Friday, October 19, 2018
The bankruptcy of man is clearly revealed in the fact that without the ministry of God the Holy Spirit he could not comprehend and so believe the gospel. God the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son to convict the world throughout this age.
The Holy Spirit convicts the world (JOH 16:8-11):
One sin to the forefront.
Perfect standing with God in righteousness.
Freedom from the god of this world.
We should communicate these to the unbeliever, not to convince them in argument or to pull them into the full and detailed doctrine of imputed righteousness, but to tell them that in Christ they will be righteous and have a perfect standing with God, and the Holy Spirit will convict them of this fact. It is up to them to believe, not us per se, but the Spirit.
The fact is that I am so bankrupt that I need God to reveal the gospel to me. The gospel alone without the ministry of the Holy Spirit would be wasted on helpless mankind.
The Holy Spirit opened the eyes of the believing man. The Spirit moved to open the eyes of the unbelieving man, but he rejected the obvious truth and slammed his eyes shut.
The promise is that He would convict the world. Another promise is that God wills all men to receive salvation (passive verb). The Spirit moved to open the eyes of the unbelieving man, but the man’s unbelief rejected the obvious truth and slammed his eyes shut.
In fact, both men were shown the same things and one discovered his own blindness and had faith to be healed while the other proudly claimed that he could see just fine, though he was blind.
We will see in the doctrine of election, that religious Israel in the time of Christ were convinced that they had something to offer God.
In Rom 9-11 Paul writes of God choses to have mercy on whom He desires and to harden whom He desires. He chose Jacob over Esau before they had done anything good or bad. He makes one vessel for honorable use and another for common use. We might conclude that God predestined some to glory and predestined others to judgment and that neither group had any choice in the matter. But then Paul goes on.
ROM 9:30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith;
ROM 9:31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.
ROM 9:32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,
ROM 9:33 just as it is written,
"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed."
ROM 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
ROM 10:2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
ROM 10:3 For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.
ROM 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
When they witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 they actually concluded that they were going to make Jesus their King. Think about that, “they” were going to “make” Him a King.
All day long God is reaching out to obstinate people in this age through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
ROM 10:21 But as for Israel He says, "All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."
We are trying to separate into water tight compartments, what exactly God does and what man does when God and man are working together. The problem is that we cannot know the infinite nature of God, and to a much lesser degree, we do not always understand ourselves. We can only know what He reveals, and He reveals that He chose Jacob over Esau before they were born and He also reveals that righteousness comes by faith, and, we see later on in the narrative that Jacob, though a scoundrel, had faith, while Esau, also a scoundrel, had not faith. One man says that God forced faith in one of them, but that is not true, for why would God extend His hand all day to those He had forced not to take it? Most men are not that foolish.
Let’s look at an example concerning our Christian lives. Is maturity up to us or does God do it?
PHI 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out [katergazomai: toil to carry to its ultimate goal] your salvation with fear and trembling;
PHI 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
In verse twelve, it looks like everything depends on us - obey and toil carry to its end your salvation, namely, be Christlike and do so with fear and trembling, meaning to exercise extreme caution.
In verse thirteen, it looks like God does everything.
We might look at it like two men are working together, but God is not a man. He is within us, upon us, and outside of us all at once. It is not like a partnership between men where you do your bit and I do my bit. Even if we could somehow understand the details of this partnership between us, as God’s sons, and God, as our Father, there wouldn’t be human language to describe it. As we see in this short passage, God doesn’t describe how it all works. It just does and that is why faith works. Without faith we try and fill in the blanks, which become weak links in the chain, and the whole machine breaks down.
Different denominations and churches and pastors and theologians say different things in trying to describe it. Some of them stress the good works of the believer and others the faith of the believer and others the work of God within, yet all of them are in view here. “We are puzzled but not surprised.” [C.S. Lewis]
We shouldn’t emphasize any one or two of these, but all of them.
[C.S. Lewis] “I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one’s eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people’s eyes can see further than mine.”
We turn to the scene is the Temple on the Sabbath. It is full of worshipping men and women in their perspective courts. There are many witnesses to this Messianic miracle.
Remember that John writes his Gospel late in the first century, likely over thirty years after the synoptic Gospels. By this time, many false doctrines have arisen concerning the person of Christ. John’s Gospel is very different from the others. It includes events in Christ’s life that the others omitted. This instance of the healing of the man born blind may have been included by John to reveal to all how plainly the gospel is made to every man, and how blind are they all who reject it.
JOH 9:35 Jesus heard that they had put him out; and finding him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
JOH 9:36 He answered and said, "And who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?"
JOH 9:37 Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you."
JOH 9:38 And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him.
JOH 9:39 And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind."
JOH 9:40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?"
JOH 9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness
By believing, the sinner turns from all works of his own, on which he might depend, and confides in Another to do that which no human works could ever do.
The Pharisees interviewed the healed man and imagining that he might have only been faking his blindness, they called for his parents and interviewed them, and they confirmed that he was their son and that he had been born blind.
Now, not every unbeliever is as brash and openly defiant of God as the Pharisees were, but it seems to me that all who reject Jesus Christ come to the same conclusions and in the same way.
We find these common problems in their second interview with the healed man.
JOH 9:24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner."
Problem: Jesus is just a man.
JOH 9:25 He therefore answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
JOH 9:26 They said therefore to him, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?"
JOH 9:27 He answered them, "I told you already [first interview], and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?"
Problem: the hypocrisy in one’s heart is revealed and he rejects it.
JOH 9:28 And they reviled him, and said, "You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.
JOH 9:29 "We know that God has spoken to Moses; but as for this man, we do not know where He is from."
Problem: ignorance is revealed and that is also rejected.
JOH 9:30 The man answered and said to them, "Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes.
JOH 9:31 "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him.
JOH 9:32 "Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.
JOH 9:33 "If this man were not from God, He could do nothing."
Problem: it is revealed that a child could see the truth and that is also rejected.
JOH 9:34 They answered and said to him, "You were born entirely in sins [born blind], and are you teaching us?" And they put him out.
Do we see any merit or worth in the blind man who came to faith? Nothing in the narrative remotely hints of it. Yet the same miracle and truth was pressed right into the faces of these Pharisees and they rejected it.
The Holy Spirit convicts the world and so convicts the man of the world. How some can reject this conviction from God is a mystery. Yet, since Christ died for all, all are accountable to the Father for faith in Christ. The church is commanded to universally teach the gospel throughout the whole world. Faith is that which brings the blessings wrought by the death of Christ to and within the individual. The one who rejects the gospel remains in his sins and will be judged.
Repentance is a change from thinking one is innocent and of some worth to the conviction that one is worthless and bankrupt. Personally, I think there only need be a thin realization of this for the gospel to find fertile soil in the man’s heart. The deep realization of our personal worthlessness comes after we have walked through the narrow gate into life and the truth of these spiritual blessings from the Father in Christ begin to become evident.