A Journey Thru Acts 18: Basking In The LORD 1…
Now we continue to dig into the book of Acts for the 18th post: we are looking back at the first century Church & their mission to understand what the Lord Jesus’ mission is for us in the 21st century. That mission has not changed, loved ones, and in many ways neither has the method of completing that mission. We are looking at Acts to answer the question, “What do You want us to DO, Heavenly Father? Out of the 360 degrees on the compass of possible journeying, what is the one degree you have pointed out in Your Word and commanded us—and are leading us—to go each day as Your reborn, forgiven, adopted and free people?” And thus God has been teaching us all, I truly hope…
And yet while this focus on DOING is important—indeed faith without works is dead, and for too many church-attenders there is no TASK in Christianity; it is only TRIVIA…the Lord Jesus is merely a buffet of facts to be known (at our choosing, of course!) not the risen King to be followed—yet doing is only one side of the coin of saving faith in Christ Jesus. Better yet, doing for God is what comes out of the faucet…but doing is not the source or spring which supplies the faucet.
This post we will focus entirely on the spring, the source which the faucet is connected to, the deep well from which our doing flows…
BEING. Being in Christ, being with Christ, must come before doing for Christ.
Knowing Him must come before going with Him.
Going TO Him on our knees must come before going WITH Him as His hands & feet.
The consequences are disastrous when we reverse this order,
like eating a steak raw and then grilling it second–order deeply matters.
Christianity has many commands (yes, even in the New Testament…
Jesus is eternal King not ethical consultant,
He is Sovereign Lord not suggesting lobbyist;
remember, a request from a king is not really a request).
But these commands come after we are spiritually reborn through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus; we don’t obey the commands to make us Christian, we obey the commands because He has first made us Christian by grace…
The LORD’s New Testament commands are not:
“Do all this to inherit eternal life”—
“Do all this once you have inherited eternal life.”
Christianity is not first, “This I do”;
But rather, “This He did”,
And because He has done that for me
I am able to do this for and with Him…
Activity comes from identity; identity does not come from activity.
Psalm 90:1-2: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Powerful! Before God did anything…He was God. Before He did, He was.
What God does flows from Who He is.
He didn’t (& doesn’t!) do amazing acts in order to become God, like earning a promotion;
He doesn’t need to improve His resume to get or keep the title of Lord of the universe.
He did and does amazing acts because He is God, and always will be.
As correct and Biblical as it is for us to focus on doing for Him, it is easy to forget knowing Him; it is easy to turn Christianity into a series of boxes to be checked off, a list, & it’s very possible to be very good at/efficient in the list without ever knowing the Lord of the list.
I can make a meal for someone I don’t know & will never personally know.
That can be alright for relationships with humans,
but it’s not okay for relationship w/God.
John 17:3: “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.2
- [Don’t miss Christ’s language—“Father,” “Son”…relationship, being, knowing, identity!]
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
- [Don’t miss this—we come to Christ first & primarily for life, not a list.
The list is good, the list is important, but it is not first. It is second.
- He came to make us alive when we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2);
by repentance & faith we must receive LIFE from Him first before we follow Him in the list. He must make us to BE before He matures us to DO]
3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, & Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
What does it mean/look like to have eternal life from Jesus? Knowing Him.
King Jesus gives His people eternal life so that we can know Him. KNOW His character, know what He is like, know Him deeply, personally, relationally, to be able to tell non-Christians what God is like from daily experience, not just from memorizing terms
- Though the Biblical terms are important; the Truth of the Bible, Who God reveals Himself to be in the Bible, the Biblical terms are needed to shape our experience of God (not vice versa!), to help us know if we are actually knowing Him or knowing an idol/false god that is not really Him. satan masquerades as an angel of light; just because someone meets a powerful being dressed brightly doesn’t mean it is from God or God Himself. We cannot know the LORD apart from knowing His Word.
- But if we only stop at intellectually knowing the terms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we know God, just as I can read a biography of George Washington—I may know some facts, but I don’t know him; I know OF him, ABOUT him, but I don’t know what it’s like to go on a walk with him, have a conversation with him, etc.
Genesis 5:23-24: “23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.
24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
YES! Enoch walked—he did! But he walked with God—he knew Him personally.
God & Enoch didn’t merely walk next to each other
yet separately busy w/their own smart phones ignoring each other.
They walked together in relationship, intimacy, true knowing–WITH each other!
- I remember the first time I read that verse years ago; I wept. It was like a scent of someone grilling…you haven’t eaten the meat-candy from the grill (yes, when done well, grilling is literally dessert without sugar :)!), but the scent of it reminds you how utterly starving you really are, what you don’t have, what you need & want, what you didn’t even realize/remember. Years ago, this verse was one that God used to show me what He offered me—HIMSELF!—and what I was utterly lacking…knowing Him.
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name & in your name drive out demons & in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
- You did Christian-y stuff, but you weren’t Christian.
- You did stuff FOR Christ, but you weren’t IN Christ.
- You knew some of the lingo, but you didn’t know the Lord.
- You said, “Look at my faucet!” Jesus says, “No—look what your faucet is connected to.”
- You applied some Bible principles for your life
but you didn’t apply to Christ as Savior & King, the Principal of Life!
- You had earthly success that made people follow you, but you did have the heavenly success of pointing people to follow Me
- To do stuff for Him without knowing Him is still to do evil (“evildoers” verse 23).
Luke 10:38-42: 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way,
he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 3
9 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
She came to him and asked,
Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?
Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
- She is focused only on the output of the faucet—look how FAST/MUCH it flows!;
- He is showing her the 1st importance of the input from the spring/well to the faucet,
what the faucet is connected to—not the quantity but the quality of what’s flowing.
42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
And so we must pause as we study the Bible to know what to DO…
…so that we can study the Bible to know Who God is.
We need to make sure we are basking in the LORD,
growing closer to Him relationally.
Psalm 27:1-5: The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
- [YES we must know that God is the stronghold, the fortress/tower of His people;
but we must actually go into Him,
go into Him as our stronghold/fortress/tower—
we must be in Christ by faith!]
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling [IN HIM!];
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
- [to camp with someone in their tent is to really get to know them!]
and set me high upon a rock.”
David was surrounding by real enemies with real swords who wanted to really kill him, yet he isn’t primarily concerned with that…He is still concerned with knowing the LORD, gazing at His beauty, being so close to Him & His character…
Basking in the LORD—WHO He is, knowing Him, Son-tanning, as it were—is the foundation of Christianity on which the upper-floors/levels of good deeds are built. A $10 beach house by the best architect using the best materials will crumble & collapse if it is only built on the sand with no foundation. Thus is the eternal result of good deeds without first knowing & receiving the Lord Jesus as your Savior & King through repentance & faith.
Kneeling at the Lord Jesus’ feet with open hands (faith & repentance—knowing!)
prepares us to stand & BE His hands & feet in the world (faith & missions—going!).
Acts 7:54-58, when Stephen was being stoned to death for his faith in Christ, for his testimony, powerful to read what God did while Stephen was being killed.
When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
God didn’t STOP the stoning, & we have no evidence that God softened the stones/made them hurt less as they slammed into Stephen’s body over & over. But this doesn’t mean God did nothing, and it certainly doesn’t mean that God was there with Stephen during his painful ordeal.
The LORD did something better…
What did Stephen say during this horrific trial? “Behold, I SEE the glory of God, I SEE the Son of Man sitting at His right hand!” Let’s not miss this—God gave something better to Stephen than an end to his physical suffering; he gave Stephen sight to see the LORD, He revealed Himself to Stephen so Stephen could bask in God’s character & Presence as Stephen went through his brutal suffering. That is the most important thing, loved ones—knowing the LORD, basking in Him…crying out for Him to give us faith to trust His Presence, not just His presents…
Oh dear friends, pause now in prayer & ask the LORD to help us understand, agree with, and digest His Word. Let’s cry out to God to help us know Him, to bask in Who He is, to learn to BE with Him so we are equipped to DO for Him…
Ephesians 1:16-17: “16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”
This is a tune-up post, loved ones, a recalibration and realignment of our axles & wheels & tires so we can travel the highway of holiness with Christ & follow Him where He leads by first receiving Him as Savior by repentance & faith.
Next post, if God is willing, we will meet again to look at different Bible passages in the Old & New Testaments that show us God’s character; we will pull back the curtains to see the sunshine of the face of Christ through His Holy Spirit & inspired Word.
Until then, you can do that this week: sit at His feet like Mary, open His Word, quiet everything else, don’t multi-task this, wake up in the middle of the night if you have to, deactivate your Facebook & Netflix accounts, whatever it takes!…Get to know God for Who He has revealed Himself to be in the Bible, don’t just glance at God & get busy with the day, bask in God…don’t just glance at the sunset & acknowledge intellectually that it is beautiful—stare at it! Don’t even just pause for ten seconds & admire the sunset—GAZE, STARE, notice how the colors blend & where one color gorgeously fades into the other, see it, don’t just look in its direction (there is a difference!), bask again for the first time & be amazed at Him Who you haven’t gazed at in a long time, maybe ever…
The Lord Jesus asked one man, “What do you want from Me?” “Lord, I want to see,” the blind man said. Cry out to the Lord Jesus, not just for more money or an easing of your current troubles, as serious as those are—cry out to Him to SEE, to see HIM by faith, to see His fingerprints all over the boat as you struggle in your current storm…Get a mug of coffee or tea & BASK in Him Who gave you today as a great gift, Who gave you His very own Son as the greatest gift, that you might know Him, Emmanuel, God with us…