How to Have Faith

Today we are looking into the gospel of John 14:1-14, 27 – section 218 in Thomas and Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the importance of possessing a faith that trusts Christ despite the circumstances that we may face. This is in contrast to falling away from the faith (Matthew 12:21; Mark 4:17; Luke 8:13). We are not to be fair weather Christians. Our faith must persevere to be saving faith.

Historical Background: This is Jesus’ farewell discourse. In the next four chapters (John 14-17), Jesus must drive home three critical facts:

  1. He is leaving (John 13:1, 31-33, 36; 14:1-4, 18, 25, 27-29; 16:5, 11-19, 28; 17:11).
  2. The Apostles will continue Jesus’ mission with opposition from the world (John 13:13-17, 20, 34-35; 14:12-14, 18-21; 15:1-21, 27; 16:1-4, 23-24; 17:12-22).
  3. The Holy Spirit will assist them in their mission (John 14:15-18, 26; 15:26-27; 16:6-11, 13-14).

This is one of those “good news/bad news” scenarios. What lies ahead is difficult, but Jesus’ promises are simply out of this world!

This has been unlike any other meal the disciples shared with Jesus. He seemed so solemn. An ominous finality lingered over the Passover “celebration” and the words “one of you will betray me” kept echoing in their minds. Jesus has just told Peter that he would deny him three times and the other ten would scarcely fare any better. They are visibly shaken. So Jesus tells them to stop being troubled. With two more imperatives, Jesus gives the solution: “Trust in God; trust also in me!” (John 14:1)

While the crucifixion and ascension will be devastating losses for the disciples, their faith can be sustained in the midst of this present suffering by the assurance of three glorious realities:

  1. The enduring presence of the Holy Spirit
  2. The promise of Jesus’ return
  3. The hope of a heavenly home

The setting is very similar to a modern board room where the once highly charged management team of a new enterprise with worldwide aspirations just receives news that the CEO is leaving; the treasure was fired, and the CEO’s personal apprentice was going to distance himself from the organization. How would you feel? Troubled? Trusting? Hopeful? Like an orphan? Jesus was totally in touch with what His disciples were feeling.

Commanded in the Gospels: John 14:1 “Do not let,” “believe” (2x); John 14:11 “believe” (2x); John 14:27 “Do not let your heart be troubled,” “nor let it be fearful.” (The word “faith” occurs 39 times in the Gospels; “believe” 119 times).

Illustrated in the Book of Acts: the word ‘faith” occurs 218 times in the epistles and 11 times in the Book of Revelation; “believe” occurs 74 times.

Amplified in the Epistles: The word “faith” occurs 14 times in the Book of Acts; “believe” 39 times.

Do not let [Present Imperative] your heart be troubled; believe [Present Imperative] in God, believe [Present Imperative] also in Me. (John 14:1)

The scene is in the upper room where the disciples gathered for the Passover meal with Jesus on the night before his death. In a very short time the world of these eleven men is going to collapse in unbelievable chaos. They have been informed that Jesus is going away and they are filled with fear. Jesus anticipates their already broken hearts and here commands them to keep trusting in him. Jesus promises that he will come back to get them, but in the meantime consoles them with the promise of the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-26; 16:5-15).

Instead of the disciples offering support to Jesus in the hours before the cross, he had to support them spiritually as well as emotionally. This reveals his love for them. Faith in Jesus can stop the heart from being agitated. The verb “troubled” [tarasso] means, “to agitate, trouble (a thing, by the movement of its parts to and fro), to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of mind, disturb his equanimity, to disquiet, make restless, to stir up, to trouble, to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread, to render anxious or distressed, to perplex the mind of one by suggesting scruples or doubts. – Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

We all experience trouble, suffering, pain, anxiety, disappointment, and losses. These circumstances don’t have to trouble us if we know Jesus. He is bigger than our needs and circumstances. So, when you are feeling anxious, take your eyes off your troubles and put them on Jesus.

In fact Jesus commands us “do not let” your heart be troubled; “believe” in God “believe” also in Me. All three of these verbs (“do not let,” “believe,” “believe”) are present tense imperatives.

“Let not your heart continue to be agitated. Be putting your trust in God. Also be putting your trust in Me.” The New Testament – An Expanded Translation by: Kenneth S. Wuest, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1961

Faith in Christ can stop the heart from bring agitated – John MacArthur

The verb “believe” [pisteuo] occurs 248 times. The KJV translates it as “believe” 239 times, “commit unto” four times, “commit to (one’s) trust” once, “be committed unto” once, “be put in (trust with” once, “be commit to one’s trust” once, and “believer” once. The word “believe” means, “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.” It is used in the New Testament of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul. Faith involves trusting in Jesus as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something. True saving faith is more than mere intellectual assent.

Wuest points out that the use of the verb is pisteuo in classical Greek – “In classical Greek pisteuo meant to believe, trust, trust in, put faith in, rely upon a person or thing. In the papyri, [Moulton and Milligan] we find the following illustrations of the use of these words; Whom no one would trust even if they were willing to work; (confidence in the person’s character and motives); I have trusted no one to take it to her, (confidence in the ability of another to perform a certain task). Pisteuo in every instance is translated by the word “believe,” except in the following places; Luke 16:11; John 2:24; Romans 3:2; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:11; Titus 1:3, where the idea is that either of entrusting one’s self or something else into the custody and safe keeping of another.

When these words refer to the faith which a lost sinner must place in the Lord Jesus in order to be saved, they include the following ideas; the act of considering the Lord Jesus worthy of trust as to His character and motives, the act of placing confidence in his ability to do just what he says he will do, the act of entrusting the salvation of his soul into the hands of the Lord Jesus, the act of committing the work of saving his soul to the care of the Lord. This means a definite taking of one’s self out of one’s own keeping and entrusting one’s self into the keeping of the Lord Jesus.

In Acts 8:13; 26:27; James 2:19, the word refers merely to an intellectual assent to certain facts, in Acts 15:11, to a dogmatic belief that such and such is the case.

“The New Testament conception of faith includes three main elements, mutually connected and requisite, though according to circumstances sometimes one and sometimes another may be more prominent,

  1. A fully convinced acknowledgement of the revelation of grace
  2. A self-surrendering fellowship (adhesion)
  3. A fully assured and unswerving trust (and with this at the same time hope) in the God of salvation or in Christ.

None of these elements is wholly ignored by any of the N.T. writers” [Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek]. Thus, the word sometimes refers to an acknowledgment that a certain statement is true (Matthew 21:25), and sometimes to a definite commitment of one’s soul into the keeping of another (John 5:24). Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol.3, Kenneth S. Wuest, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973, pgs.28-30

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24)

The disciples first transferred their trust on Christ as their Messiah in John 2:11. The aorist tense of the verb “believed” points to the moment of salvation but for faith to be true saving faith it must persevere.

John MacArthur writes “But it is not a biblical view of faith to say one may have it at the moment of salvation and never need to have it again. The continuing nature of saving faith is underscored by the use of the present tense of the Greek verb pisteuo (“believe”) throughout the gospel of John (John 3:15-18, 36; 5:24; 6:35, 40, 47; 7:38; 11:25-26; 12:44, 46; 20:31; also Acts 10:43; 13:39; Romans 1:16; 3:22; 4:5; 9:33; 10:4, 10-11). If believing were a one-time act, the Greek tense in those verses would be aorist.”- The Gospel According to Jesus, pg.172

John MacArthur cites Hodge who writes, “It is widely held in modem Christendom that the faith of a genuine Christian cannot fail. But this is not an assertion that can be verified from the New Testament” (pg.68); and, “There is nothing to support the view that perseverance in the faith is an inevitable outcome of true salvation” (pg.83). Contrast that statement with Paul’s inspired words in Colossians 1:22-23: “He has now reconciled you… if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel” cp. also 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 2:1-3; 3:14; 4:14; 6:11-12; 12:14; James 1:2; 1 John 2:19. – The Gospel According To Jesus.

Jesus in John 14:1 is commanding his disciples to continue believing in Him despite the trouble they are facing.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

“Have you ever decorated a room for someone special? If you have, you know what it is like to make a room suit one particular personality. If it is a daughter, you make the room pretty…. If it is a son, the room might have airplanes or model cars. If it is for Grandma, the room might have her favorite books; and it might be far from the playroom or the children’s bedrooms. We take care in such preparation. Are we to think that Jesus will take less care for those whom he loves, who are to spend eternity with him?” – The Gospel of John, Boice, pg.95

This verse teaches that heaven is under construction. Jesus has gone to heaven “to prepare” or “to make ready” [hetoimazo] our dwelling place for us.

John’s readers would have pictured a first-century house in Palestinian when they read these words. The “dwelling place” [mone] was built around a central courtyard and designed for sons to bring their spouses to live there as well and raise their families there. Each household had its own room or apartment within the house that provided privacy. Members also had (closeness to the father of the family by gathering in the courtyard. The “dwelling place” may have been quite modest even though the house was huge. The KJV translation “mansion” today conjures up the wrong idea. The glory of our future dwelling is not in its size or prestige but in the presence of Christ.

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)

Jesus here spoke of the rapture as he began his closing message to his disciples. The passage reveals several things regarding the rapture.

“One is that it is a planned event; at the time of his departure Christ anticipated returning for the disciples. Another is that it concerns Christ’s own followers. Christ was speaking only to when he gave the promise. Third, Christ’s return for his own will be personal. He himself will come for them, not by sending some angel, for instance, nor merely giving a general permission for the church finally to come to him. Fourth. the rapture results in the church being taken out of the world. Jesus said that he would come and “receive” the disciples, that where he had made the preparations, they might be also. The church will not remain here on earth, then, merely in some improved status, but will be taken away from the earth to heaven.” ­ – The Bible and Future Events, pgs.40,41

“Many signs were given to the nation Israel, which would precede the second advent, so that the nation might be living in expectancy when the time of His corning should draw nigh. Although Israel could not know the day nor the hour when the Lord will come, yet they can know that their redemption draweth nigh through the fulfillment of these signs. To the church no such signs were ever given. The church was told to live in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord to translate them in his presence (John 14:2-3; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:14; James 5:8; 1 Peter 3:3-4). Such passages as 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Titus 2:13; Revelation 3:3 all warn the believer to be watching for the Lord himself, not for signs that would precede his coming. It is true that the events of the seventieth week will cast an adumbration before the rapture, but the object of the believer’s attention is always directed to Christ, never to these portents.” – Things to Come, pgs.202-203

This passage teaches the doctrine of imminence, or “at any moment coming.” The rapture reflects the traditions of a Jewish wedding. Although the Jewish bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the exact time of his coming.

The Jewish bridegroom took the initiative in marriage by leaving his father’s house and traveling to the home of the prospective bride. So Jesus left his Father’s house in heaven and traveled to the earth; the home of his prospective church (bride). Jesus came to earth to obtain the church (bride) through the establishment of a covenant.

At the home of the prospective bride, the Jewish bridegroom would negotiate with her father to determine the price [mohar] that he must pay to purchase his bride. On the same night Jesus made his promise in John 14, he instituted communion. In this communion, he passed the cup of wine to the disciples saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Corinthians 1:25). Jesus established an eternal covenant through his blood. His Holy Spirit is the “ring” sealing the bride with a guarantee that he will return for her (Hebrews 13:20; Luke 22:20; Ephesians 1:13).

Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified; set apart exclusively for her bridegroom. Jesus paid a price to purchase the church (bride). The price he paid was his life blood (Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So the church is said to be sanctified and set apart exclusively for Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; Hebrews 10:10; 13:12).

As a symbol of the covenant relationship, the groom and bride would drink from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction had been pronounced. The cup of communion serves as the symbol of the covenant through which Christ has obtained the His bride the church (1 Corinthians 11:25).

After the marriage covenant was established, the groom would leave the bride’s home and return to his father’s house. There he would remain separate from his bride for usually at least a period of 12 months. Just as the Jewish groom left the home of his bride and returned to his father’s house, so Jesus left the earth, the home of the church (bride) and returned to his Father’s house in heaven after he’d established the new covenant and risen from the dead. The church is currently living in this period of separation awaiting Christ’s return (John 6:62; 20:17).

During this period of separation between the Jewish bride and groom, the bride would use this time to gather her trousseau and prepare for her married life. The groom occupied himself with the preparation of living accommodations in his father’s house where he would bring his bride. Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom preparing living accommodations for his bride in his father’s house, Christ as been preparing living accommodations for the church in His Father’s house in heaven. (John 14:2)

Dr. Dwight Pentecost writes, “In relation to the eternal destiny of the church saints, it is to be observed that their destiny primarily is related to a Person rather than a place. While the place looms with importance (John 14:3), the place is overshadowed by the Person into whose presence the believer is taken.

  • John 14:3, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
  • Colossians 3:4, When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
  • 1 John 3:2, Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

It is the Person who is emphasized in all the passages dealing with the glorious expectation of the church rather than the place to which they are taken.” Things to Come, pgs.562

And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, 0 Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (John 14:4-5)

They didn’t even know where he was going, much less how to get there. So Jesus explained that he is the only way to God and heaven. They may not have fully understood Jesus’ teaching at that time, but after the resurrection, they got it. A couple of months later, when Peter was preaching, he said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic (on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg) or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.” – C.S. Lewis

Our Lord in John 14:6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The word “way” is from a Greek word which has two uses, a literal and a metaphorical. It was used to speak of a road and also to refer to a method or manner of accomplishing something. These uses are closely intertwined and cannot be disassociated. The road leading to a certain place is the method of getting there. Our Lord is the literal road which a sinner must take if he is to reach heaven, and Jesus thus becomes the method by which he is saved. Missing the glory of God is evidence of the fact that the sinner has not gone in the right direction, and that shows that he has not been on the right road. He has missed the road. To reach heaven, the sinner must put himself on the road to heaven. Jesus is that road. – Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol.3, pgs.88,89

The way to the Father is not a road but a relationship.

  1. “Let there be no mistake, while Christianity is open to all people, heaven is not! Call it narrow-minded, call it intolerant, call it what you like as long as you call it truth from the lips of Jesus.” – Mark Moore
  2. Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
  3. 2 Timothy 2:5-6, For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
  4. “Jesus made it clear that the destination was the Father. He did not say that he came to show the way, but that he himself was the actual means for bringing men to God. An illustration might be a flowing river whose current actually conveys the boat to its destination, or the modern escalator which is not only the route but is also the conveyor from one level to another.” -­ Homer A Kent Jr.

This is the sixth of seven “I AM” statements in John (John 6:48; 8:12; 10:9; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). The first description of Jesus, “The Way,” became one of the names of the early church (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:22). The second and third descriptions of Jesus (truth and life) are found in a number of other places in John:

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14:7)

God has revealed himself through His Son. John 1:18, No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (John 14:8)

We get three glimpses of Philip in John. He was one of the first to follow Jesus clear back in the days of John the Baptist (John 1:43-46). His first act of devotion to Jesus was to lead him to Nathanael. A couple of years later it was Philip whom Jesus tested at the feeding of the five thousand by asking how they would feed all these people (John 6:5-7). Finally, in John 12:21, the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus petitioned Philip to take them to him.

Here we find Philip making a request. Philip wants a visual glimpse of God. He is probably thinking in terms of a vision like Ezekiel’s (1-2) or Isaiah’s (6) or even Moses’ (Exodus 33:18-23). But Jesus gives him nothing more than he needs and nothing less than himself. To see Jesus is to see the Father (Hebrews 1:3). Granted, Jesus’ incarnational form is not nearly as striking as these visions of God. Then again, his incarnational form was not nearly as striking as his own non-incarnational visions (Isaiah 11:3-5; Ezekiel 40:3; Daniel 10:6; Revelation 1:12-16). Nevertheless, what is needed here is not a striking vision but an accurate revelation of the character, purpose, and acts of God. These are represented with striking clarity in Jesus’ incarnational ministry through his words (John 14:10) and his works (John 14:11), both of which come directly from the Father (John 5:18-23, 36-39; 8:41-42; 10:30-32, 37-38; 12:49-50).

Dr. Ray Stedman writes, “Everyone was surprised when Philip spoke up. It was as if the table had suddenly spoken. He was the quiet, mousy disciple who never said anything. Yet all the sob and agony of man’s hunger for God is heard in this cry, “Show us the Father and we’ll be satisfied.” Our Lord’s answer is a quiet rebuke: “Philip, after three and a half years haven’t you yet found out who I am? I came to reveal the Father. When you know me you have known the Father.”

These are, confessedly, words of mystery. They reveal what theologians have called the “Doctrine of the Trinity”; that three distinct Persons can still exist as only one God. It is beyond our human comprehension. We have nothing to compare it with, thus we struggle to grasp it.” (pg.5)

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9)

Paul in Colossians 1:15 spoke of Christ as “the image of the invisible God.” “The word “image” has the obvious idea of likeness, but the Greek word does not refer to an accidental likeness, as one egg is like another. It implies an original of which the image is a copy. But the image in this case is not the result of direct imitation as the head of a king on a coin, but is derived, like the features of the parent in the child. In John 3:16 our Lord is the only begotten Son of God. John 1:18 refers to him as the only begotten God, the word “God” appearing in the best manuscripts. It is a tremendous thought. The word ‘only begotten’ does not only mean that our Lord was the only Son of God, but that he as God the Son is alone of his kind, unique, be­ gotten of God through eternal generation. He is the image of God in the sense that he is a derived representation of God the Father, co-existent eternally with him, possessing the same essence, deity himself. Being the representative of God, he is also therefore the manifestation of God. He said to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). – Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol.3, pgs.83

John 1:18 says, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” This verse teaches us that our Lord never started to be God’s only begotten Son. He always was his Son. He possesses the same essence as God the Father, and therefore he can in his incarnation fully explain God. The verb “has explained” in John 1:18 is a Greek word which means “to lead out.” “God the Son in his incarnation led the Father out from behind the curtain of his invisibility into full view. The Greek word here comes into the English language in the word ‘exegesis.’ Exegesis is the method of Bible study in which we fully explain every detail of the text. Jesus Christ has in his incarnation, fully explained in finite terms so far as finite minds can grasp, all the details of the Person of God the Father. He said, ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.’ Thus Jesus Christ is the exegesis of God.” ­- Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol.3, pgs. 85-86

The Bible teaches that the Godhead exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God. (Genesis 1:1, 26; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19-20; John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

John 14:9 (“He who has seen Me has seen the Father”) and John 14:10 (“I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me”) have been misused to teach the heresy of Modalism.

Modalism -A Third Century Heresy

“Modalism claims that there is one person who appears to us in three different forms (or “modes”). At various times people have taught that God is not really three distinct persons, but only one person who appears to people in different “modes” at different times. For example, in the Old Testament God appeared as “Father.” Throughout the gospels, this same divine person appeared as “the Son” as seen in the human life and ministry of Jesus. After Pentecost, this same person then revealed himself as the “Spirit” active in the church.

This teaching is also referred to by two other names. Sometimes it is called Sabellianism, after a teacher named Sabellius who lived in Rome in the early third century A.D. Another term for modalism is “modalistic monarchianism,” because this teaching not only says that God revealed himself in different “modes” but it also says that there is only one supreme ruler (“monarch”) in the universe and that is God himself, who consists of only one person.

Modalism gains its attractiveness from the desire to emphasize clearly the fact that there is only one God. It may claim support not only from the passages talking about one God, but also from passages such as John 10:30 (“I and the Father are one”) and John 14:9 (“He who has seen me has seen the Father”).

However, the last passage can simply mean that Jesus fully reveals the character of God the Father, and the former passage (John 10:30), in a context in which Jesus affirms that he will accomplish all that the Father has given him to do and save all whom the Father has given to him, seems to mean that Jesus and the Father are one in purpose (though it may also imply oneness of essence).

The fatal shortcoming of modalism is the fact that it must deny the personal relationships within the Trinity that appear in so many places in Scripture (or it must affirm that these were simply an illusion and not real). Thus, it must deny three separate persons at the baptism of Jesus, where the Father speaks from heaven and the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove. And it must say that all those instances where Jesus is praying to the Father are an illusion or a charade. The idea of the Son or the Holy Spirit interceding for us before God the Father is lost. Finally, modalism ultimately loses the heart of the doctrine of the atonement that is, the idea that God sent his Son as a substitutionary sacrifice, and that the Son bore the wrath of God in our place, and that the Father, representing the interests of the Trinity, saw the suffering of Christ and was satisfied (Isaiah 53:11).

Moreover, modalism denies the independence of God, for if God is only one person, then he has no ability to love and to communicate without other persons in his creation. Therefore it was necessary for God to create the world, and God would no longer be independent of creation.

One present denomination within Protestantism (broadly defined), the United Pentecostal Church, is modalistic in its doctrinal position. Some of the leaders who formed this group had earlier been forced out of the Assemblies of God.”- Systematic Theology, pg.242

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10)

The word “abide” [meno] is one of John’s favorite words. Its classical usage will throw light upon the way it is used in the N.T. It meant “to stay, stand fast, abide, to stay at home, stay where one is, not stir, to remain as one was, to remain as before.” In the N.T., it means “to tarry, to dwell at one’s own house, to tarry as a guest, to lodge, to maintain unbroken fellowship with one, to adhere to his party, to be constantly present to help one, to put forth constant influence upon one.” In this verse God is said to meno in Christ… to be constantly present with him, to be continually operative in him by his divine influence and energy. – Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol.3, pgs.64,65

Believe [Present Imperative] Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe [Present Imperative] because of the works themselves.” (John 14:11)

The proof of the union of Jesus and His Father is threefold. They should believe Jesus

  1. Because of his character (“I am in the Father [John 14:20] and… the Father is in Me”)
  2. Because His words are the Father’s (“The words I say to you are not just My own” (John 7:16; 12:49-50; 14:24)
  3. Because the miracles reveal God’s working through Him (the Father, living in Me… is doing His work…. believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves; John 5:36). One of the key elements in John’s Gospel is the stress on the signs as gracious pointers to faith (John 5:36; 10:25, 38; 11:47; 12:37; 20:30-31).

Greater Works Than Jesus?

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12)

Jesus did not mean greater works in power, but in extent. They would become witnesses to all the world through the power of the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and would bring many to salvation because of the Comforter dwelling in them. The focus is on spiritual rather than physical miracles.

What are the “greater works” that Jesus promised that those who believe in him could do? The Gospel writers used the word “works” [ergon] to describe Jesus’ miraculous works (Matthew 11:2; Luke 24:19). “John accords them theological significance (John 5:36; 7:3, 21; 15:24). The works validate Jesus’ claims about himself and point to the Father who sent him. His works are intended to draw faith responses from those who witness them (John 14:11 ).” – Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words pg.807

  • John 5:20, For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.
  • John 5:36, But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish – the very works that I do – testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.
  • John 6:28, Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?
  • John 7:3, Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing.
  • John 9:3-4, Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.
  • John 10:25, Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.
  • John 10:32, Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?”
  • John 10:37-38, If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.
  • John 14:10-12, Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11″Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12″Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

How could we do more miracles than Jesus did? John 21:25 says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

The text literally says, “Most assuredly, I am saying to you, he who believes in me, the works which I am constantly doing, also that one shall do” – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation pg. 249

So what went wrong? Was this a false promise or have we failed in some way? God’s miracle working power through men was very rare over biblical history. There were no miracles

  • From creation until Moses – 2700 years (Exodus 4:8-9, 17, 28, 30; 7:3; 8:23; 13:9; 10:1,2).
  • From Moses until Elijah – 600 years (1 Kings 17:14-24; 18:24, 25; 2 Kings 4:8-37).
  • From Elijah to Christ – 900 years (John 20:30-31; 21:25; Acts 2:22).

The book of Acts gives us a historical narrative of the first 30 years of the church. During the first 20 years of the early church, the Book of Acts records eighteen miracles (Acts 1-18) and over the next 10 years five miracles are recorded (Acts 19-28). With the exception of a few cases of the miraculous that have not been verifiable the church hasn’t seen the miracles that Jesus promised. There has been a strange absence of miracles among Jesus’ disciples throughout the church age until the present. Is it a lack of faith on our part or has Christ failed to keep his promise? Don’t just think of the supernatural as physical phenomenon.

Homer Kent writes, “This certainly did not mean that believers would perform more amazing physical miracles that Jesus did (e.g., stilling the storm, feeding 5,000, opening the eyes of the blind, curing the lame, healing an amputated ear, raising the dead, etc.). The answer is indicated by the fact that Christ’s return to the Father is said to be the cause. Hence these greater works would be spiritual ones, in which the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection would be proclaimed as the transforming power for sinful men. As a consequence, Gentiles as well as Jews would be reached, and a new spiritual body, the New Testament church, would be created.” – Light in the Darkness pg.174

So when Jesus speaks of “greater works” he must mean “greater” in a spiritual dimension. When we look at both the record of Scripture and of church history we see how true this is: On the day of Pentecost, 40 days after our Lord uttered these words, Peter, filled with the power of the Spirit, preached with such effect that 3,000 people were converted in one day. That never happened during Jesus1 ministry. Perhaps a few hundred on occasion believed when he preached, but a mere handful was the usual response, never thousands as the book of Acts reports.

“…greater, not in power, but in extent or scope, due to the indwelling Spirit; the focus is on the spiritual, not physical miracles.” – John MacArthur

But it is unlikely that Jesus had miracles in mind when he says the Apostles will do greater works than he himself has done. After all, what greater miracle could there be than raising a person from the dead? And Jesus did three of these (excluding his own), while the “greatest” Apostles, Peter, and Paul, only had one each (Acts 9:40-41; 20:10). Certainly, the greatness of Jesus’s followers would not be in the number or character of their miracles but in the number and character of their converts. How great indeed are the works of those who break the barriers of geography and ethnicity to bring to Christ people from every tongue and tribe.

This is from John MacArthur on What It Means to Do Greater Works than Jesus:

“Many charismatic teachers look to the above verse to validate their teaching. They see it as a proof text for the notion that present-day believers can perform miraculous signs and wonders, even more spectacular than Jesus Himself. Reinhard Bonnke, who claims to have raised the dead, is one prominent charismatic who subscribes to that view, and has even written a book offering his interpretation of what Jesus meant by “greater works.”

But Bonnke’s view not only contradicts church history, it also defies Jesus’ teaching in Scripture. In the following audio clip, John MacArthur explains the true, and far more profound, meaning of John 14:12.

One of the great tragedies of the charismatic movement’s fixation on miracles is that it drags the focus away from biblical priorities. Rather than bring the life-transforming power of Scripture to bear on a lost and dying world, too many charismatics long for God’s power to manifest itself in and through their own experiences.

We don’t do things that are greater in power, how could we? I certainly cannot heal the sick, cast out demons from unbelievers, I can’t raise the dead, I cannot walk on water, I cannot pronounce curses on people, I can’t make food and feed people by the tens of thousands. I cannot know what people think, I cannot know what’s on their hearts, I cannot articulate their unasked questions, I cannot predict the future, those are things that Christ did and He did them routinely and regularly.

So when Scripture says that we will do greater works than Jesus, it’s not greater in kind, its greater in extent and what it means is, that the proclamation of the gospel which for Jesus was limited to one nation, one small piece of geography will go far beyond that. We who live in generation after generation since the life of our Lord are fulfilling the Great Commission and the Gospel is expanding and covering the whole earth. Not greater in kind but greater in extent, greater in world influence. These are the works that we are able to do because we know the truth and possess the Holy Spirit.” (Source:

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

“In their hour of loss at the departure of Jesus, he comforted them with the means that would provide them with the necessary resources to accomplish their task without his immediate presence which they had come to depend upon. To ask in Jesus’ “name” does not mean to tack such an expression on the end of a prayer as a mere formula. According to the MacArthur Study Bible, pg.1579, it means:

  1. The believer’s prayer should be for his purposes and kingdom and not selfish reasons
  2. The believer’s prayer should be on the basis of his merits and not any personal merit or worthiness
  3. The believer’s prayer should be in pursuit of His glory alone

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) The disciples’ love for Christ is revealed in their obeying his commands (John 14:21, 23; 1 John 2:3; 3:22, 24; 5:3).

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled [Present Imperative], nor let it be fearful [Present Imperative].” (John 14:27)

The peace Jesus spoke of could not be exemption from conflict and trial. Jesus himself was “troubled” (John 12:27) by the impending crucifixion. The peace he spoke of is the calmness of confidence in God. Jesus had this peace because he was sure of the Father’s love and approval. The world can give only false peace, which mostly comes from the ignorance of peril or self-reliance. Jesus, fully aware of the distressing suffering confronting him, had such confidence in the purpose and power of the Father that he moved forward unhesitatingly to meet the crisis without fear. His peace would be the source of courage for the disciples. With his promise of peace, he repeated the words of comfort he had spoken in reply to Peter’s question: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:1). – The Expositor’s Bible Commentary


  1. Serendipity Bible for Groups by: Serendipity House, Zondervan Publishing House, 1998
  2. The Gospel Under Siege by: Zane C. Hodges, Redenci6n Viva, 1981
  3. The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by: Kenneth S. Wuest, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1961
  4. Expository Dictionary of Bible Words by: Lawrence 0. Richards, Zondervan Publishing House, 1985, pg.484
  5. The Gospel of John by: James Montgomery Boice, Zondervan Publishing House, 1978
  6. Light in the Darkness, by: Homer A. Kent Jr., Baker Book House, 1974, pg.173
  7. Mere Christianity, by: C.S. Lewis, Macmillan Publishing Co., 1960, pg.56
  8. The Gospel According To Jesus – The Nature of True Faith by: John F. MacArthur, Zondervan Publishing House, 1988, Pages 169-178
  9. The Chronological Life of Christ Vol.2 by: Mark E. Moore, College Press,1997, pages 230-234
  10. Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol.3, Kenneth S. Wuest, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973
  11. The NIV Serendipity Bible Study of John, Edited by: Lyman Coleman, Denny Rydberg, Richard Peace, Gary Chrisropherson, Zondervan Publishing House, 1986
  12. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol.9, by: Frank E. Gaebelein, Zondervan Publishing House, 1981
  13. The Gospel of John by: John MacArthur, Word of Grace Communications
  14. John: God’s Word for the Biblically-Inept Series by: Lin Johnson & Larry Richards, Starburst Publishers, 2000
  15. Day Counter Bible Studies by: Thomas R. Lovejoy, 1989
  16. John – MacArthur Bible Studies by: John MacArthur, W. Publishing Group, 2000
  17. The Chronological Life of Christ Vo/.2 by: Mark E. Moore, College Press Publishing Company, 1977
  18. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by: W. E. Vine & M.F. Unger & W. White, Nelson: Nashville, 1996.
  19. Systematic Theology by: Wayne Grudem, lnterVarsity Press, Zondervan, 2000, pg.242
  20. The Cure for Heart Trouble by: Ray Stedman, Message No: 38; Catalog No: 3868
  21. Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words by: William D. Mounce, Zondervan, 2006
  22. The Gospel According To Jesus- The Nature of True Faith by: John F. MacArthur, Zondervan Publishing House, 1988, Pages 169-178
  23. The Bible & Future Events by: Leon J. Wood, Zondervan Publishing House, 1973
  24. Things to Come by: J. Dwight Pentecost, Zondervan Publishing House, 1958

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber Jr.]
© Copyright 1994 Richard D. Leineweber Jr.

Related Images:

Having No Fear

This is the second of six in the God’s Not dead series, these are my teaching notes and slides:

Slide2One of the major themes in the movie was that of persecution; all around the world people suffer for simply having faith in Jesus. Some would argue that the world is much more tolerant today than it was centuries ago, but the facts say otherwise. In many parts of the world, people lose freedoms; and thousands of people are killed because of their faith in Christ.

While in America, tolerance is demanded for most any lifestyle or belief, yet for those who believe in Christ, they are met with systematic intolerance, which is grossly unfair and often absurd. Believers are often intimidated.

There is a challenge called moral relativism: the philosophy that teaches all beliefs are equally right and true. While people have the right to believe whatever they want about God, that doesn’t mean that all beliefs are true. Jesus warned about persecution (Mark 4:17) But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Let’s look at a three clips from the movie, about people who experienced persecution for simply having faith in Jesus, or even discussing the existence of God…


It was all through the movie: Josh and his long time girlfriend, Martin (the Chinese student) had a very negative father and he wanted him to focus on studies and grades, not God, and Ayisha, the girl in the Muslim family, whose father wanted her to recant, that “there is one God and he is not begotten.” (John 3:16)

95% of Americans say they believe in God, but many are moral relativists who don’t try to live according to God’s Word (Josh’s girlfriend is a great example, she did not want faith to get in the way of career plans or opportunities). She scoffed at the notion that Josh would put God’s desire over her wishes.


If we are to make a difference in the world around us, we MUST get rid of this type of paralyzing fear.

When we fear criticism: we learn that our identity and value is based on what others think instead of God’s acceptance of us.

When we fear consequences: we learn to trust in circumstances and decisions of others more than Jesus’ care for us (Matthew 6:25-34).

When we fear not attaining our goals: we learn that we have placed our hope for meaning and fulfillment in some worldly achievement over being a valuable part of God’s kingdom.

Let’s pray for a break in these strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

How to overcome fears: meditate on God’s promises (2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13).

Remember that there are 365 references to “Fear Not” or “Don’t be Afraid.”  Don’t let fear stop you from doing the right thing.


There may be other reason why someone might be adversarial to you and your faith. Don’t respond in anger, and remember that Satan, the adversary has blinded the people of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Their hostility might be the result of painful experiences in their past, in the professor’s case, losing his mother to cancer after asking God to heal her. In session 5, we will see that suffering is a huge stumbling block for many people. Try to find out the source of their pain, Josh asked, “What happened to you?”

Others may respond negatively because they feel Christians are bigoted and narrow minded, so, in essence, they are prejudging you. (MY college story of introducing myself as a follower of Jesus, a Christian = biased).

In philosophy, there is a straw-man argument: people build a false picture of something or someone, and then they attack it. How many times do we have to dismantle the negative press and false notions about Christianity? Maybe all Christians are hypocrites. Help them realize that out of 2 billion Christians, there are likely only a few who have hurt or disappointed them.

Remember that insults are not arguments: don’t focus on the insult but on the truth and reasonableness of your beliefs. While there may be many bad things that professing Christians have done, God still exists and has an ideal.


There is an enemy of God and mankind, Satan. He is not the red suited figure with horns and a pitchfork, but an entity of evil that exists. We are wrestling with powers and principalities and spirits that affect hearts and minds (Ephesians 6:10). The goal of our enemy is to shut down the preaching of the gospel and the truth that God exists. It is vital that you not let persecution shut you down.

The apostles were told to stop speaking of the resurrection (Acts 4:20) but they could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard and did so with BOLDNESS (Acts 4:29). The Romans did not like the fact that Christians claimed loyalty to another king, in fact, every knee would bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

When you are told to stop, find creative ways to put in a good word for Jesus, his word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).


Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Cares and worries of the world can distract us from God’s purposes in our lives; we can lose focus on our mission to share the gospel. Don’t give up; negative reactions can take a toll on our self-image and sense of worth (Allan’s story in Curacao, no fruit yet remaining faithful).

Stay strong, one day people might recognize your genuine integrity and come to you during times of struggle for counsel and guidance.

Some people will see your life and they refuse to repent, just seeing you brings out their rebellion. Rather than be convicted by the truth, they will suppress the truth and in anger lash out at you.

Today there is more persecution toward Christians than in any other time in history. More believers were martyred for their faith in the 20th century than in 1900 years prior combined.

You would think that technology and globalization would allow greater tolerance and understanding to everyone, but the opposite has occurred. The claims of Christ have set him apart from all other faiths and that is the offense that caused mankind to stumble.

Keep this in mind… Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12).


Related Images:

You All Are Dogs

Here is another saying of Jesus that makes you do a double-take, “did he really just call her and her people dogs?”

To get started, in all the talk about Christian unity, what are things that still separate us?

  1. Different beliefs or practices.
  2. Worship style (regular, charismatic, liturgy, reading, silent).
  3. Usually we are a gathering of cliques, each devoted to its own members, race, style.

Remind yourself of the mission of the church.

  1. We are to continue the mission of Christ and spread his story.
  2. His last command should be our first concern (Matthew 28:19-20).
  3. He assumed his followers would be going… “as you are going,” make disciples. In the context of everyday life, how can we be involved in making disciples?

Did Jesus really just say that?

  1. None of us can imagine the amount of racial bias inside of ourselves: through ignorance, personal upbringing, experiences.
  2. Who were THOSE people in this story?
    1. They withdrew from Tyre and Sidon (two non-Jewish cities) which were symbols of OT paganism and godlessness (northwest Philistia).
    2. They were specifically condemned by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel: these were poster children for God’s anger and righteous judgment.
    3. So, what is the typical Jewish opinion of non-Jews? Gentiles were synonymous with pagan and heathen, compared to God’s holy nation (Exodus 19:6). Even the Psalmist cursed the other nations (Ps 9, 59, 137).
    4. How did the disciples feel about being in this region?
  3. This woman represented the contempt the Jews felt about other people. The disciples clearly knew their national history.
    1. She knew all this as well, which tells us something about this woman who was willing to approach Jesus.
    2. She knew something about how to approach God (since she was familiar with Judaism): she used a very Jewish title for Jesus (Son of David).
    3. She not only had knowledge, but she had passion: she cried out in a loud voice. Implication is that she did it for a long time.
    4. She also was in desperate need: approaching the Jews with all their turned-up noses.
    5. She believed that Jesus could help: employing the classic attributes to secure a response from God, humility and faith.
  4. How did Jesus respond to her?
    1. First he ignored her, which suited the disciples just fine.
    2. They were uncomfortable not only because of the wailing, but she was a Gentile, unclean, a pagan.
    3. They urged Jesus to just send her away, “I came for the house of Israel.”
    4. She would not take “no” for an answer. “I can’t take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.” Take the goodness reserved for the chosen people and give it to someone like you.
  5. What is it about dogs? They were not the pets we have today, but scavengers, filthy, and dangerous. It was a dramatic insult to her.
    1. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master’s table.” I know you’re right, but take pity on a dog like me.
    2. Jesus liked her answer. What did her words reveal about her faith?

The key to understanding this event may lie in the story prior to this one: Jesus facing off with the Pharisees (Matthew 15:1-20).

  1. They criticized Jesus ministry, these disciples didn’t even wash their hands right.
    1. They knew nothing about purity, but Jesus defends them, their omission had nothing to do with real purity. Real purity is internal, not external.
    2. They got angry and walked away, and then Jesus explained further to his disciples, which they didn’t get. Purity is from the HEART. Not where you live or your ethnic background.
    3. On the heels of this conversation about purity, they withdraw to Tyre and Sidon.
  2. Now Jesus is able to flesh this teaching out with the disciples, to show them about purity in a real-life sort of way.
  3. What better place to teach about purity than in the most unclean place imaginable?
    1. How do you define purity?
    2. How do you differentiate between inner and outer purity?
    3. What is the most unclean place you know?
    4. This woman taught them about what being clean was all about.

In such a dirty place Jesus found something clean. What could be clean about her willingness to be called a dog? Her desperation. It is in desperation that people can see their need most clearly.

  1. She wasn’t thinking about how foolish she looked.
  2. She was not thinking about the judgmental glances.
  3. She had the purity of desperation, something the Pharisees and his own disciples lacked.

Jesus commends her faith! When we express our need for God, we say something about HIM.

  1. Are we conscious of our need?
  2. Are you comfortable talking to God about your needs, or are you fairly self-sufficient?

In keeping with a theme of the gospel going to the dogs, how about this: Don’t give what is holy to dogs and don’t cast pearls before swine… (Matthew 7:6)?

“Do not cast your pearls before swine” is a portion of the Sermon on the Mount, and to understand its meaning, we have to understand its context and placement within the sermon.

  1. Christ had just finished instructing the crowd on judgment and reproof: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2), and “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
  2. Then in verse 6, Christ tempers these admonitions and shows us the difference between “judgment” and “discernment.”

The analogy of the dogs:

  1. The analogy actually comes from Proverbs: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).
  2. Swine are also described in this way, as illustrated by Peter: “Of them [false prophets and teachers] the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud’” (2 Peter 2:22).
  3. The dogs and swine here are representative of those who would ridicule, reject, and blaspheme the gospel once it has been given to them.
  4. We are not to put forth the gospel of Jesus Christ in the direction of someone who has no other purpose than to trample it and return to his own evil ways. We identify such people through discernment, which is given in some measure to all Christians (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).

This does not mean we refrain from preaching the gospel. Jesus Himself ate with and taught sinners and tax collectors (Matthew 9:10).

  1. In essence, the instruction in Matthew 7:6 is the same that Jesus gave to His apostles when He said, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (Matthew 10:14).
  2. We are not to judge others, because we are guilty of the same things they are, but reserving judgment does not prevent us from discerning those who would accept, or at least respect, the gospel from those who would ridicule, mock, and trample it, and then turn on us and abuse us.
  3. Balancing judgment with discernment is the wisdom of serpents Jesus refers to in Matthew 10:16.

Related Images:

Greed is a Barrier to Faith

We are now up to the fourth command in this infant stage, or Win Level. So far we have…

  1. Come and see – John 1:39
  2. Repent and Believe – Mark 1:14-15
  3. Fear / Do not Fear – Luke 12:5-7

Now we come to GREED being a second barrier to faith in this introductory level, Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15).

BEWARE and BE ON YOUR GUARD – present imperatives that could be translated, “be ever on alert and be guarding yourself from every form of greed.”

  • Jesus is pointing out that greed seeks more material possessions which are not to be equated with “really living” (John 10:10, 1 Timothy 6:19).
  • Material possessions can become a substitute for the proper object of worship, which makes greed into idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
  • A person is measured by what he is, not by what he has.

Our passage of study today is Matthew 19:16-27. The point of this lesson is to encourage seekers to NOT place their trust in wealth. While wealth can be good to provide a measure of protection in life (Proverbs 10:15), riches have no value on the day of judgment (Proverbs 10:2, 11:4, 28, Ezekiel 7:19, SEC 177).

  • The wealthy often believe they are in God’s favor since they have been blessed financially, but they are actually spiritually bankrupt without Christ.
  • Wealth is NOT an indicator of God’s favor. This is a tough teaching for affluent America because many wealthy people put their trust in their investments.
  • Trusting in riches is basically covetousness, breaking the tenth commandment.

Jesus is on his way through Perea to Jerusalem and is stopped and asked a question (the story of the rich, young, ruler SEC 178). It is interesting to note the differences in these stories only to discover the rich, young, ruler does not exist!

  • Behold, ONE came to him (Matthew 19:16) – perhaps the rich one (Matthew 19:22) and the YOUNG one (Matthew 19:20).
  • A man RAN up to him and KNELT before him (Mark 10:17 – perhaps the young one, since elders did not run, nor kneel before a 30 year old preacher.
  • And a certain RULER questioned him (Luke 18:18) – certainly it is the ruler we find here.

The point is that this person is in contrast to the children Jesus has just blessed (Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17). Even though this guy was young (maybe 20-40) he had already achieved financial success (Luke 18:23).

The command is found in the gospels (Matthew 19:21, GO and SELL, Mark 10:21, GO and SELL, Luke 18:22, SELL). It is also illustrated in the book of Acts (Acts 8:18-24) and emphasized in the epistles (Romans 1:29, 7:7-8, 13:9, 1 Corinthians 5:10-11, 6:10, Ephesians 5:3, 5, 2 Peter 2:3, 14, James 5:1-6).

1. How do you feel about this rich young ruler?

  • Sorry for him – he couldn’t help he was rich.
  • Disappointed in him – he walk away from God.
  • Upset – Jesus shouldn’t have been so hard on him.
  • Frustrated – do I have to give up all my stuff too?

2. What was this man’s position in society (Matthew 19:20-21, Luke 18:18, 23)? We learn about this guy as we connect the stories together, he was young (Matthew 19:22), owned property (Matthew 19:22), and was extremely rich (Luke 18:23). Since Luke tells us he was a ruler, he was likely a ruler in the synagogue, quite an honored position for a young man. We can assume that he was devout, honest, wealthy, prominent, and influential.

3. How does the man approach Jesus (Matthew 19:16, Mark 10:17)? His running indicates that he could not wait to hear the answer from this great teacher. He was not embarrassed by the fact of being a respected and well known person coming to seek Jesus. Rabbi, is a term of respect for a teacher of divine truth.

4. Why does Jesus object to the man addressing him as good (Mark 10:17-18, Luke 18:18-19)?
The man seemed to recognize Jesus had the stature and character that was higher than regular rabbis, but there is no indication that he considered Jesus to be divine or the promised Messiah.

  • Jesus may have been telling the man, “you better start thinking of me in terms of being God, or don’t call me good, because no man is good” (Romans 3:10-12).
  • Notice the difference between Matthew 19:17 (there is only One who is good) and Mark 10:18 or Luke 18:19 (no one is good except God alone).

5. What does this man’s question tell us about his theological beliefs (Matthew 19:16)? He has a works righteousness, “what good thing must I DO?”

  • This reveals his pharisaic tradition and legal system, where doing things for God was the way to securing God’s favor.
  • What is one work that Jesus said we can do? In John 6:28-29, he says, “This is the work of God that you believe him whom he has sent.”

6. What does Jesus say this man needs to do for eternal life (Matthew 19:17)?  Keep the Commandments? What kind of answer is THAT? That certainly doesn’t sound very evangelical, or Baptist. Look at it this way, Jesus wants this guy to recognize that he is a transgressor of the Law and in need of Jesus’ forgiveness. If the standard of the perfect Law was his measurement, he was in trouble as a law-breaker. For more information on this topic, consider Way of the Master evangelism.

  • The Apostle Paul had falsely put his confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3-9) and realized that he was a covetous man based upon the law, (Roman 7:7).
  • Paul needed a righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, (Philippines 3:9).
  • The New Testament teaches that by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for through the law comes the judgment of sin, (Romans 3:23).
  • Whoever keeps the whole and yet stumbles in one point has become guilty of all, (James 2:10).
  • In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he wrote, therefore the law has become a tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith, (Galatians 3:24).
  • The law was intended to expose our sin and need for Christ. Then the young man asks which one of the commandments?

7. Which of the Ten Commandments did Jesus quote, omit, and add (Matthew 19:19-19, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20)?

  • The Ten Commandments is broken up into two parts: the first four commandments are about our relationship with God and the last six are about how we relate to one another.
  • Jesus quotes five of the six commandments in the second part of the Decalogue.
  • Then he added the second greatest commandment about loving your neighbor as yourself. It appears that Jesus conspicuously omits “you shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17).
  • Notice that Mark 19:19 inserts, “do not defraud.” This command is NOT a part of the Ten Commandments but perhaps is inserted to stir the conscience of the rich young ruler. This young man might have defrauded someone in order to satisfy his covetous desires. It appears that this man refused to acknowledge is idolatry of material things.
  • The young man does not mention the absence of the tenth commandments but quickly offers his self assessment based upon the commands that Jesus quoted, “teacher I kept all these things up from my youth” (Matthew 19:20). Only Matthew includes his follow-up question, “what am I still lacking?” (Matthew 19:20).

8. How does Jesus feel about this young man (Mark 10:21)? Mark alone made reference here to the emotional reaction of Jesus, he felt love for him. It is probably better translated, “began to love him.” Jesus felt strongly drawn to this young man for what he already was, and Jesus wanted to lead him to a full discovery of his quest.

  • Love does not mean mere emotional affection but a high spiritual love of which desire is the greatest welfare of others.
  • Jesus was approaching the time when he would shed his own blood for the sins of the rich young ruler and for the whole world, but as much as he loves people and desired to save them, he could not save this man while he refused to admit that he was lost.

9. What did Jesus say this man was lacking (Matthew 19:20-21, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22)? Jesus basically says, “if you wish to be completed (or perfect) you have to deal with your greed.” Jesus gave him three commands to deal with his greed. Jesus instructed man to go, sell, and give (Matthew 19:21).

  • Materialists believe if you give your wealth away you will lose it, while Jesus taught if you give everything away your wealth will then be in heaven.
  • If the rich young ruler were willing to obey these commands he would not earn his salvation but it would be evidence that he desired salvation about everything else.

10. What was the rich young ruler’s response to these commands (Matthew 19:22, Mark 10:22, Luke 18:23)?

  • He went away “grieving.” Mark added the words “he was saddened.” Luke adds, “he became very sad.” His conscience prevented him from making any objection to the demand.
  • The young man did not want Jesus either as his Savior or his Lord.
  • He was not willing to give Jesus his sins to be forgiven, or his life to be ruled.
  • Therefore when he heard Jesus statement, he went away grieving. He felt that Jesus had asked too much of him. He worshiped money more than God when put to the test.

11. Does Jesus require everyone to give away all of their monetary possessions in order to be saved (Luke 16:1-13)? Not unless the money has a grip on the person. Different people are under the power of different sins. One sin is enough to keep someone away from Christ.

  • Jesus taught all of his followers that they were to give up all they have (Luke 14:33).
  • In this verse, Jesus requires everyone who would be one of his disciples to GIVE UP the rights to his possessions, but he doesn’t require that he GIVE AWAY all of his possessions.
  • A disciple of Christ must see himself as a steward rather than an owner of his possessions. You must hold these possessions loosely and be prepared to give as God leads.
  • In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus stresses that one facet of discipleship involves the stewardship of one’s positions. This passage and others would be meaningless if Jesus required every potential follower to give away everything he does as a test.
    1. The Philanthropy is not a means of salvation.
    2. If giving our possessions away saved us then those to whom we gave our possessions would become lost, since they would no longer be poor. People are saved when they repent from sins and receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.
    3. For this rich young ruler his sin was greed, or covetousness. The fruit genuine repentance was to give away all of his possessions. Jesus gave this young man a test; he had to make a choice between Christ and his possessions. He failed the test. His money meant more than his eternal destiny.
  • Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.

12. Why is it so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:24). Notice the way the NKJV translates this: “…how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24 NKJV). The Bible already has addressed this issue:

  • The rich man’s wealth is his fortress (Proverbs 10:15).
  • A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, like a high wall in his own imagination (Proverbs 18:11).
  • Riches do not profit in the day of wrath (Proverbs 11:4).
  • He who trusts in riches will fall (Proverbs 11:28).
  • Riches are not forever (Proverbs 27:24).

13. How hard is it for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:24)? Jesus says it is difficult yet it is not impossible. It is interesting that there is a Jewish proverb that is taken from the Babylonian Talmud, that a man not even in his dreams see an elephant pass through the eye of a needle. Camel is substituted for elephant since in Babylon, the elephant was common, but in Palestine it was unknown.

What about the story of the Needle Gate? Vines Expository Dictionary (p.429) says the idea of applying “eye of a needle” to a small gate into the city, appears to be a modern one. The word used in Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25 comes from the root verb, “to sew.” Luke 18:25 uses a word meaning “dart” like a pointed object, perhaps like a surgical needle (after all, Luke was the doctor). There is no need to soften the Lord’s words by making it to mean anything more than the ordinary instrument for sewing. There is no justification to change this from the language or traditions of Palestine.

The point is that eternal life is not just difficult for a rich man, but it is impossible without God.

14. How did the disciples respond to Jesus’ words (Matthew 19:25)? The disciples’ use of the word “saved” is the same as entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24) or obtaining eternal life (Matthew 19:16). They were astonished at his words.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

Related Images:

Fear is a Barrier to Faith

Today we look into Luke 12:4-12, focusing on one verse Luke 12:5. The point is that Jesus needed to address the fears of his would-be followers, fears that would prevent them from repenting and believing. Fear of making your faith known, or going public, can be a real barrier to one’s salvation (Proverbs 29:25). Another perk of this lesson is to help believers to talk with lost friends about the fears that they have about following Jesus Christ. Once a person is a follower of Jesus, our love for him casts out fear (1 John 4:17-18). The one fear that should cast out all other fears is the fear of God (Luke 12:5, Hebrews 2:14-15, 9:27).

The Pharisee in Luke 11 acts like a friend in public (even inviting Jesus to dinner) but his hidden agenda is revealed in Luke 11:53-54. They intended to execute Jesus within a couple of months but since the crowds liked Jesus, they had to treat him in a civil manner while in public. Jesus knows about their plots yet is unafraid. They might be able to kill the body, but eternity is not in their hands. So, this situation begs the question, “Do you cower before bullies who can kill you, or cower before God who can not only kill you but throw you into hell?” Don’t be afraid of other human beings!

It appears that “do not fear” is a repeated phrase in the Bible, when people were afraid to publicly profess faith in Jesus (Luke 12:5, 7, see also John 7:13, 9:22, 19:38), and the rest of the Bible (Acts 18:9, Hebrew 13:6, 1 Peter 3:14, Revelation 2:10).

  1. Of what was Christ’s audience afraid (Luke 12:8, 11)?
    1. All they could do is threaten physical harm or make life miserable (Luke 12:11).
    2. People could be put out of the synagogue (John 9:22, 7:13).
    3. Many who came to Christ were disowned by their families, lost employment, or socially snubbed.
  2. How does Jesus address his audience (Luke 12:4)? He calls them his friends which is totally opposite to the hostility of the religious leaders. Don’t fear them, they cannot harm you past the grave.
  3. What would be forfeited if his hearers confessed Christ before men (Luke 12:4)? The worst thing would be their own lives, but even that would be a promotion, to heaven.
  4. What did Jesus command them to do (Luke 12:5, 7)? Here is the command:
    1. Fear – aorist imperative (Luke 12:5).
    2. Do not fear – present imperative (Luke 12:7).
  5. Who has the power to cast anyone into hell (Luke 12:5)? God (not Satan) is the “One” in Luke 12:5.
  6. How does the Bible describe hell? The word “gehanna” is found 12 times in the New Testament, 11 in the Synoptic Gospels, and every time it is from the mouth of Jesus himself. Gehenna is a Greek transliteration of Ben Hinnom (valley of Hinnom), a narrow ravine where Ahaz and Manasseh introduced pagan worship of the fire gods (2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:16, Jeremiah 7:31). People would take their babies and toss them into the red-hot arms of Molech, where the children would scream and cry as their flesh burned. Josiah stopped this abomination (2 Kings 23:10). This location later became a trash dump, like an incinerator for the city. Dead criminals were tossed in, dead animals, trash, it was continually burning, so with smoke rising, Jesus gives the people a visual image of what hell would be like. It is important to note that hell is NOT annihilation (See below).
    1. Matthew 13:42 – furnace, with weeping and gnashing of teeth, a loud expression of grief; wailing in hell will be continual. Who could recognize a friend’s voice in such an environment?
    2. Matthew 25:41 – a place prepared for the devil and his demons.
    3. Matthew 25:46 – eternal punishment, indicating a tormenting process that is accompanied by fear.
    4. Mark 9:48 – where worms don’t die and the fire is not quenched; Not only will fire not give off light, but does not consume the bodies of the unredeemed.
    5. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 – eternal destruction, perhaps physical ruin.
    6. 2 Peter 2:17, Jude 1:13 – black darkness, literally “blackness of darkness.” People might say that will be in hell where their friends are, but it will be so dark, they won’t be able to grope around and find them. Imagine being in a new place, where it’s hot (as hell) and dark with no light at all (like a cave in darkness).
    7. Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 14, 21:8 – the second death, “hurt” indicates the person’s body being injured.
    8. Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 14, 21:8 – a lake of fire and brimstone, a place for unbelievers after the Great White Throne judgment.
  7. How does Jesus encourage them to go public (Luke 12:6-7)? He promised them a Father’s care.
    1. Sparrows are insignificant yet God cares for them, so how much more will the Father care for them?
    2. The word “cent” means a penny. They were sold five for two pennies, so if you bought four, they would throw in one for nothing.
  8. What does it mean to confess Christ before men (Luke 12:8)? The word “confess” is used 27 times in the New Testament, meaning to affirm, declare, admit, acknowledge, or agree. This means to confess openly or state publicly.
  9. What happens to those who don’t confess Jesus before men (Luke 12:9)? A denial in heaven, I never knew you (Matthew 7:21).
  10. Can a person deny Christ yet still be a Christian (Matthew 10:32-33, 2 Timothy 2:12, 1 John 2:23)?
    1. Luke 22:54-62 – Peter’s denials.
    2. Romans 10:9-10 – the relationship between belief and confession.
    3. Titus 1:16 – relationship between belief and by our deeds denying him.
    4. 1 John 2:22 – denying Jesus, lying, antichrist.
  11. Why does Jesus warn against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10)? The audience was in danger of committing the unpardonable sin (seeing the miracles of Jesus in the flesh and attributing these works to the enemy, Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:29-30).
  12. What does Christ promise in Luke 12:11-12? Divine assistance when their faith led them into harm’s way.
    1. This is a striking contrast to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, because believers will find that the Holy Spirit actually speaks through them.
    2. The circumstances of the Spirit speaking through believers is not preaching but persecution, in which preparation of an adequate defense would be impossible (Matthew 10:19-20, Luke 21:14-15).
      1. We should not neglect this needed preparation (2 Timothy 2:15).
      2. Luke 12:11-12 address those occasions that you don’t even know they are coming, when you will be taken away and made to give an account for the hope inside of you (1 Peter 3:15).
    3. Jesus’ enemies blasphemed the Holy Spirit while the disciples would be helped by the Holy Spirit.

What About Annihilation?

Many scholars have abandoned this traditional view on hell, which can also lead to Universalism as well. John Stott has four arguments to support his position, and then I have included a response under each point.

  1. The language of eternal punishment speaks of destruction, which normally means extinction.
    1. John 3:16 – perish means to destroy utterly, this is not extinction but ruin and loss, not of being but well-being.
    2. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 – destruction means utter and hopeless ruin, the loss of all that gives worth to existence. So Paul refers to physical separation (God and the lost) more than physical annihilation.
    3. Revelation 2:11 – this hurt will be experienced throughout eternity, the idea of a person’s body being injured.
  2. The imagery of fire is for destruction, not torment (fire burns things up).
    1. Revelation 20:10 – this is sort of point blank in response to points one and two, tormented day and night forever.
    2. Revelation 14:9-11 – torment goes on forever, no rest day and night.
  3. The notion of justice precludes eternal punishment. How can sins committed in time be punished for eternity? Where is the justice? The penalty inflicted ought to be according to the evil done.
    1. The amount of time it takes to commit the crime does not factor into the punishment. If I kill a store owner in two minutes, the judge won’t take that into consideration.
    2. It’s not about the time it takes to commit a crime but the nature of the crime. It’s not about how long we sin, but what sin is.
    3. The nature of sin is an act of rebellion against an infinite and holy God, which brings an eternal penalty. Threatening to kill me is not as serious as a threat to kill the President of the USA.
    4. A crime against the Creator brings a penalty worthy of the sin committed. Humans can never pay the penalty we deserve. We often forget the holiness of God and the true nature of our sin.
  4. The eternal existence of hell would not bring everything fully into a right relationship with God.
    1. Revelation 19:1-6 – God’s judgments are true and righteous, he has avenged the blood of the saints, the smoke rises forever…
    2. Revelation 18:20 – rejoice over the pronounced judgment. God’s righteousness has been revealed in the destruction of his enemies.
    3. God’s wrath is an occasion for God’s glory…
      1. Revelation 19:1 – the outpouring of God’s wrath against sin highlights the mercy shown in saving grace.
      2. Revelation 19:2a – the outpouring of God’s wrath displays his righteousness.
      3. Revelation 19:2b – the outpouring of God’s wrath confirms his love for the saints (or they suffered in vain).
      4. Revelation 19:5 – the outpouring of God’s wrath magnifies the holy fear that is due him.
      5. Revelation 19:6 – the outpouring of God’s wrath proves that the sovereign Lord is Ruler over everything, the Lord reigns. All his enemies will be brought under his authority.

Take Away:

  1. How do you feel about everything done in secret being revealed (Luke 12:2-3)?
  2. Jesus teaches us to fear yet be fearless (Luke 12:4-5).
  3. How can we be assured that we have not committed the unpardonable sin (Luke 12:10)?
  4. What is Jesus teaching about the disciple’s security in the face of opposition (Luke 12:11)?
  5. When have you taken a stand (a risk) for Jesus in a public way? What did you learn?
  6. How can you remind yourself of your importance to God each day this week?
  7. How can we pray for those who suffer due to their relationship with Jesus?
  8. What is a step you can take to better prepare yourself for coming persecution?

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]



Related Images:

Repent and Believe

Today we get to the second command in the Win – Infant – Membership level; Repent and Believe the Gospel (Mark 1:14-15). Here is the overview of the six commands at this level:

  1. Come and See – Invitation – John 1:35-51
  2. Repent and Believe – Salvation – Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:14-15
  3. Fear, a Barrier to Faith – Luke 12:4-12
  4. Greed, a Barrier to Faith – Luke 12:13-21
  5. Baptism – Matthew 28:19-20
  6. Evangelism – John 4:3-42

Why did Jesus withdraw to Galilee? (Mark 1:14)

  1. Political pressure of the Pharisees (John 4:1).
  2. John the Baptist into prison by Herod (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14, Luke 3:19-20).
  3. The influence of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14).

On the way, Jesus ministers to non-religious people (John 4:5-42, John 4:46-54).

This section and command is about the essence of the Good News, if we receive the gospel in faith and repent of our sin. It also involves humility since I am admitting that I need forgiveness, am a sinner, and I cannot trust in in myself for my salvation. Notice that Jesus’ teaching is identical to the message of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2, 8, 11, Mark 1:4, 1:15, Luke 3:3, 8, Acts 13:24, 19:4).

Repentance is a central theme in the gospel:

  1. Jesus preached the necessity of repentance, (Matthew 4:17, 9:13, 11:20-21, 12:41, Mark 1:15, 2:17, Luke 5:31-32, 11:32, 13:3-5, 15:7, 10, 16:30, 24:47).
  2. Disciples preached the message of repentance (Mark 6:12).
  3. Repentance is illustrated in the book of Acts:
    1. Peter, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 8:22, 11:18.
    2. Paul, Acts 17:30, 20:21, 26:20.
  4. Repentance is amplified in the epistles:
    1. By Paul writes about repentance in Romans 2:4, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, 2 Timothy 2:25.
    2. By the writer of Hebrews 6:1, 6, 12:17.
    3. By Peter, 2 Peter 3:9.
    4. By John, Revelation 9:20-21, 16:9, 11.

What was the message of Jesus? (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Galatians 1:6-9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

  1. Repent and believe IN the gospel
  2. The kingdom of heaven (or kingdom of God) is at hand.
  3. Hope and mercy, not accusation and condemnation (John 3:16-17).

What is the gospel?

  1. Romans chapters 1-6 is a clear presentation and reality of the gospel.
  2. Galatians 1:6-9, 3:8, is a clarification of the gospel, which people had distorted.
  3. A concise synopsis of the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, an early creed, according to the Scriptures…
    1. The death of Jesus
    2. The resurrection of Jesus

What is the kingdom of God?
The coming of the kingdom of God is the initial, central, and final declaration of Christ.

  1. It began with repent and believe, Mark 1:14-15.
  2. It is expanded in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.
  3. It would set a dawning course of this age, Matthew 24:14.

Seven aspects unfolded in God’s revelation:

  1. God as Creator is proprietor and ruler of all (Psalm 10:16, 24:1-2, 9-10).
  2. God is Israel’s king, even if they wanted an earthly king (Judges 8:22-23, 1 Samuel 8:4-9).
  3. While allowing a line of human kings, God establishes a theocracy through his prophets (1 Samuel 13:14, 2 Samuel 7:15-16, Isaiah 11:1-9, Daniel 7:13-14)
  4. Jesus comes from the Davidic line (Matthew 1:1, Luke 1:23-33) and offers the kingdom promised through the prophets, which the people of God rejected (Luke 19:11).
  5. Jewish rejection of the Good News opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles, the new aspect took the form of the mystery of the church, in which, Christ reigns (John 3:3-5, Colossians 1:13).
  6. The kingdom is temporarily hidden in the hearts of men, but Jesus will one day appear, ushering in a new kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
  7. God’s reign is forever, but the earthly kingdom will one day end and give way to the Messiah’s eternal kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:24-26, 28, 2 Timothy 4:18, Revelation 22:3, 5).

What does “is at hand” mean?

  1. Supernatural powers: these powers came upon those who heard the proclamation and witnessed the signs (Matthew 12:28, Luke 11:20).
  2. Personal presence of the king: he was actually in their midst (Luke 17:21). Luke 17:21 KJV says “within” but in no sense would the kingdom be within the Pharisees, in context, they had just charged Jesus with blasphemy! (Matthew 12:24-28).
  3. An actual kingdom: an actual establishment of a government on earth, the tense is “has drawn near.” Jesus established and built his church (Matthew 16:18), which he governs the citizens of his kingdom. A long-awaited kingdom of OT prophecy was now seen in the face of Jesus, and others witnessed the kingdom in the miracles Jesus performed.

What is saving faith?

  1. An intellectual assent, or belief? (James 2:19). If this were true, even the demons would be saved.
  2. Is it trusting God in the here and now for temporal relief? (John 2:23-25)
  3. Transferring trust OFF of ourselves and ONTO Jesus alone for eternal relief from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7-10, Romans 5:8-9)
  4. GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, Jesus paid the debt I could not pay.
    1. Grace alone will save us (Titus 2:11, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
    2. Our works contribute nothing to our salvation (Romans 3:23-24, 4:2-5, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, 2 Timothy 2:9)

What does repentance mean?

  1. Metanioa means change of mind.
    1. About sin (Revelation 9:20-21)
    2. About God (Acts 2:38, 20:21)
    3. About Dead works (Hebrews 6:1)
  2. More than a change of mind, but a change of behavior.
  3. Repentance is changing FROM something TO something; about-face, a 180 degree turn.

Is repentance necessary for salvation?

  1. Repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:18)
  2. For all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). To change one’s mind regarding Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38).
  3. Repentance does not save (since salvation is by grace through faith, Ephesians 2:8-9) but how can you be saved without repentance of mind and behavior?

What is the result of true repentance?

  1. Bearing fruit (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8-14), the question, “what shall we do?” are examples.
  2. Turn to God, and perform deeds appropriate to repentance (Acts 26:19-20).
  3. Jesus commissioned his followers to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47).

What four things lead to repentance?

  1. God’s Word (Luke 16:29-31)
  2. God’s goodness or kindness (Romans 2:4)
  3. Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)
  4. God’s intervention (2 Timothy 2:25)

What is godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow?

  1. The example in the Corinthians church (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). A person had been involved with open and grievous sin, church discipline had worked, and the offender had repented.
  2. Judas had worldly sorrow (Matthew 27:3-5, Acts 1:18-20), remorse that led to suicide.
  3. Peter had godly sorrow (Matthew 26:75).

What are the characteristics of godly sorrow? (2 Corinthians 7:11)

  1. “What earnestness” – diligence to try to change things in contrast to previous indifference.
  2. “What vindication of yourselves” – eagerness to clear oneself.
  3. “What indignation” – anger that they have troubled others with their sin.
  4. “What fear” – fear over God’s displeasure.
  5. “What longing” – yearning to see the matter rectified and relationships restored.
  6. “What zeal” – enthusiasm to do what is right.
  7. “What avenging of wrong” – a readiness to turn against oneself.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

Related Images:

What the Disciples Witnessed

Since the first disciples of Jesus watched Jesus so closely, believing him to be a person worth investigating, what did they actually observe?

What Did the Disciples Witness?

  1. Jesus focused evangelistic efforts on friends, John 1:40-41, 43-45.
  2. Jesus cast a vision of what people could be, John 1:42.
  3. Jesus refused to allow people to be exploited in church, John 2:14-17.
  4. Jesus allowed people to investigate his claims in the shadows, John 3:2.
  5. Jesus used a tailor-made approach to witnessing, John 3:1-21, 4:7-26.
  6. Jesus gave them an introductory exposure to the nature of his ministry, John 3:35-36.
  7. Baptism of new converts, John 4:1-2.
  8. Jesus demonstrated that prejudice does not stand in the way of ministry, John 4:4, 9, 27.
  9. Jesus challenged them to value the spiritual (eternal) over the physical (temporal), John 4:8, 31-34.
  10. Jesus challenged them to see the harvest, John 4:35.
  11. Jesus challenged them to consider the urgency of evangelism, John 4:35.
  12. Jesus introduced team evangelism, John 4:36-38.
  13. Jesus gave them time to embrace the vision, a great harvest of souls, John 4:43.

The Six Actual Commands at This Level

  1. COME and SEE (present imperative) John 1:39
  2. REPENT and BELIEVE, Mark 1:15
  3. DO NOT FEAR, Luke 12:5, 7
  4. BEWARE, BE ON YOUR GUARD, Luke 12:15
  5. BAPTIZING (present participle), Matthew 28:19
  6. LIFT UP and LOOK ON (aorist imperative), John 4:35

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

Related Images:

Assurance of Salvation

Do you ever doubt you really have a relationship with Jesus?

God has a Purpose:

  • Fact – God wants us to know for sure that we have eternal life. The Bible says, “He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” 1 John 5:12-13.
  • Fact – God wants us to experience the joy that’s bound in a relationship with Jesus Christ, John 15:11.

Our Need: Doubting is not uncommon to Christians. Satan wants us to doubt and even plants doubts in our minds, Genesis 3:1. Even the biblical writers experienced doubts and expressed the need for renewal, Psalm 51:12. There are Four major factors which caused believers to doubt.

  • Fact – You may not have had a good explanation of what happens when you put your trust in Jesus Christ.
  • Fact – You may not have pursued God through prayer, Bible study, and worship.
  • Fact – You may have allowed sin and disobedience to cloud your relationship with Jesus.
  • Fact – You may be going through some problems at home, school, physically, or emotionally which are causing you to doubt your relationship with Jesus Christ.

God’s Provision:

  • Fact – God has promised to complete his work of salvation in us, Philippians 1:6.
  • Fact – Jesus promises assurance of eternal life. “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life, John 5:24.
  • Fact – Jesus said no one could take the Christian out of his hand, John 10:28.
  • Fact – The Holy Spirit tells us we are children of God, Romans 8:16.

Our Response: We receive God’s insurance by faith and express it through obedience, 1 John 2:3-5. Christians are not to trust their feelings only. We are to walk by faith, trusting in God, not by what we feel or want to see happen, 2 Corinthians 5:7. Four actions can bring us to assurance.

  • Act – Confess all known sin in your life, 1 John 1:9.
  • Act – Commit yourself to the lordship of Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.
  • Act – Claim God’s promise of salvation by faith alone. It is all God, 2 Timothy 1:12.
  • Act – Obey God’s commands in the Bible, John 14:21, John 15:10.

My Commitment: Are you ready to take the four faith actions that will help you make sure about your relationship with Jesus Christ? If so you may want to pray the following prayer or a similar prayer right now.

God, I place my complete faith in you, I confess to you any known sin, I commit myself to the lordship of Jesus, I claim your promise of assurance, and I will live in obedience to your commands. Thank you for the assurance of my relationship with you. Amen.

Related Images:

Our Great Commission

I’ve been thinking about what Christ has commanded us to do…

Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Process: in order to reach the world, we must make disciples, “as you are going, make disciples of all nations.” It is a part of everyday life, not some activity that we can check off a list, like, “I went out today and made disciples.”

The Progression: as we are making disciples, we will get involved in the activities of baptizing and teaching. We win people to Christ and then encourage them to take that first step of obedience (baptism). But even here, our job is not complete.

Jesus did NOT say that we are to teach them: he said to teach them to OBEY. Teaching has the idea of transferring information and knowledge. When we teach them to obey, we are investing our lives into people and the process of their transformation. Teaching them to obey is relational, and as a part of the Christian community, it is our obligation to not only teach the doctrines of the faith, but to help people live them out in obedience.

Jesus did NOT say that we are to teach them all I have commanded: but to teach them all I have commanded YOU. It is true that we cannot pass on to others that which we do not possess ourselves. We can study what God has done in the lives of other believers, but the Great Commission is to teach others that which God is commanding US, and teaching US. This again points to the relational nature of discipleship. As God speaks to us, and teaches us, we are then able to take those experiences and help others along this spiritual journey. We read the Bible and pray, and then we are able to talk about God’s dealings with US. It takes the teaching away from the theoretical and doctrinal to the personal and practical. When we share what God is doing in our OWN lives, we are able to better teach others the purposes and ways of God. Let’s not just teach what God has commanded, but teach what he has commanded US.

The Priority: what happens when we don’t see people following through with their commitment to God? I read this passage today and thought it might fit in this scenario. Let’s look at this unclean spirit going out of a man to represent when a lost person gets saved.

Matthew 12:43-45, “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”

This is not an illustration or discussion on whether a saved person can be possessed by a demon, so simply follow the illustration…

The old life has passed away, new life has come, but this person who said YES to Jesus does not fill his HOUSE with the knowledge of God, or the love of God, or the Word of God, or get involved with basic spiritual disciplines or the body of Christ, which is the church. We see them drift away and wonder what happened. Where is the excitement of those first days (Luke 15:24), why have they left their first love (Revelation 2:4) or allowed the thorns to choke the life out of them (Matthew 13:7, 22)?

I wonder if they only put their house in order, but never filled it with the things of God, which bring life and will sustain us through this earthly life.

How will we help teach all that God has commanded us, to others, so that we are making disciples who follow Jesus in obedience? When God speaks and shows us how, may we be listening and ready to respond in faith and action.

[print_link] [email_link]

Related Images:

The Body of Christ

God has chosen to speak also through his people, the gathered body of Christ. A problem of the evangelical church is that we have emphasized the priesthood of the believer so much that we have lost our corporate identity as the church. Christians think that can stand alone before God and are not accountable to the church (other believers). Remember that Jesus died for the church (Matthew 16:18). Check out how the church is described in the New Testament:

  1. Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  2. Jesus is the head (Ephesians 4:15)
  3. Every believer is placed in the body as the Spirit chooses (1 Corinthians 12:18)
  4. The Spirit manifests, or works through each person in the body as he chooses for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)
  5. The body is fitted together by the Father.
  6. The members are enabled and equipped to function where the Father has placed them in the body (Ephesians 4:13)

God has made us mutually interdependent. Paul was constantly requesting the believers to become vitally involved with his life and ministry. The effectiveness of Paul’s ministry rested on THEM (Colossians 4:3, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Ephesians 6:19).

The point is that apart from the body of Christ, you cannot fully know God’s will for your relationship to the body. God can and does speak through the church. There are many needs in the church, and the need itself does not constitute a call to meet that need, but the need however is NOT to be ignored.

There are no lone ranger Christians, we are connected to one another in bond of love, salvation and mission. The individual believer is not the church; the church is the body of Christ gathered. Every member is to listen to what the other members are saying, because others will help me to understand God’s will.

Related Images: