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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Taking Advantage of the Privilege

Charles Stanley - Taking Advantage of the Privilege

Charles Stanley - Taking Advantage of the Privilege
TOPICS: Knowing God

Of all the people that you've ever met in your life, who above all of those stands out the most? That is, about whom could you say with great delight I've had the wonderful privilege of knowing him or knowing her. Was it some famous athlete, some famous artist, some outstanding musician? Or maybe some particular speaker that you enjoyed and the first one is this, that many people live in darkness. They do not know that there is one true God. They do not know Jesus Christ, His Son, who came into the world to make it possible for them to know God.

I think about the millions and billions of people who live in the world, who do not know God, who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ, who do not know that there is a heavenly Father who can love them, people who do not know that there is a Bible that gives us instruction on how to live, and how we can understand who this God is. They're living in spiritual darkness. They may be wealthy, they may be poor, they may live in the slums, they may live in the jungles, they may live in the big cities, but their heart is darkened to the things of God. They do not know God. The greatest knowledge there is to have, they do not know God, why? Because somewhere along the way, maybe they live in an area where nobody has preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I think about many places in the world where if a person wanted to know, it is not there for them. And yet there are many places in which there is. And when I think about what Jesus Christ said when He gave us the Great Commission, He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," why? Because God intended for you and me, whoever you are, who you know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He intended that you and I so live our lives where we are, and take advantage of every single opportunity we have to be a light to someone who has a darkened heart, to be a light in an area where there is spiritual darkness and witchcraft and Satanic work going on among the people.

One of the reasons people do not know God is because many in this world have not had the opportunity, they've never heard the truth. That's what we're all about. It's all about obeying the Great Commission. It's all about getting the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who live in darkness.

But there's a second reason people do not know God, and that is that many people have no interest in Him. If you'll think for just a moment the absolute avalanche of information and knowledge that is being circulated today. It's hard to find someone today, even in a restaurant who is not eating with a cell phone in one hand and a fork in the other. If you look at them, they've got something on their belt they're always punching in and listening to. They're going down the highway and they've got a phone in one hand and a steering wheel in the other, we hope.

And the computer's everywhere. Information pouring in, cells phones, internet. I mean, you think about all the information that's being passed over the internet. The world is absolutely full and running over and engulfed in information, but isn't it interesting that we're not any wiser than we used to be. All this information, but what this information has done is this: it's filled the minds and hearts of people. They, listen, when you sit down to the computer and the internet, you have the world at your fingertips, the good part of the world and the evil part of the world at your fingertips. You can get information on just about any subject you want, all kinds of information. You can get good things and evil things. It is all there.

And what is happened is, I'm not talking about just people who are not believers or unsaved, I'm talking about even Christians have allowed their minds and their time to be so filled with so much information and so much so-called knowledge, that a desire to know God is on the periphery. Or maybe their desire to know God is absolutely cool or cold or they're indifferent. There's so much appealing information, so much information that appeals to the flesh, so much information that the propaganda is it will satisfy you, complete you if you have this, if you drive this, if you wear this, if you live this, if you possess, if you drink this, if you eat this, you name it, it's all out there.

And there's so much information, where is there a hungering, thirsting, yearning desire to know the living God, the only information that's going to get me out of this earth into life eternal. If you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are ignorant about the most important thing in the entire world. Because if you do not know Him, you do not know God. If you do not know God, you're not prepared to live nor are you prepared to die. It is the greatest knowledge, He is the greatest person in all the world to know, and yet somehow our minds are so full of other things, He's on the periphery.

A third reason that people do not know Him is because they're unwilling to pay the price. You say, "Well, what do you mean, pay the price"? Simply this. There is a price in knowing who God is. For example, when you and I trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, how much did you know about God? I am sure as a twelve-year-old boy that I knew very little about God. I knew that I was a sinner. I believed there, I believed in God, the God of the Bible. I believed in Jesus Christ, that He was the Son of God. And I did understand a little bit about the cross, that He died for my sins and if I trusted Him as my personal Or maybe some particular speaker that you enjoyed and got to know.

Maybe someone in your field or vocation, or maybe someone that you greatly admired and got to know in the area of some hobby that you had. Maybe someone that had helped you a great deal in life. Or it could have been someone not famous at all, maybe a precious, wonderful grandmother or grandfather, but someone who'd made an awesome impression on your life and you count it a great privilege just to know them. Well, when I think about all the people that you and I could know that He died for my sins and if I trusted Him as my personal Savior, that meant that when He died, He paid for my sins, and therefore if I would accept Him as my Savior, that I would be saved. Beyond a few other things, I'm sure that my ignorance of God was profound as a twelve-year-old kid.

And here's what happens. People get saved and they get satisfied. Well, I'm saved, I'm forgiven, and they know a few things and they go to church and they hear some things about God. And listen, there is a vast difference between knowing about Him, knowing facts about Him, and knowing Him personally, which is what we want to talk about. And so, what happens is that people are not willing to pay the price. You say, "Well now, you mean there's a price in knowing God"? Yes. Just because you're saved doesn't mean that you know God. Now, somebody will say to you sort of an evangelistic question: Do you know Jesus Christ? And usually if you're saved, you'll say yes. Or they may say to you: Do you know God? And if you're saved, more than likely you'd say yes. Or, do you know the Lord? You'd say yes, but the truth is knowing someone, knowing something about them, of having a surface relationship or maybe just an infantile, baby-like relationship is what we all have when we are first saved. We don't really know Him.

If someone should say to me, "Do you know God?" here's what I'd have to say. I'd have to say, "Well, let me put it this way. I'm learning about Him. I'm learning who He is. I do have a relationship with Him. I'm gaining on that relationship. I'm progressively knowing Him. I have an intimate relationship that is very satisfying. I'm excited about what I know. I'm excited about my relationship with Him, but it's growing and it's progressive and I'm still learning". And if you ask me if I know God, I could not boast by saying, "Oh yes, I know God". I know enough about Him to know that I don't know enough. I know enough about Him to know that it's the most thrilling, exciting knowledge that I have. I know enough about Him to know this, and I know Him well enough to know that there's so much beyond what I know. That I am thrilled to know that He loves me enough to keep unveiling Himself, little by little, so that my knowledge of Him, my understanding of who He is, my relationship with Him, and my knowing Him on a personal basis is becoming more exciting as the years go by.

And so I want to ask you a simple question: Do you have a desire to know God? Or are you satisfied with being saved? Is there real hunger in your heart to know Him? Are you reading the scriptures, asking God to show you Himself? When's the last time you stopped and said, "Lord, I want to know who You are. Trusted You as my Savior, ask You to answer my prayer. Who are You, God? What are You like"? How would You describe the God that you know? You see, when some people describe the God they know, I know they don't know the God of the Bible because the God of the Bible isn't like the God they described. And the truth is they don't know God. And I do not believe that many believers really and truly, really and truly know Him.

Now, I want you to jot down these four things. They are extremely simple, but if you really want to know God, this is how you start. Will you ever know Him all you want to? I hope you will not on this earth because if you get to that place then you've missed it. But number one, jot it down. Number one: if I want to know God, number one: I must listen to His Word, or read, it either way, listen to His Word, allow the Holy Spirit to interpret it, and apply it to my life. I must listen to the Word, now watch this carefully, I must listen to the Word, allow the Holy Spirit to interpret that for me, and then apply it to my life. That requires meditation.

Meditation is reading and listening and talking to Him about it, and listening to Him about it, and discussing it with Him and telling Him when we understand, when we don't understand. In other words, meditation is my spending time with Him, listening to His Word to me, His revelation, His truth in His Word. Meditation is absolutely, listen, unchangeably, irrevocably, absolutely essential if I'm going to know God because it's in this book that I understand that God reveals Himself in the most awesome ways. All of our experiences, listen, all of our experiences are rightly interpreted by the Word of God. You can close this up and you can have all kind of ridiculous experiences in life, have nothing to do with God.

So number one: reading or listening to the Word of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret it to us, and then applying it to our heart. Well, when I think about all the people that you and I could know and the privilege we have of knowing them, one thing is for certain. The greatest privilege you and I have to know anyone is the privilege we have of knowing God. And oftentimes we forget about that. We forget about the fact that it is a great privilege to know God. That it is an awesome opportunity, an unparalleled benefit, and an eternal treasure to be able to know the living God. And yet, oftentimes we're more concerned about knowing other and then applying it to our heart.

The second one is this, and that is observing, listen, observing the characteristics and the ways of God. I separate that from just reading the Bible. Observing the characteristics and the ways of God. When you and I read the scriptures, we discover characteristics of God, that He's a loving Father. But He is also a God of justice. He punishes the wicked and He chastens His children. If I'm going to know Him, then I've got to know something about Him. And as I read the scriptures from beginning to end, I discover that He has a will for my life, that He loves me, that He's a caring God.

So, we, listen, now watch this, we observe the characteristics of God. How do I observe those? The Bible does not give me the following is a list of characteristics of God. And you know, somebody says, "Well, why didn't God make it simple and give us those"? I'll tell you why. If somebody said, "You know what the characteristics are? Turn to page four hundred and ninety-five in the Amplified, New American Standard, King James, New King James," we'd read that and that'd be the end of it. You know why God didn't do that? Because He wanted us to discover them by reading and searching it out because He's going to teach us so much more than what we're looking for.

The third thing that's so very important here when I think about what's really involved, I think about it in this light, that number three, I must be willing to accept His invitations and follow His commands. If I want to know Him, for example, He says, "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, I'll give you rest". That's an invitation. But God may say to you on the other hand, "I want you to go and share your faith with that person". That's a command, that's not an invitation.

Let me give you another invitation. Let's say that you're busy, busy, busy, and you're sort of tired and weary and you've got some decisions to make and you're just sort of a little bit uptight, and you sense in your spirit God saying to you, "I want you by Myself. I want you alone. I want you to spend some time with Me". That's an invitation, an invitation to fellowship, an invitation to meditate upon Him. I just, you have this sense that you just need to get away and be quiet with Him. That's the Spirit of God inviting you, listen, into a secluded, very private conversation with the heavenly Father, very important if I'm going to know Him.

Here's the wonderful thing you'll learn about God, and that is that sometimes in order for Him to say something that He wants to make a serious impact, He just blots it out of your mind if you've ever read it before. Otherwise, you come to a passage and say, "Well, I know what that means". And I've done that. I've been there. "Well, I don't know what that one, must be some", no. Sometimes when He wants to get you by Himself, He'll just blot your mind out to that passage, and all of a sudden it is brand new, takes on a whole new meaning. What's He doing? He's loving you, He's revealing Himself to you. You know He's telling you? He's saying, "I love you so much. I care about you so much. I just want you to Myself for a little while".

Number four: I need to recognize His love for me and rejoice and praise Him and worship Him. Recognize His love for me, worship Him and praise Him and spend time adoring Him. Something happens when you and I open our heart and worship the Lord.

Now, with those four things in mind, listen very carefully. If you're listening, say amen. Let me show you why it's so very important that every single worship service, it's very important. Every single sermon you see and every one you hear, every tape you hear of one of these messages. Let me tell you why. Because what goes on in one of these worship services? We read the Word of God, we ask the Holy Spirit to interpret it for us, and we apply it to our heart. That's what happens. Second thing we do, we try to bring out those characteristics of God in every single message so that you'll know something else about Him that'll cause you to love Him. And so that's step number two. The third thing is we are receptive to an invitation, and I'm inviting you to allow God to work certain ways in your heart. And we talk about the commands of God, the things that He wants us to do to be obedient to Him. And then what do we do? We worship Him and praise Him and adore him.

And yet, oftentimes we're more concerned about knowing other people, about what they do and how they think and how they operate and what they can do for us. But knowing God is the greatest of all knowledge. And until you know Him, you can place all the knowledge that you have of all things in the entire universe. And yet, if you do not know God, all that knowledge in the world will not be sufficient to bring you peace and happiness, joy and contentment, and certainly not eternal life. The Apostle Paul had the most awesome way of expressing his We worship Him and praise Him and adore him. You know what happens? That means that every single worship service is an opportunity to get to know our heavenly Father a little better.

Is that important? If knowing Him is the most important knowledge there is, if knowing Him is the, listen, is the greatest person we can possibly know. And if knowing Him is to have life eternal, and all three of those things are absolutely true, then every single opportunity you have to grow in your relationship and in your knowledge is very important.

Now, with that in mind, let me ask you a question. Do you really and truly want to know God? Is there anything in life any more important than knowing Him? I'll tell you one time that you will agree it's the most important thing in life. When you come to those last moments of your life and if your death should be such that you are conscious those last moments before the Lord takes you, you will know in those moments the most important thing in all the world, second to nothing, is your knowledge of God, and that knowledge comes through knowing Christ.

How do you know Him? You accept the testimony of the scriptures that He's the virgin-born Son of God, sent into this world to die on a cross, at which time God the Father placed all of your sin on Him. And the moment you're willing to say, "God, I do believe that You're God, that He is Your Son. His death paid my sin-debt in full, and I accept by faith Your forgiveness. I accept by faith Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord". In that moment, you've taken the first, most critical, absolutely essential step to knowing Almighty God. And it's my prayer, if you've never done that, you'll take that step.

And Father, how grateful we are that You love us enough to unveil Yourself, show Yourself, reveal Yourself, make Yourself known to us, unworthy as we are. I pray the Holy Spirit will sink this truth deep into our hearts, that You have already, in this hour, created an insatiable, deeper hungering, thirsting to know You than any of us have ever had before. For we ask it in Jesus's name, amen.

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