Who Do You Say I Am?
Posted on 08/24/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
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Great is the Lord God Almighty
Great is the Lord on High
The train of His robe fills the temple
And we cry out highest praise
Glory to the risen King
Glory to the Son, glorious Son
Lift up your heads, open the doors
Let the King of Glory come in
And forever be our God
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Holy is the Lord on high
Let all the earth bow before You
And crown You Lord of all
Holy and Anointed One
Your name is like honey
on my lips
Your spirit like water
to my soul
Your Word is a lamp
unto my feet
Jesus I love you
I love you
Risen and Exalted One
I EXALT THEE
For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou art exalted
far above all gods
I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee
*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***
There are so many distractions in life, aren't there? As I was sitting here preparing for today's message, I could hear the thumping of our neighbor's bass from the music he was playing.
And my mind wanted to fight against it. And the real distraction wasn't the music; rather, it was my mind's reaction to it. And I allowed my attention to be drawn into my fighting mind. Therefore, I was distracted.
In Jesus' parable about the seeds that were sown in different types of ground, He mentions the thorny ground. The cares of life come in and choke the crop, and it dies.
Distractions. Where we place our attention, we bring life. And the opposite is true for those things from which our attention is drawn.
Well, the music wasn't the only thing I allowed to distract me. The time was another, combined with the fact that I had to prepare something. Yes, today's message was a distraction.
If I was supposed to be focusing on today's message, then it wouldn't have been a distraction, naturally. But the message is only a result of the Main Thing.
Sometimes we get so busy talking, whether through our mouths or just in our heads, that the most important thing, that to which our words are supposed to be pointing, gets obscured.
So whether music is blaring, or a deadline is approaching, those things are not true obstacles UNLESS I give them my attention.
And I'm not talking about blocking out reality. Yes, it was getting late in the evening and I had absolutely nothing yet for today. Yes, there was loud music playing. Yes, my mind was fighting with these two imagined enemies. But to allow reality to exist AND put my attention where it needed to be, I had to allow the time and the noise to be, because fighting it is just another way to give it negative attention.
After all, I am not the source of anything that's worth hearing here. If there is any truth, if there is any word from the Spirit, if it comes out of my mouth, it is only because it happens to be flowing THROUGH me right now. That doesn't make ME anything at all.
So, I COULD get distracted by MY circumstances. OR, I could just let the Spirit deliver to you something that isn't muddied by "me," or by MY so-called problems.
And so I surrender to the fact that my surroundings are what they are. The time is what it is. And my mind is fighting as the mind generally does. I don't "resign," but I "surrender." There's a big difference, but that difference isn't the point of today's message.
Hebrews 12:2, in some translations, says we should "fix our eyes" upon Jesus, just as Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him.
Joy through intense suffering. That makes a message through loud music and a late hour seem quite insignificant, wouldn't you agree?
I suspect that we often lose our focus because the object of that focus isn't clear. We have some words and mental concepts that point to it, but what is it really?
God. We could say God should be our focus. Or the person of Jesus; that's a little easier for us to define. But just consider for a moment how many different "Jesuses" there seem to be. Of course there is only one true Jesus Christ, or Yeshua the Messiah, but people have a lot of different ideas about Him, and many of those ideas contradict the others.
Maybe if we had seen Him in the flesh. Well, "if onlies" might as well be a bunch of worthless babble. They're just the mind's jabbering about something that can't possibly exist. "Yeah, but it COULD have." Uh, no, it couldn't have, because it didn't. There is no rewind on Life.
We can, however, get a good idea of how seeing Him in the flesh affected other people.
Many called Him a good teacher. Many called Him a prophet. Many called Him a lunatic. They all encountered the same Jesus, but most of them never really saw Him. They saw only a form, and they saw that form only second hand.
They might have glimpsed Him for a moment, but then they saw only a memory of that glimpse, defined for them by their minds and by the words coming from the minds of others.
And Jesus wasn't trying to "find Himself" when He asked His disciples who other people thought He was.
Matthew 16:13-17 (NKJV)
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"
Stop right there. Jesus didn't just say, "Who do people say I am?" but, "Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am?"
He refered to Himself with a title. "Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am?" After all, some people could have answered by saying Jesus was "the Son of Man." Which would be similar to saying, "Jesus was a man who lived 2,000 years ago in the East. He taught many things and did many things. Some believe that He healed people, and even raised the dead. Some believe that He even came back from the dead Himself."
These are all just thoughts about Jesus. Ideas. Even facts. But this wasn't ultimately where Jesus was going with this question.
14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."
Okay, so we have the answer, right? If Jesus asked us this today, we could just say, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," and Jesus would say the same thing to us that He said to Peter, right?
Well, let's consider WHY Jesus said Peter was blessed. Did He say Peter was blessed because He got the right answer? Let's read it again:
"Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."
Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you. It wasn't other people's words. Such as.... words recorded in the Bible. Like... the words we're reading right now.
Jesus called Peter "blessed" because God had given him direct revelation of who Jesus is.
We can read about Jesus all day. And that's a wonderful thing to do. But other people read the same Bible that we read, and somehow walk away with different things.
Things. Objects. Things such as "thoughts," and "ideas." "Mental concepts." Things they can write down and recite to others. Things they can make a part of their identity, who they think they are.
And these are things that can and do leave people on the wrong side of the Cross.
You see, "knowing facts" won't save you. You can know all about Jesus without ever having a revelation of Him. "Knowing in your head" isn't enough.
When Jesus said in John 8:32, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," He wasn't talking about mental objects. People have an aweful lot of those, and they're still in bondage. Rather, He was talking about an intimate revelation; not something that can be recorded in a book and passed on to others, but something that only you can have for only you.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." He didn't say no ones comes to the Father except through KNOWLEDGE of Him.
There were many people who knew about Jesus and saw Him in person, who never did come to God. Just consider most of the Pharisees. They knew all about Jesus. But Jesus said their father was satan.
Except for those few who had a revelation of who He was.
And that revelation changes the lives of everyone who has it. Your mental image of Jesus tends to crumble and disolve, because you realize it was inferior to the Jesus who is being revealed to you.
And you know, I can't reveal Jesus to you. And you can't reveal Jesus to yourself. I can tell you all sorts of facts about Him. I can insist that you desperately need Him. I can point you in His direction, and lead you to the foot of the cross. But I cannot give you that revelation of who He is. That revelation that goes much deeper than words, or ideas, or concepts, or thoughts in your head.
I can proclaim to you the Good News of the Gospel of reconciliation with God through Jesus. And the preaching of the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. But the personal revelation of Jesus is deposited into your heart directly by God.
And when you have it, it will change your life.
Just consider the Apostle Paul. He tried to destroy the early Church by turning believers over to be tortured and even put to death. He was very strong in his convictions, and no one stood any chance of ever convincing him that he could possibly be wrong.
But as he was going about his business of persecuting the early Christians, something stopped him in his tracks.
Let's read this account from the book of Acts, chapter nine, starting with verse 1.
Acts 9:1-6 (NKJV)
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"
Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"
Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
So Paul, whose name at that time was Saul, was a real stinker. Just imagine if Hitler, instead of killing himself, had converted to Judaism. That would have shocked the whole world. Well, while Paul didn't torture and kill millions of people, he worked night and day to do away with the followers of Christ, by any means necessary.
But then he received a personal revelation of Jesus. And verse three says that "suddenly a light shone around him from heaven." We tend to imagine a spotlight shining down on him from above, since this says it came from heaven, but all we know for certain is that he was surrounded by light, a light that left him blind.
And verse seven says that the men who journeyed with him heard a voice, but didn't see anyone. It doesn't say whether anyone else even saw the light, or that anyone else fell to the ground. Just Saul.
The revelation wasn't for a group. It was for him and him alone. He couldn't give that revelation to anyone else. It was his and his alone. And by sharing the story of that revelation with others, all he could accomplish would be to point others in the direction of the Revelation Giver.
That's all I can do. That's all any other believer here can do. As great an evangelist as Billy Graham has been, he couldn't give anyone a revelation of Jesus, but could only point them to the One who could.
In Galatians chapter 1, verses 11 and 12, Paul says this:
Galatians 1:11-12 (NKJV)
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Did Paul not know what the Christians believed? Not even the basics? I don't know what Paul knew. But his understanding of the Gospel came to him only when God gave him a personal revelation of Jesus.
"Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."
So as we prepare to close this service today, I would like to ask you this question: who do YOU say Jesus is? And I would like to point as clearly as possible to the only One who can give you YOUR revelation of Jesus.
Most of us here and listening at other places and times are already believers. But even if we mentally agree with the facts about Jesus, until God gives you a personal revelation of Him, your life might not change all that much.
In Matthew chapter seven, Jesus says,
Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)
21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"
You can call Jesus your Lord, but if you aren't doing God's will, calling yourself a Christian won't do you any good. And Jesus says here that many will even have done a lot of Christian ministry. They obviously THOUGHT they were doing God's will. They gave prophesies; they cast out demons; they performed miracles, all in the name of Jesus.
But Jesus never knew them. Which also means they never knew Jesus. And because they did not receive a personal revelation of Jesus, they could not know or do the will of God.
And so as we spend some time at the altar in silent prayer and waiting, call out to God. Ask Him to give you a fresh revelation of Jesus. Even if you are already walking with Christ, ask for a fresh knowing, a fresh revealing. Your memory of a revelation can carry you through some tough times, but you need to KNOW Him right now.
True revelation is beyond space and time. It is eternal. And even if you have encountered Jesus in that face-to-face revelation of Him, the cares of life can get in the way. So lay everything else aside right now. Your supposed problems will still be there later. Your questions MIGHT be there at some other time. Although, you might discover that some of them have been answered without a single word, while others might simply disolve because they lacked the substance you thought they had.
You're all invited to get out of your seats right now and make your way to the front, or you can stay where you are. In physical life, where you are right now, set everything else aside. Turn off your phone. Close any distractions. And the things that are out of your control, just let them be.
Ask God to reveal Jesus to you. That's all you need to do. And then just be silent. Not with the idea that you will be silent UNTIL something happens. But just be still and silent right now with no end in mind except to be completely open to whatever God does or does not do.
Don't make a revelation the focus of your attention. If a revelation becomes another object you're trying to add to yourself, then your attention is in the wrong place.
It's not doing something, or getting something, or seeing something, or experiencing something, that's important. Rather, HE is all that matters, and HE simply IS.
If you'd like someone to pray with you, you can feel free to instant message one of us. If you're listening outside of Second Life or later in the week, you can go to almcyberchurch.org, click the Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.
Whenever you need to go, you are free to do so, and if you can stay, then whenever you are finished here, you're invited to make your way up the steps to the room on your left, and we'll meet there in a few minutes for some fellowship.
Come, and let's seek Father God for a fresh, living, life-changing revelation of who He is, not so we can add that to us, but so we can BE with HIM.
*** listen to the audio to hear the closing prayer ***