Man’s Relationship with God Pastor A.W. Weckeman
Man was designed with the inherent ability to know God, relate to his Creator, and enjoy intimate fellowship with Him. Before the Fall, God and man walked together in the garden (Gen.3:8).
“God didn’t just create subjects to rule over; He intended closeness between Himself and the creature made in His image. So fellowship was something God desired right from the beginning.”
Unfortunately, Adam chose to disobey his Creator, ending the joyous relationship, separating man and God physically and spiritually. Furthermore, Adam’s disobedience ended the opportunity for eternal life, and death became man’s inheritance (Romans 5:12).
Yet, thanks be to God, this tragedy would not be final, for, in God’s pronouncement of judgment against Satan, there was a prophecy containing the promise of a Saviour. The seed of a woman would eventually destroy the devil (Gen.3:15) and provide redemption for humanity.
“For if through the offense of one [Adam] many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift of grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Rom. 5:15).
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22).
In Christ [last Adam], the human race would have a second chance… “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross…” (Col. 1:20).
The complete restoration of a personal relationship between God and man is at the heart of salvation. By God’s grace, through “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16 & 20), peace and fellowship with God would be fully restored to all who believe; the gift of eternal life would be available to humanity. The spiritual union between God and man, that vital life relationship would be restored. Once again, the creature would have the opportunity to enjoy intimate fellowship with his Creator.
The Relational Aspects of Christianity.
Upon salvation, we enter into a whole new relationship with God; we are spiritually baptized into the Body of Christ; supernaturally removed from Adam’s family, and placed into God’s family (1 Cor. 12:13).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” (2 Cor.5:17). Notice the relational terms used in the following verses: (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1, Romans 8:16, Gal.4:6, 2 Cor.6:16-18) Consider: “I will dwell IN them, and walk IN them…” [Emphasis mine].
On a personal level, you know what makes the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so unique, so superior to any other god; our God died for us and lives in us! The “second birth” involves “spiritual regeneration” (Titus 3: 5). All who trust Christ are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor.1:22). Permanently united to the Lord, “… he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Cor.6:17).
The potential for Intimate Fellowship
Although Jesus is a living being, we cannot, at this time, experience His physical presence; however, due to the spiritual union between His Spirit and our spirit, there is great potential for intimate fellowship. Even though we cannot rise to Him, He, through stillness and simplicity, takes us in spirit and raises us to Himself. Therefore, it is essential to our spiritual well-being and growth that we take advantage of this opportunity.
Years ago, a friend of mine told me the first week or two after he was saved, he thought he was losing his mind because he couldn’t stop thinking about Jesus. That’s how it is in the beginning, “…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor.5:17). Jesus becomes the center of our existence; a whole new life brings a new awareness and joy; everything is exciting.
Then suddenly, we discover that we are still susceptible to temptation and quite capable of sinning; ever so gradually, “this present evil world” starts to creep back in. And so begins the continuous struggle between two contrary natures, the inner conflict between the “old man” and the “new man.”
Even though He is in us, and we in Him, unfortunately, we are prone to wander (Ps.119:10), which explains Jesus’ command, “Abide in me…” (John 15:4).
The Marriage Relationship
The most difficult challenges of marriage begin after the honeymoon period fades when the initial excitement subsides. The difficult thing is to prevent the relationship from becoming stagnant, commonplace. To avoid this pitfall, the couple must stay close, sensitive, and open to one another so that the relationship deepens and love matures.
The same is true regarding our relationship with the Lord. One of the most significant challenges for the child of God is to resist the natural tendency of allowing the joyous experience of salvation and nearness to fade away.
Every believer has a personal responsibility to maintain the relationship, to counteract the tendency to backslide. Therefore, we must cultivate a continuous closeness to Christ, seeking to remain sensitive to His presence within. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jer.29:13).
Quietness, the Path to Closeness
“…sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Eph.2:6).
Notice: “sit together,” sitting down inwardly; residing in the refuge of silent fellowship…alone with the Lord.
A quieted spirit is the pathway to “heavenly places.” Concerning our relationship with the Lord, stillness leads to closeness. Not just a quiet environment but the inner peace of a stilled mind.
God communicates with man’s spirit in a soundless language, a still small voice heard only by a quieted spirit. “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Ps.46:10).
Fellowship with the Lord in the setting of heavenly places should not be occasional and fleeting but a continuous, a daily occurrence, “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” (Prov.8:34) [Emphasis mine].
We must take care not to allow the necessities of everyday life, work, raising families, and such, to eclipse our relationship with the Lord, nor crowd out His presence. Even in the most distracting and challenging times, our mindfulness of Christ’s presence should be just below the surface, never silenced or withdrawn.
“It is not necessary to be always speaking to God or always hearing from God, to have communion with Him; there is an inarticulate fellowship sweeter than words. The little child can sit all day long besides his busy mother and, although few words are spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is alright. So the saint and the Saviour can go on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy about the most common things, and yet conscious that every little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.”
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isa.26:3) [Emphasis mine].
This predominating awareness forms an attitude, “…WHATSOEVER ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Col.3:17) [Emphasis mine].
“And WHATSOEVER ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men…” (Col. 3:23).
In reality, whether you realize it or not, from the time you wake up in the morning until you close your eyes at night, Jesus is there, WHERESOEVER you go, WHATSOEVER you do, He is present:
“O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Ps.139:1-7).
The goal is to become sensitive to the reality of the above verse, attuned to the Lord’s inward presence. Our relationship with the Lord is similar to the closeness enjoyed between best friends who go everywhere and do everything together. Jesus is “…a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Prov.18:24). He promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb.13:5).
“For sixty-two years and five months I had a beloved wife, and now, in my ninety-second year, I am left alone. But I turn to the ever-present Jesus, as I walk up and down in my room, and say, “Lord Jesus, I am alone, and yet not alone…Thou art with me, Thou art my Friend. Now, Lord, comfort me, strengthen me, give to Thy poor servant everything Thou seest he needs.” And we should not be satisfied till we are brought to this, that we know the Lord Jesus Christ experimentally, habitually to be our Friend: at all times, and under all circumstances, ready to prove Himself to be our Friend.” George Mueller
The Fruit of Abiding
As we daily spend time alone with God, allowing the word of Christ to dwell in us richly, we become increasingly attuned to His Presence within. This extraordinary awareness manifests itself in various experiential forms:
The leading of the Holy Spirit, “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.” (Prov.6:22). The soundless voice of the inner man, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it…”(Isa.30:21).
The heart song, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” (Col. 3:16).
Inexplicable peace, even in the worst of circumstances, “…the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Phil.4:7).
Undeniable answers to a specific prayer, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” (Jer. 33:3).
Increased conviction and loathing of sin, self, and the flesh, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” (Rom.7:24).
The chastening hand of God, “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Prov. 3:12).
Supernatural protection, “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”(Ps. 34:7).
Deliverance, endless mercy, and unfailing grace confirm not only our salvation but also the reality of the Lord’s constant working in our lives as a loving Father with His children. (Rom. 8:16).
Until we come to the point where we see Jesus in all our everyday circumstances (be it sorrow or joy), recognizing His power, protection, and correction in our lives, sensing and surrendering to His control, closeness remains elusive.
It is by these means, through this seeking, that we come to experience His presence and learn receptiveness to the Holy Spirit’s leading, “I being in the way, the LORD led me..”.(Gen.24:27). This nearness is what Jesus meant when He said, “Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4).
The Heart of the Whole Matter
Remember, the heart attitude (Prov.4:23) is the crucial factor that determines the depth of our personal relationship with the Lord. Although, as with all interpersonal relationships, it will require time and effort for the relationship to deepen and grow, desire and consistency are essential.
“Spiritual understanding” (Col.1:9) is the by-product of abiding in Christ, the fruit of an intimate relationship. Concerning our walk with Christ, closeness leads to conformity; it is the factor that enables us “to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man…” (Eph.3:16) and is, therefore, a vital component of the sanctification process.
“God alone is Holy, and it is our nearness to Him that makes us truly holy.” So spiritual development isn’t a matter of I.Q.; it’s a matter of closeness to God...not aptitude but heart attitude.
“When thou saidest, Seek ye my face; my HEART said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” (Ps.27:8). [Emphasis mine]