These pulpit notes are provided unedited and will thus contain some grammatical or typographical errors.
About twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Rome. These were Gentile believers. They were men and women who were immersed in a pagan, idolatrous, immoral culture who had become disciples of Jesus Christ.
In writing to these Gentile Christians, Paul begins by offering some social commentary regarding the Gentile world. Perhaps indictment is a better word than commentary. He explains that the Gentiles, although not Jewish, and not having the Jewish scriptures, and not having any of the other religious privileges to which the Jews were granted, were still entirely culpable for their rejection of God.
Paul indicates that men, the world over, are all responsible for their rejection of God and that none are without excuse. All, according to Paul, have received enough revelation from God to render them guilty for their rejection. It’s not that they haven’t been given the truth, but that they have chosen to suppress the truth in favour of unrighteousness. He says:
Romans 1:19-32 ¶ For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
What an indictment. An indictment of the culture of first century Rome, and an indictment of 21st century Canada. A culture who has everything they need to come to a faith in God, but who defiantly refuse, in favour of their own sin. Although the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, these reject God in the name of wisdom, and then become fools.
They claim enlightenment while descending into darkness. They claim advancement while regressing to their basest passions. They claim freedom while being captive to sin.
They not only rebel against God and indulge in sin, but they celebrate those who do likewise. They manufacture an entire cultural zeitgeist which smiles upon sin, and rejects whose who stand for God, and godliness.
Does it disturb you? Does the state of our current culture grieve you? Does it sometimes anger you? How do you feel about the fact that these, who have received from God everything they need to fear him, and receive his Son, have instead rejected him in favour of their own sin?
You and I are rightfully disturbed, or grieved by our present circumstance. We should be saddened by the fact that our culture has chosen to suppress the truth in unrighteousness by rejecting the clear evidence of God all around them.
What I’m going to suggest to you this morning however is that in terms of shamefulness, there is another situation which might rival or surpass our godless culture’s rejection of God. Although our godless culture has received all the revelation they need to acknowledge the existence of God, there is another group of people who have received even greater revelation, yet remain unsaved.
I’m referring this morning to the religious-but-lost. There are likely some like this here with us this morning. These are those who have come in contact with incredible evidence and revelation regarding who God is, and how one might be saved, yet these remain lost. These are those who rub shoulders with genuine believers, hear God’s word read and preached, experience the love of God’s people, taste the conviction of the Holy Spirit, yet remain in their sin.
If it is sad and shocking to see a godless culture reject the clear witness to God’s existence in creation, it is far sadder, and far more shocking to see men and women who are privy to God’s special revelation, who choose their own passions instead of genuinely following Christ.
This morning we are going to look at a passage where Jesus confronts religious people. These are Jews who had every religious advantage. Ethnically they were descendants of Abraham, with the patriarchs as their religious fathers. They were beneficiaries of God’s covenants. They were the objects of God’s promises. They were recipients of the scriptures. They were the people through whom came the Messiah. They had every religious privilege and were granted every spiritual privilege and were given everything they needed to come to faith in the Messiah, and to receive eternal life.
Yet, they remained lost. It is sad and it is tragic yet it is no anomaly. Such people still exist today. Not among the Jews only, but also within the church.
This morning we are going to consider some clear witnesses to who Jesus is, and some of the reasons why they are rejected. We will see that identifying with a religious class or movement is not the same as being a genuine disciple of Jesus. We will see that some who identify themselves as worshippers of God will experience a rude awakening at the judgment.
Earlier in this passage, Jesus has been confronted regarding his healing of a man on the Sabbath. His persecutors accused him of law-breaking and blasphemy. Jesus responds by asserting that he is the Son of God, given all authority by the Father to give life and to judge. He has come only doing what Father has shown him to do. He speaks what the Father directs him to speak; he does what the Father shows him to do. Now he offers undeniable witnesses which confirm that he is who he claims to be; witnesses whom the Jews have willfully chosen to reject.
What is so powerful about this passage is that Jesus’ persecutors have come to him with accusations of lawbreaking. They are, in essence, putting him on trial. Jesus responds to this by first citing incontrovertible witnesses, building an airtight case for who he is, and then by turning the tables on his accusers and indicting them.
Whereas they are accusing him of being a blaspheming, law-breaking charlatan, he will reveal that their rejection of him stems from the fact that they are fickle, self-exalting religious hypocrites who do not understand the scriptures, nor do they have a relationship with God. He will show them that although they are confident they will receive eternal life, they will receive no such thing. Although they count themselves as disciples of Moses, Moses will be their chief accuser on judgment day.
Notice first of all the language of this passage. Notice the repeated use of the idea of bearing witness and giving testimony.
- Verse 31 – bear witness / testimony
- Verse 32 – bears witness / testimony
- Verse 33 – borne witness
- Verse 34 – testimony
- Verse 36 – testimony / bear witness
- Verse 37 – borne witness
- Verse 39 – bear witness
Add to these the persistent theme of “accusation” throughout this passage and you have the language of a trial. The Jewish religious leaders have indicted Jesus on charges of blasphemy and law-breaking (v16,18) and so Jesus takes them up on their challenge. Recognizing they are attempting to put him on trial, he begins to call witnesses. His accusers will soon regret what they’ve started as they will receive a public dressing-down by Jesus.
JESUS CALLS HIS FIRST WITNESS
Look in verses 31-32 where we find Jesus beginning to call his witnesses. He says:
John 5:31-32 ¶ If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.
Notice that Jesus begins by citing what is common Jewish law. If a case is going to be established, it has to be established by at least two or three witnesses. No man is going to be acquitted based upon his testimony alone.
Deuteronomy 19:15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
By appealing to the law of two or three witnesses, it’s as if Jesus is saying, “If you are going to accuse of breaking the law, then let’s proceed according to the law. If you are so determined that you are the law-keepers and I am the law-breaker, then let’s ensure that the rest of our exchange is done according to the law.” That way, you should have no legitimate reason to reject my case.
Jesus begins his case with an incredibly bold move. He calls a witness which would have enraged his detractors. He cites God himself as his primary witness.
32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.
Who is this witness? Verse 37 makes it plain, “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.” The first witness that Jesus is the authoritative Son of God who has been sent by the Father, is the Father himself.
Why is this so bold? Because the Jews who are accusing him think that God is on their side! Occasionally in a trial you may have an expert witness switch sides, but that is not the case here. As we will see, these Jewish detractors were mistaken to think they were operating as God’s emissaries to begin with. The fatal flaw in their entire case was the fact that they felt they were acting with the authority of God while they were actually opposing him.
So, Jesus says that he is not the only one bearing witness to his identity, otherwise his testimony would be false. Instead, there are multiple witnesses and the chief of these is God himself.
Jesus would later say in a similar situation in John 8:
John 8:17-18 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”
How tragic is this? And what a wake up call this should be! These religious people believe they are acting on God’s behalf while in reality, God is on the other team. Whereas they are accusing Jesus of disobeying God, God is testifying that Jesus is his perfect Son!
Jesus was not disobeying the Father. In obeying the Father, Jesus was violating their manmade commandments which ran contrary to God’s law! They were the guilty ones. They fit Isaiah’s indictment of their ancestors, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:8-9; Isa 29:13).”
Such people exist today, don’t they? Men and women who have devised their own religious rules and who impose them on others, claiming God’s authority to do so. Hypocrites. Legalists. Usurpers. They claim God is on their side, while they are directly opposing salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
So, immediately out of the gate, Jesus drops this nuclear bomb on his accusers. “I call my first witness – God the Father.”
Certainly, they would argue this point but Jesus’ case isn’t finished. What he now does is cite other witnesses. Not just to his identity as the Son of God, but witnesses to the fact that his accusers have received all the evidence they need to believe, but have instead chosen rebellion over faith.
Each of the witnesses Jesus now cites are witnesses whom the Father has provided. These actually comprise the testimony of the Father that Jesus is his Son and the only source of eternal life.
In fact, the following witnesses are all witnesses whom the Father has sent. Each of these witnesses corroborate the Father’s testimony that Jesus is his Son. Let’s consider them individually.
- The Father has Testified that Jesus is His Son, through the Greatest Prophet
John 5:33-35 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.
John the Baptist was the greatest of the prophets, and he was a witness to the truth about who Jesus was. The apostle John said in chapter one of this gospel:
John 1:6-8 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
John himself was sent from God as a witness to who Jesus was. So, what exactly did John the Baptist say about Jesus?
- John testified that Jesus was the promised deliverer from Isaiah 40 who would deliver God’s people from the captivity of their sin (1:23).
- John testified that Jesus was the worthy one, whose sandal John was unworthy to untie (1:27)
- John testified that Jesus was the lamb of God whom the Lord sent to take away the sin of the world (1:29).
- John testified that Jesus pre-existed him, thus alluding to his deity (1:30).
- John testified that Jesus was the Spirit-filled one who could baptize others with the Holy Spirit (1:32-33).
- John testified that Jesus was the Christ (3:28).
- John testified that Jesus was the messianic bridegroom who would supply new life for his people (3:29).
- In chapter 1 and verse 34, we read that John testified plainly, “I have seen and have borne witness that [Jesus] is the Son of God.”
John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets testified to the identity of Jesus. Why was John a powerful witness for Jesus to cite? Look in verse 34 of our text:
35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
John was a powerful witness for Jesus to cite because the Jews themselves honoured John as a prophet (Matt 21:26). The crowds had flocked to John and even these religious hypocrites were willing to follow him or a time.
Jesus says, John was like a burning and shining lamp. He was not the light, or the source of light but was like a lamp which was ignited by the light and shone for a time. A lamp which would burn up and eventually be extinguished. And these religious leaders were content to rejoice for a while in his light. Until they weren’t. They refused to receive John’s testimony regarding Jesus.
Not only was John a superb witness to the identity of Jesus, but he was a witness whose testimony Jesus’ detractors had clearly heard and even entertained for a time. In other words, those accusing Jesus had no excuse for failing to receive the testimony of John.
John’s testimony of Jesus as the authoritative Son of God, sent by the Father not only proves that Jesus is not guilty of working contrary to God’s will, but proves that Jesus’ accusers are guilty of willful rejection of God’s clear testimony regarding his Son!
Now, is John Jesus’ greatest witness? No. As great as John was, he was just a man. And Jesus says in verse 34:
John 5:34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.
Jesus moves on to a greater witness in verse 36:
- The Father has Testified that Jesus is His Son, through Messianic Works
John 5:36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
Maybe you are willing to reject the testimony of John. After all, John was Jesus’ cousin! Maybe you can find some reason to reject him, but there is another, independent, witness which is undeniable. The works which Jesus performed were undeniable evidence that he was the promised Messiah, sent from the Father.
John records seven miracles for us in his gospel: the turning of water to wine, the healing of the nobleman’s dying son; the healing of the paralyzed man at the pool; the walking on water; the feeding of the five thousand; the granting of sight to the blind; and the raising of Lazarus from the dead. John then ends his gospel by stating that Jesus did many other miracles which were not recorded in his or the other gospels.
Jesus performed miracles and those miracles defied any explanation other than the fact that he was exercising divine power as the Son of God. These miracles were capped off with his own resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances and again with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the continuation of miracles in the age of the Apostles.
His miraculous works testify to who he is. On multiple occasions Jesus cited his works as independent witnesses to his identity:
John 10:36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
John 17:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
His miracles were such an unassailable witness to his identity that all those who witnessed his miracles were immediately culpable for their rejection of him. He said:
John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
So obvious was the fact that Jesus was doing things which no one else had ever done, or ever could do, that to deny he was the Son of God was an act, not of honest skepticism, but of willful rebellion.
But, it wasn’t only the miraculous nature of Jesus’ works which served as a testimony to who he was, but also the messianic nature of his works. That is, Jesus said and did exactly what the Old Testament foretold the Messiah would do.
When John the Baptist was eventually cast into prison and began to experience his own questions as to the identity of Jesus, he sent messengers to Jesus for confirmation as to who he was. Jesus responds to these men this way:
Matthew 11:4-6 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
With that response, Jesus summarized some of the things which the prophet Isaiah had foretold about the coming Messiah. Jesus is saying, not only am I doing miraculous works, but I am doing messianic works. I am doing exactly what the scripture foretold the Messiah would do.
This is remarkable because it is often Jesus’ messianic mercy ministry which led the Jewish leadership to reject him. Whereas they awaited a conquering political figure, Jesus came carrying for the blind, the lame, the poor, and those imprisoned by sin. He came as the promised Messiah, and although they claimed to be waiting for him, they ended up resenting and rejecting him.
So, how exactly did the Jews deal with Jesus’ undeniable miracles? In three ways primarily:
- They tried to deny them (John 9:18).
John 9:18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight
They ascribed them to the power of Satan (Matt 12:24).
Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
- They decided to kill Jesus (John 11:47-53).
John 11:47-53 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
- They tried to deny them (John 9:18).
But, the fact remained that the Father testified that Jesus was his Son, via undeniable miracles and those who witnessed them were responsible for the revelation which they had received. They were culpable for their rejection, because the witness was clear.
To reject Jesus after witnessing his miraculous and messianic works was an act of out-and-out rebellion. It was clear evidence that the one rejecting actually had no desire for God at all. Jesus drives this home in verse 37-38.
John 5:37-38 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.
This was a scathing rebuke of the Jews. Jesus continues hammering the fact that God the Father is a witness to Jesus, and is not in any way to be claimed by his accusers.
- His voice you have never heard
Moses heard his voice, but you haven’t. (Ex 33;11)
- His form you have never seen
Jacob say God face to face, but you haven’t. (Gen 32:30)
- You do not have his word abiding in you.
The Psalmists, along with every genuine follower of God not only studied the scriptures, but allowed the scriptures to penetrate their lives. The received the word of God with meekness and allowed it to transform their values, priorities, worldview, and faith. Although the Jewish leadership in Jesus’ day were students of the scriptures, they did not have the word abiding in their hearts in these ways.
What Jesus is saying to them is, “You are not, in anyway to think of yourselves as the people of God, because you are not.” You have no relationship with the Father; and you exhibit none of the characteristics of a lover of God.
And what, according to Jesus, would be the obvious evidence if they were the people of God?
John 5:38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.
John 5:42-43a But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me…
A genuine lover of God, and student of scripture, would respond to the witnesses of Jesus’ identity with faith. Someone who honours the Father, would honour the Son. One who claims to follow the Father, would become a disciple of the Son.
The same is true today. There are plenty of people who claim a belief in God, or even that they are Christians, yet whose lives exhibit little to no evidence that they are followers of Jesus. A genuine follower of Jesus recognizes his works as incontrovertible evidence that he is the Son of God and worthy to be followed.
Well, Jesus isn’t done with his witnesses yet. In addition to citing John the Baptist, and his works as part of the Father’s witness to his identity, he adds one more massively important witness.
Next, we see that:
- The Father has Testified that Jesus is His Son, through the Inspired Scriptures
The Jewish religious leadership has come to Jesus to accuse him of blasphemy and law-breaking, and Jesus has turned the tables in a brutal way.
- First, he takes their accusation that he is disobeying God by working on the Sabbath and says it is actually God who is doing the work, and that he is simply operating as the obedient Son of God.
- Next, he cites the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, whom even the Jewish leadership honoured for a time, and points out that he testified that Jesus is the Son of God.
- Then he circles back to the idea that his works are being done in violation of the law, and states that his works are the very evidence that he is the Son of God and that their refusal to believe in him reveals their own lawlessness.
- First, he takes their accusation that he is disobeying God by working on the Sabbath and says it is actually God who is doing the work, and that he is simply operating as the obedient Son of God.
Now, as if he hasn’t crushed them enough, he strikes right to the heart of their religious pride. He says:
John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Everywhere they turn in their own religious system, there is Jesus. God is your father? He testifies about me; John the prophet? He testifies about me; Your own scriptures? That’s me too!
It’s not as if these Jews did not study the scriptures, they did. They were meticulous studiers of the scripture. They believed that to know the scriptures was to have life. They read and studied and meditated and memorized and recited the scripture. Yet, and here’s the frightening park, in all of their attention to scripture, they completely missed the point.
Why is that frightening? Because there are men and women today, some who claim to be Christians, who spend time in the word of God but who have also missed the point.
Jesus, after his resurrection, said to his disciples:
Luke 24:44-47 … “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem…
The law, the prophets, the Psalms, they all point to Jesus. Through promises, and prophecies, and types and shadows, Jesus is anticipated.
Many Jews understood this. Beyond the hypocritical Jewish leadership there was a remnant of faithful Jews who genuinely did love God, and who were led by the scriptures. So that when Jesus came on the scene, they recognized in him what they had been anticipating for so long. They recognized that Jesus fit the profile of the promised Messiah and so they followed him, trusting him for eternal life.
But not Jesus’ accusers. They knew the scriptures, but they didn’t know the God of the scriptures. Their rebellious hearts led them to concoct a God more to their liking, and a Messiah who would affirm their self-righteousness. When Jesus came on the scene, it turned out they loved their idea of God, more than they actually loved God.
What an incredible warning. I wonder how many who call themselves Christians, who are familiar with scripture, actually don’t care for the God of the scripture. They have distorted the word of God so that they can concoct a picture of God more to their liking. They’ve made a Jesus of their own imagination. Whether by ignoring parts of scripture, adding to scripture, overemphasizing portions, or downplaying others. Anything other than a biblically faithful understanding of God is an idol.
These Jews prided themselves on being disciples of Moses and students of his writings (John 9:28) but Jesus has exposed even this as mere religious show. They completely missed the fact that the scriptures pointed to Jesus and served as a witness to his identity.
Jesus isn’t done yet, the barrage continues. Look in verses 45-57:
John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Moses foretold the coming Messiah. He gave enough revelation regarding the coming Saviour that Moses’ writings will serve as a testimony against the Jews who have failed to believe in Jesus.
Those who came to accuse Jesus are now the accused. If they truly believed Moses, then they would believe in Jesus, because Moses pointed to Jesus. The fact that they have refused Jesus reveals that they really did not understand Moses, nor could they legitimately claim to be his disciples. Instead of placing their hope in the one to whom Moses and the law pointed, they completely missed the point and placed their hope in Moses and the law.
Well, Jesus says, the law in which you are trusting will become your accuser. You think you have eternal life through the scriptures but it is the scriptures which point to me as the source of eternal life – and you have refused to come to me. In the end, the very scriptures you are trusting will condemn your unbelief. Moses, who you believe you are following, will be your chief accuser.
Despite all of their religious privilege, these men did not believe in the Son of God. Despite the fact that they had received God’s special revelation, clearly pointing to the Messiah who would come, they did not believe in the Son of God. Despite rubbing shoulders with genuine believers, and being part of the religious community, they did not believe in the Son of God.
They refused to accept the Father’s testimony about Jesus. They ultimately rejected John the Baptist. They were hardened towards Jesus’ miracles. They were blinded to the scriptures. Although claiming to be God’s people, they were unbelieving rebels who would never inherit eternal life.
Why was this so? Jesus tells us:
John 5:39-44 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
What, according to Jesus, was the source of their unbelief? These men were people-pleasing hypocrites. They loved receiving glory from people. They loved the accolades and affirmations, and acceptance of men, more than they loved God.
Their life decisions were driven by what they valued. They loved being celebrated by others, even if it meant disobeying God. They loved the feeling of being affirmed by people, and so forfeited the acceptance which only comes through Jesus.
It’s as if Jesus is saying, “You are not God’s people. You are fickle hypocrites who love praise and acceptance from your fellow man, more than the glory which comes from God. Your refusal to come to me lies in the fact that to come to me, does not result in glory from people, but potential rejection. Self-exaltation is your god, and coming to me threatens that god. You’d rather follow someone like you. Someone who is self-exalting. Someone who comes in their own name. Someone who also receives glory from people.”
How about your this morning?
Have you received the Father’s testimony concerning his Son? “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11-12).”
We are not asking this morning:
- Whether or not you are involved in religious activity.
- Whether or not you are an attender or member of a church.
- Whether or not you know the scripture.
- Or even Whether or not you believe in God.
What we are asking is, do you believe all that the Father has testified concerning his Son? Have you believed in Jesus?
- Are your trusting Jesus and Jesus alone as the source of eternal life? That is, to the exclusion of any self-effort, self-righteousness or personal goodness?
- Are you a follower of Jesus who honours him as the one granted all authority over men, including authority over your life?
- Do you love Jesus supremely so that you are willing to follow him even if it means sacrificing the glory or acceptance you might receive from others?
These are essential questions, even for a group like this who are in church. Why? Because just like there was potential for self-deceived individuals who attached themselves to the people of God in the first century, so there is today.
Jesus warned that even among those who claim to be his, there will be impostors. He said:
Matthew 7:21-25 ¶ “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
Have you believed in Jesus, and are you living as his obedient disciple? Or are you one who has attached yourself to the church of Jesus Christ without genuine faith? This morning, trust Jesus as your saviour and Lord, give your life to him, and continue as his disciple.