Knowing God: How Can I Experienced God Personally?
by Rich Deem

Introduction

The emails go something like this. "I have been a Christian for x years, but I have never felt like I have a personal relationship with Him. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?" Is it even possible to know God personally?

Was I listening?

When I try to multitask as people interrupt me working on the computer, I am not always paying attention. At one point, my supervisor was frustrated with me, since I had failed to do something. She said, "I told you." My response was, "But was I listening?" So is our relationship with God - we are often distracted by other things happening in our lives and fail to listen to His voice.

 

Does God speak today?

There are a number of Christians today who say that God has ceased to communicate with mankind. Although the Bible suggests that the canon of scripture is closed,1 it is also clear that the Holy Spirit indwells2 and speaks to the believer.3 The instances in which the Holy Spirit speaks to believers in the New Testament are not usually described as a audible form of communication.3 So, how does one hear the Holy Spirit?

Personal experience

From my personal experience, the Holy Spirit speaks to me through thoughts that pop into my mind. How do I know it is the Holy Spirit and not just my brain randomly spewing forth thoughts? Usually my first reaction is "You've got to be kidding," since the ideas highly conflict with my naturally introverted personality. However, these ideas usually involve helping someone or providing a witness. The Holy Spirit would never command something against scripture, so the believer needs to know his Bible well.

Leading the spiritual life

What tends to characterize Christians who write saying they are not personally experiencing God is that they lack any corporate spiritual life. They tend not to attend church or any kind of Bible study. The Bible is clear that the Christians of the early Church engaged in corporate worship.4 In fact, we are commanded not to forsake assembling together with fellow believers.5 So, a Christian who is worshiping only on his own is being disobedient to scripture. The body of Christ was never intended to consist of a person watching some worship program on television. Yes, there are hypocrites in the Church. However, if you are one who does not attend a local congregation, you can be counted among them, so you you might as well join them!

Jesus said that there were only two commandments that need be fulfilled in order to live the Christian life:

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

Church attendance?

You can begin to fulfill both commandments by being involved in a local body of believers. You can worship God with your heart and soul (during the singing and prayers) and mind (during the sermon), and start loving your neighbor (even those other hypocrites). However, you should not stop at just being a pew sitter. God has prepared good works for you to do,6 and a local body of believers will offer you opportunities to "walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). A Christian who is not involved in some kind of personal ministry will never experience the power of God in his life.

We cannot live the spiritual life without being involved in spiritual endeavors. Paul gives examples of reciting Psalms, singing hymns and spiritual songs, giving thanks to God for all things, and being subject to one another.7 We are encouraged to set our minds on heavenly things,8 so that we may be transformed and renewed to the will of God.9 So, a life that is personally connected with God is a life that is dedicated to pursuing Him. In Jesus' instructions to the churches in Revelation, He said that those churches (and presumably individuals) that were lukewarm He would spit out His mouth10 - not a pretty sight!

Conclusion Top of page

Yes, it is possible to personally know God. However, being a "part-time" Christian isn't going to get you there. Just watching some TV preacher or warming the seat of a pew isn't going to lead to a life in which you personally experience God to any insignificant degree. A fulfilled Christian is involved in a local congregation of believers and pursues some form of personal ministry and outreach. In addition, he studies and meditates on God's word through personal and/or group endeavor. Living the spiritual life will lead to a rewarding personal relationship with God through His Spirit.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)



  1. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; (Revelation 22:18)
    in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:2)
  2. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:9)
    But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)
    Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
    Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:6)
    Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:14)
    Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? (James 4:5)
  3. "However, You bore with them for many years, And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, Yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. (Nehemiah 9:30)
    For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)
    They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; (Acts 16:7)
    After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. (Acts 21:4)
    For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; (1 Corinthians 12:8)
    Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalms 143:10)
    Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again. (Numbers 11:25)
    which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; (Ephesians 3:5)
    "It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28)
    "The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue. (2 Samuel 23:2)
    Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." (Acts 8:29)
    While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you. (Acts 10:19)
    "The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man's house. (Acts 11:12)
    While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)
    "And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. (Acts 20:22-23)
    After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. (Acts 21:4)
    And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" (Acts 21:11)
  4. At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, (Acts 1:15)
    Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, (Acts 2:46)
    And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)
    So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. (Acts 6:2)
    The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. (Acts 6:5)
    And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. (Acts 12:12)
    The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. (Acts 13:44)
    When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:27)
    So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. (Acts 15:30)
    They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed. (Acts 16:40)
    On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7)
    Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house... (Romans 16:3-5)
    In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, (1 Corinthians 5:4)
    Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? (1 Corinthians 14:23)
    What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
    The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. (1 Corinthians 16:19)
    Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. (Colossians 4:15)
    and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: (Philemon 1:2)
    saying, "I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE." (Hebrews 2:12)
  5. not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
  6. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
  7. speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-21)
  8. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
  9. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, (Romans 8:6-7)
    and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:23-24)
    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
  10. 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.' (Revelation 3:16)

Reflections
We are what we think.

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Last updated January 11, 2012

 

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