Classic Christianity – Book of John p14 (11-12-18)
Bob George, from the original People to People radio for over 30 years, continues teaching from the book of John. He starts out by introducing the thinking of an atheist and agnostic in regards to their lack of understanding of the truth of God. Then he transitions to how the child of God, or believer, knows the truth of God and has the indwelling Spirit of God to reveal truth to him. The believer has the choice to walk by the flesh or by the Spirit. Bob shares some common patterns of walking in the flesh and the absolute necessity of having the Spirit of God at work in you. Without the Holy Spirit, the believer cannot love and his natural tendency in the flesh is to walk in fear or anger.
Bob also explains the relationship between faith, hope and love and the typical flesh pattern of living in fear, sin really. Fear leads to anger or the building of defensive walls as barriers to relationships. With fear, one is not free to love someone else and fear leads to anger. He also explains that anger is not the opposite of fear, but pride is. So unless one can pass love onto someone else, then love is really not complete in you.
Bob then transitions to explaining who Jesus is. Jesus really is more than a prophet. Bob shares from scripture the testimony of John the Baptist but also even weightier testimony than that to reveal that Jesus really is God in the flesh. Jesus came to finish the work that the Father gave him to do.
Bob started by explaining the faulty reasoning of someone who claims to be an atheist. An atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of God. By definition an atheist claims to possess total knowledge. The atheist does not have total knowledge so how can he say that there is no God. An agnostic is more honest, for he is uncertain there is a God. So an agnostic is open to hearing truth. You can ask an agnostic, “If you could know there is a God, would you be interested in knowing? What is the risk in believing God exists? There is none. If what Jesus says is true, as revealed in the scriptures, then you will be communicating with the living God. Otherwise, you will be talking to the air. The real risk is not believing there is a God who offers you eternal life. There is much to gain by believing. Would you not want Christ in you, the hope of glory?
So what do we know about Jesus Christ so far? He certainly loves people. Just from observing the miracles he performed, such as making the blind see and the lame walk, testifies of his love. From the following passages of scripture, one reads about what love is, where it comes from and what it looks like.
1 John 4:7-11
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 Corinthians 13:4-6
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Can we love like that? No man can love who does not know God. Are you easily angered? Someone is harsh to you or your family or cuts you off in traffic, nearly causing an accident, do you respond in anger? Someone persists in causing harm to you or your reputation or ability to hold employment, do you revile back? Does Christ keep record of wrongs? No Do you? How many times has your spouse failed to do something you need or hurts you? Do you proceed to list their wrongs that happened 20 years ago? In relationships, has someone so hurt you that you fear being around them? Do you build walls so that no person will have hurt you again in that way. Have you now hindered your ability to love them. If you do not even let anybody get close again, are you really free to love? The opposite of love is not hate. No, the opposite of love is pride. Pride cannot afford to keep a record of wrongs but instead lashes out with revenge. Pride wants to protect itself at the expense of someone else. Pride does not give himself away to someone else because of fear of getting hurt.
Fear of getting hurt again is a common problem among men. Anger is a secondary response to fear. You do not need to protect yourself because God is your protector. When one knows the truth about God, he can walk in that truth by the Spirit living in him. Realize that fear really is sin, but we tend to not recognize fear as sin. Nobody likes the flesh getting hurt again. When one recognizes they cannot do something to love someone, then walking in the flesh. That should be a signal for you to pray to God and choose to walk in the Spirit. It is an excuse to not look at fear as sin. Perfect love casts out fear. No need to fear. Live free from fear by letting the love of God consume you.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
So man cannot love in the flesh. He has to have the supernatural life of Christ and choose to walk in the Spirit. He must walk as Jesus walked, in total dependence on the Father. If one walks in the Spirit, he will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The believer is meant to walk in total dependence on the Spirit and his life should be known by his love for one another. That is the true mark of a believer, that he loves like Jesus loved. The believer is to be recognized by his love.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
God would not command a believer to do something that he does not give the ability to do. The power and ability is Christ living in you and through you. When one is in relationship with the living God, then one has God and God is love. When one walks in the spirit one walks in same manner as Jesus did. He only did what he saw His Father doing.
How much do you know of God’s love for you? Can you say along with the Apostle Paul that nothing can separate you from the love of God?
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice also the connection of faith to love. Do you trust God to live in you and through you? Do you trust Him to provide for you, to protect you and keep you, and walk with you through your struggles. Do you trust Him? Do you have this hope in your heart?
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Do you glory in your sufferings with this hope that does not put shame? If so, then you must know that God’s love been poured into your hearts. Are you letting the Spirit of God direct your path, to live in you and through you? If you are not passing on love then it is because you are refusing to be the recipient of God’s love. We love because He first loved us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
After the short break, Bob shared more about the testimony of Jesus as the Messiah. We have the testimony of John the Baptist who said he would not have not known who Jesus if the Spirit who told him to baptize had not told him. Even Jesus said of John that among men there was no one greater than John. Jesus though did not come from earth but from God.
And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
But then there is weightier testimony than John’s.
“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me.
So what work did Jesus do? He did heal the sick and make the blind walk, in fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah. All this proves that Jesus is the promised Messiah. But he completed the work the Father sent him to do. He died, was buried, and he rose again. And he walked in perfect submission to the Father, only doing what His Father told Him to do. That is the weightier testimony!
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
How many have you been to a funeral to hear all kinds of testimony about someone who died. Something just does not wring true. For you knew him. The thief on the cross came to his senses and came to know the God of love on the few remaining hours of life on earth. This is his testimony of Jesus.
We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Jesus lived a sinless life, died to take away the sins of the world, of whom no one is without sin, then rose again so as to offer eternal life, His very life to dwell in men by His Holy Spirit, as a gift to be received. What greater love is there than this?
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Bob continues teaching from the book of John.
37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Jesus challenged the religious leaders in his day. They had knowledge, they studied the scriptures, but they failed to come to Christ for life! These religious Jews are not unlike people to day who can know what scripture says but do not know what it means. There are denominations that claim that one must be baptized in their church in order to be saved. Others claim they must be in their denomination and participate in their sacraments in order to be saved. People would come to Jesus for miracles or blessings but not coming to Jesus to receive life. Many of the faith healing movement today are like that. People may have information, even know about Jesus death, burial and resurrection, but do not have the love of God in their hearts, for they do not know God. Love is accompanied by faith and hope. Without faith in Christ’s finished work for them personally, how then can one have love poured in His heart. Without the hope of Christ in you both for this life and the life to come, how then can one love? When Jesus talked to Peter, and one were to study the Greek, three different words were used for love – agape, eros and phileo. Eros is the sexual love, phileo is the brotherly love, but agape is the kind of love only produced by faith in the one who produced it in you. Learn the meaning of the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15.
A branch cannot bear fruit apart from the vine. Abiding in the vine is how the branch bears fruit. How much love of God is in your heart? How well are you abiding in the source? Also this does not work like a vending machine, dispensing certain fruit here and another fruit there. In this parable, Jesus is the vine and the children of God are the branches. The fruit (singular) is what is listed in Galatians 5:22.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
All characteristics are is yours when abiding. There is no law to tell you to love. Love comes by turning on the faucet, the source of water. Focus on the root not the fruit. Striving to get water without turning on the faucet will not cause water to come out.
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