'Knowing' Jesus?

Discussion in 'Biblical Advices' started by 55Dodge, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. 'Knowing' Jesus?

    Greetings all,

    :eek: Sorry this post got so lengthy- I just couldn't seem to condense it down any more...

    I came from a childhood home that was cynical, pessimistic and mostly joyless. I was never abused and I was certainly loved, but that love wasn’t really expressed. My parents and sibling were more like house-mates than family. The message was pretty much that the world isn’t a safe or loving place, that no one can be trusted, and any acceptance I was to achieve in life would have to earned.

    To this day I struggle as an adult with this deep-seated idea that I have to impress people and somehow excel and prove myself in order to be acceptable to them, but that I can never adequately do so. As an adult, I of course know this to be a completely faulty view, but it’s so intertwined into my personality that it’s always there, kind of like a physical deformity that can’t be denied.

    I became a believer some 25+ years ago, but for about half of that time I lived as a ‘worldly Christian’- not really committed to God above all else. I know I'm a sinner, redeemed by Jesus Christ, and I expect to stand joyfully before Him on that day, clothed in the righteousness He purchased for me on the cross.

    I believe the bible in it's entirety to be God's word and to be true. I'm a member of a firmly bible-based, evangelical church with a small but open and loving congregation. I teach adult SS classes there on a fairly regular basis.

    As all Christians do, I struggle with the old sinful nature, but God has and continues to change me in un-dramatic but undeniable ways, and for that I am inexpressibly thankful to Him.

    Having said all that...
    I've struggled for years to understand what it really means to 'know' Jesus. I hear people talk all the time about ‘knowing’ Jesus and about their ‘personal relationship’ with Him. I hear the same terms used that would be used to describe ‘knowing’ another person- a dear friend, a spouse, child, neighbor etc. They talk about Jesus and His love as if He were physically present with them. I am not implying that these kind of descriptions are un-biblical.

    However, I feel like I’ve missed something important here- my experience of Jesus seems to be all head and little heart. I mean It’s more about knowing about Jesus and his love, than it is about knowing Him in the sense that I could know a deeply loved person. I can have heart-to-heart talks with my wife, and we share many other expressions of our love for one another. But what does it mean to know Jesus and his love in a this kind of deeply personal way?

    To my dismay, I even sometimes wonder if I’m really saved if my belief is factual but not experiential.

    I would very much appreciate others’ thoughts. Am I alone in this experience, or are there others as well? I know the message of the bible and especially the gospels is about God’s indescribably great love for and mercy toward us. However, as foundational as God’s word is, just by itself quoting scripture passages speaking of God’s love haven’t really been that fruitful for me so far.

  2. What I was taught as I was growing up was that love (like respect) has to earned, and that it's not something we automatically get. I don't believe my sorry-excuse-for-a-dad ever loved me. I'm not sure he was capable of loving. All I ever heard from him was that I was useless, couldn't do anything right, and that nothing I said was worth hearing. He taught me until I graduated from high school that men don't show emotions or say "I love you" to to anyone. The verbal abuse was far worse than the physical abuse. He didn't treat my mother any better than he did me.

    While I have a head knowledge that that is not always the case, it was for me as I grew up. That's why I tend to be suspicious of people who are too friendly and seem to actually care about me. I tend to suspect their motives and have difficulty getting close to anyone. That way they can't hurt me. When "friends" stop being friendly (and they usually do), I just take it in stride and know it's normal. I have been hurt far worse by those you would expect to love and care about you more than I have strangers. I have never felt worthy of love. That's why I enjoy my own company more than anyone else's. I can chat with other people and enjoy their company for a limited time, but then I want to be alone.
  3. Jon-Marc,
    Thank you- your honesty and openness are much appreciated.
    Your upbringing was certainly tougher than mine- it must have seemed unbearably painful and lonely for you, growing up in that atmosphere.

    I was never physically abused or told I wasn't worth anything (I was just never told that I WAS worth anything). Even so, I can sure identify with what you're saying about feeling unworthy of love and being wary of emotional closeness.

    Jon-Marc, If I may ask, how has all this affected how you see your relationship with God? Are you able 'to own' Jesus' unconditional love for you? Or is it like it is for me- a fact I know, but not something that I can internalize and 'own'?

    You certainly have every right to not go there If you don't want to, and I definitely understand if that's the case.

    Thank you again for responding!
  4. my friend i know exactly howeyoub feel ive swuffered from the same things my friend it is God who promised read romans 8;39 my friend Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification Its God who promised live your life to plerase Him my friend He will never let you down
  5. People are different, some are more openly emotional and expressive, some are more reserved and contemplative. We are not saved by being expressive and emotional nor are we saved by being reserved and contemplative. We are saved by believing Jesus.

    We have all had different roads to travel in our lives, for some that road has been harsh and cold, for others it has varied, for others it has been mostly smooth. God who knows the intentions and thoughts of all people can deal with each of us in a way that suits each individual.

    We should not look upon another who seeks to be alone with God in quiet contemplation as being less saved, nor should we look upon those who like to shout and jump around in a group as being less saved. God knows the intentions of each person. We should not look upon our connection with God as being inferior because it does not have the outer show or expression that others feel lead to do.

    Those of us who have walked a harsh road in life will invariably express our faith and others who do not yet believe Jesus and are walking on a similar harsh road will see in us someone that they can relate to, a form of personal kind ship of experience. It is very hard for them to relate or feel comfortable or see as real those who have walked a smooth path and have what is to them a plastic/fake/shallow faith. Often they will not even give consideration to what these people say in relation to God. But in a person who they feel a sense of brotherhood with because of shared experience of a harsh past they will far more likely listen to when the discussion comes to thoughts on God.

    The Body of Christ has different parts forming different functions and i believe appealing to different kinds of people. we should not look upon others as being superior or inferior members of the Body. We need all the different personalities. We need people who have known harshness who can relate to others who have grown up in a cold world.

    Personally the greatest gift i have found in this world that has come from Jesus is the peace of mind that came to me from believing Jesus. I do not need to be excited, I am not an excitable person. I don't need to scream my head off and do summersaults down a church isle to know i am saved. Then again if someone else who believe Jesus feels the need to do that then so be it :) It is their relationship with God, it is between them and God.

    All Praise The Ancient Of Days
  6. 55Dodge, I don't think Jon-Marc actually realized his family was disfunctional until he had family relationships of his own. While you are growing up, you are not aware anything is odd or different, because it's all you've ever known. It's later, when you grow into adulthood and experience how others grew up, that you begin to understand yourself and why you feel this deep void or need in your life. I was 50 before I realized my parents had some serious problems which formed my personality and problems of my own. Now, one of my siblings turned out fairly well because he did not experience the same lack of love as did I. He had all the love I did not. And there are others whose parents picked on or beat more than their siblings. It does effect how we view God, as does experiences we go through during our childhood.

    I had no desire, even an abhorrance to attending church because I was taken advantage of by two different "God-Fearing" upstanding men in our small community. To me, church was something weird and not to be considered as even good. It wasn't until I turned 58 that I recognized this thirst and hunger in my life as a God-thing. In the end, I ended up here, on this forum, learning my experiences were just my bad luck.

    In your situation, Dodge 55, if you were raised to believe in God, then maybe you just never experienced a personal relationship because every-one assumed you loved God and understood everything. I would think it would kinda be like the Angels in a way because they will never be able to sing "Amazing Grace." And you have never been where I have been, absolutely lost, without knowledge of God's love. Even after I surrendered my life to Christ, I had to learn how to love Him. I had to learn how to pray too, which was pretty difficult. I started out by whispering, and I still do that sometimes. I would think praying to Him in a Secret Place somewhere would help you begin to appreciate His love for you more. Just telling Him exactly what you said in your post, would help. I had to start out by saying, "God, I don't know you very well, but I want to. Please help me to know You." Then I read all I could all the time in the Bible. I couldn't put it down. It went everyplace I went.

    But, in your case, if you teach Sunday School Class, you probably know a lot in the Bible, but just ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Word all over again. I'm sorry this got so long. Just putting down my thoughts. Sweets
  7. My thoughts

    To know Jesus is to not know oneself, As I do not do what I want to do. But thanks for God's grace.

    Reasoning through the Holy Spirit as Christ creates the intention in our hearts, Which always remains. This is walking with God

    As opposing; creating the intention through reflection to the mind. This does not last but disappears

    I hope this makes sense

    Meaning reconciliation then creation

    God bless
  8. Thanks Adstar, you make a very good point:

    I couldn't agree more- salvation is by faith and trust in Christ alone. There are no degrees of salvation. Salvation is like pregnancy in that you either are or you aren't, no Christian can be 'more saved' or 'less saved' than another. Further, only God, who looks on the heart, knows for sure which are His and which are not.

    In all honesty, I think I must harbor an element of envy of those who can confidently claim to have a deeply personal relationship with Christ. I'd love to be able to know that kind of comfort in dark times. I emphasize the term comfort, which is not the same as assurance, which I definitely do have, in dark days and light.

    It's only in rare, gloomy times when I find myself thinking about my salvation- For the most part I'm certain of my place in God's kingdom, and I know that I'll stand before His throne in his presence and the presence of all those who've trusted in Jesus' for their redemption from sin (that 'Blessed Assurance).

    "Never doubt in the dark what you've believed in the light".

    I think taking God at His word and 'claiming' his promise of redemption through Jesus is sort of like getting on an airplane for someone who's terrified of flying. You may be afraid and worried- even doubtful- but if you take the flight crew and airline at their word that the flight will arrive safely, and you board the plane anyway, despite your doubts, you get where you need to go.
  9. Univac, I think I follow you...

    ..but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
    ...Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
    What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
    -Rom 7:14-25

    for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. -Phil 2:13

    Univac, have I got the gist of it? Thanks!
  10. Sweets, perhaps it's just been too easy for me.

    Thank you SweetS,

    I've never had to suffer in the same way that you, Jon-Marc and others have. I've been blessed with so much in so many ways- I've never been hungry, homeless, or really wanting for much of anything. I've never felt like my life was hopeless or that I was ever utterly lost. Other than being a Type 1 diabetic since age 11, I've had it pretty good, actually.

    Paradoxically, it seems that those who've lost the most and 'hit bottom' the hardest are the ones that are blessed with the greatest awareness of the magnitude of God's love.
    Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." -Luke 7:47
    It sounds weird, but in some bizzare way I almost wish I had come out of a terrible, painful past so that I could appreciate more fully the depth of God's love.

    Growing up, I had no spiritual training or leading whatever. In my college years I was 'too smart' to fall for that 'trip that these Christian-types were on'.

    Many believing friends were praying for me though, and somehow, in His infinite patience and mercy, God got it through my thick-headed arrogance that I really didn't have it all figured out like I thought I did.

  11. What are you missing if anything
  12. Hi 55Dodge, I think I know EXACTLY what you're saying in the OP, because I feel the same way. Like I've got nearly everything, but there's some vital piece in the relationship that's missing, others seem to take it for granted, but I just can't seem to get there, and wonder if I ever will. Like you, I see God working in my life without doubt, and when I think back to what I was, I can see that that was a different person, there's no question about it. I have assurance of salvation, but because I lack this extra part of the relationship, in my bad times I wonder if, if I was put to the test like having to suffer physically for Christ, my assurance might flee away, and I might find all my experience of God's hand in my life, the things He's enabled me to do that I'd never have been able to do in my own strength, the peace I've experienced in my heart that I never had before I accepted Christ etc, might all end up as mere positive thinking and psychology. When I think this way I have to cling to the promises of Christ that all who come to Him, He will in no way turn away.

    On the occasions when I've had to pray out loud publicly, I sound like I'm leaving a message on a telephone answering machine, rather than talking to a living person who is RIGHT HERE. For this reason I avoid like the plague such occasions, and once left a church for that reason, because it only had about 10 members and I couldn't avoid taking part. I've read stories of people going through real bad times, in prison, or in hospital, without much hope, and they experience the presence of Jesus right there, not visually, but really present with them, but I've never experienced that sense of His presence like that. Since you wrote the OP I've been thinking of the reasons why not, and I'm a bit troubled in my heart because I'm realising that if I did experience His presence in the way we're talking about, my life would have to change. For instance, would I sit and watch a two and a half hour movie on TV if I was conscious of Jesus RIGHT HERE beside me? Of course not, I'd be talking to Him, and listening to Him (hopefully more listening than talking). Would I spend time reading a novel for an hour if I was conscious of Him beside me. Would I really cook myself such a huge meal when that amount of food isn't neccessay, or stop talking with Him while I read the news on the internet? That sort of thing, not sins as such, it's just that it seems to me now that I don't live my life as if He was RIGHT HERE. And maybe that's why I don't experience this. If I did act out my knowledge of His presence, maybe I would experience this, I've just got to think about this some more.
  13. SwissBrowns, something you said made me think of a book I read once. You said: "I'm realising that if I did experience His presence in the way we're talking about, my life would have to change." The name of the book was "In His Steps." It's about a man who challenged people in his congregation to live as if Jesus were walking with them throughout their lives and the decisions, personal and business, we would make. You look at life differently after you've read the book.
  14. Thanks for that SS, I just looked it up, it's the 39th best selling book of all time, written over 100 years ago. My question is whether the behavior remains just an act of the will, or whether the act of will prepares the human heart for experiencing the presence of Christ in reality, who then influences the behavior, which then no longer requires the act of will but is just natural.:rolleyes:
  15. SwissBrowns,

    I really appreciate your description- it’s exactly what I’m trying to say.

    SwissBrowns, I’ve been thinking about what you said about living as if Jesus was ‘RIGHT HERE’.

    Having the benefit of the NT, we know that the Jesus who walked this earth in a flesh and blood body is in fact no less than the Creator of the universe- One of the trinity, and utterly too holy and magnificent for us to behold in our sin-tainted mortal bodies. (Is 59:2, 64:7, Jn 1:42, Rev 22:3-4)

    I don’t think Jesus’ disciples and the others who knew and walked with him fully grasped the totality of who He was (EX Luke 8:25). They may of had 'head knowledge' of who He was (Mt 16:16), but 'heart knowledge' came later, after His ascension and the day of Pentecost.
    I think they were therefore more able to interact and speak with Him as with another man, albeit an extraordinary man, but nonetheless in most tangible respects a man like themselves.

    If Jesus the man were present with me, just the knowledge of who He is i.e Creator, judge, savior and God would be so absolutely overpowering that I don’t think I would be able to act or think in any way resembling the ways I do now (probably a good thing! :D).

    In thinking this through, I’ve come to a realization that I would probably be very suspicious of a ‘Jesus’ I could experience in a ‘more real’ way (whatever ‘more real’ may mean to me). I’ve never much trusted emotion (especially my own) as a reliable indicator of what is and isn't truth. I wonder if I wouldn't see a more humanly experience-able Jesus as a product of my own wishful thinking and/or the influence of the enemy. In that case I would be very much disinclined to trust him.

    I'm reminded of the very familiar Hebrews 11:1:
    Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)

    Blessings, -chris
  16. [quote=

    "If Jesus the man were present with me, just the knowledge of who He is i.e Creator, judge, savior and God would be so absolutely overpowering that I don’t think I would be able to act or think in any way resembling the ways I do now (probably a good thing! :D).

    In thinking this through, I’ve come to a realization that I would probably be very suspicious of a ‘Jesus’ I could experience in a ‘more real’ way (whatever ‘more real’ may mean to me). "

    What you seem to be saying is that you want to experience the presense of Jesus, but not too much:). I know what you mean though, I think this is why in genuine revivals like the Congo revival of the 1950's, when the presense of God is manifested, everyone is stricken with fear, almost paralized, and all they want to do is confess all their sin and receive forgiveness. About 6 months ago I bought Brother Lawrence's book 'The Practice of the Presence of God', thinking this might hold the key to achieving this close walk with God, but I haven't finished it. It turned out to be an abridged edition, which makes me suspicious, wondering about the bits the editors cut out.
  17. Hmmm..... Been reading through all the posts here and to me and maybe it is me , I think you are at the point in your life where you are going to get a breakthrough and when you do you will never be the same. You see when you are seeking you will find and when you are knocking the door will be opened. Only believe. Believe that Jesus Christ is the only way the Truth and the life. Cast all your cares on Him cause He cares for you.

    Sometimes in our pride and stubborness ( and of course that is satan) we don't want to give it all over to Him .... we don't want to surrender our will to Him . But He still gives us a choice and it is up to us whether we accept Him or not and leave our past and move forward to a brighter future , a future with hope and promise. A future that gives us an eternal home.

    We have all the head knowledge but it hasn't reached our heart. When we do accept Christ into our heart that is not the end . We also have to do our part . We need to read the Word to get our daily instruction almost like an instuction manual. He speaks to us through His Word . That is why it is called the living Word. We also need to pray and it does not have to be lengthy but simply talking like you would talk to a friend. After all God calls us friend.

    The Christian Life is an act of obedience and accountability to God

    .Romans 14:10-12.... Mathew 5:13 and 1 Corinthians 9:16

    Romans reminds us that it doesn't matter much what people on earth think about us It's God who matters. We are in the world but not of the world.

    It's a very scary thought to realize that one day each of us will stand alone before the judgement seat of Christ . God sees our hearts . He knows our thoughts. He watches every move we make.

    But if you know Christ and have accepted Him into your heart ... you don't have anything to fear. Your eternity is secure. But , we are accountable to Him for our choices. Some day we will stand before Him and answer for our decisions.

    Sometimes it is hard to hold ourselves to God's strict standards. Good Christian friends can hold us accountable . A close Christian friend can ask how you're responding to a particular temptatation that always seems to break you. A fellow - believer can help you live up to God's standards .

    Remember ultimately you're accountable to Him ---- but in the meantime , we can help each other.

    The Lord knows what is happening in the world of the dead, so he surely knows the thoughts of the living Proverbs 15:11

    God Bless.
  18. Re:

    "It sounds weird, but in some bizzare way I almost wish I had come out of a terrible, painful past so that I could appreciate more fully the depth of God's love."

    One thing I've learned is that it's dangerous to look back. Better to never have known what's in the dark than to have known and have to run away from it. It would be good to be an infant in evil. As Spurgeon wrote we have to keep the road of refuge kept clear of stones for those walking on it with heavy hearts. Some may love more who has been forgiven much, others may be haunted by memory and doubt more. P.S. I like the qoute about never doubting in the dark what you've believed in the light. We're not supposed to have an evil, unbelieving heart, and our eye is not supposed to be bad, and watch out that the light in us is not darkness, but sometimes it is dark. Newton said he saw 20,000 ghosts, he expressed great love and appreciation, but never-the-less that man had to be stalked.
  19. Amen brother God bless you dont look back and dont listen to the devils lies Jesus is lodr He is for you bro stand strong bro if God be for us who can be against us keep your eyes on Him and pray for discernment my brother read Gods word and ask God before you read books my friend ok i care about you my friend beware of wolves in sheepse clothing by thier fruits you will know them we are living in difficult times but be of good courage faithfull is He who promised Jesus is lord of all i bow before you alone Lord Jesus Christ i will serve no other master but you Lord break the power of idls come and rule as King break the chains that bind us come and rule as king we will have no other gods we will serve no other master but you for it is written worship the Lord your God and serve Him only get behind me satan in Jesus name Jesus reigns i love you jesus of nazareth always
  20. Thanks, brother. Hey check out The Gospel of John-2 & 3 hr. dvd set. It's newer and the 3-hr. dvd rocks. Also, I just watched Luther-good movie on the reformation and Martin Luther.

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