This sermon is number 2 in a series of 8
Portions From John - Part 2
"Reasons For Unbelief In Christ"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2011 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
We're turning to John chapter 9, please, and we looked last time at verses 1 to 12, 'Sin, Suffering and the Saviour' - and we're looking at the rest of the chapter this week under the heading: 'Reasons for Unbelief in Christ'. We'll read the whole chapter, please, just to get the whole story. Verse 1 of John 9 then, and as I said to you the last time, I want you to note as we read through here the questions that are being asked. There are many questions asked in this passage of Scripture, and they give us an idea of what was going on.
Verse 1: "Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'. Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world'. When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam' (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing. Therefore the neighbours and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, 'Is not this he who sat and begged?'. Some said, 'This is he'. Others said, 'He is like him'. He said, 'I am he'. Therefore they said to him, 'How were your eyes opened?'. He answered and said, 'A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash'. So I went and washed, and I received sight'. Then they said to him, 'Where is He?' He said, 'I do not know'. They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, 'He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see'. Therefore some of the Pharisees said, 'This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath'. Others said, 'How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?', and there was a division among them. They said to the blind man again, 'What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?' He said, 'He is a prophet'. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, 'Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?'. His parents answered them and said, 'We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself'. His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, 'He is of age; ask him'. So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, 'Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner'. He answered and said, 'Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see'. Then they said to him again, 'What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?'. He answered them, 'I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?'. Then they reviled him and said, 'You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from'. The man answered and said to them, 'Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing'. They answered and said to him, 'You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?'. And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, 'Do you believe in the Son of God?'. He answered and said, 'Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?'. And Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you'. Then he said, 'Lord, I believe!'. And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind'. Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, 'Are we blind also?'. Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see'. Therefore your sin remains'".
If you have been going through John's Gospel, as I know you have, you will by now have noted that there are several signs or miracles in John's Gospel that John builds his book around, and this is one of them. If you go to the end of John, chapter 20, I'm sure many preachers have already pointed this out to you, if you go to chapter 20 you have in verses 30 and 31 what has been known as the purpose statement of John, his reason for writing the book, and he's very clear about it. This is an evangelistic book, verses 30 and 31 of chapter 20: 'Truly Jesus did many other signs', or miracles, 'in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ', the Messiah, 'the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name'. There we have at least two purposes of John in writing his gospel: he wants to prove that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Messiah of God, and he uses these signs, these miracles, to do that. In proving that He is the Son of God, he wants to prompt people to faith, belief in Christ, in order that they might be saved.
Now John, as he writes his gospel, he presents his evidence of the deity of Christ and the Messiahship of Jesus in a threefold manner. I want you to see this quickly in introduction: first of all, he presents these signs, these miracles that Jesus performed; then secondly, he gives us the words that Jesus spoke, His teaching; then thirdly, he gives us the testimony of witnesses who knew the Lord Jesus Christ, who saw His miracles, who heard His words and believed Him. Now Matthew, Mark, and Luke - what we call the synoptic gospels - really the theme of them is 'Come and hear', but in John, though we hear what Jesus says, and in John chapter 7 we hear a soldier say 'Never a man spoke like this Man', John's gospel is more about 'Come and see'. Not just 'Come and hear', but 'Come and see' what Jesus has done - and we have 58 references to hearing in John's gospel, but 67 references to seeing. So His words are in John, of course, and we hear them, but His works are seen to prove that Jesus indeed is the Son of God. In John's Gospel especially we see Jesus moving and acting in power.
So we have these miracles or signs, there are seven of them, perhaps eight, and John builds his gospel around them. The first you would have looked at in chapter 2, Jesus turns the water into wine. The second was the healing of the noble man's son in chapter 4. The third was the healing of the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5. The fourth was the feeding of the 5000 in chapter 6. The fifth was Jesus walking on water and calming the storm in chapter 6. The sixth was the healing of the man born blind from birth that we're reading about this morning. The seventh was chapter 11, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Now there was an eighth which was after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, which of course proved categorically that He was the Son of God, where He met the disciples privately on the beach and, of course, there was a miraculous catch of fish in chapter 21 of John.
So we're getting these signs so that we might see, and we're looking now at the sixth sign in chapter 9, and isn't it interesting that this is one all about seeing and believing that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah? There is something else that you may have missed if you've focused in too much on these signs at the expense of seven witnesses. I said that John gives us the miracles Jesus performed, the words that He spoke, and the testimony of witnesses that knew Jesus. We have seven witnesses in John's Gospel who declare that He is the Son of God. Let me bring you down them quickly, and of course the Lord Jesus Himself declared Himself to be the Son of God - John 5:25: 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live'. Again in John 10 verse 36, He said: 'Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?'.
So He testified of it Himself, but then there are seven other witnesses. John the Baptist is the first, chapter 1 verse 34: 'I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God'. The second is Nathanael in chapter 1 verse 49: 'Nathanael answered and said to Him, 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!''. The third is Peter in chapter 6 verse 69: 'Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'. The fourth is the man born blind in this passage of Scripture, and in verse 35, if you look down at it you will see Jesus asks him, 'Do you believe in the Son of God?', and he says basically 'Show Him to me - who is He? - that I might believe in Him'; and Jesus says, 'You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you'. The fifth witness was Martha in John chapter 11 that you have still to study yet, and we read in verse 27: 'She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world''. The sixth is Thomas, 'Doubting Thomas' as we know him, John 20:28: 'Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!''. The seventh witness is John the apostle himself, who is writing this gospel, chapter 20 verse 31 that we have already read: 'These signs are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name'.
All of this, the miracles He performed, the words that He spoke, and the witnesses who knew Him and encountered Him, all of this is evidence that demands a verdict - and that is why John gives it to us. He wants us too to believe and be prompted to trust in Christ as the Saviour, the Son of God, and the Messiah. I touched two weeks ago on the point that many people think that Christianity is blind faith, but it is not. It is not a leap into the dark, it is a leap into the light, it is open-eyed faith. Paul Little, in his little book 'Know Why You Believe', says: 'Faith in Christianity is based on evidence. It is a reasonable faith. Faith, in the Christian sense, goes beyond reason but not against it' - very important. Christianity is reasonable, it goes beyond reason because it's a thing of faith - without faith it is impossible to please God - but it does not go against reason. I challenge you this morning, if you're not a believer in Christ, you're not converted, you're not born-again: what is your verdict on the evidence that John has presented in this book?
Maybe you're not familiar with John's Gospel the way the rest of the Christians might be here, but maybe you have been travelling this journey Sunday morning after Sunday morning, as they have been progressing through John, and all this evidence is coming your way. What is your verdict? You have to make one! All of us make one. It seems every time I'm here I'm quoting C.S. Lewis - I don't quote him in every sermon that I preach! It must be just because you're very intelligent people here in Scrabo! - but this is a tremendous quote from him that spells out why every human being must come to terms with Christ. He says: 'In a civilisation like ours, I feel that everyone has to come to terms with the claims of Christ upon his life, or else he is guilty of inattention or avoiding the question'. Here we have in John's Gospel evidence that demands a verdict, and if you have never faced up to it, if you've never delved into it and analysed it, you're either guilty of inattention or avoiding the question - but you must make a verdict.
Now, of course, not all accept the evidence as John puts it to us, but some dispute it. Actually after the sixth sign, this sixth miracle, we see in verse 16 that Jesus divided opinion as He always does: 'Therefore some of the Pharisees said, 'This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath'. Others said, 'How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?, and there was a division among them'. Jesus always is the divider of opinion between those who believe and those who disbelieve. But we're here this morning to consider: what are the reasons for unbelief in Christ in the face of such overwhelming evidence? Why, when people are presented with such evidence that demands a positive verdict, why is it that certain people do not believe?
Now there are many reasons for unbelief in general, which we're not going to go into today, I only want to deal with the specific reasons for unbelief in John chapter 9. It might surprise you that religion was what motivated their unbelief in Christ in this chapter, religion! Because the Lord Jesus did not conform to the Jews' religious mode, or the model of Messiah that they had accepted and contrived, though they faced obvious evidence that He was the one who was promised and He was the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, they rejected Him because of their religion. They wanted a Christ that suited them, they wanted a Christ of their own making. Now, we in Ireland know that religion can be extremely prejudicial, putting it mildly - but have you ever considered that religion is one of the greatest obstacles to people coming to Christ? Even 'Christian' religion - I think it was Bishop Ryle who said: 'Immorality has slain its thousands, but morality its tens of thousands'. Religion has slain and damned its millions. Now I don't know what your religion is here today, and I'm not particularly interested in the sense of critiquing your religion specifically, but what I am interested in is the possibility that there may be someone here, even someone who has grown up within religious tradition in this church, who is not born-again. It has actually been religion that has come between you and Christ.
Look at the religion that caused unbelief in Christ here in John 9. I want to give you four headings to do with religion that were real obstacles to them coming to Jesus. The first is religious tradition, religious tradition was a reason for their unbelief. If you look at verse 16, we've read it a couple of times now, the reason why they were rejecting Christ in this miracle was the fact that He, as far as they were concerned, transgressed the law of the Sabbath: 'Therefore some of the Pharisees said, 'This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath''. Now the Sabbath was from God, you only need to read the first five books of the Bible to realise that God gave the Sabbath like a sign or a badge to the Jews that they were His special people. But God gave the Sabbath to the Jews not to harm them, not to hinder them, but to help them to God. In fact the Lord Jesus, in Mark chapter 2, says this: 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath'. The Sabbath was given to man to help him, but man was not made to be a slave of this religious day. Yet what the Pharisees and the Scribes did was, they added that many harmful dos and don'ts to the Sabbath law of the Bible that they effectively made the Sabbath Day a miserable experience. It became a crushing burden: 'Oh, Saturday again!' - a symbol of suffocating religious bondage that effectively robbed the nation of the Jews of the joy that they once had in God. That is typical of what religion does: the Sabbath became a funeral to the Jews, and religion will do that to you. It is a killjoy. It will rob you of any joy or semblance thereof.
It had come to the stage in Judah that you couldn't help a fellow human being on the Sabbath, lest you transgress. Jesus performing this miracle of giving blind eyesight was tantamount, in their eyes, to breaking the law. But here was the problem, and here is the problem of religious tradition: when laws become more important than lives, we've got our religion wrong somewhere! Could I just challenge some of you believers here this morning: are your laws more important than lives? Someone has said: 'If ever the performance of a man's religion stops him helping someone who is in need, his religion is false. People matter far more than systems and ordinances. One of the best ways to worship God is to help men'. Now it's not that we reject spiritual ordinances, or practices, or laws that God has given to us - but it is that we get perspective on holy things that we do, holy things that we own and celebrate, and this is what the Lord had to bring home to these Pharisees and Scribes in Matthew 23:23: 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone'. So it's not that you chuck out God's laws, but you gain perspective, and you realise that lives are more important than laws. We ought to use sacred things, not abuse them, but use them to help men and women who are lost and dying in their sin - that, in fact, is the only way to offer ordinances to God. One biblical writer says: 'The Sabbath was never so sacred as when it was used to help those who needed help. The final arbiter in the use of all things is love, and not law'.
The religious tradition of the Jews here was an obstacle, a reason for their unbelief in Jesus - because Jesus had performed a miracle on the Sabbath, and the laws that they had added to God's law, their tradition, said you shouldn't do that, that hindered them in coming to Christ. If you're in a system that hinders you coming to Christ because of certain laws, or rites, or rituals, or regulations, there is something wrong with your religion! This is a paraphrase of Matthew chapter 11 verses 28 to 30, which says: 'Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'. Listen how it is paraphrased here: 'Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me', Jesus says, 'Get away with Me and you will recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you will learn to live freely and lightly'. He was inviting religious Jews, with all of the burdens of the Sabbath and everything else on top of them, to come away to Him and get freedom. I invite you this morning: come away from your religion - some of you believers need to come away from your religion, your man-made tradition and religion, and come to Christ!
Religious tradition was an obstacle. Something else religious: religious interpretation. This is an interesting one, verses 28 and 29: 'You are His disciple', they said to the blind man, who once was blind, 'We know that God spoke to Moses' - God spoke to Moses. That was like saying: 'We've got the Bible, we know what the Bible says, God spoke to Moses'. What they were doing was: they were invoking their religious interpretation - we might say their teaching or doctrine, but I want to use the word 'interpretation' because that really brings home, at times, the fact that a lot of our doctrine - not fundamental doctrine now - but a lot of our doctrine is down to interpretation. Whilst the Bible is infallible - Amen to that, the Word of God, the Scriptures are infallible - our interpretation is not. Now maybe I should give half an hour for that one to sink in - but it has taken me a long time to realise that. I'm not talking about fundamental truths in the Gospel - that was not their problem, they believed in one God. In fact, if you look - and I haven't time to go into this - but the Lord Jesus always sided with the Pharisees on fundamental truth matters, Paul the apostle did the same. He said: 'They sit in Moses' seat, do what they teach but don't do what they do', that's what the Lord said. So He wasn't disagreeing with them, but what He disagreed with was the additional traditions and extra laws that they had added in their interpretation of what God had actually said. When our tenacious adherence to some interpretation, even of Scripture, causes us to contradict the obvious truth revealed in Scripture, there is something wrong with our interpretation. Do I need to repeat that? If some minor interpretation of the Scriptures that we have contradicts an obvious revealed truth of the word of God, there is something wrong with our interpretation initially - especially when it affects the Gospel, and when it affects how we spread the Gospel, and reach out to those without Christ. The Pharisees' problem was that they elevated their traditional interpretation to the point of Scriptural authority, where it became equal with the word of God - and we do that as evangelicals.
Jesus said in Mark chapter 7 verse 7: 'In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'. For instance, in Matthew 23:24 Jesus said: 'Blind guides', that's what you are, you Pharisees, 'You're blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!'. Do you understand that verse? For years I could have quoted you that verse, and I'd never understand what it meant: 'Strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel' - it's so graphic. Under Jewish dietary kosher laws, the Jew was not allowed to eat a camel if he wanted to - he might have felt like it sometimes, but he wasn't allowed, Leviticus 11, to eat a camel nor a gnat, a little bug, they were both forbidden. Not wanting to let anything unclean go down his throat, the Jew, when drinking wine, the Pharisees in particular, would strain the wine through their teeth, use their teeth like a sieve - I wouldn't have liked to have been their dentist! The purpose was to catch the little insects and the gnats, and what they would do when they had finished their wine was they would pick their teeth and spit out the bugs. What Jesus was saying is this: 'You work so hard to keep the bugs out, those little details that would make you transgress the law; and yet you're swallowing camels!'. Have you ever seen it before? 'You're tithing mint and anise and cummin, but the weightier matters of the law: love and justice and mercy, you're leaving those things undone' - and this was a barrier to these Pharisees, their religious interpretation was preventing them coming to Jesus.
It could be that there is someone here - and believe you me, I have known many of them, and I may have been one of them - who get so caught up with minute details of Scriptural interpretation and religious tradition, whatever shade of the spectrum it might be, it matters little if it's keeping you from Christ and you've neglected the real big major thing, and that is repentance from sin, belief in the gospel, and confessing Jesus Christ as your Lord. All that other stuff doesn't matter 'that' if you've never come to Christ, truly come to Christ!
Their religious tradition, their religious interpretation were reasons for their unbelief - something else: their religious pedigree. Look at verse 29: 'We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from'. You see, the Scribes and the Pharisees followed certain rabbis, teachers, and these teachers would have been of differing theological schools of doctrine and even practice. They were basically sectarian in their religious mindset, and because Jesus wasn't from their - pardon the phrase - stable, or from their school, He wasn't a protege of theirs, they didn't know where He was from - and because they didn't know where He was from, they couldn't accept Him. The attitude was: 'How could Messiah arise and we not know Him? How could Messiah be here, the Son of God, and we did not deliver Him to the people? It's impossible, because we are the people! He could not be the real thing, because we don't know where He came from. He's not a man of letters, He didn't pass through our seminary' - what pride! What pride! The Son of God was in the midst - now listen to this, this is the essence of Pharisaism: they knew their Bibles back to front, but when God showed up in human flesh they didn't recognise Him! What pride!
You know, there was sectarianism even among the disciples, even John who wrote this gospel. We read that John came on one occasion to Jesus saying: 'Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us'. Jesus said: 'Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterwards speak evil of Me, for he who is not against us is on our side'. I wonder could your problem this morning be that you grew up in a certain denomination, or a certain Christian expression of faith, and you come along here and you're here today, and you're not able to accept Christ because you think that what is being presented is a 'Scrabo Hall' version of the Gospel or Jesus. My dear friend, just because it's not Presbyterian, or Episcopalian, or Methodist, or maybe what I'm saying to you this morning isn't particularly Brethren or whatever you might call yourself, that is not a reason for rejecting it. For if you are confronted with the truth of Jesus Christ, that's all that matters, and you need to make sure that you're not ignoring the overwhelming evidence of who Jesus is, what He has said, and what He has done even in people's lives and the witnesses to it, because of your prejudice through religious tradition, interpretation, or religious pedigree.
Something else, a fourth reason - and I had finished this message, and then this one came to me - not only was there religious tradition and interpretation and pedigree that were reasons why they did not believe, but there was religious camouflage. 'What's that?', you say. Well, it's not a three-piece suit: religion can be covering big, secret sins - even evangelical religion. There's a lot of it about: 'They honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me'. Things that you don't want, or you're not ready, to repent of. Religion is a great camouflage, it's convenient. Jesus said in John 15: 'If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin'. Jesus, effectively, by coming and showing Himself to be the real thing, God the Son, the only perfect Man that ever was, showed the Pharisees and the hypocrites up - that their religion was just a camouflage. That's why Jesus said to them: 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whited sepulchres', whitewashed tombs, 'you appear beautiful in the outward, appearance but inside you are full of dead men's bones, and uncleanness'.
Their religion was only a camouflage. Let me put it more bluntly: their religion allowed them to get up to whatever they wanted to under the guise of holiness. There are believers in this place now who are doing exactly that, and you're covering up. The title of this message is 'Reasons for Unbelief' - but do you know what doubt is? Doubt is an intellectual problem, you need your mind satisfied - and we talked about that last week, that that can be a real obstacle, if you're getting caught up with the cause rather than the cure. But though doubt is intellectual, unbelief is moral. What do I mean? It's not a thing of the mind, it's a thing of the heart, a thing of the will. It's not saying: 'I can't believe because I've got an intellectual problem', it's saying 'I won't believe because I have a sin that I'm not prepared to let go of'.
So let me ask you, all of you, all of you: what have you got? Have you got religion or have you got the real thing? Kierkegaard, the philosopher, told a story in the 19th century - and I finish with this - about a village inhabited by ducks. On Sundays the ducks would waddle out their doors to church, down the street. They waddled into the sanctuary, they squatted in the pews - their favourite pews of course, they had their own ones - and the duck choir then would waddle in, and the duck pastor would waddle up to the pulpit and open the Bible. He would read, and this is what he would say: 'Ducks, God has given you wings. With wings you can fly, with wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you, no fence can hold you, you have wings! God has given you wings, and you can fly like birds!'. Excitedly the ducks shouted: 'Amen!', and then they all waddled home.
Can I ask you: with all your religion - I'm asking everybody this - with all your religious tradition, with your religious interpretation, with your religious pedigree, are you flying yet or will you waddle home? Perhaps it is religion that is weighing you down? Can I end again with the words of the Lord Jesus from that paraphrase: 'Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you will recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you will learn to live freely and lightly'.
Let us all pray. I want to take this moment to address you if God has spoken to you - and I think God should have spoken to all of us really, especially those who have grown up in some kind of religious tradition, even if it is this church. I want to really ask you, some of you young people: are you born-again? Are you born-again? Some evangelical young people are no different than Buddhist or Muslim young people - born into a system, and they just grow up in it. But have you ever truly repented, believed on the Lord Jesus, and been born-again? Do you have the witness of God's Spirit in your heart, witnessing with your spirit that you are a child of God? Oh to God that this morning young people would make sure that they're saved, and get filled with the Holy Spirit to know that they are a child of God!
Maybe you are a person who has taken great pride out of the minutiae of interpretation - you know, that stinks in God's nostrils! I can't say that strong enough: it stinks, even if it's right, if you're taking pride in it it's a stench that reaches high heaven, because you can be making an idol of your tradition and your interpretation - and God will have no gods beside Him. Is your doctrine on the altar? Maybe you've never heard that one before: is your doctrine on the altar? Is your religious pedigree on the altar? Anything that is not on an altar is an idol.
Maybe there is a person who is not a Christian, and you've come from some other background - it doesn't really matter - but you know that you don't have the real thing. Well, where you are, you just say: 'Lord, I repent of my sin. I confess that I am a sinner, and I have been struggling, and I ask You to save me, I ask You to wash me, and cleanse me, and make me Your child. Save me now', and He will do it.
Father, we commit every person here to You. However the word of God has come to them, we pray that You will really work by Your Holy Spirit in bringing life, as John desired it, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the people would believe and receive life - and that even Your people here today, if they have believed but never really entered into the fullness of abundant life in Christ, or something of tradition or interpretation has robbed them of the joy - Lord, may You restore unto them the joy of their salvation. May the love of God be shed abroad in their heart, may they have the peace of God that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory in the Holy Spirit. May this word not be wasted on us this morning, in Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Scrabo Hall in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the second recording in his 'Portions From John' series, entitled "Reasons For Unbelief In Christ" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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