Word of God

Why Believe the Bible?

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Our world is filled with Christians who love, the Bible, God’s word and try live their lives as Christ-like as they possibly can. As a Christian myself, it is not easy, but then again, anything that comes to easily you won’t appreciate as much as something that has challenges along the way.

Bible, Open Bible

On the other side of the coin, the flip side, there’s skeptics, many of them, with titles of their own – atheist, agnostic, etc. And these skeptics will try poke holes in the Bible and mock the Christian faith either to understand why or to deliberately sabotage a believers faith journey.

How do you answer them when they question the Bible or the Christian faith? Or why you believe what you do?

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My prayer today is that this post will help you respond wisely to those questions.

Why believe the Bible?

What is the Bible?

The English word Bible is derived from Koinē Greek: τὰ βιβλία, romanised: ta biblia, meaning “the books” (singular βιβλίον, biblion). The word βιβλίον itself had the literal meaning of “scroll” and came to be used as the ordinary word for “book“. (Logos 9, word defintions).

Secondly, The Bible is a compilation of 66 books and letters written by more than 40 authors during a period of approximately 1,500 years. Its original text was communicated in just three languages: Hebrew, koine or common Greek, and Aramaic. The Old Testament was written for the most part in Hebrew, with a small percentage in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. The sections – the Old and New Testament–the Bible contains several more divisions: the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Poetry and Wisdom Books, the books of Prophecy, the Gospels, and the Epistles.

The Bible itself is the inspired Word of God, or “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:162 Peter 1:21). It unfolds as a divine love story between the Creator God and humankind. In the pages of the Bible, we learn of God’s interaction with humans. We discover his purposes and plans from the beginning of time, throughout history and the future.

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Sound familiar?

“Why do you believe the Bible?” the skeptic asks. “Because it’s God’s Word,” the Christian replies. “Says who?” the skeptic responds. “Says the Bible,” the Christian answers.

Ir is easy to see why the logic that Christians love might not persuade a skeptical person. The reasoning seems as unpersuasive as the parent who responds to their kid’s question with, “Because I said so!”

Thankfully, there are powerful arguments to back up our belief in the Bible. One of my favorites is how the Old Testament prophets knew what the New Testament apostles saw. Take Isaiah, for example. Isaiah knew that God’s chosen Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7). He knew that the Christ would come from the family of King David (Isaiah 11). He knew that the Savior would be pierced for sins, suffer silently, be buried with the rich, and see the light of life again (Isaiah 53). How in the world did Isaiah, living seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, know all that?

The apostle Peter has a reason: 

“For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”. 2 Peter 1:21

The Old Testament prophecies were indeed written by humans. But those humans had help. The Holy Spirit. That’s how they knew things no human could know. The prophets’ knowledge, given by the Holy Spirit, is one of the persuasive reasons that we Christians believe in the Holy Bible.

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Why Believe In Jesus? 

Has anyone ever called you crazy for believing in Jesus Christ? “Wait, you actually believe that Jesus was born from a virgin, died on a cross, and then came back from the dead? Seriously?” 

The apostle Paul defended his faith, our faith, perfectly, in front of two skeptical politicians during his trial in Caesarea: 

“Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. ‘You are out of your mind, Paul!’ he shouted. ‘Your great learning is driving you insane.’ ‘I am not insane, most excellent Festus,’ Paul replied. ‘What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner’” Acts 26:24-26.

I love that logic. Paul pointed out that Christianity didn’t happen in a corner. There were real witnesses of the real things that happened in a real place on our real planet. The early Christians didn’t rely on how they felt or what they believed in their hearts. Rather, they put their faith in what they had seen, heard, and witnessed—the words and works of the Savior, who was seen alive publicly after his death by hundreds of witnesses (1 Corinthians 15, Acts 2, Acts 13)!

Their faith, just like ours today, is true and reasonable.

You are not a fool to trust in Jesus.

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My Favorite Reason To Believe 

My favorite reason to believe in the Bible is, admittedly, not all that logical. It’s much more personal and emotional. It might not be persuasive enough to change an unbeliever’s mind, but I still hope it tugs at an unbeliever’s heart. That reason is Jesus’ uniqueness.

There’s no one like Jesus. There’s no god, no philosophy, and no religion that offers what Jesus offers. Listen to how the prophet Isaiah described him: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” Isaiah 53:5.

Who else offers to take our place and our punishment and give us peace? Only Jesus!

I’ve been asked what I thought of other religions that, like the Bible, teach us to love one another. I reply, “I agree with that, but what do they offer me when I fall short of love? What can they promise me when I sin?” Many spiritual people and religious paths can tell us how to love, but only the Bible proclaims a Savior who loves the unloving. Only one Scripture gives us grace, full and free, to you and me.

Yes, the Old Testament prophecies are persuasive. Yes, the New Testament apostles give compelling testimony. But, in the end, it’s the uniqueness of Jesus Christ that wins over Christian hearts and compels us to trust the Bible that Jesus trusted.

That’s why I believe.

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Release Your Regrets

Advertisements Once you have recognised your regret for what it is, you are then ready for the next step: release your regrets. Ask yourself these five questions: Do you regret committing a sin? Your regret may have been something you did that put distance between you and God. Letting go of that regret will requireContinue reading →

Recognise Your Regrets

Advertisements I have been thinking of regrets lately and I hope to take my experience with empowering you to respond constructively to any type of regret. Recognise your regrets for what they are. What exactly is it that you are feeling badly about? Have you either underestimated or overestimated how serious it is? What powerContinue reading →

Loving Your Regrets

Advertisements Regrets. We all have them. It may be something you wish you hadn’t done, or a missed opportunity where you didn’t take action and wish that you had. It might be something that was done to you; you were the victim, yet you still feel regret. The Sorry Cycle Whether it’s something from lastContinue reading →

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, 2 comments

The Gospel of John – Like Father, Like Son

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Father and son

In the next part of the gospel of John, the word “father” appears over a dozen times.

This passage really is about “fathers” and “sons.”

It deals with those crucial issues which caused many to reject and resist Jesus Christ as the Messiah, while at the same time bringing others to faith in Him. The issues dealt with in this passage are those with which many in our culture struggle today. Let’s learn what the Word of God has to say to us about “fathers,” “sons,” and “freedom.”

This is a passage which dovetails with John 2:13–22, where Jesus drives corrupt businessmen from the temple. These Scriptures disprove any myths that Jesus was weak, timid, passive, or soft.

Jesus felt every emotion we feel today.

In this exchange with the Pharisees, Jesus pulls no punches. Jerusalem’s religious leaders, and their followers, continue to resist Jesus’ preaching. They rely on arrogance and insults, to which Jesus responds with blunt, unfiltered condemnation. This culminates in Jesus making an overt statement of His own divinity, punctuating the debate by declaring ”before Abraham was, I am!’

Follow the series on John here

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Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

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“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Jesus’ Claims About Himself

48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. John 8: 31-59


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The Father and Son continues

However, the last post left you to believe – there are those who “believed” in Jesus were expressing saving faith. However, the Bible distinguishes between those who believe in a shallow, superficial sense from those who express legitimate faith in Christ. Verse 31 explains one of the ways to know the difference: those who truly submit to Christ “abide in [His] word” (John 8:12; John 5:38; 1 John 2:14).

The conversation Jesus has now is still mostly aimed at the Pharisees, but it actually includes all of the hostile crowd which has now gathered.

The truth will set you free

The most enticing aspect of sin is the promise of freedom. Even from the first temptation, in the garden of Eden, man has assumed that defying God is a way to control his own destiny. In fact, the opposite is true. Nothing enslaves like sin—it corrupts our thinking, controls our actions, and destroys our peace. Worst of all, it separates us from God (Ephesians 2:12 – “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world”) and condemns us to an eternity of loneliness and shame (Matthew 8:12 -But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”).

Jesus, on the other hand, represents the truth—that is, Himself.

This is a theme Christ will return to often in His teachings. No other claims are true, and nothing but truth can really free us.

The truth can hurt or provide comfort

Comforting lies are never as beneficial as loving truth. Even when the truth is not what we want to hear, we can’t expect to make good decisions or correct choices when we’re operating under the control of a lie. As Christ stated earlier in this dialogue, He—alone—is the “light of the world,” the one and only means to apprehend truth. True freedom is found in the forgiveness of sin and service to God, and this is only found when we accept Jesus.

However, the information being discussed here is not the same kind of knowledge for which Jesus offered human evidence. Those were issues such as eyewitness to miracles and the content of the Scriptures. Here, as Jesus will respond next, only one person has ever actually seen the truths being claimed, so only that person can speak of them.

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Spiritual freedom

The “they” referred to is a collection of Jewish religious leaders and their followers. Jesus is debating them in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1–2). Prior to this moment, Jesus has claimed to be “the light of the world” (John 8:12) and therefore the only source of spiritual truth.

In the prior verses, Jesus reemphasised this point by claiming that those who “abide in [His] word” are those who know the truth, and are set free by that truth.

Later, He will clarify that those who have not accepted this truth are still slaves to sin (John 8:34). The response from the hostile crowd is not merely bizarre, it demonstrates a lack of insight.

The “freedom” Jesus has spoken of is spiritual: those who reject Christ are still enslaved to sin. This results in both eternal damnation and earthly consequences (Romans 1:26–27“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”). The people who remark back about their freedom seem to think that if they are not actual slaves, in a social sense, they have no need to be freed. In this way, their reaction proves that they do not understand the point Jesus is making.

It’s absurd

The absurd side to this argument is that it ignores both Israel’s history and her current situation! In the past, Israel was often subjugated to other nations—the entire book of Judges describes the nation’s cycles of sin, oppression, and rescue. At one point, the vast majority of the Jewish people were carried off into captivity (Daniel 1:1; Esther 2:5–6). And, most obviously, the nation of Israel had been enslaved by the nation of Egypt prior to the events of the book of Exodus. At the very moment these words were spoken, Israel was under the absolute control of the Roman Empire. It’s mind-boggling that they could claim to have “never been enslaved to anyone.” Then again, so is their inability to recognise their enslavement to sin.

We’re all slaves to sin

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Jesus uses the phrase translated as “truly, truly,” or “very truly.” This is from a doubled use of the Aramaic word amēn. Used at the end of a statement, as many cultures do in prayer even today, it suggests a hope that the words will be fulfilled, or that they are true. Used at the beginning of a statement, it is a claim to absolute, original, first-hand knowledge.

It’s important to realise what Christ is saying here, and what He is not saying. . Without question, Jesus is pointing out that sin is a mark of following darkness, instead of His light (1 John 1:5-10).

Sin, by definition, means choosing earthly, worldly things over heavenly things.

What Jesus is not saying is that all sin, at all times, should be interpreted to mean that the sinner has no relationship to Christ. The Greek of this phrase makes this nuance much easier to understand than any English translation. The exact phrasing used is pas ho poiōn ho hamartia doulos ho hamartia. Literally, this means “everyone who keeps practicing sin is a slave of sin.” In other words, Jesus is now speaking of a habitual, persistent sin. Those who are free in Christ may stumble into darkness, but they do not perpetually “walk” in it (John 8:12).

Enslaving nature of sin

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Jesus explains the enslaving nature of sin, as compared to the freedom He offers in salvation. He has already claimed to be the one and only source of spiritual truth (John 8:12), and that accepting this truth would rescue a person from sin and spiritual slavery (John 8:31–32). His noting that those who habitually practise sin are slaves to sin—these are not people who have been “set free.” He draws out the distinction between a household servant and an actual son of the house.

Slaves—from the Greek term doula–meaning a “bondservant”—were the equivalent of employees in the ancient world. They lived in the master’s house, and had a certain kind of relationship with the master. However, they were not actually part of the master’s family. Eventually, these bondservants would leave, or be dismissed. Only the actual children of the master had a permanent right to live in the home. The classic example of this is found in Genesis 21, where Ishmael, Abraham’s son through the servant Hagar, is dismissed from the home; his son Isaac, through his wife, remains. This, according to Jesus, applies to our spiritual relationship to God.

Specifically, Jesus is referring to the crowd’s earlier claim to being the children of Abraham. As Jesus will soon point out, His critics may be “in the house” of Abraham, but they are not really “children” of Abraham, since they are not spiritually part of God’s family.

Sooner or later, as with any other “slave,” they will find themselves cast out.

The son sets you free

John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” is one of the most inspirational phrases in all of Scripture. While sin enslaves us, true freedom is found only in Christ. Sin deceives by promising freedom when all it does is control and corrupt us. Those who don’t have faith in Christ are bound by sin (Romans 6:18), and subject not only to slavery but to spiritual death. Those who find Christ, the one and only source of spiritual truth (John 8:12), will be “truly” free.

The Father’s will

When Jesus claims to be doing the will of His “Father,” these critics responded by laying claim to their ancestry through Abraham. Christ’s reply is that biological fatherhood is not as important as spiritual fatherhood. Jesus has just used the example of a household servant, who is not a permanent part of a family, in contrast to a son, who is always guaranteed access to his father (John 4:15–16). This was an analogy to the difference between those who merely know “about” God—including the spiritually obstinate Pharisees—in contrast to those who truly know God because they know Christ.

Christ is the real, promised “son” of Abraham (Galatians 3:16).

So, the “real” children of Abraham are those who obey God, by accepting Christ (Galatians 3:26“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith”). This is the subtext behind the rest of Jesus’ dialogue with the crowd.

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 Spiritually the sons of God

Jesus’ analogy highlights the difference between a household servant and the master’s son. One is not a permanent part of the family, while the other is guaranteed a place with the master. The “true” sons of Abraham, then, are those who are spiritually the sons of God—a status only available to those who trust in Christ.

Jesus is aware that the religious leaders of Jerusalem, and their followers—called “the Jews” here in the gospel of John—are the descendants of Abraham. However, they are not really part of God’s family, since they don’t accept the message of God. That message includes Christ (John 6:29). Since they reject Jesus, they also reject God, and cannot claim to have His truth, or His light, inside them. Jesus’ challenge to their spiritual arrogance has led them, not only to reject Him, but to attempt to kill Him.

This leads Jesus to continue the analogy of “fatherhood,” by making a brutally condemning remark – Jesus will suggest that the people opposing Him are following the example of their spiritual father…who is neither God nor Abraham. Rather, according to Christ, their father is the Devil (John 8:44)!

Misinterpreted references

As the man given a promise by God, Abraham represents an anchor point for the Jewish understanding that they are God’s chosen people. In trying to dispute Jesus’ claims to spiritual truth, the religious leaders of Jerusalem have misinterpreted His references to His “father.” Their claim, in response, was to profess their descent from Abraham. As Jesus has pointed out, however, being a part of God’s family is driven by faith and spirit, not by genealogy. The “true” children of Abraham are those who obey God, which includes following His son, Jesus Christ. As Abraham followed God, so too will his spiritual children.

After claiming that the people opposing Him are not really sons of Abraham, Jesus now begins to refer to “your father,” meaning the spiritual father of these obstinate critics. While Jesus comes by the will of God and does what His Father wants Him to do, the people who seek to kill Him are acting in the example of their father. Jesus will subtly make this point several times before outright naming the true spiritual father of His enemies: the Devil.

Unsurprisingly, this escalation leads Jesus’ critics to resort to insults, accusations of insanity and another attempt on His life.

Insulting Jesus

The critics, seemingly confused about the meaning of this, once again state that they are children of Abraham. This repeated reference might also be a subtle insult to Jesus, by hinting at His scandalous birth. Later, this subtlety will be gone and the crowd will outright accuse Jesus of being an illegitimate child.

Here, Jesus takes a slightly different approach. In the prior verse, He spoke to the hostile crowd about “your father,” meaning someone other than Abraham or God. Here, He begins to point out that the actions of these critics prove their real spiritual state. They don’t do as Abraham did, so they are not Abraham’s children. Instead, their actions imitate the Devil, their true (spiritual) father.

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The twist

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

The conversation takes a nasty turn. Prior to this, the crowd’s attacks on Jesus have been somewhat formal. They have disputed His claims, condemned His words, and even tried to have Him arrested or killed. At this moment, though, they resort to outright personal insults. The statement “we were not born of sexual immorality” is a direct slur against Jesus, whose birth was a subject of some controversy. In short, the critics are smearing Jesus’ reputation by calling Him an illegitimate child.

Jesus’ response shows that He is not the passive, soft, weak-eyed cartoon character so often imagined. Instead, He forcefully repeats His claim that these men reject Him because they reject God—they are the spiritual children of Satan (John 8:44)! This turmoil will escalate until Jesus once again claims to be God incarnate, at which point the crowd will resort to violence.

Adamant resistance

Jesus’ critics have adamantly resisted His teachings. Since Abraham believed God, and these men do not, they are not part of Abraham’s spiritual family. Instead, they are the children of some other father. So far, their conduct has been marked by violence (John 5:18), deception (John 7:21–24), and hypocrisy (John 8:1–11). They reject the message of Christ because they do not want to hear it (John 8:43). They’ve even insulted Jesus’ family by insinuating that He is an illegitimate child—a “son of fornication” (John 8:41). Here, Jesus completes His statement about the true spiritual father of these critics, in spectacular fashion.

In no uncertain terms, Jesus states that these hateful enemies are, in fact, the spiritual children of the devil. He refers to murder, resistance to the truth, and lies—all of which were part of His earlier criticism of these men. This is not a soft, timid response on the part of Jesus. This is an open, overt rebuke delivered against religious leaders who are leading others to hell (Matthew 23:15). Contrary to the caricature of Jesus as a fragile mystic, passages such as these prove His ability to present righteous strength.

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Jesus sinless life

Jesus now brings out another major piece of evidence which supports His claims: His sinless life. If the religious leaders had a single incident which they could use to accuse Jesus of immorality, they would have already brought it out. This is why they resorted to cheap tricks and challenges—they had no other “dirt” to throw. Here, Jesus brings this up directly: none of these men can accuse Him of any sin!

This ties into the hypocrisy of their rejection. If Jesus is attested to by miracles, displays a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15), and speaks the truth, why would they not believe Him? The answer will be repeated: they are not of God and do not want to hear.

The men opposing Jesus sink even lower in their approach. The Jewish people saw Samaritans as despised half-breeds. This cultural hatred was a major reason why Jesus’ actions in the Samaritan town of Sychar were so controversial (John 4:1–9). Calling Jesus a “Samaritan” combined two insults into one: mocking His birth and accusing Him of heresy. Referring to someone as demon-possessed was, in that day, equivalent to calling them crazy. Unable to give reasonable answers to His teaching, those opposed to Jesus are resorting to petty insults. Unfortunately, this tactic is still common in debates today, where mocking and slurs take the place of actual discussion.

Jesus vs His critics

Jesus makes an important distinction here, which further shows the difference between Him and His critics. Everything Jesus did in His earthly ministry was intended to glorify God the Father. And, Jesus always pointed His mission, His words, and all of the credit for those accomplishments to God (John 8:50). The Pharisees, like other religious leaders of that era, were more interested in their own power and prestige than in the truth (Matthew 20:25; Luke 11:43; Matthew 23:6). Since Jesus’ message conflicts with what they want to believe, they refuse to understand it (John 7:17). This is why Jesus was comfortable in saying that they were, spiritually, the children of the devil, not of Abraham (John 8:44).

Recently, this same hostile crowd has resorted to petty insults. These critics have insulted Jesus’ birth and accused Him of being insane. This only goes to prove the point Jesus has made over and over: those who reject the One sent by God are also rejecting God (John 3:36). To dishonour Jesus is to spit in the face of God the Father.

God being the judge is brief and often overlooked. However, in the context of this conversation, it is extremely important. The men arguing with Jesus at this moment are beyond reason (Matthew 7:6) and have begun to use vile insults (John 8:41; 8:48). Jesus’ remark defers judgment for those actions to God (Romans 12:19). Instead of becoming flustered or enraged, Jesus shrugs those slurs off and leaves the consequences to God.

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One way to Salvation

Jesus’s words here are in contrast to those who do not “hear,” “walk,” or “believe” according to His message. Those who “keep His word,” in this context, are those who express saving faith in God’s Son. Those who reject Christ, however, are condemned to spiritual death.

The critics once again invoke the superiority of their ancestors. The question asked is phrased in such a way that it expects a “no” answer. This is like asking “you don’t think…do you?” in English. Jesus has claimed that those who follow God, by accepting His teachings, will not “taste death” (John 8:51). These men are challenging that by pointing out—in their confusion—that Abraham and the prophets died. Is Jesus claiming to bring a superior message?

Ironically, this is exactly what Jesus is doing, which is the main theme of the book of Hebrews.

However, in this case, Jesus is speaking of a consistent message from God. This is one that Abraham, and all the other prophets, were aware of. Jesus is about to follow the crucial question asked here—”who do you think you are?”—to a spectacular and outrageous conclusion.

These men, who hypocritically protect their own power instead of following the truth, do not know God.

 In other words, these men haven’t even encountered or learned about God, while Jesus has personal, direct knowledge of Him. The gulf between Christ’s understanding of God and their understanding is not just intellectual, and not just spiritual. The difference is fundamental: Jesus knows God because He is God. This is a point Jesus will make very directly in the closing of this passage.

Closing

Jesus clarifies by saying that Abraham’s faith looked forward to the Promised One—and Jesus is that One. Therefore, when Jesus claims to bring a message which frees men from death, that message includes those who came before Him, such as Abraham. In making this statement, Jesus implies that He witnessed Abraham’s life in a direct, personal way.

Jesus responds to disbelief from His critics. He indicates that Abraham looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, and “rejoiced” to see Jesus’ day finally arrive. His word choices, in the original Greek, imply a kind of knowledge that is inborn, innate, and natural. This led His critics to jeer: “you’re not even fifty, how can you have seen Abraham?”

Jesus answers with what some refer to as the “hidden ‘I AM'” statement, since it’s not typically counted among the others. Ironically, this is perhaps the most direct of all of Jesus’ uses of this phrase. The meaning is certainly not lost on His critics. When Jesus claims the title of “I AM,” everyone listening knows exactly what He means: that He is God (John 10:33). Those who suggest that Jesus never actually claimed to be God should consider the reaction of the religious leaders to His words, shown in the next verse. They are so enraged that they attempt to stone Jesus (John 8:59) right then and there.

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Smite me, oh Mighty Smiter

Advertisements Oh mighty smiter! Smite me! Oh wait, you keep doing it! Bring it on. I can take it! Remember that line from the movie “Bruce Almighty”… “smite me oh mighty smiter”. Well… I got some questions for God, some questions for fellow believers. God makes promises throughout the Bible. Are those promises meant forContinue reading →

In The Garden

Advertisements “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses…and the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses…And he walks with meand he talks with me…and he tells me I am his own…and the joy we share as we carry there…no other has ever known……HeContinue reading →

Psalm 23 – The Great Shepherd

Advertisements The great Shepherd, The Lord  In Him I do not lack I rest in His presence in pastures green, and I am given the water of life Water refreshing my soul My guiding light on paths right Valleys are darkest – I fear nothing    For the great shepherd is nearest A rod and a staff,Continue reading →

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 2 comments

Are Truth and Love in Conflict?

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Do you feel like the truth is ever-changing? Do you often find yourself anxious about knowing what is true and what isn’t? It doesn’t have to be that way! Truth is unchangeable. Truth is always true despite how one feels about it; even if no one believes the truth, it remains true. Let’s get into God’s Word with this topic!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres..” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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Comparison is the thief of joy

When we consider ourselves in competition with people around us, people like classmates, neighbours, friends, family, it steals the new life that God has given us. When we are gripped by envy or insist on feeling less than enough, we miss out on the truth God proclaims. Jesus came as a man to show us that the kingdom of God was like nothing we had ever experienced or expected.

That’s the Truth.

He challenged the religious to rediscover their love for God. He chased after those who felt like their circumstances or decisions disqualified them from God’s love. In a world of laws, Jesus looks at a child and so we could learn from them how to love God.

His words are exhilarating and confusing at the same time. Discover the truth about the nature of God. Replace the word “love” with “God.” Then discover who God is transforming you to be. Re-read the verses again and replacing the word “love” with “I”. 

Go do that now!

What do these verses remind you about God? About yourself? What can you do today in response to what you’ve read?

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One Way to the Father!

Guard your heart!

God has an enemy who is continually trying to disconnect God from His people. Pop culture suggests Satan is a horned guy in a red suit carrying a pitchfork. He is much more subtle. The enemy’s desire is to drive a wedge between you and God. To twist God’s words, appeal to your ego, and introducing doubts. 

God is the embodiment of love, what better way to confuse God’s people than by distorting our understanding of love? The good news is that there is a true rock that we can stand on. When the world is swirling. The Word of God clearly reflects the nature and character of God. The story of the redemption He offers through Christ.

Been a Christian for years? Newly trusted Him for the first time with your life? God has equipped you with what you need to silence the enemy’s lies– His Word.

The next Scripture reading comes from Christ’s High Priestly Prayer: Christ prayed this prayer when He was in the garden before He was betrayed and crucified. He prays to His Father to protect His followers from the devil and teach them the truth of God’s Word.

How to guard your heart

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:13-19

The next Scripture reading gives us guidance not only on how to guard our hearts against the lies but how to go on the offensive by proclaiming the truth in love as the unified body of Christ. which is the Church.

Speak in love

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:11-15

Today, you have the chance to speak the truth in love to someone. Take a moment to pray for your conversation.

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Yes, but….

Photo by Joanna Anderson on Pexels.com

Have you ever talked to someone who answered everything you said with “Yes, but. . .”? They agreed that what you were saying was true but felt like there was something else that needed to be factored in to explain or justify their actions.

God’s truth is unchanging and immovable. It is as applicable to us today as it was to Adam and Eve. When we are tempted to respond to God’s truth with “Yes, but. . .” we know that we have allowed something to drain God’s Word of its power.

In the first Bible passage, the author of Hebrews warns his readers to guard against drifting not just from the truth, but from God’s truth that has stood the test of time. God’s truth has proved reliable again and again. So if you feel like you’re drifting, anchor yourself to something dependable. Anchor yourself to God.

Warning to Pay Attention

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. Hebrews 2:1-3

In the second passage, the Psalmist tells God’s people to listen to God and not harden their hearts and turn from Him, like many have done in the past. You may have recently given into the temptation to listen to another voice that seemed to promise better things than what God has promised you. If that is you, it is never too late to turn back to the Lord. Listen to His voice today.

for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
    as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
Psalm 95:7-11

That’s the Truth.

Listen very carefully to the truth you have heard. How can you avoid drifting away?

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, 0 comments