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Chapter 2 - Knowing God

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Yielding to God

The first step to knowing God is to get forgiven. The second step is to yield. The result is that God discloses Himself to you.

Getting forgiven is getting rid of guilt. It means leaving all past sins behind. It means getting “clean” inside and in the process getting rid of the eternal consequence of sin. Sin has a consequence and that consequence is spiritual death.1 Jesus Christ died that death for you2 and you may choose to appropriate it at any time you wish.3

Salvation is the free gift4 of spiritual life.5

Yielding means to surrender to God’s will. It means to obey Him and obeying Him means to turn away from sin. We must turn away from sin because sin causes spiritual death6 and one cannot engage in spiritual death and experience spiritual life at the same time.

If we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin but fail to turn away from the very sin that He saved us from, we are doing the opposite of what we should be doing. If we are cleansed of sin one day and then commit the same sin the next day, it makes a mockery of the cross.7 It is “receiving the grace of God in vain.”8 To know God we must turn from sin.

Taking the first step (trusting Christ) without taking the second step (yielding and turning from sin) is like being given a gift certificate for the finest dinner in the finest restaurant in town. But when you go, you eat the bread and butter and walk out thinking, “Ha! I can get that meal anywhere.” You were there, but you never got what you came for, which is knowing God.

But what if we sincerely turn from sin but falter later? What if we really want to know Him but we keep failing and falling back into sin? Is that making a mockery of the cross? Are we out of the race? No, because faltering and falling back are part of the game. Knowing God is both progressive and fully accomplished at the same time. Spiritual growth is progressive because sin becomes replaced with its righteous alternative over time, but knowing God is not based upon how well you do. It is based on how sincere you are when you do it. It’s all about heart.

Yielding is a state of mind, not a result. The result of yielding is righteousness, but it does not happen immediately. It takes time.9 Sincerely yielding our will to God results in experiencing the peace of God and knowing Christ.

My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.10

Knowing God is to experience eternal life now, because eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ:

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.11

Therefore, the second step is the step that we can experience. We experience knowing God and a large part of knowing God is to experience His presence and His peace.

God is not silent to those who are sincere in their desire to know Him. Over and over the Bible speaks of knowing God and God’s disclosure of Himself:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.12

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.13

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him14

the one who does evil has not seen [perceived] God.15

O continue Thy loving kindness to those who know Thee16

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!17

And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.18

I am the good Shepard; and I know My own, and My own know Me.19

And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with your whole heart.20

Experiencing the presence and the peace of God is the apex of all human experience. Committed Christians aren't building a stairway to heaven; they are already there. They have found something that just gets better and better as time goes on.

How to know God is no mystery. Jesus was crystal clear about how we can establish a relationship with Him. The secret is obedience:

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.21

Jesus is telling us that if we find out what His commandments are by reading the Bible and if we obey what we have read, then we have shown ourselves to be someone who loves Him. And when we do this, Jesus says, I will “disclose Myself to him.” This is the reason why obedience is so very important. It results in Jesus Christ making Himself known. This is knowing God and knowing God is everything.22 But notice how often the word “love” is used in this verse. Love is all over it. It is all about heart because one cannot love without heart.

The very real beauty of knowing God is that you can try it out and see for yourself. You can discover for yourself if knowing God is really possible or whether God really exists at all. If your effort proves to be fruitless, then you have lost nothing. But if you try and discover that it is all true, then you have gained everything. The author began his try-out in 1973 and he has known Christ since that time.

It's Relational

True Christianity is neither ritual nor rules; it is an experiential relationship with Jesus Christ. And to have this relationship is to experience eternal life and experience it now, in this life. Eternal life is not for when we die; it is for right now because to know God is to experience His life, eternal life.23 His Spiritual life is superimposed on our physical life as we relate to Him.

That is the reason why the scriptures that tell of knowing God are not formulas; they are love notes. And just like human love, the thing that makes them what they are is heart.

He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me.24

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.25

God is not a judge to those who sincerely turn to Him. He is a lover, a lover whose love-language is righteousness. Keeping God’s commandments to get Him to do something will not get us to Him. But keeping His commandments in order to know Him will. Why? Because God is a Spiritual Lover who speaks with righteousness.

It’s a relational thing, not a duty thing. It is a love thing-not a set of rules. It is a love thing because that’s what God is: God is love.26 It's all about love and love is expressed in relationships. Knowing God is a relationship and love is all over it. We express our love for God by obedience to His Word (scripture).

But don’t worry about loving God enough, so quit trying. When He makes His presence known, you will love Him. You won’t be able to stop yourself.

Nothing in our relationship with Christ is forced; perfection is not required. We do not require perfection in order to love, nor does He.27 What God wants and what we want is sincerity and good motives; He wants heart just like we do;28 sincerity is everything. God does not settle for fake. He may endure fake for a time, just like we do, but ultimately what God requires is a real from-the-heart relationship.29

Our relationship with Christ and the yielding to His Word occur together. The result is knowing God and everything that pertains to life and godliness.

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and Godliness, through the true knowledge of Him 30

Our Christian life is a progression toward conforming to the righteousness that He has already begun in us31 and we have all that we need for the journey.32 Those who have turned to Christ are already righteous in Christ.33

It is all based upon knowing Him, because we have all things that pertain to life and Godliness through the true knowledge of Him. He makes us righteous;34 all we do is cooperate and in doing so we partake of His divine nature.

Our Purpose

God's purpose for us is spiritual life and Godliness. At the core of Godliness are the fruits of the Spirit. Like the vines in His vineyard we are here to yield the fruits of the Spirit. Righteous choices made in the context of this immoral world yield spiritual diamonds that will never fade. The Bible calls them the "fruits of the spirit."

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.35

Within “love” are additional fruits.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.36

Yielding these fruits is immensely important to God and to us because it is what He has created us to do.

I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain"37

These fruits are virtues, traits that should be cultivated. Basically, God is telling us that He wants us to be good. God is not interested in being part of anyone who is bad. He has made us to be righteous, but without Him, we can do “nothing.”

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.38

God did not create man to spin out his life chasing the things of the world like mouse in a golden running wheel. God has a purpose for us. His purpose is for us to bear the fruits of righteousness, to be virtuous, honest and good. That is His stated reason for choosing us.

“I chose youthat you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”39

Note that all of the fruits of the Spirit are relational. They are either keys to excellent relationships (love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) or they are the result of excellent relationships (joy). God has created us to relate to one another because love is expressed in relationships and love is what God is.40 God is expressed (or not expressed) by us in our relationships.

We yield these fruits by being attached to the vine (Christ). When we are attached, we are relating God41 and we yield fruit because of it. We yield fruit because by knowing Him we have all things pertaining to life and Godliness.42 We yield the fruits of the Spirit because Christ is in us.43

Christ is the vine and we are the branches. But it is we who are the fruit bearers. Vines provide sustenance to many branches, but the vines themselves do not yield fruit. Only branches yield fruit. Christ empowers and we yield. We are incapable of yielding God's fruit without Him, but together we bear fruit. What honor He has bestowed upon us! We are His vineyard created to yield fruits of righteousness.

Why does Christ not bear the fruits Himself? Because the frailty of humanity is necessary if acts of righteousness are to have any significance. Thus, by the very nature of righteousness and humanity, there must be failure.

The Problem

The problem is sin. Sin is the opposite of righteousness and sin kills. Sin kills righteousness; sin kills spiritual things, sin kills relationships and sin kills our relationship with Christ. Sin kills. It cuts us off from all things that pertain to life and godliness.”44 God does not remain in the presence of repeated sin.45 Sin causes the branch that continues to sin to become separated from the vine. Separated branches will be burned in the fires of this world. They wither and they die spiritually because they cease to draw life from the vine.46

The entire Bible is a warning that sin kills.47

Genesis 2:17 1400 BC

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. 1400 BC

Psalm 33:18,19 967 BC

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy; to deliver their soul from death

Ezekiel 18:4 593 BC

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth shall die...

Ezekiel 33:11 593 BC

As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?

John 8:51, 52 30 AD

Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death. (Jesus Christ)

James 5:20 45 AD

Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death...

Romans 6:21 55 AD

What benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.

2 Peter 3:9 68 AD

The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

What is Sin?

But what is sin? Some people believe that there is no sin. And there are differing opinions as to what sin is. But the Bible teaches that if you want to know God, then avoid these things: lying,48† cheating,49 stealing,50 adultery,51 fornication,52 lasciviousness,53 sexual immorality,54 homosexual acts,55 deceit and gossiping, malice, slander, boasting, untrustworthiness, being unloving or unmerciful,56 envy, drunkenness [including drug use], debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, orgies, and things like these,57 taking advantage of people,58 being critical and being condemnatory or unforgiving. 59

Eventually we all sin in one way or another.60 Indeed, the only difference between us with regard to sin is that we all commit different sins. The only cure is to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin and turn from more sin. And if we falter, we can confess and obtain forgiveness and begin anew.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.61

Two Kinds of Sin

There are two different kinds of sins. There are overt sins and there are covert sins. Sins such as theft, murder or adultery are overt sins because they are committed outwardly. Sins such as condemnation and unforgiveness are covert sins because they are committed inwardly. Overt sins by their nature are occurrences that start and then stop. They may be repeated, but each occurrence has a beginning and an end. Covert sins, however, are different. Covert sins are secret and they may continue for years.

Covert sins have another dangerous characteristic. They are justified (or appear to be so) because they are always caused by someone else. For instance, if we are unforgiving it is because someone has hurt us or hurt a loved one. Someone else causes the pain that we must bear. Someone else is responsible, so why should we forgive? If someone speaks injury to us without a cause, we condemn him for it; we categorize him as someone who is (to some extent) bad. Since covert sins appear to be justified, they often become normalized and become part of life. But they are sin nonetheless.

Sins that destroy relationships are called relational sins. There are two primary relational sins and both of them are silent.

The Twin Sins

These two primary relational sins are called “twins” because they are two sides of the same coin. These two relational sins are judgment and unforgiveness.

Judgment of others means to make a critical determination about a person, to judge another. The Greek word for judge is “krino,” which means to criticize or judge another person. Criticism and judgment can be either spoken or thought.

Offenses cause us to see the one who injured us as offensive and injurious. This is the natural result of an offense. We may see the offending party to be malicious or simply neglectful or we may see him or her as selfish or any number of things. But one way or another, we make a determination about that person and we begin to resent was he did. It is normal to take offense when we have been injured and it is normal to resent the person who perpetrated the injury. It happens all the time. This is life.

But notice that several things are happening, and notice the progression of what occurs. In order to take offense in the first place, we must judge the other person as malicious or uncaring to one extent or the other. Without this determination, we would take no offense. For instance, we never take offense at the thoughtless actions of small children because we know that the offensive act is the result of immaturity rather than malice. And sometimes we judge the motives of another only to find that the offensive act was in fact never intended or was due to some other cause that had nothing to do with us. When that happens, resentment disappears because we no longer judge the person to be offensive or malicious. Resentment is caused by the judgment that we apply to others when they offend us.

Scripture commands us never to judge another person adversely. The goal of scripture is for us to live as if every offense was explained by something other than a bad character trait of the offending party. We are commanded to never conclude that the other party is a malicious or uncaring or selfish person. After the offending act occurs, there is a scriptural line is drawn at the feet of the person who gave the offense. No condemnation must pass that line. Here is the scripture:

Do not judge lest you be judged for the in the way you judge, you will be judged and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.62

The act itself, however, is fully open to judgment and condemnation, as all sins should be. And, indeed, we are told to be wise and careful in how and when we related to others. So, avoiding the company of those who sin is both prudent and scriptural; determining if someone has committed a sinful or illegal act is likewise prudent and scripture. But the character of the offender is off-limits to those who strive to know God. Avoid the person because of acts that he does or may do, but never condemn his person. Hate the sin; love the sinner.

But this can be very difficult in some situations. Let us therefore consider why the Creator has made us in this way and why He commands us to do something that so often grates against our nature.

Notice the drastic effect that obedience to this scripture has on the person who has been injured. If the injured person declines to criticize or condemn (judge), he cannot take offense because the taking of offense is based upon judgment. And if the offended person does not take offense, he cannot resent because resentment is based upon offense. If no offense is taken, there can be no resentment. Therefore, if we never judge another, we can hold no resentment. If there is no resentment there is no anger and there is no strain on the relationship. And that is the goal of scripture, for us to live free of anger and resentment and to place no impediment in the way of righteous relationships.

Just like a physical injury, when we are injured emotionally, we hurt. Hurt is inescapable and sometimes we hurt may be long term and very bad. But feeling hurt is neither judgment nor condemnation. Condemnation is not hurt; condemnation is the result of hurt. And, exactly like a physical injury, when we suffer an emotional injury, we need to stop, slow down and heal. Scripture teaches that we heal by declining to take offense, and therefore to decline to mentally replay the injury and recite the anger. The decision not to take offense to an emotional injury is like a salve63 that is placed on a wound caused by a physical injury. Taking of offense and retaining condemnation for an emotional injury is the same as opening the wound and infecting it. It will never heal.

Forgiveness is the other side of the resentment coin. Forgiveness is what we do to rid ourselves of resentment once we have it. Therefore, the failure to forgive is a sin, just like judgment, because unforgiveness results in continued condemnation and resentment.

For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.64

And, just like condemnation, sometimes forgiveness is difficult. It is difficult forgive when we have been injured, especially if the injury is serious. It takes patience to wait it out and let it pass, but that is what we are commanded to do.

Unforgiveness is a cancer that becomes part of us. The only cure is Christ because only He can provide the power to truly forgive. If the cut is deep, it may be hard to know when true forgiveness actually occurs. True forgiveness occurs when the injured party reaches the point where he or she is willing to be fully reconciled with the perpetrator if the perpetrator sincerely confesses and asks for forgiveness. If the perpetrator of the injury never asks for forgiveness, the injured party has still forgiven and is right with God and free to leave the incident behind.

If the parties are not married, complete biblical reconciliation does not mean that the parties are required to a state of closeness. Each party is always free to limit the scope of the future relationship in whatever way is fitting. If the parties are married, then they are not free to limit the scope but are scripturally required to be totally reconciled. If the injury rises to the level that justifies a biblical divorce (adultery, actual physical abuse, criminal acts or abandonment), then divorce may be an alternative.

Now, consider how forgiveness is related to the fruits of the Spirit. Patience is the key and patience is one of the virtues, one of the fruits.65 Virtues protect us from the sting of sin and from sin’s progressive death. Virtues are strength because they bring the presence of God. Only those who have cultivated the virtue of patience have the strength to wait out the pain and not contribute to the conflagration. Fire dies. Words do not.

How many times have we been injured and said things that can never be recalled? What would a marriage be like if all of those things had never been said? What would it be like if we had never yielded to the temptation to throw back a vengeful barb? What would it be like? And what would you be like if your mate had never thrown one at you?

A Different Kind of Power

There is tremendous power in virtues, in never criticizing and always forgiving. But it is a different kind of power. It is a quiet power, a power that flows to others and to God rather than to self, a power that binds and heals, a power that shields a marriage and protects a family, a power that creates a haven where there is acceptance and rest in spite of imperfections and shortcomings, a power that saves marriages and preserves families. To exercise this power is to express God, because this power is the power of selfless unconditional love and it is this love that is what God is.66

To obey these scriptures is to exercise this power. They are healing to a dying marriage and resurrection to a dead one. The effect of obeying these scriptures is immense. Obedience can create love and save a family.

Obedience to these scriptures is not "sweeping things under the rug." Sweeping things under the rug means to take offenses and "stuff them" somewhere inside and to ignore them. This is unhealthy because refusing to deal with resentment is to turn it inward, to turn anger inward. Anger turned inward results in numerous psychological disorders, such as depression. But scripture is not telling us to stuff. Scripture is saying that we are to decline to take offense in the first place, so there is nothing to stuff. That is the only way to stay clean. And if there is already dirt under the rug, the scriptural way to remove it is forgiveness, not venting. Venting does not remove the dirt; it spreads it. The only way to be clean under the rug is to forgive. We may not be willing to forgive, but if we are willing to be made willing, God will empower us to forgive.67

Look carefully at the sequence contained in these scriptures. First we obey to the extent that we can. Then He acts. He does what we cannot do. He takes up our slack. He empowers us to forgive and not to criticize. He empowers us with a supernatural release and healing. With Christ we can live free of resentment, a life of forgiveness and freedom.

Scripture commands forgiveness, period. There are no conditions, no exceptions and no hesitation. But does this mean that we are commanded to simply forget what happened and let the perpetrator walk away just because he asked for forgiveness- or worse, let him to free when he does not ask for forgiveness? Are we to simply ignore the injury and do nothing? In a word, yes. That is exactly what scripture commands us to do. To many, this concept is quite radical. But you see, everybody is commanded to do this for everybody else. And what about you? Do you believe that you will never make a mistake and never need to be forgiven?68

What about working through it? Forgive first, then the only thing to work through is a misunderstanding.

God’s goal is to create a mutuality of relationships where there is no grudge, no resentment, no retribution and no “remembering” of wrongs.

Make no mistake about it. We are talking miracle here. Not flashy, spectacular, look-at-me type miracles, but quiet, internal miracles, miracles that open the door to knowing God, miracles that enable us to experience eternal life (His life) now, miracles that enable us to take no offense when offense has been given, personal, silent miracles that empower us to give things that we never had before, miracles that create a love that loves those whom we do not have the power to love.

And what is the practical result of these miracles? An absolutely indescribable sensation of total freedom69 and peace.70

The commandment to avoid all criticism and condemnation and to forgive always applies to one's self as much as it applies to others. If we confess our sin and ask for forgiveness, our sin is forgiven71 and we can rest in that assurance. God's forgiveness of our sin is complete, lacking in nothing. Christ became sin for us in order to provide the judicial predicate for our forgiveness. He paid dearly for it72 and offers it for free.73 All we have to do is to accept it. Who are we to ignore what He for us did simply because it is our own self that must be forgiven? God’s goal is for each of us to live entirely without guilt or self-condemnation. If you have wronged someone and asked for forgiveness from that person74 and he refuses to forgive, then you have done what you can. Trust that your sin is forgiven and go on.

Who are we to call the cross ineffective? When we sincerely confess our sin, God is righteous and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.75 This includes our own. We are to take Him at His Word. The result is freedom.

A Different Kind of Peace

The peace of God is not physical. It is not the peace that comes from the satisfaction of retribution. Nor is it the feeling that comes from a good day’s work or from a healthy bank account or even from an excellent relationship. It is a deep spiritual serenity that is deeper than any physical or worldly thing. Indeed, this is the peace that the things of the world attempt to give but cannot.

God’s peace is not deliverance from the troubles of the world. He has not promised us freedom from the troubles of the world. He promises exactly the opposite.

In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.76

Christ is saying that His peace overcomes the troubles of the world. He is not saying that it removes them. We will have tribulation, that’s a given. But God’s peace exists in spite of them. God’s peace exists where it is not expected to exist because it is not the peace of the world; it is the peace of God. God’s peace (His presence) is the “pearl of great price”77 it is worth nothing less than everything. Once that peace is acquired, it will never be voluntarily relinquished.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'vengeance is mine, I will repay' says the Lord.78

Notice that the sin of condemnation and the sin of unforgiveness both carry an immediate penalty. The penalty is that God relates to us with the same severity or the same leniency with which we relate to others. God will treat us with the same forgiving, accepting spirit that we extend to others. So how close we are to Him is up to us. If we are severe, so is He. If we are accepting, so is He. It is for this reason that the very first key to knowing Him is to forgive and never to condemn.

God's love and forgiveness in Christ is free, but when it comes to our condemnation and unforgiveness of others it is tit-for-tat. What we give, we get. Why? Because condemnation and unforgiveness are sins directly against love. And at times they are greater than the sin that injured us and caused them in the first place. Sin kills even when it is caused by someone else. Sin always kills. God does not reside in the presence of repeated or unrepented sin. He departs, and He takes His presence and His peace with Him.79 He who commits these sins and finds no adverse consequence has already lost the presence of God-or never had it.

The twin sins of criticism and unforgiveness are the edge of the blade that kills the family. How many marriages have withered in the serpentine tangle of justified condemnations and wrongs that were never forgotten? How many families have been eviscerated with this knife? Look closely. Unforgiveness is not justice; it is spiritual and relational death.80

The point at which forgiveness and the absence of criticism reside inside of us is the point of interface between us and Jesus Christ. It is at this point that God makes Himself known to most of us. It is where faith becomes knowledge and eternal life (His life) is experienced. This interface, this relationship is everything.81

Reproof

But all criticism can’t be bad! Some criticism is necessary and helpful! Indeed, we cannot sit by and watch someone injure us-or themselves-without saying something. It can't be wrong to discuss an affront; and indeed, it may well be wrong to say nothing. So, where is the line to be drawn between good criticism and bad criticism?

The answer is quite straightforward. But there is another name for good criticism. The correct term for good criticism is “reproof” and reproof is always good.

So, what is reproof? Reproof is a critical statement that is received as helpful. Criticism becomes reproof and beneficial when it is well received and reproof becomes critical and destructive when it is not. So, the difference between the two is not the statement itself, but how the statement is received. Some people can receive reproof and some cannot. Indeed, the measure of a person’s spiritual strength is the extent to which he can receive reproof without taking offense.82 But everyone is different. Some are spiritually weak and cannot listen to reproof and find it helpful. And some people can receive reproof about some things but not about others. We must take each person as we find him.

If the person is not strong enough to receive the needed reproof, it should not be offered because it's not reproof. It simply can't help if it is not received well.

This does not mean, however, that we are to ignore the sins of others or pretend that sin did not occur, especially if we are the victim of it. It means that we are to draw a very clear line between the sin and the person who committed the sin. We are free to demand that the sin cease, but we are not free to condemn the person who commits it. We are to address the act but we are not to criticize the person who committed the act.

Look at the beauty of how these scriptural admonitions fit together when we draw the line at the person himself and address the act alone. When we follow the scriptural command not to condemn the person, we do not place him in a position where he will be forced to defend himself. We leave him free to admit to himself that the act was wrong without requiring him to see himself as less than he perceives himself to be. And we leave him free to confess his sin without risking condemnation and retribution.

Modern psychology has struck upon this same concept and developed the method of non-threatening approach. The method focuses on the act and not the person. One example is the suggested phrase, "When you did this it made me feel thus and so." In this way, the speaker avoids saying that the person is bad; only the act is bad. The injured party is saying "it (the act)" caused me to feel bad, not "you." He is stating a fact, not making an accusation. This is nothing more than an application of Matthew 7:1.

Scripture forbids the condemnation of the person because acceptance of the person is by far the more important course of action. Acceptance is more important because acceptance is an expression of love and God is love.83 Therefore, if God is in us,84 each expression of acceptance that we offer is an expression of God. God loved us while we were yet sinners85 and He expects to love likewise86 because it is the same love from the same source.

On the other hand, each piece of criticism is the opposite of acceptance; each piece of criticism is a piece of rejection. Therefore unless the critical statement will be received as edifying and helpful, it should not be made. Or else, it should be made in a way that is calculated not to be offensive. Repetitious "reproof" is always odious and clearly forbidden by scripture because it inevitably becomes critical. Speaking the truth in love repeatedly is not speaking the truth in love.

Human Relationships

The unconditional acceptance required by scripture does not mean that all relationships must be close relationships.

Each of us is free to determine the nature and the extent of any relationship (except for one). A relationship may be the long-term sharing friendship of lifelong companions or it may be a 5 second interchange with a mendicant on a street corner. Either way, each person is free to define the relationship as he wishes. But within the limitations of whatever definition is applied to the relationship (be it wide or narrow) we are to be unconditionally accepting of the person. We can limit the relationship but we cannot limit the acceptance that the relationship must contain.

The only exception to our right to define our relationships is the scriptural marriage. The scriptural marriage relationship cannot be defined by the parties because it is already defined by scripture. Scripture defines marriage as “oneness” between a man and a woman.87 Oneness means total and unconditional acceptance of each other; we are to love our spouse as we love ourself,88 which means that we are to accept our spouse as we accept ourselves. Oneness creates comfort and security when each spouse honors it. A wise pastor once put it this way, "Think we, not me."

When marital oneness is honored, there can be no private social relationship between one spouse and someone else of the opposite sex. Fidelity is honored when each spouse makes it clear to the third party that the third party is relating to both spouses, even though one spouse may not be present. This is what the Bible calls fidelity. Fidelity creates strong bonds and strong bonds create security and comfort. Fidelity is honored when one's relationships with others do not exceed the limitations expected by one's spouse. Fidelity excludes not only physical encounters, but fidelity excludes all inappropriate social relationships. Fidelity excludes third party flirtation because flirtation adulterates the marriage by the injecting the concept of a third party into the marital relationship.89 Fidelity also excludes any threat of divorce or any indication of an intention to dishonor a marital vow. Such a statement adulterates the marriage by introducing a foreign element, an element that compromises trust and certainty.

Conclusion and Summary

The Bible is not a book about religion. The Bible is a book about spiritual life and spiritual death. It is a book about knowing Jesus Christ90 and experiencing the presence of God. It is a book about spiritual freedom and the bondage of sin, about internal peace and internal void, about wisdom and folly, about contentment and futility, and about eternal life and eternal death.91 Your choice.

We live in a world that is filled with people who are empty inside and they know it. However, they do not know that the void they live with is spiritual death so they try to fill it with physical things. But physical things cannot fill it. Many people refuse to admit that there is a spiritual anything. But inside they know different. Nothing will fill the void but spiritual life. And there is only one way to obtain spiritual life and that is through Jesus Christ.

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.92

Experiencing spiritual life requires two things. The first thing it requires is that we be forgiven for all sin. We obtain forgiveness by trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin. It is a free gift.93 It has to be a free gift because the wages of sin is eternal death94 and if we paid that price we would be eternally dead.

The second thing is obedience to Christ's Word (scripture). Obedience can't be free because if it were free we would never be called upon to make righteous choices. It is righteous choices in the face of adversity and temptation that make fruit-bearing meaningful and significant. Bearing the fruits of righteousness is the primary reason why God has created us.95

We come to know God by yielding our will to His because when we sincerely yield to God's will He discloses Himself to us.96 Knowing Him is to experience eternal life now97 because Christ is the life98 and it is His life that we experience when Christ is in us.99

Eternal life is not simply living our life forever. It is not an extension of mortal life; it is a different life altogether, a life that is already eternal. To receive eternal life is to receive a life that has always been, a life that not only will never end, but a life that also never began. Eternal life is God's life and through Christ we can live it now.

The scriptural analogy is a sheepfold. We are the sheep and the shepherd is Jesus. Jesus is the door to the sheepfold100 and it is Jesus who gives us spiritual (eternal) life.101 Once we have been admitted to the sheepfold we go in and out and find pasture;102 we drink the water of spiritual life103 and "eat" the bread of life104 through scripture (the Word of God105).

Jesus Christ is the light of the world106 but He cannot be known outside of the sheepfold because knowing Him (experiencing eternal life) is a spiritual experience.107 So don’t expect to find Him or understand anything about Him108 until you walk through the door109 and experience eternal life for yourself.110

Remember that God is love.111 So God is all about relationships because love is expressed in relationships. And relationships are all about communication and we communicate with God by speaking His language. God's language is righteousness.112 God does not communicate through ritual, unknown languages ("tongues") or sacrifice. His language is righteousness (what we do), especially as it relates to how we deal with others. He is present with us when we are righteous and good. We live in His universe and whether we like it or not, it is moral universe where the currency is not money and power but righteousness.

If we express our love to Him through righteousness, He makes Himself known to us113 and lives in us.114 It all revolves around love. Expressing love is everything in the Kingdom of God because that is what God is. God is love.115

Once a person has truly perceived and experienced a full measure of the love of God, he cannot turn away. It is overwhelming, magnificent and irresistible. But it is spiritual,116 not physical. It is like the wind. One can feel it but not see it.

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from or where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.117

That is why we cannot simply decide to believe in God without coming to Christ. Because the natural man is spiritually dead118 and cannot understand the things that are spiritually alive.

The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.119

It is for this reason that Jesus taught that one must be born again before he can even perceive the Kingdom of God.120

Try it yourself. Trust in Christ and yield sincerely to God’s will and see what happens.

If you are someone who truly wants to find God but wonders if there is a God to find, let me say that I have been where you are. I was just as doubting as you are or perhaps more so. But I found God exactly as this booklet describes, and then I opened the Bible and read about what happened to me.

The author found God by trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of all sin and fully yielding at the same time. I was searching for something that I could not describe and trying to fill an internal void. I came to know Jesus Christ through a silly, fumbling prayer that I prayed one evening long ago telling Him that if He would fill the void and give me the peace that I wanted, then I would give Him everything I had-doubting all the time but meaning every word.

I had no idea if anything would happen. But it did. He came to me with His immense peace and love and He is still there. He filled the void of eternal death with eternal life. He made me new. And He will do the same for you if you come to Christ and yield to His will. All it takes is a decision to trust in Jesus Christ. After that, it is all about heart.

My time was in 1973. Your time is now.

2

1. Romans 6:23 "the wages of sin is death."

2. First Corinthians 15:3

3. Revelation 22:17 "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely."

4. Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

5. John 14:16 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

6. Ephesians 2:1 “You were dead in your trespasses and sins”

7. See Hebrews 6:6, discussed below

8. Second Corinthians 5:1

9. We are always righteous in God’s sight even when we sin because nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:28). But sin destroys our relationship with Him. See John 14:21, which is discussed below..

10. John 14:27

11. John 17:3 Knowing Christ and knowing God are interchangeable terms because Jesus Christ is God who became man so that He could minister to mankind and pay the penalty for their sin (death). It is for this reason that John 17:3 states that we can know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.

12. John 14:21

13. John 14:23

14. Second Peter 1:3

15. Third John 11

16. Psalm 36:10

17. Romans 11:33

18. Hosea 2:20

19. John 10:14

20. Jeremiah 29:13

21. John 14:21

22. Second Peter 1:3His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him…”

23. John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” This passage and others show that eternal life is not simply living forever. It is an entirely different life altogether.

24. John 14:21

25. Jeremiah 29:13

26. First John 4:8 “God is love.” God is love, but He is not just love. He is much more. God’s love is described in First Corinthians 13.

27. Romans 5:8 “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

28. John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me”

29. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes (trusts) in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

30. Second Peter 1:4

31. Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son

32. Second Peter 1:1-10. This entire progression is enabled through the actual knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:2,8).

33. First Corinthians 1:30 “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness

34. Second Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Philippians 3:8,9 “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.”

35. See Galatians 5:22

36. First Corinthians 13:4 There are 4 different loves in biblical Greek. The love referred to here is supernatural and can be fully expressed only through Christ. See the author’s Endless Love.

37. John 15:16

38. John 15:5

39. John 15:16

40. First John 4:8 "God is love"

41. John 17:3 "This is eternal life that you might know God;" John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." See also John 14:23.

42. Second Peter 1:3 "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him"

43. John 14:20 “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

44. Second Peter 1:3

45. John 14:21 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him."

46. See Hebrews 6:6. Any branch is perfectly free to dis-attach from the vine and live for the world, but they are of no eternal value. Dis-attached branches can renew themselves through sincere confession of sin (they should use Psalm 51 to do so) and by relinquishing further sin. See First John 1:9. But it is impossible for anyone else to renew them because they have put Christ to "open shame" by their sin. The sinning Christian is most miserable having rejected Christ and yet not a child of the world. Hebrews 6:6 does not refer to the loss of salvation.

47. There are 50 scriptures teaching that sin kills. The ultimate consequence of sin is death, not eternal torment in hell. See the author’s Fate of Unbelievers.

48. † Lying is viewed as a very significant sin. Revelation 21:8 “…all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Those who lie to others will eventually lie to themselves.

49. Mark 10:19 “You must not give false testimony [or cheat anyone]”

50. Mark 10:19 “You shall not steal” Also see Exodus 20:15

51. Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery” To adulterate means to pollute. Adultery is not limited to the pollution of a family by the introduction of the seed of a stranger. The marital relationship may be polluted by inappropriate flirting and one’s relationship to God may be polluted by the worship of an idol.

52. Fornication is coitus outside of marriage and it is sin. Promiscuity is gratuitous fornication. It dilutes the capacity of a man or woman to experience true eros (romantic love) and trivializes its expression. Without an encounter with Christ, one can hardly engage in promiscuity prior to marriage and become faithful after marriage. Be wise young man or young woman. See First Corinthians 6:14.

53. Galatians 5:19 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [sensuality](KJV) Fornication is coitus outside of marriage and it is a sin. Lasciviousness, also a sin, is the outward expression of exaggerated sexual appetite. One should not confuse lasciviousness with sexuality, however. Sexuality is not a sin. God created man as sexual beings and His creation is always good. Just as most sin is the misuse of what God has given, lasciviousness is the misuse of sexuality and fornication, the misuse of eros.

54. First Thessalonians 4:3 “abstain from sexual immorality.” Sexual immorality includes promiscuous sexual encounters that are not necessarily fornication. Except for actual coitus, however, the natural sexual expression of affection to one person prior to marriage is not limited by scripture. It is, however, limited by wisdom and common sense. True love is quite real and powerful. It exists in an environment of mutual righteousness and once ignited it need not ever die.

55. Romans 1:18 “the women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” First Corinthians 6:9 "Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people--none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God."

56. Romans 1:28 “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worth of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

57. Galatians 5:21

58. First Corinthians 8 “you yourselves wrong and defraud.”

59. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not for in the way you judge, so shall you be judged” Matthew 6:14 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.”

60. Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short

61. First John 1:9

62. Matthew 7:1

63. This is where the word "salvation" comes from.

64. Matthew 6:14

65. First Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient”

66. First John 4:8 “God is love [agape]” Agape is one of four different words for love in biblical Greek. Agape is unconditional love. It is carefully defined in First Corinthians 13. All uses of “love” in that chapter (“charity” in the KJV) are agape. There is no other love in First Corinthians 13 other than agape. Thus, to agape one must know God.

67. Second Peter 1:3 "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him."

68. Romans 3:23 “all have sinned”

69. John 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

70. Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

71. First John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Note the accuracy of scripture. Why not simply say that God “will” forgive us rather than that He is “faithful and just” to forgive us? There is a reason for these words. God is “just” to forgive us because Christ has paid for our sins. And God is “faithful” to forgive us because He is faithful to His own promise, “I, yes I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25. Every word is divinely inspired.

72. Second Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

73. Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

74. Matthew 5:24 “Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

75. First John 1:9

76. John 16:33

77. Matthew 13:46 “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

78. Romans 12:19. This scripture apples to who we are inside and how we live out who we are. It does not apply to the external criminal justice system of a state. Justice that is encoded into written laws and enforced by righteous judges is not unscriptural.

79. See John 14:21 and 14:23. Obedience is required for the presence of God within us.

80. See the author's Endless Love.

81. Second Peter 1:3 “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Himfor by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

82. Proverbs 9:8 “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.”

83. First John 4:8

84. John 14:23 "If anyone love Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make our abode with him."

85. Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

86. Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son

87. Mark 10:8 “And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Hence, the biblical marriage consists of only two people, one man and one woman.

88. Mark 12:31 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second [commandment] is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Thus, the two greatest commandments issued by Jesus Christ are to both to love. Love should be preached repeatedly from every Christian pulpit in the world.

89. How does one deal with his own inappropriate affection? With prayer. A suggested prayer is to have God's love for the other person. Love is always good-if it is the right love.

90. John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."

91. Revelation 21:8 "But theunbelievingtheir part will be in the lake of that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

92. John 14:6

93. Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."

94. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death"

95. John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." See the author’s A Reason for Adversity.

96. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him , and will disclose Myself to him."

97. John 17:3 "And this is eternal lift that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."

98. John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life"

99. John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”

100. John 10:9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.”

101. John 3:14,15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes [trusts] may in Him have eternal life.”

102. John 10:9b “ if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

103. John 4:10 “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

104. John 6:50 " I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever."

105. John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

106. John 8:12 “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

107. John 1:9 “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.”

108. First Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

109. John 10:9a “I am the door” John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

110. John 17:3 "This is eternal life that you might know God..."

111. First John 4:8 “God is love.”

112. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them [righteousness], he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father and I will love disclose Myself to Him." This is what knowing God is: God disclosing Himself to us.

113. John 14:21

114. John 14:23 "If any one loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him."

115. First John 4:8 "God is love"

116. John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world.”

117. John 3:8

118. Ephesians 2:1 "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins"

119. First Corinthians 2:14 (Berean Study Bible). See also the King James translation, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

120. John 3:3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Yielding to God

The first step to knowing God is to get forgiven. The second step is to yield. The result is that God discloses Himself to you.

Getting forgiven is getting rid of guilt. It means leaving all past sins behind. It means getting “clean” inside and in the process getting rid of the eternal consequence of sin. Sin has a consequence and that consequence is spiritual death.1 Jesus Christ died that death for you2 and you may choose to appropriate it at any time you wish.3

Salvation is the free gift4 of spiritual life.5

Yielding means to surrender to God’s will. It means to obey Him and obeying Him means to turn away from sin. We must turn away from sin because sin causes spiritual death6 and one cannot engage in spiritual death and experience spiritual life at the same time.

If we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin but fail to turn away from the very sin that He saved us from, we are doing the opposite of what we should be doing. If we are cleansed of sin one day and then commit the same sin the next day, it makes a mockery of the cross.7 It is “receiving the grace of God in vain.”8 To know God we must turn from sin.

Taking the first step (trusting Christ) without taking the second step (yielding and turning from sin) is like being given a gift certificate for the finest dinner in the finest restaurant in town. But when you go, you eat the bread and butter and walk out thinking, “Ha! I can get that meal anywhere.” You were there, but you never got what you came for, which is knowing God.

But what if we sincerely turn from sin but falter later? What if we really want to know Him but we keep failing and falling back into sin? Is that making a mockery of the cross? Are we out of the race? No, because faltering and falling back are part of the game. Knowing God is both progressive and fully accomplished at the same time. Spiritual growth is progressive because sin becomes replaced with its righteous alternative over time, but knowing God is not based upon how well you do. It is based on how sincere you are when you do it. It’s all about heart.

Yielding is a state of mind, not a result. The result of yielding is righteousness, but it does not happen immediately. It takes time.9 Sincerely yielding our will to God results in esperiencing the peace of God and knowing Christ.

My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.10

Knowing God is to experience eternal life now, because eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ:

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.11

Therefore, the second step is the step that we can experience. We experience knowing God and a large part of knowing God is to experience His presence and His peace.

God is not silent to those who are sincere in their desire to know Him. Over and over the Bible speaks of knowing God and God’s disclosure of Himself:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.12

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.13

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him14

the one who does evil has not seen [perceived] God.15

O continue Thy loving kindness to those who know Thee16

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!17

And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.18

I am the good Shepard; and I know My own, and My own know Me.19

And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with your whole heart.20

Experiencing the presence and the peace of God is the apex of all human experience. Committed Christians aren't building a stairway to heaven; they are already there. They have found something that just gets better and better as time goes on.

How to know God is no mystery. Jesus was crystal clear about how we can establish a relationship with Him. The secret is obedience:

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.21

Jesus is telling us that if we find out what His commandments are by reading the Bible and if we obey what we have read, then we have shown ourselves to be someone who loves Him. And when we do this, Jesus says, I will “disclose Myself to him.” This is the reason why obedience is so very important. It results in Jesus Christ making Himself known. This is knowing God and knowing God is everything.22 But notice how often the word “love” is used in this verse. Love is all over it. It is all about heart because one cannot love without heart.

The very real beauty of knowing God is that you can try it out and see for yourself. You can discover for yourself if knowing God is really possible or whether God really exists at all. If your effort proves to be fruitless, then you have lost nothing. But if you try and discover that it is all true, then you have gained everything. The author began his try-out in 1973 and he has known Christ since that time.

It's Relational

True Christianity is neither ritual nor rules; it is an experiential relationship with Jesus Christ. And to have this relationship is to experience eternal life and experience it now, in this life. Eternal life is not for when we die; it is for right now because to know God is to experience His life, eternal life.23 His Spiritual life is superimposed on our physical life as we relate to Him.

That is the reason why the scriptures that tell of knowing God are not formulas; they are love notes. And just like human love, the thing that makes them what they are is heart.

He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me.24

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.25

God is not a judge to those who sincerely turn to Him. He is a lover, a lover whose love-language is righteousness. Keeping God’s commandments to get Him to do something will not get us to Him. But keeping His commandments in order to know Him will. Why? Because God is a Spiritual Lover who speaks with righteousness.

It’s a relational thing, not a duty thing. It is a love thing-not a set of rules. It is a love thing because that’s what God is: God is love.26 It's all about love and love is expressed in relationships. Knowing God is a relationship and love is all over it. We express our love for God by obedience to His Word (scripture).

But don’t worry about loving God enough, so quit trying. When He makes His presence known, you will love Him. You won’t be able to stop yourself.

Nothing in our relationship with Christ is forced; perfection is not required. We do not require perfection in order to love, nor does He.27 What God wants and what we want is sincerity and good motives; He wants heart just like we do;28 sincerity is everything. God does not settle for fake. He may endure fake for a time, just like we do, but ultimately what God requires is a real from-the-heart relationship.29

Our relationship with Christ and the yielding to His Word occur together. The result is knowing God and everything that pertains to life and godliness.

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and Godliness, through the true knowledge of Him 30

Our Christian life is a progression toward conforming to the righteousness that He has already begun in us31 and we have all that we need for the journey.32 Those who have turned to Christ are already righteous in Christ.33

It is all based upon knowing Him, because we have all things that pertain to life and Godliness through the true knowledge of Him. He makes us righteous;34 all we do is cooperate and in doing so we partake of His divine nature.

Our Purpose

God's purpose for us is spiritual life and Godliness. At the core of Godliness are the fruits of the Spirit. Like the vines in His vineyard we are here to yield the fruits of the Spirit. Righteous choices made in the context of this immoral world yield spiritual diamonds that will never fade. The Bible calls them the "fruits of the spirit."

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.35

Within “love” are additional fruits.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.36

Yielding these fruits is immensely important to God and to us because it is what He has created us to do.

I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain"37

These fruits are virtues, traits that should be cultivated. Basically, God is telling us that He wants us to be good. God is not interested in being part of anyone who is bad. He has made us to be righteous, but without Him, we can do “nothing.”

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.38

God did not create man to spin out his life chasing the things of the world like mouse in a golden running wheel. God has a purpose for us. His purpose is for us to bear the fruits of righteousness, to be virtuous, honest and good. That is His stated reason for choosing us.

“I chose youthat you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”39

Note that all of the fruits of the Spirit are relational. They are either keys to excellent relationships (love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) or they are the result of excellent relationships (joy). God has created us to relate to one another because love is expressed in relationships and love is what God is.40 God is expressed (or not expressed) by us in our relationships.

We yield these fruits by being attached to the vine (Christ). When we are attached, we are relating God41 and we yield fruit because of it. We yield fruit because by knowing Him we have all things pertaining to life and Godliness.42 We yield the fruits of the Spirit because Christ is in us.43

Christ is the vine and we are the branches. But it is we who are the fruit bearers. Vines provide sustenance to many branches, but the vines themselves do not yield fruit. Only branches yield fruit. Christ empowers and we yield. We are incapable of yielding God's fruit without Him, but together we bear fruit. What honor He has bestowed upon us! We are His vineyard created to yield fruits of righteousness.

Why does Christ not bear the fruits Himself? Because the frailty of humanity is necessary if acts of righteousness are to have any significance. Thus, by the very nature of righteousness and humanity, there must be failure.

The Problem

The problem is sin. Sin is the opposite of righteousness and sin kills. Sin kills righteousness; sin kills spiritual things, sin kills relationships and sin kills our relationship with Christ. Sin kills. It cuts us off from all things that pertain to life and godliness.”44 God does not remain in the presence of repeated sin.45 Sin causes the branch that continues to sin to become separated from the vine. Separated branches will be burned in the fires of this world. They wither and they die spiritually because they cease to draw life from the vine.46

The entire Bible is a warning that sin kills.47

Genesis 2:17 1400 BC

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. 1400 BC

Psalm 33:18,19 967 BC

Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy; to deliver their soul from death

Ezekiel 18:4 593 BC

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth shall die...

Ezekiel 33:11 593 BC

As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?

John 8:51, 52 30 AD

Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death. (Jesus Christ)

James 5:20 45 AD

Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death...

Romans 6:21 55 AD

What benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.

2 Peter 3:9 68 AD

The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

What is Sin?

But what is sin? Some people believe that there is no sin. And there are differing opinions as to what sin is. But the Bible teaches that if you want to know God, then avoid these things: lying,48† cheating,49 stealing,50 adultery,51 fornication,52 lasciviousness,53 sexual immorality,54 homosexual acts,55 deceit and gossiping, malice, slander, boasting, untrustworthiness, being unloving or unmerciful,56 envy, drunkenness [including drug use], debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, orgies, and things like these,57 taking advantage of people,58 being critical and being condemnatory or unforgiving. 59

Eventually we all sin in one way or another.60 Indeed, the only difference between us with regard to sin is that we all commit different sins. The only cure is to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin and turn from more sin. And if we falter, we can confess and obtain forgiveness and begin anew.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.61

Two Kinds of Sin

There are two different kinds of sins. There are overt sins and there are covert sins. Sins such as theft, murder or adultery are overt sins because they are committed outwardly. Sins such as condemnation and unforgiveness are covert sins because they are committed inwardly. Overt sins by their nature are occurrences that start and then stop. They may be repeated, but each occurrence has a beginning and an end. Covert sins, however, are different. Covert sins are secret and they may continue for years.

Covert sins have another dangerous characteristic. They are justified (or appear to be so) because they are always caused by someone else. For instance, if we are unforgiving it is because someone has hurt us or hurt a loved one. Someone else causes the pain that we must bear. Someone else is responsible, so why should we forgive? If someone speaks injury to us without a cause, we condemn him for it; we categorize him as someone who is (to some extent) bad. Since covert sins appear to be justified, they often become normalized and become part of life. But they are sin nonetheless.

Sins that destroy relationships are called relational sins. There are two primary relational sins and both of them are silent.

The Twin Sins

These two primary relational sins are called “twins” because they are two sides of the same coin. These two relational sins are judgment and unforgiveness.

Judgment of others means to make a critical determination about a person, to judge another. The Greek word for judge is “krino,” which means to criticize or judge another person. Criticism and judgment can be either spoken or thought.

Offenses cause us to see the one who injured us as offensive and injurious. This is the natural result of an offense. We may see the offending party to be malicious or simply neglectful or we may see him or her as selfish or any number of things. But one way or another, we make a determination about that person and we begin to resent was he did. It is normal to take offense when we have been injured and it is normal to resent the person who perpetrated the injury. It happens all the time. This is life.

But notice that several things are happening, and notice the progression of what occurs. In order to take offense in the first place, we must judge the other person as malicious or uncaring to one extent or the other. Without this determination, we would take no offense. For instance, we never take offense at the thoughtless actions of small children because we know that the offensive act is the result of immaturity rather than malice. And sometimes we judge the motives of another only to find that the offensive act was in fact never intended or was due to some other cause that had nothing to do with us. When that happens, resentment disappears because we no longer judge the person to be offensive or malicious. Resentment is caused by the judgment that we apply to others when they offend us.

Scripture commands us never to judge another person adversely. The goal of scripture is for us to live as if every offense was explained by something other than a bad character trait of the offending party. We are commanded to never conclude that the other party is a malicious or uncaring or selfish person. After the offending act occurs, there is a scriptural line is drawn at the feet of the person who gave the offense. No condemnation must pass that line. Here is the scripture:

Do not judge lest you be judged for the in the way you judge, you will be judged and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.62

The act itself, however, is fully open to judgment and condemnation, as all sins should be. And, indeed, we are told to be wise and careful in how and when we related to others. So, avoiding the company of those who sin is both prudent and scriptural; determining if someone has committed a sinful or illegal act is likewise prudent and scripture. But the character of the offender is off-limits to those who strive to know God. Avoid the person because of acts that he does or may do, but never condemn his person. Hate the sin; love the sinner.

But this can be very difficult in some situations. Let us therefore consider why the Creator has made us in this way and why He commands us to do something that so often grates against our nature.

Notice the drastic effect that obedience to this scripture has on the person who has been injured. If the injured person declines to criticize or condemn (judge), he cannot take offense because the taking of offense is based upon judgment. And if the offended person does not take offense, he cannot resent because resentment is based upon offense. If no offense is taken, there can be no resentment. Therefore, if we never judge another, we can hold no resentment. If there is no resentment there is no anger and there is no strain on the relationship. And that is the goal of scripture, for us to live free of anger and resentment and to place no impediment in the way of righteous relationships.

Just like a physical injury, when we are injured emotionally, we hurt. Hurt is inescapable and sometimes we hurt may be long term and very bad. But feeling hurt is neither judgment nor condemnation. Condemnation is not hurt; condemnation is the result of hurt. And, exactly like a physical injury, when we suffer an emotional injury, we need to stop, slow down and heal. Scripture teaches that we heal by declining to take offense, and therefore to decline to mentally replay the injury and recite the anger. The decision not to take offense to an emotional injury is like a salve63 that is placed on a wound caused by a physical injury. Taking of offense and retaining condemnation for an emotional injury is the same as opening the wound and infecting it. It will never heal.

Forgiveness is the other side of the resentment coin. Forgiveness is what we do to rid ourselves of resentment once we have it. Therefore, the failure to forgive is a sin, just like judgment, because unforgiveness results in continued condemnation and resentment.

For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.64

And, just like condemnation, sometimes forgiveness is difficult. It is difficult forgive when we have been injured, especially if the injury is serious. It takes patience to wait it out and let it pass, but that is what we are commanded to do.

Now, look at how this is related to the fruits of the Spirit. Patience is one of the virtues, one of the fruits.65 Virtues protect us from the sting of sin and from sin’s progressive death. Virtues are strength because they bring the presence of God. Only those who have cultivated the virtue of patience have the strength to wait out the pain and not contribute to the conflagration. Fire dies. Words do not.

How many times have we been injured and said things that can never be recalled? What would a marriage be like if all of those things had never been said? What would it be like if we had never yielded to the temptation to throw back a vengeful barb? What would it be like? And what would you be like if your mate had never thrown one at you?

A Different Kind of Power

There is tremendous power in virtues, in never criticizing and always forgiving. But it is a different kind of power. It is a quiet power, a power that flows to others and to God rather than to self, a power that binds and heals, a power that shields a marriage and protects a family, a power that creates a haven where there is acceptance and rest in spite of imperfections and shortcomings, a power that saves marriages and preserves families. To exercise this power is to express God, because this power is the power of selfless unconditional love and it is this love that is what God is.66

To obey these scriptures is to exercise this power. These scriptures are healing to a dying marriage and resurrection to a dead one. The effect of obeying these scriptures is immense. Obedience can create love and save a family.

Obedience to these scriptures is not "sweeping things under the rug." Sweeping things under the rug means to take offenses and "stuff them" somewhere inside and to ignore them. This is unhealthy because refusing to deal with resentment is to it inward, to turn anger inward. Anger turned inward results in numerous psychological disorders, such as depression. But scripture is not telling us to stuff. Scripture is saying that we are to decline to take offense in the first place, so there is nothing to stuff. That is the only way to stay clean. And if there is already dirt under the rug, the scriptural way to remove it is forgiveness, not venting. Venting does not remove the dirt; it spreads it. The only way to be clean under the rug is to forgive. We may not be willing to forgive, but if we are willing to be made willing, God will empower us to forgive.67

Look carefully at the sequence contained in these scriptures. First we obey to the extent that we can. Then He acts. He does what we cannot do. He takes up our slack. He empowers us to forgive and not to criticize. He empowers us with a supernatural release and healing. With Christ we can live free of resentment, a life of forgiveness and freedom.

Make no mistake about it. We are talking miracle here. Not flashy, spectacular, look-at-me type miracles, but quiet, internal miracles, miracles that open the door to knowing God, miracles that enable us to experience eternal life (His life) now, miracles that enable us to take no offense when offense has been given, personal, silent miracles that empower us to give things that we never had before, miracles that create love that loves those whom we do not have the power to love.

And what is the practical result of these miracles? An absolutely indescribable sensation of total freedom68 and peace.69

The commandment to avoid all criticism and condemnation and to forgive always applies to one's self as much as it applies to others. If we confess our sin and ask for forgiveness, our sin is forgiven70 and we can rest in that assurance. God's forgiveness of our sin is complete, lacking in nothing. Christ became sin for us in order to provide the judicial predicate for our forgiveness. He paid dearly for it71 and offers it for free.72 All we have to do is to accept it. Who are we to ignore what He did simply because it is our own self that must be forgiven?

Who are we to call the cross ineffective? When we sincerely confess our sin, God is righteous and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.73 This includes our own. We are to take Him at His Word. The result is freedom.

A Different Kind of Peace

The peace of God is not physical. It is not the peace that comes from the satisfaction of retribution. Nor is it the feeling that comes from a good day’s work or from a healthy bank account or even from an excellent relationship. It is a deep spiritual peace that is deeper than any physical or worldly thing. Indeed, this is the peace that the things of the world attempt to give but cannot.

Therefore, God’s peace is not deliverance from the troubles of the world. He has not promised us freedom from the troubles of the world. He promises exactly the opposite.

In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.

Christ is saying that His peace overcomes the troubles of the world. He is not saying that it removes them. We will have tribulation, that’s a given. But God’s peace exists in spite of them. God’s peace exists where it is not expected to exist because it is not the peace of the world; it is the peace of God. God’s peace (His presence) is the “pearl of great price”74 it is worth nothing less than everything. Once that peace is acquired, it will never be voluntarily relinquished.

Justice (pay-back) does not belong to us. It never did. It belongs to God and God alone.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'vengeance is mine, I will repay' says the Lord.75

Notice that both the sin of condemnation and the sin of unforgiveness carry an immediate penalty. The penalty is that God relates to us with the same severity or the same leniency with which we relate to others. God will treat us with the same forgiving, accepting spirit that we extend to others. So how close we are to Him is up to us. If we are severe, so is He. If we are accepting, so is He. It is for this reason that the very first key to knowing Him is forgive and never to condemn.

God's love and forgiveness in Christ is free, but when it comes to our condemnation and unforgiveness of others it is tit-for-tat. What we give, we get. Why? Because condemnation and unforgiveness are sins directly against love. And at times they are greater than the sin that injured us and caused them in the first place. Sin kills even when it is caused by someone else. Sin always kills. God does not reside in the presence of repeated or unrepented sin. He departs, and He takes His presence and His peace with Him.76 He who commits these sins and finds no adverse consequence has already lost the presence of God-or never had it.

The twin sins of criticism and unforgiveness are the edge of the blade that kills the family. How many marriages have withered in the serpentine tangle of justified condemnations and wrongs that were never forgotten? How many families have been eviscerated with this knife? Look closely. Unforgiveness is not justice; it is spiritual and relational death.77

The point at which forgiveness and the absence of criticism reside inside of us is the point of interface with Jesus Christ. It is where God Himself makes Himself known to us. It is where faith becomes knowledge and eternal life (His life) becomes lived. This interface, this relationship is everything.78

Reproof

But all criticism can’t be bad! Some criticism is necessary and helpful! Indeed, we cannot sit by and watch someone injure themselves-or injure us-without saying something. It can't be wrong to discuss an affront; and indeed, it may well be wrong to say nothing. So, where is the line to be drawn between good criticism and bad criticism?

The answer is quite straightforward. But there is another name for good criticism. The correct term for good criticism is “reproof” and reproof is always good.

So, what is reproof? Reproof is a critical statement that is received as helpful. Criticism becomes reproof and beneficial when it is well received and reproof becomes critical and destructive when it is not. So, the difference between the two is not the statement itself, but how the statement is received. Some people can receive reproof and some cannot. Indeed, the measure of a person’s spiritual strength is the extent to which he can receive reproof without taking offense.79 But everyone is different. Some are spiritually weak and cannot listen to reproof and find it helpful. And some people can receive reproof about some things but not about others. We must take each person as we find him.

If the person is not strong enough to receive the needed reproof, it should not be offered because it's not reproof. It simply can't help if it is not received well.

This does not mean, however, that we are to ignore the sins of others or pretend that sin did not occur, especially if we are the victim of it. It means that we are to draw a very clear line between the sin and the person who committed the sin. We are free to demand that the sin cease, but we are not free to condemn the person who commits it. We are to address the act but we are not to criticize the person who committed the act.

Look at the beauty of how these scriptural admonitions fit together when we draw the line at the person himself and address the act alone. When we follow the scriptural command not to condemn the person, we do not place him in a position where he will be forced to defend himself. We leave him free to admit to himself that the act was wrong without requiring him to see himself as less than he perceives himself to be. And we leave him free to confess his sin without risking condemnation and retribution.

Modern psychology has struck upon this same concept and developed the method of non-threatening approach. The method focuses on the act and not the person. One example is the suggested phrase, "When you did this it made me feel thus and so." In this way, the speaker avoids saying that the person is bad; only the act is bad. The injured party is saying "it (the act)" caused me to feel bad, not "you." He is stating a fact, not making an accusation. This is nothing more than an application of Matthew 7:1.

Scripture forbids the condemnation of the person because acceptance of the person is by far the more important course of action. Acceptance is more important because acceptance is an expression of love and God is love.80 Therefore, if God is in us,81 each expression of acceptance that we offer is an expression of God. God loved us while we were yet sinners82 and He expects to love likewise83 because it is the same love from the same source.

On the other hand, each piece of criticism is the opposite of acceptance; each piece of criticism is a piece of rejection. Therefore unless the critical statement will be received as edifying and helpful, it should not be made. Or else, it should be made in a way that is calculated not to be offensive. Repetitious "reproof" is always odious and clearly forbidden by scripture because it inevitably becomes critical. Speaking the truth in love repeatedly is not speaking the truth in love.

Human Relationships

The unconditional acceptance required by scripture does not mean that all relationships must be close relationships.

Each of us is free to determine the nature and the extent of any relationship (except for one). A relationship may be the long-term sharing friendship of lifelong companions or it may be a 5 second interchange with a mendicant on a street corner. Either way, each person is free to define the relationship as he wishes. But within the limitations of whatever definition is applied to the relationship (be it wide or narrow) we are to be unconditionally accepting of the person. We can limit the relationship but we cannot limit the acceptance that the relationship must contain.

The only exception to our right to define our relationships is the scriptural marriage. The scriptural marriage relationship cannot be defined by the parties because it is already defined by scripture. Scripture defines marriage as “oneness” between a man and a woman.84 Oneness means total and unconditional acceptance of each other; we are to love our spouse as we love ourself,85 which means that we are to accept our spouse as we accept ourselves. Oneness creates comfort and security when each spouse honors it. A wise pastor once put it this way, "Think we, not me."

When marital oneness is honored, there can be no private social relationship between one spouse and someone else of the opposite sex. Fidelity is honored when each spouse makes it clear to the third party that the third party is relating to both spouses, even though one spouse may not be present. This is what the Bible calls fidelity. Fidelity creates strong bonds and strong bonds create security and comfort. Fidelity is honored when one's relationships with others do not exceed the limitations expected by one's spouse. Fidelity excludes not only physical encounters, but fidelity excludes all inappropriate social relationships. Fidelity excludes third party flirtation because flirtation adulterates the marriage by the injecting the concept of a third party into the marital relationship.86 Fidelity also excludes any threat of divorce or any indication of an intention to dishonor a marital vow. Such a statement adulterates the marriage by introducing a foreign element, an element that compromises trust and certainty.

Conclusion and Summary

The Bible is not a book about religion. The Bible is a book about spiritual life and spiritual death. It is a book about knowing Jesus Christ87 and experiencing the presence of God. It is a book about spiritual freedom and the bondage of sin, about internal peace and internal void, about wisdom and folly, about contentment and futility, and about eternal life and eternal death.88 Your choice.

We live in a world that is filled with people who are empty inside and they know it. However, they do not know that the void they live with is spiritual death so they try to fill it with physical things. But physical things cannot fill it. Many people refuse to admit that there is a spiritual anything. But inside they know different. Nothing will fill the void but spiritual life. And there is only one way to obtain spiritual life and that is through Jesus Christ.

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.89

Experiencing spiritual life requires two things. The first thing it requires is that we be forgiven for all sin. We obtain forgiveness by trusting in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin. It is a free gift.90 It has to be a free gift because the wages of sin is eternal death91 and if we paid that price we would be eternally dead.

The second thing is obedience to Christ's Word (scripture). Obedience can't be free because if it were free we would never be called upon to make righteous choices. It is righteous choices in the face of adversity and temptation that make fruit-bearing meaningful and significant. Bearing the fruits of righteousness is the primary reason why God has created us.92

We come to know God by yielding our will to His because when we sincerely yield to God's will He discloses Himself to us.93 Knowing Him is to experience eternal life now94 because Christ is the life95 and it is His life that we experience when Christ is in us.96

Eternal life is not simply living our life forever. It is not an extension of mortal life; it is a different life altogether, a life that is already eternal. To receive eternal life is to receive a life that has always been, a life that not only will never end, but a life that also never began. Eternal life is God's life and through Christ we can live it now.

The scriptural analogy is a sheepfold. We are the sheep and the shepherd is Jesus. Jesus is the door to the sheepfold97 and it is Jesus who gives us spiritual (eternal) life.98 Once we have been admitted to the sheepfold we go in and out and find pasture;99 we drink the water of spiritual life100 and "eat" the bread of life101 through scripture (the Word of God102).

Jesus Christ is the light of the world103 but He cannot be known outside of the sheepfold because knowing Him (experiencing eternal life) is a spiritual experience.104 So don’t expect to find Him or understand anything about Him105 until you walk through the door106 and experience eternal life for yourself.107

Remember that God is love.108 So God is all about relationships because love is expressed in relationships. And relationships are all about communication and we communicate with God by speaking His language. God's language is righteousness.109 God does not communicate through ritual, unknown languages ("tongues") or sacrifice. His language is righteousness (what we do), especially as it relates to how we deal with others. He is present with us when we are righteous and good. We live in His universe and whether we like it or not, it is moral universe where the currency is not money and power but righteousness.

If we express our love to Him through righteousness, He makes Himself known to us110 and lives in us.111 It all revolves around love. Expressing love is everything in the Kingdom of God because that is what God is. God is love.112

Once a person has truly perceived and experienced a full measure of the love of God, he cannot turn away. It is overwhelming, magnificent and irresistible. But it is spiritual,113 not physical. It is like the wind. One can feel it but not see it.

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from or where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.114

That is why we cannot simply decide to believe in God without coming to Christ. Because the natural man is spiritually dead115 and cannot understand the things that are spiritually alive.

The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.116

It is for this reason that Jesus taught that one must be born again before he can even perceive the Kingdom of God.117

Try it yourself. Trust in Christ and yield sincerely to God’s will and see what happens.

If you are someone who truly wants to find God but wonders if there is a God to find, let me say that I have been where you are. I was just as doubting as you are or perhaps more so. But I found God exactly as this booklet describes, and then I opened the Bible and read about what happened to me.

The author found God by trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of all sin and fully yielding at the same time. I was searching for something that I could not describe and trying to fill an internal void. I came to know Jesus Christ through a silly, fumbling prayer that I prayed one evening long ago telling Him that if He would fill the void and give me the peace that I wanted, then I would give Him everything I had-doubting all the time but meaning every word.

I had no idea if anything would happen. But it did. He came to me with His immense peace and love and He is still there. He filled the void of eternal death with eternal life. He made me new. And He will do the same for you if you come to Christ and yield to His will. All it takes is a decision to trust in Jesus Christ. After that, it is all about heart.

My time was in 1973. Your time is now.

2

1. Romans 6:23 "the wages of sin is death."

2. First Corinthians 15:3

3. Revelation 22:17 "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely."

4. Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

5. John 14:16 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

6. Ephesians 2:1 “You were dead in your trespasses and sins”

7. See Hebrews 6:6, discussed below

8. Second Corinthians 5:1

9. We are always righteous in God’s sight even when we sin because nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:28). But sin destroys our relationship with Him. See John 14:21, which is discussed below..

10. John 14:27

11. John 17:3 Knowing Christ and knowing God are interchangeable terms because Jesus Christ is God who became man so that He could minister to mankind and pay the penalty for their sin (death). It is for this reason that John 17:3 states that we can know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.

12. John 14:21

13. John 14:23

14. Second Peter 1:3

15. Third John 11

16. Psalm 36:10

17. Romans 11:33

18. Hosea 2:20

19. John 10:14

20. Jeremiah 29:13

21. John 14:21

22. Second Peter 1:3His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him…”

23. John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” This passage and others show that eternal life is not simply living forever. It is an entirely different life altogether.

24. John 14:21

25. Jeremiah 29:13

26. First John 4:8 “God is love.” God is love, but He is not just love. He is much more. God’s love is described in First Corinthians 13.

27. Romans 5:8 “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

28. John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me”

29. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes (trusts) in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

30. Second Peter 1:4

31. Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son

32. Second Peter 1:1-10. This entire progression is enabled through the actual knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:2,8).

33. First Corinthians 1:30 “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness

34. Second Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Philippians 3:8,9 “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.”

35. See Galatians 5:22

36. First Corinthians 13:4 There are 4 different loves in biblical Greek. The love referred to here is supernatural and can be fully expressed only through Christ. See the author’s Endless Love.

37. John 15:16

38. John 15:5

39. John 15:16

40. First John 4:8 "God is love"

41. John 17:3 "This is eternal life that you might know God;" John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." See also John 14:23.

42. Second Peter 1:3 "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him"

43. John 14:20 “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

44. Second Peter 1:3

45. John 14:21 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him."

46. See Hebrews 6:6. Any branch is perfectly free to dis-attach from the vine and live for the world, but they are of no eternal value. Dis-attached branches can renew themselves through sincere confession of sin (they should use Psalm 51 to do so) and by relinquishing further sin. See First John 1:9. But it is impossible for anyone else to renew them because they have put Christ to "open shame" by their sin. The sinning Christian is most miserable having rejected Christ and yet not a child of the world. Hebrews 6:6 does not refer to the loss of salvation.

47. There are 50 scriptures teaching that sin kills. The unltimate consequence of sin is death, not eternal torment in hell. See the author’s Fate of Unbelievers.

48. † Lying is viewed as a very significant sin. Revelation 21:8 “…all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Those who lie to others will eventually lie to themselves.

49. Mark 10:19 “You must not give false testimony [or cheat anyone]”

50. Mark 10:19 “You shall not steal” Also see Exodus 20:15

51. Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery” To adulterate means to pollute. Adultery is not limited to the pollution of a family by the introduction of the seed of a stranger. The marital relationship may be polluted by inappropriate flirting and one’s relationship to God may be polluted by the worship of an idol.

52. Fornication is coitus outside of marriage and it is sin. Promiscuity is gratuitous fornication. It dilutes the capacity of a man or woman to experience true eros (romantic love) and trivializes its expression. Without an encounter with Christ, one can hardly engage in promiscuity prior to marriage and become faithful after marriage. Be wise young man or young woman. See First Corinthians 6:14.

53. Galatians 5:19 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [sensuality](KJV) Fornication is coitus outside of marriage and it is a sin. Lasciviousness, also a sin, is the outward expression of exaggerated sexual appetite. One should not confuse lasciviousness with sexuality, however. Sexuality is not a sin. God created man as sexual beings and His creation is always good. Just as most sin is the misuse of what God has given, lasciviousness is the misuse of sexuality and fornication, the misuse of eros.

54. First Thessalonians 4:3 “abstain from sexual immorality.” Sexual immorality includes promiscuous sexual encounters that are not necessarily fornication. Except for actual coitus, however, the natural sexual expression of affection to one person prior to marriage is not limited by scripture. It is, however, limited by wisdom and common sense. True love is quite real and powerful. It exists in an environment of mutual righteousness and once ignited it need not ever die.

55. Romans 1:18 “the women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” First Corinthians 6:9 "Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people--none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God."

56. Romans 1:28 “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worth of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

57. Galatians 5:21

58. First Corinthians 8 “you yourselves wrong and defraud.”

59. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not for in the way you judge, so shall you be judged” Matthew 6:14 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours.”

60. Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short

61. First John 1:9

62. Matthew 7:1

63. This is where the word "salvation" comes from.

64. Matthew 6:14

65. First Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient”

66. First John 4:8 “God is love [agape]” Agape is one of four different words for love in biblical Greek. Agape is unconditional love. It is carefully defined in First Corinthians 13. All uses of “love” in that chapter (“charity” in the KJV) are agape. There is no other love in First Corinthians 13 other than agape. Thus, to agape one must know God.

67. Second Peter 1:3 "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him."

68. John 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

69. Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

70. First John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Note the accuracy of scripture. Why not simply say that God “will” forgive us rather than that He is “faithful and just” to forgive us? There is a reason for these words. God is “just” to forgive us because Christ has paid for our sins. And God is “faithful” to forgive us because He is faithful to His own promise, “I, yes I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25. Every word is divinely inspired.

71. Second Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

72. Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

73. First John 1:9

74. Matthew 13:46 “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

75. Romans 12:19. This scripture apples to who we are inside and how we live out who we are. It does not apply to the external criminal justice system of a state. Justice that is encoded into written laws and enforced by righteous judges is not unscriptural.

76. See John 14:21 and 14:23. Obedience is required for the presence of God within us.

77. See the author's Endless Love.

78. Second Peter 1:3 “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Himfor by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

79. Proverbs 9:8 “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.”

80. First John 4:8

81. John 14:23 "If anyone love Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make our abode with him."

82. Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

83. Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son

84. Mark 10:8 “And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Hence, the biblical marriage consists of only two people, one man and one woman.

85. Mark 12:31 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second [commandment] is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Thus, the two greatest commandments issued by Jesus Christ are to both to love. Love should be preached repeatedly from every Christian pulpit in the world.

86. How does one deal with his own inappropriate affection? With prayer. A suggested prayer is to have God's love for the other person. Love is always good-if it is the right love.

87. John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."

88. Revelation 21:8 "But theunbelievingtheir part will be in the lake of that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

89. John 14:6

90. Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."

91. Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death"

92. John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." See the author’s A Reason for Adversity.

93. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him , and will disclose Myself to him."

94. John 17:3 "And this is eternal lift that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."

95. John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life"

96. John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”

97. John 10:9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.”

98. John 3:14,15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes [trusts] may in Him have eternal life.”

99. John 10:9b “ if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

100. John 4:10 “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

101. John 6:50 " I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever."

102. John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

103. John 8:12 “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

104. John 1:9 “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.”

105. First Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

106. John 10:9a “I am the door” John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

107. John 17:3 "This is eternal life that you might know God..."

108. First John 4:8 “God is love.”

109. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them [righteousness], he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father and I will love disclose Myself to Him." This is what knowing God is: God disclosing Himself to us.

110. John 14:21

111. John 14:23 "If any one loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him."

112. First John 4:8 "God is love"

113. John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world.”

114. John 3:8

115. Ephesians 2:1 "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins"

116. First Corinthians 2:14 (Berean Study Bible). See also the King James translation, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

117. John 3:3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”