How to connect with God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

Romans 10:8-11 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

 Romans 10:8-11 (NLT)
8  In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of His Holy Word.

If you were with us in our last sermon from the epistle written to the church at Rome, you may recall that we shared a sermon in which we addressed the issue     of failing to connect with God

I shared with you a personal story about how Sister Cecile and I missed a flight when we were very young. We showed up a Logan, International Airport with the intention of going on a trip but we missed the flight because we didn’t understand that an 11am departure meant that you had to be there at 9:30am.

We missed it; we failed to connect because we were ignorant of how things worked.

In that teaching Paul took us through a diagnostic analysis of how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with the God of their fathers.

It was both interesting and upsetting to learn that a group of people, actually ended up missing God, because they failed to understand and were blinded to the truth of who God is and how he operates.

In their human efforts at connecting with God through the keeping of their laws, they failed to grasp the fact that man in his own efforts, no matter how sincere, can never work his way up to God.

They had zeal and a desire to connect with him, but they were untutored, they were unlearned, they were ignorant says Paul of God’s way of making a person righteous.

Ultimately their efforts and their commitment to those efforts caused them to reject the Messiah, Jesus Christ God’s own Son.

If you were not here for that sermon, I very much want to encourage you to take the time to request the notes by e-mailing me at Pastorjharp@gmail.com, or going on our you-tube channel to watch the sermon.

Today we are going to talk about how to connect with God and we are coming from one of the most well known passages in the bible.

Now this passage is really the crème de la crème of salvivic scriptures.

It is a clear and no none-sense answer to the question of what it takes for a person to be saved.

In fact I would urge each and every one of you to take copious notes and to keep these notes in your bible, because these doctrinal truths, will keep you grounded AND they will help you to share the gospel with anyone who asks you, what it takes to become a born again child of God.

So let’s walk through these 4 points

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. A person must believe that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

Romans 10:8 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

Psalm 14:1-3 (NKJV)
2  The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3  They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Romans 6:23a (NKJV)
23  For the wages of sin is death,

John 3:17 (NKJV)
17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 6:38a-b (NLT)
38a-b  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me

Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)
28  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

In this first point of the sermon, we want to look at and answer the question that is posed today within the context of the title of this teaching and we also want to examine the comparison between what we learned in the first part of this sermon in which took a look at how Israel actually missed connecting with God.

Now in the Jewish approach to reaching and or connecting with God, the focus was upon man’s efforts as evidenced in the zealousness of the nation of Israel, as it pertained to the LAW.

Remember now, we learned a few weeks ago that there were over 613 commandments and or directives that were on the books.

The concept that one could qualify; the notion that one could obtain the acceptance of God by reason of effort, was rooted in the notion that if you were really serious and really focused and really intense and committed to the law, that you could literally scale the heights of heaven and be accepted by God as a result of your own works.

Paul in his teachings knocks that notion out of the water, and he says that the way to connect with God and the way to become acceptable to him, was literally and I quote “in their mouths and in their hearts”

All that they needed to do was to hear and believe the core message of the gospel, which declared that Jesus came down from heaven, to save men from their sins.

That is what Paul meant when he said and I quote ““The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

In order to be saved, in order to connect with God and become acceptable to him, the first thing that a person has to do is to believe what is being preached or shared with you, concerning who Jesus is and the purpose of his coming.

You as a listener have got to believe that what you hear IS TRUE.

Israel for the most part could not accept this, no matter how hard Paul preached, they rejected the gospel and responded to it by trying to kill Paul.

Everything that they had in their customs such as the sacrifices and atonement, was pointing to Jesus and the need of man, to have a SAVIOR who would be the sacrificial lamb who paid for their sins, it was all pointing to Jesus but they missed it.

Thought:

People today can miss the simplicity of the gospel, by failing to believe the good news about why Jesus came.

You see gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ must be responded to not with doubt, or skepticism, but by faith.

You don’t have to know the bible.

You don’t have to agree with everything in the bible, you don’t have to be able to access the Greek and Hebrew text to be sure that King James got every word correct, all you need to do is to embrace the simple message of the why Jesus came and what he did for you.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who always falls short in terms of measuring up to the righteous standards of God. When God looked down from heaven, he sees that there is NONE righteous no not one.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who has earned a wage for HIS sins, which is death. This is why every man, women, boy or girl is born with a death sentence on their lives.

You must believe that God so loved the world and he loved man so much that he sent his SON Jesus to pay the wages of sin. He sent Jesus to die on a cross as a sacrificial lamb who would take upon himself, the sins of all man.

That is the reason why Jesus came to the earth, to shed his blood for many, as a payment for US, so that our sins might be remitted.

To be saved, to be born again, to be accepted by God, You have to respond in faith to the gospel (good news)

Thought:

Now for some here today who are sitting in the sanctuary and perhaps for some who are tied in to the video stream, this is where you get stuck.

It’s too simple and you won’t accept it. It doesn’t sound appealing or you won’t believe because you want to argue and keep on searching on line.

You won’t accept the gospel because in order to do that, you’ve got to admit that you are a filthy sinner, just like the rest of us.

In fact you didn’t even react, because as soon as you heard the word sinner, you shut your heart and mind down.

You want to be stroked. You want your ego lubricated. You want to be sold, you want to be pampered and I understand why the flesh needs that, but I am here to tell you this morning that the good news is about Jesus redeeming you from YOUR sins.

It is not about him getting you a job, or making you feel good about yourself.

The message of the gospel it is about the unmitigated act of love and mercy, where God himself, sent HIS sinless SON, to die on a cross and the ugliness of that event, which was caused by each one of us.

The good news is that in spite of that reality, WHILE WE WERE yet sinners; Jesus came down from heaven to do something incredible for the benefit of those who could not appreciate it, nor in any way deserved it.

If you want to be saved, if you want to connect with God you must believe that Jesus came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/Saved/Born again)?

  1. Declare (confess) your spoken acknowledgement that you truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Romans 10:8-9a (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9a  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus

John 6:38 (NLT)
38  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.

John 6:33 (NKJV)
33  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

John 16:30 (NLT)
30  Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”

John 1:1-2 (NKJV)
1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2  He was in the beginning with God.

I really enjoyed preparing for this sermon that we are sharing today, because I have found that some of the most interesting and enlightening things we learn together, often come from scriptures that we are already familiar with.

This passage from Romans Chapter 10:9 specifically looking at the “a” portion is a perfect example of that.

Now from time to time I’ve heard Pastor Winston refer to this particular web-site called got-answers.org and I was directed there by a Google search.

When I asked the question as to what exactly what was meant by that portion where it says that a person must confess that Jesus is Lord, I found some interesting information.

Now in the scripture we see the use of the word confess.

I’ve added the word declare, based on what I learned from my research.

I did that because the word DECLARE helps to communicate the necessity of acknowledging him verbally and doing do in a way that makes it clear that you understand and believe in Jesus as GOD.

I also looked at and did some research on the word LORD.

In the bible the word Lord isn’t used only in reference to Jesus.

The term Lord can apply to ordinary human being.

If you own property and your rent your property to others you are a Landlord.

If you are a member of the House of Commons in England, you might have the title of Lord.

But when it comes to declaring and acknowledging Jesus as Lord, it means more that just giving him a title of respect.

When you declare that Jesus is LORD you are acknowledging to others and declaring to others that you understand and embrace the deity of Christ and that you acknowledge Jesus as God.

Jesus isn’t just another prophet.

Jesus isn’t just or another religious leader, like Muhammad or Buddha.

Jesus is the bread of God who came down from heaven.

Jesus is the WORD of God, who was with God and is God, and was from the beginning.

I don’t know how it works. I don’t fully understand the complexity of the Godhead.

I only know and believe with all of my heart and I am willing to confess and declare it to anyone, that Jesus is God and God’s own Son who came down from heaven and that he is LORD, Master, creator and sustainer of the universe and that he came DOWN from heaven to do HIS Father’s will.

Thought:

This my friends is non-negotiable.

You can’t soft peddle his LORDSHIP when it comes to salvation.

You can’t be saved by any one else other than Almighty God.

If you are still struggling with seeing and believing that Jesus is GOD, my friend, I am here to tell you, that you are not ready.

You can’t come to him as a fan of Jesus.

You can’t come to him as an admirer.

Jesus cannot be just another great historic figure that you have decided to become acquainted with.

Jesus won’t fit on your shelf right next to the other mere men, whom you look to for advice or direction or suggestions.

Jesus must be God and LORD of your life.

Thought:

This by the way is why a lot of folks lack passion and love and fire when it comes to Jesus

It’s the reason why there is a lack of Joy. It’s the reason why, you cannot be thrilled and in love with Jesus, because he is NOT your LORD.

It’s not that lack of preaching, it ‘s not programs, it’s not doctrines; it’s that Jesus doesn’t occupy that place of deity in your life; he’s an action figure that we’ve placed on the shelf, along with our other self-help books and advice.

When Jesus is embraced and taken into your heart as LORD and GOD, it overwhelms you.

  • He fills you.
  • He thrills you.
  • He turns you upside down

Thought:

Paul was an example of that; he was a person who was overcome, with the awesomeness of having Jesus as GOD in his life.

It’s not just saying the words, “ Jesus is LORD”, but it is believing in your heart, that Jesus is GOD and then you speak, you declare, you confess out of your mouth, what is in your heart.

Thought:

Have you done that my friends? Have you gotten to the place, where Jesus is the LORD who has completely taken you over.

Does your heart still skip a beat, when folks start calling his name?

Do you get dizzy, when you think about Jesus?

Do you know him as LORD and God…..or are you just an admiring a fan

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. Believe in your heart, that Jesus died to pay for the sins of mankind, that he was buried and that God raised him (Jesus) from the dead.

Romans 10:9a-b (NKJV)
9a-b  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead

Isaiah 53:5a-c (NKJV)
5a-c  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

Romans 4:25 (NLT)
25  He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

1 Corinthians 15:4 (NLT)
4  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 

Hebrews 10:4-5 (NKJV)
4  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5  Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.

A person connects with God; a person becomes born again, by believing in what God did for them, through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ HIS Son.

That is how a person gets saved.

Earlier in point number one we spoke about the reality of man’s sinfulness and the actions needed in terms of the salvivic process, whereby the issue of sin and the payment for the wages of sin, were dealt with through the process of payment and remittance, by reason of a blood sacrifice.

Someone had to pay the price for our sins and Jesus did it.

Thought:

The nation of Israel was familiar with this principle.

In their laws and customs, there was an established formula of dealing with the issue of sin.

When a sin was committed or when a person offended God, they would offer the bodies and blood of bulls and goats and doves, as a payment for their sins.

Now problem with that was, that these offerings never did the job; because they would find themselves coming back year after year, time after time, offering that which clearly could not completely nor once and for all, take away the stain of their sins.

A person connects with God, by hearing the gospel message and by believing that Jesus was born into this world, that he lived on the earth as a man and that he went to the cross and was crucified “as the sinless lamb” of God, who gave his life as a sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.

In other words, a person must believe that Jesus was crucified.

A person must believe that Jesus died, not that he fainted. Not that his disciplines hid him away for a few days, until he recovered.

A person must believe, that Jesus died AND that GOD raised him from the dead and in that raising HE signaled an acceptance of what Jesus did on the cross as a PAYMENT IN FULL.

And once you have that settled into your heart, it becomes a reality that transforms your heart and mind completely.

That is why you see folks shouting. That is why you see them getting happy at the funeral of a loved one who has died in Christ.

Folks act like that because they have placed their FAITH and trust not in a new or interesting idea, but rather they have placed their FAITH in the power of almighty God, as evidenced in the reality of the risen Lord. 

This is another area, where we must stand and believe in a non-negotiable reality.

Jesus died and he rose again, and he GOT up with all power in his hands.

This is where the rubber meets the road baby, this is where faith in Jesus makes all the difference between what other folks says about their faith.

This is what I am hanging my faith on. This is what you must believe and know as a reality in your heart.

That Jesus died and he stayed in that grave for three days. They beat him, they killed him, but he got up, with all power in his hands…. 

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved by/born again)?…4th and finally you ..

  1. Place your faith and trust in him Jesus as the one who has secured a right standing of acceptance with the Father.

Romans 10:10-11 (NLT)
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with

God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

John 7:37 (NKJV)
37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink

1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)
18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Romans 5:1 (NLT)
1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

CLOSE:

In the beginning of the sermon, I told you that it was important that we have an opportunity to compare and contrast the response of Israel to the gospel and to look at that as a model for how a person can miss God.

Israel missed it on several levels. Firstly they missed understanding that the key to a right standing with God was not by works but by faith.

Israel also missed the message because of their pride and their prejudice.

They missed the messiah, just like people today can miss HIM because of pride, or arrogance or just being rebellious.

The scripture says “ that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame

To be accepted by God you have to, humble yourself, you have to accept the truth about who you are as a sinner and you have to embrace the gospel and believe in Jesus as Lord with all of your heart.

You have to abandon the notion that you ever can save yourself and instead you must place your faith AND trust in Jesus, believing, counting on, putting your firm confidence in God’s love as expressed in the life of and in the work of JESUS the

SON of righteousness who has secured for you a RIGHT STANDING of acceptance with the Father, NOT because of YOU, but because of HIM.

And when you do that, you can rest and have complete confidence that you will never be left hanging and never be put to shame

That is HOW you connect with God that is how you get born again, that is how you become saved and accepted, NOT through works but through faith.

AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed….

Click here to view the service and sermon

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