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Up Rising

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This morning I want to draw our attention to the eighth chapter of John. I want us to look at a message today entitled Up Rising. Up Rising has sort of a militant sound to it. Certainly it connects us with some words Jesus says. Today I think the title will become apparent as we go through our text. But it is that notion of battle we find ourselves in and sometimes wonder if the battle is good, or if it's a sign that maybe we're not doing what God has called us to do. But today I want us to see the pattern Jesus establishes in the uprising that He would have us to look at today.

So I want to invite your attention to John, chapter 8. We're going to begin in the twenty-first verse and look at this continuing dialog Jesus has with the Pharisees gathered at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. Remember now, during the Feast, Jesus has made the claim, "I am that water" that was symbolized by the pouring of water on the altar. He said, "I am the light of the world" that was symbolized by the lighting of the torches as part of the Feasts' ceremony. The Pharisees understand what He is saying. He is claiming to be equal with God. They're challenging Him on this. Jesus explains over and over again what He means and who He is. They seem not to understand that. So too when we come to our text today.

It says in verse 21 of John, chapter 8, "Then Jesus said to them again, 'I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.' So the Jews said, 'Will He kill Himself, because He says, "Where I go you cannot come"?'" Now Jesus would not pass the evangelism class. He would not do too well at the notion of reaching the lost with this very blunt statement He is making. He doesn't seem to be very open to them at all. It would cause us to ask…Why is He so blunt? Why not be clearer at this point? It's obvious that His audience does not seem to understand what He is claiming and what He is telling them. They don't seem to understand the gospel news, or perhaps is it that they just simply don't want to believe it?

So the Jews were responding to His claim that He is going to go somewhere they cannot come by asking, "Well maybe He is going to kill Himself." That sounds very stark for us, but if you understand the Greek culture, suicide was an acceptable form of ending one's life. People would choose suicide. It was almost glamorized in that culture. And so perhaps with that Hellenistic influence in the land of Palestine, the Jews were thinking, Maybe He is taking the Greek way out. But as we read further, we discover in the next verse (in verse 23), He says to them, "'You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.'"

Look back to verse 23. He says, "'You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.'" Now Jesus was born in that same world. Jesus was born of a virgin. We're celebrating that in December. He was definitely in that same world. So what is it He is meaning here when He says, "You're from beneath, and I am from above"? He is wanting to communicate a truth, and He is wanting to communicate a truth that I think is deeper (if I can say it that way) than we often think about. When we think of beneath and above, we think of earth. We think of heaven. We think, Well, Jesus is from heaven. That is true. He has made those statements. But I think He is saying something far more provocative here.

Notice He says, "You are of this world; I am not of this world." Now often we will talk about people being worldly. Worldly people simply means we got our priorities mixed up. Sometimes Christian people can be worldly, right? They can be focused on things of the earth, material possessions, and not focused on the spiritual, not focused on the treasures that are laid up in heaven. When that happens, when a believer slides into that path, it can be said they're worldly. But to be of this world is something quite different. To be of this world means you're not of God. It means you're not a believer. It means you're not of the spiritual kingdom.

What Jesus is telling them is, "You are from beneath; you are of this world. I am not of this world. If you were of My world, you would understand. But since you are not of My world, then you are going to die in your sins." Notice Jesus isn't saying… He isn't really giving them many options here. He is not really even offering an invitation here. Jesus can see the heart, and He now knows their heart. They are to going to die in their sins. I think often because we can't see into people's hearts when we see someone who is not a believer, see someone who doesn't profess Christ, see someone who is not living the way a believer would live, you know there is always that hope.

But you see Christ can read the heart, and Christ knows that moment. He knows that time. He knows that heart that has turned away from Him, to which there is no hope. Jesus has no problem categorizing them as "Those who will die in their sins." Jesus recognizes and states to them, "The reason you don't see Me for who I am is because you're going to die in your sin. You don't know Me, and because you don't know Me you will not understand what I'm trying to say." So the reason He is so blunt is because He is not going to further cast pearls before swine. He is not going to spend or waste any more time with these who have heard the truth. In fact, they've been raised up with Scripture. But they have chosen to turn away from the Messiah. Jesus says, "The judgment has come."

Remember back in John 3, Jesus said those are condemned already who do not believe in the Son. It isn't that if they lived their whole life and they wait till the last second, and then they die and they still don't believe. I mean, that's the way we have to look at it. But from God's standpoint, I want you to understand Jesus looks at the unrepentant heart as a permanent condition. He knows those who will not accept Him, and He has little tolerance for them. He says, "You are condemned already."

He says to them, "You're from beneath; I'm from above. You are of this world." Worldly folks get their priorities mixed up, but of this world folks, they live in the world. That means they depend on the world's logic, the world's parameters, to make decisions in life. Worldly people have fallen into a sinful pattern, but people who are of this world can't help but make their decisions based on the things of the world. In other words, they make their decisions pragmatically. They make their decisions based on their life experience. They're the ones who say, "Well God gave me a brain too."

In other words, they'll look at Scripture, and Scripture will dictate you walk a certain path. They'll say, "Yeah, but common sense tells me that I need to do this." They choose that. Why? Because they are of this world. Church members who are of this world are those who live in the world. They don't know Christ as Savior because they make their bottom-line decisions based on human thinking, based on human logic.

Listen to what Paul said in Galatians 5, verse 25. Paul carries this thought forward when he says, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." See Paul is saying there are two different ways to live. You can live in the world, be of the world, but when you're born again, you transform into living in the Spirit. Now I'm afraid that for many people in the world, living in the Spirit is one of these esoteric terms that has no meaning. Those who don't know Christ don't know what it really means to live in the Spirit. It becomes kind of a mystical term. If it is mystical to you, if it's an unattainable thing to you, it may simply be you're still of the world. You're a "See it and I'll believe it" kind of a person. Seeing is believing. If you can touch it, you can believe it. But if not, you have your own doubts about that.

Paul said when we become believers, we begin to live in the Spirit. "We die to self," he says. We die to being of the world, and we are raised to walk in a newness of life. That's in the Spirit. If you are dead in trespasses in sin, if you are of this world, I don't care if you've been baptized…I don't care if you've been a member forever…I don't care if you've memorized Scripture…when you are of this world, living in the Spirit is unattainable for you. You have to know Christ in order to be able to live in the Spirit.

Paul says, "If we live in the Spirit…" That word if there could be translated since; he doesn't say that that's an option. He doesn't say, "Well there are some believers who get to the point where they live in the Spirit." No, he is saying living in the Spirit is what being a believer is all about. It means you're a believer. He says the option is, "Walk in the Spirit." In other words, don't be worldly.

You see, a believer can be worldly when we walk according to the flesh, when we choose to get tied up in the wrong things. But He says a believer can actually make decisions in the Spirit, can actually let the Spirit dictate…not your life experience, not pragmatism, not your earthly wisdom, not the wisdom of your peers and friends, but the Spirit of God can make the decisions of your life. You can look to the Word of God as the final and priority of your life, even…now listen…when it doesn't make sense, even when it doesn't make sense.

Paul said, "If we live in the Spirit, let's walk in the Spirit." My friends, the blessed live in the Spirit. The blessed of God live in the Spirit. To be born again is to be blessed of God. It's to be able to see in your life the hand of God and the blessing. To be blessed is to live in the Spirit. It's the lost church member who lives by the world. It's the lost church member who makes his decisions based on worldly things. Even as wise and noble as those things are, those things dictate instead of the Spirit.

To live in the Spirit means you're going to take some steps, you're going to live by faith in a way that your closest friends and even family will see as foolish. But the Bible tells us that. The things of God are, in fact, foolish to the people of the world. If you have to do something not because the Bible says you have to do it, but because the world dictates you have to do it, you're making decisions based on the world. If that is what you finally choose to decide your path, you are of the world. You have not surrendered to Christ. You have not become one of His children. To love the world is to be of the world.

Let me read to you from 1 John, chapter 2, verse 15 and verse 16. John, the apostle, puts it this way. Having sat under the teaching of Jesus, having seen the Church grow through his life, near the end of his life he says this: "Do not love the world or the things in the world." Now we could just stop right there. "Do not love the world or the things in the world." In other words, the things in the world, we could probably get our understanding on. Those are material things. Those are pursuits. Those are career choices, things that from the world's standpoint are the things to have. But he also says, "Don't love the world. Don't love the system. Don't be in love with the world in which you're in or the things that are in the world." Because why? "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

Now this is a question you can only ask yourself. Again, I can't see your heart. But I do want to tell you today that if you are motivated by the things of the world, you are condemned already. If you have made that your pursuit, church member or not, if the common sense of the world is what drives you, is how you even view Scripture, if the knowledge of the world is what dictates your directions in life, you're condemned already, and Christ has no tolerance for you. As harsh as that sounds, I might never make that judgment. I'll continue to present Christ to you, because I don't know when that occurs, but it does occur.

Jesus will say, "You're from beneath, and I'm from above." This is why you don't understand. This is why the Bible is not important to you. This is why it seems foolish to you secretly. This is why you can't follow everything the Bible says. This is why you can't go along with everything about faith. You can't completely trust God. You can't get up each day and live by faith because you are of the world. You'll live by faith when it doesn't cost. But when it costs, you have to choose your experience. You'll live by faith when it's going positively, but when it goes negatively, you'll turn around because you choose the descriptions of the world to decide happiness instead of the joy Christ leaves for you to live.

Peter echoed this same thing. He sat under the same Jesus. He heard His teaching. He understands what it is to live in the Spirit. He made a statement in 1 Peter 4, verse 6. It's a powerful verse. I'm going to read it to you in the English Standard Version. You read along in your translation because I like the way they translated the Greek words. I think it helps us to understand it. First Peter 4, verse 6, "For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead (listen to this), that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the Spirit the way God does."

Listen to me. This is the gospel. This is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead. Now that's all of us. Without Christ, we are all dead. The reason the gospel was preached to those who are dead is so when you are born again, when you have that newness of life, even though you are judged in the flesh the way people are, even though people will look at you and will make judgments about you based on human measures, because you're born again, you're able to live in the Spirit the way God does. You're able to get beyond that. You're able to live on a higher plain I like to think than the way the judging world looks at you.

You're going to find friends, you're going to find hypocrites, and you're going to find church people who will judge you when you live by faith because they see it as unwise. They see it as ignorant. They see it as not making common sense and, "After all, God gave you a brain. After all, He gave you some common sense." Right? So when you choose to fully live by nothing but the dictates of Scripture, people in the world are going to judge you. They'll judge you, and they were judging Jesus.

Jesus wasn't living by the Pharisaical definitions of the Law. He was living by what the Word of God said. He wasn't defining Sabbath the way men had defined it, the way it made sense to them, the way they interpreted it, the way they liked to apply it. He was living by the Sabbath according to the way God told Him to live. He didn't do anything God didn't tell Him to do. But He never did anything just because the Pharisees told Him to do it. So He was ridiculed, and He was judged. But He was able to live in the Spirit the way God does, according to God, according to His pattern because He did not live in the world.

Now the problem with of this world people is they simply don't know Jesus. So that's their response in verse 25. We get back to John 8. John 8, verse 25, "Then they said to Him, 'Who are You?'" Who are You? Now Jesus has been telling them who He is. John the Baptist told them who He was. Jesus time and again, and even on this particular Feast of Tabernacles, He has again and again told them who He was. But they don't see it. Ever wonder why it is some people never get it about Jesus? You can tell them. You can describe in beautiful terms who Christ is, tell the entire story from immaculate conception to crucifixion and resurrection, and then they say, "Well who is Jesus? I don't know. I just don't think I understand."

You didn't have to have that. You didn't have a tenth of the story. You had conviction. You responded to that conviction based on the testimony of somebody, based on maybe a particular sermon, maybe based on a study you went through. That's just a small portion, and you're a believer. But there are some who after Jesus Himself standing before them say, "Who are You?" There just has to be some exasperation in Jesus' voice as He answers. "And Jesus said to them, 'Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.'" Verse 27 says, "They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father."

You see, when the blinders are on, when your heart is cold and calloused to the things of God, somebody can be preaching right to you, and you won't see it. Somebody can be talking about a sin that's in your life, and when they're through, you'll say, "Well boy we need to pray for those people." When we're cold and calloused to the Spirit of God, when we're living in the world, we're not living in the Spirit. Then when it's all said and done, we say, "Well who are You? Who are You? I don't understand." "They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father." He was talking about Jehovah, and they didn't see it.

So Jesus makes the most profound statement in the next verse…in verse 28. "Then Jesus said to them, 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.' As He spoke these words (verse 30 says), many believed in Him." Jesus speaks in verse 28 of being lifted up. He spoke of that earlier.

He is talking about His crucifixion there. He is talking about his uprising. But He is talking on two different levels here, because on one hand He is saying, "When you lift Me up" looking to the Pharisees that there was going to come a time when they were going to crucify Him up on a Cross, what was going to be the darkest moment of His ministry, the darkest moment of His life from a human standpoint. Notice what Jesus says, "When that occurs, you're going to know who I am. You're going to know Me."

Look…in His words, don't you get the sense it's going to be too late? It's going to be too late. You know that people can even come to a point in their life when they know Jesus is the Son of God and still don't accept Him. They can come to a place in their lives so cold, so calloused, so of this world that even when the truth is clearly presented to them, they turn away from it. Jesus says, "You're going to know that I am He."

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