Today Pastor Choi designates 2015 as the Year of Knowing Jesus (T.Y.O.K.J.). He exhorts God’s flock to make every effort to know Jesus—the Word of Life. The true knowledge of Jesus is essential to our salvation, because to know Him means to keep His commandments, and only those who keep His Word will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Following is a summary of the sermon :
The Year of Knowing Jesus (1): Do You Know Jesus?
1 John 1:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
Have you ever written references before? I have written some over the years for people, adults and youth alike. Every reference has common questions such as How long have you known the applicant? How well do you know the applicant? List strengths and weaknesses of the person, and so forth.
Imagine that you are filling out a reference letter for Jesus. One question you must answer is: How well do you know Him? I am afraid that most of us, including myself, would struggle to answer the question, because we know of Him so little despite our head knowledge about Him. That’s the reality of today’s believers: little or no knowledge of Jesus.
That’s why I designate 2015 as the year of knowing Jesus. We must know our Savior and Lord on a personal level. Why? Because, if we don’t, we will be denied at Heaven’s gate even after years of being a Christian. We can be religious without knowing Jesus at all. E.g. Jewish religious leaders who persecuted Jesus in the name of God. We can serve on church committees for years without doing what Jesus really wants us to do (E.g. unforgiving spirit). The life without the true knowledge of Jesus is a life without substance like a fruit tree that bears no fruit. So, I urge everyone to use this year to get to know Jesus on a personal level and to walk with Him daily.
Back to the question: How well do you know Jesus personally? I ask myself the same question. How well do I know Him? We all wish to say that we know Him quite well like John the Apostle did. He would answer my question in a heartbeat: I knew Him very well. Listen to what he wrote in today’s reading: we have seen and heard, and even touched Jesus with our hands (v.1). Speak of first hand experiences! Can’t beat that!
By the way, God wants every one of us to experience and know Jesus in the same ways that John did. The word “to know” in Hebrew term means to know someone intimately. For instance, it is used between husband and wife when they become one, both physically and spiritually. E.g. Joseph didn’t know Mary until Jesus was born.
I have been a Christ’s follower for over 40 years. I know that Jesus is real. I have experienced Him a few times undeniably and miraculously. Furthermore, I’ve been a minister of the gospel for 25 years. I preached and taught about Him every Sunday.
Yet, when it comes down to a real personal knowledge of Him, I find myself far short of where I should’ve been. In other words, despite my head knowledge of Him, my heart knowledge and field knowledge of Him is far short of what it should’ve been. However, the Lord has been very patient with me. In fact, He recently taught me two things so as to get to know Him better.
Take my prayer life, for example. My prayers have been mostly one way conversation all these years. It’s been more or less presenting a shopping list to Him: Lord, this is what I need. Remember this and that. Please take care of them. Then, my prayer is done. In other words, I seldom took time to listen to Him. In fact, I have never been trained in listening to Him in silence. By the way, silence is not my cup of tea. Living in America, we are so used to some level of noise, music, TV, or people’s voices that when the surroundings are quiet we don’t know what to do. The same thing goes with my prayer life. Typically, I get right on my agenda, I speak to Jesus what I need without wasting time, then I am done with prayer. Last month, I was just praying like that about the goal for 2015 for the congregation, that is, to know Jesus. The Lord reminded me of this: Do you want to teach My people to know Me? You learn first then teach. First, Learn to listen to Me. Train yourself to listen to Me in prayer. Don’t sign off right away after your list. Sit quietly and listen to Me. I have been practicing that since. Still hard.
The second lesson He taught me is this: Keep the appointments with Him. I realized that Jesus gets disappointed when I fail to keep the appointment with Him on time. It just happened last week. In fact, it must have happened many a time in the past, but this time it came to me so real that I got ashamed of what I have done. You see, I pray for an hour every night before I go to bed. That night, before my appointed time, let’s say 11 p.m., I was playing solitaire on my computer, and you know how addicting it can be at times. That night, I was stuck with one game and I was determined to solve it, but the thing is I played beyond my appointed time with Jesus. I was fully aware of that, so I said to the Lord, “Sorry, Lord, but can I finish this game and pray?” Well, I finished the game alright but missed the appointment with God by 10 minutes. When I started my prayer, I was deeply ashamed of what I had done. I was convicted that I wouldn’t have done the same to someone (physical person) who expects to see me. Furthermore, if I were on the other end, and someone is late for the appointment because he is having so much fun with his game play, I would be very upset with the way he treated me. But, that’s exactly what I did that night to my Lord and Savior. As I said before, this kind of thing must have happened many times in the past for various reasons, but that night I was deeply convicted of my folly and I sincerely repented to the Lord. The lesson I learned is this: Treat Jesus as a real person who gets disappointed if I don’t keep the appointments. In fact, much more than that! Treat Him as your Lord as you confess! Mean what you say. He is my King and God! Such a Jesus have I silenced with my lusts in pleasure multiple times in the past! Such a Jesus have I neglected daily through my ignorance of His presence!
Imagine I invited my friend to dinner. My honored guest has arrived on time. I motioned him to come and sit in the living room while I finished one game on the computer that I started ten minutes before his arrival. In the meantime, he is patiently waiting! Finally, I am done with the game and I apologize profusely. Then, I invite him to sit at the dinner table, but I never give him a chance to talk. I keep talking straight for the next 3o minutes and when I am done with talk, I get up and leave the table. Then, I start doing the dishes without a conversation with my guest. Then, I just remembered what I needed from my friend, and so I bring him the list and put it in his hand. Then, I go back to my chores. In the entire visit that night, the guest is not able to talk to me at all! That’s the way I have been treating Jesus my Lord and Savior! We all know that it should be much better than that!
Bruce Allen: “I have been blessed over the years to have face-to-face encounters with Jesus as He has revealed Himself in many facets of His character: I’ve met Jesus the Healer as He came and poured a healing balm over me at a very difficult point in my life; I’ve met Jesus the Comforter, who comforted me and held me through my tribulation. I’ve spent many hours with Jesus my best friend. This night, however, I discovered a new facet of His character. This night I met Jesus the King of Glory—Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!” (p. 142, Gazing into Glory). Mr. Allen emphasizes that experiencing Jesus is a must, not an option. It is for all God’s children, not just for him alone. I agree. It is for all of us. God shows no favoritism. John the Apostle experienced Jesus very personally. So did Paul the Apostle. So did Bruce Allen. So shall we, because we too belong to Jesus.
So, folks, this year let us get to know Jesus personally. Not just with our heads, but also with our hearts. Not just in words but down to earth level. Let us treat our Lord and Savior Jesus as He is worthy of our honor and respect. Not just with lips but in deeds. Let’s not be satisfied with the intellectual understanding of Jesus alone, but let’s be passionate about knowing Him closely.
Some of us know Jesus as someone who stays up in Heaven aloof from our daily struggles. He is far more than that! Others worship Jesus on Sunday morning for one hour and for the rest of the week have no communications with Him at all. He deserves far more attention from us than that! Our interest in Jesus stops with our shopping list in prayer! But, He deserves far more than our prayer list! He is our Lord and Savior!
So, throughout this year, we will focus on Jesus to get to know Him in person: we will look at Jesus. We will listen to Jesus. We will talk to Jesus. We will ask for His wisdom. We will walk with Him. We will touch Him. We will experience Him. All in personal level! Day in and day out! So that, by the end of the year, all of us would be able to say, “I have known Jesus in ways that I never have before! I have grown in His knowledge!” That would be our testimonies.
May the Lord bless our endeavor this year.