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Friday, April 28, 2017

Seek Ye This Jesus: An Audience with Christ

For the next few weeks, I'll be posting one chapter of my new book here each day. This is a draft copy, print copies will be available in about a month. The book is sequential, so please read prior chapters first. If you notice a typo, would like to suggest clearer language, or recommend an additional scripture, feel free to email me at I will read and appreciate feedback.

An Audience with Christ

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
As Jesus closed out his mortal ministry, he spoke these words:

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17)

Jesus described eternal life as knowing him and knowing the Father. Some may be tempted to interpret this scripture in a non-obvious way. For example, some might consider that we are supposed to know God figuratively, and that we get to know him by worshipping him and studying the scriptures. Others might consider that you only know him when you die.
Reading this scripture in context of others saves us from these and other similar interpretations. John made it even clearer when he wrote: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:12). You might be able to claim that you know someone you’ve never met (though that is dubious), but could you claim that you “have” someone you have never met? To have someone, they have to be with you. The Lord Jesus can literally come to you. If he has not literally come to you, you do not have him. If you do not have him, you do not have eternal life.
Some believe it is not possible for God to come to you. The scriptures witness that this is not true, providing a litany of examples of God appearing to men. Adam saw God face to face. Enoch did as well. Jacob saw God: “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:30). Moses and dozens of others saw God face to face.

9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. (Exodus 24).

The resurrected Christ appeared to hundreds of people, people that had known him well before his crucifixion.

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1)

Some believe that while God visited and spoke to some people in the past, it isn’t something he does today. There isn’t a single scripture that suggests that this is the case, and there are many that show that just the opposite is true. The Lord made this promise in the sermon on the mount: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). This promise and others like them did not come with an expiration date.
As wonderful as it is to see God, a visitation is only the beginning! Seeing God, as wonderful as it is, is still not the same as knowing God. Moses wanted all Israel to be prophets (Deuteronomy 5:4). Only a few were. Prophets have not only seen and spoken with the Lord, they see him and speak with him often. Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23) An abode is much more than a single visitation. If someone abides with you, you have constant access to them. To see and speak with the Lord often is not meant to be a rare event. It is possible for you to hear the voice of the Lord whenever you ask him a question, to see him often, and to spend a great deal of time in his presence—all while still in this life. It is not only possible, but arriving at this point is the very purpose for your life.
God is an unchanging God. He operates today according to the same perfect attributes he has always had. He still stands at the gate to eternal life.

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. (2 Nephi 9:41).[1]

He still ministers personally to all who inherit salvation. Jesus is still the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
The smallness of the number of people who have obtained an audience with Christ is not due to any unwillingness on God’s part, but a lack of understanding and desire on the part of his children. Hosea described the two reasons that believers have not yet seen the face of the Lord:

6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.
9 Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be…
15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. (Hosea 5).

Believers who have not seen the Lord are practicing one or both of Hosea’s conditions. Either they are sinning, they are not seeking God, or both.
No amount of self-applied labels, scriptural wresting, or pastoral assurance can make up for the plainness of this argument: if you have not yet had an audience with Christ, you have not yet qualified for eternal life. Even seeing God is just the start of the relationship required to get to know God. While sobering, this conclusion need not be depressing. You cannot improve upon a situation until you first realize it stands in need of improvement.
If you do not find yourself in possession of eternal life in the presence of God, you must conclude that you are either unaware of the instructions in the scriptures on these topics, you have not applied them, or you are mistaken in your understanding of what they are or what it means to live them.
The rest of the chapters in this book describe the process of obtaining not only an audience with Christ, but a habitation with him. That process begins with an understanding of repentance grounded in the particulars of the fall of Adam and Eve. After repentance, you are ready to learn how to interact with God in ways that you have only read about. You will come to understand how it is possible to come to know God while still in this life. You will comprehend what great things God has designed in this life for those who love him. If you follow the instructions given in the scriptures on these topics, you will find yourself in possession of eternal life in the presence of God.

[1] I have opted to include verses from the Book of Mormon alongside verses from the Bible. The Book of Mormon is an extra-biblical book of scripture recorded between 2200 BC to 421 AD, at which time it was buried to keep it safe from dissidents seeking its destruction. In 1827, a man named Joseph Smith was led by an angel to these plates, which he translated into English by the commandment and power of God. Though many fear the Book of Mormon, an honest inspection of its contents will dispel any concern. It is a witness of Jesus Christ. It does not contradict the Bible. Believing in it does not require one to be Mormon any more than believing in the Bible requires one to be Catholic. If you are the kind of person who is not willing to consider things you have not considered before, this book is not for you—not only because you will reject the arguments made using sources you do not consider permissible, but because God is forever unknowable to those who think they already know it all. If you truly know it all, you have no need for this book’s purpose, because you already know God. If you haven’t yet met him, perhaps you should reconsider your position.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Seek Ye This Jesus Serial: Introduction/Why now?

Introduction: Why Now?

For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. (Mark 4:22)
The purpose of this book is to help all men come to Christ through repentance and the establishment of a hearing and seeing relationship with him. This book does not contain any gimmicks or tricks. It simply contains an arrangement of the many pertinent scriptures on these topics arranged in a way to help the reader have faith to overcome whatever has kept them from the Lord to this point, whether it be sin, unbelief, false traditions, or ignorance.
This is a tall order. Christians will find themselves asking, “if the things in this book are true, why haven’t I heard them before?” Non-believers will find themselves saying, “I’ve seen so many examples of false religion. Why should I believe this?”
The answer to these questions is simple, but probably dissatisfying. God’s path is always found in the minority of the minority. He said, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14) He delights in working mighty works through people of no importance: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” (1 Corinthians 1:27) You may not have heard of the ideas in this book, but they are still true. No matter how many false claims from preachers you may have heard, what is in this book is from God.
The truths in this book are not new. They have been around since the creation of Adam. Between then and now, some few individuals have rediscovered and lived these truths and through them established the same kind of relationship with God that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden before their fall. These truths have always been available to all, but known to relatively few. The majority of people have been kept from them by the persistence of false tradition, a willingness to settle for less, and a love for sin. Because the path to obtain them has always included lengthy toil and great sacrifice on the part of the seeker, it may seem contrary to this pattern to neatly package a plain overview of these topics into a single book. It is important to understand why the time to publish these doctrines plainly has now come.
We live in the last days before the second coming of the Lord. The tribulation that precedes the second coming will occur during the lifetime of most alive today.
In the past, God could not make all truth generally accessible. To do so would lay heavy condemnation on all those who did not take what was offered. There is a set quantity of truth/commandments appointed for all men. To get more, men had to invest a tremendous amount of faith, obedience, and time. In days past, he could mercifully reserve the core truths of the gospel to the few who diligently searched and obeyed. After all, all those who truly seek him will find them. Giving too much to too many in too much plainness would damn them, because they would reject and be held accountable for what was revealed plainly to them. In previous times, it was better to hide more of the truth/commandments in the hope that the reprobate would, at some later phase of their lives, finally turn to God. Compared to plain availability, the waiting period and extra effort required actually increased their chances of success.
The period we live in is different than any period in the past. Now, in the last days, the Lord is making more and more truth/commandments plainly available. In our day, the consequences of revealing too much truth publicly are mitigated by the impending calamities that are fast approaching. Those alive today do not have long lives of peace and safety ahead of them. If they do not repent soon, they will not have the chance to repent at all. Because of his mercy, God must make more truth readily accessible because it is necessary to have to navigate the darkness that is coming.
There is a finite amount of time remaining before his return. The intervals between the increasingly destructive events God is pouring out will continue to diminish until the desolation is constant and complete. Those who do not attain a real relationship with God will not survive his return.
Christians today claim to know the God they worship. Honest Christians must admit that their experiences pale in comparison to those of the faithful in the scriptures. If they are honest, they must admit that there is something that has evaded them in spite of a lifetime of dedicated worship.
Non-believers, on the other hand, are awash with religious claims that fail to stand up to inspection. The quantity of false claims and false religions makes it difficult to take seriously anyone claiming to possess the truth. As a result, God is judged to be fake due to the poor examples of those who claim to follow him, but fail to do the things that he did while on this earth.
In our day, believers have the opportunity to claim all the blessings recorded in the scriptures. In our day, non-believers will be given the opportunity to evaluate the gospel on its true merits. All those who love the Lord will come to know him. They will “see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.” (Isaiah 52:8) They will either rise up to a greater relationship with God, or they will be destroyed.
The day for all mankind to rise up and know God is today. “For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.” (Mark 4:22) The Lord is flooding the earth with the instructions on how to achieve such a relationship. At present, this flood of truth is not generally perceived, because so few are participating in it. Rest assured that the flood of evil we see in the world today is balanced by an outpouring of light and truth from God. This book is part of that outpouring. It is not the first part, or the last part, but what it contains is critical knowledge for all who already believe in God and those who are honestly willing to consider he might be real.
God is real, and he is knowable. If you follow the instructions he has given in scripture, you will come to know him.