HOW TO KNOW JESUS
by Rev. Ernest O'Neill
I felt I should speak on something a little different than what's in the bulletin. I'd like to talk very briefly about this problem.
Many of us are very anxious to have a relationship with God. Many of you may have tried to have one. You may have tried to go through the motions and somehow nothing seems real. Now that's what I'd like to speak to, on the basis of the words of Jesus in John 5:39.
John 5:39, "You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." And Jesus said to the Jewish scholars of that day, "You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; but you refuse to come to me that you may have life." And I am saying to you, could it be that you search and read the books -- you read Francis Schaeffer and you read Andrew Murray and you read Watchman Nee and you read Oswald Chambers. You search the books because you think that in them you have eternal life. It is they that bear witness to Jesus but you will not come to Jesus that you might have life.
Each of us would need to answer that question ourselves, because it is obviously good to read books. We all know that. But you know what God is suggesting this morning. Could it be that some of the unreality that pervades your relationship with him comes because you are searching the books to try to find eternal life, but you're not coming to Jesus himself?
Or, could it be that you're going through the motions but you're not coming to Jesus himself? I think a lot of us come under conviction of sin. If we come to Sundays like this, where God's Word is being preached, you come under conviction of sin. And many of us get annoyed with that and think, "Oh, why am I feeling so depressed and so terrible? Why am I feeling that I am bad?" And we deal with the thing as if it's some psychological problem that we're having. We're hoping that maybe the next sermon will be an uplifting one that will overwhelm us with a sense of God's love.
Loved ones, could it be that you "search conviction" because you think that in that you have eternal life? Could it be that you search confession because you think that in that you have eternal life but you will not come to him that you might have life? Confessing sins is confessing personally to Jesus, the Son of God, the one by whom you were made, that's who Jesus is. By him, all things were made and without him was not anything made that was made. It's confessing to him that you have been crucifying him again in your life.
Loved ones, repentance is saying to Jesus, "Lord Jesus, I realize that you have borne these sins in your own body and I am not going to make you bear this one any longer. I am stopping this. I am laying my sword down today whatever the cost to me, it's nothing compared with the cost to you of not laying it down."
So, it's a personal thing, you see. It's saying that to Jesus personally. It's you and him as persons. It's a dear friend who has given his life for you. Repentance is telling him that you're not going to ever do it again by his grace. Then receiving Jesus -- so often we use some of the formula and we say, "Oh, we pray to receive Jesus" as if accepting Christ is accepting a bundle of principles or a way of life or a philosophy. But loved ones, receiving Jesus is receiving a dear person into your heart and into your life and letting him live inside you as a whole real person that you can talk to at night and in the morning.