Well, evening everybody. Great to be back with you again tonight. You came back, some of you did anyway! And some are here, who weren't here this morning. We started a series on 'Knowing God'. I want you to turn with me to Exodus 33. I look forward to what God's going to do tonight, and indeed in the further two Sundays, four more studies we'll have in May on this subject, which we'll lift up again when May comes.
Exodus 33, that's where we were this morning, and I'm only going to read one verse, which was our main verse earlier. The context is Moses has been up the Mount and he's received the law of God, he comes down, the people are having a kind of pagan orgy, he throws down the tablets, they break, he's to go up the Mount again and get another set. When he's up there, he says to the Lord that he really wants to encounter His presence. Now this is very important: Moses was a presence-orientated person, he prioritized the presence of God in his life. We even read this morning that he said: 'Look, Lord, who's going to lead us into the promised land? If You don't go up there with us, don't lead us there'. So I've said it before, that he'd rather not have the promised land, and have God's presence. Sometimes we can actually settle for our promised lands, blessings, but not actually enjoy the presence of God. He said, 'I'd rather not have the promised land [and be] in Your presence, than the promised land without Your presence'. His heart's cry was to truly know God.
We just take up verse 13 there: "Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in your sight, show me now Your ways". We saw this morning that the ways of God, not just the acts of God, but the ways of God, are the ways that He displays His character, that we might know Him. So we've just been singing that He's good - but, you know, it's not just a statement, He shows us His goodness. "Show me now Your way that I may know You, and that I may find grace in Your sight" - favour.
Then, keep a marker there if you would, and then go over with me to 1 Corinthians 13, this great passage on love that we know so well - unfortunately usually only read at weddings. First Corinthians 13 verse 12: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know, just as I also am known".
Let's pray together and, as I invited you this morning - and I believe, God did speak this morning and touched people's hearts; and I think that this is going to be the same tonight. I don't believe in preaching only. I believe in preaching with signs following the preaching. God does stuff. If we're just preaching and God's not doing stuff, we need to ask what we're actually doing. So I'm looking for God to move tonight, as I believe He did this morning, and touch people's lives, change us, transform us for His glory. That's what we need. Yes? That's what I need! So let's pray and ask Him - just say: 'Lord, would You speak to me tonight, would You touch my heart?'.
Father, we thank You that You're a good Father. We thank You that Your goodness has been displayed in Your Son, the Lord Jesus. We thank You that the Holy Spirit, as we thought about briefly this morning, brings You, Father and Son, to us. Lord, we ask for Your glory, tonight, to be revealed in Your goodness. We thank You that, as You passed by Moses, it was Your goodness You displayed. He asked to see Your glory, and You showed him Your goodness, because Your glory is Your goodness. When we see Jesus hanging on the cross, we see Your glory. He said that this was how You would glorify Him. It's not what we would understand as glory, but Lord - now that we are believers, we see the glory in the gore and the horrific treatment of Your Son at Calvary. But Lord, we pray for a revelation afresh tonight of Him, His love and Your heart towards us. So please touch our lives tonight, we ask, Father, and do something transformative in each of us, in our families, our relationships, and in this church - we ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.
The Hebrew word for 'know' that we read in verse 13 of Exodus 33, 'that I may know You', is the Hebrew word 'yada'. 'Yada' simply means 'to know' obviously, but 'to learn', or 'perceive'. It can be translated 'to see' or 'to find out'. But the essence of the word 'yada' is 'to know by experience', or 'to be acquainted with'. Quite famously, Genesis 4:1 speaks of Adam knowing Eve, Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain. Sometimes this term 'to know' has been referenced to carnal knowledge or to sexual activity - but it's not actually synonymous with that, it's not the sexual act that this word describes, but it is the deep knowledge involved, the intimacy in the sexual union.
So Moses says, 'Lord, I want to know' - 'yada' - 'You, I want to know You deeply and intimately'. Then the second reading that we had, from Corinthians 13, uses a Greek term 'epiginosko', 'ginosko' is the word we get 'gnosis' from - and, again, it means 'to know', but it is the sense of knowing thoroughly, a complete knowledge that one day we will have when we see Jesus face-to-face. It talks about 'we look in a mirror now dimly', and in ancient times in the Corinthian culture, mirrors were not glass like ours, but they were made of polished metal. That probably would please some of us, we wouldn't be able to see how we really look - but it didn't give a true image what you're looking at. So Paul says that at the moment we see dimly in this mirror, but one day we will look face-to-face, we will know and we will be known. One day we'll see Him as He is.
Revelation talks about seeing His face. Now, generally speaking in Scripture, and we touched on this this morning because it says of Moses in Exodus 33 and verse 11 that he spoke with God face-to-face. But it also says in this chapter that he did not, and could not see God's face, because no man can see God and live. So this is a figurative term - although it might be literal in 1 Corinthians 13 and Revelation - but in other places it's figurative, speaking of this open fellowship that we can actually have with God. So when Moses spoke face-to-face, he was having an intimate communion with God. God actually says in Numbers 12:8: 'I speak to Moses face-to-face'. It was a deep unhindered fellowship.
Now, I want you to note something here - and remember, we're talking about Old Testament. God is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. Every generation needed their own encounter with God. You look at all the patriarchs, Moses here, and we spoke of other characters - and this book, the Bible, is a book telling of how God revealed Himself personally to individual people. But each generation had to have their own encounter. So Isaac didn't say, 'Well, my Dad had an encounter with God. In fact, he was called a friend of God, and He learned to walk by faith. So I'm just going to walk the way he walked. And I'm going to kind of live off the encounters that he had, I'm going to read about them, meditate on them every day in my quiet time, and that will do me'. No, Isaac had to have his own encounters with God, Jacob was the same. Every generation needs their own encounters with God. They didn't simply rely on previous generations. Can I say this to you, and this is a bit of an aside, but this is why Christian movements become monuments; when they're relying on the experience of bygone generations and not having their own. What happens then is, a movement ceases to have momentum, they stop moving, they stand still, they become monuments - and their default then is maintenance. They maintain something that was in a bygone day. But what is spoken of here is, over and over again in scriptural revelation, we see people freshly encountering God, each generation in a fresh new way.
We can have face-to-face knowledge of God now. Didn't we read about that this morning, 2 Corinthians 4:6: 'For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ'. Second Corinthians 3:18, 'But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord'. Moses in the Tent of Meeting, face-to-face with God, he comes out, his face shines, he has to wear a veil because the glory is fading away of the Old Covenant - but we don't have a veiled face, the veil has been torn in two. It's God inviting us in, but it's also God breaking out. He wants to break out, He wants us to see Him, to behold Him in His glory, and to be changed to be like Him.
The great longing of the human heart has always been to know and be known; to fully know another, and to be fully known by another; to understand another, and to be understood and accepted by others. You remember this morning, I was relaying how in my meditation and prayer in the light of this series, I was asking the question: what are the key components of relationship? I gave you a summary of what some of those things are, I'll not go over them. But this morning, we looked at how it's necessary - to have a relationship with anyone - that there is trust. We saw that trust essentially with God is faith, believing that He is, becoming vulnerable to Him, risking trusting Him, relinquishing control of our own lives (because we are afraid that things will be out of control), and actually placing our full trust in Him. Then we saw also that truth is necessary for that to happen. There needs to be honesty and transparency in relationships, and particularly with God.
Whilst trust is built on truth, trust or faith is also built on love and intimate knowledge of another. That's what we're going to look at tonight. You see someone will not trust and make themselves vulnerable unless they feel safe and secure. Isn't that right? Yes, there's a sense of risk to a degree, there's always risk of pain when we love another person. But the risk is kind of traded off against the measure of safety and security that we know is there. So it's a bit like a child going across a busy road with her hand in Daddy's hand. Obviously the cars are whizzing by, the noise, it is a dangerous place that she's been warned not to go across herself - but she feels safe and secure because her hand is in Daddy's hand. The love is bringing trust.
So for all of us, in our human relationships, but even with God, there is a calculated wager made upon the understanding of how much we are loved. So we can add, in this series that we're doing, love and understanding to trust and truth as important key components in any relationship - but particularly in our relationship, knowing God. People need to know that they are loved. It's good to be loved, isn't it? But it's not enough. You must know that you are loved. You will never grow in relationship unless you know that you are loved.
Sometimes I pray with people, and it's tragic - this is very common - where someone will say to me: 'Well, I know my father and my mother loved me, I really do. And they provided for me and they gave me everything that I could ever want - there was food on the table, clothes on my back, gave me an education, opportunities in life - but they never really showed it demonstrably. They certainly never said it'. Recently, someone said to me: 'The only time that my father told us that he loved us was when he had been drinking'. Isn't that tragic? Now it's great to be loved, but when we're not told that we're loved, and we don't know that we're loved, it causes all sorts of problems - because love has not properly been expressed. When it's not properly expressed, it cannot be received. Many, many Christians know about the love of God, but they have never truly known the love of God.
So I'm not asking you tonight: do you know how much God loves you? In this sense: do you 'know' how much God loves you? (And I'm pointing to my head now for the purposes of the recording). I'm asking you: do you know in the heart how much God loves you? I'm not talking about a thinking love, I'm talking about a feeling love. Oh, there's that word! Don't get scared! Do you know that the devil didn't invent emotions, God created them and they're good. They can be very fickle at times. They need to be ordered by the Holy Spirit, but He created them for our benefit and our good. We need as Christians - for our development, for our growth in relationship, and to know God deeper - we need to know and feel the love of God in our lives.
So people often say to me also, 'Well, I know God loves me, but I just don't feel it'. I'm talking tonight about the knowing of experience, this 'yada', to know through experience. I'm asking you this evening: do you experience the love of God? I'm not even saying: 'Have you ever experienced the love of God?', and you'll give me a time and a date, and an altar that you came to. I'm asking you now, on this final day of March: do you regularly experience the love of God?
Of course, this is why Paul emphasizes in Romans 5:5 - we heard it around the table this morning from Carl - 'The love of God has been poured it in our heads' - no - 'in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us'. Poured out, a baptism of love from the heart of God to ours. So you see where I'm going with this tonight: to be known is to be loved. So the longing to be known that we all have is essentially the longing to be loved and accepted - and ultimately, that's what everybody's looking for. They're looking for love. Now they could be looking in all the wrong places, and that's usually what happens - but essentially that is the drive that's in everybody to do the craziest things that you could ever imagine, and even press the self-destruct button in their own lives. It's the desire to have meaning, usually love and acceptance.
Jayne Mansfield, during the 1950s and 60s was an actress, a sex symbol and one of the first playboy playmates. This is what she said: 'It is the most wonderful feeling in the world knowing you are loved and wanted'. In Variety magazine it's said about her that her personal life out-rivalled any of the roles that she played on the screen. She married and divorced three times, had five children, she was allegedly intimately involved with many men - some very high-profile men in government. Now she certainly was wanted - but that's not the same as love.
Some counsellors talk about 'the love tank' that we all have within our hearts. That love tank, from a little child, is designed to be filled by affirmation and security from our parents, etc - but, spiritually speaking, the love of God is what we are meant to experience deep down in our souls. I want to ask how your love tank is tonight? Is it empty? I mean, regarding the love of God, experiencing it, feeling it? Or is it like Paul said, we quoted it earlier: 'the love of God has been poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit' - and the picture is there that you're overflowing with the love of God, you're kind of drunk with His love, you're intoxicated by it!
If that's not the case, what are you filling that love tank with? Where do you look for meaning in your life? I'm talking to people - whether you're a Christian or not is immaterial - because a lot of people look to their job for meaning. What you do every day, bringing in the wage and providing for your family. Your identity is found in what you do, or maybe it is in your family. Family is a good thing and work is a good thing, but maybe it's all about your family or your friendships. Or maybe it's a sporting activity or a hobby that you have? For some people, they try and fill this love tank with sexual activity, with substance abuse, with power or position - and even, dare I say it, some fill it with ministry, what we do for God or who we are. Eventually we hit a crisis! When these substitutes for the love of God fail us, and when we have no experience of God's love, we don't know what to do.
In the Old Testament Jeremiah spoke about this in chapter 2:13: 'My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water', a bit of mixed metaphors to what I'm saying about this love tank, but essentially the point is the same: we're going elsewhere to be satisfied, to fill our hearts; when we need to go to the love of God. To know God, you have to experience His 'agape' love, the Greek word for the love of God - and that is an ongoing experience. And it's not automatic when you become a Christian, it's progressive. Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers, Ephesians 3:18-19: that they would 'be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God'.
Now, in case you hadn't noticed, there are three dimensions in the material universe, but there are four dimensions in that statement of Paul's. In other words, this is a four-dimensional love. This is not natural. This is not material. It is supernatural, and it is spiritual, and it's beyond description and comprehension. It passes knowledge. We used to say 'It's better felt than telt' - and that's true. That's why the Holy Spirit has to reveal it, because it's divine.
Let me tease it out a little bit more in the time that I have: three things about this love that will bring us into a deeper knowledge relationship with God are these: first of all, it's unconditional. That means it's based on grace - and the word 'grace', some of its meaning is it's 'favour', or God gives us what we need to make it. Love needs to be demonstrated in order to be received. Didn't we say that earlier? Romans 5:8: 'God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us'. The unconditional love of Jesus, 'when we were still sinners'. That means when - think about this - when our shirt sleeves were still rolled up, and we were elbow deep in acts of sin - in acts of sin - God loves us, and Jesus died for us.
Now that's very hard for us to take in. Many Christians live according to law rather than love. The idea of a code of do's or don'ts, rather than a heart-relationship with God. Now that is a conditional way to relate to God, but it's not actually New Testament Christianity - to live by law, rather than love; to live by rules, rather than relationship. Now that can be affected by the way we're brought up. Maybe that's the way Mum and Dad were with us, that we, you know, we had to toe the line in order to be received and accepted. We had to achieve in academia, or sport, or whatever - but this whole idea of unconditional love is counterintuitive to our whole society and culture in general. Take our education system. That's not the way it works: 'You get an unconditional A-star. In fact, you get eleven of them, there you go, just have them!'. Wouldn't that be great? It's not the way the sporting arena works, is it? Achievement is the goal - and it's not, sadly, the way religious systems operate; even Christianity, even evangelical Christianity. It's often a performance-based mentality: 'If I do well, and keep away from the bad stuff, God will be pleased with me and I will know Him better. But if I'm a bad boy or a bad girl, God will be cross and I'll not get near Him, and I'll not be blessed'.
I want you, if you have such a mentality, you've grown up in it, you've inherited it, I don't know where it's come from - but there's this spiritual perfectionism in you - that you think you have to be 100% perfect and stay away from sin completely, otherwise God doesn't want anything to do with you; I want you tonight to be set free in the love of God, because that's the wrong message! People say: 'Oh, what are you preaching then, a free-for-all, we can go and do whatever we like? Are there are no rules anymore?'. Listen: when you know how loved you are, guess what happens? You love back! We love because He first loved us. Do you see when you know how loved you are, and you love back, you don't want to hurt anybody that you love. In fact, you want to please them. You want to bless them, honour them, respect them. You see, that's relationship. So different, isn't it, from rules and law?
This is an unconditional love. We're in the midst of sin - and I have a story, I don't know whether I should share it or not, because it's pretty near the knuckle; but I'm going to share it anyway. Sure, you've booked me for May, I have to come back! There was a young lad struggling with Internet pornography, and he couldn't break this habit that he had. The person that was counselling him told him - I don't know what you think of this - but told him that he needed to realize the love of God was unconditional, and he needed to realize that - even in the midst of the sin that he was committing - God still loved Him. You say: 'Oh, hold on a minute'. Let me tell you what happened. He was sitting in front of the computer in his pet sin, and all of a sudden he was reminded of what his counsellor said. In that moment, he felt the loving arms of Father God supernaturally come around him in that moment. He felt the love of God, he turned off the computer and he wept - because he began to understand that the love was unconditional. Can I tell you: that's the only way you're going to be holy. It's the only way you're going to be holy. You can't be holy by pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. It's a supernatural encounter with the love of God that will cause you to love something and Someone more than you love your sin. It's the only way: unconditional love.
Then secondly, it's love that dispels fear. Fear in a relationship is not good. Would you agree? You will not want to come near to someone you fear. First John 4:18 tells us: 'There is no fear in love; but perfect love drives out fear' - because fear has to do with punishment. In other words, that's the Old Testament stuff that needed to be meted out on Jesus when He died on the cross, but He has died. It is finished! He is risen! There's a new message, and that message is that you can be forgiven and don't need to fear anything - and the one who fears is not made perfect in love.
So the antithesis of that is: perfect love comes when you don't fear, because you understand God's love. You've heard the saying, it's 'KDF', everybody's talking about 'KDF', 'Knowledge Dispels Fear'. Well, it's true in this regard, when you have a true knowledge of God, and you have a true knowledge particularly of the unconditional love of God, it will drive out fear. Now right away, I know how people work - because I am a people. I was thinking, often, the way maybe some of you are thinking: 'But is there not the fear of the Lord? The fear of the Lord brings wisdom'. That's right, and that's a good fear. But can I tell you: that's very different from being afraid of God. The fear of the Lord is not being afraid of God. It's like the difference between the fear of a rollercoaster ride, and the fear of an axe murder - they are different fears, aren't they? The rollercoaster is an exhilarating, exciting danger, OK? So you know it's a bit risky, you're up very high, you're going very fast - but you're safe. You get the goose-bumps, white knuckles, shivers - but it's different than the fear of an axe murder, which is debilitating, fragmenting, a fear that leads to hurt and pain. I like this slide, I hope you appreciate it as well. Sometimes that's the way we feel when God's leading and directing us. We have a kind of fear, but we're very safe, we're very safe.
Can I ask you what kind of fear you have of God? Seriously, this goes really to the heart of some issues. Some of us had Bible-thumping, monstrous fathers. We were scared of them. Christians, maybe, operated in the church in some way. He put - what a travesty of language - the fear of God into us. That wasn't the fear of God. Some of us need delivered and healed from those bad experiences, or a bad example that we had, or bad teaching that tells us that we should be kind of hiding from God, that He just can't wait to drop us into hell, because He gets His kicks that way. Listen to me: you cannot have a relationship with someone you're afraid of.
Adam - and I spoke about it this morning - when Adam hid from God in the Garden after sin, what happened? Who was the prime mover at that moment? God. He comes looking for Adam, and He's calling out: 'Adam, where are you?'. As if He didn't know where he was, of course He knew where he was, He wanted Adam to know that He was calling him, to know that he could come to Him. By the way, this is before the cross - and I know the cross was before the foundation of the world, we'll not get into that - but the point of the matter is this: what was it stopping Adam coming to God? You hear it from his own mouth: 'I was afraid, and I hid'. That's the first time we find the word 'fear' in the Bible. Adam, afraid of God because he thought he'd blew it.
You could be afraid of God here tonight. You need to know that there's unconditional love; there is a love that dispels all fear; a love that took Jesus to die on a means of execution, the most bloodiest, gory death that you could imagine. But forget about that: God was causing Jesus to suffer for your sins, and Jesus went willingly to bear your sin - why? So that you could know this perfect love, and all fear could be gone.
The third thing is: this love brings security. Preservation is a basic human instinct, isn't it? We all seek safety, protection. But you know, I think the church has tended to emphasize the need for eternal security. You know what I'm getting at: going to heaven when you die, know that you're saved - we believe all that, of course. Yet, with all our emphasis on eternal security, there's an awful lot of insecure Christians about! Isn't that right? They don't know who they are, they don't know what God thinks of them. It's alright having everything stitched up for eternity - but what about now? I mean if God is so great and His love is so wonderful, why is it that we've got these identity crises? I wonder is it, at times, the way we have preached the gospel? Is it the case that, because we've emphasized the end game, merely to escape hell, rather than telling people: 'Look, there is a loving Heavenly Father, who sent His Son, and He loves us and He wants to know us!' - that's the emphasis, the heart of God.
It's not that the other is wrong, but so often it has been preached without the love of God. The message is: it's good news, just in case you didn't know. It's good. Good news about a good God. Ephesians 1:6 says that the safe place that we can come to when we realize that we've messed up and our sins have hurt God, and those sins were laid on Jesus - when we realize that, and we come and we believe in Him and His love and His sacrifice - Ephesians 1:6 says we become accepted in the Beloved. That means we are now accepted by God in Jesus, and that just blows my mind - that, when God looks at me, He doesn't see what I used to be, He sees Jesus, even now.
It's not that He's blind, or He's forgetful. It's that He has chosen not to deal with me according to my sins, He's chosen to deal with me according to what Jesus did on the cross. The problem is, many Christians have not accepted themselves as being accepted in the Beloved. This isn't pop psychology, OK, just in case you think this, but you do have to accept yourself. I mean, you do. I'm not talking about your sin. We all need to change, the only One doesn't need to change is God, right? So we all need to change - but we need to accept who God has made us, but especially in this New Covenant, we need to accept who we are in Jesus Christ and what He says about us.
I quoted earlier, Paul said, 'We love because He first loved us'. So when we realize the love of God, that makes us love Him back, and love others, in fact. Didn't Jesus teach us, 'Love your neighbour as yourself'? 'But you're a depraved human being, you're a worm, there's nothing good in you at all, and you shouldn't even think any good about yourself' - that's not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that not only are you made in the image of God, but you've been given a new nature, the divine nature, and you're something special. It's all about Jesus, it's all because of Him - but if you're ever going to love your neighbour, let alone love your enemy, you've got to start loving yourself and appreciating who you are in Jesus, you're accepted in the Beloved.
So this love is a place of security, a safe place of acceptance; where you can - as we saw it this morning - even warts and all, even the sin, and even the baggage, you can come into relationship with God and He will help you. It's all about grace rather than performance. Can I let you into a wee secret? If you have a performance-based relationship with God, vertically - right? So you're trying to live up to certain standards to be acceptable with Him, you will have a performance-based relationship horizontally with everybody around you. That's why you've got people in church, and 'If you don't measure up to my standard, I won't accept you'. Who do you think you are?
The reason why they're behaving like that is because that's the relationship they have with God. But if you have a grace-based relationship with God, an unconditional love relationship with God, a love that dispels fear, and a love that brings total and absolute security; you will have that type of relationship with people horizontally, you'll love them, and accept them, no matter about what they do or what they might seem to be - you'll just love them.
Do you remember the prodigal son? I love that story. I could preach on that story for the rest of my life, and there would still be something new you could bring out of it - it's amazing. But I've got a lot of time for the young fellow, because before he even left the house he had more of an appreciation about what was in his father's house than the elder brother who never left the house. Do you know why I know that? Because when he was in the far country, and he was drunk and prostituting himself, and feeding pigs and trying to eat their food, and all his friends had left him, and he'd hit rock-bottom, what does he say? 'I will go to my father's house where there is bread and enough to spare'. There was something in that young man that knew, if he got up and went home, there was a chance that he would be received again. He thought it would be as a servant, but when he got home he was received as a son. I'll tell you better than that: his father put the robe around him, and the robe was put on him before he had a bath! You can work that one out, but he was accepted and received home, and his father wouldn't even let him get the speech out. He interrupts him. He's been practicing this speech: 'I have sinned against you and heaven, and am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me one of your hired servants'. He doesn't even get the speech about the hired servant - the father interrupts him. Imagine God interrupting you! 'Shush'. 'Get the fatted calf! Get the best robe! Put shoes on his feet! Get a ring! My son that was dead is alive again, my son that was lost is found'.
He knew the father's heart even when he was in the far country. Maybe you're here tonight in the far country - but you're seeing, as I preach to you, into the Father's heart again. You're seeing this four-dimensional love. I pray that God would just open your eyes - but not just somebody in the far country. Remember the elder brother? He was in the father's house, but he had never seen in the father's heart. You can be in Christian evangelical religion for years, and you don't know God. You don't know God, and you don't know His love.
The great theological mastermind, Dr. Seuss, once said: 'You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams'. That's Christianity: better than your dreams. That's what this love is like. Let's pray.
Now, let's take a moment. Is there anyone here tonight, and you've never known the love of God. You know you're a sinner, and you know it's not going to go well with you the way you are in life or death, and you need Jesus. But you didn't realise the good news was this good, and you didn't realise God was that good. So many people go out of church feeling worse than they came in, most of them are Christians. But the good news is good: Jesus is here tonight by the Holy Spirit, the One that died for you, and He is risen, and He will receive you if you come to Him - no strings attached, just come to Him. Admit you've got it wrong, and give it all to Him, and this love will be known by you.
But if you're a Christian here tonight, and you've not known this love - well, I encourage you on the back of what I said this morning: you need to start trusting God with your life. You need to surrender to Him. You need to bring everything into the light - not to get scolded, but to get healed and fixed and saved. Then you need to open yourself up to the love of God. Maybe you need to forgive people who didn't love you the way they should have, and they've given you a bad view of God. I don't know, but I believe God has touched lives here tonight. I believe the Holy Spirit is moving in people's hearts.
Just while heads are bowed and eyes closed - and I don't know whether this is the done thing or not, but if you've really sensed the touch of God upon your life tonight, just while heads are bowed and eyes closed (let's respect people's privacy before God), would you be willing to raise your hand and say: 'I want to know this love. I want to know this way. I want to know God like this'. Just where you're sitting, would you be willing to say - that can be a big thing you know, it doesn't, in one sense, change much, but it can be a decision where you're drawing a line, you're saying: 'Yes Lord, I want this. I need this'. Whatever your circumstance, just where you're sitting, would you just raise your hand to say: 'Lord, here I am. Fill my empty tank with Your love. I need fear dispelled from my life, Lord, here I am. I need to feel safe and accepted and secured. I need to hear those words of affirmation that You spoke over Jesus: 'This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased''. Is there anybody, just where you're sitting, I'm not going to single you out or embarrass you, don't worry.
Lord, I thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your grace, Your favour. Lord, You're just amazing. You're just wonderful. Words fail me, Lord, I just don't know what to say except: Thank You. Thank You for this love. Thank You for this life. Thank You that we can come face-to-face with You, and truly know You in the depths. One day we'll see You, Lord Jesus, but, Lord, there's an awful lot more that we can have revealed to us by Your Spirit here and now. I say, Lord: would You now lead people by the hand into that relationship with You? Whether they've never embarked upon faith before, this might be their night - but, Lord, for this company of believers, O Lord, pour out a baptism of unconditional love. Let us be intoxicated, as the Shulamite says in the Song of Songs: 'I'm sick with love'. Let us be beside ourselves at the reckless prodigal love of Abba Father. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Don't miss Part 3 of 'Knowing God': "Understanding His Father-heart"...
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This sermon was delivered at Portadown Baptist Church, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the second recording in his Knowing God series, titled "Love And Acceptance" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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