Gospel of John
Gospel of John

Gospel of John Study – Part 6

RS: We’ll be back here next week, and I think we’ll be here the week after, and then Spring break. I think that’s the way it works, but you’ll get emails from me.

We’re going to continue on in the Book of John, and just kind of walk through it. For you who weren’t here last week, I am sorry you really did miss the very significant part of John, and that’s His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. And, we really kind of pick up there. We’re still at the scene of the well, where Jesus has this encounter.

So, if you would, turn to John chapter 4, and this morning, we’re going to look at verses 31 to 35. And so, if you would, just take a minute, four verses, just take a minute and read those. John 4:31-35. Jesus – it’s very clear that this woman has become a follower of His. We talked about this last week. He tells her He’s the Messiah. She believes Him, and she leaves her water pot and runs off to tell, many people believe, the men in the town, you need to come and hear this man Who has told me everything I’ve done, and, of course, she had been married five times and was living with a guy, so she had, I’m pretty sure, in that town, a pretty tarnished reputation. And she was a Samaritan, and she was a woman. This was a patriarchal society. And yet, Jesus reaches out to her. This is a very significant – I mean, think about it – this woman, just, who seems very insignificant, think how famous she is. I mean, here we are 2,000 years later, talking about her. And, the disciples come back, and in verse 27, which we didn’t read this morning, last week, it says, he says, “Why are you talking to this woman?” And we kind of pick up there, and the disciples have shown up at the well, and they have food for Jesus to eat. And they encourage Him to eat, because I’m sure He was hungry. And then Jesus throws them a curve ball in verse 32 when He says, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” And you can imagine the disciples looking at each other, did somebody bring Him food? In 34, He said to them, “My food is to do the Will of Him Who sent Me and accomplish His Work.”

You know, this is really the third time that we’ve seen in these first few chapters of John where we’ve seen Jesus contrast the physical with the spiritual. We saw that with Nicodemus, who talks about his spiritual birth. And Nicodemus says, what do you mean, how do you go back in your mother’s womb and be born a second time? He doesn’t get it. Then, the woman. He starts talking about living water. She thinks He’s talking about something physical. And, as we read this, the big question that we do have to ask is, what is Jesus talking about when He says, “the food”. I have other food, and, according to verse 34, His food is the Will of God, and accomplishing the work that God has for Him to do.

And, this kind of reminds me of when Jesus, and you read about this in Matthew, before all of what we’ve been talking about happens, He goes out into the wilderness for 40 days, and fasts. And do you remember what Satan tried, how he tried to tempt Him, he says, why don’t You turn these stones into bread? And do you remember what Jesus said? “Man does not live by bread alone.” What He’s saying is that life is so much more than just a physical, pleasurable existence. And you’ve got to remember, what just happened? Something had just happened; the disciples show up with the food, but something had just happened. We see a new convert, a new follower, who not only becomes a believer, but then goes out to invite people to come and meet and hear Jesus, and, as you see, in verse 30, it says they went out of the city, and they were coming to Him. So, we’ve got to have to kind of picture this. The disciples show up with food. The woman is out, invite, come see this man, and they’re coming.

And so, Jesus basically was doing His Father’s work, and He didn’t see His doing His Father’s Will and doing His Father’s work as a heavy burden, but as the very nourishment of His soul. It impacted Him, as He was ministering to all these people who were coming. Doing the Father’s will, in other words, fed and satisfied Him inwardly. I don’t know if that’s ever happened, if you get involved in something that’s so, you’re so passionate about that you forget about everything else, even eating.

Tim Keller says this, and I’ve read this a couple of times, and it’s kind of indicting, so, if you feel like I’m meddling in your life, uh, maybe I am, I don’t know. But, when he, in one of his old sermons, he makes reference to this. He said, “When Jesus says, I have a meat you know not of, He says a lot of us are dying because of a lack of a mission in our lives. For many of us, our biggest mission in life is just to make enough money so we can keep our lifestyle where you want it to be. As a result of this, I think for many of us, our souls are shriveling up because they were built for something much more noble and much more heroic than that. What is it that Jesus Christ lives for? What is this meat that we know not of that He says gives Him joy? He says I live to see people transformed through the touch of the Gospel. To see institutions transformed, families transformed, marriages transformed, neighbors transformed, counties transformed, cultures transformed, and battered psyches transformed. That’s what gives me my purpose. That’s the food that He is referring to. Most of us do not have anything like that, but He has meat that we know not of.”

Now, I think Keller raises a good question to think about. This idea of living with a sense of mission in my life. I mean, do we live with that, and, if we do, can we articulate what our mission is in life? Notice at the end of 34, He speaks of His great desire to accomplish God’s work. And this always, as you get through the Book of John, this always seems to be on Jesus’ mind. For instance, in John chapter 9, verse 4, and He’s talking to His disciples, and He says, “we”, He doesn’t say “I”, He says, “We, together, must go out and do the work of Him who sent me as long as it’s day, because night is coming when no man can work.”

Unidentified audience member: That was John what?

RS: John 9:4. Basically, Jesus is saying, we all have a window of time, we are given an allotted amount of time, and that we basically should seek, as we live this life, to do the work of God. And then Jesus says, in John 17:4, just before He’s taken, “Father, I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do.” And over the years, that verse has always intrigued me because it makes me wonder, was that just specific for Jesus, because, clearly, God had a work for Him to do, there is no doubt about it.

But, this is the big question we need to ask. Does He have a work that He wants me to do, as a businessman? I think most people, whenever I talk about, God wants to do a work through us, we think, well, I’ve got to quit my job, no. We’ve talked about that. But, does He have something He really wants me to do, because I know it’s easy, I know a lot of you guys are busy, it’s hard to think, I’ve got, my plate’s full. There’s nothing else I can do. But, the question is, do we think that God has something, a work that He wants to do in and through us, and it may change over time, but does He? And, by the way, I always tell people, if you’ve still got kids at home, that’s probably your main work. But the answer, I think, is clearly yes. That’s what Paul says. Ya’ll remember Ephesians 2:10? I’ve probably beat you over the head with that. We are what? We are God’s…workmanship. “Created in Christ Jesus for certain good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Let me ask you a question then I’ll stop and open this up for, to see if you have any comments or questions. Do you think that this Samaritan woman was doing the work of God?

Unidentified audience member: Before or after?

RS: After, after, after, after. Obviously, not before. After.

Unidentified audience members: Yes, yeah.

RS: Yeah. I mean, and I ask that question because I think that’s a part of why Jesus was so pumped up.

Unidentified audience member: You could argue that she was doing the work before because He used her as a purpose, as an example.

RS: Exactly. I mean, it’s all part of the plan. And, but, I think Jesus kind of was pumped up because what was happening, was here was this woman going out, and all of these people are coming in, and He kind of lost his interest in eating. And what was she doing? She was inviting them to come and see. Comments or questions on any of this? Anybody?

Matt: You said, business, and, go back to, remember, and go to all the time, what Kevin Elko said in one of your, maybe your interview with you and Jimbo, or, one of the times that I’ve heard him, it said, if you just be a blessing and serve others daily, it all comes into play. By serving others, he went into, they were serving each other and just being on the interview and doing the work they do, serving each other in their presence, and the blessing is to just try to do and be that to somebody, even in our business, if the better we serve them, the better it is for us.

RS: Amen. And, you know, this is what I’m learning, and I’m seeing this a lot, and you’re going to see it, but I would encourage you also to be aware of the people around you who are hurting, you know, because there’s a lot of pain in this life. And, as Matt was saying that, it just struck me, there’s all kinds of ways to serve others, but particularly to someone who is hurting, to reach out to them. That’s how, I mean, I’ve got two people I’m getting ready to meet with who’ve reached out to me, this week, and I don’t know either one of them. But, somebody, people have brought them to me, because they’re hurting. And, one guy says, I want to go through this Investigative Study with you. I mean, you know, what can I say? But somebody pointed him. And that’s kind of what this woman had done. She didn’t really have much of a message to say, all she said was, come and see. Come and see.

Which leads really into the work of God. He begins to talk about – it’s kind of interesting the way Jesus will be talking, people come, and He will shift gears like He did with the woman, you know, where in the world is your husband. But then in verse 35 to verse 38, He begins to talk about this harvest, and this idea of harvesting. And it’s important to get the picture, guys. Again, really, it’s, I don’t think sometimes we see the whole picture here. He’s been talking to this Samaritan woman who has clearly accepted Him as the Messiah. And then, in verse 27, when the disciples come in and say, why are you talking to this woman? Then He says, He brings up, here we brought you this food to eat, and He says, you guys really don’t get it. I’m doing the work of harvesting. I’m harvesting to eternal life. He says, this is what life is all about. And so, the question we need to ask because He uses it several times is, what is harvesting?

I mean, if you think about it, really, it’s pretty simple, it’s confronting someone with their spiritual need and then sharing with them the provision of Christ. Because, think about it, guys, isn’t this what Jesus did with this woman? He honed in on this thirst in her soul. And then He makes it clear. She was looking for sex and romance and men to satisfy that thirst, and He offers her living water. You see, harvesting is taking the Gospel out into the world. Anybody know what the word “Gospel” means? It means good news. Good news. And, think about that term, good news. What is news? Think about it. What is news? News is something, or I guess you could say something is considered news if you’re ignorant of it, and you don’t know about it, and somebody says, I’ve got some good news for you. You know, one of the worst things in the world is you can say, I’ve got good news for you, and then tell them, and they say, I already knew that. But, you know, you give someone good news because you assume the person is ignorant of a part of reality that they need to know about. And, in many instances, they need to know about it for their ultimate well-being. Or, they may need to know about it for their ultimate safety. Guys, if we have the truth of any kind that can lead to the joy, and can lead to the well-being, and can lead to the safety of someone else, we need to recognize it as good news that people need to know about.

And this is what you see this woman doing. She’s gotten this wonderful news about the Messiah. One that will satisfy the thirst of her soul. He understands everything about me. You see, this is what the Gospel is all about. It starts by sharing the news that we are sinners, I guess you could call that, that’s the bad news. But that Christ has come to make provision. He has come to redeem us, He has come to forgive us, He has come to bring us into a relationship with Himself that extends on into eternity. And guys, I want to just tell you this, so many people are ignorant of this.

I know you’ve heard me share this, but I go through The Investigative Study with somebody and they’ll look at me and they’ll say, I’ve never heard this before in my life. As one guy said, I’ve never heard this, I think I’m mad that nobody has ever told me this. And I want to say this, and I don’t say this out of arrogance, I just say this that this is a reality, but I’m amazed at the spiritual ignorance that I encounter with people in our culture who are church-going people. They are ignorant of the Gospel. This is not unusual, because this is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 7:21-23. It’s one of the most powerful, I’ve seen God use these three verses more powerfully in the lives of church-going people who aren’t Christians. They just go to Church, usually because their wife drags them. But what does Jesus say in Matthew 7:21? He says, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, is going to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” He says, because on that day, on the Judgement Day, many people are going to come to Me and say, but God, I did this, and I did that, and Lord, I did all of these good works, and I did them in Your Name. And it says, Jesus is going to say to them, “depart from Me, for I never knew you.” This is clearly a picture of people who consider themselves Christians who don’t understand the Gospel and they need the good news, and they’re ignorant of it. They need good news. This is what harvesting is all about.

Now, I want to ask you a question. I want you to think about this. This is real, now if you really tried to picture it, I think it’s really unusual, but why do you think this woman rushed into the town? You know, we said, leaving her valuable water pot, which was essential, she leaves it, and goes out into the city, and invites people to come and see. What do you think? Yesterday, as I was finishing up the preparation, I was thinking about what was her motivation? Why do you think she did that?

Unidentified audience member: She was changed.

RS: Yes. She was changed. She was not the same woman she had been.

Matt: Euphoria; spreading the news.

RS: She was euphoric. Yeah, over what had happened.

Unidentified audience member: She discovered the purpose in her life, the mess that it was.

RS: Yeah, I mean, here was a woman that, her life was a mess. And it’s kind of like, I’ve found the answer to life. I mean, think about it. This is my opinion. Here was the town’s sexually immoral woman, who everybody knew about, and she experienced this incredible love and compassion. You see no condemnation on Jesus’ part. That’s the one thing I love about this encounter, because people, the average person in that town would have said, lady, no wonder your life is messed up. You’ve been married five times and you’re living with a guy. You don’t see that. So, she experienced His love and compassion. She recognized Him as the Messiah, or, as they said in verse 42, as the Savior of the world, and you see her enthusiasm and her joy, her euphoria, as Matt put it, as she leaves her water pot behind, not even worrying about what happens to it, to go out and tell the community, hey, come and see. Come and see. She wanted. This is what it gets right down to. Going back to news. She wanted to tell this good news, which her people, the Samaritan people, were ignorant of. And, do you see the results? Look at verse 40. It says, “So, when the Samaritans came to Jesus,” obviously when they heard what He was saying, “They asked Him to stay with them.” I mean, think about it. They asked Him to stay with them. Tell us more. We want to hear more of what You have to say to us. So, what did He do? He stayed two more days. As we talked about last time, these people had a desire for the truth, remember we talked about, maybe it wasn’t last time, it was two weeks ago, about how men love the darkness instead of the light. And we read in Acts that when they went to Thessaloniki, so many of the Jews threw them out, and didn’t want anything to do with them. These people, it’s like they were thirsting, stay with us. And He stayed for two more days. Comments or questions on any of this, guys?

You know, I think when people come to Christ, and experience His forgiveness and His love, and that they really recognize, as Paul says, that they have been rescued from the wrath to come, there is this desire to, I guess a feeling of, they feel compelled to tell others, really, out of love. They see it as a responsibility, and they invite people to come and see. Come and find out about this wonderful gift of God. And, I think as you’re a Christian, as time goes by, it’s easy to kind of forget about. You know, there are times, I don’t know about you, for me, there are times where you’re very enthusiastic, and then there are times that it’s not.

Charles: What do you do with a good friend that you might have that you know it would make a big difference in their life, but they’re just totally resistant?

RS: Yeah, you …

Charles: Just plant some seeds and let it go?

RS: Yeah, well plant some seeds, pray for them, take an interest in them, and bring them to the breakfast on Good Friday. But that’s a good question, and I know they’re – I’ve got a good friend who, he really is an atheist, and he sends whatever he thinks, he reads one of my blogs that he thinks, this might, and he sends to this guy, and this guy is not interested. He’s not engaged at all, and you know, there’s nothing you can do about that. But, you never know. You never know when that might change. Usually, when, particularly if their circumstances change and they find they’re going through a difficult time, it’s amazing what happens at that point, but good question. Anybody else?

You know, there’s so much more here in verse 35 to 38. In verse 35, He says, “Behold, I say to you, do you not say there are yet four months and then comes the harvest, behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” When He says, yet there are four months, basically, He’s saying, when it comes to agriculture, you know, if you plant a seed, you have to wait four months before you can hope to begin to reap the harvest. You’ve got to wait for it to grow. But, Jesus says you ain’t gotta wait four months. Look around you. Look at your sphere of influence. He’s saying, the fields are white for harvest. And then in another spot, of course, He says, you know the harvest is plentiful, the problem is, the laborers are few.

As I look at these verses, guys, this is something it seems, that really strikes me, and this is important. I think we, and I’m talking about the Body of Christ, we’re kind of all in this together, because He says, one sows, and another reaps. In other words, we operate kind of like a body. Think about this. Think about your own spiritual life. Think about the different people that God has used in your life. It may be an author of a book you’ve read. It may be your pastor, someone in a Sunday School, who knows, but, it’s kind of like we operate together as a body. An example right now is I’m going through The Investigative Study with two men that a guy brought to me. One of them was his own father. Again, this is something that we’re doing together. One sows, another reaps. Think about it. Why did John the Baptist come? He came to prepare the way. Isn’t that what it says? So often, when I meet with somebody, generally another person has been preparing the way. You play a role here, and then, this is a great thing, you never know how what you do, you never know what your sowing might end up doing. You might even know in this lifetime. I had an interesting situation, and I had a guy ten years ago, really great guy, he’s an attorney, went through The Investigative Study with me. He became a Christian, and I met with him probably four or five times afterward, and I said, you know, why don’t you come get in a Bible study, and I don’t remember what he said, but he just, he didn’t. And I’ve never really known what’s happened to him. And I ran into him the other day, and he starts telling me about, his daughter was reading one of my books, and I said, well tell me what’s going on in your life, and he said, we’re really, really involved in Church of the Highlands, and he said, my wife and I are very involved with the youth group. This guy is a dynamic Christian today, but, we played a role way back here. Somebody else has played a role in his life since then. That’s the way it works, and you never know what role you or I might play in somebody else’s life. But, I really believe that one of the easiest things to do is just what we’ve been talking about, and it just really hits me, is we’re just called to invite people to come and see. Charles, you can’t make this man, you know, God’s got to do a work in his life. All we can do is invite him. Comments or questions?

Paul: Love Psalm 37. It says in the agrarian tie-in, cultivate faithfulness, is asking them to come and see. You’ve watered this a little bit in this guy’s life, and ten years later.

RS: It was really cool for me to see that. What you said, isn’t it interesting how the Bible does use agriculture for so many of the most important examples, and I think what you just said is right, Paul, because it’s involved planting seeds, watering and nurturing, and seeing, you know, you can’t make it grow. That’s why Paul said, I planted, Apollos watered, but God is the one Who causes the growth. God moves in people’s lives. All we can do is plant and water. Anybody else?

Okay. Look at verse 36. I want to get your opinion on this. “Already, he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal, so that he who sows, and he who reaps, may rejoice together.” That’s the NAS. The NIV says, “Even now, the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crops for eternal life so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.” I use, as I prepare this lesson from John, I use four different commentators. They’re all theologians, so to speak. They’re all a lot smarter than we are. But it’s interesting, not a one of them talked much about verse 36. Even my, I have a Study Bible, the one that is right there, that kind of commentates on different verses, they didn’t even comment on it. They didn’t even talk about verse 36. But what do think it means, any thoughts, what do you think it means, receiving wages for eternal life? Any ideas? Any thoughts?

Unidentified audience member: What you just said, that maybe, the guy that you talked to, that maybe you were the one that sowed and Church of the Highlands is the one that reaps.

RS: Yeah, could be. You know, some might think does this have anything to do with, remember back, January a year ago, I did a three-week series, and some of ya’ll were not here then, on eternal rewards. Because it says, receiving wages. You know, what are the wages? A wage is, think about it, a wage is something you earn. A gift is something that you receive. Salvation and God’s Grace is something that you receive. We talked last week, Paul calls it the indescribable gift. You can’t earn it, but this is talking about wages, so that makes me wonder, and I’m not saying I know what the answer is on this, I’m just kind of sharing with you what I’ve come up with. Again, when we’ve talked about the Bible is very clear, Jesus, on a number of occasions says, your reward in Heaven will be great. And in Matthew 6, in the Sermon on the Mount, He talks about laying up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.

So, possibly, that’s what He’s talking about, but, as I read all the different translations, I’ve got four translations right here, it struck me also He may be saying, guys, you and I have the opportunity to invest your life sowing and reaping, which has, these are endeavors He says, that have eternal consequences. I mean, think about it. I can’t think of anything more meaningful in life than to be involved than something that has eternal consequences. What do you think? I mean, think about how meaningful that would be if you knew that you did something that has eternal consequences. Most everything we do in this life has temporal consequences.

Now, I don’t mean to, I was going to say, because I use this sometimes for the Harbert Center downtown, but, I can do it, since Tommy’s family has a building, the Luckie building, how long will the Luckie building be there? Who knows? Fifty years from now, they may tear it down. I was over at the Eastwood Mall the other day and they were tearing down the old Kmart. I thought, good gracious, I used to shop there as a kid, and now it’s being torn down. And that’s the problem with this earthly life. You don’t know how long things are going to last. But the opportunity to do something that has eternal consequences, I think, is huge. Forgive me, for bringing you up as an example. I was just trying to think of something because we all, what we’re doing is important, but it’s all temporal. I mean, you have to earn a living, but it’s all temporal. Rarely do we have an opportunity to do anything that has eternal consequences.

Unidentified audience member: Richard, let me ask you something about eternal consequences. Maybe this is my selfish side, but when I think of eternal consequences, I’m thinking about myself.

RS: Well, it starts with us.

Unidentified audience member: I mean, I want to live in eternity in Heaven. I guess I’m more selfish about me getting there myself than helping others.

RS: It kind of goes back, and you and I have had this conversation several times, is that’s the beauty, and I think we forget this, the importance and the significance of having an assurance of your salvation, and you know, when you don’t have an assurance, is when we believe that my effort has something to do with me getting there. That my good works have something to do with me getting there. That’s why we always have to be continually reminded that basically, salvation is a gift that you receive because we can’t earn it, and once we have that, and we can be assured of salvation, then we can know that, and we don’t have to wonder about it, but where we get off track is when I start saying, is there something else that I need to be doing to make sure I get there. Because, if you get to that point, when you go in that direction, it creates this uncertainty, am I really in, and I’ll be honest, I think that happens a lot. It’s easy to do.

But that’s the beauty of Christianity. That’s the beauty of being saved by grace through faith, not as a result of good works. And so, if that’s happened, that’s the good news, if we have received Christ, and we know that He is in our lives, and we’re seeking Him and we know Him, then you’re assured of eternal life. And that’s why, and I have to deal with this with some men who have come to me and said they believe that you’re saved by grace through faith, but that you’ve got to maintain your salvation through good works. And my response to that was, then you’re telling me that you don’t know if you’re going to Heaven. And they were, you’re right. So, you really won’t know, you’ll never be assured. You’ve got to work, work, work to maintain your salvation, and that’s a frustrating thing, guys, to be in that situation.

In fact, I have recently gone back through the New Testament, I don’t mean to get off track, but Tommy kind of got me going in this direction, but I have gone back, and just, is it clear that you are saved by grace through faith, that works has nothing to do with it? And I am convinced of it, because of what the Scripture says. He says, if it has anything to do with works, then grace is not worth anything. All right, we’ve got to keep going. Basically, I want to wrap up our time and talk about the healing of the nobleman’s son.

What do we read in verse 46? Let me ask you this, guys. I don’t think we have an appreciation for this. Do you know how far Capernaum was from Cana? It wasn’t like walking down to Mountain Brook Village. It was 25 miles. Like walking almost to Pell City from here. It was a hike. And this encounter with the nobleman, you know what it’s all about? It’s about belief and faith. And guys, as we get into the Book of John, we learn that we live the Christian life by faith, and you are going to see that word “belief” in there a good bit, and to get a really good, get our arms around this, I want to ask you to turn to John chapter 20, real quick. All right, Steve, how about reading verse 26 to 29. This is the Risen Christ, and He’s talking to Thomas.

Steve: “After eight days, His disciples again were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

RS: Now, He’s saying in verse 29, in fact, in the Amplified, it said, “Because you have seen me, Thomas, do you now believe and trust, and have faith? Blessed and happy and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed, and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me.”

Think about it guys, in the Early Church, they saw Jesus. They heard Him teach. Many of His miracles were done in public, particularly raising Lazarus from the dead. And then hundreds even saw the Resurrected Christ. And they believed. But then, He comes along and He says, but more blessed are those who don’t get to see all these things and believe. Who is He talking about?

Unidentified audience member: Us.

RS: Us! So, what are we left with?

Faith.

RS: Faith. And what is the foundation of our faith? The Word of God. That’s what we have. We don’t get to see Him appear, or ascending to the Father, but we have the Word of God, which is living and active. It’s God’s revelation. It’s God’s promise to His people. Now, we’ve looked at this before, but some of you weren’t here. We looked at this back last June, and this was right before we took July off. There weren’t many people here, and we were talking about prayer. And we looked at Romans chapter 4, because I think in Romans 4, we get a really good understanding of how we, you and I are to operate by faith as we live this life with the Word of God. Romans chapter 4. Everybody there? We’re going to look at verses 18 to 21. John Wendell, you want to read those for us?

John: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

RS: Very good. Thank you. Verse 20, I believe gives some really important insight into faith. Now, I want to ask this question. Abraham based his faith on what?

Unidentified audience member: That God had the power to do what He said He’d do.

RS: That God had the power to do what He says, and right before that He says, His faith was based on what?

Unidentified audience member: Promise.

RS: The promise of God. God had made a promise, and Abraham, it says, did not waver in unbelief, or did not waver in his belief because of the promise of God. The promise that God had revealed to him. Guys, faith has got to have a foundation. If Abraham did not have the promise of God, he would not have had that faith, would he? The foundation of our faith is what God has said to us. Now, some of you are probably tired of this example, but some of you have never seen it, so, let me give you an example of having faith. I have something in my right hand in my pocket here. Anybody want to take a guess what it is?

Unidentified audience members: Cell phone, iPhone, hand.

RS: Cell phone, iPhone. What’s in my hand? I’m going to tell you, I’ve got something in my hand.

Unidentified audience member: Coins.

RS: All you can do is guess. All you can do is speculate, and that’s what a lot of people think Christianity is. Speculation. Just kind of guessing. Now, if I tell you I have a rubber band in my hand, and I ask the question, Charles, what do I have in my right hand? What are you going to say?

Charles: Figure out if I trust you first.

RS: That’s right. Good.

Charles: You have a rubber band.

RS: But he can’t see it, can he? That’s what faith is. You believe it because I’ve told you what it is. That’s what faith is. Blind faith is me not telling you anything and you just kind of guess. That’s speculation, and most people think, you Christians have blind faith. No, we don’t. We base what we believe on what we’ve been told by God through His revelation in the Scripture. Now, when I pull my hand out and show you the rubber band, you don’t need to have faith any more, do you? You’ve got a true knowledge, and that’s what we’ll have one day. As it says in I John, we will see God as He really is, which is kind of mind-boggling, to imagine what that is like. But, at some point, we won’t have to operate by faith any more. We will have a true knowledge of God.

You see, guys, legitimate faith has got to have a foundation and that foundation is God’s revelation in the Person of Christ and His revealed Word. I was going to read something to you, but we don’t have time, let me just say, look at verse, back in John 3, verse 48, Warren Beardsley does not believe that this is a rebuke. Christ’s lament over the lack of faith in the people He encountered. Is everybody back in John chapter 4, verse 48. It looks almost like Jesus is jumping all over this guy, because He’s demanding a sign. But He’s really, He’s not, but He realizes all these people are watching and they want a sign. Always asking for a sign.

But this nobleman, he wanted Jesus to come with him, all the way to Capernaum, and so this guy had some degree of faith, because he came all this way and he made the request. But, he believed that in order to heal his son, Jesus, You’ve got to come with me. But, what did Jesus do? Based on the authority that He had, He said, “go, your son lives.” And look at verse 50, in the NIV it says, and this is crucial, guys, what does it say, “The man took Jesus at His Word, and departed.” This is a picture of faith. Taking Jesus at His Word. And this is why God’s Word is foundational in building your faith. You can’t do it, you can’t build your faith without it.

You know, Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing the Word of God.” Now back then, guys, they didn’t have a Bible to read and study like we do. They had to hear it read out loud at the synagogue from the scrolls. We don’t have to, to hear the Word of God, we can read it. And so, for modern people, this verse could actually read, “Faith comes as you read and you meditate on the Word of God.” You see, our belief and faith should rest on what God has told us. It’s responding to divine revelation. It’s extending confidence on what God has said, what God has revealed and what God has promised.

And I will leave you with this great illustration. It had a huge impact on me and I shared it back in June. But my wife and I had just been to the beach with our kids and we were, we had gone, I think to get some groceries across the street, and, it was, kind of a highway where there were two lanes going this way and two lanes going this way, and we were trying to cross those four lanes by foot. And, it was a time of day where there was a lot of traffic, and so, you would look to the right, and finally be clear, and when you’d look to the left, and you, there would be somebody coming, and you’d look back to the right, it was just, we were having a hard time getting across the street. And so, finally we said, all right, I’m going to look to the right, and you look to the left, and we’ll kind of figure out how to get across. And finally, a gap came and I said, honey, we’re good this way, and for whatever reason she didn’t say anything but, “run”. And she couldn’t grab my arm, because she had groceries in her arms, and she said, “run”, and so, I realized I had to put my faith in what my wife said, and, as I was running, I realized, if she is kidding me, I’m dead.

Unidentified audience member: So was she.

[Laughter and multiple comments]

RS: Yeah. She didn’t push me. I was putting my total faith in what my wife said, and I remember running, and as I was running, I thought, that was the thing, if there was a car coming, I’m done. Now, I ran though. And I did it because I trusted my wife, because she’s the most, I mean seriously, my wife is the most honest person that I know. But also, I know that she loves me and that she is committed to my ultimate good, and that enabled me just to run. But think, guys, how much more our Heavenly Father loves us. He says His love for us is a perfect love. And He is committed to our ultimate well-being. And guys, we can rest in that, and we can find real peace in that, and that’s why faith is so important.

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Reflections on the Existence of God

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