April 7, 2024 - Securing Answers to the Right Questions Leads to an Amazing Life - Pastor Paul Vallee

April 7, 2024 - Securing Answers to the Right Questions Leads to an Amazing Life - Pastor Paul Vallee
Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta
April 7, 2024 - Securing Answers to the Right Questions Leads to an Amazing Life - Pastor Paul Vallee

Apr 09 2024 | 00:51:01

Episode 15 April 09, 2024 00:51:01

Show Notes

The Feast of Tabernacles was designed to be a reminder of God's provisions and care for the nation during the wilderness wanderings. The pillar of fire by night and cloud by day guided them in their journey. The feast also pointed ahead to the new promised Messianic age. This is the context of Jesus' great declaration that 'He is the light of the world.' One of the aspects of the festival was the lighting of the huge lamps in the Temple that illuminated the city. D. A. Carson describes the excitement and joy in this feast.

What an incredible moment for Jesus to announce who He is. In our text, Jesus makes a profound statement about His nature. Here, we have one of the great 'I am' statements in John's gospel that deals with the significant questions of life. The most crucial element in coming to the answers to the right questions is the basis or authority upon which they rest. In a world that denies absolutes and often despises authority, we need to build upon an enduring foundation for our lives. Let me qualify that authority is different from authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is absolute obedience at the expense of all personal freedoms, where healthy authority facilitates freedoms by establishing healthy boundaries. Today's text will look at two key elements that will give us confidence in life based upon the authority and basis of Jesus' testimony.  

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] It's great. I love this. All those middle schoolers. It's great. Why don't we stand this morning as we go to the Lord in prayer? And I would like us to pray as a congregation specifically for a family in our church. Abraham and Esther Wright, they lost their daughter this week, 27 years old. [00:00:20] No. Cause she just stopped breathing, and that was it. So that'd be very painful. Patty and I were there, just a huge loss. And they've been in our church for quite a few years. So let's pray for the rights. God would be with them in a special way in this time. And if you can remember them, if God brings them to mind, to you in prayer, just lift them up before you. [00:00:45] Maybe you're here today. Maybe that's a pretty significant need. But you have a need as well. And, you know, for God, he cares about every need. Small ones, big ones, every size ones, right? And I'm sure you've come today. Some of you have needs in your life. How many would like to just lift your burdens right now to God? Just say, okay, I'm giving this over to you today. I'm not gonna worry about it anymore. I'm just giving it over to you. Amen. I'm gonna let it rest at your feet today. We're gonna just commit the things that are weighing heavy on our hearts. I know some of you have heavy hearts. Let's just lay those things at his feet this morning and allow him to minister to us. We were praying this morning that God would do miracles. Even as we're in the sanctuary today, I believe in a miracle working God. I believe in a compassionate God. I believe that God wants to hear our cries. He's interested in every detail of our lives. I have two children. I'm interested. I'm interested in my grandkids lives. I can't even imagine how interested God is in our lives. So, Father, we thank you this morning. What an amazing father you are. You're the perfect father. You do everything right. You know, a lot of times we struggle in life. A lot of times we question things in life. Sometimes we struggle emotionally, we can struggle mentally. We can struggle physically. We can struggle relationally, financially. We can just go down the list. Lord, we are a challenged, needy people, but we can lay our burdens at your feet. And as a congregation, we bring up Abraham and Esther and their loss. Right now, I pray for great comfort. I pray that you'd be with them in a very powerful and special way, Lord, through the season of their life, as they walk through this journey, Lord. You said even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for you are with us. I pray your presence be ever so real to them. I pray, Lord, in our situation right now, where we're at, as we lay these concerns at your feet, that you will hear our cry, that you will answer in a way even above what all that we could ask, think, or imagine, according to that power, the spirit's power, working in our life. I pray that you will work in a powerful way, that you will work good, even out of evil. That you will take the bad things and turn them around and use them in a positive way, because you can do that. You have that ability. And we thank you for that, Lord. And we pray that you'd open our hearts today. [00:03:09] Lord, if we're blind in some area in our life, and I mean spiritually blind, we just don't have perception. We just don't get it. We don't see it. We don't. You know, we're like the person who's physically blind. We're in the dark. We don't. We can't see the light. I pray today that the light of your amazing love and grace and light would just shower through our brokenness, our pain, and our darkness. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name and God's people said, amen. Amen. [00:03:39] So I've entitled this sermon kind of a long title, securing answers to the right questions lead to an amazing life. So we're going to talk about what are the right questions, and then hopefully come to the right conclusions. All right. A number of years ago, and this is a long time ago, this is a story about Patty and Andrea and me. Okay, Andrea's here, but this is back in 1991, so this is a long time ago, we were. I asked the board for a little extended leave of absence because we were heading into building this building, and they gave me extra time away during the summer, and we took a road trip. How many? Like, taking road trips? Anybody like road trips? I love road trips. You know, you don't have to get in a line. There's no security. You just get in your vehicle. If you want to stop, you stop. If you want to do this, you do that. If you want to, you know, go off your itinerary. You can go off your itinerary. We're traveling through the United States. We're on our way. Patty's family members, some of them live in Vermont, and we're heading down to Vermont through the US. We're driving along, and we get into the black hills of South Dakota. How many have ever been to the black hills of South Dakota? It's a beautiful place, and we decided to spend a few extra days there. And we're exploring, you know, rapid City, and we're doing, like, Mount Rushmore. There's all kinds of fun things. There's a lot of things for kids to see. There's. So we're exploring all this area, and we go into this cave, and we're climbing down these stairs, and they have, you know, lights on. And we're going down, down, down. [00:05:14] I've been going a long ways down. We get to the bottom, there's lights on. And the guide says to us, now, I want everyone to be completely still. Don't say anything, don't move. We're going to turn the lights out. You're going to be in absolute darkness. [00:05:32] How many have ever been in absolute darkness? You know, it's not the same as night out. We're talking absolutely. This is in a cave, way down. [00:05:42] They turn the lights off. Do you know, that is one of the most disorienting experiences. [00:05:48] It's kind of a frightening experience. You're in total darkness. And how many know that when you're in darkness, you know, you can't see anything. It's almost thick. [00:05:59] It's eerie. And then finally, you know, I think a few people were happy to see the lights come back on. I was happy to see the lights come back on, and then we left the cave, and that was that experience. But you know, how many know that if you're physically blind, all you see is darkness? You know, I'm talking about not just legally blind, but I'm talking about literally, you just don't see anything. You're just, everything's in the dark. And so our eyes are so important because they're the gateway that allows light to come in. And you and I can see things through the lens of our eyes. And that's why Jesus says, if your eyes are problematic, everything is going to be dark. [00:06:40] That's on the physical level. But he also talks about that on a spiritual level. We're going to look at that a little bit today because blindness plunges life into darkness. And here at this particular moment, Jesus is at the feast of tabernacles. And the feast of tabernacles, you know, it's a jewish feast, and I'm not advancing here for some reason. [00:07:05] I'm hitting the button, but nothing's happening. [00:07:08] Well, let me keep going. They'll figure it out. The feast of Tabernacles was actually designed to be a reminder of God's provisions and care for the nation. How many know the story? They get set free out of Egypt, they're slaves, and God leads them into the wilderness. But he doesn't leave them alone. He's with them, leading them by a huge pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. And so they see a manifested presence of the living God. And so afterwards in the nation's history, they would celebrate the season of life going through as a nation, through the wilderness experience. And you can read about that experience in the book of numbers. And God was going to bring them to the promised land, and he could have done it a lot sooner, but they didn't have a lot of courage, and they were struggling with moving forward with God. Is this working now? [00:08:06] Oh, it's coming. You're moving me back. That's great. So the feast of tabernacles was to remind them of God's care for them in the wilderness. The feast also pointed ahead to the new promised messianic age. So there was a reason to celebrate it because of the past, but now there's a reason to celebrate it because of the future. But they didn't realize the future was now. How many? It's neat when you're looking forward, you're looking forward, you're looking forward, and all of a sudden it's now. This is the moment you've been waiting for. And it was because Jesus is the messiah, and he was there. And so they were now in the messianic age, so they were celebrating the feast of tabernacles, but they didn't know that actually everything they were celebrating was leading to the very moment they were standing in. But, you know, a lot of times people don't pick up on things. How many of you know that's true? Sometimes you can be in a very significant moment, but you don't realize it. And that was true in this situation. They didn't realize it. [00:09:04] And then it's in that context that Jesus makes an amazing declaration. See, in John's gospel, there are seven I ams. The word I am is the name of God in the Old Testament. Remember, Moses went to a burning bush, and he says, well, you know, God says, I want you to lead my people out of Egypt. And he said, well, who are you? Who do I say is sending me? And God said to him, I am. That I am. [00:09:29] I've always been. And now Jesus gets up in the john's gospel. And seven different times he says, I am. And this time he says, I am the light. I am the light of the world. [00:09:43] So Don Carson says to get an idea of this festival they had in the temple course these huge lamps, and they would light them. And he goes, he who has never seen the joy of the place of water drawing, has never in this life seen joy. This extravagant claim stands just before the description of the lighting of the four huge lamps in the temple courts of the women, and of the exuberant celebration that occurred, or it was put under the light. It says, men of piety and good works dance through the night, holding burning torches in their hands, singing songs and praises. And then the levitical orchestra cut loose. And some sources attested that this went on every night of the feast of tabernacles. These guys are celebrating. This is a joyous occasion. And it says, and with the light from the temple, there is shedding its glow all over the city. So when you knew that you were, this was an unusual moment because, you know, at nighttime in the ancient world, you don't have, you know, electricity like we do. Everything's lit up. It's all dark. But in this feast of tabernacles, there's light everywhere. There's dancing, music, celebration, and it's a powerful moment. And it's in that moment that Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Carson goes on to say, in the context of such powerful ritual, Jesus declaration must have come with stunning force. There's an immediate consequence, whoever follows me, which was an appropriate thing to do with light. Think about it. If you're in the dark, how many go, I'm trying to go somewhere. How many want to follow the person with the light? You know? Otherwise, you know what it's like in the dark. You're going to be bumping, falling, stumbling, and all kinds of problems. He says, it says he will never walk in darkness. I love this. He says he, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. [00:11:43] Now, I don't know about you, but I want to see where I'm going. I like the light. I like to see what's happening. And so Jesus is making this amazing statement. Now, the most important element in coming to the answers to the right questions is actually the basis for those like, upon what authority are these the right questions? Upon what authority is this the right answer? You know, how do they, how do you come to that position that this is the place where you want to put roots down. This is the foundation. See, we're living in a world today that denies absolutes. We all know that, right. Everything's relative today. [00:12:28] It's my truth, your truth, everybody's truth, no truth, you know? [00:12:33] Right. [00:12:34] And we also live in an age when people despise authority. [00:12:38] I think we have to be honest about that, because as human beings, we have our own little issue called rebellion. [00:12:46] And, you know, when you're a little kid, your parents try to curb it, right? [00:12:53] Some parents don't, but they're not doing the rest of us a favor when they don't do that. How many say that's true? Because the kids grow up, but now they're really difficult. They despise authority. We need to build upon an enduring foundation for our lives. And let me qualify one little statement, because I think authority, there's a difference between authority and authoritarianism. Okay, I want to point that out because authoritarianism is a negative. [00:13:20] And what I mean by that authoritarianism is absolute obedience at the expense of all personal freedoms. [00:13:27] And we've seen in the past, I love history and I study this. And when you get an authoritarian regime in, nobody has freedom, they take it all away from people. That's awful. [00:13:38] But on the other side, if you have no authority and there's no rules and no boundaries, you have complete anarchy. That's just as frightening and maybe even more frightening. Okay. But healthy authority facilitates freedoms by establishing healthy boundaries. Do you know we all need healthy boundaries? You may not know that, but we all do. You know, you have to eat the right kinds of food. If you don't eat the right kinds of food, your body is going to not do well. That's a boundary. There's all kinds of boundaries in life. A lot of us. Ah, it doesn't apply to me. Then we pay the price. How many of that's true? There's always a boundary, and there's healthy boundaries. And when people violate them, there's negative consequences that happen as a result. But today I want to look at two key elements that lead to this amazing life that's based upon who Jesus is, his authority, and really his origin. And I'll explain a little bit more what I mean by that. The first key element is the authority of Jesus testimony. What he's going to say. He makes this amazing declaration, I'm the light of the world. If you follow me, you're not going to walk in darkness. What a beautiful statement. But he goes on to talk about the nature of moral light in experiencing God's eternal life. Now, I keep repeating this because I think you know, for a long time, when I was a new christian, I used to think eternal life was forever life. That's a beautiful thought, and it's partly true. But eternal life is more than just forever life. Eternal life is a certain quality of life. Jesus basically says, if you have. You know, John tells us, if we have Jesus, we have eternal life. It's a quality of life. It means that you and I can have peace and joy and hope and sense of forgiveness and purpose. There's so many beautiful things that come with this eternal life, and then we have a hope for the future. You don't have to live in fear and depression and despair and meaninglessness. It's all, therefore the taking. But we have to come via Jesus. Listen to what the psalmist says. He says it this way for with you speaking of God is the fountain of life, and in your light, we see light. Oh, that means that perception is a huge issue in life. [00:16:00] A lot of times, you know, somebody's laying an idea down, but we're not getting it, we're not picking it up, we're not perceiving it, we don't see it, we don't understand it. Actually, Isaiah said that was true of the generation that Jesus was speaking to. They said, they have eyes, but they don't see. They have ears, but they don't hear. They're not getting it. They don't understand, they're not perceiving it. [00:16:21] Now, in our text here, John writes, when Jesus spoke again to the people, he's in the temple now. He said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. [00:16:37] It's only when we come to the light and we follow that light that we can have that kind of life. You got to keep following the light. How many know if the light is moving? When they were in the wilderness, when the pillar of fire at night started moving, they had to move. Or the cloud by day, they had to move. Otherwise God was moving. You were going to stay back there and be stuck in the wilderness. You know, you had to move. That's what he's talking about. There has to be this idea of following, which is, I think, a lost art. Today we have a hard time following. You know, I think a lot of christians think that Christianity is a decision. [00:17:12] I believe Jesus doesn't call for a. He does. He calls for a decision, but it's even more than that. He calls us to follow. Follow him, which is a verb, which means we got to keep doing it. You got to keep following. So how many know when we consider how difficult it is to walk in darkness, where things which could easily be seen in the life and be avoided, but in darkness, they become major obstacles upon which we easily stumble. How many of you ever had those moments, you know, get up in the night, you don't want to wake up your spouse or your kids or, you know, your roommate or whoever it is, don't turn on the light, and you're going somewhere. And I'm telling you, you have to be cautious, right? Especially if somebody's put something or left something where it shouldn't be. It can be very disastrous, especially if you don't see it. And how many know in the light, you can see the obstacles, but in the dark, that's a problem. [00:18:08] And, you know, a lot of people in life, it's like they're living in the dark and they can't see things. And so maybe people who are walking in the light, they're following Jesus, and they know what's right, they know what's wrong. They know what's healthy. They know what's unhealthy. They're able to go past these obstacles. They're dodging, and it's producing a better lifestyle because they're missing all the painful obstacles that are before them. But other people, they're just walking right into these things, and it's just terrible. And your heart breaks for them. And you're saying, oh, my. Look what God happened there. And you're trying to help them up, and they go, never saw it. Yeah, I know. Because they're in the dark. Well, that's problematic, isn't it? And how many know we're grateful to avoid some of those things? And how many have made. And you're looking back now, how many have made horrific decisions because they were stumbling in darkness? [00:19:00] But now, as a child of God, living in the light of God's word and love, realize that those past steps are now to be avoided. Isn't that true? Hey, I'm learning. I'm not gonna. You know, when you have bad experiences, you go, don't want to go down that road again. That was not fun. That was painful. That was, you know, it cost me a lot. And so we want to be in the light. We want to see things clearly. We want to understand God's perception and perspective on how to live this life so we can avoid falling, stumbling, all the pain, all the heartache that comes with it. Now, the symbolism of the temple lights representing God's direction and protection in our life. Ken Hughes says these great torches in the temple symbolize what he called the shekinah glory. You know, the glory of God. Wasn't that beautiful? [00:19:50] That's what that pillar of fire, you know, God says, I'm a fire. You know, I'm a God. God describes himself as a consuming fire. [00:20:00] It says here, he goes on to say, in effect, christ was reminding the people, do you remember the pillar of fire that came between the Israelites and the Egyptians? God made a distinction there. In the red scene. He protected the Israelites and their wanderings in the darkness. Now, on the one side, the Israelites could see the light. God was like, illuminating their way. And on the other side, the Egyptians were in the dark. They couldn't see a thing. And then eventually God parted the water. The Red Sea Israelites went across, it's all illuminated. They can see. The next day, God just lifts the fire. It's now a cloud. The Egyptians go, oh, look at this. They're getting away from us. And they start marching into the Red Sea. And God goes, oh, you guys are presuming you can do that. The Israelites, they were walking across by faith. These guys are walking in presumption. How many know they're going to get in trouble? All of a sudden, the water comes back down. God protected the people, right? [00:20:56] He says, I'm the light of the world. He's basically identifying with that shekinah cloud, that pillar of fire. And Jesus, in a sense, is saying, I'm God. And these people are catching on to some of his communication here. So there's a conflict right now between light and darkness. And by the way, there's always been a conflict between light and darkness. We keep going, why is there the conflict, pastor? Because light and darkness don't work together. See, light always dispels darkness. And, you know, a lot of times we freak out because, oh, everything's getting so dark. Well, I say this. If Jesus is the light of the world, he says, we're lights, too, and we need to shine like the stars in the sky. [00:21:38] Not that we're the stars are just giving off a little bit of light. You know, we're just reflecting the light of God to people. So there's an illumination happening. Isn't that beautiful? It's helping people see. That's what it's all about. [00:21:54] But there's always this conflict. And, you know, you don't have to have. Even if you have a little flashlight in the pitch black, it's amazing how you can see things now. You don't see everything, but you can sure see a lot more than you could without it. And so, in a sense, you and I need to let our little light shine. Isn't that true? We need to allow the light of God's love to shine in our lives. [00:22:18] Merrill Tani says the conflict described now in the ensuing argument is essentially the conflict of the light of revelation and the darkness of prejudice produced by ignorance and sin. And John goes earlier in his letter, he says, this is the verdict. Light has come into the world. But people love darkness. And instead of light, why? Because their deeds were evil. So sin has a way of suppressing light. That's the darkness we're talking about. Sin produces darkness. It's a moral darkness. And we don't have light, so we choose to live in denial rather than address problems within our own soul. And it's an interesting irony to life. Those who are in the darkness generally think of themselves as being okay. How many notice that? And those who are in the light of God, they see themselves in need of God's forgiveness and grace. And I've kind of discovered something. You know, when I was not a believer and I was walking in my own way, I thought I was okay. Now, did I have problems? Absolutely. You know, I had issues, but I was okay. I was a good guy, right? I had the white hat. But then what happens is, eventually you have to come to that recognition that maybe I'm not such a good guy. And when I came to the discovery that I was actually a sinner, that was a very painful moment, kind of an aha moment. You know, I'm like, man, I'm really messed up here, and I need help, and I need God to forgive me. When I came to that moment, then I became a follower of Jesus. And what happens then is now I'm in the light, and I look back, and I go, oh, my goodness, that was darkness. But I didn't see it at the time. I thought that was normalcy. But now there's a new normal that's in my life. And all of a sudden, I'm starting to realize as I'm walking with God, the closer I get to the light, the more I'm recognizing the imperfections and the things in my life that aren't right. And that was a little disconcerting at first. But you know what? God was doing a work of revealing these things so he could begin a process of change from the inside out. [00:24:17] How beautiful is that? And a transformation started happening. You know, we see it in nature. When the caterpillars cocoon. And eventually, boom. Comes out as a butterfly. That's an amazing transformation. And that's the kind of transformation God brings into our lives. When we receive Christ, he transforms us. And, you know, it reminds me of a story years ago when I was a cook and we were cleaning the kitchen. There was four of us. It was a big restaurant, and lots of food went out of there. We were cleaning up after our shift, and some of the fluorescent tubes were dimming. One of them was out. Pretty soon the other went out and were cleaning the kitchen. And one of the cooks, bless his heart, went and got two new fluorescent tubes and put them in. I thought we were done, but when those tubes went on, I went, whoa. This place is not as clean as we thought it was. Because when you have more light, it reveals what's not nice. [00:25:07] And that's why people tend to shy away from walking in the light. Because they don't want their deeds to be exposed. But when you walk towards the light, instead of God judging us, you know what he does? He starts transforming us. He starts making us realize, do you really want to live like this? Do you want to be an impatient person? Do you want to be an angry person? Do you want to be an insecure person? Do you want to be an immoral person? Do you want to be this kind of person? Or do you want to have transformation happening in your life? That's the question we have to ask ourselves. [00:25:40] Pharisees now appeal to legal grounds, trying to negate Christ's testimony. They said they challenged them. Here. Here you are appearing as your own witness. Your testimony is not valid. Now, maybe they had picked up on something Jesus had said earlier in their conversation in chapter five. If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. What Jesus was basically saying is, yeah, you need to have more than one witness when you're sharing something. And that was legally in the old Testament, and they picked up on that. But here's what we need to know. Jesus is an unusual person. [00:26:13] He's probably the only person that can testify and it be true. You know why? Because he is the truth, and he can only tell the truth, and he cannot lie. So his. Whatever he says is going to be valid no matter what. And he answers them. Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is going to be valid for I. And this is how he makes his argument for I know where I came from and I know where I'm going, but you have no idea where I come from and where I'm going. In other words, if you knew who I really was, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Because Jesus knew where he originated from. Do you know? Jesus knew he was eternal. He knew he was God. And he knew that there was a moment when the father and himself and the spirit had agreed that he would become incarnate, become a man, and he was born as a human being at a certain point in human history. But prior to that, he was eternal. And he knew that one day he was going to be back in fellowship with the father for eternity. And so Jesus knows all of this, but he tells these guys, you guys are clueless right now. You really are. You don't even know who you're talking to, and you don't know what you're talking about. He's trying to be nice about it, but he points things out to them. You know, you judge by human standards. I pass judgment on no, he said, but if I do judge, which one day jesus will judge, my decisions are true because I'm not alone. I stand with the father who sent me. So now Jesus is introducing, oh, I have another witness. It's my father. I'm only doing what he's telling me to do. Merrill Tenney brings out, even if I bear witness of myself, my testimonies. True meant that he had shifted his argument from the basis of an abstract legality to the principle of his personal competence. In other words, he's saying, I can say this because I know who I am and who Jesus is is pretty intense. He's God. [00:28:03] So when Jesus judges, it's always going to be correct. It's always going to be right. Now, can you imagine I was working on this thing? Well, first of all, he points out our inability to make accurate judgments. And then he makes this contrast between what he knows versus what his opponents do not know and what Jesus knows, where he's coming from and where he's headed. And they don't know either. [00:28:25] They judge by human standards, which are limited and often wrong. When Jesus judges, he gets it right. Now, this is the part I thought was interesting. I'm working away, and I have this little epiphany. You ever have those moments where you're reading this? I was thinking, oh, this is going to be. This is so interesting. I had this thought. Can you imagine the absurdity of what they were actually doing? Think about it. They were judging the one who one day they would stand before as their judge. [00:28:52] How many think that's amazing? [00:28:55] How many think that's kind of interesting? They're actually judging the one who's going to judge them? [00:29:01] Now, if that's not frightening enough, consider how many people today are doing the very same thing. People are making judgments about Jesus. For which they will one day stand before him. And. And be accountable for their judgments. [00:29:16] So even though it's ludicrous to me. To think that these Pharisees, these people that said they know God, are judging Jesus, Jesus is actually God. He's gonna be judging them. And then I thought about it. Whoa. It's more significant than that. You know, you and I could live with that. But what happens when I start thinking the way I'm judging Jesus today? [00:29:33] He's gonna be judging me. And Jesus says it. The judgment that you're rendering will be brought back to you. James talks about that. The judgment you give is going to come back. You're setting up the standard by which you're going to be judged by. [00:29:45] And God's going to be your judge. [00:29:48] Now, these contrasts between Jesus and his enemies. Was not intended as a vilification, but a sober judgment on their inability. Of the people that were there to discern his real identity. [00:30:01] So now Tanny goes on to say, jesus knowledge of himself was strong. At the precise point where man is weak. Humanity knows nothing of its origins and spiritual destiny. Beyond what has been revealed. What is he saying? He's saying, here's the problem. As human beings, we don't think about this. But we hardly ever ask ourselves the question, where did we come from? And where are we going? That doesn't go through most people's filters. Most people are in the moment. They're living in the now. They don't think about, you know, where did we actually come from? Why am I here? What's my purpose, and where am I headed? Now, if you start asking those questions, it's going to create a lot of thought, like, how did we get here? Is this all random chance? [00:30:45] You know, a bunch of mutations over a long period of time? That's kind of the theory, but, you know, a lot of scientists are going too complicated. Got to be an intelligent designer behind all this. And if that's the case, why are we here? What's our purpose for living? And what's going to happen after I physically die? Hmm. All these interesting questions. Jesus legal and personal appeal. [00:31:11] John 817. He says, in your own law, it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies myself. My other witness is the father who sent me. [00:31:22] Then they asked him, where's your father? [00:31:25] You do not know me or my father. Jesus replied, if you knew me, you would also. You would know my father also. Wow. Here's another one of those aha moments. You know what? I think this is a shocking statement. [00:31:40] As religious leaders, they thought they were representing God. Are we following this? And because of their inability to recognize who Jesus is, Jesus is telling them they don't know God, because if they knew God, they would recognize who Jesus is. But because they don't know who God is, they don't know who Jesus is. Is. [00:32:00] How many are following this? [00:32:02] It's kind of a shocking statement. He's basically saying, you guys don't have a clue. You're clueless. [00:32:09] Because Jesus said later on in the book, we're looking at, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but by me. If you don't know Jesus, you don't know the father. It's real simple. That's pretty strong. [00:32:24] We realize that we can only know God if he has revealed himself to us. And if we think that this is too much to ask of people, the people he was talking to at that moment or even to us in our day, I think we need to consider some of the people in the biblical narrative who were able to identify who Jesus is. And I'll give you a classic example. This is back to the Christmas story. [00:32:45] Remember this guy? It had been revealed to him by God, by the Holy Spirit. That's who God is. The third person in the Trinity, that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's messiah, which is Jesus. [00:32:59] Moved by the Holy Spirit, he went into the temple courts. And when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the law required, Simeon took him in his arms, praised God and said, or saying, sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. In other words, I'm ready to die. He says, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations, a light for revelation to the Gentiles. See, we need a revelation and the glory of your people, Israel. [00:33:33] Wow. But I want you to think of a few other people. You know, when I look at some others, what about Anna, who was in the temple at the same time? Or the shepherds that the angels appeared to? Or Peter, who Jesus said to him, hey, Peter, who am I? And Peter said, you are the Christ. You're the messiah. You're the anointed one. And Jesus said to him, blessed are you, Simon, my father. I mean, he said, flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven. See, it's a revelation. We have to have that reveal to us who Jesus really is. [00:34:05] And here we see at the conclusion of his statement here with these words. While he was teaching in the courts near the place where the offerings were put, it says, yet no one sees them because his hours not yet come. In other words, what he was saying was basically getting these people agitated. But nobody did anything because it wasn't the right moment. How many know? God has a time. There's a time for everything. There's a season for everything. You know, I was talking to somebody the other day. I said, listen to what ecclesiastes says. There's a time to be born and a time to die, a time for peace, a time for war. On and on and on it goes. There's a time for everything. We need to understand that most of our problems is we're out of timing. Our timing is bad. We don't wait. We're impatient. We do our own thing. We're not in step with God's spirit. But let me move on to the second point. I only got two. Origin of Jesus. What I mean here is not in the sense of time, but speaking of his eternal nature and union with the father. [00:35:01] Jesus is God, but he becomes flesh. [00:35:05] Jesus challenges these religious leaders to embrace the opportunity that is now presented to them. [00:35:11] Once more, Jesus said to them, I'm going away and you're going to look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come. Ff Bruce says, the incarnate word that means the word becoming flesh is to be on earth in a visible form for a limited period only. This limited period is their opportunity. If they accept him for what he is, then they will receive the right to become God's children. Eternal life will be theirs. But if they let the opportunity slip, it will not recur. The time of his visible present with them will have passed, and they will seek him to that in vain. Instead of enjoying eternal life through faith in him, they will die in their sin without having their sin removed. [00:35:53] Sin. Notice, it's singular, the sin preeminently. What is the sin? This is the only sin that is unpardonable. It's a failure to believe in Jesus. That's the only one. Their refusal to come to the light while it's available, they refused to believe in him. [00:36:12] The ultimate question now is raised. [00:36:15] This made the Jews ask, where are you going? Are you going to kill yourself? [00:36:21] Will he kill himself? Is that why he says where I go, you cannot come. Now, you have to remember earlier in the story, Jesus had said this earlier, and some of the Jews thought he meant, oh, he's going to leave and go preach to the Jews that are dispersed around the mediterranean basin. Or maybe he's going to the Gentiles, but they could actually go to those locations. So what's Jesus talking about here? And they go, oh, see how many their mind is on the naturalistic. They don't see this on a spiritual level at all. They go, oh, he must be going to commit suicide. No, that's not what Jesus is saying. [00:36:54] In relating this comment, I think there's a tremendous irony to us as the reader. [00:37:00] We know that Jesus will meet a violent death by crucifixion, and those now questioning him, they're actually responsible for it. And Jesus knows that the issue is one of origin. In other words, Jesus is God. They don't get it. They feel that he's blaspheming by saying he's God and they're going to kill him for that, and that's why they can't come, because they're going to destroy his physical life now. [00:37:29] But, he continued, you're from below. I'm from above. You're of this world. I'm not of this world. Now that's an interesting statement. What's he talking about? World. That's the greek word cosmos. But you know, sometimes with definitions of terms, we have to understand them. You know, the Bible says God so loved the world. That's talking about people. But here he's talking about something different. There's another definition of the word world in the new testament, and it comes like this, love. Not the world, neither the things that are in it, the love of the pride of life, the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh, these are things of the world. What's he talking about? He's talking about when we're in a state of rebellion against God and his values, that's the world. And so we either love the things of God or we love the things that are in rebellion to God. That's what the word world means. We either love one or the other. It's very interesting. Now he says, you're from below, I'm from above. You're of this world. I'm not of this world. Actually, Jesus said, you're going to be in this world, but you're not of this world. In other words, you're living here, but you're not embracing the value systems of this culture. That's what he's talking about. [00:38:37] I told you that you would die in your sins. Now notice it's plural. And if you do not believe that I am he, if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins. [00:38:50] Okay, ff. Bruce says the plural sins now used in verse 24 against the singular. In verse 20, in the singular expresses the root of unbelief. The plural expresses the particular attitudes, words, and actions which make up its fruit. [00:39:07] Think of it this way. [00:39:09] Our root sin is not trusting Jesus. All the other sins are a fruit of not trusting Jesus. It's just like when you and I are trusting Jesus and the spirit of God comes and lives inside of us. We talk about the fruit of the spirit, which is love. And all of the manifestations of God's spirit inside of us are love, joy, peace, gentleness, faith, self control. Aren't those beautiful? You see what he's doing here? He's painting this distinction. [00:39:42] Then here's the question. Who are you? That's, by the way, that is the most important question we should ever ask Jesus. Who are you? [00:39:52] He said, just what I've been telling you from the very beginning. Jesus replied, this is the question I think we all face. And the answer to that question not only determines the quality of our earthly life, but our eternal destiny. It's such an important question. Jesus faithful proclamation and complete compliance to his father's message. He said, I have much to say in judgment of you, but he who sent me is trustworthy. And what I've heard from him, I tell the world. In other words, Jesus, I'm just telling you what the father wants you to know. You know, it's interesting. These guys said that they were representing God and everything Jesus says, I'm only telling what the father's telling me to say, and they're getting ticked off. [00:40:34] Isn't that interesting? Do they really know God? No. Do they really represent God? No. Does Jesus know the father? Absolutely. Does he really know who God is? Yeah, because he is God. He's one with the father father. [00:40:46] Now, they did not understand that he was telling them about his father. [00:40:51] So Jesus said, when you have lifted up the son of man, then you will know that I am he and that I can do nothing on my own but speak just what the father has taught me. [00:41:01] Now, isn't that interesting? Don Carson says, when will the full disclosure of Jesus take place? That will occur when the son of man is lifted up. What does that expression be lifted up means? Well, it means it's crucifixion. [00:41:14] He goes on to say, the double force of the verb is maintained. When Jesus is lifted up on the cross, he is being lifted up also to his father's presence, returned to the glory he enjoyed with the father before the world began. Jesus says, when I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself. Carson goes on to say, one of the functions of the cross is to reveal who Jesus is. When we look at the cross, we ask, what's this about? And the message is real simple. Jesus came to die for sin, our sin powerful so we could be forgiven. The response to Jesus teaching here, the one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. Wouldn't it be great to say that I always do what pleases my father in heaven? That's the life we should be living. That's the goal. Even as he spoke, many believed in him. And here we see that belief comes from hearing the message of Jesus. And Paul says, in Romans, faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. That's why it's so important to hear sermons. That's why it's so important to read the scriptures. We hear the word of God, and it speaks into our spirit. Isn't it amazing? Sometimes we're listening, all of a sudden, we feel like God's talking right to us. I've had so many people say, pastor, I feel like when you're talking, God's talking through you. Right to me. I said, yeah, because that's the nature of it. [00:42:32] So how will we receive the message, and what do we think regarding the origin of the human story and the final destiny? Do we see life as created by God for a purpose, or do we think that the universe is here by random chance? [00:42:46] Do we put God on trial, not realizing, like those who rejected Jesus in his day, that one day they'll be judged? Because they've been judging by mere appearances. One day they'll be judged, and so will we, that God will be our judge. The fundamental sin has always been unbelief, and that finds many different types of expressions. And when we address the root issue, it always affects the rest. [00:43:12] See, I think a lot of times with religion, this is what happens in religion. People try to tell you, you got to do this, you got to do that, you got to do this. It's all externally pushed on you from the outside. [00:43:22] That's unhealthy and it's wrong. That's legalism. [00:43:25] What I'm talking about is when we have a revelation and we receive Christ as our savior and Lord. What happens is the change starts happening from the inside. God changes our desires. Now we want to serve him and please him and seek him and know him and forsake sin. It's really amazing. That's called regeneration, that's called this new creation. That's what we need to understand as a culture. Though we never speak of our problems and difficulties as sin, we're busy trying to curtail the results of our sins to no effect. That's what we're busy doing. All the problems you see with people, we never call it bad, we never say it's wrong, we just try to fix it. But we're only dealing with symptoms. It's not the root problem. The root problem is unbelief. The root problem is rebellion against our creator. That's the root problem. If we address the root, it'll take care of the fruit. [00:44:18] What is needed is, I say, far more radical. We need to come to Jesus as Lord and savior so we'll not need later to come to him as our judge. Let's stand. [00:44:33] That was a lot of information in that little package of scriptures. [00:44:38] So what did we talk about today? Well, we talked about light and darkness, right? Remember that? [00:44:45] Are we living in light or are we living in darkness? [00:44:48] We talked about, you know, basically trying to figure out who Jesus is. If we get that wrong, we're in trouble. [00:44:59] We really are. We gotta get that right. We're talked about is the origin of Christ, is the origin of our world, where's all that coming from? But we never think about it and we never think about the end, final destiny. We need to answer those questions. And the right answer to those questions brings about transformation in our life. That's what we need to understand today. [00:45:23] So the big question is, and it's always been it's big question that's gone on for 2000 years, who is Jesus? [00:45:30] A lot of people say, well, he's a prophet. Well, prophets can't lie. And Jesus said he was God. [00:45:37] Some people go, I can just accept him as a prophet, but not as God. Well that's a problem. [00:45:42] You know, he's a good teacher. Well, he's leading you to believe that he's God and that's the point. [00:45:51] He's leading us to believe that he's God in the flesh, that he came and he died. Why did he come to die? He came to die for a sin. You know, a lot of people are trying to save themselves trying to live a good enough life. I'm trying to be the best person I can. [00:46:04] Can I tell you something? You're going to fail. [00:46:08] Not that you're so terrible. You're just going to fail. We all do. Human beings, we just can't do it. What we're doing when we say we don't need a savior is we're negating. We're saying, God, you didn't need to leave heaven, and you didn't need to come, and you didn't need to die, and you didn't need to rise again, but we did. We needed everything God came to do for us. And the moment we surrender to him, everything changes. [00:46:33] Everything changes. God's spirit comes and dwells in you, comes and lives in you, and creates a new desire. I'll have to be honest. Before I was a Christian, I had no interest in spiritual things. None. Didn't want to go to church. [00:46:48] Moment I surrendered my life to Jesus and became a follower, things changed. I wanted to go to church. I wanted to get closer to Jesus because I heard the call of God, come follow me, come follow me. And I want to just challenge you as a Christian. You know, it's not just a decision. It starts with a decision, but it's a continuous decision. It's a daily decision. Am I following Jesus? And if the light is moving and I'm not moving with the light, I'm going to be in darkness pretty soon. And I see a lot of christians not following, and they end up in darkness and they end up stumbling, you know, then you're running back and picking them up and they go, I don't even know why I went down. I said, well, you were walking in darkness. You got to stay close to the light. [00:47:33] It'll keep you out of darkness. [00:47:35] And so with every head bowed this morning, I just want to say this. How many here? I'm going to give you a number of opportunities. Number one, how many here struggle with fear? Anybody struggle with fear? How many struggle with doubt? Anybody struggle with addictions? Why am I saying all of that? You know what the core issue is? I'm not trusting. [00:47:55] I'm not trusting. Think about it. God says if I start something, I'll finish it. He who began a good work in you will complete it. I said this to somebody the other day. I said, you know what? If God took care of you all these years, why would he stop taking care of you now? He's going to take care of you right till the very end. Isn't God good? [00:48:17] Yeah, but I made mistakes along the way. Pastor. God is gracious. [00:48:21] God is good. God is compassionate. God is forgiving. Aren't you glad for that? I am. [00:48:29] I'm a pastor. Do you make mistakes, pastor? All the time. God's forgiving. God is gracious. But I want to keep following. I want to stay as close to the light as I can. I don't want to be stumbling in the dark. [00:48:44] And maybe you're here this morning. Say, I've never really surrendered my life to Christ and made him lord in my life where I say, it's not my will anymore, it's yours. I turn my life over to you. That will change your whole course, your whole destiny. [00:48:59] I believe Jesus is God. I believe he came as a man. I believe he died for my sin. I believe he rose again from, I believe is now living and ruling and reigning. And one day he's coming back for his universe. He's coming back, folks, and we will all stand before him. And at that day, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that he's Lord to the glory of God the father. It'll happen. That is, we're coming towards that. We're not there yet, but we're coming towards it. How beautiful is that? [00:49:31] So let me pray, and you pray with me. You just say, lord, if I'm afraid, forgive me. I want to trust you like I never have before, Lord, if I struggle with addictions, I pray, break those chains in my life. Give me. Help me to yield to your life. Help. But not to be about me anymore. Help it to be about you. I believe you can break those chains. I believe you can destroy the strongholds of the enemy. In my mind and in my heart and in my life. I believe you can break. You're a chain breaker. You're a snare breaker. You can deliver us. You can set us free. You're a liberator. [00:50:05] You did that in the children of Israel. We're in bondage to slavery, Lord. We've been in bondage to the slavery of sin. But you are the deliverer. You can set captives free. And I pray today. We're praying for miracles today. You're going to set captives free today. Captives free from sin. Whatever manifestation of sin, because, Lord, it comes down to the root will. I trust Jesus fully. And I pray today that we will make a fresh surrender to your lordship. I say, here's my life. From this point on, it's not about me anymore. It's all about you. It's not my will. It's your will. It's about your kingdom. It's about doing whatever you want me to do. I'm going to trust you so implicitly to believe that you created me for a divine purpose. And you have something in mind for my life. And I want to fulfill your will. And I thank you for that. I thank you for hearing our cry today. In Jesus name, amen. God bless you as you leave.

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