Tag Archives: certainty
Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 11)
The interrogation of the man born blind decidedly goes downhill from this point on. He has referred to Jesus as “a prophet” (i.e. a man of God) and has declined the expert opinion of Israel’s religious leaders that Jesus is “a sinner.” But the story continues.
In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.
Hurling Insults: The Pharisees lose it when the man born blind says to them, “Surely you don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?” (v. 27). That was the last thing these Pharisees wanted! So they engage in hurling insults against the man. Verse 28 reads 28 ἐλοιδόρησαν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπον· Σὺ μαθητὴς εἶ ἐκείνου, ἡμεῖς δὲ τοῦ Μωϋσέως ἐσμὲν μαθηταί. (Literally, “They insulted him and said, ‘You are a disciple of that one, but we are disciples of Moses.'”)
This verb loidorēō is used only four times in the New Testament. Here in John 9 it can be translated “scoffed.” In Acts 23:4 it is translated as “insult.” In I Corinthians 4:12 Paul is speaking of the Apostles’ response to persecution and says, “When reviled, we bless.” And in I Peter 2:23 we read of the Lord Jesus: “When he was insulted, he did not respond with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten . . .” People resort to insult when logic and reasoning fail them — and they feel threatened!
Knowledge and Ignorance: The Pharisees protest that they are disciples of Moses. They declare, “we know that God spoke to Moses . . .” Their knowledge was certain and sure — and they were convinced that they were in the right.
It is interesting that Jesus says in John 5:46- “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.“ These Pharisees admit their ignorance about Jesus when they say, “but as for this fellow we don’t even know where he comes from.” (v. 29).
Here these religious leaders of Israel have the opportunity to learn about Jesus from someone who has been the recipient of one of His miracles. But they argue for their complete loyalty to Moses, failing to realize Jesus was, in a real sense, the new Moses.
Today’s Challenge: In a sense, everyone is a disciple, a follower, of someone, even if that someone is . . . themselves. As disciples of Jesus, we need to speak the truth about Who He is and why He should be followed. And we do that with our words and our behavior.
IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a MISSION! (Part 3)
Karl Barth said that people come to church out of the expectancy that they could find the answer to the question ‘IS IT TRUE? IS IT REALLY TRUE?” He was talking about the gospel. And that’s what these posts are about.
If the gospel of Jesus Christ is really TRUE, then certain conclusions follow. We’ve looked at the conclusion that, if the gospel is true, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. We are Christ’s aroma (2 Corinthians 2) — and some will think we are a fragrance and some an odor!
Let’s notice a second conclusion and that is —
IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .
We have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel.
We are not suggesting any form of persecution or marginalization of other belief systems. We are simply stating that truth is greater than error. And the errors of human religions must be compassionately but clearly engaged so that the good news about Jesus can be heard.
This is why we have MISSIONS. We believe that people are genuinely lost and that they cannot save themselves by their own religious efforts. No one is good enough or spiritual enough to earn forgiveness from the Triune God. If we could save ourselves, then why the Cross? The Apostle Paul puts it this way: 4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10)
One of my fondest memories of teaching theology in seminary for almost twenty years was the class I created called “Eternal Destinies.” I invited (with the approval of my seminary dean) leaders from such cults as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Ba’hai, Judaism, Buddhism, Christian Science and one or two others to present a brief lecture to my class about their worldview.
You need to know that we treated our guests with dignity, but the students brought me great pride as they asked precise, insightful questions of the guests. Some of their questions were: “How do you know your spiritual authority is right?” “What view do you take on the historical Jesus?” “Will anyone ever be lost eternally?”
We need not fear other religions or worldviews. We will need to do our homework and we will need to treat others with kindness. Satan is the great deceiver and it takes work to separate truth from error.
Today’s Challenge: Do you have any friends who belong to a religion other than Christianity? Are you treating them with kindness? Do you see your mission as asking them significant questions which just might get them thinking about the true gospel?
Some of My Favorite Quotes: G.K. Chesterton on Mental Modesty!
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936), better known as G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. Chesterton is often referred to as the “prince of paradox“. Time magazine has observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.”
Chesterton is well known for his fictional priest-detective Father Brown, and for his reasoned apologetics. Even some of those who disagree with him have recognised the wide appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an “orthodox” Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, his “friendly enemy”, said of him, “He was a man of colossal genius.” Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and John Ruskin.
One of my favorite Chesterton quotes is the following. He is discussing the issue of certainty and truthfulness: “But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, pp. 31-32). (your comments?)
Some of My Favorite Quotes: Greg Johnson on Dogmatism
In The World According to God, Greg Johnson writes: “Today it’s not unthinkable that an Evangelical scholar might say something like this: ‘For me personally, from my limited perspective, I think it would appear to me, if I’m not mistaken about this, that there’s one primary Savior in the Bible, at least according to my faith tradition, within my circle of meaning, assuming a pre-modern metanarrative in a faith-based discourse, as we tend to do, I think.’”
Johnson responds: “WEASEL! There’s a difference between being aware of your limitations and being a coward. We used to say, ‘Jesus is the only Savior.’ It’s a clear, concise statement, powerful in its simplicity. Besides, GOD says so!”
Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) Part 20
Claiming to be a disciple of Moses was one thing. Jesus has just told them in John 5 that theirs was a mere claim. They weren’t really disciples of Moses.
They then claim to have certain knowledge about God speaking to Moses. This they knew. What they didn’t know was where “this fellow” came from! And these were the leaders responsible for the spiritual safety of the people of Israel!
The ignorance of the man born blind (how he was healed) is matched by the ignorance of the religious leaders (regarding the identity of Jesus). That kind of stalemate gave the man born blind an opportunity to perhaps exit the conversation. But “in for a dime, in for a shekel,” as they say. So he attacks!
“Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.” Isn’t the man born blind really saying, “You’ve failed the geography test — which was a small matter — how in the world can you pass the miraculous one?” And I think he used his brand new eyes to stare them down one by one.
What do you and I KNOW? I mean, really? We know that God loves us. We know that He’s done something about our sin. And we know that He is in the sight-giving business. But only to those who recognize their own blindness and want it taken away. (to be continued)
Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) Part 14
What do you KNOW? I mean, for sure? Our culture seems to tolerate just about anything, except the certainty that truth can be known. Our man born blind has just been put under oath (like sinful Achan in Joshua 7) and the Pharisees demand his opinion about Jesus.
In fact, they announce their view and expect him to agree with them. “We know this man is a sinner,” they say. Did they really expect him to reply, “Of course, you are right. I can see that now!”
But he does not oblige. He declares in unmistakable terms what he doesn’t know and what he does know. “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
What do you know? Say it! Say it clearly. Say it with all your conviction. But say it!
And don’t let the religious turkeys get you down!
G. K. Chesterton declared the following: “But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, pp. 31-32). (to be continued)
Time for a Great Cartoon (certainties)
What are the CERTAINTIES in your life? Our tastes change over time, don’t they? I grew up as a picky eater — until I met my wife-to-be. Then I learned the discipline of a “no-thank-you helping.”
If you made a list, like Calvin, of the matters about which you are absolutely certain, what would be on that list? Hopefully, truths about the Lord and His character would top your list. What am I certain about Him?
1. He is the unchanging, perfect, merciful, holy God of the universe. Any theology that compromises one of His attributes is out of court from the start.
2. Man (you and I) is totally depraved. By “total depravity” Christians don’t mean utter depravity. We are not suggesting that man is as evil as he can possibly be, but that every aspect of man’s make-up (intellect, emotions, will, personality, priorities, body, etc.) has been tainted by sin.
3. Life can be meaningful when you and I are in a proper relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
4. The Bible indeed is God’s Word — and can be trusted, engaged with, and applied to every issue in life.
What are some of YOUR certainties?