Day #259: Daily Bible Reading - September 13th
Scripture Reading: John 16 - 18 …
"It is for your good that I am going away" (16:7). How strange that must have sounded to the ears of the disciples. They had given up everything to follow Jesus. He was their Rabbi, their teacher. If He went away, what would become of them? Jesus had told them that they would do "greater things" than He had been doing (14:12), and now He told them HOW that would happen: He was going to send them "another one, like Him" to walk beside them … in fact, to live within them! He was speaking of the Holy Spirit and He said, "When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (16:8). So much for the soft, gentle approach! Jesus had called people to repent, and after His death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit would confront people with their sin and convict them from within! The work of God to bring salvation and to defeat the power of Satan to deceive was about to enter a new phase.
We live in the time Jesus was speaking about … the time when His Spirit is convicting the world of sin and righteousness and judgment through the preaching of the Gospel. But only those who are born again and given new life respond in repentance and faith. The rest get angry, turn away and persecute the messengers. It has been so for 2,000 years and it is still so today. If the message you are hearing is not facing opposition, it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth confronts, and people in our culture do not like being confronted. Instead, they gather around them teachers who will tell them what they want to hear (II Timothy 4:3). This is another sign of the times in which we live.
As Jesus spoke with the disciples this one last time before He went to the cross, He pointed them to a time when the Father would give them whatever they asked in His Name. Some believe that Jesus was giving His disciples a "blank check," saying that whatever they wanted the Father would do. But Jesus was speaking of a future day, a day when their joy would be complete. I can only imagine that the "day" Jesus was talking about was when He comes again. Our joy will not be complete until then, for yet today we who believe in Him long for His return. We spend so much time focusing on this life and this world, and while Jesus gave us a mission for this world, He continually pointed His disciples to what lay ahead.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (16:33). Those who teach today that if you think positively God will give you all you ask in the name of Jesus and you'll have an easy life are not speaking truth. This world is in direct conflict with Jesus Christ and only through faith in Him, a faith produced in us by the very Spirit of God, will we endure and persevere and be faithful witnesses. Which leads to Chapter 17 … a chapter badly misunderstood and twisted and distorted by so many in the church today.
After praying to the Father and giving a definition of eternal life: "that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent" (17:3), Jesus prays for the disciples and then for all those "who will believe in Me through their message" (17:20). He prays that the Father will protect them, saying that they are not of this world. In other places we are told that as believers we are "aliens and strangers in this world." This is not our home any longer. Jesus prays, "Sanctify them (set them apart for a holy purpose) by the truth; Your word is truth" (17:17). The only way to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ is to be a student of God's Word throughout Your life. Only here will you find the truth that you need to live with God, for God and by the power of God.
Then Jesus prays for "ONENESS" for His disciples … NOT unity, but ONENESS. "May they be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete ONENESS to let the world know that You sent Me …" (17:22-23). The ecumenical movement of the past few decades has watered down the truth of God's Word to attempt to create an outward unity produced by men, rather than an inner oneness that only the Spirit of truth can produce. True spiritual oneness will always be found in Christ. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, for there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:3-6).
And the "all" he is talking about is all believers, not all people. Jesus prayed for those who would believe in HIM through the message of the Gospel, that WE would be of one mind and one heart in HIM. The proof of the failure of the ecumenical movement is that these same people who claim to be followers of Christ are now promoting the interfaith movement, claiming Jesus is the only way (some of them), while declaring that we can learn from other religions and we must respect them. Such "truth" contradicts the truth Jesus spoke and taught His disciples. If it was unity and oneness with all mankind that Jesus had wanted, then there was no reason for what takes place in the rest of John's Gospel - the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus.
If all mankind is one, then what is the cross about? Not surprisingly, there are those IN THE CHURCH today who deny that the death of Jesus on the cross paid the penalty for sin for those who believe. They have concocted a different idea … that Jesus was caught up in the political turmoil of the day, but that He showed the way of peace and love and calls His disciples to endure injustice and to try to overcome it by just loving others. It makes me want to scream!!! Jesus said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world!" (18:36). Then He challenged Pilate by saying, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to ME!" (18:37). And all Pilate can say is, "What is truth?"
That's the question of the day, isn't it?! "What is truth?" Either you believe everything God has revealed in His Word or you have no Savior, no Jesus, no forgiveness, no salvation, no LIFE!! Remember, Jesus said, "Sanctify them by the truth; YOUR WORD is truth!" (17:17). After He had risen from the dead, Jesus opened the Word to the disciples and explained how the entire Old Testament pointed to Him. He told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring to mind all that He had told them, and in the Gospels we have the truth God wanted us to know about Jesus.
Through the disciples and the Apostle Paul, to whom Jesus appeared on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), we have all we need to know for life and godliness through the Bible, the living Word of God. I pray that YOU are learning this truth as we go through the Bible this year. The Spirit is our teacher and it ALL points to Jesus … who He is, what He did, where He is, how He is working in the world today, and to the kingdom that is soon to come when He returns. It is ALL about Jesus and He points those who believe to the Father, praying that we will be ONE with Him and with the Father as His Spirit lives within us.
Yes, it was for the good of the disciples and for OUR good that Jesus finished the work He had come to do the FIRST time and then ascended into heaven and sent His Spirit, for apart from the work of His Spirit we would remain spiritually dead in sin and separated from God. Jesus accomplished our salvation on the cross and by His Spirit now opens the ears, hearts and minds of His sheep to hear His voice. Thank God for Jesus and for His Spirit and live to proclaim the truth that has set you free!!
"My Father in heaven, I rejoice in the oneness I have with You through Jesus and Your Spirit. While I confess that this truth is yet beyond my comprehension, I know that You are faithful to all who are moved by Your Spirit to come to You in the Name of Jesus. Father, I come, confessing my sin, seeking Your righteousness and thanking You for providing an escape from Your coming judgment through faith in Jesus. Thank You, Father, for revealing this truth to Me and making me Your child. In Jesus' name, Amen"