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Certainty Through Experience, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
September 26, 2022 9:00 am

Certainty Through Experience, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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September 26, 2022 9:00 am

Usually, our deepest beliefs are based on the things we’ve experienced, not on philosophical reasoning. But is it possible to really experience God if you can’t see him?

Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
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J.D. Greear
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Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer talks about experiencing God. God did not save you as an automaton.

He saved you as a person to walk with Him, and the verification that this is real is you have actual experience with Him. I know what some of you are saying now. You're like, well, how do we do this? Great question. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, the deepest-held beliefs in your life are probably not things that have been proven to you through philosophical reasoning or reading lots of facts. Usually, our strongest beliefs are a result of personally experiencing things. We believe because we've seen, heard, or felt it. But that begs the question, we can't see God, so is it even possible to know Him beyond just an intellectual knowledge? Can we ever really experience Him enough to truly believe? Pastor J.D.

argues, yes. And today on Summit Life, he'll explain how. Get ready to taste and see God's goodness. Pastor J.D. titled this message, Certainty Through Experience. Well, the theme that we are going to chase this morning is this one. It is how you can be certain about your experience with God through an experience of fellowship with Him.

I'll explain to you what I mean by that. If you've got a Bible, 1 John 1, let's look in verse 1. Verse 1, 1, that which was from the beginning, John says, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. The life was made manifest, and we have seen it and testified to it and proclaimed to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.

Now, let's stop there for a minute and think about what John is actually trying to say here. John is saying that the reason that he was so sure about what he was teaching is that he and the other apostles actually saw Jesus. They observed his miracles. They felt his resurrected body. John is saying this is not a theory to us. The proof of Christianity to them was not in how wise Jesus' teaching seemed to them.

The proof to them was the fact that Jesus had miracles and a resurrection to back it up. Now, some of you were listening to this. You're like, well, okay, good for John.

Kudos to him. He got to see Jesus and touch him. What good does that do for me? I didn't get to see and touch Jesus. That's a great question.

I am so glad you asked. Look at verse 3. That which we have seen and heard, we proclaim also to you so that you too may have fellowship with us. What John is saying is we wrote these things so that you would be in the same boat with us, so that you would have the same kind of experiences with Jesus that we had. Experiential knowledge of God. But you say, well, how? Because we can't go observe Jesus' miracles.

Again, great question. The answer is in verse 2. The Jesus that John touched, watch this, and the miracles that John observed were a manifestation of the life of God, a life that you can share in. You see, the miracles that Jesus did were never an end to themselves. The miracles were always a pointer. They were called signs that pointed beyond themselves to some higher reality. That's what a sign does, right? It points outside of itself to something else.

Here's an example. John chapter 6. John records Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. But Jesus explains that the point of that miracle is not that he can do magic with loaves of bread. The point is that he is the bread of life, and all those who are spiritually starving can come and feast upon him, and they will find the deepest parts of their souls satisfied.

Here's a question. Have you ever experienced that? These experiences that you have validate what the Bible teaches because they give you a felt sense of the things that you're reading in the Bible as the word of life is made manifest to you. Christianity is an experience felt religion in which you interact with an actual God. There is a sense that the Holy Spirit gives you that anointing that just gives you ears to hear what God has been saying so that you hear the voice of God as you read the Bible and you say, that's him.

If you're taking notes, write this down. One of the signs that you really know God is you have fellowship, koinonia, with him through the Spirit. God begins to come alive to you. God begins to speak to you. It's not just doctrines that you're learning. It's not just, listen, a lifestyle that you're practicing. It is a God that you're fellowshipping with.

If you're taking notes, write this down. Koinonia. Koinonia is the manifestation of the word of the Gospel in your heart. Koinonia is the manifestation. Manifestation means magnification. We're talking about the Spirit taking the word of life and magnifying it so it comes alive in your heart.

That's what we're talking about. A genuine experience with God, fellowship, koinonia, is the magnification of the word of the Gospel in your heart. You begin to feel the word of life. The cross becomes larger. Your sin gets more bitter and more real. God's grace gets sweeter. The old words of life press in on your heart and they become, they become new to you. When suddenly, listen, the doctrines of the Gospel suddenly come alive in your heart and you realize that it's not a statement about what Jesus did in the past. It's a statement about what he did for you. And it becomes personal.

Has that ever happened to you? John Wesley, who was the, you know, one of the guys behind the Great Awakening, who was one of the greatest people who was one of our country's greatest evangelists ever, talks about when he was converted. A friend of invited him to church for an evening service that started at nine o'clock in the evening. The preacher that evening, I guess, had not prepared his sermon. So the preacher was just reading the introduction to Luther's commentary on the book of Romans.

Now talk about a recipe for a nap. Church at nine o'clock where a pastor is reading the introduction from a 300-year-old book. Right? I mean, that's, that's not, but John Wesley says, he says, in fact, let me just quote him. Wesley says, at about a quarter past nine, as the pastor read Luther describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart suddenly and strangely warmed. I saw in that moment that Christ had taken away my sins, even mine, and that he had saved me from the law of sin and death. It wasn't, he didn't learn something new. It just came alive in him.

By the way, you parents, this is what I'm looking for in my kids and what I cannot produce in my children. I can teach them the doctrines of the gospel, which I do, but I pray that the Holy Spirit will, at different points in their life, suddenly magnify them so they come alive and they give them eyes to see, which is why I pray for them every day and teach them every night. I can do the teaching, but the Holy Spirit has to give the illumination.

It happens first at conversion, but watch this, it continues to happen again and again for the rest of your life. That's what koinonia is, is God's Spirit magnifying over and over. There are times when God's love just presses in on you. Ephesians 3 18, I love how, I was gonna say one of my favorites, but they're all my favorites. Ephesians 3 18, Paul prays for the Ephesians that they would grasp the height and the width and the depth and the breadth of the love of God for them. Here's why I love that. The word grasp in Greek, katalambano.

Katalambano is a military term that means to seize or to overtake. So what he is praying is that the love of God would attack these people. They already knew about the love of God. I mean, it wasn't like they were learning, it wasn't like they were like, oh, God loves us, write that down. They already knew it. He's praying that it would seize their hearts and overtake it like a fortress so that every single part of their life would be saturated with the love of God and the love of God would be heavy to them. That's what he's praying for them. That's what fellowship is.

Are you having these experiences? Because listen, if you're not, you have very serious reason to question whether or not you actually know God. Because God did not save you to stuff you full of a bunch of doctrine. He didn't save you because he needed robots to execute the principles of Christianity perfectly.

You're not a computer database and you're not a robot. He created you to love you and to walk with you. The whole point is fellowship. Fellowship is the whole point of Christianity. And if you are not fellowshipping with him, if these are not experiences where the love of God is becoming real to you, then you're probably not actually a Christian. No matter how much doctrine you know or how much lifestyle you coerce yourself into following. One last passage here and then I'll try to make this really, really proud of it for you. Flip over to 1 John 5, 1 John 5 verse 14.

Watch this one. This is the confidence John says we have toward him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us and whatever we ask, we know that we have the request that we asked of him.

You see what he's saying there? How do you know that you know God? You see answers to prayer in your life. Because you get close to God and you start to know what God wants in different situations and you ask him and he gives you what you asked. Can you see the answers to prayer in your own life? Can you point me to a series of answered prayers as a confirmation that God is real and at work in your life? Because again, I don't know what it is for you, but for many people I know, Christianity is just a set of doctrines to be learned, a set of lifestyles to be adopted, but it's not a real God they interact with who actually answers prayer and is involved in their lives and in the circle of ministry that God has given them. By the way, we all have the experience of unanswered prayer. I'm not trying to tell you to obsess when a prayer doesn't get answered, that means you're not saved because I got a whole slew of unanswered prayers, but when God doesn't at least doesn't answer the prayer the way that I think it should be answered, a lot of times what the Holy Spirit will do, this happened to me just the other day, I was really disappointed with God because it was something he didn't do that I thought that he should do and the Holy Spirit pressed into my heart Psalm 23 one, I am your shepherd and I know better than you and so sometimes I overrule your requests because you're a sheep and you don't know what to ask for and so instead of giving you what you asked for I give you what you would have asked for if you knew what I knew because I'm your shepherd and that's the experience that I'm having with the Holy Spirit. It's not always a direct answer prayer it's just communion because I have a confidence in him because it's a real God that I'm actually interacting with and I'm just telling you if that's not your experience in Christianity it might not be genuine.

God did not save you as a computer database and he did not save you as an automaton. He saved you as a person to walk with him and the verification that this is real is you have actual experience with him. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment but I wanted to take a moment to tell you about our featured resource this month meant to help you take this gospel study further. The gospel is the welcoming message of the power of God and not just once but always every single day. Take the time to personalize these teachings that you're hearing here on the program with an eight session video-based bible study featuring further teaching from Pastor JD.

This study is meant to be done in community which is why it comes with five study guides to share with friends or family. Commit to growing in gospel power right now when you support Summit Life. This resource this resource comes with your generous gift to the ministry so give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at Now let's get back to the conclusion of today's teaching.

Here's Pastor JD. I know what some of you are saying now you're like well how do we do this? How do we have these experiences? You just kind of sit around and wait to get zapped from heaven? I mean is that what I do? Great question.

You guys are totally on your game today with another great question. So let me let me give you three things that you need to do. Three things.

Here's your action steps all right. Number one, number one put yourself in the presence of his word. Put yourself in the presence of his word and that's how that's how John shows you that God speaks to you right. Look within and wait for this like kind of word. The way that God speaks to you is he magnifies the word.

There's nothing but a pit of poison there. Life. All right well I just go out in the woods and I find God that you're not going to find God in the woods. I mean you can go in the woods and you can enjoy God's creation but if you go to the woods take your Bible with you because that's where God is going to come out of. God speaks through his word. Martin Luther said if you're standing beside a cage with a roaring lion in it and the person you're talking to does not believe the lion is real.

You can do one of two things. You could stand there and defend the lion or you could open the cage and let the lion defend himself. The word of God is like the lion.

You can defend it that's great I'm glad you're doing that but at some point just let the lion out of the cage. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. You want somebody to have this manifestation of God's spirit put him in the presence of God's word. If you're if you're a believer and you want more of the manifestations of God's presence in your life you know what you can do? Put yourself in the presence of the word all the time.

I give you several ways to do that in addition to just being a regular part of a place like this where you're hearing the word taught. Write these down as A, B, C, D. A do a quiet time every day. You know what a quiet time is?

It's the worst name thing we've ever come up with in Christianity by the way. A quiet time like really like it sounds like God puts you in a corner because he's mad at you and tells you to shut up. No that's not a quiet time. A quiet time is a daily time that you set aside just to meet with God through his word. I do it every single day.

The first person I talk to every day is God because I go in my office and I open my Bible and I just meet with and hear from God. You say well how do you do a quiet time? If you're just starting here's what I tell you. 30 minutes that's 1 48th of your day. 30 minutes divided into three sections of 10. First 10 minutes just read the Bible. Second 10 minutes pray talk to God about what's going on in your life. And by the way make a list of what you're going to talk to God and pray through that list.

Don't just like oh God because you will do what I do. If I just start praying without a list I'm telling you I start praying and 35 minutes later I'm thinking about the spaghetti we had the night before. My mind just wanders all over the place so get you a list and pray and ask God to do certain things. Last 10 minutes read a devotional or some kind of Christian book.

30 minutes. You do that every day and I promise you it'll change your life. You ought to start it today.

All right. Second thing I told you quiet time memorize scripture. I'm 39 years old. I've been in the ministry for 11 years. I still weekly memorize scripture.

You want to know why? Because I want scripture flowing in my veins so that when life cuts me I just bleed out God's word. You got to start memorizing scripture.

Let her see. Pray the scriptures back to God. Pray them back to God. That's what makes your prayers really take on the life of heaven is when you're actually praying scripture back to God.

Here's how I do this. After I read the Bible 10 minutes the first thing that I do to start my prayer time is I've circled things in the Bible that I've been reading. I go back and I pray those things back to God. As I pray through my list of people that I love which includes you I have verses written out beside that I'm praying for the people that I love because I'm praying God's words back to him. If you listen to me pray what I want you to hear is I want you to hear me praying the words of God back to him because that's how I know the will of God for somebody's life and as I'm fellowshipping with God through his word he is giving me the things that God taught me to ask. So pray the scriptures back to him. Letter D. Get in a small group.

Get in a small group. You see I'm only one voice at the church but God didn't create us as like a microphone in an audience. He created the church as a body and when God wants to do work in your life he does it through the means of the body which means if you're disconnected from the body you're disconnected from the power of God. The analogy I use and I use it all the time but just you know it's important.

The church is a body. When part of my body has a need the way that my brain takes care of that need is by means of another body. Part of the body not another body but another part of my body.

For example here's the one I always use. If the knee on my left leg is itching the knee sends up a little message to the brain and says help I itch. So what does the brain do? Does the brain send down like magical brain juice you know microwave power and dissolve the itch? No the brain sends a message to brother fingers on his right hand. On my right hand it's like hey brother knee has got a problem so why don't you go down there and take care of that for him. So he goes down there and he scratches the itch and then he's happy the hands happy everybody's happy.

That's how the body works. How does the body of Christ work? How does God work in your life and in your family? He does it by means of other members of his body which means if you're disconnected from other members of his body you're disconnected from the power of God. So don't complain to me when God's not working in your life when you've separated yourself from the very thing that God intends to work in your life. 98.4% of what God wants to do in your life he does so by members of his body. You got to get connected because that's how God works.

Letter E last one under this section. Become an expert at applying scriptures to broken parts of your life. That's why we offer counseling seminars here. The counseling seminars are about the parts of you and the parts of your friends that are most broken and we want to teach you to be an expert at applying scripture to those broken parts. So become an expert at that take advantage of these counseling seminars. So one thing you do is put yourself in the presence of the word of God. The other two are real quick okay so not that long.

Number two here's your second thing. Pray for it. Pray for it. That's what you see Paul doing right with the Ephesians. He's not trying to teach them new stuff. He's saying God open their eyes to the old things. Help them to feel the weight of your love.

Let it press in on them. Some of you are like this listen if right now you would say listen this is exactly what some of you would say. If right now you would say I know that Jesus loves me but I know that Jesus loves me but I just can't forgive what this person has done against me.

You know what you've just said? Listen what you've said is Jesus's love is lightweight to me and that person's offense against me is heavyweight. And what needs to happen is not that you learn something new about Jesus what needs to happen is that Jesus presence take on a greater weightiness in your heart so that it would outweigh the offense against you.

Does that make sense? If you are not married and you are devastated and depressed by not being married there's nothing wrong with desiring to be married but the problem is is that marriage is heavyweight and Jesus is lightweight and what you need to pray is that God would let your eyes be open to grasp the weightiness of God's love so that while you desire to be married you're overwhelmed with the glory of what you have in Jesus. If you right now in the midst of some personal tragedy and it is devastating to you it's because the tragedy is heavyweight and Jesus's love is lightweight. Paul who was no stranger to pain remember what he said about all of his pain remember and by the way Paul his pain was not like you know JV.

Friends have forsaken him he was jobless he was homeless he'd been tortured and persecuted and put in prison his reputation had been destroyed. He looks at all of it and says yeah it's a light and momentary affliction. That's not because it wasn't painful his pain would compare to probably many of you in here who are in midst of great pain.

He says it's light and momentary he's not talking about a cold when he says that. He's talking about deep pain he says it's light and momentary because of the weightiness of Jesus love in my life. You need Jesus love to become so weighty that everything else in your life the joys and the successes the disappointments and the failures they need to become lightweight. Even the deepest personal tragedies and the deepest disappointments become light and momentary because you have grasped the height and the width and the depth and the breadth of the love of God for you.

It becomes so weighty so you pray for it because it's not new things you need to learn it's your heart being open to the beauty and the depth of the old things. Lastly here's the last thing keep obeying even when you don't feel it. Just keep obeying when you don't feel it. Listen that's my experience I have times where I go for long stretches and I'm not feeling much of anything but then there are times of intimacy. The greatest intimacy comes from a long obedience in the same direction. The greatest intimacy comes from long obedience in the same direction. I read an article this week about a guy he was talking about the beauty of being married for 50 or 60 years and he said there are long stretches in your marriage where the relationship becomes sterile sometimes becomes cold. He said but the the moments of intimacy in a couple that has learned to trust each other for 60 years are so much greater and so much sweeter than you'll get from a temporary fling or an affair. It is a long obedience with God in the same direction that is the path through which he releases this intimacy in your life. So when you don't feel it just keep obeying. Keep putting yourself under the presence of the word and keep praying and yearning for fellowship and intimacy. Is that happening to you? Do you want it to happen to you?

It's possible. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor and Theologian J.D. Greer. If you joined us late today or if you missed any part of this message you can hear it again online at We're in a teaching series here on the program called Assured Discovering the Evidence of True Saving Faith and a true faith is demonstrated daily.

So J.D. around here we talk a lot about something called the gospel prayer. What exactly is that and why are we sharing it with people? Well it's not a magical prayer and it's not supposed to replace the Lord's Prayer. There's a way that honestly grew up out of my own quiet time. What are ways that I could center myself on the gospel every single day and so I came up with four kind of phrases that I prayed for a while just on my own. The first phrase is that in Christ there's nothing I could do that that would make you God love me anymore nothing I have done that would make you love me any less. Phrase two is that you are all I need for everlasting joy. Phrase three as you have been to me so I will be to others and then phrase four is as I pray I'll measure your compassion by the cross and your power by the resurrection.

Those are four statements that will center you on the gospel and I'm not over-promising here. They will transform your life. We would love for you to join our team. We are sending a copy to all of our gospel partners this month.

It's just a way of saying thank you for their ongoing support. So take a look at Yeah that's really helpful. Thank you J.D. So if you'd like a new tool to help the truths of the gospel sink in let me encourage you to get a copy of that short book by J.D. titled Gospel Prayer Catechism. We'll be happy to send it to you today when you donate to support this ministry or when you become a monthly gospel partner. So join this mission today and give by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or give online at You can also ask about the more in-depth gospel bible study mentioned earlier in the program. I'm Molly Venovich. Be sure to join us tomorrow when Pastor J.D.

explains how an uncomfortable topic like sin can actually give us assurance of salvation. That's Tuesday on Summit Life with J.D. Guirre. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Guirre Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-08 10:34:19 / 2023-01-08 10:44:56 / 11

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