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Jesus Unfiltered - Believe
When life gets really hard, because of choices you've made, or circumstances in which you find yourself, wouldn't it be great to know you've got the source of all wisdom and strength right there with you? That's what Jesus promised you could have. That's what He longs to do for you. Knowing the real Jesus is the most important relationship you will ever have. Chip Ingram reveals, from Scripture, who Jesus really is and how you can have this relationship - beginning today and for forever!More from this series
Every man, every woman, when you hear the truth, when you hear Jesus, when you hear the gospel, when you hear the good news and you believe, here’s what happens: you receive eternal life.
Notice there are three things that are true of all of us. One, we have physical life. We are born with physical life. Number two, we all die. And number three, after we all die, we are all judged. The Scripture says, “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” You can go all around the world, any kind of religion, and I will tell you, there is some judgment somewhere. Even if it’s some sort of plan where you come back as someone else depending on how you did.
After you die, intrinsic in mankind is there is a judgment. There has to be for justice and equity. And the Bible clearly teaches that you have a physical life, everyone that has a physical life will die, and after everyone dies, we will be judged.
Those who hear and believe receive, right now, eternal life. They cross over from death to life. And there is no judgment. There is no judgment. You don’t come into condemnation, is the word.
Can I just ask you, just for you personally, have you ever crossed over from death to life? I’m not asking if you’re a nice person, I’m not asking if you go to church, I’m not even asking if you intellectually believe in God. I’m asking, on a certain day, at a certain time, have you ever heard – now, I know you have heard because you are in this room right now, you’re hearing the truth of the gospel and Jesus’ claim. It happens to be coming through my voice, but I’m just reading what He said.
If you have believed…and by “believe,” isn’t mental assent. It’s entrusting, believing to the point of acting and trusting to follow. Then you have eternal life. You cross
over from death to life. And the promise is there is no condemnation. You won’t be judged because your sin, and my sin, for those of us who have trusted Christ, have been placed on Him as our substitute and we have been forgiven and we have received the life of Christ; and He received, when He died on the cross, the penalty for our sin. Does that make sense?
So I have no idea where you’re at with your life, but I would just tell you, I would just shut me off – I’m going to keep talking. But I would not even listen to me anymore if you are not one hundred percent sure that you have eternal life right now and I would pray quietly, to God, and I would confess my sin, tell Him I’m sorry, ask Him to forgive me, and ask the Spirit of God to come into my life and make me a new person.
And what I will tell you is, He promises to do it. He is the Savior of the world. And you matter to Him. And He brought you in this room, on this day, so you could know that.
That happened to me in 1972, after going to church, having a bad experience in church, doing all the things that other people do about these church people and all their hypocrisy and all their stuff. I didn’t realize I had a lot of my own.
I heard the gospel, I didn’t know a whole lot, but I turned from my sin and I received Christ in 1972 and I will tell you, there was a dramatic beginning of a change and lifelong journey, because God’s Spirit, living in me, little by little by little, is making me more and more like His Son, as I take the truth of His Word, put it into my mind and my heart, realize I can’t do it on my own but get involved in the community and life of a vibrant church, allow people to know me and share my life and be encouraged and share others in some kind of small group.
And then realize that I am now an ambassador for Christ and the people in my neighborhood and the people where I live and the people where I buy coffee and the people where I do my dry cleaning and the people that I play pick-up basketball with – I am an agent of the living God for them to hear there is a Savior in their hopeless situation.
And that’s who you are in your world. And so that is what Jesus is teaching to these religious leaders.
Notice He goes on, He says He is not only our Savior, He says He is our Judge. He is our Judge. He says, “The Father has life in Himself,” verse 26, “so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” We actually learned that in chapter 1. “In Him was the life and the life was the light of man.”
“And the Father has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.” You might put in your notes, “Daniel 7.” It’s the favorite term of Jesus for Himself. In Daniel 7, it talks about the ultimate judgment. And the ultimate judgment and the Son of Man will come.
And Jesus, these are Bible scholars! When He uses the phrase, “And the Son of Man will judge,” they are going, “Daniel 7! Who do You think You are?” And He says, “It’s not who I think I am, it’s who I really am.”
Notice, it’s almost like He is looking at their faces, “Do not be amazed at this,” well, why are you shocked? “…for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and will come out,” speaking of Himself, “those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
When a genuine faith, accepting God’s grace, it always responds – a living faith. Good works never gets you into a right relationship with God, but a right relationship with God always produces good works.
And then, verse 30, “By Myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is just, for I do not seek to please Myself but Him who sent Me.” So, He is the Savior of the world, He is the judge, He is literally throwing down the gauntlet.
And then now what I would like you to do is follow along in your Bible. You have to ask yourself – put yourself in these guys’ position. He is doing these miracles; they can’t deny the miracles. He is making outrageous claims, there have been whispers, some people think He’s that and some people think He’s that. But He is breaking some of our rules! It doesn’t make much sense.
And they are angry at Him! And He is upsetting their lives. And now He is taking off the gloves, “This is My relationship with the Father. I am dependent, but I am co-equal, co-powerful, co-knowing. Here is My relationship to the world. I have come, I’m not down on you! I came to save the world. But here’s what you have to understand. I came to save the world, but I will be the Judge. I am the Son of Man.”
And then the logical question is: Anyone who makes outrageous claims about truth needs to have some backup testimony. And so that’s what we see in the next section.
Verse 31, follow along in your Bibles. “If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid.” In a Jewish court, the testimony of one person doesn’t hold up. “There is another who testifies in My favor, and I know that His testimony about Me is valid.”
And now He is going to give three verifiable testimonies. He is going to say, “I have My own testimony.” And then He is going to also say, “The Father has a testimony about Me.” But He is going to give three specific testimonies that they can verify in their historical space/time continuum.
“You have sent to John,” speaking of John the Baptist, “and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it so that you may be saved.” Remember? Everybody knows John is a prophet, you all know he was a prophet, no one criticizes John the Baptist. He was an Old Testament prophet, God sent him, he prepared the way, he was the light. And he testified of – what? Of Me! Remember the baptism. Remember, I am the One, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
And then He goes on to say, “John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you choose for a time to enjoy his light.” Verse 36, “I have a testimony weightier than that of John.” So in other words, John verified that I am the Messiah and if you were open, if you were listening, he is an Old Testament prophet. But I’ve got one that’s even weightier than that.
“For the very work that the Father has given Me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent Me.” And the work, here the word is for miracles. The water to wine, the mat. Think of how dramatic this miracle is. This isn’t like he had migraine headaches and he feels better. This isn’t like he’s had lumbago, you know? He’s had a sore back, went to a meeting, someone prayed over him, he feels better.
This is dramatic. This is a shriveled-up man for thirty-eight years that people have walked by, who is completely restored. He wasn’t just helpless, he was completely hopeless. He was completely powerless to do anything for himself. And there is a reason why you’re going to see, just in a minute, why He did that miracle that way.
And He says, John the Baptist – testimony number one in a legal court. Testimony number two is the miracles. And then notice testimony number three. “And the Father who sent Me has Himself testified concerning Me. You have never heard His voice nor seen His form, nor does His Word dwell in you,” – why? “for you do not believe the One He sent,” speaking of Himself.
And then, see, the Jews actually believed, in fact, one of the great rabbis, Hillel, taught that if you studied the Torah, the more you studied, the more you became an expert in Law, that eternal life was found in actually studying the Scriptures. And the more you knew and the more knowledgeable, that’s how you would get eternal life.
He says, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that in them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me and have life.”
By the way, this is a great, dramatic statement. The only people who will not have life are people who refuse to come to Him. God wants to give life. “I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not accept Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.”
And then here is a verse, many, many years ago, verse 44, I memorized. I memorized it because I realized, You know what? God is always wanting to grow my faith, and there are certain barriers to my faith and to your faith.
“How can you believe if you accept the praise from one another yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the one and only God?” I memorized that and wrote it on a little card about thirty-some years ago and I realized that it is so easy in life to want to live your life for the praise of people, for what other people think of you.
And you can make lots of really dumb, bad, unwise, downright sinful decisions trying to get people to like you or to impress people. “How can you believe when you seek the praise of men but do not seek the praise…?” See, I have to tell you, I don’t have it down at all, but in my heart of hearts, I want the God of heaven to look down and say, Chip, now that I like. Chip, I’m proud of you.
And yet I am living in a world and you’re living in a world where we are pressed from every direction. And so many of our priorities are out of whack, because we are seeking the praise of people and what they think matters more than what God thinks.
And you know what? When you look at the facts, think about these guys. They are smart, they are intellectual, they are knowledgeable, they know all the Bible, and they reject Jesus. Because, honestly, what He is poking at is they are going to lose control if they believe in Him. They are going to be just like all those common people. He is messing with their world. Religion has become a place of power and politics and, for many of them, financial gain.
He goes, “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father.” Have you noticed? Truth; grace. More truth; grace. Truth then grace. Well, why did Jesus come? He came to explain the Father, full of truth and grace.
He just nailed them between the eyes and then He goes, “But do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses,” He is speaking of the Scriptures, “on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
The testimony of John the Baptist, the testimony of the miracles, and the testimony of the Scriptures, along with Jesus and the Father, He said, “I have made My case. The Father and I are one. I am the Savior of the world and I will judge the world and I have just given you the clearest opportunity ever, ever, ever to have a personal, eternal relationship, beginning the moment you hear and then believe, put your faith in Me.”
Now, if you’ll turn to the back notes, what I want you to see is that the Spirit of God placed this in this Book in this way so that we could see something about our spiritual life.
Because if I would have said to any of you, “If you were laying for thirty-eight years and you were an invalid and Jesus said, ‘Do you want to get well?’ your answer would be, ‘Yeah!’ right?”
And, yet, what we know, psychologically is that a lot of people say they want to get well but they really don’t want to change. It’s that they like the attention. People get used to their condition.
In fact, one of the most difficult things, if you do any study of the backgrounds of alcoholics or drug addicts, one of the most difficult things is when they get clean and sober, it messes up the family system and often the relationship with the spouse or the kids gets really crazy for a while.
Because we all want them to get well but when the person gets well, all of a sudden, the codependency and all the stuff changes. The fact of the matter is, some people like to be sick. They like to complain about being sick. They like the attention of getting sick.
And now notice the parallel on the back page. See, the message – here’s the message of this entire chapter. There is hope for the hopeless. That’s the message. There is hope! I don’t care how bad, how difficult, how painful – there is hope.
In this man, his physical condition was hopeless, helpless. In our spiritual condition, we are helpless. If there is anyone that could do it through knowledge or morality or something, the Pharisees have a big leg up on all of us.
The man’s question from Jesus was, “Do you want to get well?” At least he, “Yes!” The question for us is, “Do you want to get well?” I mean, spiritually. See, a lot of people understand the gospel. Everything in John 5:24, some of you have heard it many, many times and people are praying for you and, “You should come to Christ and place your faith in Christ and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.” And, Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you know what? You don’t want to get well! You would rather be sick in your sin. You would rather have the consequences of your sin because you like it, because you’re comfortable in it.
And when you see it juxtaposed to this physical, all of a sudden you realize, That is nuts! It was easy to see when it was physical but it’s harder to see in ourselves.
The man’s response was, “I need help.” Our response is, “All you need to do is ask for help.” Isn’t this amazing? A merciful, loving God – the moment an individual would simply say, “Help! Have mercy on me, God. Forgive me. Cleanse me.” Whoo. God longs to. He loves you, He’s for you, He cares about you.
The man received physical life and power. What do we receive? Spiritual life and power. The warning to the man was, “Your sin will be judged.” This isn’t one of those where he had faith. This is a guy who gets physically healed but I don’t think he’s right with God yet.
This is an unusual order. He makes him whole – he doesn’t have faith, he doesn’t have gratitude, but here is the illustration now: “I have helped you. Now, deal with the issues in your life.”
And He says to us, “There comes a day for every, single person when we will be judged.” And many people, very, very sincerely, and I was one of them for many years, I’ll do that later. Yeah, maybe someday. Yeah, I get where you’re coming from. Yeah, I mean, but after, or later, right now, gosh, my roommate – what would he think, she think? Right now I’m kind of doing some stuff but…
The Bible says, “Today is the day if you hear His voice.” I am always sobered by the reality that on this day, at this moment, you are hearing His voice. You may never hear it this clearly ever again in your life.
To say, “Later, maybe,” just is, “no.” He wants us to respond, to obey to the light that He might give us more.
Part of this passage raises a significant issue. I asked you when we started to think of a really hopeless time, a helpless time, a difficult time. And part of it, you have to say, Well, why all this pain? If God is a loving God, is a good God, why all this pain?
In Shadowlands, C.S. Lewis writes, “God creates us free, free to be selfish, but He adds a mechanism that will penetrate our selfishness and wake us up to the presence of others in the world, and that mechanism is called suffering. To put it another way, pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Why must it be pain? Why can’t He wake us more gently, with violins or laughter? Because the dream from which we must be wakened, is the dream that all is well.”
All is not well. If you do not have a relationship with God, through the person of Christ, you are spiritually in a hopeless situation and you need a Savior. He goes on to say, “If you are self-sufficient, you have no need of God. If you have no need of God, you do not seek Him. If you do not seek Him, you will not find Him. The suffering in the world is not the failure of God’s love for us; it is His love in action.”