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Myth Busters

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If you've been with us these days, we've been looking together through The Gospel of John at the Word made flesh. You know, the choice of that phrase by the apostle John in chapter 1, becomes clearer to us as we go through his gospel. Perhaps never more so than in the sections of chapters 5-7, even into chapter 8 that we find ourselves in the midst of to see the words of God are clearly connected to the divine nature of God Himself. The truth of who He is is embodied in Christ Himself.

Now, I call today's message Myth Busters. I want us to look at a myth that needs to be busted. The problems with myths are they become doctrines with people. What becomes one man's opinion in the next generation becomes a teaching, and in the next generation will become a doctrine. If we're not careful, we will grow up with certain assumptions that really have no biblical basis, but since everybody else had those same assumptions, they rise to the level of divinity. Even though God Himself did not agree to it, or God Himself did not authorize it, these myths become embodied and passed along.

Certainly, in the secular world, outside of the church world, there are many myths about God that are just simply not true and they are busted by the words of God. I believe what Jesus is dealing with for us today in John, chapter 7, is the potential of a myth to cloud the true view of whom He is and what it means to receive Jesus. Now we talk about that. We talk about receiving Jesus, and today Christ tells us what it means, what that biblical terms means. It is a biblical term to receive Jesus…essentially talking about conversion, especially here in the Gospel of John.

He addresses that in John 7, especially in verse 17, and then even on through verse 24, in our text today. But before we get into the text itself, it may be helpful to show this talk of receiving Christ is a biblical way of talking about conversion, especially here in John. It is, despite the myth…and we'll talk about that myth in just a moment…it's really something quite radical to our minds.

Back in John 1, in verse 11, John said, "Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him…" There is the phrase…receiving Christ. "To them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Now this being born again is introduced through Nicodemus in chapter 3, but notice they were born not of blood, and then twice not of the will of flesh, not of the will of man, but of the will of God. Here it seems receiving Jesus is essentially the same as believing on His name. That's what John is telling us. He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name.

Now, to believe in His name, in the biblical mindset, His name is His whole identity. So receiving Him is to believe all that He is. It's not just to believe that He is a good teacher, or to believe this aspect or that aspect and then to leave out some aspects. To believe in His name from the biblical standpoint, the definition of that phrase is to believe all He claims to be. It's to believe His whole identity…to believe all He is.

To accept Christ, Tozer said…old preacher Tozer said that to accept Christ we accept His friends as our friends, His enemies as our enemies, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His Cross as our cross, His life as our life, and His future as our future. To receive Jesus then, is to receive all about Him, is to receive everything, the full scope of who He is. That's what it really means to believe in His name.

It is very harmful and it is a myth, and this will be difficult to accept, I know, but it is very harmful to people to create an atmosphere in which people think they're saved by receiving Jesus as Savior when they reject Him in many of His ways. When they reject Him in many of His ways. The myth is often stated this way… We receive Jesus as Savior and later we make Him our Lord, but in Scripture, there is no separation between the two.

Lord is again, not the name...it's not His first name it is His title. It means master. To declare Him as Lord means He controls, He sets the agenda of your life and the myth is that you can receive Jesus as Savior and not adopt His entire life as your life. It is that you can accept His claims of being Messiah, you can accept His death on the Cross but not accept everything He tells you to do. That you can believe Him and get a ticket to heaven, but you don't have to follow everything. I want to challenge and bust that myth today that Jesus is going to show us in John 7 that to believe His is to accept all about Him, and if we don't we haven't received Him because we really haven't believed in His name. We haven't believed Him for all that He is.

In other words, receiving Jesus means receiving Jesus for who He really is…Savior, Lord, Marriage Counselor, Vocational Counselor, Game Warden, Financial Planner, Wardrobe Consultant, the whole bit. You can't receive Jesus…to try to pick and choose the things about Jesus that you find convenient to receive, rejecting the rest is not to receive Jesus as He really is. To say that, "Oh, I love Jesus, I just don't like having to witness. I just don't like having to serve Him. I just don't like having to go to His church. I just don't like having to do this or that, but I love Jesus," is not to receive the Jesus of Scripture that He reveals to us.

Later, in John 12:48, Jesus adds to this notion when He says, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." Do you understand that? "He who rejects Me…" How do you reject Jesus? By not receiving His words, what He has told us to do, how He has told us to live, how He has commanded us to emulate Him.

Now you begin to see a little bit why it is the Word became flesh, why it is that Jesus is the Word. His words show us not only who He is, but who we are to be and how we are to follow Him. We don't just pick and choose, but we recognize, appreciate, and see as completely divine every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God because we don't live by bread alone.

That's what Jesus told Satan, and that's what we want to discover this morning that it is as we appreciate and respect the whole picture of who Jesus is, are we to truly receive Him. From the biblical standpoint, it is simply unthinkable that a person could claim to have received Jesus and yet have no desire to learn and obey His writings. If the option were open, if there were an option to receive Jesus as Savior and not receive His teachings as our daily norm, let me tell you, Satan would be the first in line to receive Jesus. Do you understand that? Because he would be able to stay evil, but not have to suffer.

If the option is to accept Jesus as Savior, but not follow Him as Lord, Satan is all about that. He would do that, but that's not an option. We accept Jesus for all that He is, all that we understand, and the more we understand the more we receive Him. It becomes and must be our daily norm if we're to claim Jesus truly as Lord. Thus, when we speak of receiving Jesus, and that is a good biblical term, we're talking about something radical, something that revolutionizes a person's life so that it never lets them go back. Anything short of that is not truly receiving Jesus.

No matter what you have thought, that's a myth and it needs to be busted because if you don't receive His words, those words will judge you on that day, and that ought to be a daunting thing for all of us to understand. If we only partially receive Jesus...Christmas, Easter, on occasion...we haven't received Him, not as the Lord He really is. We don't understand who He truly is at our core. We don't really believe it.

Look what Jesus says in John 7:17. He says, "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority." Now what must happen to a person's heart to prepare it to properly receive Christ like that? In other words, Jesus says, "If you want to know the truth, if you want to know I am who I am then you must will to do the will of God. Your will must be to do God's will." So how is it? What has to happen in the heart for that to happen, to receive Christ like that?

Well, Jesus gives us another part of that answer here in John 7. That's what He is saying. He is showing us how that happens, but to get to it we have to look at the context. The context goes back to verse 2 when it's the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and Jesus' brothers come to Him. They've already seen so many people have left Jesus there in Capernaum, and now they're coming to Him and saying, "Listen, the feast is at hand in Jerusalem." After all, Jerusalem is the headquarters. You know, that's the chief religious place to be.

If you want to make a name for yourself in pictures, you go to Hollywood. If you want to make a name for yourself in country music, you go to Nashville. If you want to make a name for yourself as Messiah, you go to Jerusalem, and you go during the feast because there are going to be tens of thousands of people there.

Brother Jesus, while You're there, You need to perform some of these miracles You've been doing out here in the hinterlands of Galilee. When You do, You're going to recover all those people You've lost. You're going to make a great name for Yourself. I mean, they're really being a good booking agent for Jesus in suggesting He go and publically demonstrate. In fact, it's something that we might all advise Jesus to do. I mean, we want the gospel to spread. We want His name to grow, but John 7, verse 5 tells us His brothers did not believe that He was the Messiah. They said these things, but they didn't believe in Him.

Evidentially, you can be confident in Jesus' miracle power, you can even desire that a lot of other people see His greatness, and yet not have faith in Jesus yourself. What His brothers appear to be missing is really the moral basis for saving faith here. That desire to receive Jesus for who He really is requires a change of heart, a change of our soul, a change of heart, in this case about popularity.

Now, a deep work that must happen in hearts to prepare those hearts to receive Jesus for who He really is, in part has to do with this notion of popularity that the brothers were caught up in. Instead of doing dazzling miracles, Jesus does go to the Feast of Tabernacles, but rather than on the public square performing great miracles, He goes into the temple to teach. In verse 15, it says that the Jews were amazed at His teaching, but their amazement is not an appreciative amazement. These same Jews are seeking Him to kill Him.

So their amazement is one of scoffing, I guess. A scoffing amazement that Jesus' presumption, He's standing up in the temple square doing what a properly trained, schooled rabbi ought to do. So they say, "Where does He get these ideas? He has never been schooled in any of our Jerusalem universities. He doesn't have the proper training. He doesn't have the ordinary training of a rabbi." So it's a scoffing amazement they have that He has not received that kind of training, and yet there He is saying those things.

So, the question is thrown on the table. How can Jesus teach like this, and stand in the place of a rabbi when He doesn't have the rabbi credentials? Well His answer is in verse 16. He said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me." So Jesus denies that His taking the role of a teacher in the temple is presumption because He is not speaking words that originally came from Him, that just originate from Him. He is a mouthpiece of the One who sent Him, namely God.

You know rabbis got their authority by being faithful to the teachers of the law who had gone on before them, but Jesus gets His authority by being faithful to the Lawgiver Himself, the One who speaks directly though Him, more directly than they ever dreamed could happen. So He says, "My teaching is not Mine, but it's His who sent Me."

Now a question is on the table again. How can the Jews know this claim to speak for God is true? That's the question you have to ask yourself and the question anybody has to ask themselves…How can they and we know whether Jesus' teaching is from God or merely from Himself? You see to receive Jesus for who He really is, we must know whether He is God's true spokesman or not. How can we know?

Well, Jesus tells us in verse 17. That gives us our context for the answer. Let's look at this verse very carefully. Again 17 says, "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority." How shall someone know if Jesus' teaching is of God? A person shall know if one is willing to do His will, that is, God's will. That's what Jesus says. That's how He answers. The condition of knowing is willing…being willing. In other words, a will that wills what God wills, a will that is devoted to doing God's will. This is very crucial for busting the myth and understanding how we come to receive Christ. To receive Christ, you must recognize Him for who He really is, namely One whose teaching is God's teaching and not merely man's teaching.

You have to recognize that, but Jesus says in John 7:17 that you'll never know this about Him and thus you'll never receive Him for who He is unless you have a will that's inclined to do the will of God. That's the only way you can know that what He says is true and who He really is. He's not merely saying you have to want Jesus in order to receive Jesus...that you have to will to want Him, to desire Him. No, what He is saying is that you have to want your whole life to be shaped by the will of God in order to even recognize Jesus. You have to want your whole life to be shaped by the will of God before you'll ever see Jesus for who He is, for who He really is.

To paraphrase that verse, if anyone wills, wants, prefers, desires, to do the will of God, then and only then will that person be able to know the divine authority of Jesus that His teaching is God's teaching. So Jesus is saying the basic reason why people do not own up to the truth of what He teaches is not that they lack sufficient evidence, but that their wills, or maybe we could say their hearts, are against God.

The fundamental problem is not intellectual, but moral. It's a heart problem. The great obstacle to recognizing the truth of Christ is not insufficient resources, but rebellion against God. People cannot see the truth of Christ's teaching because the prevailing tendency of their will is insubordination against the will of God. That's why people rebel against the authority of God when it comes to certain areas of their life. They're willing to ignore, turn a blind eye, to God's will for them to obey in certain areas, and as such, they cannot see Jesus for who He really is because they've not devoted themselves to wanting to follow the will of God. People can't see that truth because of their rebellion.

Now there is a parallel to 7:17, and that's 8:44. I want you to turn there for just a second. Like I said, I know this is a challenging thing, but busting a myth is a difficult thing. It takes nearly half an hour on Discovery Channel to do it, and so it's no surprise it's taken me this long. Okay? No potato cannons involved. What Jesus says in John 8:44 is crucial. In 43, He has said, "Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word." He explains why it is that people don't listen, which means to follow, His word. "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."

Why is it that people will want to lay claim to Jesus, but they don't want to completely follow Him? Jesus says in 44, "Why is it that you don't hear My words? Why is it that you don't see that I am the Messiah? Why is it that you can't recognize that? It's because you're of your father the Devil and you do his will." If you don't completely do the Father's will, if the inclination of your heart is not devoted to doing all the Father would have you to do, then you're doing somebody's will and Jesus says, "It's the will of Satan. When you do Satan's will, you can't hear My words." He says, "You don't see Me for who I am."

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