Words of Testimony

Words of Testimony

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 8/6/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”

“I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” 

                                                                                  John 5:33–47 (NASB95)

Before we dig into today’s passage, let’s do a short review of what we have already learned in chapter 5 of John’s gospel account. Chapter 5 revolves around the healing at Bethesda, at a pool near the sheep gate. A man who has been ill for 38 years awaits the stirring of the waters in the pool in the hope that he might find healing. In An Unlawful Healing Jesus heals this man who has been ill for so very long. What makes this healing unlawful? The healing takes place on the Sabbath! The scene is now set for the rest of chapter 5 to unfold before us.

Naturally, the religious elite take exception with this healing, claiming it is illegal to heal on the Sabbath, and for carrying his bedroll, the man is now a Sabbath breaker. After a short conversation with Jesus, the man returns to the religious elite and identifies Jesus as the man who healed him, thus making Jesus the Sabbath breaker. To further compound the issue, Like Father, Like Son, Jesus says He is only doing what He sees His Father doing. The religious elite now add the charge of blasphemy to their list of charges and seek to discredit Jesus from being a potential Messiah.  The underlying issue is found in the fact that Jesus performed this healing at a pagan worship site, thus shattering the false promises of a sham religion.

Jesus continues His defense by addressing several key issues. As the Son of God, Jesus is only doing what He sees His Father doing; also, as the Son of God, Jesus has the power to give life; as the Son of God, Jesus has the authority to judge justly, and finally, when He speaks, Hearing the Son of God leads to belief and eternal life. Jesus does nothing on His own initiative, He seeks only to do the will of the One who sent Him – God the Father. Which brings us to today’s passage and the impact of Words of Testimony.

Jesus continues to respond to the charge of being a blasphemer and Sabbath breaker by establishing witnesses on His behalf. The Pharisees sent to John the Baptist and his Words of Testimony are truth, but there are still others who testify about Jesus. God the Father, the words and works of Jesus, the Scriptures, and Moses, all give testimony to Jesus, and yet, the Pharisees refuse to come to Jesus to have life.

Like John the Baptist, as Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must also speak the truth of Yeshua. This truth is affirmed by the Father, the teachings and examples of Yeshua, the Scriptures, and Moses – all affirm that Yeshua is the only way to eternal life, and yet, far too many will reject this gift from Yeshua.

In this message we seek to understand how Words of Testimony can impact the witness of the Christ follower.

As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must be consistent with Scripture and affirm that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

1). As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony are affirmed by the works of the Father and the message of the Scriptures.

Jesus completed the works the Father sent Him to do and the Scriptures affirm that Jesus gives eternal life.

Jesus continues His defense with the Judean Jews by establishing His witnesses. The first witness mentioned is John the Baptist whom the Judean Jews have sent to, and John witnessed to the truth. But Jesus does not stop there. He continues with the witness of His works; works He has been sent to do by the Father. Many wondered if John the Baptist were the much-anticipated coming Messiah, thus the reason the Judean Jews sent to John. People saw the works of John and excitement flooded the land. Jesus, however, has a greater testimony than John because His works declare He has been sent by the Father. Jesus has already established His power and authority, power to give life and authority to judge justly, and now He states that His works are a testimony to the power of God as a seal of approval.

Jesus has already established that He is only doing what He sees His Father doing. Jesus sees the Father giving life. As the Son of God, He too has been given the power to give life. Jesus sees the Father healing, so the Son heals. Jesus sees the Father judging justly, so the Son has the authority to judge justly. The point is this, the works that Jesus does are works that have been given to Him by God the Father. Jesus is the One who can say He is truly on a mission from God. This means the works of the Father are the works of Jesus. The Father is the originator, the planner, and the architect of the works He has given the Son to complete. Jesus will complete these works perfectly. Thus, these works prove that God the Father sent Jesus, the Son, for these are works that have never been done, or would ever be done, by others.

The next witness Jesus establishes is the words of the Father, the Scriptures. The Judean Jews are the experts in the Scriptures. They are supposed to be the one teaching Israel about the Scriptures and the coming Messiah. But they mistakenly, or maybe not, think that in the Scriptures they will find eternal life, while missing the One who truly gives eternal life, standing right before them. These Judean Jews do not have the words of God abiding within them, for if they did, Jesus tells them they would believe the One whom He sent – Jesus! Jesus is clear here, the Scriptures are bearing witness to Him – the promised Messiah, the Son of God and the Son of Man – and yet these religious elite refuse to come to Jesus for life.

If the words of God were abiding in these leaders, they would know God in a much more personal way. They would believe what has been spoken through the Scriptures and they would accept what God has to say, thus, these leaders would believe that Jesus is the Son of God sent by the Father. These leaders have the word abiding among them but not in them. They study and read the word, it is on the clothing they wear and placed on their body’s, but it is not hidden in the hearts of these leaders. The abiding word would be allowed to come into their minds and hearts, they would be clinging to the word as if their very life depended upon it, never allowing it to leave! The abiding word is living and active; it causes growth and maturity, brings love and compassion; it causes a person to believe and trust in the Son of God, Jesus the Christ as Savior and Lord.

And so, the Christ follower must have works that establish the truth they have been sent by God. Our works do not save us, they affirm that we have been changed from the inside out, by a loving God who has given us a new birth. Our works are to be consistent with the Scriptures and how God works in people’s lives. We need not embellish the Scriptures, for they are powerful enough on their own to change even the hardest of hearts. We work because we love the Father and the Son and we want others to know this same love and receive the same free gift of eternal life.

We too must have the word of God abiding in our hearts. The Scriptures must be our first and final authority in all areas of our life. We must hold nothing back but freely give our lives over to the power of Scripture to make us a new creation in Christ. The power of the abiding word must be working to cause spiritual growth and maturity in Christ. It must be working to show how we treasure the word in our hearts and minds as we freely love others and show them compassion, even when it means we might get hurt. It works to show how we have come to believe and trust in the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, as our Lord and Savior.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are your works showing that you believe in and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior?

Is there an area of your life you need to allow the Scriptures full access to change and cause growth and maturity? If so, what is holding you back?

How do people know the word of God is abiding in your heart and mind and ruling your life? If they do not, what steps do you need to change this?

As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must be consistent with Scripture and affirm that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

2). As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony affirm that Jesus receives glory from the Father and was foreshadowed in the writings of Moses.

Jesus is the single thread, woven throughout the entirety of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation – Jesus is the Golden Thread from beginning to end!

Throughout the Scriptures, from beginning to end, there is one common theme, written by many authors over the course of thousands of years. Many call this single thread the Golden Thread of Scripture, this thread is, of course, Jesus. Jesus is active in creation, many affirm He is the angel of the Lord seen in many places in the Old Testament, even Moses writes about Him. Jesus mentions Moses in this passage because the Judean Jews have placed Moses on a pedestal, and we have already seen how Jesus explained why Moses held the serpent up during the desert wanderings. And there will be several more times Moses will make an appearance in John’s gospel account, mostly as the crowds who follow Jesus, pit Moses against Jesus.

The Scriptures speak loudly and clearly about Jesus, but no matter how much we read them, no matter how much we study them, no matter how much head knowledge you have of the Scriptures, it will not matter if you do not have them in your heart and ruling your life, and most importantly, none of this will matter if you reject Jesus as the only source of eternal life. The Judean Jews refuse to come to Jesus for eternal life even though the very Scriptures they search point directly to Him as the giver of eternal life. This goes back to the word abiding in the hearts and minds of people, leading people to believe in and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. The testimony of the Scriptures is clear, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man – Lord and Savior of the world.

Jesus seems to make an odd statement here saying He does not receive glory from men or people. Why would Jesus make such a statement now? First, He is making a contrast between the glory He receives from the Father and the glory the religious leaders seek from the people. But there is something deeper going on here. During this time period there are other people groups besides the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Samaritans. The statement Jesus makes is most likely referring to a group of people active in Lower Galilee, they are Israelites and the dominant group in the area. They also did not engage in the teachings of these Jewish authorities in Jerusalem.

What is happening here is the Jewish authorities are attempting to discredit Jesus as a potential Messiah. They are using every means they have available to do this, including stating that Jesus gets His glory from people. Going deeper still, there is a derogatory term used to describe these people that is translated as “people of the land.” They are seen as less than in the eyes of the Judean Jewish authorities. We have also seen that it is in Galilee where Jesus has been widely accepted, and the people are ready to make Him Messiah. So, it is entirely possible that what Jesus is saying here is that He is not getting His glory from the Galilean Jews, not all people in general. The glory Jesus has, comes from the Father alone.

Let me bring Moses back into the picture here for a moment. In Exodus 33:18 Moses asks God to show him His glory. God places Moses in the cleft of the rock and allows Moses to see His back but not His face. In Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9, and Luke 9:28-36 we read the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This is where Jesus pulls back His humanity and exposes the glory He receives from God. Moses is there as Jesus reveals His glory, finally, Moses sees the full glory of God and can now bear witness to the glory of Jesus, coming from God the Father.

As Christ followers we must let the Scriptures speak for themselves by not adding to or taking anything from the Scriptures. For those who are seeking with their hearts and minds open, God will allow the Scriptures to speak plainly to them. It is our job to always be pointing the way to Jesus the Christ – Lord and Savior of the world. In addition, we must be about reflecting the glory of God the Father and Jesus the Son. We must never put ourselves in the place of glory, for we are but fallen humans just like everyone else who seeks and comes to Christ. It is through our changed lives that we reflect the glory of Christ as He lives in us and causes our spiritual growth and maturity. Our lives must bear witness to this glory found in Christ.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are the Scriptures speaking to you during this season of your life? If they are not, why the disconnect?

Are you seeking the praise of the people around you or are you seeking the praise of God the Father?

How are you reflecting the glory of Jesus in your life?

As Christ followers, our Words of Testimony must be consistent with Scripture and affirm that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

Life as a Christ follower is not easy, especially in the current state of our nation. But we have the many promises of God on which we can stand, including the promise He has made to never leave us or forsake us but rather, He has promised to be with us always even till the end of time. Those are encouraging words as we seek to learn and grow into maturity in Christ as we read and study the Scriptures. We must be in the word consistently, so the word is abiding in us and we in the word. We must also allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves, not adding to or taking anything away from them.

We must never seek the applause and praise of people, for that will, in the end, be our only reward. Instead, let us seek to glorify the Father and Son, reflecting the glory of each as our lives grow more and more dependent upon them for our every need. It is our responsibility to continue to point the way to Jesus, living our lives in such a way that others are drawn to Him, that they believe and trust in Him as Lord and Savior. Our words of testimony can be a powerful statement as people see us living out those words in our actions towards others, actions that show the mercy, grace and love we have received in Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 6:1-15

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