Today Pastor Choi talks about ways to know Jesus. It is God’s will for God’s children to know Jesus. The knowledge of Jesus is a matter of eternal life and death. He then explains three major ways to know Jesus: 1. We know Jesus through the Holy Spirit. 2. We know Jesus through the Scripture. 3. We know Jesus through prayer. He exhorts the congregation to press on to know Jesus throughout this year following those three ways.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Ways to Know Jesus
John 10:11-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
God knows us quite well—everything about you and me. So does Jesus. So does the Holy Spirit. In fact, the all-knowing God knows us to the deepest secrets of our hearts and minds. We rarely doubt that. How about us knowing God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in turn? How much do we know Jesus? Many of us would say, “Well, I am not sure that I know Him well.” How critical is it, anyway, for us to know Jesus? It is a matter of eternal life and death. That’s how critical it is to know Him.
In John 8:19, Jesus says to the Pharisees (religious leaders then), “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” Knowing Jesus is the prerequisite for knowing God. We know God through Jesus. If we know Jesus, we would know God the Father also. If we don’t know Jesus, we don’t know God, either. In Jeremiah 4:22, God calls Israel His people fools because they don’t know God. If we don’t know God, we are fools, too! We are pathetic without the knowledge of God! We perish if we don’t have the knowledge of God (Hosea 4:6). We must know God. We must know Jesus. We must know the Holy Spirit (John 14:17).
That’s why I designated this year to be the Year of Knowing Jesus (T.Y.O.K.J.). When we were not a believer in Christ, we were outside salvation. Back then, God would overlook our ignorance and indifference to the knowledge of Jesus. Now, we are in Jesus. We have salvation through Him. We are called to follow Jesus. We are called to know Him. Therefore, we have no excuses now not to know Him. In fact, it is God’s will for us to know Jesus and His will. God wants and expects us to know Jesus so that we may keep His commandments. Moreover, the knowledge of Jesus would keep us from being deceived with the wrong image of Jesus. E.g. False image of Jesus such as the political liberator in South America, Jesus as spiritual guru, and Jesus as Father Christmas.
If you agree with me that we must know Jesus for our salvation, the next question would be: how can we know Jesus? This morning, I am going to present three ways through which we can know Jesus. By faithfully following these three ways, we will know Jesus and we will avoid deceptions in our journey to Heaven.
First, we know Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Some folks attempt to know Jesus through the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:21) such as history and literature, yet no matter how hard they try in human wisdom and knowledge, they will never find the true Jesus. They may pick up the partial image of Christ, but never gain the whole true image of Jesus. E.g. In my college days, I took a course “Comparative Religion.” The instructor had us study several religions of the world: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, and even Shamanism to name a few. Then, he asked the students to choose the truth among them. At best, I was distracted from the truth. At worst, I failed to discover the true image of Jesus that way. Instead of helping me, it threw me into further confusion. There’s only one way, God declares, for us to find the true image of Jesus. That is ‘a spirit of wisdom and revelation’ (Ephesians 1:17—that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him). That spirit is the Holy Spirit. He is the spirit of truth. And, Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal Jesus the truth to us and to glorify Him (John 16:14). His responsibility is to teach God’s children everything about Jesus (John 14:26). If you want to learn mathematics, you need a math teacher. Likewise, if we want to know Jesus, we need the Holy Spirit the Teacher.
Now, many of us would say, “Well, I am not really familiar with the Holy Spirit. Where do I start?” Here’s what you do. First, recognize that the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit who dwells in you (John 14:17). Then, you acknowledge His role as teacher by saying, “Holy Spirit, You are my teacher. I need You. Please reveal to me the true Jesus in the ways that I would understand.” Then, you begin to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit in you. Sometimes, we get confused with the other voices in us that seem to be the voice of the Holy Spirit. E.g. New Age promotes the small voice in you is the Holy Spirit (when it is anything but the Holy Spirit). Remember: God commands us not to believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1). Our responsibility is to test every voice in us and accept only the true voice of the Holy Spirit and reject all others. Now, at first, you may not be able to distinguish the Holy Spirit from other voices, but as you practice day in day out, you will become familiar with the ways He leads you. The more you practice, the better you get. Eventually, you will be able to discern the true ways the Holy Spirit guides you.
How do you tell the Holy Spirit from the other voices in you? The bottom-line is this: the Holy Spirit never contradicts Jesus or the Scripture (John 16:14–He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.) In other words, you test the Holy Spirit’s voice against Jesus and the Scripture. They agree? Then, it is the Holy Spirit. If not, it is not. E.g.1. On my way home from visiting a shut-in, one day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me that I have seen Jesus that afternoon reminding me of the Scripture that confirms the voice: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:39-40). E.g. 2. One lady thought that the Holy Spirit spoke to her to become her pastor’s wife (when the pastor was already married). So, one night, while pastor’s wife was away and pastor was out, somehow she got into the pastor’s house and jumped in pastor’s bed waiting for him. Well, her conviction wasn’t from the Holy Spirit, because it contradicts God’s commandment not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
The second way to know Jesus is the Bible. Some believers are privileged to know Jesus through special revelations such as dreams, visions, and even visitations from angels. E.g. Jesus personally appeared to Saul on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:5). However, most of us (including myself) don’t have such experiences. Although those are very special ways to know Jesus, we don’t have to envy them, because they are not the primary means to get to know Jesus His Son. What is the primary means, then? The Scripture—the Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. God uses the Bible to teach us of Jesus. Let me share with you one thing God taught me this year about Jesus through the Scripture: Jesus’ love language is Action (Matthew 7) and to know Jesus means to love Him, and to love Him means to keep His commandments (John 14:21). These new understanding of Jesus came through my daily reading of God’s Word. The Bible is the Book about Jesus, so without getting into God’s Word, we will never be able to fully understand who Jesus is (like a student ignoring the major textbook). We will be very susceptible to deceptions, too. That is why it is crucial for us to get into God’s Word daily.
Two years ago, I challenged the congregation to read the entire Bible in a year. For those who did, I promised I would record their names in my notebook called “The Book Club”—the Book meaning God’s Word. So far, five people completed this challenge. I am very proud of them. I am still waiting for seven more people so that when I have twelve I would like to celebrate together their great achievement of reading through God’s Word in a year. E.g. A man died and went to Heaven (later came back to life—near death experience). When he asked Jesus in Heaven for lots of questions he had, Jesus said to him, “Have you read My Book?” Folks, we have no excuses not to get into God’s Word (“It is too difficult to understand, I have no time to read”—those wouldn’t cut it). God may be merciful to those who don’t have bibles with them such as Christians in North Korea, but here in America He will hold us accountable with His Word.
Lastly, we learn of Jesus through prayers. Prayer is an ancient way of God’s revealing Himself to us. Jesus still uses it. God’s people still need it. If we don’t pray, we deprive Jesus of revealing Himself to us. We also deprive ourselves of knowing Jesus personally. Many believers get to know Jesus through prayer. Show me a prayer warrior, and I will show you the one who knows Jesus. My own experience this year: in my prayers Jesus reminded me to love Him not because of the blessings He gives me but for the sake of relationship. He also commanded me to love Him more than my wife. All these understandings came through prayer.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father” (John 10: 14-15).
My own know Me (v. 14): the Greek sentence for My own know Me is passive—so, the literal translation is: I am known by them. The initiative and responsibility to know Him lies with us. We have homework to do. That part, Jesus won’t do it for us.
Prophet Hosea exhorts us, “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). We still have the second half of the year to know Jesus. Let us know Him by asking God’s Spirit to reveal and teach of Jesus every day. Let us press on to know Him by getting into God’s Word every day. Let us follow our Good Shepherd in prayer every day. Amen.