I recall a time in which Benny Hinn came to preach as a guest speaker at an Assemblies of God church in Orlando. The Pastor of the church arose to welcome the people. His choice text was Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” As he read through the Psalm, people nodded their heads as they listened to the passage, which they had undoubtedly heard many times before. It wasn’t long after he finished that Benny Hinn took the pulpit. He opened up his mouth and began to quote Psalm 23 to the congregation. And though the words were so familiar to their ears, and they had just heard the same passage read to them by their Pastor, many people in the congregation began to break down in tears, as their hearts were pierced through with God’s love for His own people.
After the service, the Pastor of the church took Benny Hinn aside and said, “Why, when I read Psalm 23 to the congregation, did they simply hear it, but when you quoted it, they were emotionally moved to tears?” Hinn turned, looked at the Pastor, and in an effort to bring home the vast difference between a relationship with the Bible alone and a relationship with the Spirit that inspired it, lovingly replied, “You know the Psalm, I know the Shepherd.”
It is one thing to know the word of God and another thing to know the God of the word. As Leonard Ravenhill would point out, “it is not written that, those that know their Bible shall be strong and do exploits, but rather, they that know their God…” It is commonly taught, “you must know your Bible.” It is not God’s heart for you to merely, “know your Bible.” It is God’s plan that you, “know Him.” He didn’t save us to be scholars. He didn’t save us from not knowing about Him so we could know about Him. He saved us that we would know Him. Really. Eternal life is to KNOW GOD (John 17.2-3).
Though none of us are perfect nor will we ever be, we can know Him.
Michael Molinos said, “You cannot be perfect nor understand everything, but you can love Him.”
We are to be led, not by things about Him, but by Him. The Lord Himself wants to be the leader. He doesn’t want you to distantly follow the things that you can find out about Him or what has been recorded about Him, He wants you to be led by Him. He is the guide, He is the protector, He is the comfort, He is the Shepherd. Not His book. The Scriptures are meant to illuminate Him to us. Knowing Him is everything. If we don’t know Him, all of our degrees may as well collect dust or shine away in a glossy frame, for it all amounts to nothing. We need to KNOW GOD.
I want Him to hear me and me hear Him. The enjoyment of Him is everything. I believe that the enjoyment of God is the only true opening of the heart to hear or follow Him. Any following that isn’t issuing out of enjoyment of His presence above all things is tainted.
There is an inseparable connection of Lord and Shepherd. To actually know Him is to be under Him. Their is no knowing of God, in any way, apart from submission to His Lordship. If God were to allow us to go on forgiven only, rather than leading us also into submission to His Kingdom, would the root issue displayed in Eden truly have been dealt with?
We must never forget that the “Shepherdship” of Christ is only a reality in the lives that have subjected themselves to His “Lordship.” For the Scriptures say, “THE LORD is my Shepherd…” The benefits and guidance of the Lord in one’s life are real only to those whose hearts are subjected to the rule and reign of Christ the Lord.
Notice the word, “IS.” The wonder of the Shepherd leading and guiding, protecting and providing is current. Just because He “was” your Shepherd doesn’t mean He “is.” Just because you have plans for Him “to be” your Shepherd doesn’t mean His “is” now. Just because you gave your life to Him, doesn’t mean it is given now. If we leave the Lordship of Christ and decide to guide and lead ourselves, we no longer are able to claim that, “the Lord is [our] Shepherd.” We have become our own Shepherd.
I believe many have fallen into this trap. They cling to their lives and control their own destiny and religiously proclaim, “the Lord is my Shepherd.” This Intimate reality with God is too precious to reduce to a “positional” state. Some people believe that He is our Shepherd because we believed at one time. Listen, if we choose to rule our lives, He is not ruling. If we choose to Shepherd ourselves, He is not Shepherd.
I submit to all of us a question…is HE HIMSELF experienced in and clearly leading our lives as we have laid our lives at His feet? There are many wonderful evidences and promises in Psalm 23 of His wonderful Shepherding if He is in fact our Lord. “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD.” Or, to rephrase, “The One that I have given my existence to, and that I know and experience, is, right now, this very day, my very own guiding, providing, lover, and leader of my life.”
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism.
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