- Knowing God savingly and personally
When we look at the people God has used in the Old and New Testament we see they were people who knew God personally and were called by God for the work of evangelism. In the Old Testament Moses were called to lead the people out of Egypt and he later wrote the first five books of the Bible. So, we see David a man called by God who was anointed to be king of Israel who wrote many of the Psalms which contained the gospel. And so, we can go on through the Old Testament. The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah were called by God to be prophets unto God (Jeremiah 1:1-10; Isaiah 6:1-8). They were called to bring the word of God to the people of God. They preached the word of God, using the law to bring conviction of sin, but they also preached the gospel, giving promises and hope for those who repent.
In the New Testament we see a similar pattern of people being called by God and commissioned to be his spokespersons. John the Baptist was set aside from the womb to be a prophet of God who would proclaim the word of God. The twelve apostles were called by God to learn from Jesus and then sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom to every village in Israel. And so God called Paul to be an apostle to share the word of God and to preach the gospel. The apostles knew Jesus intimately because they lived and talked with him for about three years. Paul says that he counted everything as rubbish in comparison to know Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior (Phillipians 3:7-9). The greatest thing for Paul was not to preach the gospel but to know Jesus Christ intimately.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8 ESV)
When Jesus started His ministry he said the following:
““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
To know God and to be known by God is more important that sharing the gospel. In heaven one day the work of evangelism will be over. There will be no more need to evangelize and share the gospel. What is of utmost importance is not preaching the word of God, but knowing Jesus Christ savingly and personally. If a person is not genuinely converted he shouldn’t be involved in the work of evangelism.
John the apostle made this point also very clear in his gospel.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 ESV)
And the apostle Peter emphasized this point of increasing in the experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ!
“For if these qualities (faith, virtue, knowledge, self control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly love, love) are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8 ESV)
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”(2 Peter 3:18 ESV)
The gospels and the New Testament make it very clear that knowing Jesus Christ for who He is, is essential in a person’s life. It is the goal of the gospel. We preach the gospel not only because people are in danger of eternal hell and under the wrath of God, but because people are not reconciled to God and cut off from the true knowledge of God. We preach the gospel because people don’t know God savingly and intimately. When we have that personal sweet relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit the love of God compels us to make Him known so that others may enjoy that sweet communion with God as well. We want other people to know the blessedness and joy of knowing their sins are forgiven as well.
Knowing God savingly and personally should be the driving force of doing great exploits for God. God drew us into the fellowship of the Trinity (John 6:44) and so now that we are satisfied in Him we want other people to be satisfied with His presence as well. Jesus said: “he who comes to Me shall never hunger and He who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We are called by God not ultimately to preach the word and call other to repentance but to know God and make Him known. This is the foundation of our evangelizing. Knowing God is not a means to do something greater. Knowing God is the foundation of and the glorious end of our existence. God made us so that we might have eternal fellowship with God. Evangelizing people, working for God, shouldn’t be a greater thing than spending time alone with God and enjoying his presence! Having sweet fellowship with God, knowing Him better, should be the controlling force and blazing centre of your existence. Without knowing God as your personal Savior and Lord no one should attempt to evangelize and preach the gospel.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalms 90:14 ESV)