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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lectures on Faith 3, Part 4: Get to Know Jesus Christ on a Whole New Level

It's a Sunday School class, and a man gets up to deliver his lesson. He starts by asking the class a question:

"What's Jesus like?"

People immediately reply with words like holy, pure, omniscient, obedient, loving, just, merciful, eternal.

"Those are all really good answers," the teacher says. "But if you'll remember, I didn't ask what his attributes are. I asked what He's like."

Suddenly, the teacher saw quite a variety of puzzled looks on the class' faces.

"Let me rephrase the question," he said. "What's Christ's personality like?"

More puzzled faces.

"I mean, when we take the sacrament, we acknowledge that we're willing to take upon us the name of Christ. That we'll always remember Him. That we'll keep His commandments. That we'll always have His Spirit to be with us. So, with all that focus on Christ, and because most of you have been renewing that covenant every week for I don't know how many years or decades, you should be able to tell us something -- based on your own personal experiences and not others' -- about His personality."

The class's members started looking down, or around, the room...anywhere but the teacher's direction.

Know the Lord


If this Sunday School lesson sounds fictitious, it is, and isn't. It's actually a paraphrasing of an actual speech given by the Prophet Joseph Smith at the April 7, 1844, conference of the Church in Nauvoo, Illinois. Here's what he really said:

"I want to ask this congregation, every man, woman and child, to answer the question in their own hearts, what kind of a being God is? Ask yourselves; turn your thoughts into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with Him? This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. I again repeat the question-What kind of being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen Him, heard Him, or communed with Him? Here is the question that will, peradventure, from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The scriptures inform us that "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.
If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being He is-if he will search diligently his own heart-if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle." (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng; emphasis mine)

Sadly, this situation has been around for quite a while:
"For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Matthew 13:15)
And just who composed "this people"? As we read in Matthew 13:2, they were a "great multitudes were gathered together unto him" which "stood on the shore." Or, in other words, a pretty well-attended (and outdoor) Sunday School class.

Look -- You may be a member of Christ's church. You may have super duper important responsibilities. You may be the relative or descendant of a past or current church general authority. You may have read tons of books about the gospel. You may have the Gift of Prophecy. You may even be able to cast out evil spirits and perform other marvelous works. While that's all really cool, ALL those things may be considered iniquitous to the Lord, if you know Him not:
"And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity." (JST Matthew 7:32-33)
In Greek, the word "know" is pronounced ginosko. It occurs 246 times in 208 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV. It means "to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel." In Hebrew, it implies a highly intimate knowledge between a man and a woman. Ginosko is not some kind of passive, surfacy, unassertive, quick and immediate action verb; it is intimate, private, personal and highly, highly profound.

You know, it really does make sense. The earth is about to enter a terrestrial plane of existence. The terrestrial kingdom is governed by Christ. So, how can one count themselves as a credible terrestrial candidate if they haven't made Christ a focal point in their lives?
"For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" (Mosiah 5:13)
And when the Lord DOES begin to clean house on the earth, guess who He'll start with:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.
Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
" (D&C 112:23-26; emphasis mine)
Let's examine this for a minute. What is blasphemy? The church's own definition states, "Being irreverent toward God or claiming to be equal to God." And what does it mean to be irreverent? "Showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously." Therefore, all those who have claimed authority equal to God, and those who have shown a lack of respect for Him ("against me") -- within His house -- are first on the chopping block.

This perfectly correlates with three D&C verses:

Hearken or be cut off: "And upon them that hearken not to the voice of the Lord shall be fulfilled that which was written by the prophet Moses, that they should be cut off from among the people." (D&C 133:63)

Hearken or not be gathered: "Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer." (D&C 29:2)

Hearken or die: "And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved." (D&C 45:2)

Look -- it's crystal clear, black and white, unambiguous, simplistic and repeated all over the place by Joseph and Jesus: Not knowing Christ is "iniquity" (Christ's words, not mine), and you will be cut off.

You will not be gathered with the righteous.

You will be left to die.

And in your dead state, you will not be saved.

Period.

Where to Start


(OK, let's now get this going on a positive vibe).

Want to get to know Christ in a truly personal way? No problem!  :)

Let's start here...in a movie theater. Just you and me. The lights are low, and we're watching quick snippets of every movie you've ever seen portraying Jesus. As the scenes roll by, you notice that many of them depict Christ as a super-soft (almost effeminate), somber, serious, passive, introvert person -- hardly the kind of person who'd fashion a whip and start thrashing everything in the Jewish Temple (not once, but twice!)

Now let's dial up the theater lights for a brief reality check: Jesus Christ -- Yeshua -- is none of those things! Here's how John described Him:
"In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4)
Can't you see? Christ has ultimate life! He has ultimate light! On a scale none of us have! He is someone who loves to smile; after all, He's the author of happiness and joy, and His gospel is what? Good news (in Old English, it was translated as godspel -- god "good" + spel "news")! He's also someone who not only loves playing with children, He encourages us to be like them -- wide-eyed, full of wonder, inquisitive, innocent and most of all...playful! That doesn't sound like a passive, depressing, brooding, aloof person to me.

Now, let's stay in that movie theater, turn down the lights again and look at a movie of your life (don't worry -- you'll like these highlights). First up: The best friend you've ever had -- who was it? Do you see them in your mind's eye? Good! Now (even though you may or may not have known the following personally), we see the person who inspired you most in your life. Next -- Who made you laugh more than anybody else. Finally, who made you feel the Spirit more than anybody else in your life. Now combine all four of those people, and multiply their influence on your life by 100. That aggregate person, that combination of people multiplied by 100, might just be a close approximation of Christ's personality...and how much He yearns to be part of your life.

Know Christ's Personality


Am I done? Nope, I'm just getting started! Now, let's explore Christ's personality.

1. Ditch the smart phone and/or computer games, Netflix, watching college or pro sports for a while. Take into account what you read above. Show God that you respect Him and want to make getting to know Christ a higher priority than anything in the telestial world. If you have that desire, then just anticipate you'll be tested to determine whether you're serious or not about this. If you don't have that desire...well, it's obvious that there will come a day when you wish you had, and it'll be too late. Relationship building takes time.

2. Literally invite Christ into your home. Invite Him into your life. Being a perfect gentleman, He will not come where He is not invited. He WILL enter where He IS invited. So invite Him. Invite Him Invite Him Invite Him -- over and over again! Several times a day...everyday!

3. Get acquainted with His personality. To do that, get informed. Out of everything I've ever read, the one which best addresses Christ's personality is John Eldredge's book (or watch his Youtubes of) "Beautiful Outlaw". Here are the videos, in order:

Overviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_J6J4GICU
Chapter 1: The Playfulness of Godhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmUK0-mwMsk
Chapter 2: The Missing Essential -- His Personalityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIZqExZGOUo
Chapter 3: Is Jesus Really Playful?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jaopP-8eSY
Chapter 4: Fierce Intentionhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0J8umh8sls
Chapter 5: The Most Human Face of Allhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aFXDGAChPE
Chapter 6: Extravagant Generosityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHPiz6uoIhk
Chapter 7: Disruptive Honestyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUhnRzfqlso
Chapter 8: A Scandalous Freedomhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcKWMx_X1Y0
Chapter 9: Cunninghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz2OoCCqwUI
Chapter 10: Humilityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkuZHKwuM5Y
Chapter 11: Truenesshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqfW9NBbzxQ
Chapter 12: Beautifulhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh42R_MW-GM
Chapter 13: Loving Jesushttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYfOblPC_q0
Chapter 14: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- With Youhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT5eqwjpEyQ
Chapter 15: Clearing Away the Religious Foghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9WfgpLFeFY
Chapter 16: Letting Jesus Be Himself -- Encountershttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z60dN2g94k
Chapter 17: Letting His Life Fill Yourshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tehcCQXuhLo
Epilogue: One Last Thoughthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJkguqEt7Ho

In my January 7, 2016 post "Don’t Just Know About Christ…EXPERIENCE Him!" (the section entitled "Do What It Takes to Get to Know Him"), you have a book suggestion, a suggested video and several YouTube clips which (I believe) accurately describe Jesus's personality. There are also two accounts of what it's like to be in His presence. And finally, my testimony of He who rules the heavens and earth, yet knows and loves you far more than you'll ever comprehend.

My Lecture on Faith 3 Invitation


Lecture on Faith 3 is a terrific summary of God's characteristics, which are examined under the light of the scriptures (verses 9-11) then summarized (verses 13-18). These points provide us "with a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him among every people, nation and kindred, from age to age, and from generation to generation" (v 25) -- a foundation equally had among the "Former Day Saints" and "Latter Day Saints" (v 26).

That's all cool, but in my book, there's only one "best" way to know Christ, and that's by "experiential learning" -- learning through experience.
"It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us..." (The Prophet Joseph Smith, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng; emphasis mine)
Know...converse...these aren't recommendations to go to some bookstore or class and just read about Christ! Do what President McKay said and "pass into the presence of the Lord" by meditating -- surrounding yourself, outside and inside, with peace. Then invite the Prince of Peace to join you. Invite Him into your life like never before, again and again.

He waits for you to do this. He really, really yearns for you to reach out to Him, and solidify and deepen your relationship with Him. Just take a step towards Him, and He'll take a step to you. As you do, you'll begin to remember Him. Over time, you'll sense words entering your mind which are clearly not your own (and you won't be hallucinating). Then, over time, you'll be as familiar with His voice and personality as you are with your spouse or best friend. You'll know -- not hope, not guess, not wish, but know yourself -- how close He is to you, and how much He loves you.

And then...and then, over time...He will humbly, meekly introduce you to another voice which is greater than His.

This is my testimony.

And my wish...

...for you.

Special Announcement: A Request To Help A Family


There are many people I consider good friends who are struggling to make ends meet. It would be unrealistic to mention all of them. However, there is one family, whom I consider part of my (unofficial) extended family, who has extremely limited income for the next couple of months. They really need your help.

This couple is unable to cover October's rent ($750), gas and groceries. Additionally, the wife is facing upwards of $2,000 in dental bills. Although several other families have helped this specific family out already, they cannot in good conscience continue to rely on their friends who have already done so much.

Please ask the Spirit if you should help this family out. If so, then send me a message via my contact page (here), and I'll get back with you on how to help out.

Thanks, and God bless you.
"And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants." (Mosiah 4:16-26)

2 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed all of John Eldridge's videos. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love these suggestions and insights! Life can be so very distracting in both subtle and very direct ways. It truly takes focused effort and conscious awareness to eliminate those things and "Be Still" and realize He is there with us and waiting to be recognized. I love your suggestion to invite Him into our lives throughout eah day! God bless us all on this Quest of ALL quests!

    ReplyDelete