If you don’t belong to a small group or a Bible study group you are really missing out on a great deal of fun and companionship to say nothing of what you might learn spiritually. Every time I attend I learn something new or have something jogged in my memory that brings me encouragement and spiritual strength. Last evening was no different, the fellowship was wonderful, the Spirit’s presence was discernable and our prayer time was heartfelt and uplifting.
After two years of study it is a little hard to believe that we are down to the Epilogue in the Gospel of John and we will soon be closing out our study of this incredible book. In Chapter One of John we are introduced to a number of names or concepts about who Jesus is. He is the Lamb of God, the Teacher, the Son of God, the Messiah, and the King of Israel. By the time we come to Thomas’ confession in Chapter 20 Jesus has become MY Lord, MY God.
The Gospel of John was written to lead us to this simple statement uttered from the lips of the Apostle Thomas. In chapter One Jesus is an abstract, defined by definitions of power and ministry, but here at the end of the Gospel He is personal. He is mine and I am His. There is a sense of deep relationship in Thomas’ declaration that God belonged to Him and He belonged to God.
In the Bible there are many references to things that are Holy, set apart for God’s use and cannot be used for anything else. The shovel to remove ashes in the courtyard of the Temple and certain utensils are declared holy as well as certain places. There are no moral attributes in these utensils but what makes them Holy is they are fully dedicated to God. When God calls us to be holy it is to be wholly His. We are His, called out children and He is our God. This is not based upon our ability to be holy in the sense of never sinning, or some notion of perfection. It is a simple acknowledgement that the Trinity is My Lord, My God.
If you were to take a little time today to read the Gospel and circle every time it said to believe or believe in the name of Jesus you would be doing a lot of circling. Our redemption is God’s gift to us very undeserving humans through His grace. But that gift was purchased for us at a tremendous cost to the Godhead. It meant Jesus would die, weighed down under the weight of the sins of the world on a bloody cross that we could escape such a death. And what are we to do to earn such a precious gift of eternal life? We are to believe.
There are four aspects of believing that we would do well to consider for a moment if we want to get a grasp of what it means to be holy and a believer. Hebrews 11 tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (v. 6).
Believing isn’t some abstract concept or thinking you are saved, it is based upon criteria. To have faith we must believe “that God exists” and that “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” In this post we don’t have time to go into these concepts in depth, but if you believe that there is a God and He loves you and keeps you and watches over you, then you are a believer.
Notice, however, those rewards are given to those who “earnestly seek Him.” Like I’ve noted, believing is not a passive action that is equivalent to hoping or it could happen. To believe is to seek God through prayer, fellowship, and Bible study so that the Spirit can give you the tools to believe with all your heart and intellect that God exists.
The book of Romans gives us two more aspects of what it means to believe and these are equally important to our understanding of faith. “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10
It is one thing to believe God exists but quite another to come to the place like Thomas where you can say “My Lord and My God”. Thomas made his statement upon coming to the realization that Jesus was alive and not left in the tomb after the crucifixion. In Romans 10 Paul asserts that to believe in the resurrection is paramount to our faith because it is the guarantee that God does give good gifts to His followers. It is also part of our faith or belief to confess our faith with the result that we are saved.
Yes, the Gospel of John leads us to the place where we can confess My Lord and My God and this is based on faith. But that faith is not wishful thinking, it is based upon our belief that God exists, that He rewards us for our faithfulness that the resurrection happened and we are willing to speak for our faith.
These are the points that John proves to us through his gospel. He is leading us into a place where the evidence for God cannot be denied, and the resurrection rings true through the appearances of Jesus to the disciples after His resurrection.
We walk by faith, but what faith we are privileged to have thanks to the Holy Spirit’s work through the Apostle John.
* Many people around the globe are currently experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death, for the love of their God. They need our support and prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…