Sometimes we need simple reminders, at least I do. Tom Schreiner offers a helpful “perspective corrective” over at Desiring God.
Sometimes we need simple reminders, at least I do. Tom Schreiner offers a helpful “perspective corrective” over at Desiring God.
In John 9:13-34 we see an amazing demonstation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s manifest deity as He literally and spiritually fashioned “new eyes” for a congenitally blind man. This was a miracle par excellence that was unheard of in all Israel and which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ was Lord and Messiah, the very light of the world. It’s also worth noting that Israel was arguably the most religious people group living in the world at that time just as the argument could be made that ultra-Orthodox Jews are the most religious people group living in the world today – outwardly religious that is.
The Jews of Christ’s day benefitted from having primary access to the very oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2), and thus they ought to have recognized Jesus as Messiah, yet the scripture record is clear and indisputable in its teaching of what the Jews thought of Christ.
They hated Him.
They feared Him.
They rejected Him.
They murdered Him.
As Christians we can understand that all these things constituted the unfolding of God’s own foreordained prophetic plan of the ages, and we rejoice in the fact that Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected on the third day as a propitiation for the sins of all those who would believe on Him by grace through faith alone, being thereby miraculously translated from spiritual death unto spiritual life to the praise of God’s magnificent glory forevermore! His resurrection is a sure and trustworthy promise of a future resurrection for those who are found in Him. His eternal life is the assurance of our future eternal life as we abide in Him. His glorification is our glorification as members of His mystical Body – the bride of Christ, the church invisible which is comprised of living stones that Jesus Christ has redeemed through His atoning work, bringing salvation to every kingdom, tribe, tongue and nation under heaven.
Yet why was He rejected by His own? Why did the vast majority of Jewry conspire and consent to murder their King? The short and ugly answer is UNBELIEF. From his study bible John MacArthur well said:
The story of the healing of the blind man in John 9:13-34 reveals some key characteristics of willful unbelief: 1.) unbelief sets false standards; 2.) unbelief always wants more evidence but never has enough; 3.) unbelief does biased research on a purely subjective basis; 4.) unbelief rejects the facts; and 5.) unbelief is self-centered.
Willful and fixed unbelief is the hallmark of the unregenerate heart. The unredeemed cannot and will not assent to the hard truths and hard commands of Jesus Christ. Through their a priori rejection of the truth claims of the Holy Bible and their stubborn hard heartedness unrepentant sinners will gladly commit epistemic suicide in order to avoid a confrontation with the One True and Living God of the Holy Bible, the infinite Creator and Judge of the universe. The unregenerate will allow for any number of explanations from the mundane to the wildly absurd, just so long as the explanation isn’t the God of Christian theism. The unregenerate will entertain ideas that man was placed on earth by a terraforming alien race, but they won’t accept the truth that they are morally accountable to a Holy and Righteous God. The unregenerate will allow for any number of deaf and dumb idols to be worshipped and adored, but they can’t tolerate the fact that they are in bondage to their own depravity and wickedness and that they abide under the wrath of God Almighty and are utterly hopeless apart from the finished work of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, upon a rugged and sinister Roman cross nearly 2,000 years ago.
The heathen rage and howl at these unspeakably glorious truths, but I fall down on my face in awe and praise before the King of Glory. What love is this? What God is this? What hope is this? It is the hope born in a heart that was once in unbelief. It is evidence that Jesus Christ rules and reigns from heaven, doing as He pleases that He would condescend to save a wretched lump of sin like me. My limited human capacity for words to describe what He has done in my heart fail me. I can’t sum it up and I can’t spell it out. I’m at a loss except to say that He is everything to me. He is my all in all. There is no desire He can’t fill, there is no grief He can’t comfort, there is no hope He can’t exceed, there is no want He can’t meet, there is nothing He can’t do and without Him I can do nothing.
Friend, do you know the true Jesus Christ as He has revealed Himself uniquely within the Holy Bible? Does your guilty conscience constantly wag an accusing finger at you crying out “GUILTY! GUILTY!! GUILTY!!!” wherever you may go or attempt to flee? If so, then hear the words of the Savior, the only One who can cure your fatal disease known as sin:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum up all in one word – what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and loves also the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible bodies, looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake.” – Mathetes – Epistle To Diognetus, 5-6
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35
“All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.” – Numbers 6:4
Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink vinegar of wine or strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil. Surely this is a lesson to the Lord’s separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude. Strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and gap speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins. Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding, temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence, but must feel the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed. Better to be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense.
“When sin or unbelief or poor teaching make it hard to see Jesus, believers can grow discouraged, become weak in faith, and may begin to despair.”
Here’s an interesting and thought proking article from Reformation21.
Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask leave before he can lay a finger upon Job. Nay, more, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for the text says, “I will sift the house of Israel”. Satan, like a drudge, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive. Precious, but much sifted corn of the Lord’s floor, be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directeth both flail and sieve to His own glory, and to thine eternal profit.
The Lord Jesus will surely use the fan which is in His hand, and will divide the precious from the vile. All are not Israel that are of Israel; the heap on the barn floor is not clean provender, and hence the winnowing process must be performed. In the sieve true weight alone has power. Husks and chaff being devoid of substance must fly before the wind, and only solid corn will remain.
Observe the complete safety of the Lord’s wheat; even the least grain has a promise of preservation. God Himself sifts, and therefore it is stern and terrible work; He sifts them in all places, “among the nations”; He sifts them in the most effectual manner, “like corn is sifted in a sieve”; and yet for all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shrivelled grain, is permitted to fall to the ground. Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord, a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweller one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of His redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord’s, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.
– Charles Spurgeon
1834 – 1892