Hi thank you for joining us on the Fall For Christ Series, if you would like to receive a FREE PDF copy of the entire series as well as other notes please email Starting With Jesus before the 20th February 2019 with the subject line #FFCF and you should hopefully receive the online #FFCF pack sometime in March.
Every day I feel like I am having to rely on God more than the day before, but you know what, it is all worth it. When I think about the sacrifices He took for my sake, I am incredibly humbled and strengthened once again for the day ahead. I pray that as our minds are opened to understand the incredible grace and mercy that He so willingly gave to all, may we too become strengthed and find rest in Him. Amen
Our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not a result of evidence that we can put through tangible calculations, it is as Hebrews 11:1 says ‘Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen’. The first verses of John establish that our God creates and forms things (that we see) from the invisible things. It says that all things have been made through His word ( see Colossians 1:16) and as established on Friday, His word (Jesus Christ) was not yet revealed to us in the Old Testament without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Christ was unseen to our unspiritual eyes, but for God’s purpose and plans he was revealed to us as the ‘image of the invisible God’ (Colossians 1:15), that is why Christ says in John 14:9 ‘the one who has seen Me has seen the Father’.
As people who believe in Christ, we are already blessed because we did not live when Christ lived on Earth yet we believe wholeheartedly that He rose from the grave, His Spirit confirms this within our hearts. It is through that same Spirit that we can witness what Jesus saw when He first met Nathanael (John 1:47-51). Nathanael after hearing that Jesus saw Him ( in the Spirit) sitting under a fig tree he exclaimed ‘You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel’, bear in mind He had never witnessed any of Christ miracles and questioned what good can come from Nazareth but His heart and mind were receptive to the things of heaven. Now contrast this to John 3:2 where Nicodemus, a Pharisee who had seen Christ perform miracles and knew more about the Torah than most men, knew that Christ was heaven sent but could only see him through earthly vision as the ‘teacher’ and not as the Son of God. To Nathanael who saw beyond the flesh, Christ said ‘You will see greater things… I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’ (John 1:50-51). However, to Nicodemus, he had to explain that without being born-again, it would be difficult for Him to even see the greater things (*Kingdom of God) he had spoken about to Nathaniel. The God whom we serve is not a man ‘He is spirit’ (John 4:24) as such does not operate on the same level that we do, in order to see Him working we must see beyond flesh. God does not want to remain a mystery invisible to our naked eyes, He wants to be known to us and for this to happen, like any relationship, we must be able to communicate with Him to understand Him, and we can not do this if we are not attentive to God’s spirit.
** When we stand outside, we hear the wind moving, we see it shaking the trees and flapping our coats but we can neither grasp it nor see it. In the same manner, when you are born-again the presence of God (the Holy Spirit) moves within and around you, you hear His voice like you hear the wind outside, you feel Him moving in the same manner you feel the wind as you walk but you can not tell where He came from or where He is going. However, if we remain inside the house with our windows, doors and curtains closed we can neither see, hear or feel the wind outside, so what more for the person whose spiritual eyes, ears and heart is closed to God’s presence?
When you begin to see things spiritually, you hear God’s voice in the same way you hear the wind blowing, He instructs and reveals things to you like the wind removing the fog from your eyes or leading you in a particular destination. As we mentioned before, God is Spirit so when He speaks He speaks of spiritual matters and if our understanding is limited to the earthly realm, it becomes difficult to understand Him. The following text is taken from Eating Bread V Eating Manner:
(John 6:26) In earlier verses, Christ performed a great miracle by feeding 5000+ people with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. Those people (whom Jesus refers to in verse 26), came searching for Christ after witnessing such a miracle, however, what makes these people interesting is that rather than being amazed by the miracle performed the previous day and thus come to the realisation that Christ is the Son of God, they instead were more interested in feeding their stomachs. They looked at Christ with a flesh mindset, he was the dispenser of food, not God. If they had been able to comprehend who Jesus was, in the same manner as Nathaniel did they would have been satisfied with the eternal food that Jesus was giving.
We as Christians must move beyond the superficial understandings and grow more intimate with God, because, that is when we shall hear and see the greater things Christ spoke about to Nathaniel and Nicodemus. It is within John 4: 21-42 that Christ explains the difference between those who know Christ intimately and those who don’t, for the true worshipers are the ones who worship in spirit and in truth, for true worshipers have moved beyond just thanking and praising but have entered into the holy of holiest form of worship. To worship something means that you are assigning a value to it, you understand how important it is, therefore, you are very aware of its presence and will do all you can to keep the item. Worship is different from thanking or praising, when we thank God we are showing our gratitude to what the Lord has given to us, when we praise we are acknowledging Gods greatness but when we worship we are showing that we have an understanding of who God is. As John Piper says ‘True worship is based on a right understanding of Gods nature… [when our minds are] rightly understanding God and the heart is rightly valuing God’, For instance:
Take a piece of artwork that has been commissioned to a gallery by an unknown individual, the gallery may thank the unknown artist for the artwork and may even praise them for their beautiful piece but because the artist is unknown to the gallery, the value of the piece is not going to be great and it would probably be put somewhere in storage. However, if the gallery where to find out the provenance of the artwork and find that it was made by Van Gough, then instantly that painting will move from storage to display. The painting is still the same, the artist is still the same, the difference is the gallery’s perception of how valuable the artwork is.
The Israelites who walked in the desert for 40 years did not understand this, despite having witnessed so many miracles, ‘ they did not know [God’s] ways [and so did] not enter into His rest’ (Psalm 95:11). When we worship but our hearts remain far away from God, then ‘our worship is in vain’ (Matthew 15:9), it is all worthless because like the artwork, we just put Him somewhere in storage we don’t acknowledge His value. As men, we have tried to establish our own doctrines of how we can be ‘holy’, we have implemented laws and rules within the Church that make people recite sweet psalms like they are at a funeral, we have closed the doors on people who don’t dress or look a certain way, but all our acts stop us from being able to reach the secret place of the most High (Psalm 91:1) because they don’t make us presentable, they are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). However, the Father invites us into that secret place, he asks us to pause and reflect upon His truth.
To end today’s post, I just want us to focus on who God is to us, is He a teacher, a provider of food. How important is He to you, this is what separated Nathaniel and Nicodemus initial impressions of Christ and this is what will separate the true worshipers from others.
“Lord may you open the eyes of our heart so that not only will we see you but we will come to understand the worship you for who you are. May we reach a level in our relationship that we can worship you in Spirit and in Truth. Amen”
*The definition I give for what is meant by the term ‘The Kingdom of God’, Is a territory, state or body where God has leadership over. Our lives can be included in this and so can heaven because in these locations God is King.
** ‘God is Spirit, He is not the Sun, Moon, Stars nor an image of wood, stone or metal. He is not a beast or man. He is not air, wind, love or impersonal qualities.’ (The Dake Bible). When we use such terms and references we are not saying God is wind but we are denoting an attribute of Who God is, no single human word can express who He is, it is an understanding we gain of through His Holy Spirit. That is why God said to call Him ‘I AM’ that I AM, meaning He becomes or reveals Himself in a form or an attribute that we need at that moment in time.