John 11:43 “Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
Have you ever heard God speak to you?
I’ve listened to many question what it means to hear from God. Believers talk about it all the time but for those who have never known what a personal relationship with God looks like, the idea seems distant and difficult to attain to.
How does one begin hearing from God?
If you have been transformed by the power of God with the evidence of the Spirit of God in your life, then you have heard Him. The same call that Jesus issued to Lazarus while he layed in the tomb is the same call He has proclaimed to us.
“Come forth!”, Jesus proclaimed from His commanding position as God, the God who rules over life and death. In Lazarus’ case, Jesus was restoring the life in his body but the call to us looks a little different.
1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”
The life we have been called to is a restoration of all that was meant to be. We were not created to be separate from our Creator, we were made to walk with Him and in walking with Him we are made complete.
The continuation of this call is the call that goes forth to others who live apart from Christ. We are not only called forth from death to life, but we then walk among others with the remembrance from which we came.
2 Corinthians 4:11 “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
The message of God to this world is carried by those who walk faithfully in Him.
The great honor of representing Christ to the world is only amplified by the nature of the message. We not only carry the message of God’s transforming power, we carry the message of hope to the world.
As followers of Christ, the message of the gospel is not the only way we reveal Christ in us, the manner in which we live brings revelation to those who struggle to see the light from their vantage point.
2 Corinthians 4:12 "So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."
Paul illustrated this point to the church in Corinth, as an apostle of Christ, Paul represented a fixture by which the church should model their walk. The gentiles for whom Paul was ministering couldn’t relate to the jewish model of salvation, the method’s God instituted were tied in with the nation as a whole. Although the principles of salvation were set in place for those saints of old, it was the promise of grace to be revealed by the Messiah that they ultimately set their hope upon.
Today, we not only have the understanding of this hope as illustrated in the Old Testament, we see the culmination of God’s prophetic revelation from the gospels and beyond.
Out of Christs death arose His church.
In the same way Jesus arose from the dead to bring life, He has called us to come forth out of the grave of sin and into the newness of life found by grace.
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
This life in Christ is the only life that brings true peace.
What is it that holds a person back from coming to know the peace of God?
I’ve been talking with a young man in Gambia for the past year. He was born into a muslim family and since the passing of his father years ago, it is his muslim community that helps him survive. It is a serious consideration for him to entertain the possibility of changing from a follower of Muhammad to a follower of Jesus, it would require everything.
For many who live in western type countries, the prospect of following a different religion is as simple as changing the place where you live. Some think of religion like that, a mindset that one examines and sees where the process takes them. It is this course of thinking that causes someone to reply to the gospel message with the statement, “I tried Jesus and it didn’t work for me”.
You know why Jesus doesn’t work for some people?
He isn’t a religion.
Religion vs. Relationship
Contrary to the teaching of most false doctrines, there is a significant difference between fitting a religion into your lifestyle versus fitting your lifestyle into the will of God.
- On the one hand, those who see religion as a way to enhance their lives are looking for a way to make themselves feel better about who they are. The meditation practiced in certain faiths gives people a sense of a position and power they think they have inherent within them. By unlocking their “potential”, they can be all they want to be in life. Sounds glorious doesn’t it? There is a reason why so many seek these types of belief systems, it elevates them into a position of prominence and that is exactly what the flesh desires.
- On the other hand, those who seek greater meaning apart from themselves must examine the one who claims to hold that meaning. My muslim friend thinks that Muhammad held all the answers and so he upholds the Quran as the means by which this message was expressed. Look a little closer into the methods of Islam and you quickly discover that the Quran is just a part of their practice, the hadiths (a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad which, with accounts of his daily practice) were recorded by men who either knew Muhammed or were relatively associated with his life. It is these collections that constitute a majority of a muslims daily rituals and practice. It is the practice of men to follow any false religion for it places the responsibility upon the disciple to be made right and thus becomes a practice in works.
- Finally, we come to Christianity, the belief that God created the earth in perfection and by the corruption of sin mankind was separated from his Creator. Jesus then came and died so to redeem mankind from the slavery of sin and restore the relationship that was originally broken. This is why Christianity is not a religion, it is a restoration of relationship with God.
Isaiah 58:12 “Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”
To walk in the newness of this relationship requires a forsaking of all we walked in previously. This process is not one that fits God into our lifestyle, it is one that changes our lifestyle into one that restores the fellowship mankind had in the garden.
The foundation of Christ is a foundation of Holiness. What this means is we have a standard that Christ embodied by which to live our lives. Holiness is respective of God’s position, His glory, and His name. We are now called to uphold this standard in our own lives, but He doesn’t expect us to do it on our own. God has given us His Spirit as a promise now, of things to come and He supplies us with all we need for life and godliness as we walk in Him.
For someone to think they were simply going to “try out Jesus”, would be like someone saying they were going to try being an astronaut for a day. The years of study, training, development, and conditioning to be an astronaut is not something you can pick up in a short period of time. You can make it a goal and then begin your journey but to lay claim without doing the work is to dishonor the work that so many men and women have accomplished before.
The transforming power of following Christ begins in a day, but it was the blood, sacrifice, and tears of our Savior by which this opportunity was afforded. The cost of His sacrifice was great, so should be our consideration for following in the path He has called us to walk.
John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
The encouraging message is, God calls out to us. He desires that none should die in their sin, whether they subscribe to a false religion or not. If there is breath in your lungs then you have the opportunity to respond to this call.