Classic Christianity – Book of John P22 (11-28-18)
Bob George highlights some of the things Jesus did that identifies him as God. Yet many among his own family and own town did not believe in him. How can that be? Have you ever heard a lie and held onto that lie as if it was true? Think of a little lie about Mary being an ever virgin? What other things would you be willing to believe once you believe that? Would you believe in Mary being worshiped as a co-redeemer? That is an example of false teaching today that leads people away from the new life available in Christ Jesus. There is another reason people could not understand spiritual things. All of us were born spiritually dead. That is why Jesus used illustrations from the physical world to explain spiritual truth men know nothing about nor could they. Not until Pentecost, after Jesus finished the work he came to do, was the Holy Spirit given to men, to permanently indwell men, to never leave or forsake them, to those who believe, to be their counselor and guide them into all truth. When Jesus walked the earth there were those who did believe the message concerning Jesus: the Samaritan woman whom Jesus revealed as the promised Messiah, more than a prophet, the official whose son was healed without even Jesus being present, whose faith was credited as righteousness for he told Jesus just say the word and my servant will be healed for I too am a man under authority, and this man was a Gentile, a Roman centurion! Jesus revealed who he was, first by miracles, the testimony of John the Baptist and even his own words concerning himself, the man sent from God and who came to do his Father’s will. If anyone desires to do God’s will, then they will listen to truth, be fed spiritually, and accept the gift of eternal life. Yet there were those who would not believe; the religious leaders, his own brothers and sisters and the people in his home town of Nazareth. Did they refuse to believe because they sought their own righteousness, by way of the law, religious and false ideas made up by men, only thinking in terms of a physical kingdom and of earthly things, seeking their own way rather than listening to truth? So what faith is needed to believe? How much evidence does one need to believe?
Recall in John 1, the pronouncement of the Apostle John concerning Jesus Christ, an eyewitness of Jesus. He wrote by the indwelling Holy Spirit this truth.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Then one reads about John the Baptist’s testimony concerning Jesus Christ.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Just from these scriptures, Jesus is God in the flesh, walked among men, came from heaven, was with God in the beginning, and indeed Jesus created all that is, the world we see and every man who ever existed and will exist. Jesus is full of grace and truth, having come from the Father to make Himself known to men.
Now, in John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:29, what unique work did Jesus come to do? In all of the Old Testament there were sacrifices of bulls and goats as a temporary covering for sin, yet sin was only atoned for, for such sacrifices had to be continually performed whenever one sinned. And such animals had to be spotless, an animal without defect, symbolic of the sacrifice to come that is sinless and undefiled. John testifies that Jesus came to take away sin. How did Jesus do this? He died on a cross not to atone for sin but to become the perfect and holy sacrifice for sin, to become sin for us so that in him we could receive the righteousness of God, the Holy Spirit to indwell within man. So until sin is taken away, the Holy Spirit could not be given. The first time men received the Holy Spirit was at Pentecost as one reads about in the book of Acts.
In John 6:35-40, Jesus also explained the work he came to do quite clearly when he said
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
Jesus came to give people new life, to raise them up spiritually, a new birth that starts while on earth at the moment one puts their trust in Christ. This spiritual food and drink, truth from God one hears , wells up inside a person, until faith is revealed and the Holy Spirit takes residence inside a person. The truth of God, a person, takes residence in the hearts of men. This relationship with the creator of the universe lasts forever, to know God intimately, to understand the things of God and live according to His purpose.
Later one reads about the faith of Peter, who being so quick to open his mouth, after seeing Jesus walk on water, said if you are Jesus then tell me to come out to you. Jesus said come. When Peter saw the waves he began to sink. Now, that is faith of Peter, is it not? Yet Jesus said to him, “Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And Jesus was there for him when he began to sink and rescued him. The faith lesson is this. When God commands you to do something, then he will give you what you need to accomplish it. But Peter took his eyes off Jesus and that is why he started to doubt.
Bob shared background of how his ministry started in the early 70s, of how he was constantly reading the scriptures. The step of faith that was needed to raise his own funds, and his wife being born in poverty in a foreign country, how that was a challenge. He may have nagged her some, yet claims he never pushed her into going along with starting a ministry by faith. He mentioned that his wife read about the submissive spirit of Sarah with Abraham, when God called Abraham, and how she trusted God and then was able to follow the lead of Abraham. So faith was tested by Bob and Amy. Both continued to trust God and their main thought or focus was that of doing God’s will, to make Him known, and to be available for God’s use. God supplied all their needs according to His riches in glory. He cited an example of a need of $70,000 of equipment, and he claimed he never compelled people to give, but did share openly about his need to his listeners. There were those who gladly gave, willingly and cheerfully, and not under compulsion. So that was what Bob recounts as how the ministry of People to People began. Not something he asked God to bless, as a work of his, but from the attitude of Bob wanting to do the will of God so that the message of Christ is made known, the will of God, for men to walk in grace and truth for which Christ set them free.
He made reference to one scripture that really helped sustain his faith, by taking heed to what God said would happen to those who put Him first.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God faithfully provided for Bob and those staff with him throughout all those years, adding things to them as they put God first. And the ministry is still being provided for today because of God’s faithfulness, to all those, His body, who want to be available for His use and glory. God wants people to know Him, and against all opposition, God will make Himself known to men. For if a door is shut or a ministry is thwarted by the deeds of men, God will not be and will prevail. He will raise up an army of men who will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, with Jesus at the head. That which He started, He is faithful to complete. The real work is that which He does in us and through us, for without abiding in Him, attached to the vine, we can do nothing. So take God also at His word in this scripture of promise.
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
So this is why Jesus wants His Father to be made known to men! What love compares to this?
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
So then, what attitude should men have so they may understand truth from God? Is it not to do God’s will and not their own will? Is that not also what Jesus did, living as a man totally dependent on the Father.
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.
If any of you really determines to do God’s will, then you will certainly know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own
Now, moving along in John 7, one reads the account of Jesus own brothers and the people of his own town who would not believe in him. Their minds were so focused on Jesus as a man, the carpenter’s son, and on things of this earth, and focusing on things in scripture they had not fully understood, and allowed their lack of understanding to blind them from the reality of Christ before them with the words of truth he had spoken, not to mention the miracles he had performed. How can a man be God? For many had held onto a lie, that when Christ comes he will just appear, but we know where he was born. So they believed words made up in thin air, made up by men. Yet the prophets testified that he would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2,4) and would be called a Nazarene (Psalm 22:6–7, Isaiah 53:3, Acts 26:9). Instead of believing based on the evidence of the miracles, that no mere man could do, they focused on the familiar and those things they heard and held onto as truth but were a lie. When one believes a lie, it can have eternal consequences, and keep you from coming to believe in Christ. If one believes one lie, from religious leaders, even well-meaning ones, but do not check what men say with the truth from God, that is available in the scriptures, you could remain dead in sin and fail to come to Christ for life!
Consider the belief today that Mary is an ever virgin held to be true by many. Those who believe that, now come to believe her to be a co-redeemer, as one along with Christ redeemed man from sin. The same ones also say that Mary was without sin in order to conceive Jesus! Now, Mary has become an object of worship, clearly forbidden in scripture! Think about it! Was Mary born in Adam? What does scripture reveal about those born in Adam?
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
So then, who was the only person who was never born in Adam? Jesus And, Jesus was born by the seed of God planted in Mary while still a virgin, who at that time did not have sexual relations with any man. But she did have sexual relations after Jesus was born. For one reads in scripture:
55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
So then will you believe the word of God over the words of men? Or will you stubbornly refuse to believe against all sane reason and clear revelation from scripture? Jesus confounded men because he spoke with authority from God, speaking God’s words, and many marveled how he could speak without having studied. Jesus clearly spoke truth to men but many stubbornly refused to believe and chose to believe a lie instead. Yet there were those who did believe for no one can speak like he did. So many were divided because of this. And the leaders sought all the more to kill him. Why?
6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”
So Jesus would not die until the time had come. Meanwhile, the Pharisees continually sought to find a way to kill him, for there was no room in their heart for God. They saw Jesus only as a threat to their position and authority, and all the more as they saw many more follow Jesus, and as Jesus exposed their hypocrisy, their sin.
So too should we expect some to believe the message and others not. If they persecuted Jesus, they will persecute us also who believe. For the words of truth will divide. Jesus clearly revealed the intentions of men’s hearts, exposing sin? That is why the world hated him. How do you react when your sin is exposed? If you were devoid of the Spirit, would you see Jesus as a threat to your way of life or would you see Jesus as who He really is, one who came to seek and save that which was lost? Would you respond like the Samaritan woman at the well? Would you recognize the love of God, who has so much love, that he would heal the blind and raise the dead? Many believed just on the miracles themselves. Would you? What miracle has Jesus performed for you that you would believe? Or are you always looking for the next miracle to have more proof of who God is? Blessed are those who do not see yet believe! And you, not being raised in any study of the scriptures, never even entering a church door, sort of like the Roman centurion, yet simply believed based on the authority by which Jesus spoke, so would you believe? What evidence do you need to believe? How much more can Jesus show than what he has already shown? Are you religious, entrenched in lies by the people you are with and the erroneous teaching you are under? Would you be willing, like Nicodemus, to seek Jesus at night to found out more, to consider truth that is contrary to what you have held onto for so long? Would you at least ponder that he has truth that I need to hear because no one could do what he did unless God were with him.
What love has Jesus done that he deserved to be nailed to a cross? Yet, for God’s honor and glory, the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and for our sake, he voluntarily laid down his life for us, only to be raised again. God’s ways are different than man’s ways. So, do you stubbornly resist the ways of God because you do not understand them, since they are contrary to your ways? Or, do you seek to know Him and be known by Him? Do you manipulate God to bless your plans, to try to make Jesus king by force, as the Jews did, to accomplish your idea of what should be done or needs to be done? Or, do you totally avail yourself to whatever God desires, not your will, but His be done?
So too was Jesus reasoning with men when he walked on the earth. At this time, his own family refused to believe in him. And those in his own home town wanted to stone him for blasphemy, because, in their erroneous thinking, a mere man claimed to be God. Yet all this was according to God’s plan that he would become sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. God in His foreknowledge, before time began, had determined to go to the cross. Knowing how man is not created a robot but with a free will to choose, what would happen then if man chose to believe a lie, how then could he be redeemed? God is a relational being, a trinity, and he created man in His own image, which was stolen by deception and sin. He came to redeem man from the curse under law that they may be set free by His lavish grace, having secured our redemption by His own blood, once and for all, an eternal sacrifice. What sacrifice is too great for our God? What is our reasonable act of service for those who believe in Him?
So the reasonable act of service is to make oneself available to God, trusting Him, believing in him to live in you and through you. It is not about our ability but availability. When one is with God, it does not matter how much one knows, but are you available to God? It is not how big one’s faith is, but how big God is? Recall the lesson of Peter walking on water. Think on these men whom God used also. God saw fit to send Paul, trained under the greatest rabbinical school under Gamaliel, the greatest religious leader in his day, not to the Jews but to the Gentiles, who cared nothing and knew nothing of God, but were blind just as Paul once was with all his learning, which he now considered as rubbish compared to knowing Christ in him, the hope of glory. And God saw fit to send Peter, an unschooled fishermen, as an Apostle to the Jews. Each part has its own work, Jesus as the head, directing each member according to the purpose for which he has already prepared for them to do. You are rich, then don’t trust in riches, here today and gone tomorrow, but give generously to those in need. You who are poor, then count yourself blessed as those rich in faith, in God who will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. Are you an ear, then do not complain that you are not a brain? Are you a hand then be glad you are a hand, helping those that gladly receive that support from you. God puts the body together perfectly as he intended for each one of us, honoring one another and working together as God intended. Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, for He is the one who will guide you into all truth, and direct you individually as to your purpose and function. Who is the only one that we honor and praise? All glory and honor belongs to Jesus Christ! Oh, the marvelous plan and wisdom of God? Who can understand it? Oh, what love, the motivation and power behind it all? All that counts is faith expressing itself through love? And truth will set men free, so sharing truth is an expression of love because that is what sets men free! Jesus is the way, the truth and the life! You have Jesus, you have eternal life!
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