If a complete stranger asked if he could borrow your car for a day, you’d probably say no. But if a close friend or relative made the same request you would be inclined to say yes. We can only put our full trust in someone we’ve come to know well. That’s the difference in knowing about God versus knowing God in a personal way. The God of the universe is crazy in love with you. He proved His love when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come into the world and take the penalty of your sin so that you could experience God personally and know the joys of living in heaven!
Do you know God?
Religious people know about God. Genuine Christians have the ability to know God in a personal way. Becoming a child of God cannot happen by our own efforts of good deeds or religious rituals such as getting baptized (see Ephesians 2:8–9). But when we transfer our trust in what we can do and begin trusting in what Jesus Christ has already done for us, we can experience a living relationship with the living God. The moment you believe that Jesus died for you and rose again, and you commit yourself to become a follower of Christ, you can experience God in a personal way.
What experiences of God can Christians have?
Assurance of Heaven
The moment you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God begins to live inside of you (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). The very first thing the Holy Spirit did for me when He came into my life was to give me assurance that I was going to heaven. As a child, I prayed the same prayer every night — “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Think about it — what kind of prayer is that for a little kid! That prayer never gave me the feeling of assurance that I so wanted in my heart. But thankfully, when I asked Jesus Christ to become my Lord and Savior, God gave me a quiet peace and confidence that when I die I will go directly to heaven as God has promised in His Word: “…to be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8b).
Daily Joy and Peace
Another experience of knowing God is the daily joy and peace that comes to our hearts as we grow in our faith. As Christians, we know and believe that God ultimately has control over everything. God is not the cause of all of the bad things that happen in the world. We live in a fallen world that has the obvious curse of sin upon it. But God is so great that He can even take the bad things that happen to us and teach us lessons that allow us to help others (see Romans 8:28). God will not forsake us during the hard times of life; rather He will give us a deep joy rooted in our relationship with Him.
We have a saying I’ve shared with our church family on many occasions: A shared joy is a double joy; a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.
The Bible says that Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ for eternity — and that’s a very long time. Loving others is the one virtue that Jesus said identifies Christians as belonging to Him. If you’re experiencing feelings of loneliness, then it’s time to experience God through the joyful fellowship of worshiping the Savior with a congregation of people who desire to grow in their faith.
Jesus said, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” John 10:10b. Abundant living is an experience that comes when you truly know God. You begin to put off some of the old habits and begin some new ones. The Holy Spirit creates an inner compulsion in all believers for them to come together for worship, learning, and fellowship at church.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…
If you don’t attend a church where the Bible is clearly taught and explained, then come and join us as we experience God by growing closer to Him each Sunday at 9 a.m. or 10:30 a.m.; and again at 6 p.m.
Author: Scott Wendal
Scott Wendal is the founding and lead Pastor of Valley Forge Baptist in Collegeville, PA. He attained his Bachelor of Arts degree at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, in 1981. After completing a three-year internship in Fairfax, Virginia, Pastor Wendal came to the Valley Forge area in July 1984 to begin Valley Forge Baptist. Pastor Wendal and his wife, Jodie, have five children.