The God Experience
By Peter Amsterdam
Something that I find particularly wonderful about Jesus is that His life-transforming gift of salvation is freely given to anyone who simply asks for it with a sincere and believing heart. One’s level of understanding of Christian doctrine may be minimal, but if the heart is hungry, if it is seeking a relationship with God, then the heart will find God—clearly, definitely, and freely—through receiving Jesus as Savior. Salvation is simple; it’s a gift. You reach out, receive it, and it’s yours.
Even if you don’t fully understand all the whys and wherefores of doctrine, you can have solid faith in God. You speak to Him in prayer, and He responds; you hear His voice, you experience His supply, you receive His healing, and you soak up His love. You have a connection with Him, a relationship, interaction. You know that He is there, that He is God, that He is true, not only because of accounts in the Bible or anything others have told you, but because He is a reality in your life, because of personal experience.
Of course, it’s very important to progress in your knowledge of God’s Word, to grow to spiritual maturity through living what the Word of God teaches. Experience with God is wonderful, but one’s spiritual life is incomplete without the faith that comes through knowing the Word of God.
From a very early age, I felt the call of God. I didn’t know how to respond to that call, but I felt it. As a teenager, I still hadn’t found a way to respond, and I felt lost. Nothing seemed to satisfy me. I had the age-old questions. “What am I here for?” “What is the purpose of life?” I was searching, but finding no answers.
On three consecutive nights I visited a friend who had joined a fledgling Christian group that eventually became the Family International. As I was walking to my car after the third visit, convinced that I wanted to dedicate my life to Jesus, I realized that I couldn’t do that unless I had a personal connection with God through Jesus.
I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart, and the instant I did, I knew something momentous had happened to me. The change I felt, the liberation, the clarity of purpose, and especially the deep peace in my heart, were overwhelming. I knew I was home. I was instantaneously aware that Jesus had indeed entered my life. I didn’t need to know anything else to know that He was real, that He was the Son of God. No theology or further biblical truth was needed at that time to tell me that. I knew He was real because I had experienced Him. He was now involved in my life, and I knew it from deep within my being. I knew He loved me, I felt His love, and that was all I needed. From that day forward I have always known that He is there. I have experienced Him and continue to experience Him.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t read and study the Bible or the writings of other Christians. Doing so over the years has caused me to grow in faith, in my understanding of God, and in my relationship with Him. In this day and age when people are generally well informed and many are questioning or skeptical, a deeper explanation of faith and the Christian message is often needed before someone will understand the need for Jesus and accept Him. When you are sharing your faith at your workplace, or in your neighborhood, or with family or acquaintances, being prepared to give clear answers to deep questions and explain the Christian belief system can be even more challenging than it was in some times past. Your life shows the fruit of your faith, but it is your ability to articulate your beliefs that helps to answer the queries of others.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” to which He added, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Learning more about Christian doctrine can be a manifestation of loving Him with our minds. When we possess a deeper understanding and knowledge of the truths, principles, and precepts that are the foundations for our faith, both our faith and our ability to articulate the reasons for our faith are strengthened. That’s what will make it possible for you to “give an answer to everyone who asks you,” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) which is often key to sharing your faith with others.
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