My Only Desire Was To Know Christ
By Frank Manasseri
Once I stopped reading what others said the Scriptures were teaching and read only the Scriptures (in a Bible with no footnotes or cross-references), God in His mercy opened up my eyes to understand the glory of the Messiah to come.
In the late 1980′s my wife and I decided to leave a certain ministry seeing as the top leadership no longer acted on the Bible they were espousing. This, along with other reasons just as important prompted us to leave and at this point my only desire was to know Jesus Christ as He is today and not another man-made ministry.
Having determined after all my theological studies, the best I could do was tell people about Jesus of Nazareth. However, I did not feel I knew him in a personal way. As I pondered this my thoughts went back to when I was a young boy growing up in the Bronx. I loved the game of baseball and my number one team was the New York Yankees. Like many young New Yorkers of the time Mickey Mantle was my favorite player. In fact the “Mick” was my hero. In around about way, Mickey Mantle mentored me as I watched him on TV. I observed every move he made and began to emulate him during our local sand lot baseball games. I became a good center-fielder and switch hitter because of his example. From my Bubble Gum Baseball Card collection, I gleaned everything about number “7,” where he was from and all of his stats. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to shake his hand and I never met or talked with Mickey Mantle. Nevertheless he had a profound influence on my baseball playing abilities.
During this period of seeking and desiring to know Jesus, I became aware of my lack of intimacy with my Savior Jesus Christ! My hunger of seeking after knowing more about Him increased to almost an obsession. I became passionate about finding the answers to my dilemma and reasoned that if He was my Lord, I needed to find a way to be able to know what He desired of me in my daily walk through life. How would I accomplish His will for me if I were not able to comprehend His directives for me? I truly believed He was my Savior but after years of being super involved with what turned out to be an apostate cult disguised as a ministry, I found myself feeling angry, empty and alone. I knew much about the scriptures but I was certain there had to be more to learn and experience concerning a vital connection with the ascended Jesus of Nazareth.
At this point my wife and I moved to a rural part of the southwest and made the choice not to participate in any religious activities until I found my place with the Lord. I had no interest in following any church or ministry and likened this phase as entering into a cave to isolate myself from any other source of biblical knowledge other then the scriptures. In time I threw away the old Bible I had used for years! Its margins were loaded with notes and other extraneous scribbling from past studies and teachings. After purchasing a new Bible I felt somewhat liberated and free to learn without any hindrances from the past. To this day I have not written one note in the margins of my new Bible. I felt assured that one day I would find my personal relationship with Jesus and with this, find peace. He would be my teacher of Truth and my “notes.” After reading the following verses my passion became to realize this in my own walk with the Lord.
I John 2:26-28(KJV)
Within a short period of getting alone in the daily seclusion of the woods, I began to get quiet for hours at a time. Soon after I began this practice, I noticed what I would not describe as a voice within, but what I can only explain as a “knowing.” This was an inside awareness and understanding becoming more evident as each day passed. I would walk into the woods daily, led by my passion to learn. I had read in Matthew that, “His disciples came unto him,” and then He would share information with them to increase their understanding of spiritual things.
I learned that when His disciple came to Him in privacy, He would instruct them. This is exactly what I wanted and needed. I was not disappointed in my expectations of what Jesus began to reveal to me through the scriptures. What progressively transpired over the next period of years changed my life. Almost all of the theology I had picked up in the past was washed away and I began to be filled with insights and understanding of the scriptures like never before. I began writing down the lessons I was receiving during my personal daily visits with the Lord and beginning to realize that when I made a special time for Him, He always reciprocated and showed me insights of the scriptures that drew me closer to Him.
My enthusiasm grew as I continued in my pursuit of knowing Him. However, the closer I came to Him, the more I realized my inadequacies and shortcomings. At first this shocked me, but as I continued in my pursuit I became acutely aware of many shortcomings. Because of this awareness of the inadequacies of my flesh I concluded that I could not serve him because I was so weak and inadequate. I felt so unworthy.
At this moment I began to internally struggle as I never had before. I began agonizing on the living room floor. It felt like my guts were going to pour out. I became so aware of my total inadequacy and looking back I realized I had experienced what I have come to call, the deepest prayer one could ever pray. Romans 8:28 and 27(KJV)
I was alone, face down on the floor, with my insides groaning and agonizing. Then suddenly a flood of understanding broke through like a burst of light or a sparkling clear stream and as a scripture vividly came to mind.
I realized in that moment of time, the Apostle Paul came to a similar recognition that he was a spiritual man trapped inside a sinful body of flesh. I realized that I too was in this same terminal predicament! I was a spiritual man trapped inside a body of sinful flesh with seemingly no escape. I wanted to do good, but evil was present with me. I desired with all my heart to serve the Lord, but all the while realizing my stinking rotten flesh was an impediment to my accomplishing anything for Him. Like Paul, I soon realized that I very much needed the Lord! I needed Jesus Christ not just during what some would call a brief salvation experience, but I needed the fellowship of the Lord Jesus every moment of every day of my entire life!
I believe this is when I consciously made Jesus the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God my Lord! From that moment on He was no longer just my savior, but he was my Lord and Savior! Rejoicing filled my heart and soul as I remained flat on my face praising God for all of his goodness, grace and mercy for allowing a wretch like me to enjoy the intimacy of His Holy Presence. In a moment of time I went from deep despair and disappointment to a spiritual ecstasy of joy and rejoicing! I no longer felt inadequate to serve the Lord as he had cleansed me from all of my doubts and consciousness of my insufficiencies of being worthy to serve Him. Again like Paul I found strength in my weakness for I realized when I am we then He is strong. His Grace was sufficient for me in order to serve Him.
The Lord had brought me through and gave me the understanding that the only reason I was worthy is because He made me worthy and nothing I could ever accomplish on my own efforts would achieve what only His grace could attain.
2 Corinthians 12:9(KJV)
Emerging from this I realized that if there were anything I could do for the people of the world, it would be to introduce them to a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah. Once this was accomplished, then I could help them to connect and remain linked to Him who is the only True Vine. And He would produce the fruit in them and get all the glory.
I am completely convinced that knowing the scriptures good but it is not enough! Even if I were the best and most accurate theologian that ever lived, it would not be adequate on its own to experience a true living relationship with Christ. However, it would be very rare indeed, if not impossible, to genuinely experience an intimate relationship with Him without any knowledge of the scriptures for it is in the scriptures and the scriptures alone where He reveals himself to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. This may be seen in the account of the two men walking to Emmaus when suddenly Jesus came alongside of them and asked why they were sad as they walked? He first listened to them and then He expounded unto them the scriptures concerning him.
I am confident that it is through His grace, mercy and forgiveness that anyone may enjoy a deep and abiding personal intimate relationship with The Teacher of Truth, Jesus of Nazareth!
In conclusion I believe that those who have had similar experiences as this (and I believe there are many in this category) need to encourage one another to remain faithful to maintain this relationship, for there are many gainsayers and enemies of the truth that would beat us down every chance they get.
We must always keep in mind that He is faithful who called us and gave us the ministry of reconciliation and the Word of reconciliation to share with others the Good News of the blessings of the Kingdom of God.