Class 4: Get to Know Your Creator (Part 1)
Welcome to Class 4 of “The Ramp” to the Highway of Success course for young men. I am Daniel Whyte III, chairman of the National Association to Save Young Black Men in partnership with the Martin Luther King Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women. The Institute aims to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Sr., commonly referred to as “Daddy King”, whom God used to raise the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Our purpose is to guide young men and young women, and help them get on the path to becoming kings and queens for the glory of God.
I am your instructor for this course and the author of the ESSENCE national bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Men”. We are using that book as the text and its study guide to guide you through the course. The study guide was developed with the help of Jamie McCallum and Charles Garrett. This course is for all young men, but especially for young black men and young men of color who oftentimes have a “difficult journey” in this great country called America. I call this class “the Ramp” to the Highway of Success because my goal is to get you on “the Ramp”. As a man, you ought to be able to make it from there. Out of respect for you as a young man, my job is to get you on the ramp and point you in the right direction, not to tell you all the details once you get onto the highway of success. With God, you can do great things.
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As we begin, here are some more quick “Just Do It” action points that you can apply to your life today and that will help you stay alive as a young black man in America. These tips from the National Black Police Association will help you see things from the police officer’s perspective no matter how innocent you think you are. They state:
Now, there are many factors that may lead the police to approach and/or detain you. Every situation is different and the officer may consider one or more of the following factors.
– You are near a location where a crime has been recently reported or discovered.
– You may be – knowingly or unknowingly – a witness to a criminal event or a potential criminal target.
– You are hanging around with people or at locations that are being monitored by the police to prevent crimes.
– You are acting in a manner which appears to be suspicious or potentially criminal; or the police believe you may be in possession of stolen property, contraband, or weapons.
– When walking or driving your car, you refuse to answer police questions and/or give false, evasive, or contradictory information; or you are combative and use derogatory or offensive language when approached. Your reaction may be perceived as suspicious or threatening. Saying the wrong things at the wrong time could lead to further police detainment, questions, increased stress or a trip to jail. Who needs this?
– You have been identified to the police by someone else or you fit the description of a criminal actor.
Remember, police must be able to articulate to the court’s satisfaction what “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” was used to stop, detain, and arrest a citizen.
We will continue with more of these practical action points in our next class.
Today, we are going to begin our second study from Letters to Young Black Men titled, Get to Know Your Creator.
As we begin this class, consider these words from Oswald Chambers: “Our salvation comes to us so easily because it cost God so much.”
Let’s begin by reading a portion from Letters to Young Black Men:
Dear Y.B.M. (Young Black Man):
If you have not done so already, may I strongly encourage you to get to know your God? Dear friend, you will not have a happy, fulfilling, successful life without God as your center. It simply will not happen.
Now when I say get to know God, I am not talking about joining a church, getting baptized, doing good works, or becoming more active in church. I am talking about getting to know God personally for yourself. Here is what I mean:
First of all, understand that you are a sinner like the rest of us. Yes, believe it or not, each of us born into this world has sinned. Each one of us has broken the laws of God. The Bible states plainly in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Now, please pull out your printed book study guide or your digital study guide as we begin this lesson.
- Let’s read 1 John 5:17 and find out what this verse labels as sin. “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” There we have it: everything that is not right is sin in God’s eyes.
Let’s look at some more Scripture verses and note what they say about man’s relation to sin.
- Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Every single man, from the first that walked this earth to the last, can accurately be labeled as unrighteous. All have fallen short of God’s perfect standard. This truth is displayed when we possess pride, jealousy, envy, hatred, and many other impurities. Since Adam, there has never been a flesh-born individual who did not inherit this sinful nature. However, the Holy God is pure and perfect. He created mankind in His image and, thus, justly expects lives of righteousness from His children. So, when we sin we rightfully become unfit for God’s holy, pure, and perfect kingdom.
John 1:14 says that when the Word, or Jesus, came to this earth man finally experienced the glory that only comes from God. This glory is full of grace and truth. Thus, when Romans 3:23 says that every person has “come short of the glory of God,” it may as well be saying that every man, in his sinful state, is unworthy of God’s grace and truth. Without these we are all eternally doomed.
- James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Even if you think you are a relatively decent person, this verse says that whoever has done even one thing against the will of our Father automatically becomes unfit for the kingdom. Just being a good person by the standards of this world is not sufficient for attaining the gift of God, which is eternal life.
- John 8:34 says, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”
To be a slave to sin denotes a sense of being controlled by unrighteousness. If we have sin, which we all do, then no matter how diligently we try to do what is right and be a “good” person we will always fall short. Furthermore, God calls us to be His servants. Our hearts are incapable of serving two different masters. Thus, we must consciously choose if we will continue to live for ourselves and fall short of the Kingdom of God, or if we will turn from our sin, serve only God, and ultimately eternally reside with Him in heaven.
We must acknowledge that we are all sinners. In other words, we admit that we have let God down in the past and we continue to let Him down every day. So, the real question is, what are the consequences of my sin? If every man sins, then does God just expect such failure from human beings and, thus ignore it to some extent? Think about these questions as you prepare for the the next lesson in this study.
In closing, as I shared with you earlier, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”
Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what church people said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.
First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will. Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.
If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.