For it is by grace you have been saved...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Touched By God

Sometimes I don’t think we know what we’re asking for. People say they want a real encounter with God, to be “touched by God,” but I’m not sure they’re always ready for what that truly means. We want to be “blessed” by God, but again, do your realize what that may entail?

Jacob asked for a blessing from God, and he got it didn’t he. His “wrestling with God” in Genesis 32 would lead to great blessing, but that blessing literally marked him for the rest of his life. He wanted to know God more, to understand Him better; and just as a side note, Jacob knew this was God he was wrestling with because in verse 30 he says “he saw God face to face…” He wanted to know God and that knowledge affected him permanently. Verse 31 tells us that this little episode left Jacob, now called Israel, with a limp.

A few years ago I preached on that passage, and I really wanted to entitle the message: “If you want to be touched by God, you’d better be prepared to limp.” But I thought that was a little verbose, and it would be hard to fit it all in the bulletin. But that’s the basic truth, isn’t it? Being touched by God marks us for life. It changes us. It changes our walk through this life very literally.

I know it’s not my job to judge people in there relationship with Christ, but the church is called upon to examine the fruit in one another’s life. And if someone comes to me and claims to be a Christian, claims to have been touched by God and a follower of Christ, and yet there is no visible sign of it in their life…I believe I am justified in doubting their testimony.

It may be the greatest condemnation against the church that our rolls are filled with names of people who claim to know Christ and yet show no evidence of a changed life. At one time or another they came to church seeking to be blessed, to be touched by God, but apparently they were only seeking it for worldly reasons. Because after a time, they simply turned their back on the church altogether. (Maybe a Parable of Soils application here as well?)

And yet so many churches have stood by and said nothing; done nothing to verify that these folks even have a genuine relationship with Christ. They simply carry their names on the rolls and claim them as members each year when they turn in the annual church profile. And the worst part is that no one even seems to care. Folks are not bothered by it at all.

John MacArthur writes of the words of an engraving from the cathedral of Lubeck, Germany. It says this: “Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us,
“You call Me master and obey me not, You call Me light and see Me not,
“You call Me the way and walk Me not, You call Me the life and live Me not,
“You call Me wise and follow Me not, You call Me fair and love Me not,
“You call Me rich and ask Me not, You call Me eternal and see me not,
“If I condemn thee, blame Me not.”

Those words should both wound us and challenge us. To be touched by God leaves an eternal imprint on our lives. To be touched by God changes the way we walk. It changes the way we talk; the way we think; the way we do business; the way we deal with our families; the way we handle our relationships; it changes everything about us. Not that we become perfect overnight. We can read the rest of Jacob’s story and see that he still has some faults. He still falls short of the mark from time to time. But anytime he doubted who he was or what his relationship with his God was, all he had to do was get up and walk across the floor. God’s touch leaves a lasting imprint.

So ask yourself: do you really want to be touched by God today? And if you claim you have been touched, can people see your limp?


Gregg Metcalf said...

Great post brother! Chilling thoughts to be in a good church most of your life and still not possess the righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees. "If I condemn thee, blame me not." Wow. took my breath away for a moment.

As pastors all we can do is hope, pray, plead, and weep for someone of these people - ultimately it is up to a sovereign God.

Scott said...

Gregg, Sometimes I'm weeping and praying for myself. I'm reading a book on holiness right now by Thomas Brookes, and sometimes I wonder if I see those things in my life the way I should. It's a daunting challenge, and makes me run to the cross for grace and mercy, because apart from that I'm doomed.

KE said...
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KE said...
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Scott said...

KE: To be honest, I almost did not allow these comments to be posted. But I wanted to share some things with you and this was the only way I could figure out. I hope you come back and read this.

I don’t doubt that you had a real “experience.” But not all experiences are necessarily of God. We spent several years on an Indian reservation where folks had all sorts of encounters with spiritual power. But we must always remind ourselves that God is not the only One at work in the spiritual realm. We have an enemy who is called the Father of Lies. He is a deceiver and does all he can to trick people into thinking he is divine, on par with God. He is not.

The experience you relate is not at all consistent with God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture. Since He chose to reveal Himself to us in this way, we are to then interpret any other experiences by what He has already said and done. He has never, and will never contradict Himself, or act out of “character.” Your experience does not “jive” with the God of Scripture.

John Wycliffe wrote: “The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are his marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which he nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!”

God has already reached out to His people, ultimately and permanently in the person of Christ. If you want a true touch from God, to truly experience Him, seek a relationship with the Father through the Son; and search for Him in His Holy Word. Only there will you find Him. In fact, He tells us clearly that you can’t know the Father apart from the Son.

The truth is, God is more than “annoyed.” Because of our sin, we have become separated from Him. Because He is pure and righteous, He must punish that sin. He must! But in His grace and mercy, He chose to send His Son to die in our place, to take that punishment upon Himself, and give the righteousness of His Son in its place. There’s the only “sign” you need. If you’re seeking an experience, seek the experience of God’s grace through faith in Christ.

Seek Christ. Seek Him in His Word. This is the only way to know Him, the only way to experience Him. Everything else is a fake and a fraud. Don’t be deceived. Seek Christ. Confess you sinfulness and trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

KE said...
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Scott said...

I am glad to hear of your faith, and will certainly be in prayer as you deal with what is for anyone a great deal of grief. And it is true that those experiences will put us "on edge" spiritually, opening the door for the enemy to try and discourage, confuse, etc.

Some of the best advice I ever received as simply this: We don't interpret Scripture based on experiences, we interpret our experiences based on Scripture. God's Word is the standard, and everything else comes through the lens of the God of the Bible. It's proven to be a good rule of faith.

I hope and pray you are part of a solid, Bible teaching fellowship. I would urge you to sit down and talk with a godly, biblical leader in you church; your pastor, elder, etc. Share with them all that is going on and seek their godly counsel. God gave us His church for just these things, for encouragement, direction, etc.

May God give you clarity regarding your faith, His gracious, sovereign nature, and His will for you and your family. To God be the Glory.