Jesus Christ: The Exalted Servant

Driving through Texas, a New Yorker collided with a truck carrying a horse. A few months later he tried to collect damages for his injuries. “How can you now claim to have all these injuries?” asked the insurance company’s lawyer. “According to the police report, at the time you said you were not hurt.” “Look,” replied the New Yorker. “I was lying on the road in a lot of pain, and I heard someone say the horse had a broken leg. The net thing I know this Texas Ranger pulls out his gun and shoots the horse. Then he turns to me and asks, ‘Are you okay?'”

(Reader’s Digest, July, 1994, p. 64.)

Sometimes we have a good reason for being in denial about our suffering.  Most of the time, however, we need to learn to follow the example of the Suffering Servant who embraced what He had to suffer, fouynd victory over it, and passed that victory on to us.

  1. The Servant’s suffering would lead to victory (Isaiah 53:9-12).

The first prophecy (v. 9) is physical in nature & involves His burial.

– HE WAS ASSIGNED A GRAVE WITH THE WICKED. This means that those who would kill the Suffering Servant would not be content with His death but conspired to discredit and dishonor Him as well. The practice in Jesus’ day was to throw the bodies of crucified criminals into the garbage pit outside the city of Jerusalem.  That place was called Gehenna and served Jesus as an illustration of what hell is like.  A fire always burned and bodies were abandoned to burn, decay, and/or chewed up by scavengers.  It was a GRAVE only in the sense of a place where a body was left.  To have one’s remains deposited there was a great dishonor among the Jews.  Worse, had Jesus’ body been left there, we would have lost our major piece of evidence to prove His resurrection; the empty tomb.

– AND WITH THE RICH IN HIS DEATH. In spite of their grave assignment, God would not allow His Servant to be dishonored, so He provided for a more suitable resting place.  A rich man’s tomb was more like a columbarium than a grave like we’re used to.  Either a cave or hand-hewn hole in a rock wall was made.  The body was kept and allowed to decay.  Finally, the bones were bleached and placed in a box which was then kept in a niche in the wall of the tomb.  In this way, a single tomb held several remains.

– THOUGH HE HAD DONE NO VIOLENCE, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT IN HIS MOUTH.  This is the reason He deserved an honorable burial.  Though He was treated as a criminal, He was an innocent man in both deed and word and deserved an honorable burial.

The second prophecy (vs. 10-11) is spiritual in nature & involves His provision of salvation.

– To reinforce the point about the Servant’s innocence, Isaiah makes it clear that the Servant’s suffering was THE LORD’S WILL, not a punishment for sin.  The LORD willed it because His suffering became the means by which salvation was made possible.

– To CRUSH someone and cause them to SUFFER is not normally considered to be a good thing, but good came from it; the forgiveness of our sins.  BY HIS KNOWLEDGE MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT WILL JUSTIFY MANY: in Hebrew, this is a play on words; “my righteous servant will make many righteous.”

– Note, MANY, but not all.  We are not Universalists.  The offer of salvation is made to all people but only those who accept it by faith will be made righteous/justified.

– HE WILL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES.   The terrible irony is that the only perfect man would be counted as the worst sinner because He accepted the guilt for our sins. BEAR means to carry a heavy burden.  It is in the future tense to show that it will be effective for all time.

– BECAUSE HE POURED OUT HIS LIFE UNTO DEATH was fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the cross.

– He WAS NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS.  Remember Jesus was crucified between two criminals.

– HE BORE THE SIN OF MANY.  Jesus took our guilt and shame on the cross.  It was crucified there and no longer holds any power over us.

– HE MADE INTERCESSION FOR THE TRANSGRESSORS.  The outcome of the cross is to intercede for sinners, to enable us to be forgiven

The third prophecy (vs. 10-12) is spiritual in nature & involves His exaltation.

– Ecclesiastes 6:3 lists four signs of God’s blessing = A MAN MAY HAVE A HUNDRED CHILDREN AND LIVE MANY YEARS; YET NO MATTER HOW LONG HE LIVES, IF HE CANNOT ENJOY HIS PROSPERITY  AND DOES NOT RECEIVE A PROPER BURIAL, I SAY THAT A STILLBORN CHILD IS BETTER OFF THAN HE.  Did you hear all four?  All of these are promised the Servant.

– Many children.

– Long life.

– Prosperity.

– A proper burial.

Notice how worldly these things are.  The Jews were fixed on the here and now.  In fact, the Hebrew language has no formal future tense for its verbs!

– In answer to v. 8’s question, WHO CAN SPEAK OF HIS DESCENDANTS?, v. 10 tells us HE WILL SEE HIS OFFSPRING AND PROLONG HIS DAYS.  Of course, in Jesus’ case, His descendants were spiritual, not physical.  (In Mark 3:34-35, Jesus identified the person who does God’s will as His family.)  What’s interesting is that from this point on, Isaiah no longer wrote about the SERVANT of the Lord (singular); he wrote about SERVANTS of the Lord (plural). This shows how the Servant had JUSTIFIED MANY and thereby produced many representatives of Himself.  Having a long life and yet dying as a sacrifice wounds elf-contradictory.  So clearly what’s intended here is not a long life in this world, but one in heaven.

– THE WILL OF THE LORD WILL PROSPER IN HIS HAND.  Our faith gives us a simple and practical view on life; things work out to fulfill God’s plan.  Faithless folk see things working out randomly; life is meaninglessness because when death comes, it is over.  God’s plans will be accomplished.

– HE WILL SEE THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND BE SATISFIED.

– I WILL GIVE HIM A PORTION AMONG THE GREAT.

– HE WILL DIVIDE THE SPOILS WITH THE STRONG.  SPOILS being what the conquering army takes from the conquered.  Jesus defeated sin, Satan, and death, and took human lives from them as His SPOILS.

  1. Fulfillment: The Servant was buried in a rich man’s tomb (Matthew 27:57-61).

The fulfillment of some of Isaiah’s prophecies came about as a result of the choices Jesus made (i.e., He read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth – see 3/2/15).  But most of the fulfillments – including this one – were entirely beyond Jesus’ choice or control.

CONTEXT – Matthew provides us with more information about the burial of Jesus than any of the other four Gospels.  As we noted earlier, Jesus’ burial in a tomb is the single most important piece of evidence to prove the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Also, only Matthew mentions that Joseph of Arimathea was rich.  However, the fact that the tomb is new and the amount of spices used (John) would’ve been dead give-aways of wealth to Matthew’s first century readers.  Matthew is intent on showing that Jesus’ burial completely fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53.

COMMENT.

The Jewish leaders had brought Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate under several charges, one of which was treason.  It is important that Pilate did not find Jesus guilty of treason, because no one was ever allowed to claim the body of a traitor for burial.  Their bodies were disposed of in the garbage dump as a final act of disgrace.

The site of the tomb was a former stone quarry.  Picture the quartzite quarry on the west side of town.  The path cut into the rock leading down into the quarry gave access to the stone walls into which the tombs were cut.

Mourning was not allowed for persons executed as enemies of the Roman Empire.  Also, the lateness of the hour – the Sabbath would begin at sundown – kept Jesus’ followers and family (including the women mentioned in v. 61) from observing the burial with any kind of ceremony.  Still, they gave far more respect to Jesus’ body than the Romans would have.

  1. Fulfillment: The Servant was exalted (Romans 8:34).

CONTEXT: Offering one of the most encouraging words in all of Scripture, Paul goes to great lengths to reassure the faithful that nothing can deter the will of God from being enacted and nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Vs. 33-35 pose a set of three rhetorical questions and answers, all a variation of “Who cares who opposes us?  God supports us!”

WHO IS HE THAT CONDEMNS? CHRIST JESUS, WHO DIED – MORE THAN THAT, WHO WAS RAISED TO LIFE – IS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD AND IS ALSO INTERCEDING FOR US.

COMMENT: Contrast this four-part hope with the four-part hope we read in Ecclesiastes 6:3.  You’ll notice Paul’s list is bereft of worldly things and exclusively centered on God.

– Jesus gave up His life as a sacrifice and thereby secured the forgiveness of our sins.

– He was raised to life and is able to give eternal life to all who trust Him.

– He went from the lowest place and apparently the most cursed to the highest place of all.

– The purpose behind His exaltation is to intercede on our behalf.  This makes salvation continue to be operative in us even in this present moment.

We’ve seen in detail how the Lord’s Servant suffered.  But we’ve also seen how His suffering lifted us from slavery to sin to being children of God.  Suffering is not something we like to experience, but it is the most successful way in which we learn and grow and mature, especially spiritually.  For your edification, I’ve assembled some quotations that give us reason to pause and consider the value of suffering for our spirituality.

Once when Bob Hope received a major award he responded, “I don’t deserve this, but then I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.”

Someone asked C.S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?” “Why not?” he replied. “They’re the only ones who can take it.”

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Helen Keller quoted in: Barbara Rowes, The book of Quotes, Dutton.

“A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has  to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain.”  Mildred Witte Struven, in Bits and Pieces, September 19, 1991, p. 6.

Those who know the path to God, can find it in the dark. Maclaren.

Suffering teaches us patience. These words were found penned on the wall of a prison cell in Europe: “I believe in love even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God even when He is silent.” Billy Graham, Till Armageddon.

The Spirit and Success

(Read Isaiah 61:1-3 & Luke 4:14-30.  I use the NIV – you use whichever version of the Bible you prefer.)

Message: Isaiah predicted the Messiah would successfully do the work of God because of the Spirit’s anointing.

The story is told of a new bank president who met with his predecessor and said, “I would like to know what have been the keys to your success.”

The older gentleman looked at him and replied, “Young man, I can sum it up in two words: Good decisions.”

To that the young man responded, “I thank you immensely for that advice, but how does one know which are the good decisions?”

“One word, young man,” replied the sage. “Experience.”

“That’s all well and good,” said the younger, “but how does one get experience?”

“Two words,” said the elder. “Bad decisions.”

(Today In The Word, November, 1989, p.23.)

Clarence Jordan was a man of unusual abilities and commitment. He had two Ph.D.s, one in agriculture and one in Greek and Hebrew. He could have done anything he wanted. He chose to serve the poor. In the 1940s, he founded a farm in Americus, Georgia, and called it Koinonia Farm. It was a community for poor whites and poor blacks. As you might guess, such an idea did not go over well in the Deep South of the ’40s.

In 1954, the Ku Klux Klan had enough of Clarence Jordan, so they came one night with guns and torches and set fire to every building on Koinonia Farm but Clarence’s home, which they riddled with bullets.

The next day, a reporter came out to see what remained of the farm. The rubble still smoldered and the land was scorched, but he found Clarence in the field, hoeing and planting.

The reporter said in a haughty voice, “Well, Dr. Jordan, you got fourteen years into this farm, and there’s nothing left of it at all. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?”

Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the reporter, and said quietly but firmly, “About as successful as the cross. Sir, I don’t think you understand us. What we are about is not success but faithfulness. We’re staying. Good day.”

Beginning that day, Clarence and his companions rebuilt Koinonia and the farm is still going strong today.

(Holy Sweat, Tim Hansel, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 188-189.)

  1. Isaiah 61:1-3 predicted the Messiah would be anointed with Holy Spirit power.

CONTEXT: These vs. begin a chapter of good news (which is why we refer to Isaiah as the “Gospel of the Old Testament”) for the people of God returning from captivity in Babylon. These verses are here to get the reader to take the following verses more seriously as it establishes the credentials of the one who will fulfill the prophecy.

COMMENT:

What the anointing means on a literal level is to apply oil.  This was done for ceremonial, religious, and/or medicinal purposes.  On a spiritual level, it means to apply Holy Spirit power to someone to endow them for ministry.

It is not typical in the Old Testament for these things to be mentioned together. Only in King David do these two concepts come together.  This makes me think Isaiah is anticipating a unique individual and there has never been anyone as unique as Jesus Christ.

What the anointing would accomplish initially, was that all these things would have happened when the Jews returned from their captivity in Babylon.  (Notice how these verses sound like the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.)

– PREACH GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR = The word POOR may be literal, but poverty and piety often went together in the Old Testament (see Psalms 40:17; 72:12-14).  In fact, the righteous poor were called the anawim.

– BIND UP THE BROKENHEARTED = This can be sorrow over sin or over life’s wounds.

– PROCLAIM FREEDOM FOR THE CAPTIVES = The word for FREEDOM is only used for the freeing of slaves in the Sabbath and Jubilee years. Judah’s release from the Babylonian captivity is the obvious and immediate fulfillment, but Jesus bought us greater freedom from a worse captivity; a spiritual one.  He has set us free from a slavery to sin.

– RELEASE FROM DARKNESS THE PRISONERS = ditto.

– PROCLAIM the following…

THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR = FAVOR showed to His people, in contrast with VENGEANCE on their oppressors.  These were considered two sides of the same act.

THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD = The justice of God is difficult for us to comprehend.  Though the Assyrians and Babylonians were wielded by God as instruments of wrath on His people, He still holds them responsible for their actions Israel and Judah.  An answer is that this shows how God is so powerful He is able to turn evil and use it to accomplish His will.

– COMFORT ALL WHO MOURN = COMFORT is one of Isaiah’s favorite words.  It is both the promise that things will get better and actions to resolve situations favorably.

– Turn signs of mourning into symbols of joy.

ASHES were put on the head as a sign of deep DESPAIR and in times of MOURNING.

These were exchanged for a CROWN OF BEAUTY, OIL, GARMENT, which are all typical preparations for a feast, or celebrating a wedding.

– OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS and A PLANTING 0F THE LORD are symbols of redemption.

Why do all this? FOR THE DISPAY OF HIS SPLENDOR. It’s about God, not us. The highest good we can do for one another is to direct our attention to God (GLORY).

  1. The prophecy came true in Luke 4:14-30.

The occasion is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry = HE RETURNED TO GALILEE. He had been to the Jordan River to be baptized by John (3:21-22). That experience left Jesus FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (4:1). The Spirit lead Jesus out into a nearby wilderness area where He fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the devil (4:1-13).  Similarly, that experience left Jesus IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT.

So when Jesus read from the scroll of the prophet ISAIAH, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS ON ME,” He really meant it!  We’ve seen that asserted twice already!

The setting is a typical Saturday service in the synagogue.  This was a worship service that consisted of prayers, readings from Scripture and a message that explained the readings, usually showing how they were related.

The outcome was mixed.

Jesus’ ministry had been successful throughout Galilee. NEWS (pheme) is the Gk root of our word “fame.”  Jesus was just starting & already becoming famous.  He was not only famous, but popular: EVERYONE PRAISED HIM.

His ministry in Nazareth, however, is met with disapproval.  In Nazareth, people are impressed, but not persuaded.

Apparently Jesus’ reputation preceded Him.  The people in the synagogue had evidently heard the rumors from other parts of the region and were looking at Jesus to see if they were true.  Look at v. 20 = THE EYES OF EVERYONE IN THE SYNAGOGUE WERE FASTENED ON HIM.

Initially, their reaction was favorable: V. 22 = ALL SPOKE WELL OF HIM AND WERE AMAZED AT THE GRACIOUS WORDS THAT CAME FROM HIS LIPS.  This good impression didn’t last long, as they began to question Jesus’ claim.  “ISN’T THIS JOSEPH’S SON?” THEY ASKED in v. 22.  How could HE be the Messiah?

At first, Jesus’ response to them in vs. 23-27 seems out of proportion to this question. Without going into a lengthy historical explanation, we could summarize Jesus’ response as a warning that if they reject Him as Messiah, they will be guilty of a greater blunder than their ancestors’ worst moment.

Also, He knew their hearts and noted two things:

–  One, that they showed up at the synagogue not to hear His teaching, but in hopes of seeing some miracles of the kind they’d heard Jesus did earlier in Capernaum.

– Two, that they were just a few minutes away from being angry enough to throw Him off a cliff!

As Jesus confronted their lack of faith in Him, their amazement changed into anger.  Vs. 28-30 = ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE SYNAGOGUE WERE FURIOUS WHEN THEY HEARD THIS.  THEY GOT UP, DROVE HIM OUT OF THE TOWN, AND TOOK HIM TO THE BROW OF THE HILL ON WHICH THE TOWN WAS BUILT, IN ORDER TO THROW HIM OFF THE CLIFF.  BUT HE WALKED RIGHT THROUGH THE CROWD AND WENT ON HIS WAY.  Note the word ALL in vss. 22 + 28. The whole crowd in the synagogue had this reaction to Jesus.

The primary message here is “Don’t be like the home town crowd, be like the other crowds.  Have faith in Jesus.”  The secondary message has to do with the Spirit and success.  Success is to be defined as faithfulness to God, regardless of how people react.  If we will keep the main thing the main thing (directing people’s attention to God) then we can be considered faithful.  Let God take care of everything else.

In his commentary on Luke, Darrell L. Bock wrote a couple things about how we can successfully apply the promise and fulfillment of Jesus the Messiah in our increasingly hostile culture.  As we’ve talked a lot about this lately, I want to share his insights with you.

“It is important to appreciate how central good teaching is to ministry.  In an era when feelings and interpersonal relationships are high on the agenda, it is wise to reflect on why Jesus spent so much time instructing people.  One of the fundamental biblical assumptions is that human cultures distort reality.  Our minds need reshaping and renewing, so that our feelings and reactions, will be more like what God desires.” (Bock, pp. 139-140.)

“Since Jesus’ ministry was built around his teaching and since he showed that God’s will was not what the religious culture was delivering, then how careful should we be to make sure that our communities are well instructed and grounded in God’s truth.” (Bock, p. 141.)

“The church has a difficult task.  On the one hand, to discuss redemption and release we must mention sin.  On the other hand, the offer of the gospel is ultimately positive, so that the goal is not a message of doom but of hope.” (Bock, pp. 143.)

Here’s the hopeful thing we’ve learned today.  God kept His promise and sent the Messiah He promised.  This is not just a historical or Jewish thing, but is essential for our message.  God sent THE Messiah, the only hope of salvation.

Rather than let the world define success for us, we need to trust that the God who keeps His promises will also equip us with all we need to not just survive but thrive in this 21st century world.  Let success be putting that hopeful message out there on a congregational & personal basis.

(The NIV Application Commentary (Luke), Darrell L. Bock, Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.)

No Foolin’

(Read 1 John 2:18-27.)

Given the propensity for deception and especially self-deception that is part of our human nature, it is an especially important discipline to be self-aware and searching for the truth. The most appropriate place to start is the Bible, the self-disclosure of God.

The truth was one of the chief concerns of the Elder, the writer of the New Testament book of First John. That letter gives warnings about falsehood and promises blessings to those who abide in the truth. Prepare to get motivated.

The folly of the flock-foolers.

The flock-foolers are the “antichrists.” The writer (we will call him either “John” or the “Elder”) identified the antichrists in three ways.

First, notice in verse 18 John uses both singular and plural forms of “antichrist.” This shows the “antichrist” is a movement, not an individual. It is a cultural force of godlessness that opposes the truth and believers who hold to it. We should also observe that the word is not “antichurch;” the flock-foolers positioned themselves within the Church in order to deceive the faithful.

They started within, intent on beginning a divisive movement, then lead people out. The fact that they were once in the Church did not prove a thing, but the fact that they left the church laid their real motives open for all to see. They definitively revealed their true identity: “they were not of us.” What we see here is hypocrisy at its worst, for these people didn’t aim at vanity, they aimed at deception. They were frauds in order to steal from the Church.

Verse 22 identifies the chief error, the most damning falsehood of the flock-foolers; they deny the truth about Jesus Christ. In denying that Jesus is the Christ, they are saying that He is not the Messiah, not God the Son. This is not the kind of faith that will save anyone because it is untrue. The most basic facts about Jesus are:

  • He is fully God and fully man (except without sin).

  • He is the final sacrifice for sin; the only means by which we can be saved.

  • He is coming to earth again. When He appears in the clouds, a series of events are set in motion that will bring about the end of this age, this creation, and replace it with a new creation, both heaven and earth.

The Greek word that gets translated as “anti” can mean “in place of,” “against,” or “opposed to.” These flock-foolers were attempting to substitute a false Jesus for the real one.

Their presence is a sign that the Second Coming will soon occur. As the Elder wrote in verse eighteen, “Children it is the last hour…we know that it is the last hour.” What Jesus taught all along is that one of the signs of the end of the age would be an increase in anti-godliness. Those who hold to the truth should expect to meet increasing rejection and persecution as the end of this age draws near.

The forces of spiritual evil will surely know this too and they will not just give up without a fight. Therefore, opposition to God and His people will increase as the clock winds down.

No matter what they claim, their real purpose is deceit (see verse 26). Their motive is that someone who has rejected the truth is more easily manipulated. It’s easier to sell someone a counterfeit if they don’t know what the real thing looks like. If our focus is on Jesus, our confidence will be based on the truth, not our circumstances or our feelings.

The members of the flock who aren’t fooled.

The folk in the flock who aren’t fooled are the “anointed.” What is “anointing?” The application of oil to the body. Anointing was practiced commonly as an act of hospitality or for healing. A dab of scented olive oil was applied to the scalp of guests to ease the weariness of travel and to honor them. Oil was applied to wounds. According to James 5:14, the sick were to be anointed with oil and receive prayer to be healed. It served medicinal and spiritual purposes.

Anointing was less commonly used to sanctify an object for use in the temple or a priest or king for their special duties & status. The application of oil showed that the person or object was being set apart from everyday uses to be used for God’s special purpose. They had a specific function in His plan.

The faithful have been anointed by God, not on behalf of God; this is new. The new anointing is spiritual in nature, not physical.

This anointing is accomplished through the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Spirit in the believer gives us discernment – the ability to tell the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood. There’s no foolin’ a true believer (hence the title of this message). One measure of spiritual maturity is the sense to know the difference.

The Elder has written to reassure the church that they are the ones who are in the truth, not those who have left. V. 21 explains that he wrote not because they were ignorant of these facts, but to encourage them with a reminder. We all know how tempting it can be to give up on the truth when the pressure’s on. The false teachers had caused a lot of havoc in the church, hurt feelings and confusion because the sounded so persuasive. John is trying to strike a chord of reason to break the persuasive, coercive power of falsehood.

He wrote, “no lie is of the truth.” On the face of it, that seems perfectly obvious, doesn’t it? But he’s writing to draw a definite line between the legitimate flock and the false ones. There is no middle ground here, the contrast is as stark as light and darkness. No matter how persuasive they may be, the essential nature of the false teachers, their followers, and their beliefs is false.

The anointing changes us; “his anointing teaches you about everything” (v. 27).

  • It results in them knowing the truth.

  • It requires them to speak the truth.

  • It enables them to “abide” in God.

  • It motivates them to remain loyal to God.

What the Elder is communicating in this passage is that it is the “anointing” that marks the difference between the faithful folk and those who have fled. Those who have the anointing recognize the false teaching for what it is and have stayed in the Church; they have remained faithful. Those who do not have the anointing were duped by the falsehood and have left the Church; they were unfaithful all along.

Most importantly, this anointing is the real thing; it “is true, and is no lie” (v. 27).

The folk who aren’t fooled abide in Christ. “Abide” occurs five times in this passage.

Those who are truly saved are loyal to Christ, but their loyalty is defined by the Word. So, verse 24 says “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you…” This is contrary to our culture that favors individualism to such a degree that faith effectively becomes “believe what you will,” “make it up for yourself,” or “create it as you go.” Biblically, the ideal is that you receive the faith that was first handed to the Apostles by our Lord Jesus Christ. You received that faith from your parents and will, in turn, pass it on to your children. This isn’t a blind faith – investigate it, study it, test it – make it your own as well. But don’t start with nothing and end up with something less. Start with the faith that has been handed down, “what you have heard from the beginning.”

There are two promises made to those who abide in Jesus Christ. The first: those who abide with Jesus by faith, He will abide with them; “If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son & in the Father.” (v. 24) It’s true that we are saved by our relationship with God. But it’s also true that relationship is not a “user-defined.” We have received the Word of God and the traditions of the Church and these are to form the basis of our faith. We don’t make up our relationship with God. He’s already informed us who He is and how we relate to Him. Our abiding is meant to withstand the temptations and adversity of life as well as the cultural pressure to conform to the world’s standards.

The focus of the second promise is on life after death. In v. 25 we’re told that God has promised eternal life to those who abide in the truth.

It’s important to critically examine the notion that truth is merely in the eye of the beholder because it is that assumption that isolates us. When we make ourselves god, we’ve created a false “bubble universe” where we’re completely alone. When we find out we’re a prisoner there and not god after all, then perhaps we’ll be motivated to join a community of faith, accept the word of truth, and begin on the foundation of traditional faith.