12.4.15 – First Steps To Experiencing God – Peter Cheyne

Because we have had  a quite a break since starting this theme, this sermon was a review of the previous two i.e. on part of John 1 and then John 2. The main points were:

Our purpose is to experience God

  • there can be dangers with focusing on experience
    • it can be selfish – people can just desire great experiences
    • it can be subjective – people base their understanding on their interpretation of their experience rather than on the scriptures
  • But we also want to have an experience of God that is more than just knowing about Him; that includes experiencing Him daily
  • Do you desire that?

Our method is to follow the journey of the disciples who were led into an incredibly rich experience of God.

We are starting in John’s gospel because, to see Jesus’ ministry in chronological terms we have to combine material from the different gospels. Without John’s gospel we might assume that the first contact the disciples hade with Jesus was when He called them to follow Him, on the lake shore. But this material from John seems to be earlier than that.

Read John 1:35-42

The disciples’s journey

  1. Through the upbringing they probably had a reasonable knowledge of the scriptures and may have grown up in a generally godly context.
  2. They became disciples of John the Baptist
    1. they were disciples, not just in the crowd
    2. they had responded to the call to repent
    3. they had opted into john’s teaching
    4. they had knowledge of Jesus because John kept pointing  away from himself to the greater one who would come
    5. they had an expectation
    6. but they didn’t yet know Jesus
  3. John pointed them to Jesus
    1. they went in search of Him
    2. God says that those who seek Him will find Him. They took the initiative to get to know Jesus
  4. Jesus invited them to “Come and see”
    1. no commitment was required of them
    2. they could go back to their fishing, and did
    3. they were invited to have a look and see what they thought
    4. what did they think?
      1. John gives periodic growth updates because the point of the story is their growth – how they responded to what they saw
  5. John 1:41, 45, 49
    1. they believed that Jesus was the Messiah
      1. that is remarkable so early in the process
      2. they might not have had much understanding but they believed
      3. John the Baptist had said that the Messiah was coming
        1. but something about their time with Him must have persuaded them that this man was the Messiah
    2. they immediately brought others to meet the Messiah
  6. The wedding at Cana
    1. what did they see?
      1. an extraordinary miracle
      2. Jesus being caring and generous
      3. the advantages of obedience
    2. what did they conclude?
  7. John 2;11
    1. they put their faith in Jesus
    2. believing that He was the Messiah was a knowledge (head) step
    3. putting their faith in Him as a heart/relational step. They trusted Him.
  8. Cleansing the Temple
    1. What did they see?
      1. Jesus’ passion for His father and His Father’s house
      2. Jesus’ anger at what was wrong
      3. Jesus’ courage to confront “the system” so early in His ministry
    2. What did they conclude?
  9. John 2:17
    1. they saw the sign and remembered the scriptures
    2. their understanding was growing
    3. they were more convinced that this man was the one the scriptures had referred to
    4. they perhaps had a sense that they were part of a long-foretold move of God
  10. John 2:22
    1. This refers to a later occasion but reflects back on this one
    2. they remembered that Jesus had spoke the words about rebuilding the Temple in 3 days. This was all part of their growth journey
    3. The Jews did not see the sign and asked for another one.
  11. Conclusion
    1. the disciples were simply being asked to watch and draw conclusions
    2. the disciple-maker was simply demonstrating
      1. at this stage He was demonstrating who He is
        1. He was not teaching them doctrine or how to live. They first needed to be clear about who Jesus was.
    3. They grew rapidly in their understanding and trust of Him.
    4. Our experience of God changes as we grow
      1. The disciples were simply watching God. They were spectators
      2. Jesus was part of what God was doing
        1. they saw the miracles. He performed the miracles
        2. they received. He gave (ministered)
        3. He had the joy of seeing God bring about growth in them
      3. what stage are we at? Or somewhere in between?
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