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How Can I Relate to God? - Exodus 32-34

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The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.

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6/28/2020
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How Can I Relate to God?
Exodus 32-34
Skip Heitzig
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The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.
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20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

Over 175 million people in the United States need some sort of vision correction. From glasses to contacts and corneal reshaping to corrective surgery, there's no question that seeing clearly improves people's quality of life. But what about our spiritual vision? With so many religious, philosophical, and ideological lenses to look through, how do we find the right lens? In this series, Skip Heitzig brings the core doctrines of Christian faith into clear focus. These are the truths that define who God is, who we are, and the choices that every person has to make.

Outline

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  1. Rebellion (Exodus 32:1, 25)

  2. Repentance (Exodus 32:31-32; 33:4-6)

  3. Request (Exodus 33:13-18)

  4. Revelation (Exodus 34:5-7)

  5. Response (Exodus 34:8)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: June 28, 2020
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "How Can I Relate to God?"
Text: Exodus 32-34

Path

The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, Christians will be humbled and lifted at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe.
  1. Rebellion (Exodus 32:1, 25)
  2. Repentance (Exodus 32:31-32; 33:4-6)
  3. Request (Exodus 33:13-18)
  4. Revelation (Exodus 34:5-7)
  5. Response (Exodus 34:8)
Points

Rebellion (Exodus 32:1, 25)
  • Exodus 32-34 is the only passage where God describes Himself. In Exodus, we also discover the problem: How can humans relate to a transcendent, invisible God?
  • Any relationship with God will be unique because God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere).
  • To understand the relationship that humans have with God, we must understand a basic truth: people rebelled against God, in the beginning (see Genesis 3) and in Moses' day (see Exodus 32), by committing idolatry.No image can fully represent Him. God is unlimited; an image is limited (see Isaiah 40:18).It's an attempt to make God in our own image, based on our limited imagination.
  • Our first step toward God is to realize our rebellion against Him. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3), a recognition of need.
Repentance (Exodus 32: 31-32; 33: 4-6)
  • The second step is repentance, a public show of remorse for our rebellion.
  • When Moses pointed out the people's idolatrous rebellion, they responded with an outward expression of the inward impression.
  • Similarly, Jesus noted, "Blessed are those who mourn" (Matthew 5:4).
  • True repentance has two parts: recognition of need and mourning.These days, repentance is unpopular, but it is a key teaching of the New Testament.
Request (Exodus 33:13-18)
  • Disappointed, Moses came to God, asking for more of Him, His glory.The Hebrew word for "glory" is kabod, a reference to weight, reputation, and honor. Moses had more experience with God than most—the burning bush, miraculous plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea—but he wanted more of God.
  • All people have a hunger for God, a longing to see Him. God put this hunger in our hearts, to whet our appetites for a final and full encounter with Him in heaven.
  • Heaven will be the culmination of our experience with God (see Psalm 17:15).When we see God, we will be satisfied.
  • As Jesus taught, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness "shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). Eventually, what Moses prayed for was found in the transfiguration, when Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus in His glory (see Matthew 17:1-13).   
Revelation (Exodus 34:5-7)
  • At the time, Moses didn't see the ultimate fulfillment, but he did receive the revelation. Moses received fifty-one words, a nine-fold description of God and what He does.
  • God's revelation forces us to live by faith. Peter reminded us, "All things that pertain to life and godliness [are given] through the knowledge of Him" (2 Peter 1:3). God's Word is His witness, both His written Word and Jesus, the living Word. Are you as excited about God's Word as His wonders?
Response (Exodus 34:8)
  • Moses didn't get what he wanted, but he got what he needed, so he worshipped. To worship when you don't get what you want is true worship.
  • Longing for more of God is part of loving Him. We won't be fully rewarded until heaven. Worship is better than wandering. God's Word is enough for now; full satisfaction will come when we see Him face to face.
  • Invisible does not mean unavailable; the most important thing is not that you see God, but that God sees you (see Psalm 139).
Practice

Connect Up: In Exodus 3:14, God described Himself as "I AM WHO I AM." This is the ultimate statement of self-sufficiency, self-existence, and immediate presence. God's existence does not depend upon anyone else. His plans are not contingent upon any circumstances. He promises that He will be what He will be. He is able to do what He wills and to accomplish what He wills to accomplish. How does knowing that God is eternal, unchanging, and self-sufficient change your outlook on life and the future? How does God's person relate to His promises? If God is true, what about what He says? Share a time when God showed Himself strong to you, confirming His word and work in your life.

Connect In: Talk about the connection between the two types of God's Word—the Bible and Jesus. How are they similar? How are they different? Here are a few thoughts to get you started: Both are called the Word, and each has two natures (divine and human).

Connect Out: Read Psalm 34:8, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Matthew 5:6, John 4:14, and John 6:33-35. How would you express to an unbeliever that there is a hunger in their heart for God? Using your own life as an example, what points would you propose to him or her? For example, a yearning for meaning and purpose, or a moral compass. Can we know the difference between right and wrong without God setting the standard?

Transcript

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How Can I Relate to God? - Exodus 32-34 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

There is no God. I mean, look at what's going on here.

I am my own God.

God, Allah, Buddha, whatever.

He's just waiting to destroy us all.

There's like hundreds of gods. It's just like that bumper sticker says.

I am my own God.

Dog is my copilot.

There is no God.

There is one true God. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and He loves you.

God isn't really something to worship.

He's just waiting to destroy all of us.

I guess there's a God out there somewhere.

I hope there is a God.

God isn't really something to worship.

God, Allah, Buddha.

God is everywhere.

Well, we want to welcome you to our service. We know this goes out to our campuses. And we also know that this goes out to thousands and thousands of people in an online community. And let me just address you as an online community if you're watching this, and this is your primary go-to place to have church. We want to welcome you. We want you to feel comfortable.

We prayed for you just before the service. We pray that you would grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, as Peter said. But we want you to know that as part of an online community, we have people on the other end of this community. As you log in, as you watch, there's a live chat room. There's pastors who will greet you. There's people who would love to pray with you, counsel you.

And perhaps you're in a different part of the country or world, even. But this has become a place for you to get fed on a regular basis. This has even become for you church. We want to welcome you. And we want to cultivate that relationship. If there is a way that we can help you from this point on grow in your walk with the Lord, we want to do that. Let us know how. But we want to welcome you.

And if you have a Bible around, turn in your Bibles to the Book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible, the Book of Exodus. Turn to chapter 32. We're going to look at a few chapters or passages from a few chapters-- Exodus chapter 32, 33, and 34. And I'll tell you in a minute why we're spending time in those three chapters.

But I'm going to begin with a story about two babies in their mother's womb having a philosophical discussion. And one asks the other, do you believe in life after delivery? The other replied, why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what will be later.

Nonsense, said the first. There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be? The second said, I don't know. But there will be more light than in here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can't understand now.

The first replied, that is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. So life after delivery is to be logically excluded.

The second insisted. Well, I think there is something. And maybe it's different than it is here. Maybe we won't need this physical cord anymore. The first replied, nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life. And in the after delivery, there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.

Well, I don't know, said the second. But certainly, we will meet mother. And she will take care of us. The first replied, mother? You actually believe in mother? That's laughable. If mother exists, then where is she now?

The second said, she is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of her. It is in her that we live. Without her, this world would not and could not exist.

Said the first, well, I don't see her. So it's only logical that she doesn't exist, to which the second replied, sometimes when you're in silence, and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive her presence. And you can hear her loving voice calling down from above.

Now, these two babies in this little philosophical discussion in the womb had very limited experience when it comes to life. And because of that limited experience, both of them, especially one, thought the idea of more than this to be absurd. And for a lot of people, the idea of God is much the same way.

The idea of God seems absurd. And then the idea of relating, knowing this God is even more absurd. It's hard to fathom. Well, we're in a series we're calling 2020-- Seeing Truth Clearly. And the first time we got together, we looked at a passage in the Book of Timothy all about the truth and clarifying what that means and how important it is to get that into focus.

Then last time, we looked at seeing God as our father because we were celebrating Father's Day. We thought it was appropriate. And so we begin, as we go through this series on seeing truth clearly, with the doctrine of God. And we're going to be looking at different attributes of God in the next few weeks.

But I wanted to spend a couple of weeks on this passage in Exodus 32, 33, and 34 because it is such a seminal passage on knowing God, on relating to God. What does it mean to know God? What does it mean to have some kind of a relationship with God?

And I've turned to this passage because this is the only passage in scripture where God self-identifies, where God describes Himself, gives, if you will, an autobiography. This is who I am. God discloses that here in chapter 34.

And so this section deals with a couple of problems. Problem number one, basic problem-- how can a mortal relate to somebody who is immortal, someone who is transcendent, and someone who is invisible? How do you have a personal relationship with a person you never see and who is that far above you?

And this also shows us the basic desire that all people do have to have some sort of relationship with this transcendent, invisible God. And proof of that is the number of religions that exist in the world. If you were to take a guess, how many religions are in the world? I asked a few people this week. And they thought, what, 200, maybe 500? 4,200 religions exist right now on the earth. That is just proof number one that people are desiring to relate to God.

Now, I'm going to give you, in this passage in Exodus beginning in exodus 32, five distinct stages to a relationship with God-- five distinct stages to a relationship with God. Now, these are stages that are particular to a relationship with God-- not to all relationships, but to a relationship with God. Any relationship with God is going to have to be unique because, after all, God Himself is unique.

Let's see. God is omnipotent. God is omniscient. God is omnipresent. God is all-perfect. Can anybody relate to that? I can't. Not only that, God is the only noncontingent being in the universe, meaning God doesn't really need anyone else. Every other being that exists is a contingent being. We need God. We depend on Him for everything, including our very breath.

So we are called upon to have a relationship as contingent, imperfect beings with the only noncontingent, perfect being who has some of those attributes. So I'm going to give you five stages.

Stage number one-- rebellion. Now, follow me here-- rebellion. This is where the story really starts. In Exodus 32 verse 1, it says, when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron and said to him, come. Make us gods that shall go before us. As for this, Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.

And if you know your bibles, you know that this is a low point in Israel's history. You might call this the "uh-oh chapter." It's like everything is progressing along until you get to this chapter. And it's like, uh-oh. What just happened?

And if you know the chapter, you know that Israel goes sort of wild in this chapter. Moses has been up on Mount Sinai for 40 days, getting the law from God. It's taken a little bit longer than the people anticipated. And so the people down below get nervous. And they want an idol.

Now, this is still the very beginning of Israel's national relationship with God. God is about making a covenant with them, an agreement with them. And right off the bat, the people of Israel start rebelling by wanting this calf to be made. Why a calf? What's the idea of a golden calf? Here's the answer. It was a conditioned response.

They had been in Egypt for years. And one of the gods in Egypt was called Apis, A-P-I-S, Apis. He was one of the gods. He symbolized power and virility. And there was a belief in Egypt that Apis, called the "renewer of life," was produced by a flash of lightning from the sky on a cow that gave birth to Apis-- this miraculous light coming from the sky, appearing on a cow. And then Apis was born.

Now, they had been at the foot of Mount Sinai, the children of Israel had. And looking up at Mount Sinai, it was covered with smoke. And the Bible tells us in the 19th chapter of Exodus that lightning flashes were striking the mountain. And no doubt, the people saw that. They had been conditioned by a pagan environment.

They naturally thought of Apis the bull because they're looking up and saying, God is powerful. Let's make an image that will embody His power. So they wanted it. And they did it. And in so doing, they broke the Second Commandment, which says, you will not make a carved image of anything that is in heaven above or that is on earth beneath.

So why did they do this? Well, this brings up one of the problems we have trying to relate to God. God is invisible. Everything we apprehend is by what we see or touch or hear. God is invisible. It's hard to have a personal relationship with a person you can't see, you can't hear, and you can't touch.

It goes back to that classic story by HG Wells, The Invisible Man. He wrote about a man who came up with a way, through science, to become invisible. And it was cool at first. But eventually, no one in his circle of friends trusted him because he could be in the room, and you wouldn't even know it. So it's hard to relate to somebody who has attributes you don't have.

I remember even as a little boy, my parents would tell me about God. And I would look up and go, I wish God would poke His head out of the sky every now and then just so I could get a glimpse of him. Maybe you can relate to Isaiah chapter 45, where the prophet said, truly you are a God who hides Himself. We can't see Him.

And this is why we look forward to the future. Because in the future-- Titus chapter 2 verse 13-- looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will see Him one day face to face. But until then, we walk by what? Faith and not by sight.

Now, question-- why is this so bad? Why is this such a grave sin that they made this calf? And why is making an image of God such a big deal to God? Well, here's why. Number one-- because you can't make an image or find an image or get an image that can represent God. God embodies so many attributes that not a single image could show Him. Every image, by its own nature, is limited. God is unlimited.

A bull might represent power. But it won't represent compassion. It won't represent love. It won't represent forgiveness or patience or kindness or justice. This is why God, through the prophet Isaiah, said, to whom, then, will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? You can't find an image that represents who He is. So it's limiting by its very nature.

Second reason is when you make an image, you're making God into your image, essentially. You're selecting something you like about God and focusing on that only, leaving out the rest. So by the nature of making something, you are basing it on your wish fulfillment, your imagination.

Now, in the same chapter, if you go down to verse 25-- we don't have time to read all these chapters, of course. But in verse 25, look at how bad it gets. Now, when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained-- notice that-- for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies.

So what does that mean, unrestrained? Well, there was no outward control of the law. That hadn't been given yet. There was no inward control of conscience. So when there is no outward control of law, no inward control of conscience, a person makes it up. A person can go wild. And these people did.

So the first step in this relationship with God-- because it gets better from here-- is rebellion. Now, why do I include rebellion as a first step in a relationship with God? Because it's the starting point we all have. It is our default mode as a human race. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Before Christ, that is where we all live-- in a life of sin and rebellion.

And so here's a better way to put it. Realizing our rebellion is the first step to knowing God. Realizing our rebellion is the first step to knowing God. Do you remember the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus sort of gave a staged response in a covenant relationship with God. He said, blessed are the poor in spirit.

It means I realize I am poverty stricken before God. I realize my own inadequacies before God, my own sin. I realize I have fallen short. I realize I am living in a natural state of rebellion. And I realize that. And that is always the first step-- to recognize I have a need. So rebellion is the first step.

Second stage is repentance. In chapter 32, same chapter, down in verse 31, we are told Moses returned to the Lord and said, oh, these people have committed a great sin and have made for themselves a god of gold. Yet now, if you will forgive their sin-- but if not, I pray, blot me out of your book which you have written.

Go over to chapter 33. Now look at verse 4. And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned. And no one put on his ornaments or his jewelry, for the Lord had said to Moses, say to the children of Israel, you are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments that I may know what to do with you. So the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Horeb.

This is a public display of contrition, of sorrow, of penetrance. Moses acts as their conscience, coming to them and saying, what on earth are you doing? And then he comes before the Lord and confesses their sin on their behalf. They realize how bad it has gotten. They mourn. And stripping off all of their jewelry was an outward expression of an inward impression. It's sort of the equivalent of donning sackcloth and ashes later on in the Old Testament.

Now, back to that Sermon on the Mount that I just mentioned. Jesus gave these as the first two steps in a relationship with God. He said, blessed are the poor in spirit. Second thing he said is, blessed are those who mourn.

Those are the two components that equal repentance. Two parts of repentance-- blessed are the poor in spirit. I recognize that I am inadequate, a center in need. I need more than what I have. I have fallen short of the glory of God. And then I mourn over it. I'm sorry because of it.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 7, writes, Godly sorrow produces-- what? Anybody know here? Repentance. Godly sorrow produces repentance that leads to salvation. So there is a good sorrow. If it leads you to recognizing, I need help, and then you turn from that, it produces life change.

My wife, Lenya, has a story of her conversion that brings this into it. She was given a Four Spiritual Law track. She was raised to be an atheist. And then her dad was converted. And so she was listening to others tell her about Jesus. She gets a little track about Four Spiritual Laws.

And do you know the Four Spiritual Law track, where you're on the throne, and nothing really works out in your life? And then you put Jesus on the throne. And everything just sort of works out well. So she thought, OK, I'll pray to receive Christ. And then everything in my life will just kind of be hunky dory. I'll get whatever I want because God's at the center of my life. And whee, I'm off for a great ride.

So she prayed a prayer to ask Jesus into her life. And she would go to church. And she felt bad still and felt empty and told her dad, I think I need something more. And he said, no. You prayed that prayer. Don't worry about it.

Well, at the end of the service, she walked forward, went to the prayer room. And there met her on the staff of this church a dear friend of mine named Malcolm Wild. He was in a music band at the time. He was a pastor at this church. And he's from England. And Malcolm listens to Lenya tell her story.

And at the end of the story, he just kind of bends into her and says, have you repented of your sins? And she said, have I what? I don't even know what that word means, "repented." So he explained what repentance is. And she said, I've never done that. I've never turned from anything. I've never done an about face.

And so he led her in that understanding and prayer to turn from sin and then turn to Christ. That's repentance. So it starts in rebellion. And then it goes to repentance.

Now, repentance is a very unpopular subject, always has been. People don't like it. It's confronting. It's unpopular. It's unpopular in most pulpits. But it was a keynote message in the Bible. Very first words out of John the Baptist's mouth were, repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Among the very first words of Jesus were, repent and believe the gospel. So repentance is a key note in the New Testament.

In Luke chapter 18, Jesus tells a story about two people who went to the temple to pray. See if you can relate to this. He said one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. And the Pharisees stood and prayed thus with himself, saying, Lord, I thank you that I'm not like other men-- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

And then he continues. He comes with a negative list and a positive list. He sort of sounds impressive. But you hear what he says. He goes, I'm glad I'm not like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I possess.

Jesus went on to say, but the other guy, the tax collector, wouldn't even put his eyes up to heaven. But he beat his breast. And he said, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. And then Jesus said this. That man, the tax collector, who said, I'm a sinner. I'm not worthy-- he went away justified. He went away justified.

You see, you can always find somebody worse than you are and then congratulate yourself that you're not as bad as that person. And in so doing, you don't see your own sin.

And so that Pharisee was not poor in spirit. And because he wasn't poor in spirit, he didn't mourn. And because he didn't mourn, he wasn't justified. There was no repentance. So we have two stages in a relationship with God. The first is the default mode of all humanity. And that is rebellion followed by repentance.

Third is request. This is where you realize, I want more. I need more. Now, watch this. Chapter 33 verse 13-- this is Moses praying. Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in your sight, show me now your way, that I may know you, that I may find grace in your sight. And consider that this nation is your people.

And He said, my presence will go with you. And I will give you rest. And then he said to Him, Moses back to God, if your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. We don't want to be like every other nation on the face of the earth. If we're going to be like every other nation, why should we go any further than this?

For how then will it be known that your people and I have found grace in your sight, except you go with us? So we shall be separate, your people and I, from all the people who are on the face of the earth. So the Lord said to Moses, I will also do this thing that you have spoken, for you have found grace in my sight. And I know you by name. And he said, please show me your glory.

Let me fill in a couple of the blanks. Because the people rebelled, God said, I'm not going to be going up with you in the same manner of my intimate presence with you as a group. I'm going to send my angel instead. Moses was very disappointed at hearing that news, goes to God in prayer to talk to Him privately, and says, look, I don't want less of you. I want more of you. We want more of you. We need more of you.

And then he finally says, show me your glory. Show me your glory. That's his request. I want to see your glory. What does that mean? The Hebrew word is [NON-ENGLISH] or [NON-ENGLISH]. And it literally means "your weight" or "to be weighty." And the idea is it refers to a person's weighty reputation or honored position.

So one translation puts it this way. Show me your own self. In other words, Moses is praying. I want to see a full disclosure of your glorious presence. Sound familiar? Sounds like Philip, doesn't it, in the New Testament? Jesus, show us the Father, and that'll be enough.

Well, God goes on to tell him in verse 20 that you can't see me. You can't see me and live. Mortal man cannot see me in my fullness and glory. It'd sort of be like a bug zapper, I guess. The light looks really good to a bug until he gets too close and then, bzzt. God would be like that necessarily for all mortals.

Here's a question. Why did Moses ask for this? Why did he say, show me your glory. I want more than what I've experienced? Now, I remember when I first read this, that was the question I had. Why would Moses ask for this? Because think of what Moses has already seen and already experienced.

Moses, by this time, has had more supernatural experiences than all of us put together. He had a bush talk to him. He had manna fall from the sky for him. He had a Red Sea open up for him. He had plagues come down upon his enemies. Isn't that enough miraculous stuff? Now he goes, no, it's not enough. Show me your glory. Why?

I'll answer that by giving it a simple title-- God hunger. We all have a God hunger. We all have a hunger for God. No matter how spiritually knowledgeable we are, we all long in our core to actually see God. We do. We want to see God.

Here's an example. When you're not with your family for a period of time, well, in the old days, we used to carry these little things called "pictures" in our wallets, actually photographic paper. It was a two-dimensional image of people that we love. And when we miss them, we pull it out and look at it and show. Here's my family. Nowadays, we have our phones. And we can show videos and such.

But we can do more than that. If we want to see them or talk to them, we can FaceTime them. Or we can Zoom them. And we're seeing a moving, jagged, two-dimensional image. And we're hearing their voice. But it's still not enough. You couldn't live that way if you really love somebody. This is enough. I really never need to be in close contact with you again. Just seeing you on Zoom is all I ever need.

No. It's not enough. In fact, hearing their voice that way and seeing their picture that way only accentuates the loss. You're never satisfied until you're actually in their tangible presence and you see, to use the language of the text, their glory-- their glory.

So Moses, in all that he has seen and experienced, is still not satisfied. And guess what? You won't be either. You will never be satisfied until you see Him with your eyes.

All of your spiritual experiences-- I don't know what they are individually. All of the greatest spiritual experiences you've ever had, all of the worship conferences you've ever gone to were never meant to satisfy you. They were only meant to create a deeper thirst to whet your appetite for the final and full encounter in the future. Heaven is going to be the culmination of all of our worship experiences. It's then and only then that you will be able to be fully satisfied.

Psalm 17 verse 15-- as for me, I will see your face and righteousness. I will be satisfied when I awake in your likeness. Only when we actually see God face to face will we be satisfied.

Tim Stafford, who wrote one of the most influential books for me in my life, called Knowing the Face of God, writes this. "I believe this longing can only be fulfilled when our eyes are opened on the loving and glorious face of God. Such will someday be our joy. But not yet.

The Bible does not hint that our intimacy with God can be satisfied through prayer or through ecstatic worship experiences or through the Bible. If Moses could not get what he wanted, then we should not be too surprised at our own sense of incompleteness. Our longing is a mark of God's touch. We long to know Him completely because we have come to know Him in part."

Back to the Sermon on the Mount, those steps that Jesus gave. Blessed are those who are poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. And then He said this. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. That's the third step in a relationship with God. You realize your poverty before God. You mourn over it. That's repentance. And then you go, I want more. I want more.

Now, spoiler alert here-- Moses' prayer will finally be answered. You know when? At the Mount of Transfiguration in the New Testament. Jesus appeared with Moses and Elijah. And it says, He appeared in His glory. Lord, show me your glory. The prayer was answered for Moses when he saw the fullness of God's glory in the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Luke chapter 9.

So back to our story here. So if Moses did not get what he longed for, what did he get? Now, this takes us to our next stage in a relationship with God. Let's go through the first three. Rebellion-- that's where we all start. That's our default mode. Repentance-- that's when we change. We mourn. Request-- OK, I really want to see your glory. And then number four-- revelation. This is what he got.

Look at chapter 33 verse 19, right after he says, please show me your glory. Then he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you. Now listen to this. And I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I'm going to pass by you. And I'm going to tell you something. I'm going to speak something. I'm going to declare something, proclaim something.

Go to chapter 34 verse 5. This is where he does it. Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the children's children to the third and fourth generation.

Show me your glory. What did he get? Did he see God directly? No. Did he get a glorious vision of God? No. Did he get an apparition? No. Did he see the face of Jesus in a tortilla? No.

What did he get? Words. Words? Yeah, 51 wonderful words-- in fact, a nine-fold verbal description by God of who He is and what He does. God basically listed some of his attributes to him. Hey, I'm going to tell you who I am, Moses. And I'm going to tell you what I'm like. I'm going to give you a short autobiography. And that's all you need for now. That's all you need for now.

You know, sometimes we think we need something. But God knows we need something else. Have you ever had that? I really need that. And God goes, no, I don't think you do. I know what you need. So for example, Paul thought he needed a miraculous healing. God gave him what he needed. My grace is sufficient for you.

Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to prevent the death of their brother Lazarus. Jesus knew what they needed. I'm going to give you something better-- a resurrection of your brother Lazarus. Moses wanted a vision of God's glory. God says, let me tell you about myself. Let me give you words, a description of who I am.

So when God does this, gives us a revelation of Himself, verbal revelation, this forces us to live by faith. Again, we live by faith and not by sight. And that's going to have to be enough for you for right now.

Now, one day you'll see Him face to face. But right now, He's giving you His word. That's why this series 2020 is so important-- because you have everything you need in this scripture right now. 2 Peter chapter 1-- we have all that pertains to life and Godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory in virtue.

Remember the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection? And Jesus appeared to them, but they didn't know it was Jesus. And He spoke to them words of the Old Testament, unfolded an Old Testament Bible study. And they said afterwards, did not our hearts burn within us? Remember that story?

Do you remember the rest of it? They didn't say, boy, our hearts burned within us as He showed off His glory and levitated off the ground and lifted that cool water pot just by blinking. Did not our hearts burn within us as He spoke to us along the way? It was the word of God spoken that gave them that.

There was a man who went on a cruise ship. He bought a ticket. And he brought peanut butter, a loaf of bread, jam. And every meal time, he'd sit in his room. And he'd put peanut butter and jam on the bread. And he'd eat it because he thought that he just had enough money to buy the ticket. But he didn't have enough money to pay for the food aboard.

So he was aboard. And every time he would walk past those lines of crab meat and lobster and steak and salads, his mouth would water. But he'd go home or go to his room. And he'd make that little peanut butter bread and stuff it in his mouth. And after a few days, he got so sick of it. He stuck his head out when a porter was coming. He goes, I'll do anything to get one of those meals on the ship.

And the porter said, what are you talking about? Show me your ticket. He showed him his ticket. And he goes, you know that the food is included in the price of the cruise, don't you? And he didn't know that it was included in the price.

A lot of times, people are searching for more in the Christian life-- more than what others have, more power, more Holy Spirit, more blessings, more glory. Are you as excited about God's word as you are about God's wonders? One day, you'll see Him face to face. But until then, you have a revelation of who He is.

And it takes us to the next and final stage. And that is a response. Verse 8 chapter 34, after God tells him these words, these 51 words-- so Moses made haste-- that is, he hurried-- and bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. Moses did not get what he wanted. But he got what he needed. And his response was worship.

Moses didn't say, hey, excuse me, God. I didn't come for a Bible study. I didn't come for you to rattle off a bunch of your attributes. I want more tingles, please. I'd like to quiver a little bit more. I want to be moved.

Now, listen. To worship when you don't get what you want is true worship. To worship God when you don't get what you think He ought to give you is true worship. Job did the same. He lost everything. And he bowed his head. And he worshipped. And he goes, I came in naked. I'm leaving naked. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

See, if you only worship when you feel blessed, when you feel lifted up, when you have no anxiety and you're in perfect health, so what? Pagans do that. But when you worship God when you don't get from God what you want, that's true worship. When you say in the midst of poverty and losing a job and ill health, God is good all the time, that's worship. Moses didn't get what he wanted, but he worshipped God.

I'm going to give you, in the few minutes we have remaining, three quick take-away points that sum it all up. Number one, longing is part of loving. Longing for more of God is part of loving. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, the Bible says.

But you won't be fully rewarded until you leave this earth and get to heaven and you're able to see Him. And so you get close sometimes. Oh, it feels really good. But not yet. And so when he says, show me your glory, God isn't saying no. God is just saying, not yet.

Now, kids learn this. Junior gets to be 14 years of age. And he goes, I want to drive that car. Nope. Not permanently no, but not yet. December 23 rolls around. Can I open my presents? Not no, but not yet. You will in a couple days. You just got to wait a little bit longer. So longing is a part of loving.

Second, worshipping is better than wondering. Worship is better than wondering. Sometimes we wonder why God isn't more dramatic. His word is going to have to be enough for now. Full satisfaction will come when we're face to face.

And then third, invisible does not mean unavailable. I can't see God. So? I want to see God. Show me your glory. Invisible doesn't mean unavailable. The most important thing is not that you see God. The most important thing is God sees you. Psalm 139, David said, where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? You answer that. Nowhere.

There was, years ago on television, a tiger act, a live circus that was filmed. It was before a live TV studio audience. And it was put on camera as well. So in one particular act, the Bengal tiger act, the trainer walks into a cage filled with tigers. And the door locks behind him. And he starts putting the tigers through their paces.

The cameras move in, get all the angles. It's televised. People are clapping in the live studio audience. And as he's putting the Bengal tigers through their paces, the lights go out right in the middle of the act on live television.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

I guess a breaker went out. And so all the electricity went out. The lights went off. And for 30 long seconds, that trainer is locked in a cage of lethal tigers. And he cannot see one of them. But they can see him perfectly. That would be an eerie feeling, wouldn't it? They're felines, so they can see me. But I can't see where they're at.

God sees in the dark. He's not a tiger, but He is the lion of the tribe of Judah. And He sees you. Like Job said, I can't find Him when I look for Him. But He knows the way that I take. He knows the way that I take. God knows where you're at. God sees you.

And so here's this staged response in knowing God. Rebellion-- that's where we all start. Repentance-- hopefully we all make it there. And then we grow. We have a request, a hunger and thirst for righteousness. God gives us a revelation of Himself in His word. That's why we always study the Bible. And our response must be, even if I don't get what I always want, I will worship God for what He's given me because He sees all.

Now, next time we're together, we're going to look at chapter 34 at the short little autobiography, this self-disclosure of God, and drill down into the only place God gives this autobiography to Moses. Till then, let's just end with a word of prayer.

Father, thank you. Thank you for your goodness. As you said to Moses, I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Then you told him about yourself, told him who you are, what you're like, what you do. That's, Father, a revelation for us.

We thank you, Lord, for the truth that has set us free, the words of eternal life, and that Jesus is called the word of God, the living, breathing word. Lord, as you reveal more to us, I pray that we would have the response of worshipping you more and more. All of us have needs. All of us have expectations. But we stop right there at your altar and say, you really do know far better than we do what we need. And so we surrender our lives to you.

I pray for anybody who's joined us at the other campuses, those who are online watching, if they don't have a relationship with the living God where they have said, God, I'm sorry for my sin. I'm willing to turn from it, that they would enter from phase one into phase two and then grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Establish, Lord, that covenant relationship with them. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen. Thanks for joining us. God bless you.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/14/2020
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Seeing Truth Clearly
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Hiram Johnson said, "The first casualty in war is truth." God’s people have been in a cosmic battle since the fall. Satan’s first allegation against truth was in Genesis 3:1: "Has God indeed said...?" Deception regarding truth is Satan's primary occupation. We now live in what might be dubbed a post-truth culture wherein the very idea of absolute truth is considered archaic and even offensive. In this series, we will look to the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:21) to reinforce our foundation and engender biblical literacy. Here at the end of Paul's life, he could foresee the abandonment of truth, and he gave Timothy this antidote: "Preach the Word!"
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6/21/2020
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Seeing God as Father
Luke 11:2
Skip Heitzig
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God is presented in Scripture by a variety of images. He is called our Rock, our Refuge, our Warrior, our Shepherd, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Redeemer, our Fountain, our Husband, and our Vinedresser. But no motif is as powerful and personal as seeing God as our Father. With this title, the invisible God becomes the intimate God. Today, on Father’s Day, we consider the singular phrase "Our Father in heaven" as an introduction to the doctrine of God. Let’s turn over each word and mine the depths of the riches contained in this great verse.
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7/5/2020
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Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?
Dr. Steven Collins
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Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom.
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7/12/2020
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Hello, I’m God!
Exodus 34:5-9
Skip Heitzig
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People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It’s what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let’s find out what God says about Himself.
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7/19/2020
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Knowing the God Who Knows You
Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24
Skip Heitzig
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A person with knowledge can be intimidating. They spew facts and figures and can dizzy us with information and understanding. But rightly seen, a study of God’s comprehensive knowledge can be a source of great comfort to us. In this series, 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we come to grips with the fact that God sees everything most clearly. His knowledge is vast, infinite, comprehensive, specific, and personal. But let’s observe how God’s omniscience can become inspiring rather than intimidating.
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7/26/2020
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Here, There, and Everywhere
Psalm 139:7-12
Skip Heitzig
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One of the Beatles’ most melodic hits expressed a couple’s romantic desire to be together at all times and in all places and was simply titled, “Here, There and Everywhere.” This title also expresses a unique attribute of God (what theologians call an incommunicable attribute). He is everywhere present in the totality of His being! This may be one of the hardest-to-understand characteristics of God, but one that brings great comfort to us.
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8/2/2020
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The Unrivaled Power of God
Psalm 139:13-18
Skip Heitzig
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God is called Almighty fifty-seven times in Scripture. It means that the resources of His power are boundless. He is unlimited in His ability and unconstrained in His capacity. God’s attribute of omnipotence is helpful for us to remember when we are feeling overwhelmed with threatening circumstances. Just as we feel confident when our mobile devices have plenty of battery power to spare, we can live confidently knowing that our great God has power for any of our problems.
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8/9/2020
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Holy, Holy, Holy!
Isaiah 6:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God’s holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let’s consider it today.
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8/16/2020
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One Plus One Plus One Equals One?
John 14:1-18
Skip Heitzig
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One of the most fundamental yet challenging truths in Scripture is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Try to explain it and you might lose your mind, but try to explain it away and you might lose your soul. The Bible openly teaches the plurality within the Godhead—three persons who are distinct from one another yet perfectly One in essence. How are we to think about this? And how should it affect us personally?
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8/23/2020
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Pain: God’s Biggest Problem
John 9:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Perhaps the biggest impediment to believing in God (as stated by those who don’t) is the presence of pain and suffering in the world. How can there be a God who is benevolent and omnipotent with the sheer volume of grief, misery, travail, and torment at any given moment? Today we explore the theme of a loving God in a universe pockmarked by pain. As Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, they came across a blind man. I’d like to show you four features of this most common and universal of human experiences.
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8/30/2020
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Christ Jesus Our Lord
Philippians 2:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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At the very center of history’s stage stands Jesus Christ. He has no peers. The Father in heaven sent Him on the mission of redemption and He humbly surrendered. When it was accomplished, He conquered death itself by resurrection and returned to glory. In what is considered by many to be the greatest single statement about Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Paul succinctly framed His humiliation, His exaltation, and His example to us.
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9/6/2020
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The Atonement: His Death, Our Life
John 12:20-33
Skip Heitzig
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Wasn’t there any other way for God to save human beings than by sending His Son to die? The very idea of a bloody crucifixion sounds brutal and barbarous to some, yet it is the centerpiece of our faith. What is the big deal about the atonement? Why the cross? Why had it been the plan of God through the ages? Today we examine the death of Christ for us and, in His own words, His own estimation of its necessity and consequence.
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9/13/2020
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He’s Alive! Proofs of the Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Skip Heitzig
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Just as your own heart is the pump that brings life-giving blood to your entire body, so is the resurrection of Jesus that gives life to the gospel message. Without it, our faith would be totally useless; our message would be utterly powerless. The resurrection is also what separates Jesus Christ from every other spiritual leader and would-be messiah. It validates His teaching. It authenticates His claims. It substantiates His promises. And it corroborates our confidence in Him as our Savior and Lord.
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9/20/2020
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The Holy Spirit in the World
John 16:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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We are not alone in the universe! That’s the premise of most sci-fi documentaries, but I’m not referring to alien life from another galaxy, rather to the living God Himself. In particular, I am referring to the Holy Spirit. He has a particular role when it comes to working in this world, and that is to awaken people to their great need for Christ. In our series 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we will turn in the next few weeks to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. What is His role in the life of the unbeliever and the life of the believer?
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10/11/2020
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Who Is the Holy Spirit?
John 16
Nate Heitzig
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There can be a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the Holy Spirit. When we look to Scripture, however, the third person of the Godhead comes into clear focus. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig describes the person of the Holy Spirit, His work both at scale in the world and individually in the hearts of believers, and how He helps you gain a deeper understanding of God's Word.
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10/18/2020
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Help Has Arrived!
John 14:15-18
Skip Heitzig
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Someone said to me this past week, “Life is hard, but God is good!” We all know it’s true. To live for God in an ungodly world is challenging, sometimes daunting. But God never intended for us to try it alone! He has provided for us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who is not only at work in the world around us but is very busy working inside of us. Let’s drill down into the promise Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room about the coming Spirit.
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10/25/2020
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God’s Purpose for People
Genesis 1-3
Skip Heitzig
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After spending several weeks considering God’s nature and character, we now turn to mankind. What is the purpose of the people inhabiting this planet? How can we fulfill the God-given destiny that He originally had in mind when He placed us here? Someone once said that the two most significant days in one’s life are first, the day we were born, and second, the day we discovered what we were born for. Let’s go back to the beginning.
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11/1/2020
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The Dark Side
Romans 3:10-26
Nate Heitzig
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God created humans in His own image. But even with God's imprint in humanity, people have a dark side—a sin nature—because of Adam and Eve's rebellion. One consequence of our rebellion against God is guilt, but in today's society, many people try to minimize both sin and guilt by casting them in a deceptively benign light. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig looks at what the book of Romans has to say about our true condition and its only remedy.
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11/15/2020
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Once Dead, Now Alive!
Ephesians 2:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and the most transformative. Below are the various stages that every saved person goes through in coming to Christ. Today, try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment?
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11/22/2020
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I’m a Christian—Now What?
Romans 8:12-17
Skip Heitzig
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Once you decide to repent from your past, say yes to Jesus Christ, and invite Him into your heart, you begin a lifelong relationship with Him. Nothing stays the same. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Conversion is the gateway to transformation. Let’s consider four clear experiences that happen in the life of everyone who believes.
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11/29/2020
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The Angels of God
Hebrews 1
Skip Heitzig
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Angels are largely relegated to the realms of mythology and childhood fantasy. Most people never think about them. But angels are very, very real. Martin Luther commented, “An angel is a spiritual creature created by God without a body, for the service of Christendom and of the church.” He was partly correct, but angels serve an even greater role than being strictly for the church. Their ministry objective is principally concerned with the glory and majesty of God. Let’s explore some of the noteworthy traits that angels have.
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There are 21 additional messages in this series.
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