Head Knowledge or Heart Knowledge?
Do you know Jesus? If you answered yes, do you really know Him or do you just know about Him? There is a great difference between actually knowing a person and just knowing about them. For example, if I asked the congregation at camp meeting, “Do you know my wife?” Many people would probably answer, “Oh yes, I do. Her name is Stella.” Several others might be able to add a description saying, “She is a sister you can never be bored around,” or, “She greets everyone she meets with a smile.” However, being able to state someone’s name or make a casual observation about him or her does not equate to knowing that person. Those who have some information about my wife, or some idea of what she is like, may not actually know her. Likewise, it is possible to know the name of Jesus, sing about Him, and have wonderful fellowship talking about Him with others, but still not really know Him.
Who Is Jesus to You?
Jesus wants each of us to have more than a superficial knowledge of Him; He wants us to know Him personally. This is illustrated by a conversation recorded in Matthew 16 in which Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” When the disciples answered accurately, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets,” Jesus pressed them with, “But whom say ye that I am?” (verses 13-15). Jesus was not asking because He lacked information, but to cause each of the disciples to consider the depth of their own relationship with Him. It was not sufficient that they knew what others thought, or that after three years they had much first-hand knowledge of His actions. The disciples had witnessed Jesus perform miracles, heard His responses to the Pharisees’ questions, and observed His demeanor when falsely accused of such things as operating under the spirit of Beelzebub. Yet He still asked, “But whom say ye that I am?”
He already knows us, and is waiting for us to want to get to know Him better.
Today, Jesus is asking, “How about you; who am I to you? Do you know Me personally or do you simply have knowledge of Me?” He already knows us, and is waiting for us to want to get to know Him better. How do we go about this? The same way we get to know anyone. It begins with becoming aware of another person and then getting acquainted. From there, we gain the capacity to interact with that person, and then as we spend more time learning about each other and sharing personal information, we get to know that one on a deeper level.
To get to know Jesus, we must first acknowledge the need for Him in our lives and take that first step to become acquainted. Zacchaeus was one who became aware of Jesus and felt the need to know more. Perhaps he had heard good things about Jesus, such as that He forgave sins and transformed lives. Maybe he wondered, Could He do those things for me, too?
Zacchaeus took action: he sought a time and place where he could see Jesus, even climbing up into a sycamore tree for a better view. If you want to become acquainted with someone, you must make the effort to meet that person. It is the same with getting to know Jesus; you must take time to pray. The good news is that Jesus is waiting to hear from you. It is not like some instances in life where you would like to know someone, but that person doesn’t care to know you. Just as Jesus looked for Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree and extended an invitation to dine with Him, He is waiting and looking for you with the invitation to become acquainted through salvation.
Changed by the Encounter
A letter once came for me from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was an invitation that had been sent to several churches inviting ministers to a reception at Number Ten, Downing Street. I had seen this building in the newspapers many times, so was very excited to go there in person, and planned to shake the hand of the Prime Minister. However, upon arrival, the great hall that we were ushered into was very crowded. I stood in a corner wondering where the Prime Minister would enter and prayed, “God, please give me the opportunity of shaking hands with him.” God answered my prayer; the Prime Minister came through the entrance closest to me and I went straight to him. Offering my hand, I looked him in the eye and said, “The members of the Apostolic Faith Church are praying for you.” It was exciting for me to meet someone so important, though he is not likely to remember the encounter.
An encounter with Jesus will be more than exciting; it will be life-changing. He will not only remember you, but will come to live in your heart. When Zacchaeus met with Jesus and gave up his sinful ways, his life was changed forever. Your life will be changed too when you pray, repenting of your sin. He will write your name in His Book of Life, and someday soon He will return to take you to Heaven.
Salvation is a personal experience. We do not come to know Jesus through academic or professional studies. Personal knowledge of Jesus comes from Heaven.
A Personal Relationship
Salvation is a personal experience. We do not come to know Jesus through academic or professional studies. Personal knowledge of Jesus comes from Heaven. When Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Upon hearing this answer, Jesus remarked that His identity had been revealed to Peter by God: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17). This was not knowledge gained through being observant or studious, but it came down from Heaven; the Spirit of God had revealed it to Peter.
Confessing Christ is a matter of the heart, not merely a mental concept. I know this from personal experience. There was a time when I thought I knew Jesus, but I really only knew about Him. In college, I carried a Bible, talked about Jesus often, and became a Bible study leader. I even wore a name tag on my uniform which said, “Jesus’ son,” and people at college began to call me by that name. Outwardly, it appeared that I knew Jesus, but I did not have a personal relationship with Him. In the Bible, we read that Jesus defined eternal life this way: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). I had studied Jesus and had much knowledge of Him, but did not have communion with Him. We were separated by my sins. Then one glorious day, I heard that the Blood of Jesus could take away my sins along with the guilt and condemnation that I felt, if I would confess those sins and turn away from them. That was good news! I knelt down all alone in the back of one of the classrooms and repented. God heard and answered my prayer, saving my soul. My desire that day had been to know Jesus personally. He was already waiting for me, and with that encounter, He came into my heart.
You Can Know Him Today
Testimonies are good and they have a purpose. We love to hear them, because they encourage us to think that what God has done for others, He can do for us. God is not partial. He has saved others, and He can save you. He has delivered others, and He can deliver you. We all want our own testimony; we want our own personal experience with God. God wants you to have a testimony, so you can say like Paul said to Timothy, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). That is the kind of knowledge that we should strive for.
Do you know Jesus like that? If you don’t, you can know Him today. The Spirit of God is still at work today, wooing and convicting the hearts of sinners. If you are not acquainted with Christ, give in to the Spirit and say, “Lord, I want to know You personally.”
If you will make the effort to meet with Christ in prayer, you will not be disappointed. He is ready and waiting to meet with you. He wants you to know Him better.
If you already know Jesus, you can know Him better. If you already love the Lord, you can love Him more. You can deepen your relationship by spending time with Him in prayer and sharing the intimate details of your life. Jesus is waiting to hear from you.