How can I respond to skeptics who deny that Jesus is God? Part 5

41 Then many came to Him and said, ‘John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.’ 42 And many believed in Him there.” John 10:41-42

We have learned from Jesus’ response to His Jewish audience, several ways to respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God in John 10:32-42:

– Confront them with questions (John 10:32-33)

– Communicate biblical truths with relevance to them (John 10:34-36).

– Call them to believe in Christ because of the evidence of His miracles (John 10:37-39).

Consider our beginnings (John 10:40).

Jesus found it necessary to leave Jerusalem and Judea because of the growing hostility toward Him (John 7:30, 44; 8:59; 10:31, 39). So He crossed over to the other side of the Jordan River to Bethany of Perea where John the Baptist started his ministry and where Jesus was baptized which also was the start of His ministry (John 10:40; cf. 1:28).

From Jesus’ time in Bethany of Perea we learn the final way to respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God – CONVEY THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS TO OTHERS WITH YOUR LIFE AND LIPS (John 10:41-42). While John the Baptist had already died by this time (cf. Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:9), his ministry had not died. “Then many came to Him and said, ‘John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.’ ’’ (John 10:41). Many people were now seeking Jesus. Why? Because the witness of John the Baptist earlier had prepared the people of Bethany to seek out Jesus. While John had performed no miraculous “sign” at Bethany, he did bear witness to Jesus and his witness was “true.” What had John said? Let’s look back in John 1:15-18, 29-34:

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him…’ 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.’ 32 And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’ ”

John spoke the truth about the greatness of Jesus Christ. He drew an accurate picture of Jesus Christ through his witness. Then when Jesus came, the people recognized the original truth John had given to them. John had been dead for some time now, but his influence continued. His words were still treasured by others. John had prepared the people to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, God Himself.

“And many believed in Him there.” (John 10:42). After realizing that Jesus was the Son of God, God Himself, many of the people believed in Christ there. Remember, it was John the Baptist who said to the people of Bethany a few years earlier, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36). These people now believed or trusted in Jesus alone for His gift of everlasting life! John’s influence led people to seek Jesus out, but their faith in Christ was because of their contact with the Lord Jesus Himself.

Notice the contrast between the Jews back in Jerusalem who had miraculous signs, and the people of Bethany here who had no miraculous signs. The Jews refused to believe even though they had sufficient evidence through Christ’s words and works that He was their promised Messiah-God. But the people of Bethany did believe the word of Jesus without any miraculous signs. What made the difference between the receptivity of these two groups? The witness of John the Baptist.

One big difference between growing churches and stagnant churches is that growing churches who are winning the lost to Christ are sowing the seed of God’s Word in the lives of unbelievers, but stagnant churches are not.

When I was a young believer working in an orthopedic trauma unit as a nurse’s assistant in a hospital in Iowa, I loved to share the gospel with all my patients. One of my patients was a retired doctor who simply did not like me because of my Christian faith. He claimed to be an atheist and did not want to hear about Jesus. He would greet me with a scowl when I entered his room and start complaining about my work. But the Lord gave me favor with his wife who sat by his bedside every day. She would say to him, “Be nice to this young man. He is here to help you. He has been so good to you, the least you could do is show him some respect.”

Every work day the Lord enabled me to show His love to this grumpy, unbelieving doctor. With a smile and with gentleness, I would daily give him his bath and change his bedding. I would clean his wounds and help him use the commode on his bed. Gradually, this hard-hearted doctor began to change. After a few weeks of caring for him, he would crack a smile as soon as I entered his room because he knew I was there to care for him. God used acts of kindness to open this doctor’s heart so that he was prepared to hear the gospel. Eventually, both the doctor and his wife discovered the truth about Jesus Christ and said they believed in Him for His gift of eternal life!

Many of you are preparing others, including skeptics, to believe in Christ by the truth you convey about Jesus to them through your words and works. What kind of picture are you drawing of Jesus with your life? Will people recognize Jesus when they see Him in the Word because of the picture you have drawn of Him with your life and lips? God is not looking for perfection in us. But He is looking for us to share Christ’s faithfulness to us with unbelievers in our lives.

There are many hurting people in the world today and God wants to use you to extend His healing grace to them. You may not see them come to faith in Christ just like John the Baptist did not see these people of Bethany come to faith in Jesus during his lifetime. But one day at the Judgment Seat of Christ, you will know who does believe in Jesus because of your influence while you were on earth. That day will make all the sacrifice and suffering you invested in that person’s life worth it all! Christ will faithfully reward you for your faithfulness to Him (Revelation 22:12)!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I can be so impatient when I do not see instant results! I want to see people believe in Jesus now, not later! Forgive me for being so demanding and proud. Right now I want to surrender to You to use my life and lips to prepare people to believe in Jesus for His gift of everlasting life. Like John the Baptist, I may not see those people come to You in faith during my lifetime, but what matters is that they do come to You before it is too late for them. Please use me to sow the seed of Your Word in peoples’ lives now so You can reap an abundant harvest of souls. I claim Your promise which says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). To You my Lord and my God be all the glory! In Your mighty name I pray. Amen.

How can I respond to skeptics who deny that Jesus is God? Part 4

“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.” John 10:40

When we encounter skeptics who deny that Jesus is God, we may find it necessary to CONSIDER OUR BEGINNINGS (John 10:40). This is the fourth way Jesus responded to His skeptical audience.

Jesus found it necessary to leave Jerusalem and Judea because of the growing hostility toward Him. All doors were closed to His ministry in Judea and for some time Galilee had rejected His ministry. Jesus did not stay long in resistant areas. He moved to more receptive areas and He advised His disciples to do the same (cf. Matthew 10:11-15, 23). Plus, it wasn’t time for Him to suffer and die on the Cross. So where does Jesus go?

“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.” (John 10:40). Jesus crossed over to the other side of the Jordan River to Bethany, a small ford community on the east bank of the Jordan River where John the Baptist started his ministry and where Jesus was baptized which also was the start of His ministry. 1 This was not the Bethany near Jerusalem, but the Bethany of Perea which was east of the Jordan River. Christ would spend the next three and a half months here.

This was a place that had many fond memories for the Lord. This is where He met and won His first disciples (John 1:35-51). He had success here far away from the prejudiced atmosphere of Jerusalem and He would enjoy more success here again. John tells us that it was “there He stayed” – He made His home here.

It is important for us to consider our beginnings when we are going through difficult times. If you are discouraged right now because of having to deal with skeptics or those who reject your Christian faith, relive the time when you became a child of God through faith in Christ or when you began your Christian ministry. Remember God’s faithfulness during those early days of your Christian life. This will encourage you and renew your strength in the Lord.

When my parents moved our family away from their families in Illinois to Iowa when I was seven years old, we would periodically return to Illinois to visit where we were born and relive the many fond memories we had there. This served as a way of recharging us spiritually and emotionally for the challenges we faced in Iowa.

Even now when I may be disappointed in ministry or with life in general, I like to relive the many fond memories I have of my first couple of short-term mission trips to the Philippines when I saw an incredible response to the gospel. Occasionally, I schedule mission trips to go back to areas I have visited in the past where we saw amazing receptivity among the people of the Philippines. These trips serve as a time of refreshment and renewal for us and for those to whom we minister.

There are many stressors in our world today including COVID-19, social unrest, political divisions, and opposition to Christianity. When you face difficulties in your Christian life, do you have a place where you can go to relive fond memories you have with the Lord? If not, ask the Lord to guide you to such a place where you can remember some special times you had with Him to refresh your soul.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are such a wise Counselor. Thank You for reminding me how You can use opposition to my Christian faith to redirect me to people who are more receptive to Your gospel message. I also appreciate Your example of retreating to a place where You could relive many fond memories from the beginning of Your ministry. Please lead me to such a place where I can be refreshed by memories of Your amazing grace working in my life and the lives of others whom You brought into my life. You are such a Good Shepherd to lead Your sheep beside still waters to refresh their souls. In Your name I praise You! Amen.

ENDNOTE:

1. J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992) pg. 50; cf. John 1:28 – the majority of Greek manuscripts read “Bethany,” not “Bethabara.”

How can I respond to skeptics who deny that Jesus is God? Part 3

37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” John 10:37-38

We have learned from Jesus’ response to His skeptical audience that the way to respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God is to confront them with questions (John 10:32-33) and communicate biblical truths with relevance to them (John 10:34-36). Today we will learn that the third way to respond to these skeptics is to CALL THEM TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE OF HIS MIRACLES (John 10:37-39). Although the Jews refused to believe Jesus’ words, Christ says to believe in Him on the basis of His works because His works show the reality of who He is. They reveal His supernatural character. Only God could do what Jesus did.

Jesus said to His skeptical audience,37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:37-38). Christ is encouraging them not to believe in Him if He does not do the works of His Father. Only God’s eternal Son could do the works of God the Father. And if Jesus does the works of the Father, this will show that “the Father is in” Him and that He is “in the Father.” Christ is saying, “If you are not ready to believe in Me because of My words, believe in Me because of what I do.” Why? “So you may know and believe My oneness with the Father as His Son.” The prophets of old could say the first part, “The Father is in Me,” but they could not say the second part, “And I in the Father.” Only Jesus’ likeness could be found in the Father as His works demonstrated. Christ’s miracles reflected the same character and power as God the Father.

No other person in history has manifested the same character and power as Jesus Christ. For example, let’s compare the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, with the Founder of Christianity, the Lord Jesus Christ. Both the Quran and the Bible testify that Jesus was sinless. In the nearly one hundred references to Jesus in the Quran, never once does it refer to Him as committing a sin. When announcing Jesus’ virgin birth, He is referred to as a “holy Son”(Surah 19:19). Indeed, He is called a “righteous” prophet (Surah 6:85). His sinlessness can be inferred from His virgin birth which the Quran affirms (Surah 3:45-47; 19:19-21) as does His title of “Christ” or “Messiah” [Surah 3:45; 4:157, 171; 5:72, 75; 9:30, 31; cf. Isaiah 53:5, 9; John 20:31). Further, the “Book” (law) or Bible to which Muhammad referred his antagonist (see Surah 4:171; 5:46), speaks of Jesus Christ as sinless (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:19;  3:18; 1 John 3:3).

In contrast to the sinlessness of Jesus, the Quran testifies that Muhammad repeatedly sinned. In Surah 47, Muhammad is told to ask God to forgive his faults. We read, “Know, therefore, that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and women who believe: for God knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes” (Surah 47:19; cf. 40:55). Again, we read of God saying to Muhammad: “That God may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow; fulfil His favour to thee; and guide thee on the Straight Way” (Surah 48:2). In fact, Muhammad is rebuked by God for his sin in Surah 33 which affirms, “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by God and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys God and His Apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” But “thou didst hide in thy heart that which God was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear God… And God’s command must be fulfilled” (Surah 33:36-38).

Both the Quran (Surah 3:49; 61:6) and the Bible testify that Jesus did many supernatural miracles (Matthew 4:23-24; John 2:1-11; 4:46-54; 5:1-15; 6:1–21; 9:1-41; 11:1-45), the greatest of which was Jesus’ own resurrection which He predicted (Surah 19:33; cf. Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 28:1-20; Mark 8:31-38; Luke 23-24; John 2:18-22; 20:1-29). Even the Quran infers that Jesus rose from the dead when it says, “Behold! God said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection’” (Surah 3:55; cf. 4:157-158). Muslims think this refers only to Jesus’ ascension to heaven because they believe that Jesus did not really die. But listen to what Jesus (Isa) said in Surah 19:33: “So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again).” So the Quran also testifies to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

While the Quran says the miraculous “signs” of Jesus included everything from creating life to raising the dead, the Quran also says Muhammad did no miracles (Surah 29:50). In fact, the Quran says Muhammad refused to do miracles (Surah 3:183-184; cf. 4:153; 6:8-9; 17:90-93), but he told people his sign was the Quran itself (Surah 17:102-108). Nor was Muhammad resurrected from the dead nor did he permanently ascend to heaven like Jesus. Instead he was buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia (al-Tabari 9:208) where he remains entombed. And faithful Muslims make their life-time pilgrimage there to pay homage to him.

Both the Quran and the Bible teach that Jesus is the Word of God (Surah 3:45; 4:171; cf. John 1:1, 14, 17; Revelation 19:13), whereas the Quran was considered the Word of Allah, and Muhammad was only a messenger (Surah 3:144).

When we compare Jesus Christ with Muhammad, by far Jesus is superior to the prophet of Islam in His character, His power, and His position. Why? Jesus tells us it is because “the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:38b). Christ is equal to God the Father because He is also God!

The Jews understood Jesus was claiming to be equal with God the Father, so “they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.” (John 10:39). The Jews were furious! But Jesus “escaped out of their hand” because it was not the Father’s time for the Son to be glorified. The Bible does not tell us how Jesus did this. Perhaps Jesus moved without walking. It was some kind of supernatural phenomenon.

You would think that by this point the Jews would realize that seizing Jesus is not going to happen on their time (cf. John 7:30-32, 44-46; 8:20). No one could take His life from Him (cf. John 10:18). But soon He would voluntarily lay it down. Jesus was in control of His own death. He would not be overpowered and crucified by the Jews and Romans. He would submit to His Father’s will and voluntarily lay down His life in our place.

Christ’s invitation to believe in Him based upon His works shows that saving faith is reasonable. It is not done in the absence of persuasive evidence as some teach today. Belief in Christ is based upon powerful witnesses, including His miraculous works, the greatest of which is His resurrection (Romans 1:4; I Corinthians 15:3-6)! Christ’s resurrection is based upon historical evidence, not the superstitions or fantasies of people.

Historical records testify that Jesus truly rose from the dead as He predicted (see Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 28:1-20; Acts 2:22-36; 3:14-15; 4:8-10; 5:29-31; 10:34-40; 13:23-35; 17:2-3; I Corinthians 15:3-6). Even the Jewish historian, Josephus, confirms the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when he writes, “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he … wrought surprising feats…. He was the Christ. When Pilate… condemned him to be crucified, those who had…  come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared …  restored to life…  And the tribe of Christians … has … not disappeared.” (Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64, cited in Yamauchi, “Jesus Outside the New Testament”, 21).

When John records the purpose for writing his gospel, he says, “But these [signs John has recorded] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). John states that He has recorded miraculous signs by Jesus (changing water to wine, 2:1-11; healing of the nobleman’s son, 4:46-54; healing of the lame man, 5:1-15; feeding the five thousand, 6:1-14; walking on water, 6:15-21; healing the man born blind, 9:1-41; raising Lazarus from the dead, 11:1-45; and Jesus’ resurrection, John 2:18-22; 20:1-29) that his readers “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they may have life in His name.” Miraculous signs by Jesus are a powerful incentive to believe in Him alone for everlasting life and a future home in heaven.

By the way, Jesus has not stopped doing miracles today. He still heals. He still changes lives. He still transforms sinners into saints. He still touches people supernaturally. Are you willing to let Him touch you? He invites you to come to Him just as you are for His free gift of eternal life if you have never done that before. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47). No one is more qualified to make this promise and keep it than Jesus Christ. Will you take Him at His word? Let’s pray.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am amazed how loving and patient You are toward us. Even when we harden our hearts toward Your Word which points to You as the Savior of the world, You still pursue us and provide miraculous works to reveal Your supernatural character and power to us. There may be some of us today who shake our fist at You in anger and rebellion. But You do not retaliate. You show Your love to us in unexpected ways. It may be in the form of a bird singing in the morning or a beautiful sunset at night. It may be a smile from a stranger or a kind deed from a neighbor. The illness we once had is suddenly gone or our marriage which was headed for disaster is now on the mend. Thank You, my Lord and my God, for never giving up on me even when I was at my worst. Thank You for dying in my place and rising from the dead nearly two thousand years ago. As best I know how, Lord Jesus, I am now trusting in You alone now (not my religion, my prayers, or good life) to forgive all my sins and give me everlasting life. Thank You for the forgiveness and everlasting life I now have. In Your name I pray. Amen.

To help you grow in your new relationship with Jesus, please download our digital discipleship materials (see https://www.seeyouinheaven.life/english-pressing-on/) and go through them with those you care about. If you found this article helpful, please share it with those you want to see in heaven. Thank You and may Jesus richly bless you!

How can I respond to skeptics who deny that Jesus is God? Part 2

“Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’ ”? John 10:36

We are living in a world where many people deny that Jesus is God or that He claimed to be God. For example, Muslims say Jesus never claimed to be God. Why do they say this? A former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi, explains why in his book, “No God but One: Allah or Jesus?” Qureshi writes, “The Quran informs Muslims that Jesus never claimed to be divine. Rather, people began to believe this after Jesus left the earth (5.116–117). So we believed that later Christians were responsible for corrupting the true Christianity. Learned men at our mosque told me that Roman paganism influenced Christian thought, as Roman gods often had sons who were demigods. Other Muslims argued that the Council of Nicaea was responsible for Jesus’ apotheosis, while yet others accused Paul of this blasphemy. Regardless of the exact model, most of us believed that the Bible did not even depict Jesus as God, and certainly Jesus never claimed to be God himself” (pg. 213).

How do we respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God or claimed to be God? We learn how Jesus responded to skeptics when He was on earth. In John 10:1-30, Jesus has shown that He is God by referring to Himself as “the [Messianic] shepherd” who “enters by the door” or sheepfold of Israel in the way God predicted in the Old Testament (John 10:2). Jesus had claimed to be “the Good Shepherd”(John 10:11, 14) who had the “power to lay down” His life and “the power to take it [up] again” in resurrection (John 10:18). This is what separates Jesus Christ from all other religious leaders and founders. All other religious leaders and founders in history are still dead in the grave. But Jesus Christ is the only One who had the authority to take up His life in resurrection proving that He is God (Romans 1:4). Christ also referred to God as “My Father” (John 10:18c). Jesus said He had the power to give eternal life to those who believe in Him (John 10:28a) and the power to guarantee security forever (John 10:28b). That is something that only God can do! Finally, Christ claimed, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30). “One” is neuter in Greek (hen), not masculine (heis), indicating that Jesus and His Father are not one Person, but are one in essence. Both Jesus and His Father are God!

The Jews understood that Jesus was claiming to be God, so they took up stones to throw at Jesus (John 10:31). Why? Because the Old Testament Law said to sentence blasphemers to death by stoning (Leviticus 24:13-16). Jesus courageously responded to this hostile crowd by confronting them with a question. Today we will learn that the second way to respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God is to COMMUNICATE BIBLICAL TRUTHS WITH RELEVANCE (John 10:34-36). Jesus refers to the Old Testament to argue from the lesser to the greater.

Jesus says to His Jewish audience, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods’ ”? (John 10:34). Jesus asks these religious skeptics, “Is it not written in your law…?” He refers to the Law in the Old Testament as that which has authority over them. Christ is being relevant to the religious culture of His audience. He is sensitive to their needs and beliefs so He refers to Psalm 82:6 where God refers to unjust and unfaithful judges or leaders as “gods” in contrast to their faithful and just Leader, Yahweh. These judges abused their positions and yet God calls them “gods” because they are His representatives. God-appointed leaders were called “gods.” For example, Moses was as God to Aaron (Exodus 4:16) and as God to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1) because he brought God’s message to them.

Jesus continues, 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’ “? (John 10:35-36). If the term “gods” can be used of unfaithful human judges (the lesser) who received God’s Word, then surely “Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world” is not “blaspheming” when He says, “I am the Son of God” (the greater). The phrase “Son of God” points to Jesus as God. “Son of” means He partakes of the same essence or nature as His Father. Jesus’ point is this: If God said of imperfect judges in the Psalms, “You are gods,” then Jesus, the One and only perfect Man, is reasonably called the Son of God or God Himself!

For example, when I say, “this is the son of …,” I am saying this person has the same human essence or nature as his father. Likewise, as the Son of God, Jesus has the same divine nature as God the Father. He is everything God the Father is in essence.

Jesus’ point was that it was inconsistent for the Jews to claim the Old Testament as their authority (10:34), and then to disregard something that it said because they did not agree with it. It was inconsistent for them, specifically, to stone Jesus for claiming to be God and the “Son of God,” when the Old Testament spoke of humans as “gods.” If it is not blasphemous to call imperfect human judges “gods,” what is the objection to Jesus referring to Himself as the Son of God? The Jews had to accept this line of argument because the Old Testament “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Clearly Jesus affirms that the “Scripture” is without error. They could not evade the force of this argument by saying Psalm 82:6 contains an error which should read “God” instead of “gods” to invalidate Jesus’ claim to be a Man and at the same time God. Christ claimed to be more than a recipient of God’s Word or a representative of God. Jesus claimed to be God in the fullest sense. 

What difference does it make that Jesus is God and not just a mere man considering John 10:28? No one can snatch them out of His hand. If Christ were a mere man, He could not keep that promise since other stronger men could overpower Him and take the believer out of His hand.

But Jesus is not a mere man or prophet. He is God the Son Who was “sanctified” or set apart by His Father and “sent” (John 10:36) to earth from heaven to voluntarily lay down His life for the sins of the world. Although many of the people He created have arrogantly rejected Jesus as their God and Savior (Titus 2:13), Christ still loves them and seeks to save them.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for sanctifying and sending Your eternal Son to earth despite our arrogant refusal to acknowledge Him as both Lord and God. If Jesus were a mere man, He could never give us eternal life nor guarantee our security forever. But He is much more than a man. He is the eternal God Who voluntarily laid down His life for our sins and rose from the dead so whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. I want to know Your Son more and make Him more widely known so more people may have life in His name. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

How can I respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God? Part 1

“Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’ ” John 10:32

The question, “Who is the greatest?” is often asked in the sports world. Many would agree with Muhammed Ali who claimed to be “The Greatest” in the prime of his boxing career. However, many Filipinos would say Manny Pacquiao is the greatest. Others would say Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan were the greatest sports figures ever. Some people, like Muhammed Ali, claim to be the greatest in their particular field of endeavor. Others make even more exalted claims. They think they are the greatest people living, period. But all those who think they are the greatest fall short in their claims when compared with Jesus Christ.

Jesus claimed to be God and you can tell that He is by what He said and the way He acted. In the context of our passage today, Jesus had claimed to be “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14) who had the “power to lay down” His life and “the power to take it [up] again” (John 10:18). Anyone can lay his or her life down in death sacrificially, but only Jesus Christ could “lay it down” and then “take it [up] again” in resurrection! This is what separates Jesus Christ from all other religious leaders and founders. All other religious leaders and founders in history are still dead in the grave. But Jesus Christ is the only One who had the authority to take up His life in resurrection proving that He is God (Romans 1:4). Christ also referred to God as “My Father”(John 10:18c). Jesus said He had the power to give eternal life to those who believe in Him (John 10:28a) and the power to guarantee security forever (John 10:28b). Finally, He claimed oneness with His Father in the sense that He and the Father both provide the sheep with security forever (John 10:30). That is something only God can do. Hence, He is saying that both He and the Father are God.

That Jesus claimed to be God can be seen in the Jews’ response to Him. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.” (John 10:31). The word translated “took up” (bastazō) probably means “to carry” in this verse since there would not have been many loose stones in Solomon’s porch in the temple. But not far away was the temple in the process of being built. Surely many stones could be found there. Hence, the Jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus because they understood Him to claim to be equal with God. The Law sentenced a blasphemer to death by stoning (Leviticus 24:13-16). The crowd was hostile and unwilling to permit due process of the law to take its course. Jesus gave these people more than enough evidence that He was the promised Messiah-God, but they were determined not to believe in Him.

Likewise, there are many skeptics today who ignore the sufficient evidence concerning Jesus’ identity as the Messiah-God. How does God want you and I to respond to those who deny the evidence concerning the fact that Jesus Christ is God? The same way Jesus did. We will look at several principles the next few days from these remaining verses about how to respond to skeptics who deny that Jesus is God.

The first way God wants us to respond to skeptics is to CONFRONT THEM WITH QUESTIONS (John 10:32-33). In other words, take the offensive, not the defensive. These Jews had their stones in their hands stretched back to hurl at Christ, and Jesus calmly and courageously says, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” (John 10:32). Jesus spoke before they could act because He was not willing to let them kill Him before His time. Besides, it was the Father’s will that He should die by crucifixion, not by stoning. Christ had healed both the lame man and the man born blind on the Sabbath. He had healed many different people and He wants to know for which of these miracles did they want to kill Him. What miracle ever called for the death penalty? This question confronted them with the absurdity of executing a man for restoring people who had suffered from afflictions.

Look at the Jews’ answer to this question. Their response demonstrated that Jesus claimed to be God. “The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’ ” (John 10:33).  They did not think this through. They were not going to kill Jesus because of His works, but because of His Words! Because He, “being a Man, makes” Himself to be “God.” Please note that this would only be blasphemy if Jesus was not God. But nowhere does Jesus correct their understanding of His claim to be God as if they had misunderstood Him. A man was not making himself out to be God – God had made Himself into a Man (cf. John 1:1, 14, 18)! Jesus was the God-Man!

These religious leaders could not accept Jesus’ claim to be God. They would not accept that He was telling the truth. Our Creator is one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:1; Matthew 28:19). And Jesus Christ is one Person with two natures – divine and human (John 1:1, 14). John is urging his readers to be like Jesus and take the offensive, not the defensive when dealing with skeptics.

For example, if someone says to you that they do not believe Jesus claimed to be God, then ask them why these “religious experts” were incited to pick up stones to throw at Jesus? What did they understand Jesus to claim in verse 33? These prominent Jews understood Jesus’ claim to be God. Then ask the skeptic, “If Jesus’ enemies understood Him to claim to be equal with God, why won’t you understand this? Why do you refuse to understand what the scribes and Pharisees understood? If Jesus was not really claiming to be God, He could have easily corrected the Jews’ misunderstanding here. Why didn’t He correct their understanding here if He was not claiming to be God?” It is obvious that He did not correct their understanding that He claimed to be God because they were correct to understand He was in fact claiming to be God. Only a clear claim by Christ to be God would have incited these professional religious experts to take such drastic action.

If a skeptic tells you he does not believe the Bible, ask him, “What part of the Bible don’t you believe?” Some skeptics have never even read the Bible. All they are doing is repeating something they heard someone else say. The same is true of those who deny that Jesus is God. Rather than study the words and works of Jesus for themselves, they simply repeat what others have told them about Christ. 

Prayer: Father God, You have given us the privilege of proclaiming Your gospel message to a lost world. Many in the world have been taught that Jesus Christ never claimed to be God. Yet we have seen in the historical record today that Jesus’ Jewish audience understood Christ to claim to be equal with God the Father. Lord, please give us the wisdom and the courage to take the offensive with skeptics by confronting them with questions about their rejection of Christ as God. Let us not allow Satan to deceive others with our silence. Use our voices to boldly proclaim that Jesus is God Who freely offers eternal life to all who believe in Him. And only God can guarantee that those who possess eternal life can never be snatched out of His hand. Hallelujah my great God and Savior. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How can I overcome spiritual blindness? Part 4

“Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” John 9:32-33

In this article we will discover another symptom and solution concerning spiritual blindness. Since the religious leaders could get nowhere with the healed man’s parents, they decide to talk to the former blind man a second time. “So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, ‘Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.’ ”(John 9:24). In the Pharisees’ minds, since the Law forbid working on the Sabbath and Jesus healed on the Sabbath, Jesus was a sinner. They tell the former blind man to “Give God the glory by telling the truth about Jesus – He is a sinner. Jesus just put clay on your eyes and told you to wash. God is the One who healed you,” they were saying. These religious leaders were trying to pressure everyone to be biased against Jesus by already determining (“we know”) that Jesus was “a sinner.”

According to those who are spiritually blind, to give God glory a person must call Jesus a sinner! How strange indeed is the thinking of the spiritually blind. The former blind man answered and said, ‘Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’ ” (John 9:25). The healed man chose not to speculate about Jesus’ sinfulness. Rather than listen to the theological errors of the Pharisees, he focused on the truth. He knew that he had been blind but now he can see. No theological argument could change that. Regardless of a believer’s understanding of the nature of Christ’s Person, he or she can always testify to the way Jesus has changed his or her life.

Sometimes the best way to present the gospel to a non-Christian is through a personal testimony. Arguments for the existence of God and Christian apologetics have their place, but few arguments are as powerful as a personal testimony which describes how God’s grace has transformed one’s life.

“Then they said to him again, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’ ” (John 9:26). The Pharisees asked the man to repeat his story again hoping to find a contradiction.Four times in this conversation the religious leaders asked the man how he gained his sight (cf. John 9:10, 15, 19, 26). Spiritually blind people are usually more concerned about the way a miracle was performed than they are about the person who performed the miracle.

“He answered them, ‘I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?’ ” (John 9:27). The relentless questioning of these religious experts exhausted the man’s patience. Realizing they were not wanting to know the truth but to acquire information to use against Jesus, the former blind man sarcastically asks if their request meant that they had a change of heart. Did they want to become His disciples like he had become? This man was not intimidated by these religious leaders because his testimony was based upon the truth.

The Pharisees realized the man saw through their ploy to unjustly condemn Jesus, so they verbally abused (“reviled”) him. “Then they reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples.’ ” (John 9:28). The Pharisees were so proud to think that they were right. Ironically, Jesus was more of a disciple of Moses than these Pharisees were. But the Pharisees could not believe Jesus was from God because in their estimation, Jesus broke God’s Law (actually their laws) when He healed the man on the Sabbath.

They continued, “We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” (John 9:29).Christ’s critics knew that God spoke to Moses and sent him, but they did not know by whom Jesus was sent. They boasted in what they knew about Moses just like many people today will boast about what they know to attempt to put themselves in a superior position to those who know Jesus. For example, when I was in college, an unbelieving religion professor said, “We all know, of course, that Jesus never claimed to be God.” By adding that little phrase, “of course,” he was insinuating, “Anyone with half a brain would know that what I am saying is true.” As a young believer at that time, I felt too intimidated to question his opinions in class.

The Pharisees would not follow Christ because they did not know His origin. Their ignorance of His origin was not due to a lack of information about Jesus because He had already revealed enough for them to know this (cf. John 5-8). Their ignorance of Christ’s origin was due to a willful rejection of Christ. Such is the case with non-Christians today. Their ignorance is not due to a lack of evidence concerning the identity of Jesus Christ. It is due to their willful rejection of Him.

The former blind man teaches these proud religious leaders, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!” (John 9:30). Although his parents were afraid to speak the truth to the Pharisees, this man boldly challenges their illogical thinking! It is like he is saying, “Your ignorance of Jesus’ origin is more of a miracle than my cure! You are the experts and you do not know where my Healer is from?!” Their disbelief was incredible to him in light of the evidence!

This is the fourth symptom of spiritual blindness – DELIBERATELY REJECT CHRIST DESPITE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE ABOUT HIS IDENTITY (John 9:24-30). It is amazing how blind people can be to the truth about Jesus Christ. This is a heart issue not an intellectual issue. This incredible miracle should have overwhelmingly convinced the Jewish leaders of Christ’s identity, yet they denied this truth.

Even today unbelievers remain skeptical of the truth of Jesus Christ until the Holy Spirit causes them to see their need for Jesus. Until God removes the spiritual veil that blinds them to the truth about Jesus, they will not embrace Christ even though the evidence overwhelmingly points to Him as a supernatural Person!

The former blind man continues to teach the Pharisees by giving them a lesson on logic. “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31). When the healed man says, “We know,” he is referring to himself, the Pharisees, and the community. “We know that God does not hear sinners. He hears the righteous! If God does not hear sinners, then how could Jesus perform this miracle if He were a sinner?!” His logical argument in this verse can be summarized in this way:

1. Only God could heal congenital blindness.

2. Jesus healed congenital blindness.

3. Jesus must be from God.

Then the former blind man said, “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:32-33). The healing of a man born blind was never heard of. “Jesus could not have healed me, a healing unparalleled in history, unless He were from God. How else do you explain such supernatural activity, if it is not from God?” It is also amazing that this former blind man was able to see things so clearly in contrast to the Pharisees who were so prejudiced against Jesus. While there was no record in history up to that time of a person blind from birth being healed, the Old Testament did prophesy that the Messiah-God would heal the blind (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; 42:7).

This is the third way to overcome spiritual blindness – DISCERN THE TRUTH FROM ERROR (John 9:31-33). Instead of yielding to the error of the Pharisees, the beggar used reason and logic to hold fast to the truth and concluded that Jesus was from God.

What about you? Does your family or religious community question what Jesus has done in your life because they refuse to embrace the truth about Christ? Do their emotions or traditions guide their decisions about Jesus instead of logic, reason, and truth? Please know that their skeptical response to what Jesus has done in your life does not make it any less true. Truth is not truth because people vote on it. Truth is truth based on what God has revealed.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus repeatedly claims to have been sent by God the Father to reveal the Father to us. John stated, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18). Jesus tells Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). God’s revelation of Himself to us centers in the Person of Jesus Christ, which we have in the written eyewitness testimony of the apostles. True spiritual knowledge of God is founded on knowing Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent to reveal Himself to us. Anything else is mere speculation.

Many years ago the head of a rescue mission in London accepted the challenge to debate a well-known skeptic, but with this condition: he would bring with him one hundred people who would tell how believing in Jesus changed their lives. He invited his opponent to counter with witnesses to the benefits of unbelief. On the appointed day the believer came with his one hundred witnesses, but the skeptic never showed up. (Our Daily Bread, 1999).

Your testimony about how Jesus has changed your life is one of the most powerful testimonies to those who are dying in their sins. Do not let the bullies and lies of this world keep you from sharing it. Christ is counting on you and the unsaved world needs you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, knowing You and making You known go together. The more I know You, the more I long for people to know You. Whether they be my intellectual superiors or not, I must share what You have done in my life because apart from You, they cannot know God the Father. They cannot have everlasting life. And they cannot be set free from the darkness that keeps them in bondage to sin. In Your name. Amen.

Jesus meets skeptics where they are at

“Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’” John 1:48

The next day, Jesus “found Philip” who then “found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ” (John 1:43-45). Nathanael is a little more skeptical than the other men who came to Jesus (cf. John 1:37-44). He does not respond in immediate faith. Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46a).

So what does Philip do? Does he give up or argue? “Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ ” (John 1:46b). Philip does not give up or argue with Nathanael, he does the only thing he knows to do. He says, “Come and seefor yourself. I don’t have all the answers, but come and meet Jesus. Then you will see what I’m talking about.

As Nathanael approaches, Jesus builds him up: “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ ” (John 1:47). Jesus is saying,“I know you Nathanael for who you are and you are a man of integrity.” Nathanael is surprised that Jesus would say this, so he says to Him, “How do You know me?” (John 1:48a). Nathanael is amazed because he has never met Jesus before and knows of no reason why Jesus would know his character so well.

Jesus draws Nathanael in when He says to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” (John 1:48b). Jesus saw Nathanael’s heart as well as his presence under the tree. Perhaps Nathanael was praying or reading the Bible under that fig tree. Jesus is saying, “Nathanael, I know who you are. I know everything there is to know about you. I know what you think and where you go and what you do. And I want to have a relationship with you.”

How do you think Nathanael responds? “Nathanael answered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ ” (John 1:49). Nathanael places his faith in Jesus. “Only the Son of God could know this. You must be Him!” And to believe that Jesus is the Son of God results in eternal life. John 20:31 says, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Jesus replies to Nathanael, Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:50-51). Jesus is saying, “I am glad you believed, but you believed because I gave you a miraculous sign. But Nathanael, you have seen nothing yet. You are going to see greater signs than these.” Verse 51 refers to Jesus’ Second Coming to earth as King. Jesus has already shown His supernatural knowledge, but when He comes the second time He will show His supernatural power. When Christ comes back as King, the Bible says, “Let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels He says: ‘Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.’ ” (Hebrews 1:6-7).

No matter how skeptical a person may be about Christianity, just introduce them to Jesus and let Him do the rest. You and I cannot change people, but we can introduce them to the One who can. Jesus takes Simon and makes him Peter, a rock or leader of leaders. Jesus takes the doubter and transforms him into a devoted follower. He takes the sinner and makes him a saint. Jesus takes the drunkard and makes him sober. Jesus takes the prostitute and makes her pure. Jesus takes the worrier and gives him peace. He takes the spiritually blind and makes her see. Jesus takes the dirty and makes him clean. Jesus changes lives.

God wants to use ordinary people like you and me all around the world to introduce people to Jesus. You may think you do not have what it takes to do that. All Jesus asks of you is to tell people the truth about Him. He will do the rest.

If you are reading this article and you can identify with Nathanael’s skepticism, please know that Jesus loves you and He will meet you where you are at. He will provide answers to your questions if you are willing to listen. He may come to you in unexpected ways such as through a dream or a vision or even through a child. He knows everything about you – your likes and dislikes. Your sorrows and your joys. Your thoughts, actions, and words. He knows the hidden wounds of your heart. He knows the dark secrets in the depths of your soul, and He still loves you and He longs to be in a personal relationship with you.  

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for pursuing me when I was lost in the darkness of my own sin and shame. Thank You for providing answers to the deep questions of my soul. Lord I am very concerned about those who are like Nathanael. They are skeptical about You. They need evidence for their skeptical minds. They need answers for their hurting hearts and they need a relationship with You for their fragmented souls. As You did with me, please meet them where they are at. Reveal Yourself and Your power to them in a way that leaves no room for doubt about Your identity. Show them Lord Jesus, that You are the Son of God, the King of Israel, Who will give them everlasting life the moment they believe in You. Thank You my Lord and my God for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What is God like?

“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 1:18

What is God like? Let’s see what some fifth graders said when their teacher at a Christian school asked her class to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them in some way to communicate ideas about God. God is like BAYER ASPIRIN. He works miracles. God is like a FORD. He’s got a better idea. God is like COKE. He’s the real thing. God is like HALLMARK CARDS. He cares enough to send His very best. God is like TIDE. He gets the stains out that others leave behind. God is like GENERAL ELECTRIC. He brings good things to life. God is like SEARS. He has everything. God is like ALKA-SELTZER. Try Him, you’ll like Him. God is like SCOTCH TAPE. You can’t see Him, but you know He’s there. God is like DELTA. He’s ready when you are.

On a more serious note, what would you say God is like? Many people have misconceptions about God that are rooted in their family of origin. We think that God will resemble our parents or authority figures from our childhood (cf. Psalm 50:21). Look at some common misconceptions about God from Sandra Wilson’s, Released from Shame Revised Edition (2002), pp. 142-143:

The cruel and unpredictable God” is the most extreme distortion of God’s nature and is   found among those who received brutal and unpredictable abuse in childhood most often at the hands of their fathers, stepfathers, or father figures. If you are one of the bruised believers who experienced severe physical or sexual abuse as a child, this might be the way you see God and you understandably struggle to trust your Father in heaven. 

The demanding and unforgiving God” is often the view that Christian adults have whose parents were rigid and perfectionistic. No matter how hard you try, you can never measure up  to the demands of this distorted deity who does not forgive nor forget your sins. When you fail, watch out! His cruel side is manifested. He seems to delight in sending financial disaster or physical disease to emphasize His intolerance of your spiritual failures. Understandably, it is difficult for you to approach Him and experience His forgiveness and love.

The selective and unfair God” is a distorted view of God found among Christian adults who experienced spiritual abuse by parental authorities in childhood. This might be the God you worship if you feel Jesus has revealed Himself more fully to other Christians who, in turn have a deeper relationship with Him than you do. You probably struggle with being a different and “less-than” Christian. 

– “The distant and unavailable God” may care about His worshipers, but He is off somewhere running the universe and cannot get too involved in their lives. If your parents were physically or emotionally unavailable through prolonged absences, perhaps because of death, divorce, illness, military duty, working overseas, or neglect, you may experience God as eternally distant and unavailable. 

– “The kind but confused God” is a clumsy and powerless deity who is confused by all the chaos in the world. If you had parents who were overwhelmed by uncontrollable chaos in their lives and your family, you may have this view of God.

Do any of these misconceptions about God resonate with you? If so, our verse today will be especially meaningful to you. John the Baptist says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). We can know what God is like by looking at Jesus Christ.

John begins by saying, “No one has seen God at any time” (1:18a). You may wonder, “How can this be true when the Bible speaks of people seeing God?”(e.g. Exodus 33:21-23; Isaiah 6:1-5; Revelation 1:10-18). Those encounters with God did not reveal the fullness of His glory or His unveiled divine essence. If people saw God’s unveiled glory or divine essence, they would not live (cf. Exodus 33:20).

The only One Who can and has seen God in the fullness of His glory and divine essence without dying, is His Son, Jesus Christ (John 6:46). The reason Jesus could do this is because He also is God. He has the same divine nature as God the Father. For example, when people say of a man named Clarence Smith, “He is the son of John Smith,” they are acknowledging that he has the same human nature as his father. Likewise, when the Bible says that Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 20:31), it is affirming that Jesus has the same divine nature as His Father in heaven.

This is why we can discover what God is like by knowing His “only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father” (1:18b). The phrase “only begotten Son” does not mean Jesus had a beginning like a baby that is birthed by his parents, as many false religions teach today. The compound Greek word translated “only begotten” is monogenḗs, which literally means “one (monos) of a kind (genos).” Jesus Christ is the only One of His kind. He is fully God (John 1:1-3) and fully Man (John 1:14). This is the message of the gospel of John.

The writer of this gospel, the apostle John, goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ deity (John 1:1, 34, 49; 5:16-47; 6:69; 8:57-59; 10:30-33; 11:27; 20:28; et. al). Jesus was unlike any other Person who has walked on this earth. In the Old Testament, the phrase “I Am” is how God identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14). “I Am” is also how Jesus identified Himself to the people of Israel. He makes several “I AM” statements in the gospel of John: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the door” (John 10:9), “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:14), “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6), “I am the true Vine” (15:1). Each one of these staggering statements attested to the fact that Jesus was and is God.

Jesus also claimed to be equal with God and to be God Himself (John 5:17-18; John 10:10-33). This is why His enemies wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy (Leviticus 20:10; cf. John 5:18; 8:59; 10:31-33; 11:8). For example, when Jesus said, “He and the Father are one” (John 10:30), the Jews understood Him to claim to be God. They said, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

Did Muhammed, the founder of Islam, Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, or Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah Witnesses, claim to be equal with God? Jesus Christ not only claimed to be God, He proved He was God through His works (John 1-12), the greatest of which was His resurrection from the dead (John 20:1-18; cf. Romans 1:3-4)! Hallelujah brothers and sisters in Christ! What a precious Lord and Savior we have in Jesus Christ!

John also goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ humanity (John 1:14; 4:6; 11:35; 12:27; 19:28; et. al). Jesus had brothers and sisters like you and me (John 2:12; 7:3, 5; cf: Mark 6:3). Christ ate food and got thirsty just like you and me (John 19:28; 21:12, 15; cf. Matthew 9:11; 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 7:34). He experienced physical fatigue and even slept (John 4:6; cf. Matthew 8:24; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:23). Why? He became a man without ceasing to be God so He could understand what it is like for you and me to have family, food, and fatigue. The God of the Bible is not some distant uncaring deity like the religions of the world. He understands our needs and He came to earth to meet our most fundamental needs to be seen, safe, soothed, and secure.

When John says that Jesus was “is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18b), he is referring to Christ’s very close and intimate relationship with God the Father. The word “bosom” (kolpos) refers to the upper part of the chest where a garment naturally folded to form a pocket. The picture here is that of a son resting his head on the chest of his father, experiencing a very close and intimate relationship with him. Jesus had the closest and most intimate relationship with God the Father. He knows the heart of God the Father better than anyone because His head often rested upon His Father’s chest in eternity past.

Who better to tell others what a Person is like than the One who is closest to that Person and has known Him the longest in an intimate relationship!?! There is no one more qualified to tell us what God is like than the only begotten Son of God who has known God the Father forever in the closest of relationships with Him.

This is why John then says, “He has declared Him” (John 1:18c). The word “declared” (eksēgéomai) is where we get our English words, “exegete” and “exegesis” from. In seminary, we learned to “exegete” or explain God’s Word, the Bible. We were taught to “read out” of the Bible God’s intended meaning through a grammatical, historical, and literal interpretation instead of “reading into” the Bible our own biases and assumptions.

God the Son, Jesus Christ, has “exegeted”or “explained, interpreted, or narrated” what God the Father is like. Jesus is more qualified than anyone else to explain what God the Father is like because He, being God, knows God the Father longer and more intimately than anyone else.

For some of you reading this article, it may be very difficult for you to perceive God as your Father because you have been deeply wounded by your own earthly father through his absence or even his abuse towards you. You may detest the thought of God being a Father because your own earthly father caused you a lot of pain. Hence, you want nothing to do with fathers.

Please understand that God the Father is nothing like your absent or abusive father on earth. God wants you to know Him for Who He truly is. And there is no one more qualified to reveal God the Father to you than Jesus Christ.

This is why Jesus said,He who sees Me sees Him [the Father] who sent Me” (John 12:45). He also said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7).Christ said,He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b) because Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father.

If you want to know God the Father, get to know His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, because He is God in human flesh (John 1:1, 14; Titus 2:13; I Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8; I John 5:20). You can begin a relationship with God the Son and God the Father through faith. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

To believe in the Father Who sent Jesus is the same as believing in Jesus because Christ is the perfect reflection of the Father, being God Himself. This is why Jesus could say, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me” (John 12:44).

Jesus said, “he who hears My word and believes…” (John 5:24a). Have you heard Jesus’ promise of everlasting life and believed it? If so, Jesus guarantees the person who has heard and believed that he now “has [present tense] everlasting life” (John 5:24b). You do not have to wait until you die to experience everlasting life. If you have heard Jesus’ promise of everlasting life (John 3:16) and believed it, you can now experience His forever life every day of your life on earth and beyond!!!

Christ also guarantees to the one who has heard and believed His promise of eternal life that he “shall not [future tense] come into judgment” for his sins in the future (John 5:24c). Why? Because Jesus was judged on the cross for all of our sins when He died, and God the Father was satisfied with Jesus’ payment for our sins (I John 2:2). Therefore, we will never be eternally punished for our sins if we have heard and believed Jesus’ promise of everlasting life.

Lastly, Jesus promises that the one who has heard and believed His promise of everlasting life “has passed [past tense] from death into life” (John 5:24d). This means that eternal death is behind you, not ahead of you. It is past, not present or future. You are now in the sphere of “life” or relationship with God. When God looks at our life after we believe in Christ, what does He see? He sees only the blood of His Son and His goodness in our lives (Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5; 12:11). In the sphere of “life,” God has no charge against the believer (Romans 8:33). The believer is “justified” (“declared totally righteous”) of all things based on his or her faith in Christ (Romans 4:5). All our sin has been covered by the goodness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are seen by God as completely holy and perfect because of His grace (Ephesians 1:4). That’s why God can let us into heaven when we die if we have believed in Christ as our Savior.

Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to explain what God the Father is like so I may have a very close and intimate relationship with Him and You. Please help me to see the Father as full of grace and truth like You. Renew my mind so I may see You both as You truly are – abounding in goodness, grace, love, mercy, and truth. Please bring healing to those who have been deeply wounded by their earthly fathers so they may approach You as a good good Father who infinitely and unconditionally loves them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are you investing in what lasts?

“John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” John 1:15

After explaining that the Word, Jesus Christ, is the Creator God and only source of eternal life Who became a human being (John 1:1-14), the apostle John records the testimony of John the Baptist (John 1:15-36). He begins with, “John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me’ ” (John 1:15).

We are told that John the Baptist “bore witness.” What does it mean to be a witness? Is witnessing something one is or something one does? Sometimes we think that to be a witness for Christ means “I just have to live a godly life and that is enough. I don’t ever have to tell anyone how to be saved. They will eventually come to Christ on their own.” But listen. The Greek word translated “bore witness” (martureō) is used in a courtroom setting. And it means “to testify, give evidence, or speak the truth.” What would happen if you took the witness stand in a court of law and never said anything? The judge would hold you in contempt of the court.

Living the holiest life does not tell people how they can obtain eternal life. No amount of watching your godly life tells me how I can know Christ personally. If you live a holy life, it tells me something has happened to you, but it doesn’t tell me how I can have the same experience or what causes you to live that way. Maybe you are a person of high morals. Perhaps your parents disciplined you as a child. Words are more than just helpful for me to know Christ: they are essential. Sooner or later, someone has to talk to me about Jesus in order for me to know Him personally.

If we live a holy life but never tell people about Jesus, then the world will give us all the credit instead of glorifying the Lord. Silent believers are like beautiful road signs with no words or directions printed on them. They are nice to look at, but they don’t tell you how to get where you need to go. We need a balance. Yes, we need to live a godly life, but we also need to use our lips to tell people how to have eternal life through believing in Jesus alone (John 3:16).

When John the Baptist testifies about Jesus, he is not speaking softly. The Bible says he “cried out.” The Greek word translated “cried out” is krazō. This word is imitative of a raven’s piercing cry. It expresses an urgent scream or shout from someone who has deep emotions about their message. John was extremely passionate regarding what he was about to say. Why? Because he understood Who Jesus is and he also understood his purpose. John the Baptist was “sent from God… to bear witness of the Light,” Jesus Christ (John 1:6-7; 8:12). He understood his identity as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23; cf. Isaiah 40:3). John’s purpose was to prepare the people of Israel “that all through him might believe” in their coming Messiah-God for His gift of everlasting life (John 1:7b; 3:36; cf. Acts 19:4). John’s voice was temporary, but his message was eternal.

John the Baptist’s message centered around an eternal Person. He cried out, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me’ ” (John 1:15b). The word translated “preferred” (emprosthen) denotes having greater dignity or rank than another (cf. Genesis 48:20; John 1:30).

In Bible times, chronological priority meant superiority (those who were born first were considered superior). John is saying that Jesus is superior to him because Christ came before him. John the Baptist recognized the pre-existence of the Word, Jesus Christ, as God (John 1:1-2). Even though John the Baptist was born six months prior to Jesus (Luke 1:26, 36), John says “He was before me.” How could John the Baptist say this? He could say this because Jesus was always before John in His Pre-existent state as God.

In the Old Testament, the Lord God of the universe said, “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: ‘I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God’ ” (Isaiah 44:6; cf. 41:4; 48:12). The God of the universe has no beginning and no end because He is eternal. This is what makes Him uniquely God.

In the last book of the Bible, the exalted Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). The apostle John shares Jesus’ testimony, When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last’ ” (Revelation 1:17; cf. 1:13).  At the end of the Book of Revelation the exalted Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). Make no mistake, the Lord God of the Old Testament is the same as the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. This is John the Baptist’s message. He is acknowledging Jesus’ superiority as the eternal God with no beginning and no end when He says, “He was before me” (John 1:15b).

With the Coronavirus in the news a lot, all of us are confronted with the frailty of humanity. None of us are promised life on earth tomorrow. God is using COVID-19 to persuade people to think about what is eternal.

Since Jesus has no beginning and no end, we are to invest our lives in what lasts. What two things on this planet last for eternity? It is not your bank account… cell phone… video games… house… car… job… or your achievements. I have done a lot of funerals, and I have never seen anyone pull a U-Haul behind a hearse. What lasts forever on earth is people (Matthew 25:46) and the Word of God (I Peter 1:23-24). We have an incredible opportunity to invest in both by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved (Mark 16:15) and then training those who believe in Christ through the discipleship process (Matthew 28:19-20).

Whom are you sharing the gospel with and training in discipleship? If we are not evangelizing and then discipling those who believe the gospel, we are failing to invest our lives in what is lasting. But this need not continue. Today, you can decide to invest your life in what lasts forever.

Prayer: Lord God Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, I bow my heart before You in worship. You are so amazing! You could have remained in heaven for eternity receiving glory from all of Your angels. But instead, out of love for me and all people, You humbled Yourself and became a human being on earth without ceasing to be God. And You were obedient to death on a cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins! Therefore God the Father has exalted You to the highest place and given You the name that is above every name, that at Your name, Jesus, every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that You are Jesus Christ the Lord, to the glory of God the Father! Forgive me my Lord for focusing so much on what is temporary. Thank You for reminding me to focus on what is eternal. Use my voice, Lord Jesus, to proclaim that You are the eternal God who offers eternal life to those who believe in You. Please use me to multiply followers of Yours while there is still time on earth. I pray this for Your glory and honor, Lord Jesus. In Your name. Amen.

How are we to respond when God does not make sense to us?

There are tragic things that happen in life that cause us to ask a familiar question. This question may fall from the lips… of a young mother whose twins are joined at the head… of emergency response crew at the scene of a fatal bus accident…  of flood victims in Manila… of a rescue worker pulling dead bodies from the rubble left by an earthquake… of soldiers whose comrades were ambushed… of COVID-19 frontliners … from our own lips when suffering impacts our lives. “Why?” we ask: “Why me? Why this? IF God is a loving and caring God, why does he allow suffering in my life and in the lives of those I care about and love?” 

The fact of the matter is that sometimes God just doesn’t make sense to us. We may have different backgrounds, goals and motivations. But there is one thing we all have in common: We all know what it means to hurt. Tears are the same for Jews, Muslims, or Christians; for white, black or brown; for children, adults or the elderly. How are we to respond when God doesn’t make sense to us?

Consider Job in the Bible – imagine how he felt when he heard these words… “You’ve lost your livestock, they’ve been stolen. Your sheep were destroyed. Your employees were murdered. Your children were crushed in a freak windstorm – they are dead – all ten of them.” This is how the book of Job begins (Job 1:1-19). One calamity after another strikes this godly father and business man. “Godly?” you may ask. The Bible says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Job was not perfect, but honest before God. Job’s calamities were connected to a contest between God and Satan. Satan is saying that Job is motivated by self-interest, not love for God. Satan says. “Take away Job’s blessings and he will curse You, God” (Job 1:8-11).

So God gives Satan permission to attack Job’s property. After Job loses his wealth… servants, and children, we read: “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22).  

How many of us would respond the way Job did? When God Doesn’t Make Sense… 1. SURRENDER TO HIS CONTROL (Job 1:1-2:13). How do we do this? First, we grieve. “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head” (Job 1:20a). These are all expressions of grief. Tears are God’s way of washing away the pain. Second, we worship God. “And he fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20b). 

When bad things happen, will we grow bitter or will we bow before Almighty God? Focusing on God keeps pain from swallowing our soul and it also brings us to the point of acceptance: “And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job accepted the fact that all his wealth, his employees, even his own children belonged to God – so he surrendered them all to the Lord. He let go. “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22). A person who surrenders to God doesn’t accuse God of wrongdoing. Have you surrendered all that you have to the Lord? 

Satan comes back to God and says, “Sure Job didn’t curse You because You didn’t let me touch his body. Let me afflict his body and he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 2:1-6)! For example, when I am in good health, I’m a happy man. But when my body is hurting, I’m a grump. Can you identify? 

Now Job is covered with boils from head to toe (Job 2:7). Job’s wife asks Job to do exactly what Satan wants him to do (although she doesn’t realize it) (Job 2:9). Job responds to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity” (Job 2:10)? This is an incredible response to calamities which were not the result of Job’s personal behavior, but the result of a contest between God and Satan. Job continues to surrender to the Lord  and accepts the good and the bad in his life as part of God’s plan.

Most sermons on Job end right there. If Job had just kept quiet, we would not have the rest of the book. But Job doesn’t remain silent. Job’s three friends come to him and they sit quietly with him “for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13).

Job doesn’t remain silent, however: “After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth” (Job 3:1). When we are hurting physically, we become more vulnerable to despair and depression. After all of his suffering, Job is wishing he had never been born. He is down in the dumps. When Job opens his mouth, it starts a long avalanche of words between Job and his three friends. This time Job is not blameless with his lips. For the next thirty chapters there is a long exchange between Job and his friends. From this exchange we learn a second principle.

When God doesn’t make sense… 2. DON’T TRY TO EXPLAIN EVERYTHING (Job 3:1-31:40). Explanations never heal a broken heart. If his friends had listened to Job, accepted his feelings, and not argued with him, they would have helped him greatly; but they chose to be prosecuting attorneys instead of witnesses.

For example, the first friend, Eliphaz, essentially says to Job, “If you sin, you suffer.” “Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end” (Job 22:5)? Eliphaz is saying, “Job, the reason people suffer is because of personal sin in their lives.” It is easy for Eliphaz to say this when he is not the one with boils all over his body.  

Job’s second friend, Bildad, basically says, “You must be sinning.” “So why don’t you turn to Him and start living right? Then He will decide to rescue and restore you to your place of honor” (Job 8:5-6 –  NLT). Bildad is saying, “If you were living right, Job, God would heal you and prosper you. But He hasn’t, so you must be sinning.” 

Job’s third friend, Zophar, basically says, “You are sinning.” “Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear” (Job 11:14-15 – NLT).  All three of Job’s friends reasoned, “Job, the reason you’re suffering is because you have sinned.”

But Job insists that he is innocent: “My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; show me why You contend with me. Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of Your hands, and smile on the counsel of the wicked?… Although You know that I am not wicked, and there is no one who can deliver from Your hand” (Job 10:1-3, 7). Job is saying, “God, I’m bitter about my suffering because You oppress me even though You know I am innocent.” Job wants his friends to know that God has wronged him: “Know then that God has wronged me, and has surrounded me with His net” (Job 19:6). Job goes so far as to say if he could get God to appear in court with him, Job could prove that God was wrong to afflict him (Job 23:3-7). Essentially, Job is saying, “I am righteous. God is wrong.”

What has happened to Job? He has gone from “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord to the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, I am bitter.”  He has gone from blessing to bitterness. 

Has this ever happened to you? You experience a painful divorce… devastation of bankruptcy… betrayal of a trusted friend… slow painful death of a loved one… your own health issues… an unhappy marriage… social distancing… loss of a job? At first, you surrender to God’s control – grieving and then worshiping God. But the suffering has lasted so long that your grief has turned into constant complaining. Instead of focusing on the truth of who God is in worship, you are now accusing God of wrongdoing. Instead of walking through your pain, your pain is walking all over you? 

How do we get back to that place of blessing God instead of blasting Him? This leads to a third response when God doesn’t make sense. Since God alone can adequately deal with life’s problems, 3. TRUST GOD, DON’T ARGUE WITH HIM (Job 32:1-41:34). Let’s look at the process Job goes through. At the end of chapter 31, Job is silent. Then a new figure arises named, Elihu.

Elihu tells Job that he won’t be as harsh as Job’s three friends and God were (Job 33:6-7). Elihu says, “God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food. But you are obsessed with whether the godless will be judged. Don’t worry, judgment and justice will be upheld” (Job 36:16-17 – NLT). Elihu is saying,“God would have already ended your troubles, Job, if you had remained silent.” In essence, to sum up Elihu’s message to Job, “Humble yourself and submit to God,” then your troubles will come to an end.

Elihu has finished lecturing Job. Strangely, Job has no response. He remains silent. God then comes right up behind Elihu to speak to Job. The last four chapters are God’s words. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me’ ” (Job 38:1-3). God is saying, “Job you don’t know what you are talking about when you accuse Me of being unfair… You have said I’ve been hiding from you and unwilling to debate with you. Well, let me see your qualifications, Job. I’m going to give you an exam consisting of over seventy questions. They are quite simple actually. If you can answer these ABC questions, then I will address the questions you have in your heart.” 

Job is questioned like a first grade student. He is asked about the basic laws of nature, physics, astronomy, mathematics, ecology, zoology. After the first exam, we read, “Moreover, the Lord answered Job, and said: Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it’ ” (Job 40:1-2). God is saying, “Job, if you cannot understand My ways in the realm of nature, how can you understand My ways in dealing with people?” All of us should be slow to claim that we know God’s will about the affairs of a person’s life, whether it be our own or someone else’s. We still don’t know all the facts as to why God is allowing what takes place. 

“Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:3-5). Earlier in the book, Job was hesitant to confront God (Job 9:14). Gradually he became more confident and demanded an audience with God (Job 13:22a). Later he even spoke like he was God’s equal bragging that he would approach God as a prince (Job 31:37). But now, God had humbled Job. Job had nothing more to say. But Job was not yet repentant. He had not confessed any sin. 

So God gives Job another exam focusing on two animals: Behemoth– probably an Apatosaurus (Job 40:15-19), and  Leviathan, a dragon-like dinosaur which primarily lived in the water (Job 41:1, 14-15, 21, 31). God was challenging Job to subdue these mighty creatures – something Job could never do. But God could. God not only controlled these dinosaurs. He also controlled the entire universe. 

God is telling Job and us in these final chapters, “Job, if I can manage this whole Universe, from the basic cell up to monsters and mega-galaxies without your understanding, I can take care of you… If I can manage the universe, I can take care of YOU. Therefore trust Me, don’t argue with Me.”

There’s a fourth way to respond when God doesn’t make sense. 4. WE WILL STOP ASKING “WHY?” WHEN WE SEE THE “WHO” BEHIND LIFE’S HEARTACHES (Job 42:1-17). Job acknowledges God’s sovereign ability to govern the universe. “Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You’ ” (Job 42:1-2). Only God has the right to use people for whatever He desires. Not all suffering is because of personal sin, but because it accomplishes God’s sovereign purposes.

But many of God’s purposes are beyond our ability to understand. Job said, “You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). Job is saying, “I tried to talk about things I didn’t understand. I flunked Your exams. I was way in over my head.”

Job continues, “Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’  I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:4-6). At the end of chapter two, Job had not sinned with his lips. But forty chapters later he has to admit, “I’ve sinned with my lips and I therefore repent.” 

“And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has…And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:7, 10). Isn’t this a fascinating story? Job’s repentance brought an end to God’s discipline of him. When Job repents, his troubles stop and God restores Job’s prosperity. God never gave Job a reason or an explanation for his suffering – He offered Job Himself.  

As God revealed Himself to Job, Job stopped asking “Why?” Job stopped asking WHY when he saw the WHO behind his troubles. Christian author and speaker, Chuck Swindoll states, “No single truth removes the need to ask ‘Why?’ like this one… God is too kind to do anything cruel… too wise to make a mistake… too deep to explain Himself.” Like Job, we will stop asking ‘WHY?’ when we see the WHO behind life’s heartachesGod offers you Himself as you read this article – not reasons for your hurts, but Himself. 

Do you know the WHO behind life’s heartaches? Do you know Jesus Christ? You may be wondering how can a loving and caring God allow so much suffering in the world or in your own life? Just because God doesn’t intervene in world events or stop the pain in your own life, does not mean He does not care. Any injustice or hardship grieves Him more than it does anyone else. If you tried to see suffering in the world today through God’s eyes, your view would be so different. Even if God tried to explain things to you, you wouldn’t understand. His mind is so beyond anything ours is capable of comprehending. If it weren’t, He wouldn’t be God. 

Today, I want to encourage you to look at the good side of God. When thinking about how loving God is, please start with the cross. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

Think about the suicide bomber who recently killed over one hundred people at an election rally in Pakistan. If the bomber had not died, would you die as his substitute if he had been sentenced to die for his crime? Like me, you’d probably say, “No way!” Yet that is exactly what God’s Son Jesus Christ did. He died for sinners – people who should have died for their sins like you and me. Why? So that when He had paid for our sins and rose the third day, He could forgive us for all of the wrongs we have done and give us His absolutely free gift of eternal life if we would believe or trust in Him alone for His free gift (John 3:16). Since God allowed His Son to take the place of all sinners on a cross so they could live with Him forever, doesn’t that remove all doubt about His character?  

You may say, “What about the tyrant who slaughters thousands of innocent people?” God is not standing unaware. If that tyrant doesn’t come to faith in Christ, his punishment awaits him (John 3:36b). The Bible says, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). In an eternal hell, that tyrant will want to die but won’t be able to.

We live in a fallen world. Every day people drift farther away from God. So until Christ returns to earth, the situation will get worse, not better. God could step in and stop it right now, and one day He is going to do that. But understand He is a Savior, not a Dictator. He has given everyone a choice. They can choose to come to Him in faith just as they are and receive forgiveness for all their sins and live with Him in eternity.

You may say, “What about the victims of catastrophes like COVID-19 or violence?” God grieves for these victims more than you or I ever could. Yet these are the results of living in a fallen world. But this is also why God begs people to come to Christ now. You’re not promised tomorrow. Until God establishes a new world, there will always be violence and suffering.

Please remember that God has not rebelled against people; people have rebelled against God. According to the Bible a day is coming when the earth will know no more violence, suffering, shootings, hijackings, viruses, catastrophes, pain or hardship of any kind (cf. Revelation 21-22). All who trust in Jesus as their Savior will be with Him in a perfect, problem-free place. When they see things from His perspective, they will realize how just and righteous God has been and is. God really wants you in His family. 

Will you trust Christ to give you the free gift of eternal life? Jesus guarantees, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). Come to Him just as you are in faith and receive His forgiveness and everlasting life, and then you can share this good news with others before it is too late for them. 

Prayer: Almighty God, I am so broken over all the confusion and pain that is in the world today. I often find myself asking “Why?” instead of “Who?” I dislike the feeling of being out of control. Please forgive me, Lord, for arguing with You and complaining against You when I feel out of control. Thank You for reminding me in the book of Job that You are in control no matter what I face. Since You can manage this whole universe, from the basic cell up to dinosaurs and mega-galaxies without my understanding, I can trust You to take care of me even when it does not make sense to me. Please help me to focus on You during these difficult times so I can be the opposite of Job’s friends who acted more like prosecuting attorneys towards Job and his sufferings. Use me to listen to those who are hurting and to accept their feelings. I pray Your Holy Spirit will draw people to Jesus during this time so they may discover how great His love is for them and receive His free gift of everlasting life by believing in Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.