Thursday, November 26, 2015

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN - RECOGNITION By The RELIGIOUS: JOHN 3:1-2

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

JOHN 3:1-2
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

The Pharisee: today we think of such a term as a derogatory remark towards any one who is hypocritical, legalistic, unmerciful, and more concerned about splitting theological hairs than loving and serving the LORD and His people.
Nearly everywhere in Scripture we see the Pharisee as adversaries of the LORD Jesus Christ; hence the perspective that the Pharisees were 'the bad guys' - and that they were in Jesus day, but they didn't start out that way. From the Bible History website we have the following:

"The sect of Pharisees is thought to have originated in the 3rd century B.C., in days preceding the Maccabean wars, when under Greek domination and the Greek effort to Hellenize the Jews, there was a strong tendency among the Jews to accept Greek culture with its pagan religious customs. The rise of the Pharisees was a reaction and protest against this tendency among their fellow kinsmen. Their aim was to preserve their national integrity and strict conformity to Mosaic law. They later developed into self-righteous and hypocritical formalists. Later they were among those who had condemned Jesus to death. 

"How fearfully the prophecy of destruction that Jesus had foretold was fulfilled! In a few brief years the Roman legions of the Emperor Titus utterly destroyed the city and its glorious Temple. Over a million Jews perished in the siege in a few days, and a hundred thousand more were taken away in captivity. 

"Without its marvelous Temple, the Jewish religion was forced to take on a new character, and after the final Jewish rebellion (132 A.D.) all hope of rebuilding the Temple was lost, and the work of these rabbis took a different direction. 


"The Mishnah, compiled by the Patriarch Judah (200 A.D.), which is the final work of these rabbis, began a final work in the history of Jewish scholarship. It is a monument of Pharisaic scholarship and a testimony to the final triumph of Pharisaism, which now is compiled into the Talmud which has become synonymous with Judaism."

For more about Pharisees and their history, go to the web site quoted above here.

The Pharisees and Sadducees (the conservatives and liberals respectively of Judaism in the days of Jesus) were often at odds with each other, but when Jesus came along, they had a focal point that united them. It was the religious versus the Righteous One. That's how it always was, and is, and will be even in the Last Days when under anti-Christ and his world religion will actually go on the offensive against the returning LORD Jesus (Read PSALM 2; ridiculous!!)!

Yet this was not always the case; in the book of Acts we read about how there were some of the Pharisees that believed in Christ (though, according to this reference (ACTS 15:5) they still had trouble letting go of 'the Law' instead of wholly embracing Christ by faith alone. 
Another that seemed at the least, cautious about opposing Jesus was Gamaliel (ACTS 5:34) who was also a teacher of Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the apostle (ACTS 22:3). While it doesn't specifically state it, Joseph of Arimathaea, was at the least a highly respected leader, one who did not consent to the counsel of the Sanhedrin, and may well could have been a Pharisee - certainly a very religious and pious man to say the least (See JOHN 19:38-42).

In today's text we read about another Pharisee who was seeking truth beyond any that could be possibly found in mere religion:

Why did Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews, come to Jesus by night? Some suggest it was an act of cowardice or feeling intimidated by his colleagues repudiation of the Righteous Branch (See JER 23:533:15and so he wanted to see Him secretly, so that no one would know. Others think it was a courtesy that Nicodemus was paying to Jesus - knowing that He would be very busy in the day time, he came to Him by night, when He would retire from His labors and be more readily available for inquirers.

Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus at all? Could it be perhaps that he saw in Jesus things that his own Jewish religion couldn't provide?

I am often asked, when seen in public reading my Bible, if I am religious; my answer is invariably "no - I'm just a Christian". This often provokes a confused response because most people can't differentiate between religion and biblical Christianity.

Like Judaism before it, Christianity started out with a foundation solidly established by the LORD God; but over the course of time, what was once God-ordained and biblical, became religious: with all sorts of 'add-ons' that incorporates traditions and rules, and extra-biblical, even unbiblical beliefs. 
Judaism, like Christianity experienced an apostasy (falling away from the faith; 1 TIM 4:1); you can read about it throughout the Old Testament prophets who warned of Israel's wayward and hard hearts, as well as in the New Testament by the LORD Jesus Himself (Read MATT 23 chapter as an example). 

Today, Judaism is a morphed version of what God intended - not Mosaic Judaism* but Talmudic - which includes traditional rituals and customs and beliefs that are not only unbiblical in most respects, but sometimes even occultic (as seen in the Kabala).
Christianity today is also not at all for the most part, as the LORD intended. Everywhere the Emergent Church, the New Apostolic Reformation Movement, the Word-Faith Movement and the general ecumenism of denominational Christendom expresses the truth that the church has strayed from her biblical foundation.

* [WIthout a Temple in Jerusalem, Mosaic Judaism is impossible because without a Temple, there can be no priesthood or sacrifices offered by such. In point of fact, even with a rebuilt Temple, the time of Mosaic Judaism has truly passed because the Temple, its priests, sacrifices, feasts and rituals were all foreshadowings of the coming Messiah, and now that He has come as The Highpriest, The Sacrifice, and The Temple - the former foreshadowings are passed away - for a comprehensive understanding of this, a careful study of the book of Hebrews is suggested or a shorter version, the book of Galatians.]

There were those Jews who truly desired God and to please Him; these were lovers of the truth of His Word and so when Jesus came preaching, they heard Him, understood His teachings and became followers. These were those who were "Jews inwardly" (ROM 2:29) and had "ears to hear" as opposed to those other Jews who were spiritually speaking blind and deaf (MATT. 13:15-17). The twelve disciples (excluding Judas Iscariot) were such as these.

The religious will almost always oppose the righteous. The sanctimonious will nearly invariably be at odds with the saints. Ever since the day that Cain slew Abel - because of Cain's jealousy that Abel's sacrifice was acceptable to God and his own was not (this was because Abel was obedient to the LORD by offering an animal sacrifice as He prescribed, not a meal offering (grain) which Cain offered according to his own religious conviction).

There are a few select exceptions however - those who were raised in religion and yet eventually came to understand that religion cannot fill an empty soul (MATT. 11:28-30), it cannot transform the heart (JOHN 3:3,5; 2 COR 5:17), it cannot offer salvation (HEB 2:3,10): these things can ONLY be accomplished by the Spirit of the Living God: Who does not dwell in temples of stone made by humans (ACTS 17:24), much less in religion itself.

I was such a one, being a rather religious Roman Catholic in my youth - but the spiritual hunger and questions I had went unanswered by religion. It wasn't until I began to read the Bible for myself (about a one year journey through the Scriptures) that I came to a saving knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace through His redemption which He purchased for us. If you would like to read my testimony, you may do so here.

I have often said, that "religion" is an artificial (man-made) form of (self) righteousness that can only mimic true spirituality found in Christ; that the righteousness that religion offers is wholly unacceptable, even offensive to God!

ISAIAH 64:6-7
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

Rather than struggle in the realm of religion, why not rather - like Nicodemus, seek JESUS in the night of your soul, and find Him as you seek wholeheartedly (JER 29:13) and discover new life and spiritual regeneration and transformation! 

TITUS 3:4-6
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

EPH 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The SINNER'S PRAYER: Is It Biblical?

I have been observing comments and remarks with increasing frequency regarding the notion of "the sinner's prayer" and much of them express everything from doubt to disparagement. Is this a biblically sound concept, or a contrivance of popular Western Christianity?

To be fair, we don't see the phraseology of "the sinner's prayer" anywhere in Scripture; then again, what we commonly refer to as "the LORD's Prayer" (MATT. 6:9-13) isn't - it's more a "Disciple's Prayer" than anything else (the petition to "forgive us our trespasses" cannot be applied to the sinless Lamb of God, but certainly to us sinners!). The real "LORD's Prayer could rightly be attributed to JOHN 17 instead. 

Yet the portion of Scripture found in MATT 6 is usually referred to as the LORD's Prayer any way; it's our own way of referring to it with an extra-biblical title. I suppose the same could be said regarding the 'sinner's prayer'.

Many object to the idea of saying a simple prayer, and at it's conclusion the pastor or evangelist would proclaim those who said it as "saved" and they then "welcome [them] to the family of God." I certainly would find issue with that sort of conduct and for very specific reasons.

I would like to quote a typical "sinner's prayer" and go over it, line after line and see if we can find any biblical basis for this concept.
Of course there are many different versions of this prayer, but they all (usually) contain the same elements and ideas. Here is one by way of example:


"LORD I confess that I have sinned and that I am a sinner. I admit that I have lived a life of sin against Your holy will and Your holy law. I understand that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, that He took the punishment that should have been mine, upon Himself. I acknowledge that Jesus rose from the dead, being victorious over sin and death and offers to us eternal life and salvation to all who will believe in Him. Thank You LORD for Your sacrifice. I come to you now, repenting of my sinful life and desire to give my life to you. I receive You Jesus as my personal LORD and Savior - come into my heart and life and save me from sin, death and hell. I commit myself to You LORD and believe the Gospel. I understand that I am no longer my own, but that I and all of my life now belongs to You.
Thank You God as my new heavenly Father for the gift of Your Son, in Jesus Name, amen."

Anyone who hears the Gospel, who is granted understanding by the Holy Spirit and realizes what the cross of Christ is all about, and then expresses genuine faith in Jesus for salvation is saved according to the promise of Scripture. So let's go over each of these lines (7 component parts) in this model sinner's prayer and see if we can distinguish its parts, whether they are biblical or not.

1) LORD I confess that I have sinned and that I am a sinner. I admit that I have lived a life of sin against Your holy will and Your holy law.

We have all read the account that our LORD Himself illustrated for us, that of the Pharisee and the publican as found in LUKE 18:9-14. In this account, it was the publican who humbled himself and confessed that he was a sinner, and besought the mercy of God who went away justified - rather than the Pharisee who trusted in his own (dead) works.

Scripture abundantly declares that we are all sinners (ROM. 3:23; 5:12,19; GAL. 3:22; JER. 17:9; MATT 15:19; EPH 2:3). The Word teaches us that it's the Law of God written in the conscience of humanity, as well as exposure to the truth of the Law that will drive us towards Christ, seeking salvation (GAL. 3:23-24). In the Greek the word used for sin is hamartiah, which means "to miss the mark" as in shooting an arrow at a target. 
This is what we are all guilty of as human beings, missing the mark of God's holy will for us. We have sinned against His holy will. To make an admission of one's own sinfulness is truly humbling and for those who humble themselves before the LORD, what is His promise?

JAMES 4:6-10
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

2) I understand that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, that He took the punishment that should have been mine, upon Himself.

The LORD told us that He came to pay our ransom, something that we could not possibly do for ourselves (MARK 10:46; MATT 5:3; 2 COR. 8:9). He is the sacrifice Lamb that takes away the sin of the entire world (JOHN 1:29,36); His holy and righteous soul, entirely pure of any sin or wrong-doing was burdened with the weight of the sins of the whole of the human race - every one of us! (1 JOHN 2:2; 2 COR. 5:20-21)

3) I acknowledge that Jesus rose from the dead, being victorious over sin and death and offers to us eternal life and salvation to all who will believe in Him.

Scripture declares that any who make such a confession will be saved (ROM 10:8-11), but this must be a confession based on genuine belief from the heart - not merely mouthing words or parroting the pastor's recitation. We believe that because sin brings death, and that Christ bore our sins, He died in our place - but also that He conquered over our sin by rising again from the dead (ROM 6:23; ISAIAH 53:3-6; ACTS 2:22-36; 1 COR 15:20-23,54-57)! He is the author of eternal life and imparts such to all who believe in Him (ROM 6:23; JOHN 3:16).

4) Thank You LORD for Your sacrifice. I come to you now, repenting of my sinful life and desire to give my life to you.

He is the High Priest of our salvation (HEB 9:11-14) and He is also the perfect sacrifice for our sin (HEB 9:25-26). As we realize the vital importance and the incredible grace demonstrated by His sacrifice (EPH 2:8-9; TITUS 3:5-7), we may become convicted by such love for us sinners and this in turn may lead to repentance, as it is the goodness of God that leads us there (ROM 2:4). 
Repentance is something that unfortunately is overlooked in many calls to salvation, but this is essential - not that we have power in ourselves to turn from the sins that we are impelled towards by our sinful nature. For if we could truly and fully turn from sin (as in our nature) of our own accord, what then would be the need for salvation.
But just as the man with the withered hand (MATT 12:10-13) could not possibly extend his paralyzed arm as the LORD commanded him to do, but that he showed a willingness of heart to do so, and the LORD then empowered him; likewise if we with broken heart come before the LORD with a desire to repent and in as much as is in us to do so, demonstrate such - by His Spirit He enables us as we receive God's empowering grace. Repentance is something revealed throughout Scripture - all of the prophets called for it of Israel when the nation had fallen into sin (JER 4:1-2; 35:15; EZEK 14:6; JONAH 3:9-10); John the Baptist preached repentance (MATT 3:1-2), as did Jesus our LORD (MATT 4:17) and the apostles (ACTS 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30).

For more on the issue of repentance, have a look at this article from  www.loveintruth.comTwo Errors Regarding Repentance
Watch this video (under 8 mins) from The BEREAN CALL (Dave Hunt and Tom McMahon) on Must You Repent To Be Saved?

5) I receive You Jesus as my personal LORD and Savior - come into my heart and life and save me from sin, death and hell. 

There are some who disparage this idea of 'receiving Christ' but this is hardly something that is absent in Scripture; further - the notion of 'accepting Christ into the heart' - yet when we are born again of God's Spirit, are we not then indwelt by the very Spirit of Christ (ROM 8:9; EPH 3:17; COL 1:26-27):

JOHN 1:11-13
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

COL 2:6-7
6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Jesus is indeed the sovereign LORD whether we receive Him as such or not; and if He is not my Savior personally, He is still the Savior of all who call upon Him in truth. Yet it's when I come to Christ for salvation, and receive such from Him, that He is not then only the LORD in a universal sense, but also in the intimate sense that He is mine, and I am His - it's a position of ownership: He claims me as His son, I claim Him as my LORD. 


6) I commit myself to You LORD and believe the Gospel. I understand that I am no longer my own, but that I and all of my life now belongs to You.

To commit oneself to the LORD and the way of our very lives is the greatest honor we can grant to the Almighty (PSALM 31:5;37:5); for of our own free will, we step forward and offer up our paltry lives, but out of a heart of tenderness and brokenness and a yearning to know Him - this is an honor to the LORD. David had such a yearning and a heart for the LORD, His supreme desire was to dwell in the house of the LORD and to inquire in His temple, to behold His beauty: fellowship (PSALM 27). And for this kind of heart, the LORD referred to David as "a man after My own heart" (ACTS 13:22). 
When we come to the LORD in true repentance, seeking true salvation, we come with an understanding that He has by His blood, purchased redemption for us, and that as the redeemed* - we no longer belong to ourselves but to the LORD (1 COR. 6:19-20): we lose what ever life we may have had on our own - all of our goals, plans, desires, etc. and forsake them and in turn, surrender our lives to live out God's goals, plans and desires which He desires to bless us with.

* A web link to another FMF article on the subject of redemption is found at the end of this article.

The LORD Himself stated clearly:

MATT 10:38-39
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

MATT 16:24-26
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

It must be understood however that we are not forsaking our lives in a vain attempt to somehow be deserving of salvation, or attempting to 'pay God back' for His salvation. If we are genuinely saved, this is the natural response of that blessed regeneration.

Yet it must also be understood that we "count the cost" of what coming to Christ will mean. This is something also terribly lacking in the presentation of the Gospel (LUKE 14:27-29). 
Are we willing to forsake a life of sin - which ultimately will bring bitterness and emptiness, heart ache and misery and ultimately death and hell - for a life after Christ which will bring the peace of God (ROM 5:1-2), blessings and the fruit of His Spirit - love and its accompaniments of joy, peace, patience, (GAL 5:22-24) etc - with trials and persecutions as we intend to live godly for Him (2 TIM 2:12)?


7) Thank You God as my new heavenly Father for the gift of Your Son, in Jesus Name, amen.

Salvation is not about religion; it's about relationship. God is no longer an 'angry old man waiting in heaven to strike us down if we commit the slightest error' - or some remote Creator that is impossible to comprehend or know personally. Through the LORD Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we may call God our Father, or Abba (MATT 6:6,9; JOHN 16:25-27; 20:17). 
We learn about Him through the Word, which His Spirit grants us understanding; through prayer as we seek Him, and through the fellowship of other godly saints. We grow in the grace and knowledge of the truth (2 PET 3:18). 
As in any prayer, when we pray in the Name of Jesus, we pray according to the reputation of His Name, that is, His holiness, His grace, His truth, His tender mercies, His will, power and glory, etc. (JOHN 16:26; 1 JOHN 5:14).

The one issue that I have about a sinner's prayer (as I mentioned at the beginning of this article) is that too often it is used as a kind of magic potion or a 'one-time-deal' event where I say these words, and 'accept Christ' but only then, once said and accepted, go about my merry way in my old life, never heeding the Spirit of God or taking time for the Word or prayer or fellowship - and somehow expect that because 'I said a prayer once and accepted Christ' so therefore I am saved no matter what. And how could a pastor or evaneglist declare any who said that prayer as being saved and secured for heaven?

Would not time prove out whether the words spoken were genuine, that wrought genuine repentance and salvation? Too freely are people declared 'saved' today - when we must leave to God to declare such in His Word and by evidence in our lives by a changed heart.

We are known by our fruit, and every one that does not bear godly fruit (that is, the nature of Christ with His love, truth, righteousness - not perfectly demonstrated, but indeed real and evidential) cannot claim with any certainty that they are saved; (MATT 7:16,20; 2 COR 9:10; EPH 5:9; PHIL 1:11).

The issue of salvation, receiving Christ and obtaining the Spirit begs a very valid question: once gained - can it be lost?? There are many arguments on both sides and this is a controversy that has raged in the church for centuries. I hope to address this question in a related article, but I want to take time and do my due diligence in the research of Scripture. This will in all likelihood be published on the parent web site of The TRUTH Under FIRE.

Until then, may the LORD Bless and Keep you in the NAME of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR!

Related to this is the following article:
OUR KINSMAN GOEL, OUR REDEEMER: JESUS The LAMB of GOD


Monday, November 2, 2015

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: A VOTE Of No CONFIDENCE - JOHN 2:23-25

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints

JOHN 2:23-25
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

Dan Kimball, sympathizer of The Emergent Church Movement wrote a book entitled:
"They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations"

I wonder if people liked Jesus today as much as they did during the days when He walked the Earth, whether or not they would crucify Him again . . . ?
There are all sorts of brands of Jesus to like today: The enlightened, Hindu-style Jesus and his related cousin, the New Age Jesus; there is the Muslim and Mormon Jesus, the Hebrew-Roots Movement Jesus, the Roman Catholic Jesus, the Theosophical Jesus, the ecological Jesus and of course, the Emergent Church Jesus (among others). Each of these are well liked by their respective followings. 
But now, will the real Jesus please stand up?
We need not worry about mis-identifying Him, He's the One found in the pages of Scripture.

There are many who profess to believe the Scriptures but do they really? The Pharisees and Sadducees (to varying degrees) professed such a belief in the Tanahk (what we call the Old Testament), but what did the LORD Jesus tell them?


JOHN 5:38-40
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

They professed to be disciples of Moses, NOT this Jesus (JOHN 9:29) - but the LORD's comment just a few verses down in JOHN 5 was:


JOHN 5:45-47
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

If they truly believed the Inspired Word of God, then they would have believed the Incarnate Word of God (JOHN 1:1-3); but in truth, they believed neither!

Yet there were many in those days that did profess a belief in Jesus because they saw first hand, the mighty miracles He did! One might suppose that this would have been a great encouragement to our LORD, but He did not "...commit Himself to them..."

That word "commit" in the Greek is pisteuo and it's related to the word pistis, meaning "faith" - pisteuo means to "have faith in, to trust, to credit, to entrust". The LORD knew better than to trust in the whimsical, and flimsy faith of mere human beings.

Of ourselves, our faithfulness, reliability and trustworthiness is terribly inadequate, far deficient for what is required for true faith in Christ. This is why the LORD must grant us faith (ROM. 12:3) and by His indwelling Spirit grow the fruit of the Spirit, which is love and its associative characteristics, such as faithfulness (GAL. 5:22).

This truth puts a coffin nail in the 'positive/possibility' thinking, self-help and self-esteem philosophy and the general belief that "mankind is basically good". The holy, penetrating gaze of our God measures the essence of our inner most being and tests them for what they are worth:

JER. 17:10
I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

And what He finds is:

JER. 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Not the least bit flattering is it? Mankind in his blind pride believes himself to be a god, and yet he is an abject, spiritually poverty-stricken sinner whose heart is desperately (read that, "incurable"!) wicked.

I have heard, much to my dismay, Christians say that "Jesus believes in you!"  or even "have faith in yourself!" when our text today, says the very opposite! If there were any basis of confidence in us, the All-knowing and All-seeing God, our Creator would know of it. It is enough that we believe in Jesus, and express confidence in His transformative power to create in us a clean heart, and renew our minds so that we are able by God's grace, to put on the mind of Christ (PSALM 51:10; ROM. 12:1-2; PHIL. 2:5).

This is why we are in need of a new heart, because the old one is so far gone, that even GOD Himself pronounces is incurable! Thankfully the LORD in His grace has provided new hearts to all who desire Him:


Ezekiel 36:26
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Humanity in itself has as much spiritual life as a stone; only the LORD can turn stones into His children (MATT. 3:9). Only He can impart true and eternal life by His Spirit. And it's only those who are born of the Spirit of God that the LORD Jesus can entrust with His Word, with the commission of the Gospel, with His dearest friends . . .

This is why the LORD intended on building His church upon Himself - the Rock of truth, not in a fallible, changeable, flawed people like Peter (or less so, ourselves), who denied Him three times. Certainly by God's grace Peter was restored to his position of ministry as an apostle, and as one of those apostles held a place of foundation (EPH. 2:20). But the very Cornerstone is Christ: the only One trustworthy enough as a proper foundation for His building, the body of Christ - born again saints (1 PET. 2:61 COR. 3:9).

It was a common belief among the Jews that if a person was affluent and rich, that they were blessed of God, Who demonstrated His approval by bestowing such blessings. This is why the disciples were blown away when the LORD said:

MARK 10:23-27
23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

In verse 27, where it states that "Jesus looking upon them" a certain word is used that describes how one might closely inspect something; an intentional and perceptive gaze (like one beholding a theater performance).
I can well believe that the LORD beheld the 'theater of the hearts' of those before Him, carefully sizing up their quality and substance - and coming to the decided conclusion that humanity being approved of God by his own merit and works " . . . is impossible".

Elsewhere in Scripture the LORD pronounces the condition of humanity:

PSALM 39:4-6
4 Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.
5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

ISAIAH 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

ISAIAH 64:6-7
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

ROMANS 3:10-12
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

May we declare along with the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the LORD Whose vote of 'No Confidence' in our frail humanity has been rendered in the counsels of Scripture:

PHIL. 3:3, 7-9
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: