Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Honor the Son

"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.  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.  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."  John 5:22-27
These opening verses remind us that a professed belief in God while discrediting the deity of Christ is not true belief in God at all.  The one who does not honor the Son as God, does not honor the Father as God.  Man's religion boldly declares a reverent belief in God while denying the deity and saving grace of the Son.  Such "belief" is not belief at all.  Without belief in the Son, true belief in God is not possible.  I Peter declares this to be so when in chapter one verse twenty-one God plainly says that true belief in the Father comes only through belief in the Son, "Who by Him (Christ is the context) do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."  This is not to say that a person cannot give mental assent to the existence of God, but saving faith does not come without belief in the Son. 

"...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."  Christ is spoken of as the Firstborn from the dead.  Prior to Christ, no one rose from the grave to live forever.  He was the first to die and rise from the dead, never to die again.  This life-giving power positively affects those who die the death of the righteous.  Simple belief in Christ as Savior, acknowledging personal sin and having a heart attitude of turning from it, guarantees the repentant sinner a sure place in heaven at the feet of Christ.  Without belief in the Son, there is no true belief in God, because the Son has been given all power by the Father, power not only to deliver from death, but also power to bring condemnation upon the ungodly.  The day is coming when all the Christ-denying people of the world will be brought to their knees in humble acknowledgment of the deity of Christ.  At the Great White throne of judgment, the chance for forgiveness will have past.  Let each wise-hearted person come to Christ in humble faith in this life while there is still time, because "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31)."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Victory Over Death

"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.  For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.  For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will."
John 5:19-21

Jesus Christ walked in perfect and continuous harmony with the will of God.  As our supreme example in every area of life, we are instructed by His actions to live each moment of each day in consistent awareness of God's desires for us.  As Christ's authority and power was drawn from God the Father, so we, as Christians, are under the headship of Christ, appointed to be His servants, and given over to this destiny.  This should not be viewed as a misfortune, but rather, as a divine pleasure, as we have the opportunity to demonstrate loyalty to the One Who gave His all for us.  It is a man's "reasonable service" based upon the price that has been paid by God, the great King.  Christ's actions mimicked those of the Father.  Sadly, this is not the case with many believers.  Most people attempt to live independent of Christ, doing daily what pleases self rather than what pleases God.  The believer's actions should be filled with God's holiness, His concern for the oppressed, His hatred of worldly lusts, His righteous deeds and pure thoughts.

"...the Father loveth the Son...."  God has respect unto none but unto His Son.  No man, or angel, or any other creature can take the place of Christ in the heart of God.  God the Father has said to none other than to the Son, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."  God has shown the Son His works in a way that He has not shown them to any other, "...and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth." 

"...and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.  For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will."  The works of Christ complimented what He claimed to be.  His works caused even the enemy to be amazed.  A Christian's works ought to compliment what they claim to be in Christ.  Their works should demonstrate wisdom, compassion, purity, prudence, consistency, temperance, peace, joy, holiness, devotion, and the list goes on.  God has power over death.  Death is an enemy (I Co. 15:26); therefore, it requires a conqueror, and God is that Conqueror.  He has given this power over death to His Son, that He might be our perfect Savior.  It is one of the hallmarks of His deity.  None other can be the savior of man because none other has power over death.  Christ has that power because He is God in the flesh.  When He died on the cross, He gave His life up of Himself in full control over death, "No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father."
He is the Victor over sin and death.  He has been vested with the power over death, the enemy to which all men are subject.  Therefore, let as many as desire victory over death and hell flee in humble faith to the One Who can grant the gift of an endless life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Constantly Working

 "The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.  And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the sabbath day.  But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.  Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God."  John 5:15-18

It seems that this man's motives were not good.  He never praises Christ, he never thanks Him for the healing; all he does is run to Christ's enemies.  This decision on his part yields harmful results to Christ's ministry.  Ingratitude always has harmful effects.  Because of this man's foolish decision to be an informer to the Jews, the Bible says, "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the sabbath day."  It is interesting to note here that the Critical Text completely eliminates the phrase and sought to slay Him.  All of the verbs in this verse are of the imperfect tense.  They speak of continuous action in past time.  Rendered literally, they would read, "...therefore the Jews were persecuting Jesus, and they were seeking to kill Him, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath."  This attempt to hinder His ministry and take His life was not a one time event that lasted a single day.  One can sense the continual fervency with which these children of hell sought to take the life of the King.  Jesus openly displayed the thoughts of their hearts when He rehearsed what they were thinking, "This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance (said they, Matt. 21:38)."  Notice also how Jesus' actions of healing on the Sabbath are rendered as continuous.  Healing on the Sabbath was a regular part of His ministry.  Good works know no days of rest.  God delights in righteous deeds seven days a week.  Exercising a love for one's neighbor is never prohibited.  Only the oppressive religions of evil men attempt to make ritual more important than relationship. 

"But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto (until now), and I work."  One comforting and convicting trait of our King is His constant attention to the things of God.  How sad it is to be neglecting the work of the Master for occupations perceived to be more important.  God is constantly and effectually working in this world.  As the Psalmist says, "Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (Ps. 121:4)."  God is constantly about the business of doing what is good and right.  The Christian should be the same way.  Righteous deeds should have no vacations.  Meditation, prayer, study of the Scriptures, witness, helping those in need should be an everyday part of the believer's life.  Yes, the Master is working until now; therefore, we should be working.

"Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God."  This is one of the most direct statements concerning Christ's deity that the book of John has to offer.  The word rendered His in the phrase that God was His Father, is not the typical form for expressing possession.  It means one's own.  It is a word which emphasizes that something belongs to one person and to no other.  It is the word from which we get our English word idiom.  God is the Father of Christ in a way in which He is not toward any one else.  As the last part of this verse states, Christ is equal in deity to God the Father.  Though they are two different Persons, they are one God.  One's mind can't help but wander to Philippians 2:6, "Who (Jesus), being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God...." 

The Creator of the universe saw fit to put on humble flesh and flawlessly work out the perfect will of God.  He was constantly engaged in that which is useful and good.  He was undeterred by ingratitude, persecution, criticism, threats, and heartache.  He was consistently righteous from day to day.  Shouldn't we do the same?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Conspicuous Lack of Praise

"The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.  He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.  Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?  And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place.  Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." 
John 5:10-14

An individual who is not walking according to the love of God as described in I Corinthians 13 is usually quite easily identified.  They tend to gloss over the spiritual and physical well being of people and focus solely on their own agendas; such was the case with these Pharisees.  Untouched by the healing of a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years, they callously throw around the letter of God's Law while ignoring the heart of God.  Believers can act this way, but such behavior is indicative of a person who is not circumcised in heart.  Such people walk on in their sin, untouched by the wickedness that they sow.  God says concerning such people, "...no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?....(Jeremiah 8:6)"  It would do us all well to live in a frame of mind that encourages us to say daily before the King of heaven, "What have I done?"

The man answers and declares how that Christ gave him the command.  The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day (Mt 12:8).  "And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place."  Christ was never seeking glory for selfish reasons.  He did not need to engage in vain attempts to back up His works with more words than were needed.  His works clearly declared what He was and is.  Jesus simply performed a righteous deed and then humbly conveyed Himself away, thus allowing the effects of that deed to have its way in the hearts of people.

"Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole...."  The tense of this verb art made whole is stressing the consummation and duration of the action.  What Jesus does, He does well, and His work lasts.   The wise hearted who live their lives submitted to His ability will see the same effect in their works.  Why do so many believers view their labor as insufficient and unrewarding?  Why do so many come to the end of their lives and view all as empty and vain?  The reason is because all done outside of Christ and His Spirit will not last; but that which is done according to His word will endure and have righteous and enduring effects in the lives of people.  "...sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."  This command literally means to stop doing something that you are doing.  Christ is not telling this man to be sinless.  No man can be completely free from his nature while living in this body (Romans 7), but rather, Christ is urging him to have a change of heart toward God and toward his own sin.  He is urging him to come to repentance.  This man displays a conspicuous lack of worship and praise toward Christ.  The text does not specifically say that he did not get saved, but one cannot help but come away with the feeling that this man was happy to be walking, but was not concerned with repentance.  Not all who are in affliction will do right simply because they have been shown mercy.  Some are not as wicked as they would like to be for the sole reason that they cannot get around.  God is full of wisdom and mercy.  He knows just how to deal with every heart; whether or not that heart will accept Him.  Christ did not gloss over this man's sin simply because he had a hard time of it for many years; in fact, He points out that this particular infirmity was brought on by sin, and He encourages the man to repentance lest he walk into greater judgment.  But, the text is silent concerning praise on the healed man's part and in the next verse we shall see that he carries back the identity of Christ to His enemies.