The Heaviest Testimony

“I have a testimony weightier than that of John.  For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.  And the Father who sent me has Himself testified concerning me.  You have never heard His voice or seen His form, nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one He has sent.  You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  John 5:36-40.

The weight we give to people’s words defines who we are to some extent.   Unfortunately, most of us buy into a world view which has nothing whatsoever to recommend it to the the Lord of Heaven and Earth, because it deals only with the temporary.  Look, I’m as guilty as the next guy of dealing in temp agency allegiance, but as I grow in the knowledge of the Word, I have become aware how utterly dangerous it is to buy into the sales pitch.  We give weight to the testimony of the world so much that we actually think the Bible does as well.  This is a utterly false conclusion for we are warned time and again not value things as the world does, that our loyalty is to another kingdom and to beware of the world’s reasoning infiltrating the church.

Just by simple observation we can conclude the world’s methods only work for a time.  Think of how many nations have come to power and faded into history barely remembered.  The once powerful Incas would not have been remembered at all except for the archeologists who discovered them nearly by accident.  No, we have placed confidence too many times in the ways and means of humanity then blamed God for the results.  It takes but a feather of circumstance to break the bone of the mighty; we’ve seen the rich and powerful fall long and hard, yet for some reason we still consider money, power or fame to be an insulation against such a fate.

Jesus tells the Jews how to figure out who He is and whether or not He’s legit, yet they missed the opportunity to instead bend all their efforts to destroy Him.  The testimony that outweighs John B’s is the very work Christ came to do on earth, heaven after the resurrection and finally the Judgment itself, the finali of which is the recreation of everything.  The beginning of His work centered on two major dynamics:  teaching and healing.  His miracles were well known and hard to miss, to be blunt, in such a small country as Israel, for every year people made the pilgrimage to attend the feasts held in Jerusalem, which means they would hear of a man performing miracles.

Telling the Jews that God’s word doesn’t dwell in them seems a little far fetched by a human POV, because these people memorized one book of the Torah by the time they were 12, and the rest by the time they were older.  The Law was read every Sabbath as well as the prophets, discussed, dissected and argued constantly.  Saying these people didn’t have God’s word in their very DNA sounds a little like spiteful rhetoric or simple inaccurate thinking on Jesus’ part.

But it isn’t.

To truly have an ideal living in our souls it has to take on life and breath with us; become a part of our everyday existence to the extent that it comes as natural as drinking water.  The change must be absolute.  So why would Jesus tell people who lived, ate and drank the Scriptures that God’s word didn’t dwell in them?

Those last two sentences  of our passage above changed my perspective on Scripture.  Before I read them, I considered the OT different from the NT, the former being a lost state, the latter being the real message.  Jesus throws that theory out with a vengeance because He claims all Scripture testifies of Him.  The mistake many of us make, just like the Jews, is that we think somehow the Word holds life in itself.  The truth guides us to life, it is not life itself; the same could be said of the Law, which in fact brings death, since none of us can keep it.  The Jews were staunch proponents for the study of the Scriptures, yet they missed the point those very Scriptures were trying to make.  The whole of the Bible points the way to life or warns of the path to death.  It’s no great mystery what it teaches if we read it contextually.  The problem arises for us when we begin to nitpick our way through the Bible, adding addendums and rules where none are needed.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life by the proclamation of this very gospel.  The Scriptures point to Him as the life we need to live to the fullness of our potential.  He is the life and the light of men, but men loved darkness instead of the light.  This is the theme of the Gospel of John, both a warning against mixing the priorities of heaven with those of earth and an encouragement to walk exclusively in the light of Christ.

I read recently where someone actually thought a passage in Scripture promoted tolerance of polytheism because a main character in a story said,  “You worship your gods and we worship ours, but let us live in peace.”  The person writing the article actually believed the Bible promoted this sort of thing early on and it was the prophets who began the exclusive practice of One God.  Nothing could be further from the truth for the Law is clear, as are the early books and stories about such things.  The case of one character in Scripture tolerating evil is not so much suggestion we do the same as a warning of what happens when we do such things.

I guess my point is that too much philosophizing without the Spirit of God to guide us leads us to conclusions so far outside the purpose of Scripture as to be heresy and useless to our salvation or understanding of God.  If this is true, then the point Jesus wanted the Jews, and now us, to grasp is the whole of Scripture pointed to Him.

The original witness to the truth, the Garden of Eden, left before the flood or was destroyed by it.  Humanity had this testimony of God’s creative power, originality and sovereignty for eons, yet rejected Him out of hand, to be finally destroyed in a flood because they grew to evil to tolerate.  The Law came to give clear guidelines to truth and godliness, yet those who were given it failed to keep it.  Now we are under grace and yet those given this magnificent gift spend more time quarrelling about words and dividing the gospel up into denominations than they do to the command of Jesus to unified in the faith.

Makes ya’ think, doesn’t it.

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