Have you met the Lord Jesus who is risen from the dead and is at the right hand of God? Have you come to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal manner? Now, you might be saying to yourself, “What do you mean by a personal relationship with the living Christ?” To answer these questions we must ask, “How does the Lord Jesus make Himself known so that we can get to know Him?” The answer is: He makes Himself known to us through the Bible.
The Bible teaches us that there is a consciousness written into our minds that God has made us and that we must give account to Him one day for how we have lived. If we really want to know God we must have a sorrow for the things we have done wrong. God has seen them all and they are present before Him. This is an essential part of humbly seeking God. Beyond our inner sense of knowing that we have a Creator and Judge and a kind Maker who sends blessings into our lives, the Bible sets before us the forgiving grace that is found in the Savior Jesus Christ.
In order to hear the Lord Jesus speaking to you in the Bible it is helpful to realize that the Bible is written in a special way. God is there watching you read the Bible. He sees what you are thinking as you read it. As you are reading about Him, He is “reading” you. This is not all. God is eternal and all-wise. When He wrote the verses you are reading many centuries before you were born, He had you in His mind. God knew you would be reading that verse on that day. He intended you to read it and He is speaking to you as you read it just as truly as if He was speaking to you right from heaven at that moment—and God is speaking to you through the Bible. We are reminded of this in Psalm 100 verse 5 where it says, “His truth endures through to all generations.” This “living voice of God” speaking to you through the Bible makes the Bible a living book. The Living God wrote it. When you are reading the Word of God remember: when we interpret God’s Word properly, it’s message is as personally directed to you as an E-mail sent today from heaven. It is even more direct than that. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). The Bible says, “Today, if you will hear His voice do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8). This is the most amazing thing you can ever discover in life. Let it sink deep into your heart.
When we realize that the Bible is written in such a manner so that it will be God speaking to us, then we will see why we must pray as we read the Bible. God is speaking to us and to have a two-way communication we must speak to Him. Soon we learn that God must work in our hearts to give us faith to understand and embrace the things written in the Bible. He must help us see how great and wonderful the Lord Jesus is. God must help us see how much we need the Savior. He must help us be honest and admit that we really are the sinners that the Bible says we are. There is something we must remember as we seek God by reading the Scriptures. God will not make Himself real and near to the person who is half-hearted about the whole matter. So we must seek God with all of our heart. “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). In other words we must want Him more than anything else in life.
The things that I have said so far may either sound strange to you or like the greatest adventure in the world. However, to truly enter into these realities we must start at the cross where the Lord Jesus was crucified. He came to endure the punishment for the sins for everyone who will believe on Him. For those who repent of their sins and believe in Him, He will forgive them right now and take them to heaven when they die. He will deliver them from the awful judgment of hell. He will also be their shepherd every day throughout this life until they get to heaven. He will draw near to them. He will give them fresh motivation for living time and time again. He will pick them up when they are down. He will give them many, many new beginnings. He will never leave them or forsake them. In difficult times He will be near to them as they pray and read the bible. When they are deeply disappointed at seeming set-backs and losses in life, He will teach them to trust his wise and kind control over the details of their life. He promises that He will work out all things for their good, even though at the moment they cannot see how their present pain and sorrows will ever turn out for good. But believers, who are Christ’s sheep, will be able to say like David, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). This Psalm and many other verses of the Bible will come alive in your heart and you will sense God talking to you and encouraging you just as real as if you were standing before Him in heaven.
Read Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd”) and see what a faithful friend and guide the Lord Jesus is to His people. Read the Gospels and see yourself as the leper coming for spiritual cleansing from sin. If you do desire to be cleansed from your sin, you can see the Lord Jesus putting His hand on you and saying, “I am willing to cleanse you, be clean”—and you will be! See yourself as Levi sitting at your desk and Jesus coming by and saying to you, “Follow me.” Rise up and give your life to obeying and following Him. Read the Bible for yourself with a seeking heart and pray that God will personally speak to you.
Again let me say, these things will not become a reality in your life until you come to the risen Lord Jesus and repent of your sins and entrust your soul to Him and ask Him to give you forgiveness and new life. This is what every person who is a true Christian knows by experience. He has come and been very honest about all of his inward thoughts, motives, and actions. We must have a sense of sorrow and shame that we have sinned against God and have been ignoring the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ. We must resolve by His grace to forsake our sins. Remember, He came out of heaven to earth motivated by great pity and love to die on the cross and endure the punishment for all who will believe on Him. So you must entrust yourself to Him and give yourself to Him to live for Him. Don’t let the Devil discourage you from dealing personally with the Lord Jesus. Your sins are not too great. His blood can cleanse away all sins (1 John 1:7). Don’t let the Devil dishearten you by suggesting that dealing with sin is an unhelpful starting place. This is not true. This is the only starting place. The Lord Jesus spoke these words for you to hear: “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Listen to his warning! He also said, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul. What shall he give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). Do you see how important this is?
Now, listen to these encouraging words from the most compassionate Person in the universe: Jesus says to you, “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). “He that comes to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). I pray that you will find the risen Christ speaking to you right now just as real as if you were standing in front of the tomb when He arose from the dead. I pray that you will respond like Thomas did when he saw the Lord Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). With all of your heart pray like the publican did in Luke 18:13—”God be merciful to me a sinner”—and you will begin to know the Risen Christ in his saving grace. As you see the changes in your life that come as you read the Bible, pray, and obey His commands, you will have a growing assurance that He truly has come and died particularly for you and has taken away all of your sins when He said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Have you met Him? I pray that you will come to the place where you will have to say, “I cannot deny that I know Him. I would be ungrateful if I said that I have not met Him.” You may even say, “I don’t know Him as well as I should.” But, if you have come to Him in repentance and faith then He has forgiven you and you can say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
Pastor Gary Carter
Tampa Reformed Baptist Church
Free Grace Church of Tampa Bay