Thursday, January 23, 2014
HOW CAN WE BELIEVE?
One of the passages in Scripture that has really captured my attention lately is in the 5th chapter of John, where the following words of Yeshua are recorded: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life. I don’t receive glory from men. But I know you, that you don’t have God’s love in yourselves. I have come in my Father’s name, and you don’t receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God? Don’t think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, even Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me. But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
I know there are those who are following a teaching these days that any encounter with Yeshua apart from the scriptures is deception. Yet, in these verses we find Yeshua telling the people of his day that they were believing that the scriptures themselves gave them eternal life, and he acknowledged that those scriptures testify of Him, but these same people were refusing to come to HIM, the Messiah in the flesh, not just in the Word.
But what really stood out to me in this passage are the two times Yeshua asks how we can believe. The first time he asks us how we can believe if we receive glory from one another, and we don't seek the glory that comes from the only God. He's telling us that seeking to be praised by one another rather than by God makes it impossible for us to believe in him! That's something I had never considered before. Where and how we seek to obtain glory affects our ability to believe. I know we have all suffered from this malady of wanting the praise and applause of men more than praise from God. But, Yeshua isn't just recommending we seek the praise that comes from His Father and not from each other--he is equating it with our ability to believe at all!
But how do we walk this out? False humility, where we are constantly pointing to God when we get compliments about our ministry isn't the answer. We may think we're seeking God's glory in that, but what we're doing is walking in fear--fear of taking glory away from God and fear of not appearing humble before men. It can also be a subtle form of pride that tells the person who is complimenting you that they really need to see more truth and not give you any credit or praise for your efforts. That actually hurts people who are looking for a way to express their gratitude for what God just did through you! It really is OK to hear each other tell each other how the anointing and the gifting God has placed in each of us has blessed our hearts. The correct response is to rejoice with them over the wonder that God would use weak jars of clay to display His glory, and respond with a loving, "Praise God! I'm so glad you were blessed! I was blessed, too!" That is walking in love and humility, not fear. It's all about our hearts' motivations and our needs. Seeking the praise that comes from God is found in spending time with Him in the "secret place" where we find our inestimable worth in his eyes. Only that can leave us satisfied and not seeking our sense of worth elsewhere. Then we are able to take the compliments without them meeting a need that is unmet by God. I believe that is a key to what can deliver us from seeking glory from one another and not from the only God. Yeshua put it this way in Matthew 6:5 & 6:And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I don't believe Yeshua is saying we should never pray in public. But if the heart motivation is like the Pharisees he is referring to--"to be seen by others"-- then it's time to get into the secret place with God and pray to him there. That is where we find our worth.
I can tell you from experience that when I journal my prayers to God, he pours out praise on me! He just goes on and on about how much he loves me, how he sees me, what I mean to him. I come away from those times with fresh revelation of my inestimable worth in his eyes; and my heart is filled with the love of God!
Another statement Yeshua makes about our ability to believe in Him is that if we believed Moses' writings then we would believe Him. Then he makes a statement that I have never heard a sermon preached on in my whole life. He says "But if you don't believe his (Moses') writings, how will you believe my words?"
When Yeshua spoke of the Scriptures that were being searched out, he was speaking of the Law and the Prophets--what is now called the "Old Testament." And he tells us that these scriptures "testify" about Him. He tells us that seeing how the Old Testament scriptures testify about Him makes it possible for a person to come to Him to have life. We see an example of this after his resurrection when he walks with the two disciples who are filled with doubt and unbelief on the road to Emmaus. This is what he tells them as they express their dismay over all that had taken place when Yeshua was crucified, and how their hopes in his being the Messiah had been dashed: He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Here we see what he had said in John 5 confirmed; we are foolish and slow to believe when we don't know what Moses and the prophets say concerning Him. It kind of makes the doctrine that is commonly preached that all that Moses has said and, in fact, the whole
Old Testament are "done away with" a dangerous one, doesn't it? So many are taught that all scripture before the Book of Matthew is no longer relevant to our faith. Yeshua himself has told us the exact opposite---that not only should it not be ignored, but it is vital to know what Moses wrote about him in order to believe in him, and might I add,to know who he truly is!
So in this one passage he speaks of two conditions of our faith, our belief, our hearts that determine our ability to believe in Him and believe His words. One is if we seek praise from each other, and not from God. The other is if we don't believe what Moses wrote about Him. I know the Holy Spirit is at work throughout the earth to bring correction to the children of God in regards to both of these detriments to our believing. May He use my little offering here, which is spoken in love and compassion for all who are seeking to truly believe, to do that work in our hearts.
Til next time,