Introduction to MEETING JESUS Personmally
The whole purpose of life is summed up in the wonderful truth that anyone can know God personally in the person of Jesus Christ. In order to know Him, one needs to be introduced to him and to see what it is that makes him so special. Let me try to make a case for the intrinsic value of Jesus who is called the Christ.
“The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.” (John 7:46)
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:1-9)
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” (Colossians 1:14-21)
“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
“For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” (Hebrews 3:3)
“Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:10)
“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:5-6)
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” (Hebrews 5:8)
What are these verses talking about? They are talking about Jesus! Well, you say, what is so special about Jesus? I have a little list in one of my sermons that goes like this:
- To the artist Jesus is the One Altogether Lovely.
- To the architect Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone.
- To the astronomer Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness.
- To the baker Jesus is the Living Bread.
- To the banker Jesus is the Treasure of all Treasures.
- To the biologist Jesus is the Life.
- To the builder Jesus is the Sure Foundation.
- To the carpenter Jesus is the Door
- To the doctor Jesus is the Great Physician.
- To the educator Jesus is the Great Teacher.
- To the engineer Jesus is the New and Living Way.
- To the farmer Jesus is the Sower and the Lord of the Harvest.
- To the florist Jesus is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.
- To the geologist Jesus is the Rock of Ages.
- To the horticulturist Jesus is the True Vine.
- To the judge Jesus is the Righteous Judge, the Judge of All Men.
- To the juror Jesus is the Faithful and True Witness.
- To the jeweler Jesus is the Pearl of Great Price.
- To the lawyer Jesus is the Counselor, the Lawgiver.
- To the newspaperman Jesus is the Good Tidings of Great Joy.
- To the oculist Jesus is the Light of the Eyes.
- To the philanthropist Jesus is the Gift of God.
- To the preacher Jesus is the Word of God.
- To the sculptor Jesus is the Living Stone.
- To the servant Jesus is the Good Master.
- To the student Jesus is the Incarnate Truth.
- To the statesman Jesus is the Desire of All Nations.
- To the theologian Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
- To the toiler Jesus is the Giver of Rest.
- To the sinner Jesus is the Lamb of God Who Takes Away The Sin of The World.
- To the saint Jesus is the Son of the Living God, the Savior, the Redeemer, and the Lord.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” (Matthew 13:44) There is something about knowing Jesus that does this to people. It is like the treasure in the field to know Him.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46) What is it worth to you to have the Lord of the Universe actually live in your heart? It is definitely worth selling all in order to purchase the pearl.
The point that we are making here and will continue to make as we move further in this book is that there is intrinsic value in knowing Jesus. There is enough intrinsic value to turn from a life of selfish living to serving Jesus as a life-time servant. Regeneration is what happens to a man when his vision of life is changed by meeting Jesus face to face. There is a blind song writer that put the concept into words that paint a true picture. Her name was Fanny Crosby. Read this poem which is also a famous hymn:
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
2. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
3. His Word shall not fail you-He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
What is it that is so special about Jesus? It is His love! Jesus has what is called disinterested benevolence which is how we describe the love of God as well. His love is like none other! It is something that will change you forever:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:21)
The love of God and of Jesus does something that none can explain but it certainly changes a life completely.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7-14)
Let’s read the testimony of Charles G. Finney, revivalist
At an early hour I started for the office. But just before I arrived at the office, something seemed to confront me with questions like these: indeed, it seemed as if the inquiry within myself, as an inward voice said to me, “What are you waiting for? Did you not promise to give your heart to God? And what are you trying to do? Are you endeavoring to work out a righteousness of your own?”
Just at this point the whole question of Gospel salvation opened to my mind in a manner most marvelous to me at the time. I think I then saw, as clearly as I ever have in my life, the reality and fullness of the atonement of Christ. I saw that his work was a finished work; and that instead of having, or needing, any righteousness of my own to recommend me to God, I had to submit myself to the righteousness of God through Christ. Gospel salvation seemed to me to be an offer of something to be accepted; and that it was full and complete; and that all that was necessary on my part, was to get my own consent to give up my sins, and accept Christ. Salvation, it seemed to me, instead of being a thing to be wrought out, by my own works, was a thing to be found entirely in the Lord Jesus Christ, who presented himself before me as my God and my Savior.
Without being distinctly aware of it, I had stopped in the street right where the inward voice seemed to arrest me. How long I remained in that position I cannot say. But after this distinct revelation had stood for some little time before my mind, the question seemed to be put, “Will you accept it now, to-day?” I replied, “Yes; I will accept it to-day, or I will die in the attempt.”
North of the village, and over the hill, lay a piece of woods, in which I was in the almost daily habit of walking, more or less, when it was pleasant weather. It was now October, and the time was past for my frequent walks there. Nevertheless, instead of going to the office, I returned and bent my course toward the woods, feeling that I must be alone and away from all human eyes and ears, so that I could pour out my prayer to God.
But still my pride must show itself. As I went over the hill, it occurred to me that some one might see me and suppose that I was going away to pray. Yet probably there was not a person on earth that would have suspected such a thing, had he seen me going. But so great was my pride, and so much was I possessed with the fear of man, that I recollect that I skulked along under the fence, till I got so far out of sight that no one from the village could see me. I then penetrated into the woods, I should think, a quarter of a mile, went over on the other side of the hill, and found a place where some large trees had fallen across each other, leaving an open place between. There I saw I could make a kind of closet. I crept into this placed and knelt down for prayer. As I turned to go up into the woods, I recollect to have said, “I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there.” I recollect repeating this as I went up-“I will give my heart to God before I ever come down again.”
But when I attempted to pray I found that my heart would not pray. I had supposed that I could only be where I could speak aloud, without being overheard, I could pray freely. But lo! When I came to try, I was dumb; that is, I had nothing to say to God; or at least I could say but a few words, and those without heart. In attempting to pray I would hear a rustling in the leaves, as I thought, and would stop and look up to see if somebody were not coming. This I did several times.
Finally I found myself verging fast to despair. I said to myself, “I cannot pray. My heart is dead to God, and will not pray.” I then reproached myself for having promised to give my heart to God before I left the woods. When I came to try, I found that I could not give my heart to God. My inward soul hung back, and there was no going out of my heart to God. I began to feel deeply that it was too late; that it must be that I was given up of God and was past hope.
The thought was pressing me of the rashness of my promise, that I would give my heart to God that day or die in the attempt. It seemed to me as if that was binding upon my soul; and yet I was going to break my vow. A great sinking and discouragement came over me, and I felt almost too weak to stand upon my knees.
Just at this moment I again thought I heard some one approach me, and I opened my eyes to see whether it were so. But right there the revelation of my pride of heart, as the great difficulty that stood in the way, was distinctly shown to me. An overwhelming sense of my wickedness in being ashamed to have a human being see me on my knees before God, took such powerful possession of me, that I cried at the top of my voice, and exclaimed that I would not leave that place it all the men on earth and all the devils in hell surrounded me. “What!” I said, “such a degraded sinner as I am, on my knees confessing my sins to the great and holy God; and ashamed to have any human being, and a sinner like myself, find me on my knees endeavoring to make my peace with my offended God?” The sin appeared awful, infinite. It broke me down before the Lord.
Just at that point this passage of Scripture seemed to drop into my mind with a flood of light: “Then shall ye go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. Then shall ye seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” I instantly seized hold of this with my heart. I had intellectually believed the Bible before; but never had the truth been in my mind that faith was a voluntary trust instead of an intellectual state. I was as conscious as I was of my existence, of trusting at that moment in God’s veracity. Somehow I knew that that was a passage of Scripture, though I do not think I had ever read it. I knew that it was God’s word, and God’s voice, as it were, that spoke to me. I cried to Him, “Lord, I take thee with all my heart, and that I have come here to pray to thee; and thou has promised to hear me.”
That seemed to settle the question that I could then, that day, perform my vow. The Spirit seemed to lay stress upon that idea in the text, “When you search for me with all your heart.” The question of when, that is of the present time, seemed to fall heavily into my heart. I told the Lord that I should take him at his word; that he could not lie; and that therefore I was sure that he heard my prayer, and that he would be found of me.
He then gave me many other promises, both from the Old and the New Testament, especially some most precious promises respecting our Lord Jesus Christ. I never can, in words, make any human being understand how precious and true those promises appeared to me. I took them one after the other as infallible truth, the assertions of God who could not lie. They did not seem so much to fall into my intellect as into my heart, to be put within the grasp of the voluntary powers of my mind; and I seized hold of them, appropriated them, and fastened upon them with the grasp of a drowning man.
I continued to pray, and to receive and appropriate promises for a long time, I know not how long. I prayed till my mind became so full that, before I was aware of it, I was on my feet and tripping up the ascent toward the road. The question of my being converted, had not so much as arisen to my thought; but as I went up, brushing through the leaves and bushes, I recollect saying with great emphasis, “If I am ever converted, I will preach the Gospel.”
I soon reached the road that led to the village, and began to reflect upon what had passed; and I found that my mind had become most wonderfully quiet and peaceful. I said to myself, “What is this? I must have grieved the Holy Ghost entirely away. I have lost all my conviction. I have not a particle of concern about my soul; and it must be that the Spirit has left me.” “Why!” thought I, “I never was so far from being concerned about my own salvation in my life.”
Then I remembered what I had said to God while I was on my knees-that I had said I would take him at his word; and indeed I recollected a good many things that I had said, and concluded that it was no wonder that the Spirit had left me; that for such a sinner as I was to take hold of God’s word in that way, was presumption if not blasphemy. I concluded that in my excitement I had grieved the Holy Spirit, and perhaps committed the unpardonable sin.
I walked quietly toward the village; and so perfectly quiet was my mind that it seemed as if all nature listened. It was on the 10th of October, and a very pleasant day. I had gone into the woods immediately after an early breakfast; and when I returned to the village I found it was dinner time. Yet I had been wholly unconscious of the time that had passed; it appeared to me that I had been gone from the village but a short time.
But how was I to account for the quiet of my mind? I tried to recall my convictions, to get back again the load of sin under which I had been laboring. But all sense of sin, and all consciousness of present sin or guilt, had departed from me. I said to myself, “What is this, that I cannot arouse any sense of guilt in my soul, as great a sinner as I am?” I tried in vain to make myself anxious about my present state. I was so quiet and peaceful that I tried to feel concerned about that, lest it should be a result of my having grieved the Spirit away. But take any view of it I would, I could not be anxious at all about my soul, and about my spiritual state. The repose of my mind was unspeakably great. I never can describe it in words. The thought of God was sweet to my mind, and the most profound spiritual tranquility had taken full possession of me. This was a great mystery; but it did not distress or perplex me.
I went to my dinner, and found I had no appetite to eat. I then went to the office, and found that Squire W-had gone to dinner. I took down my bass-viol, and, as I was accustomed to do, began to plan and sing some pieces of sacred music. But as soon as I began to sing those sacred words, I began to weep. It seemed as if my heart was all liquid; and my feelings were in such a state that I could not hear my own voice in singing without causing my sensibility to overflow. I wondered at this, and tried to suppress my tears, but could not. After trying in vain to suppress my tears, I put up my instrument and stopped singing.
After dinner we were engaged in removing our books and furniture to another office. We were very busy in this, and had but little conversation all the afternoon. My mind, however, remained in that profoundly tranquil state. There was a great sweetness and tenderness in my thoughts and feelings. Everything appeared to be going right, and nothing seemed to ruffle or disturb me in the least.
Just before evening the thought took possession of my mind, that as soon as I was left alone in the new office, I would try to pray again-that I was not going to abandon the subject of religion and give it up, at any rate; and therefore, although I no longer had any concern about my soul, still I would continue to pray.
By evening we got books and furniture adjusted; and I made up, in an open fire-place, a good fire, hoping to spend the evening alone. Just at dark Squire W–, seeing that everything was adjusted, bade me good-night and went to his home. I had accompanied him to the door; and as I closed the door and turned around, my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out; and the utterance of my heart was, “I want to pour my whole soul out to God.” The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office, to pray.
There was no fire, and no light, in the room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary it seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind; for it seemed to me a reality, that he stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears; and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched him, that I recollect.
I must have continued in this state for a good while; but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to recollect anything that I said. But I know, as soon as my mind became calm enough to break off from the interview, I returned to the front office, and found that the fire that I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more;” yet I had no fear of death.
How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir-for I was the leader of the choir-came into the office to see me. He was a member of the church. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, “Mr. Finney, what ails you?” I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, “Are you in pain?” I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, “No, but so happy that I cannot live.”
We could go on with the narrative, but shortly after the above mentioned meeting, a serious man from the church came in and began to laugh with a holy laughter and then a young man who had used Charles Finney as his reason to remain an unbeliever came in only to hear the testimony of Charles and his change of life. He was immediately convicted and on His knees gave his own heart to God. You can read it all in the book Charles G. Finney, An Autobiography. The life of Charles Finney was drastically changed from that day to the day of his death. He became one of the greatest revivalists history has ever known and profoundly influenced the early years of our country in having many Senators, Congressmen, Lawyers, and Judges converted to Jesus Christ. The reason is that regeneration, as we are discussing here, made a remarkable change. Charles G. Finney was truly “born again.”
What is being born again as Finney describes? I have studied the Bible on this subject and have found that much that is preached and taught seems to miss some of that the Bible teaches regarding the subject. Before a person accepts Christ, or believes, repents of their sins, commits their life to God or any number of other things that are described in the Bible, they are unsaved, or lost. They have a selfish end in view for their motive for living. Charles Finney said he had selfish pride that kept him from believing the promises of God. At that time they own their own life, follow their own will, and are spiritually dead in sin. The day a person accepts Christ, as seen in the testimony of Charles G. Finney, he does more than to mentally believe, as Mr. Finney describes in his testimony, that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are facts, but he exercises a heart faith and confidence which in effect passes ownership of his life over to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Bible says in John 3:16 that “…whosoever believeth in him…” and when we look at the Greek for that phrase, the word in is a Greek word eis which actually means into. The Greek prepositions are placed on a chart to show just how they affect the subject in a sentence. The diagram for eis appears as presented below:
As one can see, there is movement from one side to the other. No one that believes in Jesus Christ stays where they were prior to salvation and no one loves the same things. The meaning of believing in Jesus actually is more accurately said believing into Jesus Christ. It is being immersed in the love of God as Finney told in his conversion experience. It is definitely life changing. It is not mental acknowledgement but life changing waves of the love of God. The after effect is a new outlook on all that you had once held dear in life. Nothing looks the same and peace floods your soul. You are definitely born again, born into a new world and dead to the old one once and for all. The old man is crucified and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ comes to dwell in the new believer, he is now a new creation in Christ Jesus.
What I found in studying this further is an astounding fact. The Dana and Mantey Greek Grammar of the New Testament had an interesting footnote in the definition of the word. It said, essentially, that to believe into or to be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ was to renounce ones self, selfishness and self-gratification, and consider ones self a life-time servant of Jesus Christ. Nothing is clearer by way of illustration than the testimony of Charles G. Finney in this respect. The circle on the right, in the illustration above, represents all that Christ stands for. When a person is regenerated, they pass from the left-hand to the right-hand circle. They are placing themselves in the hands of God, Jesus Christ specifically, by faith. When you view the chart you can picture in your mind all the things that we have been saying in this lesson, the attributes of selfishness on the left, and all the things that relate to disinterested benevolence (Love of God) are on the right. The left circle is the world of the unsaved; all things are viewed from a self-centered viewpoint. The right circle is a new world of knowing God through Jesus Christ. As Charles Finney indicated, there are baptisms of love that no one can describe that come over a new Christian. He can never be the same. His position has changed. He has moved from the left, sometimes without even realizing it, over to the right. The left feels most uncomfortable now and the right seems most peaceful and tranquil. On the left a person feels that his life is owned by himself; on the right the person feels that his life is owned now by God. On the left the person has self as lord; on the right, Christ is now Lord with no problem. Some seem to cringe at the term “Lordship Salvation” but that is precisely what happens whether there is conscious thought of it or not. A new Christian is slain by the Love of God and He is Lord of the heart by that same love. He is Lord of love. The truth is that regeneration is a drastic change, it is being born again. The position has changed, as far as the perspective that one has concerning his place in the world and in his place in his relationship to God. That is just a fact of regeneration that cannot be denied, it is a fact that cannot be otherwise if a person comes to know God. Is it any wonder that the moral law has this, knowing God, as the number one goal of every human being and of every being in the universe? There is nothing that can substitute for the thrill and yet the peace and contentment that comes from having a personal relationship with the God of love, the lover of our souls. So as we have said above, there is a part that the sinner plays, as Charles Finney testifies in his book, and there is a part that God plays as well. It has happened to all that have come to know God, their perspective is altered in such a way that they can never return to the old life. Truly old things have passed away and all things have become new. The following outline is how you, too can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and know the Love of God. Read each word with a prayerful spirit: