Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Faithful and Consistent

"Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.  
And early in the morning he came again into the temple, 
and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them."  
John 8:1-2

Our Lord retired for the evening to the mount of Olives which is just outside the walls of the city on the east side.  This is the same mount to where He was taken up to heaven (Acts 1), and it is the same place to which He will someday return in glory and great power (Zechariah 14:3-4).

The Lord consistently taught as long as people were willing to hear, and so, early in the morning He arises and goes back to the temple to teach.  Many people express a desire to have physically walked with Christ, but the truth is, His discipline and consistency would have turned most of us off.  Today, we are a lazy and undisciplined generation.  We are carried about by every wind of doctrine.  We love our sleep, food, entertainment and social functions.  We change our minds on a whim and for the most part, we are very unreliable as a whole.  This type of behavior is not indicative of Christ's Spirit; it is a manifestation of the flesh.  Jesus was very consistent and disciplined in all that He did.  He did not fail people.  He did not forsake teaching others because He was tired.  In every situation of life we find Jesus doing exactly as we see Him do in this passage, faithfully and consistently living for the Father.

May God give everyone of us the grace to be consistent and disciplined day after day, and year after year until we get to glory.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Deceived

"And some of them would have taken Him; but no man laid hands on Him.  Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought Him?  The officers answered, Never man spake like this man."  John 7:44-46

It is one thing to hear a testimony from one of a different belief, but it is quite another to have one of your own stripe bear witness to some fact.  The Pharisees were hearing it from their own people.  The truth that Jesus spoke could not be resisted.  His message of hope and holiness struck a cord of conviction in the hearts of these officers.  Truth has that affect on people.  The ideas and philosophies of men can be overcome.  Sometimes they can be overcome quickly and sometimes the process is more difficult, but the end result is always the same.  Man's philosophy has loop holes and is laden with hypocrisy.  However, God's truth cannot be overcome.  People can resist is, deny it, and utterly reject it, but in the end it will triumph.  These men knew that what they were hearing was not the typical self-righteous doctrine taught by the religious leadership of the day.  This was the doctrine of heaven.  The righteous testimony of these officers was a witness against the Pharisees and their beliefs.

"Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?  Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?  But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed."  John 7:47-49

The Pharisees were using themselves and their doctrine as the standard.  Because they had not believed Christ's doctrine, it must not be true.  They did not go to the Word of God to see if what Jesus spoke was legitimate or not.  They simply based their conclusion upon their own pride and arrogance.  In saying, "Have any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed on Him?," they were setting themselves up as God.  God is the only one with the right to say, "I do not do that, therefore, it is wrong."  Their last statement is one of the saddest in all the Bible.  They accused those who humbled themselves before God of being cursed, because they rejected the arrogant example of the self-righteous Pharisee.  These men were severely deceived.  They in fact were the ones who were cursed.  Because they had rejected the righteousness of God, God had blinded their eyes to the truth as it says in Isaiah, "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.  ke the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."  Often times when we think we are right, we are actually the ones who are wrong.  Let each beware of human reasoning.  Reasoning must be based upon Scripture, not man's conclusions.  If Scripture is not the authority and basis of our reasoning, serious consequences will follow.

"Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?"  John 7:50-51

These men had the testimony and rebuke of their officers and now one of their own judges rebukes their unfair behavior.

"They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.  And every man went unto his own house."  John 7:52-53

Their reply to this rebuke is just as arrogant as their reply to the officers.  They declare that Galilee is not the place from which The Prophet will arise.  Again, they were rejecting the fact that Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea and had moved to Galilee after His birth.

In these verses, we find the Pharisees as being the ones who were truly under God's curse.  The main reason for this is pride.  James 4:6, "...God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."  God is utterly opposed to the pride of the human heart.  Arrogance is not, and never will be, a fruit of the Spirit.  Human pride and arrogance is an abomination to God and He declares war against it.  As we have seen in this passage, it leads to false conclusions and self-deception.  Let us all beware, because human pride is in the heart of every man.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Dangers of Ignorance

"Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, 
Of a truth this is the Prophet."  John 7:40

These people are referring to Deuteronomy 18:15-19 which says, "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.  And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.  I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him.  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him."  Moses foretold of a Divine Intercessor who would stand between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man and make a path to God possible.

"Others said, This is the Christ. 
But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?"  
John 7:41

The people seem to be confused.  It is almost as though they are thinking of The Prophet and The Messiah as two different individuals when in fact these titles refer to the same Person.  The Greek word for Christ means anointed one and equates in meaning to the Hebrew word Messiah which also means anointed one.

Some people in the assembly then ask, "Shall Christ come out of Galilee?"  This is a question that is expecting a No answer and may be thought of as "Christ will not come out of Galilee will He?  No He will not."

"Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, 
and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" John 7:42

The people are probably referring to many collective passages when they say that Christ will come of the seed of David.  Amos 9:11 would be one such passage, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old."

In reference to the place of Christ's birth, Micah 5:2 comes to mind, "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."

These people were distressed for no reason at all because Jesus did come from the family of David, and He was born in the city of Bethlehem according to the Gospel of Matthew and Luke.  Obviously they were ignorant of His true lineage and assumed that He was born in Galilee since this is where He was brought up.

"So there was a division among the people because of Him." John 7:43

These people were needlessly divided due to ignorance.  What if they had gone to Christ and asked Him of His lineage and place of birth?  Would He have refused to answer?  I think not.  It is a dangerous thing to proceed in ignorance, especially in such important spiritual matters.  In this case, it may have cost these people their souls; however, many people today the same thing.  They develop pre-conceived notions concerning some spiritual matter and promptly dismiss some truth or truths as invalid.  It is very important to have an open mind to the facts in order that we might make informed decisions by the help of God.  The wages of ignorance can be costly.  Families are destroyed because of it.  Churches deteriorate by means of it.  People today have many pre-conceived notions about God and His ways, notions that simply are not true, and some day God will require it.  Ignorance and a refusal to learn the truth will not be a worthy excuse come that "great and dreadful day of the LORD."  Let us beware of proceeding on in ignorance.

Monday, August 12, 2013

If Any Man Thirst, Let Him Come Unto Christ

 "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" 
John 7:37-39 

The Feast of Tabernacles is drawing to a close, and the Lord (as He did so many times) gives an invitation to salvation. "If any man thirst...." The truth is, all people have a spiritual thirst because all of us are sinners against God (Ecclesiastes 7:20- For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not). However, not everyone recognizes this thirst. God works in the lives of people in order that they might recognize this thirst and seek Him. Sin has left humanity dry and thirsty, but only those who recognize it will seek after God.

 "...let him come unto Me, and drink." Christ is the Living Water. Belief in Him will satisfy all spiritual thirst, but in order to come to Christ, one must repent. The word repentance is derived from two basic Greek words. One means after and the other means mind or thought. Combined, these two words give the meaning of after-thought or change of mind. This change of mind is a change of heart toward sin and the direction one is currently taking. When a person is driving down the road and turns around, they have not simply changed their mind about the direction they are going, they are now doing something about it. The person who seeks after Christ must have a change of heart about the direction they are currently going. To give mental ascent to the existence and position of Christ is simply not enough. Over and over again, God commands men to repent of their ways and turn to Christ in faith. Acts 17:30 is a fine example of this, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." Acts 11:18 demonstrates this same truth, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Eternal life will not be found outside of repentance. The fear of God, repentance, and faith are inseparably intermingled. If we are going to come unto Christ and drink of His salvation by faith, we will only do so because we have recognized our state and have determined that we need to be saved from it. The Lord came to save us from our sins, not to them.

Thus, Christ gives a free invitation to all who are willing to recognize their need and humble themselves before God. "He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The one who trusts in Christ as their Savior will have an overabundant supply of eternal life. Spiritual life will enter in and quench the death and darkness that once existed. God is a God of Life. Everything about Him bespeaks of life.

"But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified." Before the resurrection of our Lord, the Holy Spirit was not given on a permanent basis. Old Testament saints who were saved by faith in the Messiah that would come, did not have the guaranteed permanent indwelling of the Spirit. David, a saved man, asked God that He might not take His Holy Spirit from David after his sin with Bathsheba (Ps. 51:11). However, after the resurrection of Christ, we see the Holy Ghost being permanently given to believers. This giving of the Spirit is a one time event. At the moment of salvation, a person receives all of the Spirit that they will ever receive (Eph. 1:13, 4:30, Tit. 3:5-6). Some believe that the Spirit will fall on a believer, or that He will come and go, or that He will "slay them." Such teaching is false and completely unbiblical. The New Testament believer has received all the Spirit that they will ever need. In the New Testament, we are not commanded to pray that the Spirit might fall on us, we are commanded to submit to Him and allow Him to fill us (Eph. 5:18). The Spirit lives within the believer but the believer must allow Him to be in control instead of the carnal flesh. 

Thus, if any man is willing to humble himself before God and recognize his thirsty, sinful condition, let him repent, and come to Christ in simple faith. The one who is willing to do so will find an overabundant supply of eternal life!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You Cannot Come

"Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him that sent Me. Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.  Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?  What manner of saying is this that He said, Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?"  
John 7:33-36

Chronologically, this is the next to the last year that Christ would spend in His earthly ministry before the crucifixion.  Time grows short and these people do not have long.  They are still rejecting Him and He now describes the horror of their future fate.  He says in verse 33, "...I go unto Him that sent Me."  Of course, He is speaking of returning to His rightful place which is on the right hand of the throne of God the Father (I Peter 3:22).

He then declares that an awful chasm exists between Himself and the unbeliever.  "Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me..." He says.  They were not interested in serving Him now, but a day would come when they would be looking for God's promised Messiah and would not find Him because He had already come and they had refused Him.  This phrase describes many Jewish people today who are seeking and waiting for the promised Messiah, but they are blind to the fact that He has come once already, and when He comes again, He will come near to the nation to judge it, and to cleanse it, and to restore it (Malachi 3:1-5).  "...and where I am, thither ye cannot come."  This is an emphatic statement in the Greek text.  A literal translation would be, "And where I, I am, you, you (are) do not have power to come."  The word He used for able in this passage is often translated power.  These people were seeking to please God by their so-called keeping of His law, but of course, like all of us, they had failed miserably.  Thus a man is left with no alternative but to turn in repentance to the Substitute for sin.  However, these people, like most of the world were rejecting the pure and precious Son of God, so how could they hope to have a home in heaven?  Notice the emphasis of Jesus' statement.  "Where I, I am...you, you are not able to come."  Unbelief creates a great gap between God and man.  Without faith, it is impossible to please God according to Hebrews 11:6.  The unbeliever cannot be in heaven with God, because He denies the one and only means of reconciliation.

Let us dwell upon this thought for a moment, Faithlessness creates a chasm between God and man, and robs a man of God's power.  This principles does not apply simply to the lost.  Yes, a person who has truly been born again will be with Christ when they die.  This is an indisputable fact; however, it is also true that when a Christian chooses not to exercise a life of faith in God that they will rob themselves of His power and favor.  Colossians 2:6 says, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him."  We have received Him by faith; therefore, we are to serve Him by faith.  We are to live each moment of each day by faith.  Faith is not something that is exercised only in great trials or troubles, but is also the means by which we live our daily lives as God's people.  If we trust God to see us through the death of a family member or friend, then we also trust Him to help us get out of bed in the morning.  Many things in our lives would find no place in our thinking if we realized that everything we do is to please God through faith.  Wasting our time with the television would go to the wayside.  Foul language would go to the wayside.  Treating our spouse with less patience and kindness than we would treat a stranger would go to the wayside.  Many things would have to be put off if we would get a hold of this simple command, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" and we do all to His glory only through faith in the Son of God.  As a Christian, I want to spend each moment of my day "where Jesus is."  I do not want to create tension between myself and God due to a refusal to simply trust Him and make Him my all in all.

"Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?  What manner of saying is this that He said, Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?"  Unbelief gives birth to great blindness.  What Jesus said is not necessarily that difficult to understand, but when a person refuses to believe, the darkness grows.  Perhaps these people were recalling the fact that the Old Testament does speak of the Messiah's ministry to the Gentile nations, but if this is what they were referring to, they were saying it in disbelief, because the linguistic construction of this question is such in the Greek text that it is expecting a No answer.  It could be thought of in this way, "Will He go and teach the Gentiles?  No, He will not."  Whatever the case, they could not be with God due to their refusal to believe.

Let us all draw near to God by daily choosing to exercise faith in Jesus Christ.