Classic Christianity – Book of John Part 55 (08-06-19)
As we continue in the book of John, we come to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us Truth. For apart from him, we can do nothing. Indeed, we cannot even understand the things of God without the Spirit of God living in us. He will guide us into all truth and lead us as we let Him. Are we listening to Him? Do we hear His voice?
Consider a tsunami that takes the lives of men. Where are the animals? Not one is recorded as being killed? Who told the animal to go to the high ground? God’s Spirit is living in us, who have believed the message of Christ, and surely His voice is stronger than the voice of instinct that He speaks to the animals! God does speak to us today.
Have you ever been prompted by the Holy Spirit to pick up the phone and call someone? The answer comes back, “How did you know to call me?” And as you hear the person on the end of the phone share her burden, God gives you words to say, truth spoken into the human heart, that she listens and her life is changed. That is how God works, by the Holy Spirit He has given.
In this world, we all have trials and tribulations. Jesus has overcome the world, and he wants us to live by faith in Him. Jesus has accomplished something for us, and by believing what he did, we accept his offer of life and he has given the Spirit to live in us. He tells us to not be afraid, to be of good cheer, to keep our focus on Him. We have a tendency to think in the natural realm. We forget about the Samaritan woman at the well, and what spiritual truth Jesus was teaching us. We forget about the feeding of the 5000 people with 2 small fish and five loaves of bread. Jesus wants us to walk in faith in every trial and tribulation.
In the tendency of our flesh, we have this tendency to not believe in what God has said. To those who have only tasted and seen the goodness of God, but have not invited the Holy Spirit in, they can only operate in the natural realm. What a burden to carry! When they hear truth, but do not receive it, they say, “I believe that Jesus died for my sins, but”. Bob refers to this as the “Billy goat” theology. There are those who are lost or, at best, not walking in faith, and only that person knows. He knows by the Spirit that is given, that testifies inside of him that he is a child of God. If he is not a child of God, he does not have this testimony. God’s word instructs us to hold firmly to the truth you have heard unless you have believed in vain. How can you hold on to something you never had? But for those who are so slow to believe truth, and are saved, and all of us at times are slow to believe, we are instructed to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to replace error with truth so we can walk in the newness of life God has given.
Bob used an illustration of an upstairs room, where all the good things of life are, water and food that never runs out. We run into a problem in the room down below. We get thirsty so we run upstairs to get water, but then we run back down afterwards. So we tend to walk so much in the natural realm and forget that there is even a spiritual realm until we face problems in life. That is not how God wants us to live. God wants us to go to Him and remain in Him that we might bear much fruit. He wants us to bear fruit that will last. He wants us to stay walking in the spiritual realm, in a dynamic personal relationship with Him, and not get bogged down on things down here.
So what is our attitude toward life when someone we love dies. It is much easier to accept when we are walking in the spiritual realm, when we know something. We will certainly miss him, the memories and lives we shared together, and the mutual encouragement we received by each other’s faith. But know where the person is. He is in a better place where there is no more sin and death. The person is in the presence of God, walking and talking with Jesus and with loved ones who got there before he did. When our mind is on Christ, thanking him for the times we did have with him, then we rejoice. We still carry with us his testimony of life, and we will see him some day. We do not weep as the world weeps, who have no hope.
What is difficult is when a loved one dies and we either do not know where he is going or we know he is lost. Then what can you say? We only have the memories of the life on earth we had and that is it. But we have to keep our focus on reality, on the truth of what God has said. Everyone chooses where they will go. They either accept God’s provision for life in His Son or they do not. They can choose to turn off their hearing aid or they can take the time to listen to someone share the message of Christ. The choice is theirs. Others would rather believe what their religious leaders tell them than the message of Christ. It is heartbreaking to see.
That people die and do indeed go to hell is a reality that the world has a hard time accepting. If there is a heaven, there is also a hell. If there is darkness, then there is also light. Come into the light that you believe and are saved. That is the message for the world today. It is a practical message, a reality of life and death, and said in all truth and grace. Jesus is full of truth and grace.
The best way you can show sympathy for someone is to share truth. You may weep with them but in the midst of your weeping, let your mind go upstairs. Listen to the voice of the Lord and lead him to go with you to talk to the Savior, to your best friend, in whom resides all truth and understanding for what we struggle with down here.
God has created a work specifically for you to do while you are here on earth. He wants you to be about the work of God he has assigned for you. You must press on and go about the task God has assigned you to do. Some will listen. Many will not. We are to learn wisdom by counting our days. We have a limited time at which to work. As Paul said, he worked harder than all the rest, but it was not him working, but Christ working through him. He walked in faith, proclaiming truth into the hearts of men. He listened to the voice of God, going where He wanted him to go and saying what He wanted him to say. We have the word of God written down for us so we too can learn from the Holy Spirit and have Him direct our paths. There is perfect peace when you are resting in Christ.
We are currently in John 12.
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
I can imagine somebody reading that and saying, “Here comes Jesus riding on a donkey. Why not on a horse?” This was written to fulfill prophesy. Let the Lord speak to you more on this. What kind of characteristics come to mind when you think of a donkey? As long as Jesus is sitting on the donkey, the donkey is quite compliant. Instinct? Do the animals listen to God?
At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Why? It was not until day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers. Prior to that time, the disciples who traveled with Jesus and all the people who knew and proclaimed Jesus, were not indwelt by the Spirit of God. Were the disciples saved? They were not saved as we are saved today with a permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost. The Spirit had not come to indwell people until the day of Pentecost. So on the day of Pentecost, in essence, were when the disciples were truly born again of the Spirit.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
So until the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us, we do not belong to Christ. We are followers of Christ until you are indwelt by Christ. Once you are indwelt by Christ, you no longer follow Christ, but you are led internally by Christ. Where do you follow Jesus to? To where he was going. Where was he going? He was going to the cross to take away the sins of the world. He was going to the resurrection to offer life to you and me. He was going to the day of Pentecost where he chose to send the Spirit to you and me.
We are today indwelt by the Spirit of God. God lives in you. We have the mind of Christ living in us. God indwells His church, His people. He lives in you. He is there to lead you and guide you into all truth. He is there to take the things of Christ and make them known to you.
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
1 Corinthians 2:16
16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
No one could know and understand these things prior to the day of Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit came to live in you. That is why these men, who traveled with Jesus knew him intimately, did not understand what was taking place until the day of Pentecost.
Bob recalls a tsunami that took place years ago. Bob shares his thoughts. In that tsunami, some 160,000 people were wiped out in an instant. Something caught his attention more than that. There was not one animal that was lost. There was not one animal recorded killed in that catastrophe. Why? They went to high ground. Who told them to go there? We say instinct, but I say God. Why was not one animal killed but 160,000 people died. Why do fish go back and spawn? Why do the swallows return to Capistrano every year. Instinct?
Isn’t it strange. We understand instinct in animals. How could God give instinct to the animal kingdom and not give us something stronger than instinct? Instinct tells the animal to go to higher ground. No one told them to but instinct. It is strange that animals do not rebel against instinct. I am not sure that is a voice of instinct. They just obey.
Bob’s daughter had six puppies. As soon as the puppies came out they went to the milk bar. Who told them where the milk bar was? Who told the dog to lay there and be a mother and to take care of the puppies? That is called instinct.
God has given you and me something stronger than instinct. He did not give the animals something stronger to guide them than to guide you and me. He gave you and me the Holy Spirit of God, which has to be stronger than instinct. It is God living in you. How can God living in you not be a stronger voice than instinct?
Do we listen to the voice of God? Why don’t we listen to this voice of God that is living in us more intently than we do? Sometimes we do, and we see the results of it, saying “wow”, and then forget it. Why do we, you and I, not listen to the voice of God more? It is always there but what do we do with it? Sometimes we say, “I am not sure that is God?”
Have you ever heard the voice of God tell you to pick up the phone and call someone? The answer comes back, “How did you know I needed to talk to you?” How many times has that happened to us? How many times do we hear that voice and ignore it? You say, “Oh, that is not of God”. That indwelling sin in us is a deterrent to listening to the voice of God. Each and every one of us needs to ask God, “God, if I have been ignoring your voice, I want to hear your voice. If you can do that with the animals, calling them to get out and go to higher ground, what can you do with me if I listen to you? I want to hear your voice. I want to be guided by you. I want to be directed by you. I want you to be my God and my guide.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
How many times do we lean on our understanding instead of letting God guide us and direct us? That is the best illustration God has ever shown me. I have known about instinct. You can look at nature and see it. Surely God has given me something stronger than instinct? He did. He gave me His Holy Spirit!
The reason the disciples did not understand Jesus is because they did not have the Holy Spirit living in them to teach them. What they knew about Jesus was leaning on their own understanding. They had him in front of him. They could talk to him and listen to him. They had no ability for them to understand the words of Jesus. So too today. We cannot understand the words of Jesus if we do not have the Holy Spirit living in us and do not listen to what the Holy Spirit of God is teaching.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
We have a conflict going on in our lives called the flesh. You have the natural and you have the spiritual. The natural man deals with things of this earth. What is the spiritual man for? To deal with things of the Spirit. What is your attitude when bad things happen? Is it, as the world says, “Why do bad things happen to good people? That is an easy question to answer because there aren’t any good people. Jesus says there aren’t any good people but God.
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.”
What is your attitude when your husband suddenly dies? What is your attitude toward that? Is it natural or is it spiritual? What your response is, is going to show you where your walk is with God. Recall the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Are you drinking of natural water? If you do, you will thirst again. Are you drinking of spiritual water? Jesus said you will never thirst again. Recall the account of the Jews the day after Jesus fed 5000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread in John 6. What did Jesus say to them? Are you going after natural food or after spiritual food? Do you want to live in the natural or in the Spirit?
Bob explains the way natural man is so slow to believe and remain thinking in the natural realm. Most of us have a “Billy goat” theology. It is “yes, but. But, but, but”. It is like adding a “but” to every truth and negating that truth. You say, “God took away my sins, but”, “You are saved, but” or “Paul is with Jesus, but.”
Bob gives another illustration. Let us say Jesus is upstairs on the second floor. Up there is living water. Up there is living food. Up there is everything you ever dreamed of. You live down here. Something happens and so you get thirsty. So what do you do? You run upstairs to get some water and then you come back down here. God wants you to go upstairs and live with him. He wants you to dwell with him. We are told in Hebrews that people tasted but they never drank?
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
How many of us are tasters? We touch but we never hold on? We glance at something but we do not focus on Jesus? We just glance at him or we just go to him when we need him but then return to the first floor. We hear him but we do not listen to him.
1 Corinthians 15:2
2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
20 It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him – all things in heaven and on earth – for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood. 21 This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies and hated him and were separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. 22 He has done this through the death on the cross of his own human body, and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are standing there before him with nothing left against you – nothing left that he could even chide you for; 23 the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting him to save you. This is the wonderful news that came to each of you and is now spreading all over the world. And I, Paul, have the joy of telling it to others.
Recall Jesus said, “whoever has ears, let him listen” (Matthew 11:15). You can see we all have ears. Some are just bigger than others but we all have ears. We just hear but do not listen. We just ponder. We sniff but do not smell. We sniff the rose but do not take time for the fragrance to come in.
In our lives, many times our faith is superficial. It is a quarter inch deep but five miles wide. We do not camp where he tells us to camp. He tells us to camp there and stay there. If I have a problem down here and if I do not go to the top floor and stay there, then I will be preoccupied with my problem.
At many times in death, people think you are unsympathetic. I am not unsympathetic at all when someone dies but unbelievably realistic. I know something. I know something about Paul. Don’t you? He is with Jesus in the presence of God. He is in the presence of God never to see sin and death again. Who is in a better place? You or him?
Consider Paul’s attitude in life. So too was the attitude of Bob George in life. I have never met Paul and I have never met Bob. But I know their attitude in life by the lives that have been touched when they allowed the Spirit of God to live in them and through them and the truth in Christ that was told to set men free.
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
How do you encourage people who have lost a loved one? By sitting around moaning? That is what the Jews did! They had professional mourners who sat around for weeks, moaning. What does scripture say?
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
We do not grieve like that, moaning all day long, hours on end. We do not grieve like the heathen. Why? We know something. We know something far greater than what takes place down here. If you have a problem in life down here, get your mind up there and stay there. Do not stay down here and moan. I go up there. Go up there and drink. Go up there and eat. Go up and participate with Jesus.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Why do we not moan like the lost do when someone they love dies? My mind is not on myself but on Him.
7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he
Bob continues. I get tired of this “Billy goat” Christianity. I get tired of hearing the “yes, but’s”. If you are in Christ Jesus, you are supposed to be growing in Christ Jesus. When we grow in Christ Jesus, we do not grow by being preoccupied with the natural. We grow by being preoccupied with the spiritual. We get our mind focused on truth and get it off of what is going on down here.
I am not talking to someone who has experienced things that I could be fearful of and upset over. When I had a heart attack and cancer and other junk, to be honest with you, my mind was not on me but on Christ. I did not care whether I lived or died. Other times my mind was not on Christ but on me. But when I have run into circumstances of death, where many went, my mind was on Christ. When my mom died, I was thankful she died. Why? She was suffering and so I praised God for the years I did have with her and that God took her so her suffering is over. Do we praise God for the years we do have someone instead of the years we do not?
Bob recalls a call about 5 o’clock in the morning. They were high school friends. Her name was Patty. Patty called because she was carrying a heavy burden. In high school, this guy wanted to marry her. Their parents encouraged them to wait and go to college. They went to separate colleges. Bob said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder for someone else.” He fell in love with someone else and married someone else. For 40 years, she has been moaning and groaning. She had never gotten over that. She regretted that she had waited and then lost love forever. Bob asked her, “Have you ever called Mel’s wife?
Bob continues sharing truth. You are living in imagination and fantasy. You are living in fantasy that he still looks good as he did back then. You are imagining things. Talk to anyone who is married. You are imagining a dog and a picket fence. The best thing you can do is call his wife. She may trade places with you. Patty, do you realize your emotions follow your thoughts. You have been an emotional basket case because you have been thinking unrealistic thoughts for over 40 years. You need to grow up and stop thinking like a teenager. You need to grow up and realize God is in control of all things and you did not mess up by not marrying him.
Ultimately things started happening. Was I unsympathetic? The most unsympathetic things to tell someone is not telling them the truth. Jesus wept. You can weep with those who weep, and you should, but if I am really going to be sorry for someone I am going to tell them the truth. There is a time when you are so sorrowful for someone and you are to weep. But in the midst of weeping your mind must go to the second floor and tell them what Christ has done
If you have a relative who dies who is lost then you ought to weep the whole time. What do you say? You can get up and say how nice someone who is not saved but where are they? We know where they are. So what can you say? That is hard for the world to comprehend that people go to hell. How could you know what hell was if there was not a heaven? How could you know what darkness was without light? How can you know what bright is if you did not have dull? There are two places people will go when they die. Either they will go to hell, in outer darkness separated from God, or into the presence of God.
2 Thessalonians 1:3-12
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is what is so hard in the ministry. It was fun for a lot of years until people started dying. That is reality. If you are married today, and unless some catastrophe happens where both die, one of you is going to look at your mate in a casket. Where is your focus today?
12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Where are you going to focus? If Amy died before I did, I will focus on the fact she is in the presence of Jesus. I hope it does not happen. My prayer is that God takes me first. I will know where she is and I will focus on the fact she will be in the presence of Jesus. She will be talking to Jesus and loved ones who preceded her. I would not want her to return here to this place that I am trying to get out of. In this world is trials and tribulation and they are not so fun. She would be in perfect peace and rest, talking with Jesus.
Consider the words of Jesus. He did not promise us a rose garden down her, but he told his disciples, and us today, to keep your focus on Him, for He has overcome the world. He supplies everything you need down here to walk above the winds and the waves of life, to have his peace that surpasses understanding.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Consider the manner of life of those who have gone on before us, imitating their faith, so as to be encouraged to carry on the work that the Lord has given you to do, resting in him to live His life in you and through you, to the praise and glory of His great name.
2 Corinthians 1:12-14
12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.