home > Pastor’s Desk > 2024 > January 26th > Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

 

THE RIGHT FOUNDATION IS NEEDED TO BUILD ANYTHING – ESPECIALLY A RELATIONSHIP 

Geoff Hill and Peter Dingemanse inspecting the LCC auditorium foundationI’ve done a fair bit of building in my life. I know how important it is to get the foundations right. And when it comes to building a relationship with anyone, especially with Christ, it’s important to know who it is that you want to get to know.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said,
“Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him,
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.
Matthew 16: 13-20

This passage presents us with Jesus questioning His own disciples about who people were saying He was. Quite possibly they have seized this opportunity to offer their own guesses. ‘Some say You are John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets!’ The problem with their answers, despite them each being great men of God, they were not who Jesus really was. Despite the disciples having already spent three years living with and following Jesus, it seems they were influenced by other people’s views about who they thought Christ was. The sad reality was that the disciples didn’t yet know who Jesus actually was. Within a few weeks Christ would die, rise again, commission His disciples to preach the gospel to every nation and then ascend back to His glory. But before this could happen, they needed to come to know who Jesus really was. Thus, rather than leave His disciples clueless, Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” It was then that Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Unlike Christ’s disciples, we may not enjoy the physical presence of Jesus and privilege of sitting with Him in conversation as they did, but that doesn’t let us off the hook! Jesus has still revealed to us who He is through the beauty of the world He has created, and most clearly through His Word to us. Thus, Christ’s question to them – ‘Who do you say that I am?’ – should still ring in the ears of every believer today, and challenge us to accept what the Gospels reveal that: He is the eternal One, God the Son, the Lord, the Saviour, the Judge of all mankind, and the One who loves us unconditionally! To understand this, is for me, the foundation of a strong and binding relationship with Christ that will withstand the storms of life!

 

HE IS OUR ANCHOR IN THE MIDST OF LIFE’S STORMS

And speaking of life’s storms, I am currently reading through the Book of Job in my daily devotions. In the first two chapters God describes Job as “There is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 2:3). Based on this we would have to say that Job knew God and was close to Him. Yet his relationship with God was sorely tested by the trials he had to endure. Perhaps, it we could have asked Job, how can we know God more? his own experiences might have led him to respond, Just hang in there. Even when you don’t understand what’s happening, trust what you already know about God! This is precisely what we see Job doing when in the midst of his own stormy trials he said, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” This speaks to me personally. It is sufficient for me to keep trusting Him and to honour Him in the way I live my life.

 

KNOWING WHO JESUS IS HELPS US TO COME CLOSER TO HIM AND TO REFLECT HIM TO THE WORLD

Knowing that Jesus is the eternal Christ, the Son of God, and Saviour of all who turn to Him, should cause us to honour and revere Him and to live under His Lordship over our lives. That means that we would endeavour to lead lives that would reflect Him. This is reflected in our speech, conduct, attitudes and actions.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ
Philippians 1:27

I have often wondered whether I do reflect Christ and perhaps it is not always the case, but I want to share an encouraging incident in my life. I commenced a new position in the early 2000, where I was trained by a person who was leaving in a week in order to take over his role. A few months later it happened that we both attended the same Christian event where he came up to me and said, “I thought you were a Christian! I thought you were not by what you said, but by how you lived!

 

TO BE CLOSE TO CHRIST IS TO KNOW HIS HEART!

If Jesus really is the LORD, then what He has said recorded in His Word is also true and gives us the correct way to live. It is through drinking in His Word prayerfully that we can grow closer to Him and know His love for us.

Some people have become Christians as “eternal-life insurance”. They simply want to avoid Hell and be admitted into the eternal bliss and paradise of Heaven after they die. But when tough issues arise in their lives, they struggle and doubt, and sometimes walk away from their supposed faith in Christ. I have found this bewildering because I would believe that the promise of the resurrection and eternal life through Christ is a far greater and a far more difficult promise for God to fulfil than any promises to get us through our fleeting difficulties in this life! This is where I have to wonder, Did these people ever develop their relationship with Jesus?

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him,
were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13

I love the above scripture as it is for all believers and gives us so much confidence and assurance that we have been sealed with the King’s Seal and no one can break it or take it from us. It also invites us to know Christ intimately through: prayerfully reading His Word so that it shapes us; being in the community and fellowship of a church family; and, worshipfully praying constantly to the Father.

I mentioned earlier that there are things that hinder or enhance our relationships and I have written this from the perspective of one that has battled with these hindrances and one who has discovered the joy of things that enhance them. So the question that Jesus asked His original followers still stands ready for you to answer for yourself: But who do you say that I am? It is my hope that you will come to know that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and your Saviour. And that this will then be your foundation for being a growing relationship with Him.

 Amen.

 

 

Elder,

Geoff

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

5 Comments

  1. Karen Dickson

    love your work Geoff! thank you 🙂

    Reply
  2. Roger

    Well done Geoff – a great presentation, clearly evidenced in your life by the person you referred to who “thought you were a Christian” by what he had observed, as referenced in
    2 Corinthians 3: 2-3 KJV

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth Weller

    Thank you Geoff, inspirational words! 😊

    Reply
  4. Julie Davis

    Good article Geoff, thanks

    Reply
  5. Ali

    Thank you so much Geoff.

    Reply

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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.

THE SHEPHERD IS THE LORD

Of all the 150 Psalms, Psalm 23 is probably the most loved. As we read it we can easily imagine its author, the young shepherd-boy David, making the trek through a ravine where bandits, bears, and predators lurked as he led his small flock of sheep through to fresh water and green pastures. As he reflected on how he led and cared for his flock he must have pondered of how the LORD was like a shepherd to him. As easy as it is for us to imagine teenage David composing this beautiful Psalm, it is also easy to imagine how the God he describes as his shepherd in this Psalm is also a shepherd to us. God, as a shepherd, provides what we need (vs 1), restores our soul (vs 3), when we are unsure He leads on the right path (vs 3), He protects us from evil (vs 4), comforts us in times of distress (vs 4), strengthens us in our moments of weakness (vs 5), He gives us honour when our opponents attempt to bring us shame (vs 5), and He provides a place of belonging for us (vs 6). This is what a shepherd does, David tells us, and it is ultimately only found in the True Shepherd, the Lord Immanuel.