I Want to Know Christ
Today, I want to ask you a question:
“Do we know Jesus?”
Before the service officially opened today, we showed a video that asked the question,“Do you know Him?”
I ask us, today:
“Do we know Him?
Is He REALLY knowable?
Because of His Death on the Cross, He is worth knowing, and because of his RESURRECTION from the dead,
Jesus IS knowable!.
We may have walked with Him for days or decades,
but do we know Him?
Or do we just know about Jesus?
If just acquainted, then this can be tragic.
Do we know the change that comes from knowing Jesus?
Knowing Jesus means we can know peace.
It means we can know a different lifestyle than the world offers us.
Knowing Jesus makes us different, and if we are not different, then we may need to repent.
In the early days of the Church, believers were attacked and blocked because we were new and foreign.
In the movie currently in theaters, “Paul, the Apostle,” early church persecution under Nero is vividly displayed, just as Pastor Ernie described a few weeks ago in his message.
Today, missionaries are often rejected because we are new, foreign or different.
Yesterday, two brothers helped me to do some good in Lakeside.
We gave out packages of Peeps with a card on it that red “Jesus is for all peeps.”
I don’t know if we were ever flat out rejected because we are believers.
But if we had tried to engage people in the discussion of Christ, then we would have had objection.
This is because from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry through the present time, the message of Jesus is about change…restoration…healing…
From sinfulness to righteousness
From sickness to healthiness
From death to resurrection.
In 2011, we established a church in Istanbul, Turkey.
Jesus’ led us to do this just four years after two Turkish pastors and a German missionary had been savagely killed by some young men who said that they were interested in knowing Jesus.
“We want to know Jesus,” they claimed.
Five young men who didn’t know Christ, murdered three who did.
They had been directed to kill by a particular political group in Turkey, that doesn’t want churches there.
So, we had to really know Christin order to know if He were truly calling us to step into such a potentially dangerous place.
We had to count the cost of this calling.
While we served in Turkey, two other pastors were almost assassinated by groups like this, but the government learned about the plans and arrested the conspirators.
They didn’t want more bad press.
Knowing that pastors were targets for assassination didn’t sit well with me.
But, we knew that God called us there, and we needed to trust God with our future.
Honestly, I feel safer as long as I know where God wants me to be.
The safest place on earth is in the center of His plan, in the safety and sufficiency of his perfect will.
How do we know God’s will?
We have to get to know, Jesus.
I want to know Christ.
Jesus said that if we know Him we will know God the Father, too.
As we know Jesus, we’re able to stand firmly wherever we are.
And sometimes it’s harder to stand firmly in the Land of Opportunity, than in the land of insecurity and danger.
What helps us is KNOWING CHRIST.
Today, is Resurrection Sunday, and I want us to look at a statement made by the Apostle Paul about the resurrection and about knowing Christ.
Paul wrote to the Philippians about the importance of believing in and following Christ.
He reiterated that he was not saved
- by his works
- or his education,
but by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Let’s look at Philippians 3:7-11:
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
The title of my message today is
I Want to Know Christ
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your message to us through the Apostle Paul’s letter. Help us, too, to better know Your Son, Jesus Christ!
- All Is Lost
Now, I’m usually very upbeat and positive, but as I look at these words today, I am reminded that all is lost.
All are lost.
Many of us know John 3:16, but we must not forget what the next two verses state:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Those who believe in Jesus have a hopeful future, and those who don’t are condemned, in fact we are all condemned if we don’t know Jesus.
These are Jesus’ own words.
He was NOT politically correct.
The Bible has rarely been politically correct.
While some people like to blame the Bible for Slavery,
those who actually read the Bible
see that Slaves are FREED and elevated above their bondage.
People have used the Bible to oppress the position of wives and women through the ages, and yet,
the Bible ACTUALLY elevates women, because the Bible teaches that God blessed both male and female.
God loves husbands and wives, equally, and while God’s Word to wives may seem hard
(that they must submit to their husbands),
this Word protects women from other men…and is easier than the Word God gave to husbands
which is to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself…
- and buried for the church.
So, women, the Bible is ON YOUR SIDE,
and if you want your husbands to love you and be the best that they can be,
THEY NEED TO KNOW CHRIST!
We ALL need to know Christ, because without Him, we are lost.
Nothing we do can save us.
The Scriptures teach that
…all have sinned and [all] have fallen short of the glory of God.
All are lost without Christ.
And while those who know Christ are still imperfect,
we now know the One who IS perfect…Jesus.
Jesus calls us to let go of everything that blocks us from walking with Him.
- Pride & Accomplishment
- Insecurity & fear
- Wastefulness & abuse
- Lust & Greed
- Self-centeredness & theft
- Gossip & Immorality
- Hetero-sexual sin and
- Homo-sexual sin.
All these will cause us to lose our way,
but if we follow Jesus and know Him,
we will find ourselves in HIM.
Paul calls his accomplishments Rubbish, garbage.
Since I want to Know Christ, I must therefore, let go of all competitors to knowing Christ.
Knowing Jesus, is the greatest of treasure.
- Life Is Found in Christ
I’ve been a believer and follower of Jesus for 44 years, and I will not tell you that it is easy.
I will nottell you that I’ve had an easy life.
I will not tell you that I’ve had no problems.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have had my fair share of problems.
And my heart goes out to people when they are suffering.
So, if my life on earth is not absolutely perfect as a Christian, then why do I continue to follow Christ?
Why do I continue to get to know Jesus?
Why not just take care of myself, ALONE and forget everything else?
Is it because I want to have a great afterlife?
Some people treat the grace of God like an insurance policy.
They accept it, and forget about it except when they come close to death, and then they try to make certain that their premiums are paid in full.
But, following Christ is to know Him
- in my struggles,
- in my pain,
- in my uncertainty,
- in my weakness,
- in my loss,
as well as knowing Him
- in my success,
- my times of physical blessings,
- my times of plenty,
- and my times of comfort.
Life is found in Christ, so to know Christ is to know life.
35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for [Jesus] and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Mark 8:35-37
I want to know Christ.
- He is the giver of life.
- the Way, and the Truth and the Life.
- the Resurrection and the Life.
- the Creator
- the Redeemer.
- The Sustainer
He looks at each one of us and says, come to me, and I will give you life.
Jesus gives me the ability to understand life, better.
He helps me to live according to His rhythms and tempo, so that I am able to truly be at peace.
And as a church, I encourage us at to draw closer to Christ, and let us get to know Him, better, together.
In my stresses, I find restoration to be ONLY in Christ.
I want to know Christ…how about you?
- Power in His Presence
But what good is it to Know Christ?
How will this help me pay my bills?
How will this restore my marriage?
The answer is that to know Christ is to know the powerful presence of the RESURRECTED CHRIST with us.
Jesus is also known as Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
You remember what I said earlier about living in Turkey, and counting the cost of serving Jesus where I was potentially a target for assassination or terrorism?
How could Clover and I serve there and live there in such a potentially stressful place?
It was because we knew the power of Christ’s presence.
When Christ walked the earth, He limited Himself to wherever His body could be,
but after He died and then was RESURRECTED, Jesus’ Spirit, surrounds those who follow Him.
And the Holy Spirit of Jesus enables us to live and succeed.
In fact, Jesus promises to be with us whereever we go.
He is standing with me right now, and His Spirit strengthens my spirit and body.
There is power in his presence.
[God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Psalm 28:7, 8
The Lord is my strength.
He is all I need,
and He sustains,
and enables me to stand in the most difficult of places because in His presence I find His power.
Back in Turkey, there were a few times when I was worried.
Once, after a worship service in our church, we looked out our 5thfloor window, and there was a demonstration on the streetsoutside our church from the same political groupthat was behind the murders of the two Turkish pastors and the German missionary.
In front of our door was a group of young men standing together.
We were not sure what they were doing.
I’m so glad that I want to know Christ, and that I am getting to know Him.
Because, His presence sustained me.
And, yes, because I know Christ I was in danger, but the truth is, all of mankind is in danger from each other, from the world and from the devil, himself.
So, if by walking with Jesus, I find myself in danger, then that danger is worth it.
The Apostle Paul, also, had been part of a political and religious group that killed Christians. And God changed Him.
When I saw that group of young men in front of our doors, and the crowds on the street just 30 yards from us, I was concerned for my congregation.
We numbered about 100, ranging in ages from 0-60, and about 12 different ethnic groups.
I decided we needed to all leave at the same time,
and leave as a group.
So I gathered everyone together and explained what I could see outside our window.
Then instructed that we needed to all leave as one group and instead of walking to the left, toward the demonstrators, we needed to walk to the right, away from the crowd.
We prayed, and then most walked as a group down the stairs, while groups of 5-6 took turns with the elevator.
Everyone was safe, and the young men did not accost us, but they were somewhat intimidating…
AND they filmed us coming out of the church.
Sending the church down the stairs was stressful for me, but I committed them to Jesus and the power of His presence.
Walking past young men of the same age and from the same group that had savagely killed my fellow ministers a few years before,
I asked Jesus to bless them, and protect our people, and He did.
You see, I wasn’t afraid to die, but as life goes on, I see people losing hope.
Do you know why April 1 is called April Fool’s Day?
Because at one time in the Western world, April 1 was New Year’s day.
When the calendar was changed, and January became the first day of the New Year, not everyone heard about the change.
Those who continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1 were considered to be “fools.”
They were misinformed.
When Jesus went to the cross, Satan thought he had won an epic war.
But three days later, Jesus rose from the tomb.
APRIL FOOLS, SATAN!
The body that had been killed on a cross was now alive and bore the scars of crucifixion.
Jesus died, but when He was resurrected, He cannot die again.
He is the first of those who will be resurrected.
Some will be resurrected to eternal life with Jesus in the kingdom of God, while others will be resurrected to the judgment of hell.
The difference is knowing Christ.
That is why we lived and served in Kazakhstan and Turkey, because we believe that people need Christ. Those countries contain millions who have been blocked from hearing the gospel, and blocked from knowing Jesus.
And sadly, there are those in this country who have decided that knowing Christ is not as important as knowing comfort, or gaining possessions.
They even claim that their riches are signs of God’s blessing.
The truth is, we live in a region that has freedom to follow Christ,
- but have put idols of politics,
- idols of stuff,
- idols of opinion above the place of God.
People give up and stop wanting to know Christ.
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering.
My destination is the kingdom of heaven because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus,
but my present state is ALSOthe kingdom of heaven,
because He, my King, Jesus, surrounds me with the power of His resurrection and His presence.
Oh, I want to Know Christ, today. I want to continue to know Him, tomorrow.
And I want all of us to know Him and all of us to live according to that relationship that we can have with Christ.
So that we can be stand with each other against the pain that life throws at us.
Here at the River, we are dedicated to serving our community, and we do this because Jesus is our example.
He served man, so we will too.
I want to ask you to stand and I want to give you an opportunity to respond to the message today.
We need to draw closer to Jesus trust Him even more.
The older we get, life becomes harder, and we need to get to Know Jesus, even better.