—Treasure Beyond Measure

How to Become God's Friend

The purpose of the Bible is for you to hang out with it, so that over time you become an intimate friend and brother of Jesus Christ, to the end that you become like Jesus, and so are pleasing to God. The Bible is here so that we can see God, know his promises, know his desires for us, and through this knowledge we can have faith in God. It is impossible to fall in love with someone that you cannot see whom you know nothing about. The Bible is a physical manifestation of God Almighty, and is therefore a physical manifestation of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Bible is not a rulebook. It is not a list of things that we can and/or cannot do. God did not bring the Bible into existence as a hindrance to you. It is because of his love for you that he brought it forth.

Get to KnowGod as a friend would

God's desire is for you to come to know him, and through that knowledge, love him. The whole reason for the universe is to that end. This that I am telling you now is of the greatest possible importance to you. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important to you, than you coming to the knowledge of God, and through that knowledge, coming to love him.

As important as this knowledge is though, it is very little known. Sometimes people give it lip service, but to really understand, and pursue this knowledge, is very rarely done.

What I hope to accomplish in this article is to show you the way to come to know God intimately. I have attended Bible studies that have been in existence for some twenty to thirty years. I have talked to people that have faithfully gone to these studies for that same twenty to thirty years, and yet they don't know the first real thing about God. God is a complete stranger to them. God is someone that they have a lot of second hand knowledge about but virtually no first hand knowledge. These people know about Jesus' crucifixion, burial, and subsequent resurrection. They know about the Lord's supper, about baptism, about how they aren't supposed to go around murdering people and such, but they lack any of the hidden knowledge of God. They don't know any of the secret things of God.

I have explained many times in my articles about how the human marriage between a man and a woman is symbolic of our spiritual union with God through our husband, Jesus Christ. What kind of faithful spouse would you be if you didn't know any of the secret things about your spouse after having been married for twenty or thirty years?

Personal Knowledge of God

For most people being a Christian means being a reasonably good person and faithfully attending church. If you are a really good Christian then maybe you become a deacon, or an elder. And if you are a really really good Christian then you become a pastor, or possibly an evangelist. These things mean nothing. Going to church does not make you a Christian, good or otherwise. As I said at the beginning of this article, the purpose of the Bible is for you to hang out with it, so that over time you become an intimate friend and brother of Jesus Christ, to the end that you become like Jesus, and so are pleasing to God. The purpose of any Bible study should be to that same end.

This is not what I see. This is the reason that people spend their whole lifetimes going to church and studying the Bible, and never coming to know God intimately. The biggest problem that I see is that virtually every Bible study teaches doctrine. Studying doctrine will never bring you into a close relationship with God. It might improve your chances on Jeopardy, if the Bible category comes up, but it will not increase your personal knowledge of God.

I don't know if you know this, but it is possible to have the entire Bible memorized and not have any personal knowledge of God. Knowing facts doesn't mean that you know what the facts mean.

Now, you might be wondering what my definition of doctrine is. I define doctrine as: Doctrine is an understanding of biblical truth purportedly to have come from the Scriptures. Knowing doctrine is not the same as knowing God. Anyone can learn doctrine, only close relatives can know God. Suppose I was teaching a Bible study and I was teaching on the doctrine of Baptism. I might point my students to twenty or thirty passages that all have something to do with baptism. Let us assume that I have an accurate knowledge on the subject and everything I say is technically correct. Now, when the study is over what have my students gained? Why, if I have done my job right, we can assume that they now know about baptism. What I mean is they now know who can perform a baptism. What sort of baptism, sprinkling, or immersion? When a person is baptized. Why they are baptized, and so on. Now, how does this knowledge improve their personal knowledge of God? How does this knowledge increase their love of God? Even if I have a perfect knowledge of baptism, and have the perfect ability to teach that knowledge to my students, my students will not be brought closer to God through that knowledge. They will simply know about baptism.

Know the Truth

This situation at "church" is much worse, because they teach incorrect doctrine. Their knowledge is not perfect. At church the teacher, or the pastor, or whoever, is not teaching what they have learned from God, but what they were taught in similar Bible studies. What I mean is that at one "church" they teach this about baptism, and at another they teach it a different way, and neither is correct. What I am about to tell you is not doctrine. It is of vital importance that you know and understand it. The TRUTH is that which agrees with every verse in the Bible. Some teach that the passages in the Bible can be interpreted differently depending on whatever. This is not correct. The passage means exactly what God intended it to mean, and your job, as it were, is to determine what God intended it to mean. God does not say one thing here and another there. There are no contingency passages. Jesus told us that every passage will come to pass. So the one thing that agrees with every passage is the truth. If someone teaches you something about baptism, but what they teach does not agree with any other passage, then what they taught you is subtly incorrect. It is through the correcting of these subtle errors that we come to know the TRUTH.

Our attitude when reading the Bible is so very important. We must look at every passage with equal authority. No one passage is more important than any other. They just aren't. I am sure that you have seen Bibles with the words of Jesus in red. They should not be in red. Yes the words that Jesus said are perfect, but so are all of the other passages in the Bible. Jesus did not say anything that contradicted any other passage. Everything that he said, everything that he meant, agrees with what the Spirit said everywhere else in the Bible.

Neither is the New Testament more important than the Old Testament. They are both equally important.

Matthew 5:17-20

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (NIV84)

Jesus is saying here that everything in the Old Testament is true. That every promise will be fulfilled. That every warning should be heeded. Do you know how many times the writers of the New Testament quoted Jesus to support some doctrine or other? I was wondering that once, so I started in Acts and read through all of the letters. Only one time did I find a quote of Jesus while he walked the earth. Every other time they quoted the Old Testament to support their stand. And yet I know of many "churches" that teach almost exclusively from the New Testament. I have had people criticize me for using the Old Testament. Well, anyway, I don't want to get side tracked. The point that I am trying to make is that the TRUTH is that which agrees with every passage of the Bible. But, the passages of the Bible may or may not mean what you think that they mean. Also, you must understand who said the thing, and to whom did they speak.

Be worthy

As you gain maturity you begin to know what is meant and how things work. At first this understanding is unknown to you, and so understanding the Bible is difficult, but as time goes by and you are faithful in your reading, understanding comes, if you are worthy of the understanding. In a minute I am going to tell you how to develop a loving and intimate relationship with God, but first I think that I should explain what I meant by saying that you must be worthy of the understanding. I have gotten flack on that in the past.

Matthew 10:11

Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. (NIV84)


Matthew 10:37-39

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (NIV84)

Both of these passages speak of our need of being worthy. And look at this next passage.

Ephesians 4:1

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (NIV84)

Look at this:

Acts 13:46

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. (NIV84)

One shows one's self worthy by accepting the Word of God. No one is worthy of salvation because of their own righteousness, but one must nonetheless listen to and obey the Word of God. One who listens to and obeys the Word considers him or herself worthy.

Be a better person for God

It is like Jack Nicholson's role in the film As Good as it Gets. Mr. Nicholson played a man who was rude in the extreme and completely obnoxious. He met a very nice lady played by Helen Hunt. (I don't remember their characters names so I will just use the actors names.) Jack saw in Helen a person that he wanted for a wife. He fell in love with her and wanted her, but he knew that he was unworthy of her. He knew that he was an obnoxious loudmouthed jerk. Jack saw in Helen something worth being a better person for. So, Jack endeavored to be a better person, a person that could be worthy of Helen. Well my friend, is God a person that you desire and value enough for you to behave in a worthy manner for? You must desire God and you must consider yourself worthy of God by acting in a manner that you believe in your heart, pleases God. I am not talking about going to church, but rather, being polite and respectful of others. I am talking about being a good person, being considerate, thoughtful, helpful. In general, being the sort of person that God wouldn't mind knowing.

I see a lot of people that go to church and say that they are Christians, but are self-centered and are ungodly, unholy and impure.

If you want God as the love of your life, then you must act like you are worthy of him, that is, you must remove from yourself all that is unholy and impure.

Titus 2:12-14

It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (NIV84)

People go to church and say that they are Christians, but they don't do what this passage says. They show that they do not consider themselves worthy of God. They, like the Jews in the passage above, do not consider themselves worthy of eternal life, and so the life is given to another. Don't be fooled my friend. Those people in the above passage went to "church" every week and considered themselves saved, as it were. But their response to the gospel proved what they were.

Now I said that I would tell you how to have an intimate and loving relationship with God, and so I shall now do so. You must show yourselves worthy of the relationship with a holy and pure God. You must honor him in truth, not just with lip service. What I mean is this, you must read the Bible for yourself, and you must believe what it says. When you come across a passage that does not agree with the doctrine that you have been taught, or is accepted as truth by your church or pastor, or by anyone, you must accept what you see in the Bible. If you hold to your doctrine, or to what you want to believe, you are rejecting the Lord's advances toward you. God is offering something of himself to you and you are saying that you don't want it.

Let us look at the human man/woman relationship example again. If you are dating someone and they tell you that they did this or that, and you flat out tell them that you don't believe them, well, I'm sure that you understand what that will do to the relationship. If you don't believe anything that they say, but instead believe what you want to believe, well, that relationship isn't going anywhere, is it?

Read the Bible

Now the Bible is God's expression to you, and if you refuse to believe what it says, well, that is exactly the same as in the example above. God will turn away from you in disgust. Imagine you not believing God.

What I am saying is that you must read the Bible for yourself and you must believe it. If you believe it you will do it. I see people all the time that tell me that they believe the Bible is the Word of God, but they always go their own way. What I mean is this: If you and I were friends, and I called you at work and told you that your house was on fire, and you believed me, you will immediately leave work and see to your house. You wouldn't calmly tell me that you believed me and such is life and la de da. If I came at you and told you that I was going to smash your face, and you believed it, would you just stand there and watch? No, you would duck, or hold up your hands, or at least try to talk me out of it. Now, my point is, if you believe that you live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, then you will heed those words. The person that does not heed the words of the Bible doesn't really have any faith in them. Such a faithless person is not a Christian, no matter what they say.

If Jesus is your Lord, and the Bible says something about the possibility of losing your salvation, and you dismiss the Word of the Lord, because what it says doesn't agree with your doctrine, then you are showing that Jesus is not your Lord. You are then showing that you know better than God.

It is your attitude that is important, and not your knowledge. With the right attitude your knowledge will grow, with the wrong attitude your knowledge will be nonexistent. You must listen to God.

I have had people say that we aren't supposed to understand this or that thing in the Bible, and so they show themselves uninterested in trying to know God intimately. Well I bet you can guess how that makes God feel about them.

I know a lot of things about the Bible. More than anyone else that I have met. I didn't get this understanding because I am better than most, or smarter, but because I have knocked a hole in God's door pestering him to resolve all of the little inconsistencies in my understanding. When I see two passages that don't both seem to be true, I don't say that one is true and the other is not, no I keep them in mind as I read and I pray and ask the Lord to show me the one truth that agrees with both. This is how all of his children should act.

Proverbs 4:1-9

Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. 3 When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, 4 he taught me and said, "Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor." (NIV84)

If you want to know God you must esteem him worthy of knowing. You will show your esteem by the level of your determination to know him. If you don't really want to know him then you will not know him. If the knowledge of him is so precious to you that you will forsake everything else, then God will reveal himself to you fully.

I don't want you to be fooled by the people at "church" that say that Church attendance it the way to God. Being very active at your church doesn't mean a thing if your attitude about your knowledge of God is weak. Church will not save you. Church is not your Lord. Jesus Christ is the only Lord that saves. The Bible is the physical revelation of Jesus Christ. Your attitude toward the Bible is your attitude toward Jesus Christ.

Have a Loving Relationship with God

The human marriage is so very like our union with God. We show our love for our spouses by our willingness to please, and in our effort in that regard. It is the same with God. The effort that you show in pleasing God will reveal your love for him. These people at church that use the Bible like it is a law book sadden me. They point out passages here and there and talk people through the Sinners Prayer, and then tell them that they are saved and going to heaven. All the while it is about a loving relationship with our husband, Jesus Christ.

John 14:23-24

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (NIV84)


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