By Beth Doohan
“Then He (Jesus) asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’” ~Matthew 16:13-17
“Jesus told him (Thomas), ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.’” ~John 14:6
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In the Bible, God is described with many different names, attributes and descriptions. No doubt when you became a Christian, it was because your understanding of who God is and your need for Him became clear. The Holy Spirit works in every heart that comes to Him with a calling, a revelation deeper than any other experience that says, “The Lord is real; the Lord is God.” That revelation beckons a response, “Lord, I make You my King and Savior, I repent of my sins and ask for Your forgiveness to cleanse me and make me like You. From this day forward, I am surrendered to You.” At this joyous moment, the angels in Heaven literally rejoice! Halleluiah! 😊 Then comes a brand new life in Christ, being sanctified and renewed into His character and likeness.
Unlike our salvation, which is automatic upon repentance, our sanctification is a process that lasts our entire lives. Sound daunting? It is a bit, but remember that as we are renewed, we grow in deeper knowledge and understanding of our amazing God who created us to worship Him, who forgives us when we sin and who gave His own Son that we might live.
So let me ask you, who is God to you? He may be your Savior, but is He also your Father? He may be your Lord, but is He also Your Confidant? How have you experienced His comfort, His faithfulness, His justice, His grace? Are you seeking Him every day, or only when you need Him? When He speaks to your heart, do you actually listen and obey?
In Matthew 16, Jesus was teaching His disciples and asked them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” His followers shared that some thought He was Elijah, John the Baptist, or another prophet. At this, Jesus asked, “But who do you say I am?” Peter responded that Jesus was the Messiah, God’s own Son. How Jesus’ heart must have thrilled to hear those words! Peter understood! The Holy Spirit had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah! Then, Jesus lovingly replies: “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in Heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being,” meaning the Holy Spirit had given understanding of who Jesus is. (Verses 13-17).
From that day forward, Peter and the disciples entered a new chapter in their lives. They had believed in God, they had come to know Jesus as a friend, and now understood Him to be Lord and Savior, the Son of the living God. This changed the way Jesus spoke with them, revealing deeper understanding and spiritual insight for how they should live. This changed the calling on their lives; all the disciples later became emboldened by the Holy Spirit and taught as apostles in the early church of Christianity (except Judas who had betrayed Jesus). Would these things have been possible had they not understood Jesus’ whole character and their hearts responded in full surrender to Him? The answer: never.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that someone who gives their heart to Jesus in one area while withholding their heart or struggling with sin in another area can never be used by God. But the more fully we surrender to His lordship, the more we understand His character and allow His Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds. This leads to greater influence and wholeness as we walk out His calling for us.
Donna Otto of Modern Homemakers said, “How much you love God and how you love God are your choice.” (Episode “Sermon on the Mount ~ Sand and Rock”). The depth and beauty we experience in our relationship with God very much depends on how much of our hearts we are willing to give Him. Will you give Him your whole heart today? When He beckons, “Come and talk with Me,” will our hearts respond, “Lord, I am coming!” (Psalm 27:8) When He asks, “Whom can I send” to do His work, will our hearts respond, “Here am I, Lord, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) When He convicts us of wrongdoing, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed,” will our hearts in humility respond “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13)
In the coming articles, we will explore four roles of God: Savior, Father, Lord and Confidant. These roles encompass God’s character and the heart response He desires for us to have. The depth of love we experience in our relationship with God is our choice. It starts with knowing His character through His Word, surrendering our hearts fully to Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to help us understand Him. As the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:19, we pray “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
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