Him ye Believe Not!

JOHN 5:37-38.

And the Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.

And ye have not His Word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not.

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In every work and word that Jesus did and spoke, the Father testified through Him that He was indeed the Son of God. At Jesus’ baptism, the voice of the Father was heard by all who were there: “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

Also, Jesus was spoken of all through Old Testament prophecy. Even the wise men from the East knew and understood Who He was!

Then, in verse 38, Jesus utters words that must have driven the Jewish leaders to a furious rage: “You don’t have His Word abiding in you! He has sent Me, and you don’t believe Who I am!”

For Jesus to suggest that these leaders did not abide in the scriptures, and the scriptures did not abide in them, was simply outrageous and not to be borne! Of course they knew the scriptures! They could recite every law, every nuance of the laws that had been derived from the scriptures! They knew all that by heart.

What they didn’t know IN their hearts was that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah. If He had come in great power, freeing them from the yoke of Roman control, they would have been a lot more open to Him. But He was just another rabble-rousing, upstart heretic, in their eyes.

He was going to have to go, and the sooner the better.

But it was not yet time. They had to endure Him for a while longer before they could persuade the Roman authorities to kill Him.

The Father hath Sent Me

John 5: 34-36

But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me

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Referring to verse 33 and the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Himself, Jesus states that He does not need the word of any man to prove Who He is, nor does He rely on the the testimony of man to prove His deity. However, those who heard John’s witness needed to believe it, and to understand that John was the forerunner, not the main event.

Jesus says here that the works the Father has given Him to do, and to finish,
are a greater witness than the words of John. The works that the Father had given Him to do are witness to the world that the Father had sent Him.

So far, they had seen miracles of provision (water turned to wine) and healing. Jesus has told them, though, that the greater things were still to come.

The Jewish leaders had also heard Him say, more than once, that He had come to do the will of His Father. He had identified Himself as the Son of God; not just A son of God, but THE Son of God. As such, He was equal with God, and was in fact God.

Of course, these claims were enough to send the Jewish leaders into convulsions. The words were enough to have Jesus killed as a heretic. But it wasn’t time for that yet, and Jesus knew there was still work to be done.

More Than One Witness

John 5:31-33.

If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.

There is another that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of Me is true.

Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

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Jesus is not saying that His own witness about Who He is wasn’t true. What He refers to goes back to  Deuteronomy 19:15, which says by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.  One person’s witness was not enough to convict a man. There had to be at least two, and preferably three, whose testimony agreed with each other, to convict a man of wrong-doing, Jesus knew very well that His own testimony alone would not persuade the Jewish religious leaders.

Then, Jesus presents others who have testified of Him. The first name He give the religious leaders is John; not the writer of this book, but John the Baptist, who preached the coming of the Lord and baptized all who would trust that his word was the truth.

Tomorrow we’ll look at two other proofs of Who He was.

Have you ever wondered, if you had been there in Jesus’ time, if you would have believed? Would you have been a skeptic? Would you have followed His progress, then drifted away? Would you have known in your heart that this was indeed the Son of God?

Of course, all of us who are Christians would like to think we would have known, somehow, that He was truly the Son of God.

Today, we have the witness of the entire Bible. We have the witness of all those who have gone before us, some giving their lives in the cause of Christ. And still, down through the centuries, mankind has turned away from the witness, just as they did when Jesus walked the earth.

Following God

John 5:30. “I can of Mine own Self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.”

First thing that popped into my foggy morning brain:

Jesus always, always gave God the honor, the glory, the authority, the power. He was co-equal with the Father, yet He was the second Person of the Trinity. Hard to get my head around that, but I know it is so.

My judgment is righteous: Jesus explained that He is qualified as a completely righteous judge, because His power is in submission to God the Father.

He repeated the themes: I can of Myself do nothing… I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father Who sent Me.

Pondering on this verse, some rather random thoughts came to mind:

Is it because of their total submission to the will of the Father that Christian martyrs have met their deaths with peace and joy? Best example, of course, is Jesus Himself. Then there are the five missionaries who, in 1956, suffered death at the hands of the Auca Indians. There are many other missionaries whose final act was to submit to death as the will of the Father. Thousands of people live in countries where Christianity is outlawed. They have been arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and often put to death. But those who survived have glowing testimonies of perfect peace through all of it because they trusted the Father.

When we truly are seeking to do the Father’s will in all things, He will show us what His will is; He will walk the pathway with us. He will never leave us or forsake us.

That story of the five men who were killed by the Aucas didn’t end at the moment of their deaths. Those same Indians were later reached with the gospel and converted to Christianity. Elizabeth Elliot, wife of Jim Elliot, was one who went back to the jungle to do translating work and to carry the gospel to the Indians in spite of the fact that they had killed her husband of only two years. God continued to use both Jim and Elizabeth through their diaries, other writings, and incredibly steadfast examples in living out the will of God. She died in 2015, after living a long fruitful life speaking, writing her books, blessing all with whom she came into contact.

I think of John and Betty Stam, missionaries to China, who were caught and martyred by the Chinese communists. They knew, as they knelt in the dust waiting for the sword that would take their lives, that they were leaving their little daughter in God’s hands, and indeed she was protected. Their story is worth reading:

The Triumph of John and Betty Stam   -     By: Geraldine Taylor

There are other books, but I’ve read this one and can personally recommend it.

I also recommend choosing to follow the will of the Father in all things. It’s the finest way I know to live your best life.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Sheltered

When we first came to Pennsylvania in 1974, this song was popular with believers. Two other women and I discovered we had a pleasant blend of voices. The church music director agreed to hear us, and from that time on we were regularly scheduled on the music list.

This is one of the first songs we sang together. In fact, it may have been the very first. I don’t trust my memory any more on things that happened 46 years ago!

I still love the song, and it’s been in my mind a lot over the last couple of days. I remember when a truck driver who had a smooth baritone voice came on the scene. His name was Marvin Harris, and he sang this song.

Here’s one of my favorite scripture passages from the Psalms: Psalm 91:

91 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

And another favorite verse: Deuteronomy 33:27. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.”

God promises that He will always be with us, whether our paths are full of doubt and trouble, or joy and victory. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that He wants good for us, and not evil (Jer. 29:11).

Things aren’t always going to be perfect. We have all sorts of bumps along the way. Instead of becoming discouraged when the next mountain seems so much steeper than the one we just conquered, we can rejoice in the fact the God made the mountains, and He is with us as we climb what can seem an impossible height. Hebrews 13:5. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Precious promises, precious songs. May this one bless you today.

Saturday Already?

I woke up around 2 a.m., attended to what woke me up. Crawled back into bed, realized quickly that sleep was not going to come easily. Struggled to get comfy, turned on my bedside lamp and opened my book. Right now I’m reading A View Across the Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman. It’s a story about the Nazi occupation of Holland, their brutal extinction of the Jews in Amsterdam, and the end of WWII. It’s not an easy story to read, but it is well worth the effort.

I found I was becoming more and more restless, however, and finally had to get up around 4 a.m. I have restless leg syndrome, and it’s usually under good control due to the advice I received on Facebook from many friends. But this time? Not any relief. I finally resorted to an excellent standby–veterinarian horse liniment! The old gray mare is feeling less jumpy 🙂

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I get mine at the tractor supply. My chiropractor suggested it some years ago, and it truly is helpful.

However, I’m awake now. Wide awake. It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’ve been awake since 3:30 or so, finally got up at 4 a.m. I wonder what the day will bring. Brain fog will set in early, I think!

Anyway, thinking about some things. I had a delightful day yesterday. It was what I’ve begun to call my Teaching Day at church. At 11 a.m. I have a women’s Bible study group. We had some new faces there yesterday. We had our first session in the book of Hebrews, and boy, am I ever loving it already! A friend suggested a book by Nancy Guthrie, Hoping for Something Better. I don’t usually like to teach from any book but the Bible, but this book is outstanding. I am definitely using the Bible as the main focus for study, but Guthrie has done an outstanding job of breaking down the book of Hebrews into clear and simple terms.

Yesterday, we looked at the theme of the book of Hebrews, established in chapter one, verse one: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” The very first word in the book is the theme of the book. God is the center of the whole Bible.

I’m blogging the book of John right now, and it’s very easy to tie it to the study in Hebrews. John is all about Jesus, the Son of God. Let me tell you, these studies are life-changing!

I go from the Bible study group to my homeschool co-op history class. A great bunch of young people, they are interested and they participate! Can you imagine, we actually have FUN in history class? Right now we’re looking at some of the ways God intervened in the efforts of the Pilgrims to leave Holland and journey for 66 storm-filled days in a ship that was approximately the length of a volleyball court. It was tossed in those storms like a cork, up one gigantic wave and down another. Seasickness was terrible and unavoidable. They didn’t have Dramamine back then 🙂 There are stories of the way God both took life and preserved life.

When the Mayflower finally dropped anchor near what is now Provincetown, the first thing they did was thank God for protecting them during that miserable voyage. Then they set about to write a short document about how a “civil body politic” could be governed by rules agreed upon by all of them. The Mayflower Compact was the first written constitution, if you will, in the New World. It was about 150 years ahead of America’s Constitution.

I was curious about that wording, “body politic,” so of course I did some research. Simply stated, a “civil body politic” is a group of citizens acting together as a law making body.

Being a word nerd, I like to go to etymonline.com to learn the origin of words. Here’s the breakdown of the word politic: early 15c., “pertaining to public affairs,” from Middle French politique “political” (14c.) and directly from Latin politicus “of citizens or the state, civil, civic,” from Greek politikos “of citizens, pertaining to the state and its administration; pertaining to public life,” from polites “citizen,” from polis “city” (see polis). Replaced in most adjectival senses by political. From mid-15c. as “prudent, judicious.”

I wonder what those Pilgrims from 400 years ago would think of politics in America today. Probably not much. They prayed about everything, seeking God’s leading. Most of today’s politicians don’t spend a whole lot of time in prayer unless it makes them look good to their constituents. How do I know that? Well, people who walk with God and seek Him daily are not typified by lying.

Okay, that’s enough. I’m feeling a bit sleepy!

They Shall Come Forth

John 5: 28-29.

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice,

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

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“Don’t be so astonished at what I am saying!” The Jewish leaders to whom Jesus’ words were directed must indeed have been astonished. I would love to have seen their faces, jaws dropping, eyes popping, maybe even some ear-stopping at these horribly heretical words coming out of the mouth of an insignificant rabbi!

At first, He indicated that those who believed in Him would rise from their graves. Then He clarifies that ALL will hear Him, and that all would rise; the good to life, the bad to eternal condemnation.

“Okay, see, right there Jesus says if you do wrong you lose your salvation!” some will point out. This is one of the scripture passages they claim proves their belief and you can actually lose what does not belong to you; salvation is of God, and nobody can take anything out of God’s hands (John 10:28).

A better understanding of these verses is to know what the good and the evil refer to. It’s simple, really. Those who have accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection as their only way to eternity in heaven, who are by faith believing that it is not what they do, but what HE did, that grants us eternal life have chosen the good. Their choice will be reflected in their daily walk with God and man.

Those who reject Jesus Christ and trust in their own good works for salvation have chosen the evil. Their lives will also reflect their choice to reject Jesus Christ.

To choose Jesus is the resurrection of eternal life; to reject Jesus is the resurrection to eternal damnation.

Note: The grammatical error in the illustration is not mine! Whoever put this together forgot to use the helping verb “have” so the last clause would read “Those who have done evil. . . .”

Son of Man

John 5: 25-27.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself;

And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.

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Here’s that “Verily, verily!” admonition again. These are life-and-death words that Jesus is speaking. He is strongly urging His hearers to PAY ATTENTION! What He is about to say is of vital importance.

Jesus speaks of a time when the dead shall hear His voice! Not only will they hear, but they will respond. They will be brought back to life because Jesus has the power of life and death. These include people who, no matter how long ago they may have lived and died, believed God and put their trust and faith in Him. Think Abraham; Noah; Adam and Eve; Jacob; Rahab, Ruth, and Naomi. And hundreds of thousands more, down through history, including those who were martyred for their faith: Jeremiah, Peter, James, most of the other disciples. The ancient dead and the recently dead will all respond to the voice of God because they hear His voice and are given life.

But the passage says that ALL the dead will be resurrected, including those who did not have faith and belief. They will be resurrected unto judgment, and will be judged by Jesus Christ because He is the Son of God and He is the Son of Man. This dual quality of His existence gives Him the power and ability to judge as both God and as Man, since He was born of both God and Man. His authority is not limited in any way. It will be important to remember this truth later in the book of John when it seems as if Jesus has come completely under the power of man.

What is so important in this passage is that Jesus claims the power of life and death in and of Himself. The Father and the Son are the same; any power the Father has is also possessed by the Son. He is making His identity as God crystal clear, leaving no doubt that He is not a lesser Being than the Father; but that He is an equal Being with the Father.

Passed from Death unto Life

John 5:24. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

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Sometimes I think we need to be reminded that death is not the end of the human experience. There are those who believe that once you die, you’re done. Nothing to worry about, you’re just gone and there is nothing more.

How dangerous it is to believe that!

The human spirit was breathed into us by God Himself. He is a Spirit; we are to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. It is true that this body of the flesh will decay, and there will not be life as we know it now. But the souls of all mankind will not just disappear; our souls will spend all of eternity either with God, or without Him. You can go here to read a good article about the eternality of the soul.

Another dangerous belief is that since Jesus died for all mankind, then all mankind will go to heaven. Satan would love for us to believe that, and live comfortably, however we please, believing that we’re automatically on our way to heaven.

The simple, plain truth stated by Jesus in our verse today , makes it clear that there is only one thing standing between eternal condemnation in hell and eternity with God in heaven: Hearing and believing God’s Word.

Before Jesus spoke those words, He said, ‘Verily, verily.” It would be similar to our saying “Listen! This is the truth! Pay attention!”

Why was He so emphatic? Because we are, by our sinful nature, condemned to eternity in hell. The only thing that rescues us is to believe on the the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). When we truly believe, accepting His death and resurrection as our atonement for sin, then is our soul passed from death (eternity in hell, separated forever from God) unto life (eternity in heaven, with the Father and the Son).

I like this graphic. The cross is our bridge between eternity in hell or eternity in heaven:

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Honor the Son, Honor the Father

John 5:21-23.

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.

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The Jewish leaders must have been enraged by Jesus’ words in this passage, in which He schools them about exactly Who He is.

First, Jesus uses the work of resurrection as an example of the shared work of the Father and the Son. The Pharisees didn’t want to acknowledge the power of Jesus in the miracle of healing, but instead focused on His breaking the sabbath. But the mighty power of Jesus had not yet been fully demonstrated. He said He had the same power as God to raise the dead, to “quicken” (bring to life) those who had died. That power is the ultimate demonstration of the sovereignty of God, Who has ultimate power over life and death. “So do I,” Jesus is saying here. The same power as the Father. It is also important to note that Jesus did not need to seek the Father’s permission to heal, or to receive the power to resurrect the dead. He already had it, as being equal with God.

in verse 22, Jesus states that God is not the judge of man because He has given that responsibility to Jesus. A division of power, if you will. On judgment day, mankind will stand before Jesus Christ to answer for their unbelief.

Even during His time on earth, Jesus was something of a judge of humanity. Simply being in His presence caused people to know, “I’m not like Him.” They came in multitudes just to hear Him teach. They asked Him for miracles, knowing and believing that He could give them their requests if He so chose. This was not just another Rabbi. He was different from all the other pseudo-messiahs that had appeared down through the ages.

The Father gave the power of judgment to the Son so that people would honor The Son as they did the Father. To fail to honor the Son is to fail to honor the Father Who sent Him.

I’ve been thinking about that verse this week in relation to my pastor’s sermon on taking God’s Name in vain. We have made the mention of Jesus Christ a politically incorrect behavior. We use His Name (I’m speaking of American culture in general here; not all of us are guilty!) in jokes, we use it with utter disregard that when we disdain the Name of Jesus, we are disdaining God Himself. To disrespect the Name of Jesus is to disrespect God.

We really need to get our thinking straight, get our hearts straight, and never, as self-proclaimed Christians, use the Name of Jesus in a dishonorable way.