of God right at our fingertips… but we won’t open it!
I believe we would do well to stop eating physical food every now and then, if necessary, in order to make sure we really set aside time to eat true and lasting food (John 6:35,55)…
As it is written, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
And may I pause and interject? It does not say, “but on /some/ of the words that come from the mouth of the LORD.” It says, “but on /every/ word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” We are not allowed to pick and choose and cut out the words we don’t like!
Believer, would you like to know God? To really know Him?
Then why do you not spend time with Him?
Jesus is earnestly desiring to make His home with you; to fellowship with you; to teach you His perfect ways. But as it is, you need to open the door to Him (Revelation 3:20).
And I’m not talking primarily about salvation here. Believers, too, can have cold hearts and lock Jesus out of their lives… And ultimately, if that’s us, we need to repent — to turn away from all that garbage — and let Jesus back in!
Look, we are, as believers, the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16), but that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story. Even the old Temple was defiled time and again…
“‘Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:11)
We can, even as the Temple of God on this earth, live in such a way that our Temple is “defiled” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:18-20) because of sin in our lives… If we live in sin, our communion with God is inhibited (Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 15:29, Isaiah 1:15).
So, what do we do about it?
Well, the first step, of course, is to confess our sins — to God (1 John 1:9) and to one another (James 5:16).
But, more than this, how do we cleanse and sanctify ourselves? How do we give the Holy Spirit a clean and proper home to dwell in?
The Scripture tells us that Jesus cleanses us “by the washing with water through the word.” Through the what? Through the Word!
Indeed, Jesus even told His own disciples, “You are already clean because of the–” what? “–because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)
And again, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
So we see it is God’s Word that washes us and sanctifies us.
But we make excuses as to why we won’t read God’s Word… “Oh, I’m just not smart enough to understand it…” “I’d really like to, but I’m just too busy…” “You know, everyone has their own interpretation of the Bible, so why should I even try to understand it?”
Do you not realize? Man’s thoughts and opinions will fail, but God is always true. It is much better to learn from God Himself than to rely on secondhand wisdom from another man (including me).
Now, am I discounting teachers and preachers? Absolutely not! For God Himself appointed preachers and teachers, among other gifted individuals, in order to strengthen and build up the Body of Christ until it reaches full maturity and unity in the faith (Ephesians 4:11-13).
But what I am saying is that God has already given us everything we need to understand His Word and serve Him properly (2 Peter 1:3).
He says in one place, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
And in another:
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27)
Do you see it? His anointing — His Holy Spirit — teaches us all things (John 16:13) so that we have no need for anyone else to teach us. We have direct access to God by faith (Ephesians 2:18, Romans 5:2).
But what is the condition? “Remain in him” (1 John 2:27, as written above).
And if it is hard to seek God — indeed, if it is hard, perhaps, to find Him — do we give up?
But as it is, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
So we see that if we would really desire to know God, it takes seeking Him wholeheartedly… it takes dedicated perseverance.
Yet thankfully, at the same time, we also see that it is not some infeasible task, but it is truly and totally possible, for God has given us His very Spirit.
As it is written, “‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But /we have/ the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
I could quote a number of other Scriptures to this effect, but do you see what I’m saying? There are no excuses for shying away from God’s Word. It matters not how intelligent one is (1 Corinthians 1:20, Jeremiah 8:9); it matters not where one has gone to school; what matters is communion with God and His Spirit, eating of the true food of His Word.
And none of this is because of our own effort, because the Scripture tells us: “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”
So, brother, sister, let us not starve ourselves of true food as we gorge upon the wares of this world. But let us rather do the opposite, forsaking this world and its pleasures for the greater prize before us: knowing Christ (1 John 2:15-17, Philippians 3:8, Hebrews 12:1-3)
I hope this post has been an encouragement to you (and perhaps a kind slap in the rear) to read the Word of God for yourself and not rely solely on pre-digested food and secondhand knowledge of Jesus. If you don’t know where to start in reading the Scriptures, do the simple thing: start at the beginning, the book of Genesis. :)
The Lord Jesus bless you in your pursuit of Him!