Jesus was speaking to men who practised a very high-brow kind of religion. As far as they were concerned, they did all the right things. They regarded themselves as the people of God. From this high vantage-point of religious observance, these men became proud and arrogant. They looked down on others. Rather than looking deeply into their own sinful hearts and confessing their own sin to God, these men were preoccupied with outward appearances and insisted on passing judgment on the lives of others. Although these men had plenty of religion, Jesus hit the nail on the head when He said to them: "But I know that you have not the love of God within you" (John 5:42).
Jesus' words, in John 5:42, begin with the word, "But." Jesus is saying to these proud, religious men, "I know all about your religion, all about your religious traditions, all about the power and the glory of your religion, all about your knowledge of the Scriptures, but there is something else I know about you - "I know that you have not the love the love of God within you."
How did Jesus know this? - because He sees what is in the heart. He sees what is in our hearts!
We really need to hear Jesus' words as a personal challenge. They put before us a serious question: Do I love God or do I not love God?
The Lord Jesus Christ knows all about our church membership and church attendance.He knows about our outward profession of the Christian religion. He knows how often we have sat at the Lord's Table. He knows how often we have heard God's Word. Yet, the Lord, who looks not at outward appearances but at the heart, persists in asking us a most disturbing and extremely challenging question; Do you love God or do you not love God?
Let's think together about this most important question. Let's look deeply into our own hearts, examining ourselves closely in the presence of God, who searches our hearts with the all-seeing eye of His holy Word. Let's think about our attitudes - attitudes towards the creation of God, the blessing of God, the people of God , the Word of God and, above all, the Son of God. We're not speaking here about outward appearances, which can be very deceiving. God looks at the heart. What does He see? Does He see that He is not in all our thoughts, or does He see a real hungering and thirsting for God and righteousness? does He see an attitude which says, "I'm content with a self-centred life, or does He see a God-centred commitment which is determined "to be the best that I can be for truth and righteousness and God"? These are very personal questions. I cannot answer them for you. You cannot answer them for me. Each one of us must answer them for ourselves. we must give our answer to God.
(1) The creation of God
Do we take the created world for granted - hardly ever thinking of God the Creator? When we look at the created world with our own eyes, we see nothing but the things which are seen, the things which are temporal. When we look at God's creation with the eyes of faith, our hearts go out to God in praise and worship, giving thanks to Him that He, the God who created all that we see before us, should come to us in love, giving His Son to be our Saviour.
A modern song, entitled, "I can't wait to get to heaven", expresses well what it means to look at the created world with believing eyes: "Seaside, sunset, silver lining round the clouds; Birds fly, singing, making such a joyful sound. Thoughts of heaven somehow seem to fill my mind. I can't wait to get to heaven. Deep green forest, mountains reaching for the sky; Grasslands and deserts, Your creation fills my eyes. Thank You, thank You, Jesus! though this beauty is just a taste of all Your glory I'll see when I pass through these gates - I can't wait to get to heaven" (Keith Green).
The Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for all who love Him. Don't let the earthbound thinking of this present world keep you from loving, trusting, thanking, praising and following Jesus.
(2) The blessings of God
There's an old song which says, "Count your blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done" (Johnson Oatman Jr,). How often do you think of the many good things the Lord has done for you? How often do you give thanks to Him? The Lord's blessings are so many and varied that we could never manage to count them all. One thing we can say is this: Thank You for Jesus.
When you hear Jesus' words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My words who sent Me has eternal life", is your heart filled with joyful thanksgiving? Don't let the "take it for granted" attitude of today's society keep you from thanking God for the greatest blessing of all - Jesus.
(3) The people of God
Before Jesus the Saviour, there was John the Baptist. Jesus gives us a great description of John: "He was a burning and shining lamp." John was a man of God, a man on fire for God. How did the proud, religious men of Jesus' day respond to the preaching of John? Jesus tells us that "they were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (John 5:35). The important words here are the three words: "for a while."They rejoiced in his light for a while, but now they had given up on rejoicing in the preaching of this faithful and fearless man of God. The proud, religious men of Jesus' day were willing to give a hearing to a new preacher. No doubt, they said, "Great preacher! Great sermon!" They said this for a while - but, when the initial enthusiasm wore off, it really wore off, and, then, there was nothing left but an arrogant rejection. Wherever we see that there is a faithful and fearless stand taken for Christ, we must say, "Yes, I will stand with you, I will encourage you. Together, we will serve the Lord."
Remember, commitment to the Lord and to His Church belong together. We cannot live in a wee world of our own, We must be faithful in encouraging others to serve the Lord.
(4) The Word of God
It is the Bible - God's Word - which teaches us the truth of God
We began by asking about our love for God. As we think about our love for Him, we must never forget that our love for Him is grounded in His love for us. We love Him because He has first loved us. All who truly love God will love His Word and will spend time reading His Word. If we neglect the Bible, this is a sure sign that we are neglecting God. When God is truly at work in a someone's life, there will be a real love for the Word of God. Look at your life in the light of the Bible. What do you see? Do you see how much you have failed God, how often you have let Him down? Do you not see how little you love God, how little praise and thanksgiving there is in your heart? Do you not see your weakness? Do you not see your sinfulness and disobedience? Yes! we see all of these things, but - and this is absolutely amazing - in the midst of all this, we see Someone who loves us. As we think about our love for God, we must never forget that our love for Him is always grounded in His love for us. We love Him because He first loved us.
(5) The Son of God
Jesus says, "He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him" (John 5:230. How can there be love for God where there is no love for Jesus? we should be humbled and alarmed by our lack of love for Jesus. we must rejoice that Jesus is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).
You have heard God's Word. Make sure that you don't refuse to come to Christ who alone can give you eternal life. He invites you to come. He promises you eternal life. He loves you. He died for you.