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Finding Life

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Knowing God is Finding Life

We will be studying theology for the next few weeks. Thought the phrase sounds intimidating, theology is defined as the study of God.
I am reluctant to even tackle this issue. There is so much about God that I don’t know. Many people have questions about God. If there are answers to their questions, some we can answer with authority, others are beyond our knowledge.
We are like Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), a Dutch scientist who invented the compound microscope. He was the first to see bacteria and all the little creatures that live in a drop of water. What he saw only touched the surface of what was out there and raised more questions than it answered.
Nothing can bless us more than knowing all we can about God. Creation screams out in worship of our God. Behind the wind, waves, mountains and seas is a mighty power and a divine being that we call God.
God will never be discovered by scientists, recorded by historians, or seen by human discovery. The only way one can ever know God is when God chooses to reveal himself.
And reveal himself he has done! He has given us hints of his being in his creation. We see him more clearly through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was with God and came to us to tell us what God was like.
Other religious people and those who claim to believe in God and do not consider themselves to be part of any religion, guess what God is like. Jesus came knowing what God was like and revealed him to us.
John 1:18 ESV
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Because Jesus has made God known, God is knowable. The more we know God, the more we will experience real life.
The key verse for this series is John 17:3.
John 17:3 ESV
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Many people know God through a religious experience. They were sick and cried out to God and God healed them. They know it was God. They were in trouble and begged God to help them. He did help them and they knew it was God who helped them.
Some of them made a decision to come to church. Because God was real to them, they felt the right thing to do was to go to the place where God was honored. So they came.
While here, they heard about Jesus. They heard how God loved them, how Jesus died for them, was buried and rose again. They heard how salvation was a gift of God, not of works. They put their trust in Jesus. Now God had done two great things for them. God had healed or helped them. He sent Jesus to die for them. They were connected to God.
So they had this spiritual life and they had the rest of life. They knew they were going to heaven, but sometimes wondered how they would survive life. They may have gone through divorce, lost a mate or child to death, been fired, had past crimes catch up to them, or faced a lot of stress in their relationships. Though heaven was a sure thing, life was not. The life that the Bible promises was not fully realized.
How does a person deal with the garbage that comes at them and is in their life?
I would propose that your ability to deal with garbage is strongly tied to your theology. In other words, the more you know and believe about God, the more you are able to deal with life’s problems.
We deal with our problems in two ways.
We deal with problems emotionally and logically.
We see this in John 11.
John 11:35 ESV
35 Jesus wept.
The fact that Jesus wept is astonishing. This is the emotional side. Before the emotional side kicked in, Jesus deals with the death of Lazarus logically.

Logical

First, Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus’s death would be for the glory of God.
John 11:4 ESV
4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Why would one weep if God is going to be glorified?
John 11:5–6 ESV
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Second, If Jesus loved them, why would he stay two days longer? There is a logical reason.
John 11:14–15 ESV
14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Third, Jesus said that he was glad that he was not there to heal Lazarus so they would believe.
Then he goes to the home where the funeral party is gathered and things change.
John 11:32–33 ESV
32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.
Jesus moves from the logical to the emotional. His spirit is moved and troubled.
34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”
Jesus is surrounded by emotional people. Lazarus’ death has deeply touched those he loves. The event goes from a logical event, (this is for the glory of God, staying two days longer to make a point, being glad he was not there), to an emotional event.
What does Jesus do? Does he share theological truths? No,
John 11:35 ESV
35 Jesus wept.
Many people don’t like to be around emotional people. One reason is that emotional people make them emotional.
So? What is the problem with that? What is the problem with you becoming emotional and being around emotional people?
Do you consider it a weakness? One trait of a weak person is fear. They are afraid to climb the mountain. They are afraid to sleep in a dark room. They are afraid to travel in high traffic areas. They are afraid to confront their boss or coworkers. Fear is the trait of a weak person.
Some people who want to be strong are afraid of showing their emotions. I would say that people who live with the fear of letting their emotions becoming visible are the ones who are weak. Those who can be emotional and can still function and do the right things are the ones who are strong.
Like Jesus! Jesus wept!
Why did Jesus weep?
Jesus wept because he loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus. This was obvious to those who were around.
John 11:36 ESV
36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus was strong enough to let the tears flow. God created people with emotions and Jesus didn’t deny them. He let them come out. When he did, people knew he loved Lazarus.
Some were angry at him.
John 11:37 ESV
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
This was an emotional response as well. It sounds logical and it is. But the question is tainted by the emotions behind it. I doubt at that moment any answer, no matter how logical, would have satisfied those who were grieving Lazarus’ death.
There were logical arguments. This whole event was for the glory of God. There was a lot that only Jesus knew that those in attendance at the funeral didn’t know.
Jesus did what only Jesus could do. He didn’t speak theology. He didn’t let his grief paralyze him. He knew his Father and knew what his Father wanted. So he walks up to the tomb and commands Lazarus to come out.
There were two reactions to the resurrection of Lazarus.
John 11:45–46 ESV
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
Even when the best possible outcome as in front of them, the raising of Lazarus, some cheered and some jeered. Some believed and some explained it away.
John 11:53 ESV
53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
Why did they want to kill Jesus? When the dust settles, the reason that they wanted to kill Jesus was because they didn’t know God and they didn’t know Jesus.
Paul comments on this in 1 Corinthians 2.
1 Corinthians 2:6–8 ESV
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
What would have happened if they had known God better? What would have happened if they had known Jesus better? They never would have crucified the Lord of glory.
What we need more than anything is understanding.
We are “transformed by the renewing of our minds…”. We experience real life when we really know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.

Knowing God affects our decision-making.

Think of all the decisions one needs to make in life. What are you going to do with your life? Who will you marry? How will you handle relationships? What will you do with your free time?
When we know God and understand life through his eyes, it clarifies every decision we make. We make a holy decision, a righteous decision, an informed decision, a thoughtful decision when our decisions are run through the lens of what we know of God and Jesus.
Isaiah knew this.

Knowing God affects how we pray.

When we know God, we pray according to his will. We understand the requests that will get a “yes”, the requests that will get a “no” and the requests that could go either way.
When we know God, we want to bring him into every situation. We want his advice and we want his support for what we do.
The sinner who prayed in the temple knew this.

Knowing God affects how we view suffering.

The Bible is full of inspiriting examples. We are amazed at Job, astonished by Paul, challenged by Peter. All of these faced real suffering. It was their theology, their knowledge of God, that allowed them to stand in the face of unimaginable suffering.
We will study God.
We will not study God in order to debate with other Christians or those in the world who are either seeking God or don’t believe in him. We may get into some of the theological controversies, but we will only do so to spark interest in the topic or to clear the air on some dangerous teaching.
We will study God because he has life for us.
John 17:3 ESV
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
(ESV) —3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Knowing God has Jesus has reveal him, knowing God as scripture has revealed him will help us experience true love, true joy, true peace in our lives.
Next week we will look at Isaiah and how his knowledge of God affected his choices. We find this in Isaiah 6. Read it and come prepared. For if we know God as Isaiah knew God, it would affect the decisions we make in our lives.
This is what I would like you to do. If knowing God brings life, I challenge you to read Isaiah 6. When you do, ask these questions.

What did Isaiah learn about God?

What happened in Isaiah as a result of this knowledge?

What difference would it make to me if I really knew God like Isaiah new him?

Next week my message will center around Isaiah and focus on Isaiah 6.
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