The other day, in the small Bible-study group where I belong, we talked about how to make sure we are really Christians, or followers of Jesus Christ. Our study leader had another responsibility to attend to, and so the teaching for that night was assigned to a member of our group.
The lesson was basic to most of us, as it was meant to be. We are Christians because we are obeying the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ. “Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, ‘If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’” (John 8:31-32 WEB).
The teaching was going well, and I was remembering past experiences of my own obedience to Jesus. This made me want to share something to my group mates, and so I did, as our meeting was closing. But what I said triggered some arguments I didn’t expect.
This is what I said to them, that an outward show of obedience is not enough, especially if you are only following God’s commandments legalistically. I said that to make sure you really are a Christian, you must not only be obeying Jesus and his commandments, but you must also personally know him. After all, that is his promise, that if we truly obey him, with all of our hearts, we will know him. We will know God.
“One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him” (John 14:21 WEB).
Our discussion has given me the idea for this essay. I had meant to write an article about the Bible itself to start off our study, but I think that it would be best if I first talk about the direction we’ll take and the very purpose of this website — to expound more on what I’ve already said on my About page.
I have asked you if you hunger for God, and if you want to know him more and his Word. By these questions you must have realized that my writings are not just for Christians like me (though of course they are my primary audience), but for all of you who have responded — Christians or not. I am affirming this now.
And I am also affirming my purpose. For all my writings — articles, Bible studies, and personal essays — I have only this one overall purpose, a purpose that will define my actions and the future of this website: for us to know God more. Through his Word. And through my own life.
The Bible teaches this view of my relationship with the triune God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit): I am a child of my Father; a servant of my Lord Jesus; and a workmanship (a work in progress) of my mentor, the Holy Spirit. It is through this view — this camera lens filter, so to speak — that I’ll work on achieving my purpose of us knowing God more.
However, I have a serious reminder for all of you. As they say, life is a journey, and the Christian life is no different. It is a journey whose goal is Christlikeness, and it’s a journey that has no end, because eternity in heaven is what awaits those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Knowing God is the same — it is a journey also, a process, and not a place to be. In fact, the purpose of knowing God and your life can be so greatly intertwined with each other that they may seem to be one. As that popular song of Hillsong says, “I live to know you, Lord.” What all this means is that as we proceed with our studies of knowing God, you must not demand too much of yourself. You must not demand perfection. Expect setbacks as you expect growth. Because obedience is what knowing God truly means, and obedience means change — change in our lives, in our beliefs, in our actions, in our hearts, in our character. And change is achieved, not instantaneously, but in increasing measure.
Furthermore, because I’m talking to a wide range of audience here, including those who have already walked a long way in this journey of faith, it cannot be helped that sometimes I will talk about some profound matters only these people can appreciate — matters that might frustrate you, or even make you mad. If this happens, please, try to be patient. And try to remember that this is a journey for all of us: no one has arrived yet, but some have already walked farther than others.
Now, I don’t know if there are other Christian sites whose primary and explicitly stated purpose is also to know God more through his Word. I also don’t know if there are others like me who are willing to bare their hearts and souls just for that purpose — to go beyond what the Bible says and let others see God in practical action through their lives.
The truth is, I could have had other purposes in a Bible-study website such as this. I could, for example, write only about the many Biblical topics in an expository and largely impersonal way (this was exactly my original plan). I could also write as a preacher would, writing sermons and the like. Or I could write (or try to write) as a scholar would — discoursing on the background, mysteries, and controversies of the Bible. Or I could become an advocate — fighting for Christian causes in my writing, and condemning the evil in this world.
But I am not doing those things. Instead here I am, writing for the purpose of helping you know God more — and laying bare my life in the process. Do you know why? Because that is simply my nature now, the result of God’s shaping work on me through the years. I am now an artist who God can use to paint his portrait with words. It is also my passion.
A Swordsman of the Word
It is just a fact of life, that the wrongs done to us by people can have a far-reaching consequence on our lives many years later.
For me, it was the poor and harmful way I was evangelized. But this is a story from my past that I don’t want to go into right now. Suffice it to say that, because God’s Word had been abused, my faith was destroyed as a result. I rejected Jesus, and I nearly became an atheist.
To this very day I still carry this baggage with me, and for a long time it has made me fearful of boldly sharing the Gospel. You see, that bitter experience has taught me to be very cautious, lest I do to someone else what had been done to me.
But I thank and praise God, because he has the power to transform evil intentions into good results. This is one promise from God that I’ve proven to be true time and again:
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 WEB).
My friends, this website you see now is the result of one such transformation. God has used my past to give me this passion to be careful in handling his Word:
“For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 WEB).
“…The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17 WEB).
It takes someone whose inner being had been carelessly damaged by this sword to have this deep passion for carefully using it. Because brandishing God’s Word without thought of the consequences is, in my opinion, a very grave mistake.
Truth balanced by grace. This is the very essence of this website, and of my writings. The truth we can find in the Bible. And grace we can see in how God has been working in my life.
And these two — truth and grace — are what we will use to know God more.
“The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth…. From his fullness we all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14,16-17 WEB).
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This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. — John 17:3 WEB
How has this ministry helped you, my friend? Have you started to know God more?
The truth is, all these things I’ve talked about won’t have any real meaning to you unless you first have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know how to start such a relationship (and to know the story, the privileges, and the responsibilities that accompany this relationship), please read this: God’s Plan of Salvation.
Maybe you already have a relationship with God, my friend. Or maybe you’re not ready yet to take that step. Either way, if you are blessed by what you’ve read, even if only a little, and you want to stay blessed and grow in your knowledge of God, I’m inviting you to join my mailing list now, and receive my posts in your inbox.