I haven’t forgotten about the “Questions about Hell” articles I promised. I’m still planning on it, but want to know what the next question to be answered should be. Leave your suggestion in the comments or email me.
I want to start writing sermons on a regular basis to get myself into the practice. And so here is the first in what I hope to be a regular flow of sermons-turned-article. As practice I’m going to start with the one I spoke to our youth group at camp.
Communicating with God
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.”
He is why we are here. He created us, and He gives us purpose. Therefore communicating with Him is incredibly important. Something that should be noted about the verse above, is that we are compared to sheep. I owned sheep once. Sheep are stupid. Vulnerable. Completely dependent on the Shepherd. We ought to go to him for everything.
Today we are unable to communicate with God as we were meant to. We cannot hear him with our physical ears anymore (With the very rare exception). I find it important to give an overview of why and how we got where we are today.
6,000 years ago
God created the Earth. It was perfect. God then created man. We were perfect. God gave man a spirit, also perfect.
So, here in the beginning of time we have things as they ought to be. A perfect spirit, in a perfect body, in a perfect world. Zero separation from God. He was able to literally speak with Adam and Eve. They had no sin, and could therefore endure his presence.
We had no sickness, no death, and perfect communication with God.
But it didn’t stay that way.
After man sinned and brought death into the world, we cut ourselves off from God. After that we had an imperfect spirit, in an imperfect body, in an imperfect world.
I would like to mention briefly why God had to curse our bodies and creation when at first only our spirit had been corrupt. God could not allow us to remain in perfect bodies when we had a sinful nature. There must be consequence for sin, and there would be none if He didn’t curse our bodies. Think about a world where people cheated on their wives, indulged in homosexuality, abused their bodies with drugs and alcohol, and their body never broke down as a result.
4,000 years of seperation
In the years that followed the fall of man, God could only communicate to us through specific individuals: prophets and priests. These men were chosen by God to act as a mediator between Him and His people. These men were the best alternative at the time, but they didn’t have the authority of God and they sometimes rebelled against God themselves.
Casting lots (dice) was another thing the people would do. This is how God revealed to the crew that Jonah was the reason their ship was sinking. You could cast your lot, and with a prayer, determine the will of God. I sounds nice on the outside, doesn’t it?
The problem with lots is that it only spoke when wanted to hear. And if it spoke something you didn’t like, you could blame gravity or offer some other excuse that dice couldn’t portray the will of God.
2,000 years ago God sent a High Priest
Jesus Christ came and not only gave us freedom from sin (which is awesome in itself), but he also tore the veil that was separating common man from God. Suddenly, every believer becomes a priest. We all have the right to approach God with our concerns.
How is this possible? He redeemed our spirit. He fixed it.
Not we have a perfect spirit again. However, we still die, we still have illness, we still have temptations, and we even stumble into sin. Why is this? Because we still have an imperfect body.
We have a perfect spirit, in an imperfect body, in an imperfect world.
When you become a Christian you have effectively declared war on yourself. Read this from Galations:
“[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
Your spirit and flesh (body) are at war with each other. Each pulling in a different direction. So although we are able to communicate with God directly, it still isn’t what it was meant to be. Keep that in mind as we go over God’s methods of communicating with us today.
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)”
Con = Law
Science = Knowledge
A common (okay, huge) misconception is that everybody has a conscience. This is almost true, but it’s not. This verse in Romans is very specific when talking about the conscience. It says that the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts. The Gentiles were to the Jews what non-believers are to us.
The knowledge of moral law, good and evil, is how God makes himself known to the world. Ravi Zacharias does a wonderful job of proving the existence of God by using common moral law. C.S. Lewis does this also in Mere Christianity.
So, what does a Christian have instead of a conscience?
The Holy Spirit
God replaces the conscience with his own spirit.
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
The purpose of the conscience was to remind us of the law. Suddenly, when you become a Christian, this is useless.
“ But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
People take this verse and use it to justify sin. When in reality, we are now held to a much higher standard than the law. We are to live our lives in the will of God.
God gave us the law so that if we followed it we would be as close to His will as was possible. If He wanted us to live by His will before we had Christ, He would have had to write a bible for every person ever born because His will is so specific to each and every one of us.
Now that we have Christ, He needs only to send us His Spirit. It’s there for the big decisions as well as the little ones. No more casting lots.
It should be mentioned that lots were cast one more time after Christ came. However, the results are believed to be a mistake, as no power was ever mentioned in the bible as a result of the decision. Read Acts 1:26.
The Word of God
“For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
The bible is absolutely useless to a non-believer. It can draw Him to God, yes, but a man will get no sustenance from it unless he has a spirit ready to listen.
The Word is very much alive, and it is speaking directly to your spirit when you “read”. It is important for new Christians to understand that even though their flesh may not understand what the bible is trying to say, their spirit knows perfectly well. God has redeemed your spirit and it begins immediately to draw from the living waters of God’s word.
With time your mind will learn to understand the Scriptures. But don’t be discouraged. Let your spirit eat in the meantime.
The final method of communication that I will be covering. I would like you to notice that this is the first way I have talked about in which we can speak to God. The others were all about God speaking to us.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
Here Jesus gives us a perfect example of prayer. I don’t want to go into detail on this verse, as I’d get stuck writing a whole extra article worth.
I want to touch on the other side of prayer: listening.
I met a man in Canada who had some sort of mental disability. Everything that entered his mind came out his mouth. Everything. When the offering plate came around, I heard every excuse. When Dad was preaching, I heard what he thought about the sermon.
He was the hardest man to have a conversation with. He never shut up. His mind wouldn’t let him.
I realized while talking with this man, that I must annoy God immensely when I come to Him in prayer, and then leave before he can get a word in edgewise. “Dear God. Give me guidance. Goodbye.”
Be sure to let God have His time with your heart. Let Him answer your questions, and in His own time too.
The most influential moments that I have had with God were spent by me being silent.
I would like to bring up this convicting fact: Before you became a Christian, you didn’t have a choice in whether or not you would listen to God. your conscience never asks before knocking on your heart. However, once you become a Christian, communication with God relies very much on your own initiative. Will you listen to His Spirit? Will you read His Word? Do you pray?
The only limiting factor in your relationship with God, is yourself.
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