Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Argument of Works

"Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this He, whom they seek to kill?  But, lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?  Howbeit we know this man whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is.  Then cried Jesus in the temple as He taught, saying, Ye both know Me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom ye know not.  But I know Him: for I am from Him, and He hath sent Me.  Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come.  And many of the people believed on Him, and said, When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done?  The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning Him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him."  
John 7:25-32

Earlier in the chapter the people had accused Christ of having a devil because He asked, "Why do you seek to kill me?"  Now, the people openly admit that the rulers are seeking to kill Him.  Dishonesty and hypocrisy are always traits of a false religion.

Ignorance and failure to gather facts and ask questions was a downfall for some of these people.  They say, "Howbeit we know this man whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is."  They thought that Christ was from Galilee because that is where He spent much of His ministry due to rejection in Judea, but the Lord was born in Bethlehem of Judea.  Also, they believed that no one would know where the Christ was to come from and yet Micah 5:2 says, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."  This verse clearly shows the birthplace of Christ.  It is very important to gather facts and ask questions before simply jumping to conclusions.

The Lord then reaffirms that He has come from God out of heaven.  He says, "Ye both know Me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom ye know not.  But I know Him: for I am from Him, and He hath sent Me."  The works and words of the Lord clearly demonstrated the genuine nature of His claims.  Over and over again He affirmed the fact of His deity by explaining that He is from heaven.  These people were wrapped up with the question of His physical nativity when they should have been more concerned with the fact that He was God in the flesh who had come to deliver them from their sins.  His works proved this to be so.

"And many of the people believed on Him, and said, When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done?"  Persuaded by the undeniable works of God, many of the people are moved to belief in Christ.  They ask this question expecting a NO answer.  It might be phrased, "When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done? No, He will not."  Talk is often cheap but our actions and attitudes clearly show what we do and do not believe.  No one could deny the power of our Lord's works.  They were works that always brought people closer to God in some form or fashion, and yet the religious fools still send their henchmen to persecute Him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Righteous Judgment

"The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill Thee?  Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.  Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.  If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at Me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?  Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."  
John 7:20-24

The people's opening question to Jesus declares their hypocrisy and ignorance.  They ask, "...who goeth about to kill Thee?"  Verse 1 of this chapter indicates clearly that the Jews were seeking His death.  Masking the truth, pushing aside facts, and bold in-your-face-lies are all common traits of the falsely religious crowd.  The work Christ is referring to seems to be the healing of the lame man in chapter 5.

In an effort to cause them to see their hypocrisy, Christ uses Jewish circumcision as an example.  The rite of circumcision could be performed on a child whether or not it were the sabbath and this would cause no stir, but yet, if someone who was sick for many years were helped, this would cause an outrage.  Man is quick to forget what true religion is all about, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27)."  God is intensely interested in helping people.  When David was fleeing from the wrath and satanic oppression of Saul, he could not offer sacrifices to God according to the law.  He could not always rest on the sabbath day.  He could not bring his tithes to the priest or offer a lamb on the altar at the tabernacle and yet he walked so closely with God that the Lord used him to write some of the most comforting Scripture of all, the Psalms.  God is concerned about the inside of our religion.  Any one can put on an act.  Everyone has some form of religious wardrobe but not everyone has a changed heart.

Christ reminds them that circumcision was not of Moses but of the fathers.  In this reminder, He is directing them back to the faith of Abraham that allowed him to have such a warm and vibrant relationship with God.  The rite of circumcision came after the faith of Abraham.  This is clearly laid out in the early chapters of Genesis.  These people were in need of being reminded where their nation started.  It didn't start with a law that they all were able to keep.  It began with a pagan named Abraham who decided to turn from his idols to the God of heaven, and he did so by faith.  Abraham was not worthy to serve God.  His simple faith is what pleased God and this allowed him to walk with God and from this the nation of Israel was born (Gen. 15:6).  These people were completely focused on their own self-righteousness and the law of Moses.  They needed to be pointed to something higher.  They needed the repentance, faith and fear of God that allowed Israel to have a relationship with God in the first place.

Christ wants every man to judge according to truth, not according to sight, feeling or desire.  He says, "Judge not according to the appearance...."  The nature of the language here would render this passage "STOP judging according to the appearance...."  False judgment is something they actively engaged in.  He then says, "...but START judging righteous judgment."  Again, this is a literal translation based upon the nature of the language and context.  We all need to make clear and accurate judgments based upon Bible truth.

Friday, July 5, 2013

No Obedience, No Discernment

"Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.  And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?  Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me.  If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.  He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.  Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill Me?"  John 7:14-19

   At the time which the Father had ordained, Jesus departs out of Galilee and makes the ascent to Jerusalem.  Focused on His humble upbringing, the Jews are shocked at the wisdom and words of our Lord.  Christ says, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me."  True wisdom is found, not in the words and philosophies of men but in the Bible.  A person who desires to be truly wise needs to immerse themselves in the Bible.  A Christian should take every opportunity to learn all they can about God's word.  Read it, study it, meditate upon it, memorize it, look up words and their meanings, and if the opportunity affords itself, take the initiative to learn something about Biblical Greek and Hebrew.  Ask God for wisdom and grace to understand and apply His word.  It will keep you from destruction.  Every Christian should hold near these words, "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me."  People don't need to hear what we think.  They need to hear what God thinks, and the only way this will happen is if we are filled with God's words.

   Christ goes on and says, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God...."  Many professing Christians are ignorant and immature because they are not doing God's will.  The Lord did not say that any one would be able to discern light from darkness.  He said that the one who does God's will would have the discernment.  A person who is living in disobedience and apathy should not expect to recognize truth or be aware of heresy.  Many people are failing to be instructed by truth and are being led off into error because they are not doing God's will, and are; therefore, lacking in discernment.  Do you wish to be a wise and discerning Christian?  Then do God's will daily.  Part of His will for all of His children is to be engaged in daily Bible study and prayer.  Apart from these two basic things, no Christian will have discernment.  These people did not recognize the heavenly doctrine that flowed from our Savior's lips because they were not doing God's will.  God wanted them to repent of their self-righteousness and turn to the righteousness of Christ but they would not; therefore, they remained spiritually blind.

   "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory..."  It is not difficult to spot an individual who wants the attention.  Their conversation and actions are always self-centered and tainted with arrogance.  "...but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."  Christ is sinless and always did the will of His Father here on earth.  The Christian who will seek the glory of his Savior and not his own glory will compliment the sinless character of our Lord.  He will also compliment the completely righteous position that he holds in Christ.  "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill Me?"  This statement revealed the true heart of the people to whom Christ was speaking.  They were lifted up in pride and had no desire to repent and be turned from their sin.  If they truly loved God's law, then they would have turned to the incarnate Word.  At the end of the book of Malachi, God said, "Remember ye the law of Moses My servant which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel with the statutes and judgments."  This law of God points people to the sinless Son Who has kept the law from beginning to end.  All those who truly love God's word will not fail to recognize heavenly doctrine.  They will not fail to recognize Christ for who He is.  A disobedient Christian will not be wise.  God has declared in this passage that recognition of true doctrine can come only through obedience.  A person who desires to be wiser and smarter about the things of God should begin by simply being obedient to what they do understand.  God will not answer a prayer for further light if the light already given is not being obeyed.