Doing God’s Will
“In his article titled ‘Unreasonable Doubt,’ Jim Spiegel quotes two contemporary philosophers who have resisted belief in God for personal and not just intellectual reasons. Thomas Nagel, an atheist who authored a popular introduction to philosophy titled What Does It All Mean? wrote: ‘I want atheism to be true … It isn't just that I don't believe in God, and, naturally, hope that I'm right about my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.’
The 20th-century ethics philosopher Mortimer Adler (who was baptized quietly at age 81) confessed to rejecting religious commitment for most of his life because it ‘would require a radical change in my way of life, a basic alteration in the direction of my day-to-day choices as well as in the ultimate objectives to be sought or hoped for …. The simple truth of the matter is that I did not wish to live up to being a genuinely religious person.’”
Jim Spiegel, "Unreasonable Doubt," Christianity Today (2-10-11)
At Creation this summer, God answered a prayer I had prayed about knowing His will for me as it pertained to the church
He used John 3:27, 30, To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven . . . He must become greater; I must become less.”
God confirmed His message to me through two artists that performed at Creation (they basically shared the same thing about stepping back and trusting God)
I’ve been continuing to trust God as I become less, so Jesus can become greater, in the ministry God has given me here at Idaville Church
Knowing God’s will has required that I obey His Word
How many of us would say that we want to know God’s will?
I believe all of us want to know God’s will for our lives
We also want to know God’s will for the company we work for
We want to know God’s will for our future spouse
Students want to know God’s will for their career
Church members want to know God’s will for the church
As we’ll see today, the Jews were amazed at Jesus’ teaching in the temple courts, even though He had not been trained in any of the rabbinical schools in Jerusalem. Jesus’ teaching came directly from God. Jesus challenged the crowd to prove His teaching by doing the will of God. John wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.
GOD (John 7:14-24)
Jesus’ teaching (vv. 14-18)
We know that Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles after His brother’s left
We know that He did it privately instead of publicly, because it was not yet His time to be revealed
It can be assumed that He went up in time for the beginning of the Feast, but we are not told that
The next statement about Jesus’ location is that He is teaching at the temple courts in Jerusalem
We also know that it was halfway through the Feast
It could certainly mean four days into the Feast
It could also simply mean that it was not the first or last day of the Feast
Again, we are not told a specific day during the Feast
Privately, instead of publicly
Teaching in the temple courts seems to be a pretty public thing to do, if someone is trying to remain private
There are two lines of thought about why Jesus would be teaching publicly in the temple courts
Premature “triumphal entry”
If Jesus would have joined His brothers and the rest of the crowd in going up to Jerusalem, it is not unlikely that they could have tried to force Him to reveal Himself prematurely [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 311]
John 6:14-15, After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
This is certainly possible, that Jesus knew if He taught in the temple courts that He would be safe from the Jews who were trying to kill Him, but I think this second line of thinking has some good merit
As Jesus begins to teach, the Jews and the crowd do not recognize Him
Jesus conceals His identity with others after His resurrection, but eventually reveals Himself to them
Mary Magdalene thought He was the gardener until Jesus spoke her name (John 20:15-16)
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus thought He was just another traveler until He broke bread and gave thanks, then they saw that it was Jesus (Luke 24:31, 35)
It seems that Jesus could have been concealing His identity until He shared about the miracle of healing a lame man on the Sabbath (John 7:21-23)
Read John 7:25-26, 28a
The crowd seems to know that the Jews were trying to kill Jesus, but as we’ll see in verse 20 they didn’t know that the Jews were trying to kill this person who was teaching with authority
The Jews reaction to Jesus’ teaching in the temple courts seems to support the idea that Jesus’ identity is somehow concealed from them at this point
The Jews are amazed
The Jews are asking each other the question, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”
It is believed that there were at least 30 seminaries or perhaps rabbinical schools around Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ ministry [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 499]
None of the Jews had seen Jesus studying at any of those seminaries or schools
A rabbi would have multiple disciples that he would impart his wisdom and knowledge to
When these disciples completed their many years of study under a rabbi, they would be ordained and become a rabbi themselves
No one recognized Jesus as a disciple of one of the famous rabbis
“On whose shoulders, then, is he standing? What traditions are his? Which rabbi has authorized his teaching office? What is the source of his reshuth (authority)?” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 223]
Mark 1:22, The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
“It has often been said that Jesus taught with authority, while the scribes and Pharisees taught from authorities, quoting all the famous rabbis.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament Volume 1, 316]
Jesus was able to teach with such authority, because He is God, but He didn’t use that as His defense
Teaching from God
He knew the culture of the day and who His audience was – devout Jews
They had already struggled with His statement in Capernaum that He had come down from heaven, meaning from God
So, He chose to tell them that His teaching was not His own, but came from the One who sent Him
The Jews would have connected with this concept, especially since their own scriptures had stories of how God used human messengers to deliver His message to His people (the Prophets) [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 174]
Proof of Jesus’ teaching
Jesus tells the Jews that if they want to verify His teachings, to make sure they are from God, then they need to do God’s will
PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that His people do His will.
What does it mean to do God’s will?
We know from John 6:28-29, that to do the work God requires is to believe in Jesus
The same would be true for doing the will of God – it starts with believing in Jesus
It’s a faith commitment that calls us to action
Read Matthew 28:18-20
“Our knowledge of God's will is not something over which we ourselves dispose, but it depends solely upon the grace of God, and this grace is, and requires to be, new every morning. That is why this proving or examining of the will of God is so serious a matter. The voice of the heart is not to be confused with the will of God, nor is any kind of inspiration or any general principal, for the will of God discloses itself ever anew only to him who proves it ever anew.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Martyred Christian. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 5.
It’s also a faith commitment that calls us to obedience and submission
Jesus is basically saying to the Jews, “If you don’t recognize it, it’s because your hearts are unwilling to submit to God.” [Carter & Wredberg, 174]
“When we rebel against God’s will, our ability to understand and comprehend spiritual truth is compromised . . . unbelief causes misunderstanding.” [Carter & Wredberg, 174]
“Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God.” [Charles Colson, Leadership, Vol. 4, no.]
The Israelites followed the will of the majority the first time they approached the Promised Land instead of the will of God and they spent 40 years wondering in the desert
“Leadership is inherently difficult because it requires a leader to take people where they don’t naturally want to go. So you have a choice as a leader. You can focus on leading people, or focus on being liked.” [Pastor Carey Nieuwhof cited by Daniel Henderson, Old Paths New Power, 74]
We know what God’s desire is for us, as His people, to do His will, which means believing in Jesus, making disciples for Him, and submitting to Him and His plans
Have you believed in Jesus for salvation? (if not, that’s the first step – mark your Communication Card this morning)
Are you making disciples for Jesus Christ? (if not, what are you waiting for – get off the bench and get in the game)
Are you submitting to God’s plan for your life, your future, your churches future, etc.? (if not, what changes do you need to make to submit to His plan?)
My Next Step Today Is To: Do God’s will by believing in Jesus, making disciples, and submitting to His plans.
When we do God’s will, then we will know His Word and grow in His Word
Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.
“When men are wholly, completely consecrated to the will of God and want to do that above everything else, then they find out that Christ’s teaching is divine, that it is the teaching of God.” [G. Campbell Morgan cited by Wiersbe, 316]
Purpose in our speaking
The one who speaks on his own
This person is only concerned with gaining honor for himself
I’m always cautious when a pastor is Scripture light and personal story heavy
When a pastor starts talking more about themselves in a sermon and less about God, we should be concerned
If the message points to the pastor and not to God and His will, then we should be concerned
The same can be true of anyone who is teaching God’s Word
The one who works for the honor of the one who sent him
PRINCIPLE #2 – Our teaching of God’s Word should point to Him.
This is what Jesus is saying to the Jews about His teaching
He is not teaching His own material
He is not the originator of His teachings
He only teaches what the Father has told Him to teach
He is faithfully fulfilling His role as God’s messenger
That’s always been my goal as a preacher and teacher, it’s to point people to Jesus through the messages that God gives me as His vessel
Man of truth, nothing false
Jesus was a man of truth
Those who accused Him, during His trial, had to make up false statements about Him
Pilot couldn’t find anything illegal or false in Him
That’s why Jesus was able to take our punishment on Himself when He hung on the cross – He was perfect, without sin
We should all strive to be men and women of truth
This happens when we choose to do God’s will
Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.
Jesus’ purpose in teaching at the temple courts was to point people to God – to be a faithful messenger of God
Jesus begins to get to the center of what was happening in the hearts of the Jews
Jesus’ questions (vv. 19-20)
Q1 – Has not Moses given you the law?
Jesus is continuing to define what God’s will is and to show the Jews that they are not obeying God’s will as outlined in the law
The Jews prided themselves in the fact that they were God’s chosen people
They prided themselves in having received the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai
They prided themselves in knowing the law and the Torah
Yet, they are not obeying the law, and Jesus points this out with His second question
Q2 – Why are you trying to kill me?
Jesus takes them right back to their own standard, the Ten Commandments
This was the standard that they took pride in as God’s chosen people
And, yet, they were not following the law
Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”
James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
We all know the Ten Commandments and I’m pretty sure none of us has murdered anyone
Yet, Jesus and John go beyond the physical act of taking someone’s life to the attitude of our heart
They consider anger towards a brother or sister the same as murder
Matthew 5:21-22a, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”
1 John 3:15, Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
1 John 4:20-21, If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
How are we doing with anger or hate towards a brother or sister?
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess my anger or hatred towards a brother or sister to God and to the individual(s).
That’s where healing begins
That’s where love and unity start
God knows the attitude of our hearts
Obedience to the law was never designed to save us from our sins
The law was designed to show us our sin and a need for a Savior
PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s law was given to point us to Jesus.
Galatians 3:24, So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
Romans 10:4, Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
God knows our heart and whether or not we are living with unconfessed anger and hatred toward a brother or sister
Jesus knew the attitudes and thoughts of the Jews even when the crowd didn’t and we understand that from their response
“You are demon-possessed”
They did not mean that Jesus was actually possessed by a demon
It could be translated, “You are crazy!”
It has the idea of the crowd saying to Jesus, “You’re paranoid!”
The crowd was obviously not trying to kill Him
They don’t even know who He is at this point (that’s coming in verses 25-27)
“Who is trying to kill you?”
It’s hard to keep a secret sometimes, isn’t it?
On Wednesday evening after the service, one of the children let it slip that a surprise was coming
The teacher’s eyes got big and they looked at the child, and put their pointer finger to their lips (shhh, it’s a secret)
Just imagine the Jews surprise when Jesus announces their secret to the whole crowd
I can only imagine that their eyes got large and they began looking back-and-forth at each other
I can also imagine that when they met privately after this event, that they were questioning and accusing each other of sharing their plot (“you did it didn’t you, I knew you couldn’t keep a secret!”)
Jesus begins to reveal Himself to the Jews and the crowd as He defends Himself
Jesus’ defense (vv. 21-23)
The Sabbath law is part of the Ten Commandments
Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
So the Jews were angry with Jesus because He healed a lame man on the Sabbath and told him to take up his mat and carry it to his house
In defining what it meant to not do any work on the Sabbath, the Jews had added their interpretation to the law
If someone carried anything from a public place to a private place on the Sabbath, that was considered work, and was prohibited
We find this event in John 5:1-18 (we’ve already studied that, but Jesus is referencing that healing here)
Jesus now points out what the Jews do when two commands conflict with each other
“Rabbinic casuistic arguments set laws side by side and determined the priority of one law over another when in any life situations two or more laws seemed to be in conflict.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 285]
The Jews said that Moses gave them circumcision, but it actually happened all the way back with Abraham
God commanded Abraham to begin the practice of circumcision for all male children born into or acquired by his family (Genesis 17:1-27)
It was a covenantal act between God and Abraham
Circumcision was to be done when the boy was eight days’ old
The Lord told Moses the same thing, On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised (Leviticus 12:3)
When a male child was born, and the eighth day fell on the Sabbath, the Jews would “break” the Sabbath law in order to fulfill the circumcision covenant
Jesus used a principle known in Judaism as “light to heavy” or “lesser to greater” in order to defend His action of healing of the Sabbath [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 445]
Jesus considered circumcision as the “perfecting” of only one part of the body
He considered healing as the “perfecting” of the whole body
He considered circumcision the lesser/light and healing the greater/heavy
So, Jesus uses this Judaic principle that would have been familiar to the Jews to defend healing the man on the Sabbath
He also used it to defend against their desire and plot to kill Him for “breaking” the Sabbath law
Jesus did not see Himself as breaking the Sabbath law, but as fulfilling the law of God
That brought Him to His final exhortation
Jesus’ exhortation (v. 24)
Stop judging by mere appearances
The Jews were judging Jesus “according to the flesh” [Michaels, 448]
They didn’t like what Jesus was teaching
They probably didn’t like that He was gaining a following, which took disciples away from them
They were judging Jesus based on their feelings about Him instead of the truths of God’s Word
They may have claimed that they wanted to know God’s will, but they refused to obey God’s Word
Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.
Make a right judgment
Had they been obeying God’s Word, they would have been able to make a right judgment about who Jesus was
That is what Jesus is challenging them to do now – obey God’s Word!
Are you doing God’s will by believing in Jesus, making disciples, and submitting to His plans?
Do you need to confess your anger or hatred towards a brother or sister, to God and to the individual(s)?
When we do these two things, we’ll see love and unity abound at Idaville Church
We’ll be revitalized as a body of believers, focusing on a common goal, and seeing the kingdom of God increase
We can get caught up in self-righteousness like Thomas Nagel was in the introduction. We want our ideas, feelings, and plans to be right at all cost.
Consider these two questions as we close: