Please turn with me if you would in your Bibles to John chapter 6. Our text this morning will be verses 35-40. John 6:35-40;
The tone of Jesus' ministry changes here with these verses. Up to this point in His ministry, Jesus has said and done several noteworthy things. Consider with me, there were the discourses both with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethsaida, feed the multitudes in the mountains of Judea, and as we saw last week, calmed the fears of the disciples through His miraculous walking upon the waters of the Sea of Capernaum out to their boat.
But now, the tone of Jesus ministry changes. With the passage before us, our Lord appears to be moving towards explaining more of the theological or doctrinal aspects of His ministry. He looks to be moving towards a deeper level of discourse. In other words, Jesus seems to be teaching and explaining more about the significance and purpose of His person and His work in the life of His ministry on earth. And He begins with one of the great "I AM" statements found in Scripture. In verse 35, Jesus speaking of Himself states, "I AM Bread of Life". Now, still having fresh in their minds the miracle of the fishes and bread in their minds, Jesus uses this miraculous work to illustrate the spiritual principle that those who come to Him will never lack any good thing - He says they'll never hunger nor thirst - not for physical food, but of eternal life.
Notice then in verses 37-40, our Lord begins to explain a very important set of principles in the life of those who do come to Him. Here is the first principle: He teaches we are given to Him by the Father (vs. 37). In other words, as we come to Christ, we do so because the Father has purposed and willed it to be so. Secondly, and this will be our theme for today, those who the Father gives to the Son belong to Him and under no circumstances will He cast them out, that is to say, once we belong to Christ we are His now and forever more.
In verse 38, Jesus reiterates something He has mentioned on several occasions - that His work and words are the will of God - that He came "down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." And that the Father's will was not only to give Jesus a peculiar people, not only to draw from men certain of those who would believe on Him, but that of those who come, look at verse 39; "all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."
Now I mentioned our focus would be on that second principle. This important principle is presented by Jesus in a couple of places, both in verses 37 and 39 of this passage. In verse 37 Jesus says, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out". And in verse 39 He states, "of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing". Both of these phrases are saying much the same thing.
The principle being taught here in these verses sometimes go under different names. Some of you might have heard it as the doctrine of "eternal security", or others of you might know it was "once saved always saved". If you were to study some of the older church confessions and creeds, you would read of the "perseverance of the saints". All these, to a greater or lesser degree, seek to capture the essence of what our Lord Jesus is here teaching the people of His day in that we can have assurance of our place in the kingdom of God, and our place in His kingdom as assured.
This is a Biblical principle. As the people of God, we can have assurance of our salvation. 2 Pet. 2:10 exhorts the believer to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure". And our passage in John today compliments this by teaching about the principle of perseverance - abiding in the Faith, and how we can know our salvation in Christ is eternal and secure. In our passage, our Lord Jesus does a great deal to dispel the dangerous and false doctrine that Christians, once being redeemed by the blood of Christ, washed of their sins, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and covenanted together with God through Christ, that they can once more fall away into condemnation. Sadly there are many denominations, churches, and professing Christians who believe and teach that true believers can fall into certain sins that remove them from a state of grace, and into apostasy to the end of life, and consequently ultimately fall into eternal condemnation. I can only image the trepidation and fear these people must struggle with on a daily basis. To have to live under the constant terror that our sins, once forgiven and removed from us, could once more rise up and condemn us is no way to live, and finds no place in God's Word.
In Romans 8:1 Paul comforts the believer with these words, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus". Paul knew of no condemnation for those found in Christ. There condemnation has been lifted. Their sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west. And they have found peace with God through Christ Jesus. In spite of this, the Roman Catholic Church, for example, states in their official teachings, "If any person shall say that a man who has been justified cannot lose grace, and that, therefore, he who falls and sins was never truly justified, he shall be accursed." In other words, the Catholic church teaches that those once justified and in a state of God's grace, and fall away - and those that teach otherwise should themseleves be condemned.
Well, I say let the Roman Catholic church be condemned for teaching a doctrine contrary to the Word of God! The Words of Christ are clear, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out". Yet Rome, and even many Protestant churches profess Jesus does cast out those who have come to Him by grace through faith. Some say you can fall in and out of grace - you can be saved on moment, lost the next, and saved the next. In my mind this makes God out to be some kind of devil - torturing people with some kind of "on/off" switch to salvation - on one moment off the next. To all those who contradict our Lord's teaching here repentance is in order and a turning to the truth. So, the fist principle I believe our Lord is conveying here in our passage in John 6 is; True believers will persevere in the faith, and those who are bought by Christ, He will in no way cast out.
Danger of Grievous Sin
Yet, I feel the emphasis of Jesus' Words also warrant a warning to the believer. The fact we can take assurance of our salvation, that the implication that true followers of the Lord Jesus are kept by Him for now and evermore is not license to live as we please. The reality of falling into deep and abiding sin. The London Baptist Confession of Faith states the danger to the believer this way saying the Christian, "through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalence of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, [may] fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God's displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves..."
So while we should take comfort from the doctrine of perseverance, we ought not to take advantage of it, not believing there is the possibility of deep, grievous and hurtful sin that can occur in the life of the true believer.
Possibility of False Conversion
Additionally, I feel our Lord's words warrant another warning - a warning about a false conversions. Many in the visible Church are merely nominal Christians - Christians by name only. They are joined to the Church by an outward profession; but they are not savingly united to Christ by His inward possession. As the Scriptures say, they assume a form of godliness, but are strangers to its power. And of these we must conclude of all those who fall totally and finally away, that they were never really "rooted and grounded in Christ." Again the Bible speaks of those who "went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us."–1 John ii. 19. This is the perseverance of the saint spoken of in John 6 by our Lord Jesus.
Finally, I want to encourage the Christians here at Christ Covenant. I want to say that I believe in eternal security, I don't believe that true believers can fully or finally fall away from the faith. And I believe that the perseverance of the saints ought to be a fundamental doctrine taught in every church.
Yet, I also don't believe we ought to stop with merely persevering. When I think of preserves, I think of a jars of jam or jelly just sitting in the cubbard. In my mind, and maybe in yours, the notion of perseverance seems to indicate we're simply hanging on - barely making it, sitting around, and in a constant struggle just to stay in the faith. What I want to suggest to you is that perseverance ought to produce proliferation. In other words, I'm saying we ought to use the glorious reality of our perseverance is the basis for the proliferation of the our faith in every area of life.
I want to take perseverance to the next level - if you will - to the proliferation of God's Word over us, our church, and eventually the world. God has grant us rest in our salvation that may we never rest in our high calling of transforming the kingdoms of this world into the Kingdom of Christ. Let us, by faith, press forward towards that mark that all the fullness of Christ might be made know and manifest unto every creature. In writing to Titus, Paul tells us "[Christ] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purifies unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
May it therefore be our prayer that the beautiful doctrine of the perseverance of the saints produce in us the faith unto the proliferation of the Gospel of Christ in all we say and in all we do. Amen.
"Drink water from your own cistern, And running water from your own well." - Pr. 5:15
Our Proverb this week deals with the intimate subject of a man's relationship with his wife. Now, if for some reason you think this particular passage doesn't apply with you; maybe you're single, widowed, or content in your marriage; remember that as a believer, you have the responsibility of being capable of sharing every aspect of God's Word with others. Therefore, even a passage like this could very well have importance for you.
Married couples ought to make the most of their marriage. Both spouses, husband and wives, should be looking to one another to fulfill the desires of their heart. Each should love, encourage, support, honor and bless the other. If more couples poured themselves into their marriages with their own spouses, then the temptation to stray outside the context of marriage for intellectual, emotional, and physical fulfillment would be drastically minimized.
This is what our verse speaks to this week. Proverbs 5 is about the immoral woman, and the temptation to be drawn to her. Yet the best way to avoid this or any kind of sin, is to find satisfaction with what the Lord has given you. Drink water from your own cistern - find the blessings and benefits of covenant marriage with your spouse. Pour your life into the life of God's companion for you and leave no room for the tempestuous notions of another to creep in unawares.
By deeply drinking from the clear, crisp, running waters of your own well, not only are you reaping the immediate blessings of a healthy, joyful, robust relationship with your spouse, but you are faithfully and obediently following the prescription of God's wisdom and Word. Amen.
I invite your attention this morning in your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, the 6th chapter. Our text today will be the 16th through the 21st verse. This passage is another well-known story – the episode of Jesus walking on water. But for our purposes today, I want to focus, not so much on the miracle, as I want to consider the disciples and their response to the Lord’s actions and words. In our passage today we will deal with the nature of man to fear the unknown, and the fact that the greatest thing to be truly feared is an unknown Christ. So as we once again approach a passage which will be very familiar to some of us, may we do so with the desire to search our own hearts and see how the Lord is speaking to each one of us through His Word today.
Exposition (John 6:16-21)
After the miraculous events surrounding the feeding of the 5000, dusk was settling over the region, the people were departing back to their homes, and Jesus' disciples, we are told here in verse 16, go down towards the sea, where they will prepare to set sail. Now, it is important to know that John's account of these events appear to be something of a summary of what took place. A fuller exposition of the events that take place can be found both in Matthew's Gospel the 14th chapter, and in Mark's Gospel, the 6th chapter which we will be referencing as well.
In Matthew's account, we learn that Jesus sent His disciples away to the sea own their own that He might retire to the mountain for a season of mediation and prayer alone. And just briefly, I want to comment that our Lord frequently sought out time alone with the Father. He was not prone to the constant company of men, but desired occasions where He and the Father could be alone. This might serve as an excellent example for us today as well.
In any case, our passage moves on indicating the disciples, not sensing a timely return of the Lord, cast off to sea, this 'sea' actually being more like a large lake, the lake of Caper'na-um, which could be likened to one of our Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and so on. And after having set off we are told in verse 18 a great storm arose to complicate the voyage and concern these veteran's of the sea. Having set off probably right after dark, the Gospel's of both Matthew and Mark tell us that it was during the fourth watch, or between the hours of 3-6 AM, when through the rain, wind and storm, and after having rowed some 25 or 30 furlongs which would be the equivalent of about 3 to 4 miles, the boat being tossed to and fro by wind and wave, that there appears to the storm wearied disciples, a distant figure approaching the boat over the water, crossing the sea.
Now look at the last phrase there in verse 19, it tells us there as Jesus came unto them, walking on the water, drawing near to them, that they became afraid. Notice it wasn't the presence of a powerful storm, the whipping of the winds, or the constant tossing and turning of a ship that brought fear into the hearts of these men; but when they saw this figure approach, again in Matthew 14:26 it says, "they were troubled, saying, It is a ghost; and they cried out for fear". The disciples didn't know what to think, and fear took hold of them and they trembled in the uncertainty. Jesus was to them, in this moment, The Unknown Christ. A.W. Pink, in this ample commentary on John says of this text,
"Their fears had mastered them. They were not expecting deliverance. They had already forgotten that exercise of Divine grace and power which they had witnessed only a few short hours before. And how accurately (and tragically) do they portray us—so quickly do we forget the Lord’s mercies and deliverances in the past, so little do we really expect Him to answer our prayers of the present."
I won't try to add to Mr. Pink's comments here except to say, Amen. I believe the disciples do portray us fairly accurately here. Yet, notice with then in verse 20. Our Lord, like with the feeding of the 5000, once more miraculously delivers His followers from distress. He tells His disciples, "It is I, be not afraid". To quote another accomplished commentator on this verse, "When trouble is nigh Christ is nigh." Jesus calmed the fears of His disciples. He delivered them, not only from the storm around them, but the storm within them. And then, look at verse 21, "they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."
They willingly received Him into the ship - yeah, I bet they did. What greater comfort can there be than to know that the Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord of land and sea, wind and storm is near in our time of need? Yes, they gladly received the Lord Jesus into their ship and proceeded unabated with the rest of their journey.
Now I want to go back for a minute and consider this whole account and its significance for us today. At this point, the "entire church" if you will could be found in this boat at sea. All of Jesus' disciples had gathered for this excursion across the sea, and we could arguably say this was the church at that time. And let us know consider their circumstances in light of the church's situation today - in other words - let's apply this passage to us today. The "church" in this boat was travelling at night - in the deep night of the sea. And we need to take seriously the fact that at this moment in history the Church of Jesus Christ is likewise travelling through a dark place in this world today. Though the light of the Gospel is admittedly burning bright in some places, the diffusion of this light is not as widespread as it should or could be.
Turn with me if you will to 2 Cor. 4:6; "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Paul acknowledges the darkness of this world and the desperate need for the light of Christ Jesus. We are surrounded on every side by sin, and the temptation of sin. Lust, pride, ambition, lawlessness and greed pervade our society and can easily be a stumblingblock to the believer. Like the disciples, we too must always be aware that as Christ's church, we too are travelling in darkness.
Consider that these disciples were not only at sea at night, but that a great and mighty storm had swept over their vessel. They were being tossed to and fro by the wind and the waves of an unrelenting sea. The possibility of losing someone overboard to the sea is constantly on the mind of the sailor. Yet the Church at this hour is also being tossed to and fro, not by the winds of a natural sort, but by every wind of doctrine. And the possibility of falling into grave error is severe. The spiritual condition across our nation and in our pulpits is abysmal. All sorts of fanciful ideas that find their source in the fallen hearts and minds of men, rather than God’s Word, are making their way into the doctrines of the Church.
And again, the Apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesians warns the Church that we "must all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" that we might stand against false doctrine, and the winds of changing beliefs and ideas which compromise the essential truths of our Christian faith. My burden is for my community and my country, and right now as I see it, the church has a lot of work to do in turning the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of our Lord. And it all comes back to the principle of a full knowledge of the Word of God and a willingness to apply God's Scriptures in every area and to every aspect of our life. We must not be satisfied with anything less.
And finally, I want to speak once more to the title of our message this morning, "The Unknown Christ". As the Church is in the midst of a dark storm, and is being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, we have no need to fear the men of this world, nor the powers and principalities which seek to capsize our faith - Christ is with us. As He said to his frightened disciples upon the Sea of Capernaum, "It is I, be not afraid". He is our hope. Jesus will never leave nor forsake us, for He remembers His covenant people. The Lord Jesus can calm the storms, bring light where there is only darkness, and deliver His people. Again the Scriptures proclaim, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power..."
The spirit of fear remains on those for whom Jesus is the Unknown Christ. And I want to mention this in conclusion, and as a pastoral warning, and if I could I'd say this to congregations all across this land I would: Only those who are known by Christ, savingly and eternally, can cast off this spirit of fear. If you are not in Christ, have not confessed Him as Savior and Lord, have not repented of your sins, and come by grace through faith to Him, and yet presume to attend to the things of God, His worship, prayer, the Lord's Table, if you are outwardly participating in the things of God and yet have not submitted to His reign over your life, you above others ought to have a spirit of fear upon you. How an unconverted person could sit under the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, under the preaching of Christ and His Gospel, hear the prayers of the saints, and the covenant worship of the Body of Christ and not fear for his own soul is beyond me.
Jesus' disciples feared the unknown. But as Christ drew nearer to the boat and His voice rang familiar to them as He crossed to sea to be with them, they took comfort and solace from His presence. When Jesus is far from us, there is much to be feared, but as He draws near to us, and His image becomes clearer through the fog of sin and despair, He cast off our fear. So come to Christ. Cry out to Him today that He might come to you. Yes, we are in the midst of a storm, and yes many are being tossed to and fro; yet I exhort you to fix your eyes upon Jesus, and He will no longer be, to you, the Unknown Christ. Amen.
"Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil." - Pr. 4:27
Someone recently told me that I live in the "boondocks". And I suppose you could say our family lives in a rather "rural" area. As such, we do most of our driving on two lane country roads. And while traveling on narrow two lane roads, you have to pay careful attention to the behavior of other drivers on the road. If someone starts swerving into your lane, it can quickly become a dangerous situation.
Our Proverb this week could almost be construed as a driving lesson. But rather than limiting it to driving, God has in mind a life lesson, not simply a driving lesson. When the Word tells us not to turn to the right or to the left, it is admonishing us not to fall into temptation and sin. To turn from the path of godliness, in any direction is to fall away from the righteousness of God.
There are two ways in which the believer can fall into sin. There are sin of omission and sin of commission. Now, what does that mean? First of all, consider sins of omission. Those are the sins that include things we ought to do as Christians, yet we fail to do them. It includes our neglecting the positive commands of God for our life. For example, if we are not loving our neighbor like we should, we are omitting one of God's most important commands. This is called a sin of omission.
The other kind of sin people fall into is called sins of commission. This is where we transgress God's holy law by doing something it explicitly forbids. "Thou shall not steal" is a command from the Lord. When we take something that doesn't belong to us, we have committed a sin. In contrast to not doing something we ought to do (sins of omission), sins of commission are those acts that constitute committing a sin against God.
So, our Proverb today is teaching us to avoid every kind of evil; both those sins that omit God's law, and those sins which transgress God's Word. By removing your foot from evil, you're honoring the Lord and making your own path pleasing and acceptable in His sight. Amen.
Someone once said, "Familiarity breeds contempt". And taken in general terms, I believe this is true as far as it goes. When something is new, it excites us, it interests us. But as we become more and more familiar with it, we loose interest, and some things, through our familiarity with it can even breed contempt. How many men besides me, after 10 or 12 years of marriage pursue their wives with the same vigor and passion they did for the first 10 or 12 months? How many children are just as eager to play with a toy 2 weeks after Christmas, as they were getting it Christmas morning? As we become more familiar with something, it loses its luster. We can lose our interest. Our passage today will be a very familiar one to many of us. And I honestly don't expect to stumble upon any new profound truth to might grab your attention that has not been discovered before. And I certainly I don't want to try to force the Bible to say something it really doesn't just to keep your attention. But I also hope with our familiarity of this and other like passages in the Scriptures, we don't simply gloss over them either. If God's Word was given to us for instruction in righteousness, and it was, then even those verses we think we know all too well, can and will speak to us today.
Exposition (John 6:1-15)
Now before we get too deep in our examination of the text, I want to remind everyone that God has accomplished this kind of thing before. Jesus, in feeding the multitudes, was only repeating a feat already accomplished by the Father during the course of Israel's history. From our Scripture reading this morning taken from Exodus 16 the 1st 12 verses, we find the account of God miraculously bringing forth the provision of food for the great multitudes of Israel during their wilderness wanderings. The Father of His people, knew their needs and supplied them. Likewise, there is no reason not to make the connection here between the two testaments, the Old and the New; and between the Father and the Son, in that the Son, following in the will and the ways of His Father does now perform this miraculous feeding of the thousands in a way manner and spirit that yet serves as another testimony to our Lord Jesus' agreement, equality and purpose with God the Father.
And this is the setting we have before us as we consider John 6, the first 15 verses. This great multitude, which most commentators believe probably topped 12,000 - 15,0000 men, women and children, all considered, had heard of the mighty works and words of this man Jesus, and had now followed Him up into the mountains of Judea, this being around the time of Passover. It says in verse 5 that when Jesus lifted up His eyes, He saw a great company that had come unto Him. So, Jesus saw their need, He recognized the provision that would be necessary, and He moved to supply for the great needs among those who had followed Him.
But like I said earlier, this is a familiar passage of Scripture for many, so what I want to do with the remainder of our time today is to focus in on two aspects of Jesus' provision. I want to talk for a minute about the source of the provision, and I want to look at the nature of the provision. How did Jesus choose to help the needs of this hungry multitude as He fed them? And what of the nature of this merciful blessing towards these followers? Let's look in more detail at these issues now.
First, let's consider the source of this blessing. In verse 9 we learn of a small lad who was milling around through the throngs and crowds of thousands had gathered upon the side of the mountain. This lad, who happens upon Andrew, one of the Lord's disciples, has with him 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Now, let me ask you, "why even bother mentioning this?" What was this pittance of food going to accomplish among the multitudes? If anything, the news of a small amount of food might among the hungry crowds might have only served to incite the people. But yet, in faith, and leaving no small matter unnoticed, Andrew faithfully brings this lad's small basket to the attention of Jesus.
I want consider this boy for a moment. He often goes over looked in this story. We know nothing of him other than what this one verse here in John 6 tells us. He apparently fades back into the obscurity from whence he came after this occasion has passed. Yet this little boy's preparation in bringing 5 loaves and 2 fishes provides the source of this miraculous work of Christ. And if he had never come forward to offer his wares, he would have never been mentioned at all. Notice this with me: This lad really had three options before him, and how to use his food. First, this young boy could have answered the selfish inclinations common to man, and kept his fish and loaves for himself, or his family, if they were present. After all, they were his. Would he not been within his right to simply keep for himself that which is his? Yet, in light of the great need, this would have been the height of selfishness. The prophet Jeremiah the 17th chapter and the 9th verse teaches us concerning the human heart, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?". So by virtue of the circumstance, it would certainly have been of the flesh for this lad to keep that which was his for himself, and not risk giving to Jesus and his disciples for their use. It would have been of very little profit had he done kept it himself.
Answering the temptation to pride commonly residing in the heart of man, this lad could have struck out on his own, seeking to share his provisions with others, garnering their thanks and praise for his willingness to share so little with so many. We sometimes talk about our five minutes of fame; how people sometimes happen upon a situation where they can be recognized for some deed or act. This could have been this lad's five minutes of fame. Yet, Proverbs 29:23 states, "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." Maybe, remembering his Proverbs, this lad choose not to feed his pride, but to make the best use of that which was his. In a humble spirit he choose not to follow this path.
This obscure little lad does not fall into selfishness, keeping the loaves and fishes for himself. He doesn't give in to the temptation to get the glory himself by making known to the multitudes what he carried. Rather, he willingly gives over all that he has that the Lord could make the best use of it, humbly willing to decrease into enigmatic history that the Lord's work, will and purposes could be witnessed by all. This young lad's selfless humble act was the source of Jesus' provision for the multitudes.
And so let us now look at the nature or result of this provision. Read verse 12 along with me. If the 5 loaves and 2 fishes were the source of this miracle, the manner in which our Lord uses them is the nature or result of it. Notice in verse 12 it first says "when they were filled". Literally it means when they were full, satisfied. Satiated. They couldn't eat anymore. The nature of God's provision is always sufficient. Jesus didn't simply get the thousands upon thousands of hungry people a little bite to eat. He wasn't serving appetizers. It says they were filled. His provision filled their need. It ended with the desired result. We might say it was efficacious. Doing what was intended. Jesus' will was to feed the people, and they were feed indeed. When God provides for His people, it is never slack. Turn with me to Eph. 3, look at verses 20-21 with me. Jesus' use of these 5 loaves and 2 fishes was entirely sufficient and efficacious.
Not only was His provision sufficient, it was exceedingly and abundantly sufficient. Jesus goes on to command his disciples to "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost". Jesus exceeded the needs of the people. His mercy and grace was more than they could have ever used, for they were already filled, yet Jesus had more left over than He began with.
Our passage today, like we said in the beginning, is a familiar one. But I wonder if you have ever considered the selfless humility of one little Jewish boy who gave all that he had, that the Lord might use it as He wished? What do we hold back for ourselves, if given over for His purposes, could be put to great and glorious use? What things have we attempted to do in our own strength rather them committing them to the Lord? Are you today seeking to serve the Lord in some capacity where you, rather than He is exalted? This young lad, rather than taking the little he had and trying to do what He could with it, gave it all over to the Lord. Where we are limited in our own strength, gifts and abilities, the Lord can work exponentially with them. He can multiply our fishes and loaves, whatever they may be. And the best part of it is, He gets the glory for it, and not us.
Young people and I suppose the rest of us as well, are you learning to use your time, your gifts and your talents in service for God. You have only so much time, and so many things you can do, how are you using you time, your treasure, your talent for Jesus Christ? Do you consider the Lord in the things you do, the decisions you make, and the way you live and act among family and friends? This young lad in our passage today had at least three ways he could have responded to his situation. Yet, He gave himself over to the Lord by giving of his substance. Are you a source the Lord can use to further His glory and kingdom?
And finally, do we not once more find the Gospel gloriously and beautifully displayed for us here in this story? What of our Lord's attention to the needs of His followers? While upon the parched, barren mountains of Sinai, Jesus, in the same spirit as the Father makes provision where there otherwise would be none. Jesus Christ gazed into the eyes of the multitude and took pity on them. He had compassion on them. Jesus’ provision was miraculous, the work of a Sovereign in meeting the needs of His followers. His provision was effectual. Our passage declared it "filled" those who partook. And finally, it was abundant; just as His grace is in covering our sins. This is the Gospel. Though your sins may be abundant, His grace is all the more. Though your fear of despair might overwhelm you, His mercy lifts you up. And if you hunger and thirst, not after fishes and loaves, but righteousness and truth, come to Christ to be filled. Jesus Christ Himself is exceedingly more then we will ever want or need. It is my hope then, the familiarity of this passage does not breed contempt, but confession. I pray it breeds confession among us of Jesus as Lord. Amen.
"For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights." - Proverbs 3:12
SAFETY FIRST! Those are the primary words you will read, see and hear when it comes to handling firearms. You cannot be too cautious when around guns. And since my son and I both enjoy shooting, I have spent a great deal of time teaching him on the proper use and handling of guns. When I see him load a firearm improperly, carrying it incorrectly, or point it in an unsafe direction, I immediately correct his action. I do this, both for his own well-being, and the well-being of others.
The Lord corrects us as well when He sees us going in an unsafe direction. Sometimes the reproof of God comes subtly and gently. At other times it might be overt and firm. He knows the right kind of reproof for the wrong kind of action. And while our human nature might desire to rebuff the corrective hand of the Lord upon us, we must be willing to bear in mind that His correction is for our well-being, and well as others.
When we go astray, wandering away from God and His Word, it affects us inside. It opens up the door to temptation and sin. It allows a foothold for Satan to creep in unaware and plant the seeds of sin and doubt. This in turns can hurt the well-being of others. The good we might do unto our fellow man is quenched by our distraction towards sin. So God, in His great love with which He loves us, does not leave us to our own devices. Rather He brings his correction to us. This is a glorious demonstration of His love. So remember, safety first, spiritually speaking. Guns can be dangerous, but spiritually, the soul in sin can be devasted all the more. Amen.
The ones of you who know me well enough, know that I don't do the cooking in our home. Now, I might pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave from time to time, but I don't think this qualifies as actually cooking anything. I leave the serious cooking to Michele and Erin. And while I don't know a whole lot about cooking, I do know that certain things are required in recipes to make them turn out like you want. There are certain key ingredients that make or break a recipe. I know for example, to make a cake, you need eggs, flour, milk, salt, sugar, oil and so on. And if you leave one of these out - your cake, or pie or whatever you're preparing will not turn out like you hope.
In our text today, the religious climate in Israel during our Lord's ministry on earth was very similar to making a cake. Many of the right ingredients needed to produce a righteous, godly people were present at the time. But the mixture was off. It lacked something. And according to our text today, some key ingredients were missing. So, let us look at our passage today to see what the Lord would have us to glean from it.
"30I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. 31If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true."
This passage is simply a continuation of this larger section or discourse found in John chapter 5. Just as we saw last time, the will of the Father and the will of the Son find perfect agreement. That which is in the heart of the Father to will and to do, is in the heart of the Son to will and to do also. So far from being in opposition to God, as the Jews accused Jesus of being, He was walking and working in perfect harmony with the Father.
After explaining this subsuming of the will of the Son under that of the Father, Jesus moves His discourse and vindication of His earthly ministry towards a very well-known and common theme among the Jewish people - that of the witnesses. Jesus is building a case here. And the Gospel writer, having a high view of Christ, ensures His readers through the means available to them, that Jesus' case is airtight on all counts. He wants to leave the dissenters with no grounds upon which to claim Jesus was anything but the very Son of God, equal with God Himself, and in perfect agreement with the Father of heaven and earth.
So, in verse 31 when Jesus says that that if he bears witness of himself that his witness is not true - does not mean that Jesus' words are not true, but that according to the law, all things must be established upon the account to two or three witnesses. This follows from Deut. 19:15 where it says, "at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established". The fact that Jesus is willing to take this approach only serves to affirm that Jesus did not come to destroy the law, or to set aside the law of God, but to uphold it, embrace it, and fulfill it to the letter. Therefore, our Lord calls for His witnesses that all things might be established in the eyes of the people, and according to the law.
"33Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me."
The first witness up is John. God the Father sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord. He came preaching repentance because the hour of the Lord was at hand, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world had come. In chapter one of John's Gospel, you can read where the Jewish religious leaders sent a delegation to John the Baptist to question him. And it was during his inquisition, that John told them that he was not the Messiah, but had been sent of God for the expressed purpose of testifying, of witnessing to the coming Messiah.
And while John was not the light unto salvation, he was a light in his own right, as Jesus points out here in verse 35, in the sense that he illumined the way for Jesus, and brought an awareness of His coming to others, and bore witness of Him. And Jesus even concedes here that the people were willing to rejoice at John's coming "for a season". But they were missing a key ingredient. And they would fail to receive the faithful witness of John as he led them to our Lord Jesus. So, Jesus brings in His second witness, a greater witness than that of John. And while among men, Jesus would go on to say there was, nor will there ever be one greater than John, it is the witness of God the Father, Jesus appeals to next.
"37And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
First was John, he bore testimony of Jesus, and next Jesus claims the witness or testimony of God Himself. Jesus says that God has born witness to Christ. How? On what grounds could Jesus make such a claim? Well, up to this point in His ministry, on at least two counts. First, as Jesus came to John for baptism, He arose from the waters of baptism to see and hear the affirmation of the Father saying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased". So we have the confirmation of the Father to the Son. But secondly, we have the earlier episode of this chapter of Jesus healing the lame man. Jesus gives the credit for this miracle to the Father saying He Himself can do nothing but that which the Father gives Him to do. So that in both word and deed, Jesus claims the witness of the Father.
Yet, they refused to accept this witness as well. Look at verse 38, the Word was not in them that they might receive and believe it. So Jesus brings forth one more witness before these hardended and blind fools - the testimony of the Scriptures. He tells them they have the Scriptures. Now these Jewish reglious zealots had meticulously gone through the Old Testament, often having it completely memorized, and yet Jesus does not give this to them for their credit, but their condemnation. They had foolishly believed that their bare knowledge of the Word, their raw intellectual acceptance of God's Word, and their adherence to it's precepts and principles devoid of true faith and belief; they foolishly believed this would bring them eternal life. Yet Jesus rebukes these blind guides, telling them those very Scriptures they searched and searched through testified of Him. Jesus goes on,
"41I receive not honor from men. 42But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only? 45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?"
And finally in this last section of our text today Jesus puts a very pointed question to His dissenters, I have come in the testimony of John, I have come in my Father's name showing forth His Word and power, and I have shown you that your own Scriptures testify of me. Even Moses, from whom we get the first five books of the Old Testament, bare witness to Jesus when Moses wrote of the One who in Genesis 3 would come to deliver the seed of the woman from the serpent; the One, who according to Deut. 18 is the great Prophet sent of God from the people and among the people to preach salvation. Jesus says here to the descendents of Moses that Moses would believe in Him for He wrote of Him. Yet those who claim to be the spiritual descendents of Moses are not being consistent with their forefather. For Jesus tells them, if they had believed Moses, they would have believed Him, for Moses wrote of Him. And Jesus is able to honestly tell them, "I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you." That key ingredient which seperates those in Christ and those not in Him was still missing.
By way of application then, allow me to ask, "What was the missing key ingredient?". What kept the people of Jesus' day from coming to Him as their Savior and Lord? At least nine times in our passage today Jesus speaks of witnesses. There was the witness of John, yet he had been denied. There was the witness of the Father, yet He had been denied. And there had been the witness of the Scriptures and of Moses. All of which had fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes. What was the missing ingredient? Unlike a cake, they weren't missing flour, sugar or milk. They lacked belief. They lacked faith. This was the missing ingredient in seeing Jesus for who He was. Our Lord mentions belief, or the lack of belief at least six times in this short passage. These folks failed to exercise the saving faith necessary to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ.
The hollow and shallow religion of the Jews denied them the experiential reality of salvation in Christ Jesus. And I am convinced we are currently living in a time very similar to that of Jesus' day. Christianity is no longer the prevailing influence over our culture. Our nation might still be considered a very religious place, like that of Israel during the time of our Lord, but we lack the power thereof. We don't have that key ingredient that makes or breaks our people - we lack belief. Faith in God the Father who sent the Son to save the world. Our Lord's Word falls on deaf ears. We, like them, have the Scriptures. Yet, I'm becoming more and more convinced that our blindness to Christ, and our obstinate disobedience and hardness of hearts are His righteous judgments upon His people in this generation.
But all the things mentioned in our text today can be present today in the life of God's people. Those same witnesses could be brought forth today. In John the Baptist, we have the witness of the disciple. And are we not all called to be disciples of Christ today? Should we not be following in John's footsteps in serving and preparing the way for our Lord? We have the Scriptures. And while we should not be searching the Scriptures for the sake of searching the Scriptures, just to satisfy curiousity or as some obscure intellectual endeavor, we ought to be preaching, and teaching and obeying the Holy Scriptures in order to find Christ. For He says they speak of Him. And finally, we sould be on our knees pleading with the Father for belief, for the faith necessary to know, love, and embrace His Son as our Lord. May it please the Lord to grant us, and all His elect, this key ingredient of faith that we might be a faithful witness unto Him today. Amen.
"Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase." - Proverbs 3:9
With all the good intentions in the world, parents try to raise their children to live wisely by not wasting their money, and saving as much as they can whenever possible. We've all heard the old adage, "A penny saved is a penny earned". And as far as it goes, this is good practical advice, and has a place in the development of our children.
But if taken to an extreme, we could inadvertently impart to our children a lesson we wouldn't necessarily want them to learn: To hold to tightly to their money, possessions and other valuables, to become stingy, miserly, or unwilling to know when it is time to let go. In other words, if the only lesson they (or we) ever learn is how to save what we have, and we never learn how to give what we have, a big part of the overall Biblical use of our possessions will be missed.
In our Proverb today, we are reminded to honor the Lord with our possessions. The author encourages us to remember God, the source of all we have, in our daily increase. As the Lord see fit to bless us, we are to, in turn, return the blessing. Now this might come in various ways. It is often noted that if you want to know where someones priorities lie, look at their check register. What's implied there is that people spend their money on those things that are important to them. But God's people must come to see honoring God, not only through giving money, but of giving of themselves.
The increases of God come in various forms. And yes, one of the more tangible ways we experience the blessings of God is through material provision and increase. And we should acknowledge and respond to this kind of increase from the Lord. But let us not forget to honor the Lord with other kinds of increases too. Increases in knowledge, wisdom and understanding of God and His Word should not go unnoticed. A great measure of spiritual growth and maturity must be recognized. And in short, however the Lord chooses to bless His people through His mercy and grace, the first-fruits of His increase should by used in honoring Him. Amen.