Hungry Hearts

A Bible Study of Men who Hunger for the Lord

​A bi-monthly group led by Gary Ott diving verse-by-verse into the Scripture. The Hungry Hearts digest God's truths, discuss the abundant Life found in the person of Christ, and reflect on the transformation of living by grace through faith. 

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From the clear, unambiguous, mouth of God, true, saving faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ has a certain result that, though subjective in its quality, is the ultimate test of a true Christian.

The individual person is the only one who can take this test! 

No one can objectively give this test to another person. 

God says,

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!

Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”(2 Cor. 13:5)

This subjective, somewhat mystical, biblical test is the ultimate distinguishing characteristic of someone who is truly a Christian. 

The inner, experiential, REALITY of a living, indwelling Lord Jesus Christ is the test that proves a person who professes Christ as his Savior and calls himself a Christian is, in fact, truly “in the faith”! 

God makes it clear, with no personal interpretation required, that a man who truly believes in the historical, objective truth of the Gospel will be “born again” and experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who “baptizes” him into union with the person of Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection and will consciously know this miraculous new birth has happened within him.

In fact, the Bible says clearly that God has now made known something that for ages and generations was a mystery,

“Of this church I, Paul, was made a minister… so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is,

the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles,

which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory.”(Col.1:24-27)

Since the Day of Pentecost and the divinely inspired words of the Apostle Paul, the mystery of “Christ in you” is now knowable.

The Apostle John makes reference to this same mystical REALITY as the distinguishing mark of a true Christian,

“But (in contrast to those who professed Christ as their Savior and acted like Christians), you (the true, authentic Christian) have an anointing from the Holy One and you all know.” (1John 2:19-20)

You all know” what?  That you have the “anointing”!

The real Christian has an inner, subjective, mystical “knowing” of the presence of the living, indwelling Lord Jesus Christ.

That is why God says, “The Holy Spirit bears witness with our human spirit that we are children of God…” (Rom.8:16).  He makes us know, within ourselves, “that as many as receive Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) to them He gave the power to become the children of God”.

Is being “born again” an objective divine decree by God that a person, upon believing the Gospel, is now declared a Christian?  Or, is it an experiential REALITY?  And, if so, then, how do you know it is?

Stop and think about the “fruit if the Spirit”.

Take “PEACE” for example. 

In the Bible, Jesus is said to be our peace, 1 Cor. 1:30.

God doesn’t give us true peace without the presence of Jesus Christ within us. The experience of peace is evidence you are a Christian. 

Confess your sins and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and, if asked in faith, you will experience “the fruit of the Spirit”;

 one of which is “PEACE”.

You can’t fake inner peace!  The complete absence of guilt, worry fear, anxiety, insecurity, and fear is only possible by experiencing Christ in you, our true peace! 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”(John 14:27)  Jesus said this because He was leaving them, about to be crucified and leave the earth.  But, He told them something better would occur once He left and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God The Father. 

Jesus told them the Holy Spirit would come and that, through Him, He, would no longer be “with” them, but would, in subjective, experiential, REALITY, be “in” them!

Yes, a person can have “peace with God” through genuinely receiving Jesus Christ as his Savior; but he may not, in any given moment, be experiencing the “peace of God”.  So, in that moment, if he took God’s test of whether he is a Christian or not, he may not pass, though truly a Christian. This is certainly a possibility. 

It’s true, unconfessed sin, iniquity in your heart, robs you of being filled with the Holy Sprit and blocks the conscious experience of His peace.  But, experiencing the “peace of God”, internally, as an experiential REALITY, even for a second, maybe just at the moment of conversion, is evidence of being “born again”.

How about “JOY”?

John Piper preached an entire sermon at the Passion Conference 2011 on the subject of, “Getting To The Bottom Of Your Joy”.  He makes it clear that he believes there are “millions” of professing Christians who have not experienced the new birth.  Listen to the message on YouTube and it will be clear that if Jesus is not the ultimate source of your joy, then you are not a Christian!

“The JOY of the Lord is our strength!”  You can only state this verse of Scripture honestly if it is true of you internally, subjectively, as an experiential REALITY!

How about “LOVE”?

Knowing “agape’, God’s love, personally, is ultimately an inner, mystical, experiential REALITY! 

Paul prays for us, “that He (God the Father) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,

that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”(Eph.3:16-19)

“To know the LOVE of Christ which surpasses knowledge”, by the very words themselves, indicate that whatever “knowing the love of Christ” is, it’s something that transcends words themselves, beyond objective, rational propositions that you can outline and detail with Roman Numerals “I”& “II”, Subsections “A”& “B” and further clarifications with “1)”&“2)”. 

This statement is the very definition of “mystical” and something God obviously wants every Christian to personally experience.

Again, not every Christian, throughout every moment of their lives, knows this inner, experiential REALITY.  But at some point, for a fleeting second at least, they “knew it” and Paul prays that the inner experience of Christ’s love would become so overwhelming that each of us, as true Christians, would “be filled up to all the fullness of God” and “God is love”! (1 John 4:8) God’s Love is both action and attitude, external and internal and something that goes beyond human ability to perform. That is why it is always called a “fruit of the Spirit”.  It is experienced internally as an experiential REALITY before it is expressed externally in our behavior toward others or God for that matter; “we love Him because He first loves us”. (1 John 4:19)

Have you ever felt loved and accepted unconditionally? By a person? By God?  If so, it is an awesome, internal, subjective REALITY!

The very definition of “ to know” in Hebrew and Greek is a “personal, internal experience of knowledge” not an objective intellectual understanding.  When a man and woman engaged in sexual intercourse, they are said, biblically, to have “known” each other.  To know something in the biblical sense of the word is to have personal, intimate, experiential knowledge of that something. 

And in the case of determining if you are a Christian, it’s not a matter of “knowing” something, but Someone!

A person can be exposed to sex education and come to understand sex, mentally and objectively through intellectual comprehension and, in the process of learning what it is, also have some degree of emotional response to the idea of sex.  But, can you say this person really knows what sexual intercourse is without experiencing it personally?  

However, even “ to know” your wife through the intimacy of sexual intercourse falls far short of “knowing” the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, Lord and Life!  The degree of intimacy and the extent of oneness between a true believer and the living Lord Jesus Christ radically transcend the intimacy and oneness of husband and wife. 

Is it possible to be one with Jesus, to have become a “new creature” where “old things have passed away and, behold, all things have become new” and not know it?  It would be even more impossible than to have sex with your wife and not know you did.

God’s most clear, irrefutable test as to whether a person is a true Christian or not is REALITY; objective, propositional truth contained in the Gospel attesting to the historical reality of Jesus Christ mixed with the reality of personal repentance and faith resulting in the spiritual, intangible, subjective REALITY of “Christ in you”;

an inner REALITY that is consciously knowable!

“If you took a survey of things in your own soul, it would appear that Christ is in you; not as He is in all the world, filling heaven and earth with His presence; or as He gives life to every rational creature; but in a special and spiritual manner, by his Spirit and grace. The Father reveals Christ in His people, as the foundation of their hope of glory.  He Himself enters and takes possession of their hearts in conversion, communicates His grace, and manifests Himself, and is formed there, in the heart, by his Spirit.  His graces are implanted, His image is stamped, His Spirit is put within them, and He Himself dwells there by faith: and this upon personal inquiry would be found to be the case of the true Corinthian believer as it will be found true of you if you are a true believer.” (John Gill, respected theologian of the 1700’s)