In Pursuit of Relational Knowledge – Part 3

Relational knowledge

Sunday 02/19/23

Message: In Pursuit of Relational Knowledge Pt. 3

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In Pursuit of Relational Knowledge – Pt. 3

Obedience leads to relational knowledge

Now, we also learned that in order to grow in our relational knowledge of Jesus we need to be obeying Him. This means we are keeping ourselves from the world, from sin and increasing in our fruit and acts of love to our brethren.

Notice that this ever growing list of things which facilitate the pursuit of and growth in relational knowledge of Christ are NOT difficult and the list of things is NOT extensive, but they ALL require SOME action out of you!

Many people sit and wonder at their lack of knowing God. They bemoan a lack of increasing intimacy with Him. They think that hearing IS doing… that knowing is doing and it simply isn’t, but such is a common deception.

Remember the warning from James

James 1:22-27,

“(22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  

(23)  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  (24)  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  

(25)  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, THIS ONE WILL BE BLESSED  in what he DOES. [Not simply in what he hears!] 

(26)  If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless!  (27)  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

James says that without practicing what we hear… putting feet to what we read, we are deceiving ourselves. 

That a proof of true worship is being able to bridle your tongue and visiting those in Christ who are vulnerable and in need!

Those at the Asbury college revival are experiencing a type of awakening… a being jarred awake by the Spirit.  These students have been taking courses, sitting in classes, writing essays, taking tests and attending chapel… some of them for years. Yet, some are just now having an encounter with the One they have been studying and it has jarred then awake… at least temporarily. 

What is happening in this awakened condition? Increased expression of love for God, open witness of Him, hunger for His presence and the fellowship of His people, prayer and repentance for sin. 

Up to this point, many of these same students were deceiving themselves… thinking that because they were hearing the word all the time and being able to pass tests and even write essays about it that they were living it out. 

What is happening now, whatever you want to call it, has at very least informed them that there is much more to Jesus and the Christian faith than simple knowledge about. 

In step with this, James also tells us that standing strong during temptations will also lead to intimacy with Christ.

James 1:12, “Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love Him.”

The phrase “crown of life” is used figuratively here. The crown being spoken of is not a literal kingly crown of royalty, but a type of head wreath intended for those who won a victory in war, or in the Olympic games and such. 

James is telling us that if our faith is proven genuine by not succumbing to sin, then we will be honored with eternal life OR knowing Jesus more.

Essentially this is saying that when you are faithful over the relational knowledge you already have of Jesus by gaining victory over sin in that area through relational trust in the God we claim to know,  then more relational knowledge will be opened to you.

The same is said in a different way in 1 Peter 1.

1 Peter 1:3-25,

“(1) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy He gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you,  (5)  who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  

(6)  This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials.  (7)  Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away – and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  

(8)  You have not seen Him, but you love Him. You do not see Him now but you believe in Him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,  (9)  because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls.  

(10)  Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully.  (11)  They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and His subsequent glory.  

(12)  They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things angels long to catch a glimpse of.  

(13)  Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  

(14)  Like obedient children, do not comply with the evil urges you used to follow in your ignorance,  (15)  but, like the Holy One Who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct,  (16)  for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.”  

(17)  And if you address as Father the One Who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here in reverence.  

(18)  You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed – not by perishable things like silver or gold,  (19)  but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ.  

(20)  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake.  (21)  Through Him you now trust in God, Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  

(22)  You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.  (23)  You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.  (24)  For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass; the grass withers and the flower falls off,  (25)  but the word of the Lord endures forever . And this is the word that was proclaimed to you.”

So our list of things we can do ON PURPOSE to pursue relational knowledge of Jesus so far includes…

To hunger we maintain a heart of gratitude for the price paid for the forgiveness of our sins – past and present.

John 5 and Matthew 11 tells us to come to Jesus – not just labor under what we know OF Him

Ephesians and Colossians tell us to make our faith in Christ Jesus effectual by actively loving the brethren and that this seemed to be a prerequisite to Paul asking the Father to fill them with this relational knowledge.

We do this by…

1st – preferring them

2nd – honoring them

3rd – living for them and their benefit

4th – NEVER owe them – pay what you owe! 

5th – give self sacrificially to them

6th – seek God for grace for them

7th – pray and intercede for them

We also are to listen to and honor God’s appointed ministers that we might obtain relational knowledge and grow as a result.

One of the ways in which we give honor is by giving to their needs.

… and by obeying Jesus in all things.

Eph. 4 Jesus gave THESE to the church for the purpose of growth both in academic and relational knowledge of Jesus as well as growth into that image. 

God did not say that He gave the writings, the recording, the videos of these special ministers of His to the church – He gave these persons to the church. This is a major problem we are having in today’s world and it points right back on the last point we just made. 

People think that so long as they watch a church service on TV or read a book or listen to or recording that they have somehow partaken of a person’s ministry and to a degree they have but not entirely. 

One thing we have learned as we have gone through our trek ‘Thru the Bible’ is that God doesn’t give things alone, He gives people and even when He does give things, He gives them in the hands of people so that your encounter with Him is always personal, never sterile and removed.

Unfortunately, due to the shallow manner of the way most people pursue knowledge today, this next example will probably fall flat but… 

Have you ever been exposed to the teachings or ideas of a person who you deeply admired because of what they taught you? If so, have you noticed that the more you spend time with what you heard them say, what you read in their books, what other people who have been exposed to their ideas and teaching have said –  has it ever ignited in your heart a desire to actually talk to the person? 

Have you ever wished you could grab an afternoon with that person all to yourself. The ability to sit down, perhaps with your favorite beverage, and have a long talk of fellowship with this person? To ask them questions about the story behind things that they’ve said so that you might better understand? 

That is the type of relational knowledge we gain in our pursuit of Him. It’s also how we receive relational knowledge through his special ministers. 

Even when Jesus spoke to multitudes at once on hillsides and along public shorelines, He always made Himself available to them. He was always touchable. 

Listen, if anybody ever could have been a celebrity minister Jesus certainly could have qualified but He remained touchable because He knew the deep and intimate need we have for this. There are things that are communicated through 1 on 1 contact that can never be picked up through the general exposure to a person’s teaching, books or lectures. 

Moving on…

Now, several times in this teaching in pursuing relation knowledge of Jesus we touched on the need for hungering after Him. 

A lack of hunger is perhaps of the greatest hindrances to growing in grace and relational knowledge of Jesus.

Did you know that Hunger for God was the first lesson God ever attempted to teach Israel once they crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness? For time’s sake we will explore that next week, but in keeping with the theme we will look at Jesus‘ words regarding hungering for Himself as the true bread from heven.

John 6:27-36,

“(27) Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to ETERNAL LIFE – the food which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father has put His seal of approval on Him.”  

(28)  So then they said to Him, “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?”  

(29)  Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires – to believe in the One Whom He sent.”  

(30)  So they said to Him, “Then what miraculous sign will You perform, so that we may see it and believe You? What will You do?  (31)  Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”  

(32)  Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the solemn truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but My Father is GIVING you the true bread from heaven.  (33)  For the bread of God is the One Who comes down from heaven and gives LIFE to the world.”  

(34)  So they said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!”  

(35)  Jesus said to them,“I am the bread of life. The one who comes to Me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in Me will never be thirsty.  (36)  But I told you that you have seen Me and still do not believe.”

John 6:44-58,

“(44) No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  

(45)  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me.  (46)  (Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One Who is from God – He has seen the Father.)  

(47)  I tell you the solemn truth, the one who believes has ETERNAL LIFE.  

(48)  I am the bread of life.  (49)  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  (50)  This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die.  

(51)  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  

(52)  Then the Jews who were hostile to Jesus began to argue with one another, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  

(53)  Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.  (54)  The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise him up on the last day.  

(55)  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.  (56)  The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood resides in Me, and I in him.  

(57)  Just as the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes Me will live because of Me.

(58)  This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread your ancestors ate, but then later died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”

So you may rightly say to me, “brother Mark I don’t want to be the one who isn’t hungry now but will starve then… how do I create a hunger?”

Well the things we’ve listed so far are a good start, but also you can cultivate a hunger for God through maintaining your Hope and Paul talks a great deal about this – especially in Romans which is where we will go next week.

But circling back to the point we just made, let us take communion now with a view to the eternal life it represents in the consuming of his flesh and the drinking of His blood.

You know the scriptures tell us that the life or soul of the flesh is in the blood and He has given it to us upon the altar to make atonement for our souls.

Isaiah 53 tells us that Jesus poured out His soul unto death. Let’s read it. Its found in Isaiah 53:10-12,

“(10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.  (11)  He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.  (12)  Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”~ Isaiah 53:10-12  

1 Corinthians 11:17-34,

“(17) Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.  

(18)  For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.  (19)  For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident.  

(20)  Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper.  (21)  For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk.  

(22)  Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing?” 

What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this!  

“(23)  For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread,”

This physical, natural bread and this red wine were symbols of the bread of His flesh and the wine of His blood which He spoke to the crowd about that day as recorded in John 6 – which we just read. He said, 

“I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.  (54)  The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise him up on the last day.  

(55)  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.  (56)  The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood resides in Me, and I in him.  

(57)  Just as the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes Me will live because of Me.

(58)  This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread your ancestors ate, but then later died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”

1Cor. 11…

“(24)  and after He had given thanks He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

“(25)  In the same way, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  

(26)  For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.  

(27)  For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  (28)  A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup.”  

Not only in these times of communion or shared experience in the body and the blood of our Lord, but everyday – we eternally live in the constant state of having partaken of His body and blood and we MUST do so always examining ourselves that we do so in deep reverence, respect, gratitude and humility so as to partake of Him every moment of every day in a way which is worthy of Him!

“(29)  For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself.  

(30)  That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.  (31)  But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged.  

(32)  But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.  

(33)  So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.  (34)  If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you assemble it does not lead to judgment.”


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!