NT40 Convictions for John 7-9
At this point in the reading, I feel like breaking from the form of reporting on my reading (and doing) and instead just gush about how great God is and how cool are His Scriptures! Last night during our church's midweek service, Christian after Christian arose to share the glory of reading the Word and putting it into practice — goosebump city. We all feel like newly baptized disciples encountering the Word for the first time. And it feels great. I've grown to stale in my Bible reading. This is exactly what I needed — the simplicity of reading the Word and doing what it says. Brilliant. Praise God! Now back to our regularly scheduled program:
1. About God. In John 7:37-39, Jesus makes a profound statement about God the Holy Spirit. He says He will be as rivers of living water flowing within us (in other words, an indwelling relationship). Then John comments that by this, He meant the Spirit, "whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." The Spirit had NOT YET been given?!?! What about the Spirit coming upon Moses, the 70 elders, Bezalel, Balaam, Joshua, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Azariah, Zechariah, Daniel, John the Baptist, and even King Saul (to prevent him from pursuing David). All those biblically recorded incidents occurred before Jesus' glorification (I assume His glorification is His death, burial and resurrection). Did they not really have the Spirit? For sure they did, but not as rivers of living water flowing from within them. Instead, the Holy Spirit filled them (or came upon them) for a temporary exhibition of God's power and plans. It was not a sign of salvation for that individual (King Saul certainly makes that clear in 1Samuel 19:20-23). There will be confusion later in the book of Acts as these two ministries of the Holy Spirit will have opportunity (for the first time) to overlap. We can marvel at the external signs done by the Holy Spirit through His chosen recipients, but we should instead desire not the temporary and external but the eternal and internal. Our reception of the Holy Spirit, however, is now an internal earnest of guarantee of our relationship with Jesus (2Cor 1:22).
2. About NT Christianity. The man born blind paints a beautiful picture of a NT Christian John 9. He goes from blind beggar to powerful prophet. Despite the volley of skeptical questions fired at him from the intimidating council of leading Jews, he holds fast to what he knows, "One thing I know. I was blind but now I see!" After repeated questioning, he pushes back, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?" Bravo! Upward call for me.
3. DWIS (Do What It Says): In John 7:18, Jesus asserts, "Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." While preparing sermons, I must keep this principle squarely before me. There are times in sermon preparation that I get excited because I am able to share a terrific insight or a funny anecdote. That's nothing but personal glory. To be a man of truth, I must test all that I plan to say against Jesus' standard: am I here seeking the glory of the one who sent Jesus? That's more convicting than I first anticipated.