Have no Fear of Them

One thing that Jesus mentions that is recorded in John 5 is seeking glory or praise from other people instead of from God.  The root of unbelief can often be traced back to this issue.  John 5:44 says, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”  This is a rhetorical question and the answer is, you cant!  You can’t believe in and run to Jesus if you desire the praise of men or fear what they think.

This impossibility of coming to Jesus when someone desires the praises of men is explained in v. 40 where it says, “yet you don’t want to come to me that you may have life”.  These people found something they like better.  They don’t want to come to Jesus because they want the approval and praise of men more.

This is a major problem in the Christians life as well.  You cannot serve two masters.  If the fear of man is controlling you, you are not honoring Jesus.  Stop worrying and thinking about what others think of you, honor Christ and the other things fall into place as God would have it.  1 Peter 3:14-15 says, “Have no fear of them nor be troubled but honor Christ the lord as Holy”.  The way to fight the fear of man is to fear God and seek his honor.  You can receive honor from men and honor from God.  You have to choose one.  For your sake, fear God not man.

Dying unto Life

The first step to experiencing resurrection life is dying. Romans 7:5 says this, “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are leased from the law, having died to that which held us captive.” Have you died to your sin and are you experiencing the joy of eternal life? Have you experienced resurrection life? Today can be the day that you can experience resurrection life instead of death from sin. Turn from your sin and turn to Jesus. This is the gospel and this is the reality of the Christian life. Romans 8:12 says this, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

This passage makes it clear who are children of God; it is those who are led by the spirit. Who are those who are led by the spirit? It is those who “put to death the deeds of the body by the holy Spirit”. As the church, we continually partake in the joy of dying to sin and living for Christ. This is a foretaste of our resurrection where sin will be finally defeated and we will be with Christ.

Anxiety in Light of the Return of Christ

How does Philippians 4:4-7 apply to those who do not know God? In light of the reality of the return of Christ, should a lost person be anxious? I think the answer is yes and rightly so. Even though this exhortation in Philippians 4 was written to true followers of Jesus, it has application for those who are in unrepentant sin. When considering the return of Christ, a person trusting in Jesus has no reason to be anxious yet someone who rejects Jesus and continues in sin has every reason to be anxious and worry. Romans 1:18-19 says this of those people, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” This is a scary reality. Even though many seek to be free from anxiety by ignoring the reality of God when committing sin, the truth is that they are simply suppressing the truth and it will only work for so long in light of Philippians 4:4, “The Lord is at Hand”.

Are you or is someone you know running from the reality of God? Anyone running to sin instead of God needs to see the reality of the Lord’s return and run to Jesus so that they can see freedom from being anxious about anything and so that they can have the peace of God’s presence.

Three Exhortations for the Church to Obey Together

I would like to encourage you to remember the three exhortations given in Hebrews 10:19-27

  • Let us draw near to God (v. 22)
  • Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (v. 23)
  • Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (v. 24)

Notice that the author ends these commands by saying, while you obey these three things, don’t neglect to meet together but encourage one another (v. 25). All the commands start with “let us”. God did not intend for us to do these things alone but rather they are to be done together as the body, as the Church, as we meet together on Sundays and during the week.

When one turns to Jesus, they are united to him and in effect become united to every other person that is in Christ. Becoming part of a local church and obeying these three commands together with other Christians is a direct outworking of your salvation. It is evidence that you are truly in Christ. This becomes clear in the next verse. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” (v. 26) We need one another in order to live out these commands as God intends.

 

I’m Offended, What Should I Do?

What are we to do with conflict or disagreement?  James 4:11 says this, “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”

We are called as Christians not to speak evil against one another.  This means that gossiping, sharing information, and harsh tones should not be seen in the members of the church.  But what should we do instead?  If someone is in sin or wrongs us are we supposed to simply not speak evil against them and let them continue in sin?  By no means!  Praise the Lord Galatians 6:1 says this, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”  How amazing is that!?  We don’t have to speak bad things of our brothers in Christ, instead we come along side them and show them their fault, helping them grow out of it into Christ.

This clear biblical model is laid out in Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6, Hebrews 3:12-13, Hebrews 10:24-25 and elsewhere and it brings much glory to God when it is followed.  If you need help with this, come to me and I will try to lead you in a biblical direction.  I thank each of you who have responded to the Sunday school lesson from last week and have lived this out, Praise God for his work in your life.  Let us continue in this together.

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What Does Jesus Say About Faith

The way John formats his Gospel is intentional and it strikes three notes of application.

  1. There is not entitlement with God. We saw this first with Nicodemus- he must be born again. His ancestry does not have any bearing on his relationship with God. His nationality and ethnicity do not save him, new birth is required. The Jew’s are God’s people but if they reject Jesus Christ, they are way worse off than the outcasts of society that accept Jesus, namely Samaritans and by implication Gentiles.
  1. Faith in Jesus must be real and genuine. We see this reality again and again. We see false faith like the authorities in 12:36-43 quoted above who “believed” in him yet did not “confess him” because “they loved the glory that comes from man more than glory that comes from God. Then we also see real (John 3:16) faith in John the Baptist, the Samaritan woman, the disciples, the official in today’s sermon, the man who will be healed in the sermon next week, and many more. These people are willing to give up all they have to follow Jesus because they see their savior as priceless.
  1. Real Faith leads to persecution. What I love about John is that it is written to persuade unbelievers to repent and follow Jesus Christ yet he never shrinks back from making clear, following Jesus involves suffering rejection, persecution, and difficulty. Not only does John make clear that becoming a Christian involves that, it requires The Pharisees in John 12 quoted above are portrayed by John as unbelievers who reject Jesus because they did not want to give up what they have. Being a disciple of Jesus (being a Christian), requires giving up your life for Jesus Christ. Anything less than that is superficial, fake, and worthless in the sight of God.

Why are there Samaritans in John’s Gospel?

Why does John include this interaction between Jesus and the woman at Samaria in his gospel?  It doesn’t seem to fit very well.  The first half of John, where this negative takes place, is all about Jesus doing signs and miracles but being rejoiced by the Jews.  So why does John include a negative with Samaritans believing when John also talks about Jews rejecting?  John 1:11 says, “He (Jesus) came to his own (creation) and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” When it says his own people did not receive him, it is talking about the Jews. Jesus came as the savior to the Jews that was promised long ago, but John wants his readers to realize something. Even though most the Jew’s did not believe in him (though many had superficial faith) his salvation is not just for them, but for any who turn to him.  Not only is Jesus the savior of the Jews, but also to all the nations. He is the blessing to all the nations that is promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. He is the one who brings about the fulfillment of Psalm 67:4-5:

“4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah 5Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”

When he is saying the  nations, the psalmist is including those who are not decedents of Abraham by birth.  We, the church (even though most of us are not Jewish) like the Samaritans in John 4, receive the blessing of living water, through faith in him.  We are now worshipers of God in fulfillment of Psalm 67.

Second, I want you to pay attention to Jesus’ call to his disciples. He calls them to go out and reap the harvest of eternal life. He is talking about leading people to repentance and faith. He says a similar thing in Matthew 9:35-38. Now that we have received the blessing of eternal life that we enjoy as we seek Christ every day, we tell others of the good news of living life for Christ.  This hard work leads to the great joy of seeing people be born again; the food that satisfies Jesus and leads to rejoicing in the church, and rejoicing in heaven.

What is spiritual blindness?

In the Book of John, so far, we have witnessed spiritual blindness over and over. Jesus again and again, speaks about spiritual realties yet people fail to understand what he is saying.

  • Jesus said to the Jews “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:19-22)
  • Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” Nicodemus said to him, “Haw can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:3-4). Jesus was talking about being spiritually reborn of water and spirit like Ezekiel prophesied (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
  • Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that he can give her living water welling up to eternal life, and she responds by saying, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep…I want it so that I don’t have to draw water anymore. (John 4:10-15) But Jesus was speaking about the Holy Spirit who proceeds from him bringing spiritual life.(John 7:38-39)
  • Later, when the disciples tell Jesus to eat, he says “I have food to eat that you do not know about” and the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them that hisfood is to do the will of him who sent him and to accomplish the father’s work”.

Do you see how in each of them, there is a blindness to spiritual things? WE also suffer from spiritual blindness. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we are hopeless in understanding the things of God. This is where prayer and meditation and a reliance of God’s word come into play. Apart from God’s power, we are blind. Let each and every one of us rely on the Holy Spirit every time we read the Bible, and hear it preached falling on our faces pleading for the ability to understand and be changed.

Did John and Jesus baptize by immersion?

The question at hand is, does baptism have to involve dunking.  As you already know, many churches do not practice believer’s baptism but sprinkle children of religious parents with water instead. The general reason for this is because they see baptism as a replacement of circumcision. Baptists have always been against this position because of the lack of scriptural support.

To answer the question of what baptism should look like, lets consider what Jesus and John the Baptist did.  Here in John 3:22-23, we see clear evidence that baptism required more than just a small basin of water for sprinkling. When John baptized, much water was needed. “John was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized” (John 3:23). Romans 6:4 and Colossians 2:12 also say baptism is a picture of dying with Christ and dying to sin. If baptism represents you dying (going under the ground) and being raised (coming out of the ground) and required lots of water (John 3:22-23), sprinkling as baptism does not make sense. Baptism is a picture of dying to sin and being raised to walk in newness of life. So how does this apply to you?

  1. In order to be a true Christian, you must die to sin (repent and turn) and place your trust in Jesus, giving your life to him. Turn from sin to Christ. After being born again, you are then ready to proclaim this inward reality with the outward proclamation of Baptism. If you would like to talk with me about this give me a call or come see me.
  2. If you were “baptized” before you fully gave your life to Christ in repentance and faith, or were sprinkled with water instead of baptized, you need to be baptized. Being baptized is an act of obedience to Christ and often is the start of a commitment to accountability and a local church family who will grow in Joy with you.

Look to Jesus and be Saved

One thing that I hope you have noticed in the book of John is how often we go back to the Old Testament to understand what Jesus is saying. This theme will continue in the book of John because Jesus coming to earth is in fulfillment of everything in the Old Testament.

Notice what Jesus said in John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life”. The reality of our lives is just like the life of those in Numbers 21 that Jesus is talking about. Here is what is going: the people were surrounded by snakes! They were being bit and many of them were being killed by the snakes! But there is good news. God provided for his people a way of freedom, a way of life. All they had to do to be safe from the snakes is to look to the bronze stature that Moses lifted up. Listen to Numbers 21:9, “ Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live”.

How are we like these people? The bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death. We are at risk of death. But there is good news. Jesus says that he is like the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up, it pointed forward to him. Jesus was lifted up on a cross like the bronze snake and all who repent and look to Jesus will be saved.