Coffee and Conversation
September 21, 2007
What if somebody walked up to you and said, “How do I get to know God? How do I know God personally?” What would you tell them? I think it is interesting to ask people that question, and I want to ask you that question. How do you know God?
If you want to know God, I want to just talk to you about how to get into this relationship with him because it’s basically a four step process. It is a process. And it is interesting, because a lot of people have never made this choice. They never understood the process and they never discovered what Scripture says about how to know God. Because the Bible, right here, this book, basically tells us what it means to have this connection with the living Lord. And here is— let me get a pen and show you what I’m talking about, from my collection of pens. Here is one. Here is this process about what it takes to know God. And it is very easy to explain.
The first one is this, the first one is the fact that God loves you and has an awesome plan for your life. That’s the first step in this process of understanding what it means to know God through Christ. God has a great plan. The Bible says, for example, in John 10 it says that God loves us and that he loves us so much that he has this plan that is abundant for everybody’s life.
So check this out, God has an agenda for everybody’s life that is phenomenal; yet, most people don’t experience God’s irrational love nor do they experience his great plan. And I really believe that if we could go to heaven right now and sort of see the plan that God has for our life we would not believe it. We would be saying, “Are you kidding me? It is that incredible, God? You want me to do that kind of stuff? You have a life that is that exciting, that is that adventuresome?”
That is how amazing and awesome God’s plan is. So again, God loves you and me unconditionally and he has a great plan our life. However, most people, when you look around, for example this restaurant here and the people who sit in these seats, most people are not experiencing God’s plan. Now why is that?
Here is the second part of this process. It is because of S-I-N, sin. The Bible says that man has sinned. When you see the word sin you might be going, “Wah, wah, wah. Sin? Come on.”
Here is what sin means. Sin is simply like this: Here is a target. If you fired an arrow and you wanted to hit that target, hit the Bull’s-eye, but the arrow went over here, you would miss the mark. That is the mark and the arrow, miss the mark. That’s what it means to sin.
We have all missed the mark. We have fallen short. So God loves you, that’s the first thing. The second thing is man has sinned and our sin, our rebellion; as I sometimes say, our junk, our funk, our baggage, our negative attitudes, our moral score card, our sin, has separated us from God and the plan that he offers us. So man has sinned and our sin has separated us from God and the plan that he offers.
So the reason most people are not experiencing this off the chain existence is because of sin. And the reason most people don’t understand the depth of God’s love is because of sin. And Bible says, in Romans, for example, Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death. In fact, I’ll read it for you right here from the Book of Romans. You know, this morning my dog ate part of my Bible. Can you believe that?
Romans 6:23 it says, “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
So the wages of sin, in other words, that’s the payment of sin, is death. If we got what we deserved, it would be death. Sin leads to death. Sin has to have a payment. Also in Romans 3:23 it says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Now that’s a huge one, because every single person has sinned. You have sinned, I’ve sinned, everybody has messed up and our sins have separated us from God. You have this right here, you have for example, let me draw this cliff and here is this chasm. Here you have man (on one side of the chasm), this represents man and I will draw stick figures, you and me. That’s man on this side of the cliff. See the cliff right there? And here is God over here (on the other side of the chasm). So you have man and God. Our sin has separated us from God. That’s what’s caused this separation, this cosmic chasm, our sin.
Man has tried to bridge this gap between himself and God. Some people say, “Well, I will be really philosophical. I will study the great thinkers, Plato and Aristotle.”
That’s fine, but it falls short. Others say, “I will try to be a good guy or good girl and have all of these good works and give to the poor.” But that falls short.
So the philosophical plan doesn’t work. The good works plan doesn’t work. Some people say, “Well I’m just going to be really religious. I will go to church all the time and read the Bible and get confirmed and baptized and all that.”
You still fall short, because even after our best day, even after my best day, I fall miserably short. I’m a natural born sinner. I mess up. So if we got what we deserved over here, it would be eternal separation from God. Why? Because God is holy.
Now that’s a huge word, holy. Really, it means God’s standard of goodness is perfection. God can’t wink at sin. God can’t say, “That’s just the way people are.” He can’t say, “Well boys will be boys and girls will be girls.”
God is holy and his standards are perfect. So if we lived this perfect life; if we never made any mistakes and we never committed any sins of commission or omission, then everything would be cool between man and God. However, man has sinned. And no one taught me how to sin. I’m just a natural born sinner and so are you. I know how to lie. I know how to cheat. I know how to think bad thoughts, impure thoughts. I just know how to sin. I’m a natural born sinner and so are you.
Well, here is the great news, number three, the third step in this process of how to know God. God loves you and has a great plan for your life. That plan has been blocked off because of sin. Our sin has separated us from God and the love and the plan that he has for us. Here is the third thing. God has a remedy for our sin problem.
What did God do? God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. Thus, Jesus paid for our sins and reconciled us to God. We’re reconciled to God through Jesus. It is something that we totally and completely don’t deserve.
In fact, Ephesians 2:8 10, let me show you this verse. Check this out. It says “For it is by grace,” I will talk about that in a second, “you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” It says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Well, that’s the whole plan thing and that’s God’s awesome agenda. God saw the sin. And again, God can’t wink at sin because God is holy. So God did something, God sent his only son to die on the cross for all of our sins. Now you’re talking about heaven, wow. Just think about it.
Let’s say you’re a parent and let’s say you had to sacrifice your child so people could live; you had to sacrifice your child for their sin. Wow, I can’t really grasp that. I can’t wrap my mind around that. That’s how much love, but God did that.
So what did Jesus do? The Bible said that Jesus became a man; he was fully God and fully man, which is something that I don’t understand. No one really will. Jesus, though, took on the limitations of the flesh and lived this perfect life.
Some people say, “Well how did Jesus have the juice, the stuff to die on the cross for all of our sins?”
Well, only an unblemished sacrifice, only the perfect son of God could appease God, and could do the work of redemption and salvation that Jesus did for us. So Jesus lived this perfect life, and then he died a sacrificial death. He was nailed to a cross. He hung there suspended between heaven and earth for your sins and mine.
So think of Jesus has a bridge. I will just draw a cross here. The cross is the bridge. Do you see that? So God— and this is the best news you will ever hear—God sent Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and to die on the cross for all of our sin. Think about it, Jesus took all of the pain, the guilt, the remorse, the conflict, everything we have ever thought wrong, done wrong, in the past present and even in the future. Jesus felt that on his life. And the Scriptures say right before he died he said this, “It is finished.” In other words, the work has been done. It has been done.
So the fourth thing is this—and I will come back to Ephesians in a second—the fourth thing is it’s our choice. We either receive this amazing gift or not. Now that’s heavy.
Remember, Ephesians 2:8 9 says we’re saved by grace through faith. In other words, what is grace? Grace is unmerited favor. I like the word grace. I saw this one time, it’s God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Isn’t that something? That’s what grace is, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Some people say, “Well I have doubts. I’m not sure totally and completely about this deal.”
If you show me somebody who doesn’t have doubt, I will show you somebody who has no faith. Doubt means you have faith. Now it’s our choice; we either receive this or not. So it’s by grace and it’s through faith. So by faith we either accept this gift or not.
Do you remember when I quoted earlier Romans 6:23? It says, “For the wages of sin are death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Illus: For example, this is a great pen. This is a Mont Blanc pen. I collect pens. I spoke somewhere and someone gave me this after I spoke. They said, “I know you like pens; I want to bless you with this. Here’s this pen.”
Well, when someone gave me this nice pen, this Mont Blanc pen, it demanded a response. I either said, “I’ll receive it,” or say, “I don’t want it.” Now I would be an idiot if I said I didn’t want a Mont Blanc pen. A Mont Blanc pen is a great pen. I said, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” I received it.
So that’s the way this situation is; we either receive it or not. Now, I can’t make you do it. I can explain it to you. I can draw all of these diagrams, but this is what the Bible says about how to know God.
Do you want to know the outline of the Bible? The Bible is about these four things. That’s what it’s about. You could be thinking, “I don’t know if I really believe that.”
Well, just because you don’t believe it doesn’t mean that it’s not true. I could say I don’t believe in gravity. I just don’t believe it. But you know what? If I let go of this Mont Blanc pen, it is going to fall.
“But I don’t believe gravity.”
Fine. I have a choice to either believe in gravity or not, but the pen is going to fall.
I’m not talking about religion. I’m not talking about joining some church. I’m not talking about being a Catholic or Baptist. I’m not talking about being Episcopalian or whatever. I’m talking about having a personal relationship with Christ.
But the question is have you made this decision? Have you made it?
“Well Ed, how do I make it?”
Just simply by saying this. Let me tell you something for example. This is the bottom line. It is like a contract.
You become a believer by basically saying, “You know what, I believe God, that you love me. And I admit to you that I’m a sinner and I turn from my sins and turn to you. I acknowledge the fact, and to the best of my ability I believe that you, God, sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all of my sins. I turn from my sins and I turn to you. I ask you, Jesus Christ, to come into my life. I give you everything I am and everything I will ever be.”
If you say that, the moment you articulate those words, this cosmic transaction takes place. All of your sin, all of the shame, all of the guilt is transferred to Christ’s shoulders. At the same time, his forgiveness, his righteousness, and his love are deposited into your life. It is the best transaction in the world, because the moment I wrote my name on that line, the moment I made that decision, that transaction took place.
Again, I will give you another chance to make this decision. Just simply say right now, “God I believe in you and I believe you have a great plan for my life. I also admit the fact, I admit the obvious, I confess my sins that I have sinned. I have sinned in the past, I’m going to sin today and I’ll sin in the future. I turn from my sin and I turn to you. I believe you sent Jesus to die on the cross for all of my junk, for all of my sins and right now I turn from that, I turn from my sin and I turn to you. I ask you, Jesus Christ, into come into my life. I give you everything, tax, title and license, I give it all to you.”
Here is the contract right here. I will make you up one right here. Here is the pen. You either sign it or not. It will be the greatest thing you have ever done in your life. Don’t delay; don’t put it off.
If you signed your name on the dotted line, he will never leave you and he will never, ever forsake you. And that’s simply the message of life.
So what Jesus started and what he created and built was this thing called the church. That’s why the church is so important, because the moment you became a follower of Christ you became a part of body of Christ. And it’s so vital for you to plug in and to get involved and to become a part of a church. That’s your next step.
Now, being a part of a church does not make you a Christian. Just like if I walk into Starbucks I’m not a cappuccino, a triple shot cappuccino. But we’re to be a part of a local church and I would love to have you as a part of Fellowship Church.
Something else that I would challenge you to do, the litmus test, in fact the first obedience test of our faith is to go public. Every thyme Jesus calls someone to himself throughout the Scriptures, he did it publically, they made a public decision. So the first test of obedience is something called baptism.
Now whenever I talk about baptism and challenge people to get baptized they say, “Baptism? I was sprinkled as a child or I was spritzed or I was this and that.” And people start totally going on tilt.
Baptism, again, does not make you a Christian, but it’s the first test of obedience. The Bible tells us that when we’re old enough to understand what it means to make a faith decision, then we should get baptized. And as you read the book of Acts it talks about so many people believing in the Lord and making that reception, that transaction. After they did that, the Bible says, they were baptized that day. So how could this day, today, become that day? Well I want to challenge you to get baptized.
When it comes to baptism, there are some basic questions. “When should I be baptized?”
As soon as possible after you have become a believer.
“How should I get baptized?”
Well, when we have question we say, “What does the Bible say?” Well, we baptize by emersion.
“Why by emersion?” Well, that’s what the Bible says. Because emersion best illustrates what happens when a person becomes a believer.
Here is the water and here is someone getting baptized. There is the pastor over there. When you go under the water, that represents the death and burial that you’re identifying with. It represents your old life. The water represents the blood of Jesus that cleanses you from all of your sin. When you come out of the water, that’s your new life after this transaction. You’re identifying with the resurrection of Jesus. That’s what baptism symbolizes.
So when, how, and why. Why is a good one. Because Jesus was baptized and he commanded it. And every baptism in the Bible was by emersion and it occurred after someone became a believer.
So after you make that commitment, be sure to be baptized, be sure to get plugged into a church. Of course, I’m biased about our church. Begin to get involved. Begin to study the Scripture. You can pick up a lot of different tools in our bookstore about how to study the Scripture.
A good book to maybe start reading in the Bible would be the Gospel of John. Maybe get a modern day translation. There’s the book of John. Another good book would be the book of 1 John. That would be great, as well.
So begin to read and begin to talk to God in prayer. I have done a lot of teachings on prayer, on studying the Bible and would love for you to get involved in this incredible relationship, because Christianity is like marriage. It is a decision followed by a process.
So thanks for talking to me today. That’s for hanging out. Thanks for having a cup of coffee with me as we have heard about the most important thing in life, how to know God. And to know God, it’s all about Jesus.