Thursday, August 13, 2009

INTIMACY WITH CHRIST


While not a big fan of the paraphrase edition of the Bible called The Message, there is one verse that says something the way that you and I might better understand it today.

I can see it now; at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.”
Matthew 7:22-23

Other versions translate Jesus’ response to those who claim to have done many Church things as, “I never knew you; Depart from Me…”.

“The level of IMPACT that you will have for God will be in equal proportion to the level of INTIMACY that you have with God”

Can you imagine standing before the Lord Jesus on the Day of Judgment? You are excited and expectant because He surely must be so pleased with your spotless church attendance and your serving on so many committees!

Maybe you have a noted deliverance ministry and have even spoken a message with a thus saith the Lord at the end of it on a regular basis!

Perhaps you served as the pastor of a popular church that regularly sponsored Christian concerts and city-wide cookouts! Surely Jesus will smile when He brings up the record of all of the great service projects that you sponsored!

The word used by Jesus here in Matthew 7:23 is the Greek word egnoon, which is also used in Matthew 1:25 in declaring that Joseph had not “known” or been intimate with Mary prior to Jesus’ birth.

The whole of Matthew chapter seven is very interesting (and challenging) in regards to having an intimate relationship with Jesus rather than merely a religious experience.

A couple of verses set the tone for what Jesus says to those is verse 23 though :

Matthew 7:20-21 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

This is a very provocative and troubling verse to many in the Church today because of what it implies.

By bringing in the same word that describes intimacy (know or knew) and joining it with the reproductive word - fruit (Karpos –the offspring of the Christian), and then declaring that a verbal proclamation is not enough to insure a person’s place in heaven—Jesus has effectively exposed many of the false conversions that take place when a person merely repeats a “sinner’s prayer” without any repentance or transformation. (2 Cor 5:17, Gal 2:20, Rom 6:18, Col 3:5, 1 John 3:9)

What I have found through preaching the Gospel and witnessing across this nation is that many people fall into the unfortunate category of having “never been known by or having ever had an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus.”

Most have—gone to Church, been lead to repeat the Roman Road prayer, and even been through the process of water baptism—yet have no prayer life, do not read the Bible themselves, never share their faith or live a holy life!

Should it come as a surprise that many who “claim to know Christ” are better described as counterfeits rather than converts? The reason that these things are happening with many is because they are the reproduction of those behind the pulpits!

Jeremiah 10:21 says, “For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, And have not sought the Lord; Therefore they shall not prosper, And all their flocks shall be scattered.”

The great Apostle of Prayer, E.M. Bounds had a chapter in one of his books that was called, Backslidden in the Pulpit, about the prayerlessness of those given the responsibility to lead and guide God’s people.

How will the Body of Christ learn to walk intimately with the Lord Jesus Christ if those that they are following have grown “dull of hearing” and effectively backslidden from a place of consecration.

Sure their churches are growing! Sure they are still preaching what seems to be a solid word. They are not in sexual immorality, drunkenness, or embezzlement—but it is not these things that pose the greatest threat of scattering the flock—it is the lack of intimacy with Christ that causes the life-giving relationship that once was, to become a mundane and powerless ritual.

The way that I put it is: Information apart from Intimacy will eventually lead to Apostasy!

We can tell people all “about” Jesus and they can regurgitate all the Christian-ese that one can stomach—but the absence of an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus will never produce a life pleasing to Him on the day of judgment

Are you as a leader taking the time to stop and listen to the voice of the Lord or are you on some sort of spiritual cruise control that seems to be keeping you up to speed but has really just lulled you to sleep? Are you as a follower of Christ not even sure if you really know Jesus?

If what you do for Christ has become a higher priority than your time spent with Christ– then you really don’t know Christ!

Acts 1:8 says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses

Do you want the “power” of God operating in and through your life? The word used her for “witness” is the Greek word martures which essentially means a “martyr.” Do you want to be a martyr for Jesus?

If you are reluctant to answer “yes” to that question then you will have a big problem ever having an intimate relationship with Jesus. Intimacy demands that we lay our lives down and abandon the selfishness that once ruled us through our fallen nature.

Let me leave you something that may help you in your quest for a truly powerful life in Christ:

P = prayer. This is the time spent listening to the voice of the Lord and not just the time spent petitioning the hand of the Lord. This is where it all starts.

O = obedience. We have got to be willing to follow through on everything that God has instructed us to do through His Word and through prayer.

W= worship. This keeps things in perspective. It keeps God in charge and it keeps us humble before Him.

E = evangelism. Genuine intimacy will always reproduce the relationship in others.

R = repentance. This is where we continue to see our hearts and minds changed as we abandon our own feeble efforts and are embraced in His perfect will.

Jesus has been missing His time with you. “Unless you are willing to Stop and Listen You will never be qualified to Go out and Tell”

Blessings,

Pastor Troy D. Bohn
Raven Ministries International

1 comment:

Nick and Shayne said...

Thanks Pastor Troy