KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–“Once we see God as he is, our lives will never be the same,” declared Texas pastor Jack Graham in his Oct. 3 chapel message at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, drew from Ephesians 1:18-19 to encourage students to know God more intimately.
Graham said Paul’s prayer that the “eyes of your understanding be enlightened” should be “the heart cry of every Christian” in learning to see with spiritual eyes. While affirming his belief in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible and the divine preservation of that Word, Graham said another of the great miracles results from the power of the Holy Spirit illuminating a Christian’s heart.
“That is the prayer that Paul prays for us — that we may know God intimately, personally, experientially — not simply that we would know him doctrinally, intellectually or even academically — but that God the Holy Spirit would take truth and use that truth not only as information, but as transformation.” As a result, Graham said, confirmation of the will of God will be seen in the lives of believers.
Explaining the progressive sanctification that occurs as a believer knows God more intimately, Graham said it first involves a personal relationship. While many Americans reportedly believe in God, Graham said their concepts range from “the biblical to the bizarre.” It is the “God of revelation” that Paul addresses, Graham said.
“If we don’t know the God of the Bible, the door is open to believing in any kind of a god,” he warned. “We’re living in an age in which to some, God is distant, old and out of it like some benevolent grandfather no longer connected to this age. Others have decided to diminish God to make God smaller and more manageable.” Instead of such idolatrous concepts, Graham said, “The God we are to know is the God of the Bible.”
Talk of God arises in the political campaign, Graham said, questioning whether the God of whom candidates speak has actually transformed the lives they live. “How can you talk about God and at the same time minimize the sanctity of God?” Graham asked, challenging candidates who support partial-birth abortion and the recently approved abortion pill.
“When you know God personally it changes everything. It changes your attitudes, ambitions, pursuits, theology, doctrine and philosophies of life. Don’t talk about God until you know the God of whom you’re talking.”
Graham also gleaned from Ephesians 1:18 the aspect of permanence to be found in a relationship with God, noting the confident and sure expectations that are based upon the promises of God. “He is steadfastly and eternally committed to each one of us. He will never walk out of our lives, never break his commitment to us. Human love fails, but God’s love never fails.”
Graham said that Paul understood the calling of God and pursued it passionately. A Christian must invest time in knowing God, he said, rather than “living in the shallow end of the pool spiritually.” And in knowing Jesus Christ, a Christian possesses true riches, Graham said, referring to the inheritance described by Paul. “The wealth of his grace, abundant forgiveness of sin, eternal life, the Holy Spirit and so much more — all of this is because we know God.”
And while the power of God was displayed at creation when he spoke the world into existence, Graham concluded that the greatest expression of his power occurred in bringing Jesus Christ out of the grave. “No wonder Paul said in Ephesians 3:10 that ‘I may know him and the power of his resurrection.’ The greatest need of your church and mine, and of every believer, is that we know him.”