How Can I know God?

     What is Christianity? Some say it is a philosophy, others say it is an ethical stance, while still others claim it is actually an experience. None of these things really gets to the heart of the matter, however. Each is something a Christian has, but not one of them serves as a definition of what a Christian is. Christianity has at its core a transaction between a person and God.

     A person who becomes a Christian moves from knowing about God distantly to knowing about him directly and intimately. Christianity is knowing God.

     “Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” –John 17:3

Why do I need to know God?

     Our desire for personal knowledge of God is strong, but we usually fail to recognize that desire for what it is. When we first fall in love, when we first marry, when we finally break into our chosen field, when we at last get that weekend house — these breakthroughs arouse in us anticipation of something which, as it turns out, never occurs.

     We eventually discover that our desire for that precious something is a longing no lover or career or achievement, even the best possible ones, can ever satisfy. The satisfaction fades even as we close our fingers around our goal. Nothing delivers the joy it seemed to promise. Many of us avoid the yawning emptiness through busyness or denial, but at best there is just a postponement. “Nothing tastes,” said Marie Antoinette.

There are several ways to respond to this:

By blaming the things themselves – by finding fault in everyone and everything around you. You believe that a better spouse, a better career, a better boss or salary would finally yield the elusive joy. Many of the most successful people of the world are like this — bored, discontented, running from new thing to new thing, often-changing counselors, mates, partners, or settings.

By blaming yourself – by trying harder to live up to standards. Many people believe they have made poor choices or have failed to measure up to challenges and to achieve the things that would give them joy and satisfaction. Such people are wracked with self-doubts and tend to burn themselves out. They think, “If only I could reach my goals, then this emptiness would be gone.” But it is not so.

By blaming the universe itself – by giving up seeking fulfillment at all. This is the person who says, “Yes, when I was young I was idealistic, but at my age I have stopped howling after the moon.” This makes you become cynical, you decide to repress that part of yourself that once wanted fulfillment and joy. But you become hard, and you can feel yourself losing your humanity, compassion, and joy.

By blaming and recognizing your separation from God – by seeing that the emptiness comes from your separation from God, and by establishing a personal relationship with Him.

In order to form a personal relationship with God, you must know three things:

1) Who we are:
     God’s creation. God created us and built us for a relationship with Him. We belong to Him, and we owe Him gratitude for every breath, every moment, everything. Because humans were built to live for Him (to worship), we will always try to worship something — if not God, we will choose some other object of ultimate devotion to give our lives meaning.

     Sinners. We have all chosen (and re-affirm daily) to reject God and to make our own joy and happiness our highest priority. We do not want to worship God and surrender ourselves as master, yet we are built to worship, so we cling to idols, centering our lives on things that promise to give us meaning: success, relationships, influence, love, comfort, and so on.

     In spiritual bondage. To live for anything else but God leads to breakdown and decay. When a fish leaves the water, which he was built for, he is not free, but dead. Worshiping other things besides God leads to a loss of meaning. If we achieve these things, they cannot deliver satisfaction, because they were never meant to be “gods.” They were never meant to replace God. Worshiping other things besides God also leads to self- image problems. We end up defining ourselves in terms of our achievement in these things. We must have them or all is lost; so they drive us to work too hard, or they fill us with terror if they are jeopardized.

2) Who God is:
     Love and justice. His active concern is for our joy and well-being. Most people love those who love them, yet God loves and seeks the good even of people who are his enemies. But because God is good and loving, He cannot tolerate evil. The opposite of love is not anger, but indifference. “The more you love your son, the more you hate in him the liar, the drunkard, the traitor,” (E. Gifford). To imagine God’s situation, imagine a judge who also is a father, who sits at the trial of his guilty son. A judge knows he cannot let his son go, for without justice no society can survive. How much less can a loving God merely ignore or suspend justice for us — who are loved, yet guilty of rebellion against his loving authority?

     Jesus Christ. Jesus is God Himself come to Earth. He first lived a perfect life, loving God with all his heart, soul, and mind, fulfilling all human obligation to God. He lived the life you owed — a perfect record. Then, instead of receiving his deserved reward (eternal life), Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins, taking the punishment and death each of us owed. When we believe in him: 1) our sins are paid for by his death, and 2) His perfect life record is transferred to our account. So God accepts and regards us as if we have done all Christ has done.

3) What you must do:
     Repent. There first must be an admission that you have been living as your own master, worshipping the wrong things, violating God’s loving laws. “Repentance” means you ask forgiveness and turn from that stance with a willingness to live for and center on Him.

     Believe. Faith is transferring your trust from your own efforts to the efforts of Christ. You were relying on other things to make you acceptable, but now you consciously begin relying on what Jesus did for your acceptance with God. All you need is nothing. If you think, “God owes me something for all my efforts,” you are still on the outside.

     Pray after this fashion: “I see I am more flawed and sinful than I ever dared believe, but that I am even more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I turn from my old life of living for myself. I have nothing in my record to merit your approval, but I now rest in what Jesus did and ask to be accepted into God’s family for his sake.” When you make this transaction, two things happen at once: 1) your accounts are cleared, your sins are wiped out permanently, you are adopted legally into God’s family and 2) the Holy Spirit enters your heart and begins to change you into the character of Jesus.

     Follow through. Tell a Christian friend about your commitment. Get yourself training in the basic Christian disciplines of prayer, worship, Bible study, and fellowship with other Christians.

Why should I seek God?

     On one hand, you may feel that you “need” Him. Even though you may recognize that you have needs only God can meet, you must not try to use Him to achieve your own ends. It is not possible to bargain with God. (“I’ll do this if you will do that.”) That is not Christianity at all, but a form of magic or paganism in which you “appease” the cranky deity in exchange for a favor.

Are you getting into Christianity to serve God, or to get God to serve you? Those are two opposite motives and they result in two different religions. You must come to God because 1) you owe it to Him to give Him your life (because He is your Creator) and 2) you are deeply grateful to Him for sacrificing His Son (because He is your Redeemer.)

     On the other hand, you may feel no need or interest to know God at all. This does not mean you should stay uncommitted. If you were created by God, then you owe Him your life, whether you feel like it or not. You are obligated to seek Him and ask Him to soften your heart, open your eyes, and enlighten you.

     If you say, “I have no faith,” that is no excuse either. You need only doubt your doubts. No one can doubt everything at once — you must believe in something to doubt something else. For example, do you believe you are competent to run your own life? Where is the evidence of that? Why doubt everything but your doubts about God and your faith in yourself? Is that fair? You owe it to God to seek Him. Do so.

What if I’m not ready to proceed?

Make a list of the issues that you perceive to be barriers to your crossing the line into faith. Here is a possible set of headings:
• Content issues. Do you understand the basics of the Christian message — sin, Jesus as God, sacrifice, faith?
• Coherence issues. Are there intellectual problems you have with Christianity? Are there objections to the Christian faith that you cannot resolve in your own mind?
• Cost issues. Do you perceive that a move into full Christian faith will cost you dearly? What fears do you have about commitment?
Now talk to a Christian friend until these issues are resolved.
Consider reading: Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis (MacMillan) and Basic Christianity, by John Stott (IVP)

© 1991, Timothy Keller (used here by permission)


Can I Really Trust the Bible?

For further reading … The Bible makes big claims for itself. But do those claims stand up? Aren’t the stories just legends? Hasn’t the information been corrupted over time? Isn’t the Bible full of mistakes? And isn’t it culturally outdated? In this absorbing little book, Barry Cooper explores these questions – and many others – with warmth, wit and integrity. request-your-copy-today-400

We believe music is one of the greatest tools God uses for children (and adults!) to worship and learn about Jesus. For Randall Goodgame, the singer-songwriter behind Sing the Bible Vol. 1 & 2 and everything Slugs & Bugs, this is exactly his mission as he seeks to profoundly impact the culture of the home with these Gospel-centered, silly, and extremely catchy songs.
Below are just a few of the songs from Randall’s recently released album called Sing the Gospel. As Randall puts it, we pray this music inspires you and your family to sing together, laugh together, and think deeply together about the meaning of life and the nature of God.

God Made Me


Stop (Listen to the Lord!)


I’m Adopted

stgcd_medium3d.vxt2prwb27u6ty6guutku64gh3hacbf6Randall Goodgame’s desire is to help children of all ages understand the Gospel through songs that delightfully get stuck in your head. If you’ve been looking for a way to help the children in your life understand the Gospel better, then look no further. Sing the Gospel is exactly what you need.
Here’s Randall’s take on it:
“The riches of the Gospel are immeasurable. We get to be in God’s family! We are transformed from within! Our sins are forgiven, our wounds are made beautiful, and our joy never ends. Last year, our friends at The Good Book Company in the U.K. requested that we curate a collection of the Slugs & Bugs songs that explore these different aspects of the Gospel, and the result became ‘Sing the Gospel’ – a Slugs and Bugs collection.”

Have you ever wondered how Good Friday got its name? You would think the day we set aside to remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross would get a less cheerful designation, but I believe there’s a good reason why Good Friday’s name continues to stand the test of time.

Many scholars point to the fact that “good” used to have a definition much closer to that of “holy,” but the original meaning doesn’t translate very well in today’s English vocabulary. So why don’t we change the name?

Ultimately, it’s because everything that happened on the first Good Friday showed the full extent of Jesus’ love for us.

John’s Gospel begins like Genesis 1 and ends with a hint at what would come in Revelation. It’s a mini-Bible in one Gospel with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, who appears in the first chapter to invite his disciples to “come and see.” Those are words of invitation—not only to them but to us. Jesus wants us to “come and see” who he is, to see his love, and to see how far that love will lead him.

Everything Jesus did was an act of love, but it was all leading up to the day of his death when he would demonstrate the full extent of his love.

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. — John 13:1

The Goodness of Good Friday

Good Friday is good in spite of the brutality of Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s good in spite of the betrayal of Judas and the cowardly desertion of his disciples. It’s good in spite of the miscarriage of justice, the corruption of the Jewish leaders and the practical self-serving decision of Pontius Pilate.

Jesus is what’s good about Good Friday. He showed us that his love has no limits, and that his love is determined to break down all barriers between him and us.

When the Roman soldiers and temple guards came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he immediately identified himself as the one they were looking for and said, “Since I am the one you want, let these others go.” Even as Simon Peter drew a sword to keep them from taking his Lord away, Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:3-11)

It’s clear that Jesus wasn’t taken by force; He gave himself intentionally. Like he told Peter to sheath his sword, Jesus sheathed his own power and refused to save himself. We must never make the mistake of thinking Jesus was taken by force. He could have destroyed all those who came to arrest him, but he didn’t.  And as he allowed himself to be arrested, his only terms were that his disciples would be allowed to go free.

“Since I am the one you want, let these men go.”

Do you hear his love in those words? This picture of love and mercy toward his disciples is a powerful image of the same love he demonstrates for us on the cross. Jesus loves us more than he loves himself. He gives himself so we can be spared, and he surrenders himself so that we can we can be released from sin and restored to our Father.

From the Garden he goes to the high priest and then to Pontius Pilate before being turned over to the soldiers.

“The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying,  “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face. — John 19:2-3

Even in moments of humiliation and suffering, Jesus is majestic in his love. As he emerged into the view of the crowd wearing his a purple robe and crown of thorns, he silently endured the the chief priests and their officials chanting, “Crucify! Crucify!” (John 19:6)

He’s awesome in this moment of humiliation because he’s doing it voluntarily. Jesus said the Good Shepherd would die to protect his sheep, and that’s exactly what he’s doing. We’re helpless to protect ourselves from the evil one, but when our Shepherd King goes to his death he throws himself in front of us and protects us. He does it because he loves us more than he loves himself.

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

And this is it, this is the full extent of his love:

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others — one on each side and Jesus in the middle.— John 19:17-18

What do we do with a love like this?

We hear from a lot of listeners and readers who wonder if God loves them. They’re looking for evidence of his love in their own circumstances. But when we do that, we’re looking in the wrong place—Jesus demonstrates his love for me and for you personally on the cross. He died for YOU. Take it personally. Take it the way Paul did in Galatians 2:20 where he said, “I live by faith in the one who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Rose Marie Miller is a good friend of mine who who heard the message of the cross many times but never took it personally for herself. The wife of a pastor, she knew the gospel backwards and forwards, but it never got past the surface of her heart. She worked hard, she tried her best, and she couldn’t really see her need for this sacrifice. And if you don’t see that you’re a sinner, then you won’t be able to see the love of Jesus. Sadly, that was Rose Marie.

Until one Sunday, as she was sitting in a worship service half-listening to her husband preach, it came time for communion. Her husband raised the loaf of french bread and broke it with a loud crack saying, “This is my body broken for you.” And at that moment, she finally saw it—the spear of the soldiers was piercing and breaking the Body of Christ for her sins. Jesus was suffering this terrible death for her sins. She took it personally—Jesus died for me. Later she would say, “It was like a fire entered my heart, burning away at my intense self-centered moralism.”

The love of Jesus is meant to break our hearts. We look at the cross and we see our sin and the punishment our sins deserve. Whether they are flagrant sins of the flesh or the hard-hearted, self-righteous sins of a Pharisee, Jesus is there in our place, taking on the consequences of our sins and dying so that we can be spared.

The cross humbles us and captures us and binds us to Jesus. That’s what it’s meant to do. And that is what’s so good about Good Friday.

About the Author

As the leader of the Haven Ministries, Charles Morris is always thinking of ways to lead Christians and non-Christians to Christ—hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the great story … it’s all about Jesus.” A former secular journalist, Charles has worked for United Press International, and as a press secretary for two former U.S. senators. He and his wife, Janet, have authored several books, including Missing Jesus. Charles’ latest book is Fleeing ISIS, Finding Jesus: The Real Story of God At Work.

Most of the thoughts above are taken from broadcasts of Haven Today. Corum Hughes serves as the editor of this blog and coordinator for Haven’s digital content. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Corum lives in Boise, ID with his wife Molly.

When you hear the word evangelism, does it make you feel a little nervous or slightly guilty? If we’re being honest with ourselves, I think a lot of us would have to say “yes” on both counts. Many of us see evangelism as a kind of spiritual cold-calling or unwanted door-to-door sales pitches where you might try to talk with people you don’t know about something they don’t want to hear about.

The good news is that there is another way to share the good news of Jesus in an effective and meaningful way.


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