It is a fact, and there’s nothing ‘fake’ about it! Each Christian is ‘in Christ’, no matter who we are or how old or young, or even how discouraged we are. Nationality does not matter either. This position of being ‘in Christ’ lasts for ever and nothing, neither sin nor unbelief, will separate Christians from the Lord Jesus. Amazing!
The parable of the vine and the branches (John 15) and the marriage relationship between a man and a woman (Eph. 5:22-33) picture the intimate relationship between each Christian and the living Christ. This relationship means we can get to know God better, finding in him joy, love and strength to live the Christian life. Christians are never on their own for they are ‘in Christ’. Nor should Christians despair of being unable to face difficult situations. All a Christian needs is found in Jesus Christ. He is the treasure of grace, power, peace and love so Christians are dynamically united to one who is infinitely rich.
This spiritual relationship with Christ remains a fact, no matter how Christians feel. Believe it! There is need, however, for Christians to spend time getting to know the Lord better in his Word and in prayer. Here are two key ways that Christians can experience the Lord in various circumstances.
Knowing the Lord in his Word
The Bible is the only book we can trust. After all, it’s ‘the Word of God’ (1 Thess. 2:13) in which God unveiled his character and purpose clearly so we can know him. It’s a huge privilege to have the Bible and to be able to read it. The Bible points to, and unveils, the beauty of the triune God and his salvation in Christ. The Bible points to Christ, and Christ said, ‘These are the Scriptures that testify about me’ (John 5:39). To learn about, and also experience the triune God, reading and treasuring the Bible is the key.
The living God uses the Bible in different and powerful ways to bring unbelievers to Christ, then to strengthen, encourage and transform Christians (Rom. 1:16; Rom. 10:17; John 17:17). The Bible is dynamite in the hands of the Holy Spirit so the place to know and experience the Lord is in his Word.
John MacArthur, a pastor in California shared this about reading the Bible: ‘There are many days when I can hardly stand what I am discovering. It just overwhelms me. In every paragraph there is this incomparable Jesus Christ and he is just devastatingly powerful and glorious. It is a crushing experience to be exposed to him, and yet it is the most exalting thing – to realize he has embraced me from all eternity!’ A similar thrill in reading the Bible can be yours too!
Many Christians find that God speaks to and changes them in the preaching of the Word; often there can be a profound awareness of God’s presence and an experience of his love and power on these occasions. If you are serious about knowing the Lord, then you need to sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word regularly in your local church while also praying for the preacher that God’s Spirit will use the Word powerfully. If you are a preacher, be real with the Lord. Dig deep in the Bible. Let the Lord deal with you, but pray for the Holy Spirit’s help. Needy Christians and unbelievers are waiting to hear God speak to them through his Word through you.
Knowing the Lord in prayer
Think of a middle-aged man suddenly coming under conviction of sin. Distressed because his mother was dying, he was unexpectedly convicted of sin before God. Unable to eat, shower or do anything, he knelt down on the pavement in the hospital grounds in heavy rain and talked to God alone. He asked the Lord to save him. Immediately, the Lord accepted him in Christ. He was a new person, experiencing relief and joy.
Think of a young lady needing the Lord’s wisdom and peace concerning a job interview. She was uncertain about the job so she talked to the Lord about it, asking for his guidance. She did not get the job but accepted God’s will with gratitude and she felt near to the Lord.
A preacher had neglected prayer for months but one morning he talked desperately to the Lord, asking for help. Bible verses flooded his mind and the time of prayer became longer than planned but his heart was warmed in feeling a new love for his Lord and delight in his presence. It seemed like a second conversion with the Lord becoming more real to him.
Prayer is more than words; it involves the heart, a genuine desire to love and obey the Lord. Prayer is enjoying his presence, admiring him, appreciating his love in Christ, thanking him for his blessings and desiring more people to become Christians. Prayer also means asking God for his help in many different situations but especially enjoying his presence.
Churches in prayer too can be encouraged and know the Lord’s presence and power. A new but small church in North Wales witnessed a number of unexpected conversions of unchurched people in the area from 1982-85. The handful of Christians who met regularly for prayer asked specifically for God to bring local people to faith in Christ. The Lord answered prayer unexpectedly. The pastor asks: ‘Have we lost sight of the way the Lord is able to break in to our churches, no matter how difficult they are?’ Prayer can be exciting.
A real, intimate knowledge and experience of God is promised to believers in the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:34). It’s a relationship we can enjoy here and now, whatever our circumstances, through his Word and prayer. Nevertheless, Christians often live far below their privileges. Rather, let’s be real in our relationship with Christ.
This article is taken from the recently published book ‘Knowing and Enjoying God – Book 3’. It is a series of 3 books which help new and mature Christians know and enjoy God and is available from the EMW. Visit emwbooks.com for more information.