The Place of Unbelief in the Plan of God (Part 1)

Today’s message from John 12:35-43 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I summarized the message this way:

The causes behind Israel’s persistent rejection of Jesus challenge us to believe in Him as the Messiah. We’ve looked at two so far – prophetic prediction from Isa. 53:1 and sovereign preterition from Isa. 6:10.

Then I gave three applications from the doctrine of reprobation, the first for the unbeliever and the next two for the believer:

  1. Believe the gospel eagerly seizing the opportunity involved.
  2. Share the gospel confidently remembering the gravity involved (see 2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
  3. Glory in the gospel humbly acknowledging the sovereignty involved (see Romans 9:17-24). A complete glorying in the gospel in light of God’s sovereignty consists of two aspects of the doctrine of predestination – acknowledging His grace in election with untempered gratitude AND His justice in reprobation with tempered grief.

[33] Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! [34] “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” [35] “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” [36] For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)

Unbelief Made Profitable (Part 1)

Today’s message from John 10:22-30 is now on the web. You can listen to it here.

Here is how I summarized the content of the sermon:

The main thing I want to say from this passage is this: Understanding the ultimate issues behind unbelief confronts us with the requirement to believe in Jesus the Messiah and to follow Him. By dissecting the anatomy of the Jews’ hardhearted unbelief in these two paragraphs, we have opportunity perhaps to see ourselves, resistant to Jesus’ claims, and are given yet another chance to believe in Him and receive the gift of eternal life, abundant life, as He called it in John 10:10. I want to show you from the text three things about unbelief that God may use this way in our lives: where unbelievers are deceived about faith, why unbelievers are deprived of faith, and what unbelievers are denied without faith.

The mystery of human responsibility and divine sovereignty looms large in this text. May God give us grace to take Him at His word and humble ourselves before Him.

Where Did This Jesus of Christmas Come From & Where Did He Go?

In this morning’s message I made much of the fact that the same words of Jesus get repeated verbatim in a very short span of verses in the text of John 7:34-36. 

34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?” 

You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come. 

That’s one of the few places in the gospels where this phenomenon happens and for good reason. He uses such a literary device for emphasis given the importance of his purpose. Not to get this, not to understand the answer to the questions where did He come from – the Father in heaven who sent him, and where did He go – back to the Father in heaven – not to get that, not to embrace it, believe it, that He came to die for you and take the punishment of your sins on His head is to consign you to death and everlasting punishment in hell for those sins. Do not be overly hasty in the conclusions you draw in answer to these all-important questions, was the gist of my exhortation. 

I also drew attention to the way the people speculated about the answer to the second question they raised in v. 35. Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? That’s more of John’s irony. The dispersion was the term for the Jews who didn’t settle in Palestine, but went throughout the empire among the Greeks, the Gentiles, the non-Jews. In one sense that, as we saw, is not what He meant, but in another way it points to the future. They unwittingly prophesied here that Jesus was, to use the words of Luke 2:32 – a light of revelation to the Gentiles. 

Upon His resurrection and commission to His disciples and His ascension to the Father’s right hand He would send His Holy Spirit upon the apostles and they would go into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even the uttermost parts of the earth with the answers to the questions where did he come from and where did He go? He came from God and went back to God. Repent, believe these things, and live.