In my prior post (Jesus Don’t You Care?) I related how Scripture declares the intimate relationship each Christian can have with God directly through faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit God sends into every believer’s heart. In this post, I want to explain briefly what we all seem to know instinctively–we need each other!
So, why should Christians gather with each other? Isn’t a direct relationship with God enough?
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, 25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.
I. We have physical bodies and God does not.
- Our physical bodies with all their material and emotional needs are often best served by others like us.
- We have arms and legs to carry and provide, which God does not.
- Seeing God’s love in others helps us to see beyond the physical to see God himself.
II. We are family.
- Although the three-in-one being of God is impossible for our limited minds to grasp, we can grasp that God is a God of communication. He communicates among himself, and we are modeled to be like him. Communication is basic to the life God created in us.
- Families meet often to share each other–to be family together. Family by definition means more than one.
- God created us to be family–both with him and with each other.
III. We encourage each other in Christ when we meet together.
- Together, we balance out and correct false or incomplete doctrine.
- Alone, we are easy targets for our spiritual enemies, Satan and his demons.
- Speaking for myself, we forget. I sometimes forget to pray, I forget God loves me, I forget my Christian duties, I forget how to worship. My sisters and brothers in Christ remind me of these things.
- Again, speaking for myself, I am not always in close fellowship with God. I go off track, I might get strange ideas, I am tempted in various ways and may fall prey. Hearing the testimonies of others and witnessing the movement of God in their lives encourages me to keep on keeping on. My family in Christ animates me to worship and adore the Lord.
IV. It’s often lots of fun!
V. We live out the love of Christ for us by loving others. When I lay down my life in love for another, I understand experientially what it cost Christ to lay down his life for me. No amount of words can give me such an understanding. The result is worship.
I. As a Christian, I have a direct and intimate relationship through the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ with God the Father. I must do what I can to nurture this relationship.
- give priority to making time to be alone and quiet with God
- learn to hear and recognize his voice when he speaks
- cry out to him regularly and truthfully in prayer
- obey when he acts the parent and gives me a task to do
- fellowship with him through his word
- love, adore, worship, and submit to him in private time alone and together with him
- remember and take advantage of the fact that he is always present
II. As a Christian, I have a direct and spiritually intimate relationship with other Christians through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit with those who share my faith in Christ.
- Christians are all spiritually one
John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
- God’s purpose for each of us and for Christ’s body as a single whole is fulfilled as we meet and serve one another in love. This love and service becomes visible to the world as a testimony to the truth of the Gospel message of life in Jesus Christ.
III. Christ is the source of all, the center of all, and the purpose of all, whether we fellowship alone with God through the Holy Spirit or in groups together. As Christians, we need both. As we individually drink from the source, may we share our living water with others, so that all may grow to maturity in one body and in love.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Hezekiah’s prayer is recorded in Isaiah 38. That prayer is one of my favorite portions in all of Isaiah. Hezekiah lay dying with a mortal illness. He prayed to God, and here he gives his praise and thanksgiving for God’s answer of healing mercy and forgiveness of all his sins.
Hezekiah reminds me that there are various forms of illness: there are physical illnesses, and there are spiritual. I recently passed through a season of spiritual illness. As the nature of my sin slowly dawned upon me, I turned to the Lord in confession and repentance. I am happy to say he healed me. Not too long afterward, the world pandemic of Coronavirus began. I am so glad to be spiritually recovered during this challenging time. Not only am I better equipped to withstand my own trials, but I am positioned to watch, stand, and pray for others. The Lord is merciful, and he is good. His love is everlasting.
There is so much
to weep about in our world recently. Bad things happen as surely as night follows day. (John 16:33) It seems as though our country–along with most other parts of the world–has been experiencing one very long night. Will the violence and human pain never end? Yet for those who find their eternal hope in our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13), Scripture carries the promise of a bright day to follow each and every dark night: “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” — (Psalm 30:5).”
Christians know this biblical promise of God is true, because Christ has already deposited within them the fountain of life and joy–his Holy Spirit (John 7:38; Ephesians 1:13). And this fountain of joy and life is eternal; it can never be quenched no matter how much external circumstances say otherwise. And so we sing–
” “Spring up, O well! — Sing to it!”
Down below is a reprinted article from just over one year ago, here on this blog.
But before I give you that, let me tell you a little story of something that just happened. My granddaughter is six years old now and is in first grade. Two days ago, while sitting right next to me at the lunch table with all my atheist family, she asked me if I knew her “class” number at school. She meant her room number.
“Is it six?” I guessed.
“No,” she said.
“Is it five?” I guessed again.
“That’s good. Five is a good number,” I said.
“Why is five a good number?” she asked.
“Because five is the number of grace.”
“What does grace mean?”
“Grace is when you need another chance and you get it. And when you need another chance after that, you get it. And when you need another chance, you get it.”
At this point she nodded. I didn’t need to continue, because she understood what I was saying. She knew from her own experience what I was talking about. I could tell she felt content. I could see by her face and relaxed body posture that she agreed that grace is a good thing, and she received it as her own. She was happy to be in a classroom at school with the number five for grace.
Now the reprint from just over a year ago. I pray the little explanation of how I know that God exists blesses someone who reads it.
“Gramma, how do you know that God exists?”
My dear, sweet granddaughter, only five years old, you are asking an age old question whose answer no one agrees on. Basically, I think, there are two kinds of people. There are those who look out at the world, and they see the world. There are others who look out at the world, and they have a great desire to know who made the world.
The first group feels no need to think there’s a maker. They don’t know that God exists. Neither do they know that he doesn’t exist. It just happens that they’re happy enough without him.
The second group is not satisfied and never will be until they meet the one who made the world. How do they know that someone made the world? They don’t. It’s just the only explanation that makes sense to them, because the world bears the imprint of God. Why these two groups? Only God knows.
How do people in the second group–we can call them believers–how do believers know that God exists? By faith. What is faith? Faith is choosing to believe in God even when you don’t know. Faith is desiring God. Here is what the Bible teaches about faith.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3 ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
Believers know God as a person. Ask any believer and they will tell you that by some means or another God has spoken to them and changed their life somehow. This is how they know that God exists. God is invisible Spirit. He cannot be known by the five senses nor deduced by measurement. He is not an intellectual conclusion. He is a Being who speaks, hears, and acts. All believers have experienced some sort of interaction with God that amazes them. This amazement persists throughout the remainder of their lives.
Now, after a person becomes a believer, that is, after they experience their initial transaction with God or become aware of his presence in them, then there are a multitude of ways that knowing God exists gets reinforced throughout their lives. Here are some of those ways.
- They hear the stories of many, many other believers which in some ways match their own story.
- They read the Bible and experience the voice of God speaking directly to them through its words.
- They read the Bible and notice how incredibly well each part supports and interacts with other parts.
- They read the Bible and are convinced by the prophecies it contains.
- They experience miracles in their lives or hear first hand from people who have had miracles happen to them.
- They feel an influence upon their minds, hearts, and behaviors that makes most sense as coming from God.
- Good things happen to them. When bad things happen, they know they are not alone. They find that God helps them through the bad stuff.
- God continues to speak to them in such a way that they know it’s him. “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3 ESV)
- Something convinces them that God has heard them thinking.
- Prayers get answered.
- They sense God’s presence.
- They’re happier than they have ever been before they knew God.
My little one, the best way I know for you to know that God exists is to speak with him. Tell him that you want to know that he exists, but you don’t know how. Actually speak to him. Address him respectfully by name. Be honest with him and tell him where you’re at. If you find in your heart that you would like to know God, then be patient–God will reveal himself to you, just as Jesus promised.
If anyone wants to do God’s will, he will know about my teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak from my own authority. (John 7:17 NET)
Let me explain that verse to you. God wants everyone to know him. If you want to know God, then he will show himself to you. If you want to know God, just ask him. If you’re not sure that you want to know God, but you think you might perhaps like to know him, then tell him that. God loves you, and he would love for you to turn to him. He is not a monster, and he won’t eat you alive.
So to answer your question, how do I know that God exists, I know that he exists because when I talk to him, he answers me. When I talk to you and you answer me, I don’t say, “How do I know my granddaughter exists?” I know you exist because I know you. It’s the same way with God.