Good morning! It’s good to see you. If you have your Bibles, go ahead and grab those. We’ll be back in John, chapter 1. We were in John, chapter 1, last weekend. We’ll be in John, chapter 1, this weekend. We’ll be in John, chapter 1, next weekend. Then, we’ll be in John, chapter 1, the weekend after that. After that, I’m not quite sure, but that will more than likely knock out chapter 1.
If you’re thinking, “Oh, my gosh! There are 26 chapters,” it will be fine. It will be fine. There are certain parts we’ll move faster than just John 1. You have in the first 18 verses of John’s gospel basically a prologue which is telling all we’re about to read in a more distilled way, so I want to remind you, if you weren’t here last week, John is not holding his cards close to his chest, where in the other Synoptic Gospels you maybe get a genealogy or you get the story of Elizabeth finding out she was pregnant.
It’s not until later in the book that you find out Jesus is the Son of God, he is the Christ, he is the Light of the World. John is too eager for you to know who Jesus is, so his first sentence out of the gate was, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Right out of the gate, John is saying, “The Son of God, the Promised One, the Messiah? Yeah, the one who was eternal and co-eternal with the Father, is Jesus, so Jesus has not only always been or co-eternal with the Father…”
At least the Son of God is. You’re getting some Trinitarian stuff here where the Son of God is eternal. He has always been, but the person of Jesus is the Son of God putting on flesh and dwelling among us. Then, Jesus in the flesh, resurrected, reigns and rules forever alongside God the Father. I should have charted that so you could see it more clearly, but that’s what the training program is for. You should hop in that. It will bless you.
Jesus, as the Creator of all things… We begin to kind of understand our existential angst because we have been created by Jesus for Jesus. That makes sense as to why we can’t seem to get fully satisfied long with anything else in creation, because we have not been made by our work for our work. We have not been created by our spouse for our spouse, by our friends for our friends, by our money for our money, or by our position for our position. We have been created by Jesus for Jesus, and our souls will never find rest until they find rest in him.
Do you see what I’m saying? John comes out strong! He’s not like, “Here’s the genealogy of…” That’s awesome in and of itself, but John is not wasting any time. He is a passionate, aggressive man, and he’s saying, “In the coming of the Word, in the coming of Jesus Christ, in the incarnation of the Son of God, a light has shown in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.”
Talk about what good news that is. If we think about the darkness arrayed toward Jesus Christ on his cross… You had the power of sin and death. I would say that’s formidable. You had Satan and demonic principalities and powers. You had the power of secular government (the Roman Empire). You had the power of the religious establishment with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. You even had the power of foolish, failing disciples, but when Christ rose from the grave, a light shone in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
If you were here last week, we actually wrote in our Bibles and we’ll do it again today. That’s not sacrilegious. You’re okay. You’re not adding to the text. You don’t have to quote that passage in Revelation and worry about being destroyed. It’s that word shine that is the first place in the gospel of John that we get our first present-tense, ongoing action word (shines).
We circled the S because it’s not like at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Well, I’ve shone, and now you and I are in a lot of trouble.” It’s that it did shine, and it continues to shine all the way up to today, so if the darkness in your life is related to sin and death, then a light is shone in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
If the darkness in your life today is tied to Satan and demonic principalities and curses, then a light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. If the darkness in your life is due to some sort of secular scheme against you, then a light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. If it’s religious, a light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
Look at me. If it’s your personal failures as disciples… Does anybody this week go, “Yep, I’ve kind of come face to face with some of that this week”? A light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. We get to dive into why that is and how that is for this whole study, but John doesn’t back off this intensity. He actually ratchets it up from here, so let’s look at this together. John, chapter 1. We’re going to start in verse 6 and end in verse 13 for today.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
The first part of this passage has everything to do with the messenger or the witness, the one that bears witness. Look back at those first couple of verses (6 through 8). “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”
Now, maybe you have a church background; maybe you don’t. The John being mentioned here is not the John who is writing the gospel of John. If you’re like, “Wait! There are two of them?” Yes! There are two of them. This is a reference, as we’ll find out in the weeks to come, to John the baptizer. Maybe you’ve heard his name as John the Baptist. I just don’t want there to be any confusion. John the Baptist was not the first Southern Baptist. He was John the baptizer.
John the baptizer is the frontrunner of Jesus, the one who comes heralding the good news in the wilderness that one is coming. You have this John the baptizer who is pointing toward Jesus testifying with his mouth and being a witness that the Son of God is coming into the world. Then, he bears witness with his life that Jesus is the Son of God, the Light of the World, and that he is greater than John.
One of the tricky things about those who come, especially in 2018 world, and one of the dangerous parts about being a messenger to the light is oftentimes people mistake the messenger of the light as the light. One of the ways John bears witness to the light is not just by living his life in such a way that people look at him and go, “Yeah, that guy is not living for himself; he’s living for something else.”
John is a weird guy, as we’re going to come to see, out in the wilderness wearing camel skin, and not in a fashionable way. If you’re like, “That’s actually in right now,” not in that way. He’s eating locust and honey. He’s living the life of someone in deep poverty, and he’s saying, “One is coming greater than I.”
To the people of the day, that was unheard of. There was a little revival that broke out with John the Baptist’s ministry. John the baptizer was getting it. Crowds were gathering. Even very powerful, well-known, wealthy people were showing up to see this crazy person out in the wilderness baptizing people in the Jordan River.
We’re going to find out soon he says, “I’m not even worthy to untie the sandals of the one who is coming.” When his own followers begin to say, “I think he’s baptizing more people than us,” he says, “We’ve already covered this. I must decrease; he must increase.” John the baptizer is not the light, but he does bear witness to the light with his life. He is a testifier of the light with his mouth, and we see him doing this to what end? So that we might believe through him.
There are a couple of things here. First, if I were you, let’s just start circling the word believe every time it shows up in John because it is the key word in the gospel of John. Believe. Just a simple word. Believe. I’m going to tell you why it needs to stay simple and not get complex. This is nearly the same language we read last week in John 21, where John the apostle is writing. “Here is why this gospel has been written, so you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that life and light is found in him.”
You have this pre-Jesus John saying, “Jesus is coming! He’s the Son of God. He’s the Christ. Life is found there. Light is found there.” Then, you have a post-ascension John in John the apostle saying, “Jesus is the Light. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Son of God. He’s the Savior of the world,” and both of them bear witness that Jesus is the Light.
John, by his arrest and beheading, and John the apostle… Church history tells us they boiled him alive and he didn’t die. That wigged them out, so they exiled him to Patmos where he is visited by an Angel of the Lord, Jesus himself, and that’s where we get our book of Revelation. Both bear witness about the life. They testify about the life, one before and one after, that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Savior of the world. Jesus is the Son of God. In him is life, and outside of him there is only darkness. You have those two Johns, and their message is the same. Believe in Jesus.
What’s interesting to note also here about this verb believe is that never, when it’s used in the gospel of John, is there ever an adjective or an adverb put in front of it. It’s always just believe. It’s not radically believe. It’s not with your whole heart believe. There are all sorts of adverbs and adjectives you could put here to intensify the meaning (deeply believe, intensely believe, or sincerely believe). Yet, never is there ever an adverb or an adjective put before the word believe. Why?
Because to believe is to receive something, and the second you put an adjective or an adverb in front of it, it seems like we can control and it and do it ourselves. The second after… Radically believe. Then, it feels like there are some things in my hands, but if I just believe, then I have to receive that from the Lord (the gift of belief). If I have to intensely believe, then I have to do something. Yet, John is not going to have that. It’s a currency God will not accept.
Let me show you. This so challenges us. Here’s my experience as a Christian and as a pastor walking with Christians as we try to stumble our way to glory. Most of us just want to be told what to do. “What do I do? Just tell me what to do! What do I do?” This is not new to us. This is what it means to be human.
The Bible tells us Jesus does this miracle where he feeds 5,000 people with a kid’s lunch. Do you remember this story from the felt board Sunday school days? There are 5,000 people. They’re hot. They’ve been listening to Jesus teach all day. Then, the disciples come and say, “People are hungry. We have to send them away.” Jesus was like, “No, we don’t. Feed them.”
“We have some fish sticks and some rolls.” He was like, “That’ll do!” By the way, it doesn’t read exactly like this in the text. Jesus blesses it, and they begin to tear it and feed the crowd. They feed all 5,000, and 12 baskets full were found after they fed everybody until they were full. Then, this crowd starts to follow Jesus around. They’re like, “This is our guy! We want to follow this guy.”
Jesus has this to say to them in John 6:26-29. “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.'” Now, that’s a whole sermon series in and of itself. Jesus says, “The reason you’re following me is not because you love me; you’re following me because I filled your stomachs.” It’s talking about coming to Jesus not to want Jesus but to want Jesus to do something for you.
It’s using Jesus not loving Jesus. It’s, “I want you to fix my marriage. I want this promotion. I want my kids to behave. I want my rights. I’m coming to you, Jesus, because I want you to do these things for me.” Jesus calls them out. How uncomfortable is this? He just stops. Can you imagine him saying, “Here’s why you’re here”? He turns to the crowd. “You’re here because I could fill your belly. You do not love me. Your intent is not to follow me. You want your bellies full.”
Look at their question. I love their question. It’s so us. Look at verse 27. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Look at verse 28. “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?'”
Here’s what happens. When we get convicted, when we get busted, when we have a faux religiosity we’re expressing and the Spirit of God confronts us in that, that you’re using Jesus and you’re not truly loving him but you just want him to give to you, so you think Jesus is a genie and not your Lord and Savior… When you get busted like that by the Holy Spirit, our first call is, “Okay! You got me! Tell me what to do then. Just tell me what to do.”
Look at what Jesus says in verse 29. “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'” That answer should radically change how we think about God’s interaction with us as humans. “What are the works of God? Tell us what to do.” Jesus’ response is, “This is the work of God: believe.” Not radically believe. Not intensely believe. Believe.
Now, this isn’t cheap grace. This is not easy believism. If in your mind you’re thinking, “Thank God! I can just believe and do whatever I want,” you’re not hearing me. This idea of belief…just simply believe…is what the reformers were talking about in Sola fide when they talk about believing by faith alone. That’s it. We don’t add anything to faith. We just believe.
Watch this. What happens when we simply believe, the Bible says the Spirit of God indwells us, and we become transformed, and we begin to want to do what Jesus wants us to do, and we begin to hate our sin. When that happens, now we have conversion so that morality is an extension of inward transformation not outward working of morality leading to a love for Jesus. This is significant here because the argument is what you need to get near the light is to believe. Not radically believe but just believe. Believers, then, become children of God.
Look at verse 12. He’s just going to hammer this idea home. Verse 12: “But to all who did receive him…” Even this language can be a little confusing. If you grew up in a church that said, “Receive Christ as your Savior. Come down here and receive Jesus.” Did anybody grow up with that language? There’s nothing wrong with that language as long as we keep reading the text, because to receive means you can come in and grab him, but belief is a gift. Look how you receive.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” Listen to this. It’s huge! “…who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” You and I become children of God via belief. For all who did receive him and who believed in his name he gave the right to become children of God, but how? Well, he actually tells us how it doesn’t happen before he tells us how it happens.
- You and do not become believers because of our bloodline. You are not born a Christian. No one has been a Christian their whole life. Are you with me? Your parents’ faith is your parents’ faith. It’s not yours. Now, what your parents can do and probably did do, hopefully, and by the grace of God you can rejoice in is put little kindling around your heart as a little kid that the Holy Spirit ignited into belief that has led to who you are in Christ in this day, but you are not a Christian because your parents were Christians. Your parents’ faith is your parents’ faith. You have not been born by human blood. That’s not how you become believers. Then, he doubles down on this.
- Not only were you not born of human blood, but you have not been born of the will of the flesh or the will of man. Our white-knuckled, “I’m going to do better, and I’m going to be a good person, and I’m going to be moral,” cannot save us. That’s going to be huge here in a second. Your best efforts to clean yourself up morally are not acceptable to God when we think about salvation.
God doesn’t look at you and go, “You used to smoke weed and now you don’t. You used to look at porn and now you don’t. You used to be a drunkard and now you’re not. You use to do this and now you don’t. Yeah. I’m looking around and you’re so much better than your neighbors. Come on in!” That’s not the way this works.
He says, “If you believe, you become children of God.” That’s through no act of your own, but it’s of God that belief is a gift from God. This is what John is arguing. Now, let me tell you why. The reason there is this witness that bears witness about the light is because there is unrecognized revelation and there is unwanted revelation all around us.
Let’s talk about unrecognized revelation. This is verse 10. “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” This is a great quote from Brooke Foss Westcott. He says, “No man is wholly destitute of the illumination of ‘the Light.’ In nature, and life, and conscience, it makes itself felt in various degrees to all.”
Westcott’s argument is, “No one anywhere on earth can say they haven’t had some revelation of the light of the Word who in the beginning was there.” He says, “This is true because they have creation, this is true because they’ve been made in the image of God, and this is true because they have a conscience.”
Let me show you some texts. Westcott is great, but he’s not the Bible. This is Psalm 19:1-2. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” There is something in the heart of humankind being created by Jesus where we look at the beauty of creation and our hearts long for something. It aches for something.
C.S. Lewis wrote extensively about this ache in the human soul around the creative order. When there is a spectacular sunset or a spectacular sunrise or we stand in front of the Grand Canyon or we stand in front of a mountain range or we’re in front of an ocean…a real ocean and not a gulf… When we get in those spaces we feel small. We’re aware of how small we are, and it feels good to feel small.
That’s what’s happening. The heavens are declaring the glory of God so that wherever you are in the creative order, when you see beauty you’re learning something about the Creator. Who was the Creator? The Word. Who is the Word? The Son of God. Who is the Son of God? Jesus. Wherever you are, when you feel that, “Gosh! That’s beautiful,” that’s the heavens declaring the glory of God.
That’s why people all over the world flock to these natural wonders, so that their heart can ache and they can feel small. Nobody stands in front of the Grand Canyon and goes, “I have a PhD in rhetoric from Auburn.” Right? For all of your accomplishments, how tiny are they standing in front of that?
Paul says something similar in Romans 1:20. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Do you hear? Nobody has an excuse. Why? Because you can see it. You can see it all around you. We just blow past it or don’t consider it or justify it in some way so that we don’t believe. This is unrecognized revelation, God communicating to us and us missing it.
One of the reasons we’re going to continue to send a lot of money to the ends of the earth and send teams and people to the unreached of the earth is because they have unrecognized revelation. They see it. They feel it. They just don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know how to put it all together.
They need somebody to stand in the gap and say, “That angst you’re feeling is this. When you look at that and your heart aches, when you feel like there’s something deeper, there is. Let me introduce you to him. His name is Jesus. Let me help you fill in the gap here.” So we go, and we go to the ends of the earth because Christ died on the cross not for those who might believe but for those who will.
God knows it’s scary not to know the future, which is why he has given us his promises. We go to the ends of the earth in full confidence that there are men and women from every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth who Jesus has purchased with his blood born not of human blood and not of the will of flesh and not of the will of man but by the blood of Jesus. This is why we need witnesses who bear witness. Because he has given many the right to become sons of God.
You have unrecognized revelation, but you also have unwanted revelation. I’m going to circle back around to earlier in the sermon. Let’s look at verse 11. “He [Jesus] came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Here you have Jesus putting on flesh and coming among us. Then, it’s an unwanted revelation. Before, it was unrecognized. “What is this?” Then, Christ comes, and it is unwanted. When you see and know and understand what the gospel is…
Some of you today as we’re talking are like, “Okay! Now I understand! I didn’t realize that.” Now, many of you go, “I get that. Just no thank you.” For Jesus to be revealed as the Son of God, the Christ, the life and Light of the World, and to be rejected, is almost always due to one of two factors. Here’s the first one, an idea that we don’t need Jesus.
“We’re doing all right. We don’t need Jesus. That’s complicated. I don’t even know what all of that means, so I don’t need Jesus.” The reason we can think that is because (God help us) we believe the type of money God accepts is the money of morality, so we don’t think we need Jesus because we’re doing great. We’re looking around, and we can see people who aren’t faithful here and who aren’t doing that.
Then, we justify ourselves by measuring our strengths with other people’s weaknesses, so we don’t need Jesus because we’re doing great because the assumption is that is what Christ accepts, but God doesn’t accept that. The prophet Isaiah says, “All of our righteousness is as filthy rags,” so when you’re like, “I don’t need Jesus,” or “I don’t get high, so I don’t need Jesus,” or “I stay true to my… I don’t need Jesus,” that’s just filthy rags! That is not what God accepts in regard to salvation. It’s not the currency that gets you into glory.
If it’s not that, it’s the belief that God will reject us (God does not want us), so we will, therefore, reject him first. I run into this one all of the time. “From the home I came from to the things I’ve done to the things I currently struggle with, there’s no way what you’re saying can be true about me.”
I want to have this talk. I’m going to be gentle but heavy. That position is one of the more arrogant imaginable. That you have somehow out-sinned the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ is far more arrogant than some of the other errors. The Bible reads like a who’s who of men and women who would never be allowed to work at this church.
“King David, we so appreciate your resume. You’re an amazing worship leader, but you raped a woman and then you had her husband killed. We just found some things in the background check. You can’t do Home Groups here, bro. You have to go. I’m sorry.” Who else do you want to plug in? Moses?
“Yeah, well, you killed a guy and you keep freaking out and having outbursts of anger. Every time you don’t get your way, you can’t freak out and scream at everybody and strike things with your staff. Bro, you have to be sanctified a little bit.” We can keep going. You can name almost everybody unless you name Christ or maybe Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Like Daniel, there aren’t many out there who aren’t a train wreck who God pulls in, empowers, and uses. Why? Because we’re not children of God by our efforts. We’re not children of God by our resumes. We’re not children of God by our wills but by God’s power. That’s why he does it that way. That’s why he always picks the weak and frail. It’s amazing! I love it!
We tend to not want the revelation of Jesus as the Christ because we don’t think we need him or because we’re using morality as the currency God accepts. Think about the tragedy of that mistake. “I’m banking my eternal soul on being good enough.” There’s no scale. There’s no way to measure that. There’s no way to tell. “I’m banking all of it on that.”
You see in this passage the real tragedy of humanity’s rebellion against God, so God reveals himself through the creative order. He reveals himself by making us in the imago Dei. He reveals himself in giving us a conscience. The conscience itself teaches us about what it means to be human. Why do we feel bad about stuff? Why do we feel guilty? Why do we feel shame? Why is that a universal human experience?
I know the day in which we live when people are like, “There’s no such thing as evil,” until something really evil happens. Then, we’re like, “Evil!” Or, “There’s no such thing as evil; there’s just our heart’s desire.” “That’s evil!” There is evil! How are we measuring these things? God reveals himself in our consciences, reveals himself in nature, and reveals himself in the imago Dei (you and I being made in his image). Then, this text says he came into (he put on flesh) his creation, and we did not just not want that but we killed that.
However you think about how God sees you, how God thinks about you, and how God responds to you, what you see in the Bible is God perpetually moving forward. Here’s creation. “See that I am beautiful. I want you to experience beauty. I want you to see beauty. I want you to experience the awe and the feeling small and safe in my arms. I want you to understand that life outside of me is broken and hopeless and leads to all sorts of collateral damage, so I’m going to let you feel that in your gut through guilt and through shame. Then, since you’re still running, I’m going to come right into your space.”
You’ll see this next weekend. “I’m going to set up shop right in the middle of you. I’m going to tabernacle with you. I’m going to show you myself.” Even in that, the great tragedy of humankind is even as he moves toward us again we reject, and we actually reject all the way unto death. It’s the great tragedy of humankind.
Here we are. We find ourselves in this moment. This isn’t applied to people in the past. This is applied to us right now. There are those of you in this room right now who just have never really understood what the gospel is and what it means. You’ve always thought it was some long list of moral things you have to do, so you have avidly been checking those things off. Right?
You never heard, “No, no, no! You don’t radically believe. You just believe.” You just melt into, “I believe this about Jesus,” and you allow the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to move you from one degree of glory to the next. What’s crazy is we all start in a different place, which means we’re all going to look a little bit different, which should cause all of us to extend grace to one another.
You grew up in a home where you memorized the Bible and you sang hymns and you had a family devotional and Jesus was a big deal in your house. When the Holy Spirit ignites that kindling around your heart, you’re going to look like you’re pretty far along. Right? What about somebody who had none of that and who grew up in the darkest home imaginable? Yet, the Spirit of God still saves and grants belief. Are they going to look a little bit behind? But are they? No!
This is why we should be so gracious to one another as we, by the Holy Spirit, are sanctified by God in Christ. It means we’re more patient with one another than the world thinks we should be. Here we are. Some of us are like, “Oh, my gosh! That makes sense.” I’ve pastored this church now for 15 years and been in the DFW area for 20.
I know a lot of us tried this. We grew up in these kinds of homes. Not all of us, but a lot of us did, and it was always just about true love waiting and not listening to secular music. A lot of us had that story where we at a youth camp burned all of our CDs and, as the Metallica one burned, we heard a demon come out of it, because it is. No, it’s actually what happens when you burn stuff. We have these stories like, “I’m going to do better!” We went to camp. We came up front and cried with snot. “We’re going to do this!” Then, sure enough, six weeks later we’re stumbling and falling.
Eventually, we just go, “Forget this! I can’t do it.” Then, we punt. We wild out in college in our early 20s or whatever. Maybe we get married or maybe we finally get that job and things start to settle in. If we keep going down this road, where is it going to end? We don’t want our kids to wild out so we’d better get back in church. Now, we’re back, and we still don’t quite understand the gospel.
What I’m trying to help with… I’m just standing up here with John and John saying, “Believe. Just believe.” If you’re like, “I don’t even know how to do that,” there’s this great prayer, my favorite prayer in the Bible. It’s, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When that man said that to Jesus, he did not rebuke him. He did not go, “What do you mean by that? How can you believe but not believe simultaneously? If you believe, why do I have to help your unbelief? I don’t need to help your unbelief if you believe.”
Jesus hears the prayer and honors it. He calls it a prayer of great faith. Isn’t that great news? “I believe; help my unbelief!” Jesus goes, “All right!” Again, like we said, I’m not furrow browed. “God, you make me sick.”
“What? After all I’ve done for you?”
“I believe; help my unbelief!”
“No, I’m pulling off of you. No salvation for you.”
That’s not what this is. We’re met by kindness. We’re met by patience. We’re met by the steadfast love of God. Then, if you’re here and this is unwanted stuff and you’re like, “I don’t want to say, ‘Yes,’ to Jesus. If I do that, I know what happens if I believe. I’ve seen it. He’s going to come in and reorder my world. I don’t know if I can give this up. I don’t know if I can do these things he’s asking me to step into.”
I’m just trying to stand up here with John and John and plead with you that God does not accept your quasi-morality as currency around salvation. All he accepts is belief. That’s it! I’ve just lived here long enough to know how many of us think morality is the currency we can pay God off with. I’m trying to remind you. Isaiah says, “That is not only not acceptable but the Bible says it’s filthy.”
I’m not going to even get into the filthy rags commentary of what is being discussed there, but it’s filthy. It’s not just unacceptable; it’s offensive. You will not buy him off with your good deeds. Whatever does not proceed from faith and belief cannot please God. I’m just standing up here with John and John. I’m just pleading with you. Why? Why bank on your morality? Just believe!
“What about this and what about that?” No! Believe! Why are we answering those questions? We have to answer this one before you can answer that one. It’s like someone with no kids asking advice about what to do with a 12-year-old. “What do you do with 12-year-old boys? They’re crazy!”
“Do you have any children?”
“No. I’m not even married.”
“But you’re stressed about this?”
“Man! I couldn’t even sleep last night. What do you do?”
I mean, you’re giggling, but I didn’t start out trying to make a joke. We just believe. Then, God will be enough for each one of those questions. By the way, this isn’t complex stuff here. You know every weekend we have people who are up here. They’re here just to pray.
At the end of last weekend’s service, some guy just came up and grabbed one of our people up here and said, “Whatever this is, I want in!” That’s one of my favorite prayers I think I’ve ever heard. “Whatever this is, I want in!” It just kind of demystifies the whole thing. It’s not, “Repeat after me. I have sinned.”
“I have sinned.”
“Jesus, help me.”
“Jesus, help me.”
It’s not an incantation. It was just some guy who felt the Spirit of God and was like, “Whatever that is, I want in. What do I do?” You believe. At the end today, we’ll have men and women up front. My invitation is John’s invitation. It’s God’s invitation from Jesus. Believe. Life, Light, and darkness not overcoming the Light of the World.
I’ll end with this Brunner quote. It was one I quoted last week in the sermon. I’m doing it this week and maybe next. We’ll see. “Come into union with the Word who made you, and you will come to Life!” “You came from him; please come back to him.” “You were made for him.” The result of this reunion will be more than human existence; it will be human ‘Life.'” That’s the invitation in front of you and in front of me today. Let’s pray.
Father, I thank you for these men and women. I thank you for your Word. I pray today it has read us, that you have exposed in us, revealed to us, and shown us your goodness and grace. We thank you for the invitation simply to believe. I pray my brothers and sisters would feel the weight of intense belief or radical belief or wholehearted belief begin to raise up off of them so they might rest in just, “I believe,” and they might find a weight lift off of their souls and a hope return.
I thank you that believing is not from blood, not from will, and not from effort but from faith and grace alone. We praise you and bless your name that you have not left this in our hands but have offered to save us by faith alone, by believing alone. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.