Through the Word in 2020 #160 – Nov. 23 – Inclusive/Exclusive

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It’s pretty common to think of Jesus as being sort of all-inclusive. The cosmic good-guy who just accepts everyone, makes no demands. “The People’s” savior if you will – with nothing of exclusivity about Him. But is that really the way the Bible portrays Him?

We’ll spend a minute on that today on Through the Word in 2020.

I’m Reid Ferguson.

3 passages call for our attention today, Ezekiel 43:13-46:18; Revelation 1:1-8 and the very important dialog with Jesus recorded in John 8:39-59.

As I already mentioned, pop-theology tends to paint the picture of an “everyman” Jesus. And in one sense – this is most blessedly true. His “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” is a wonderfully universal call. And His charge to the Disciples to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” is equally broad and unambiguous. But reading and understanding the Scriptures – and thus understanding Jesus Himself – requires more than plucking one passage here and there and making that the whole of our understanding.

So when we come to a passage like this one in John, it is the words of Jesus Himself that give vital additional context.

Now in this brief discussion, Jesus makes 3 eye-opening statements. Probably surprising to many.

  1. “If God were your Father, you would love me.” We need to make no mistake here. Are you a child of God? Is God truly your Father? How can you know for sure? Well, if God is your Father, you love Jesus Christ. If you do not love Him, God is not your Father. You still need to be born again.

A number of years ago I was on a panel with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rochester. In a joint statement we were asked to help craft, he submitted that we begin by affirming that all people are children of God. When I raised an objection to that idea and appealed to this passage, he couldn’t deny that these verses contradicted his personal theology. We had to find very different wording. But the bottom line is just what Jesus said here – if God were our Father, we would love Him. And if we do not love Him, then the only conclusion is, God is not our Father.

2. Jesus went on to say: “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” Now if the first statement weren’t hefty enough, this one is like a sledgehammer. When we reject Christ’s teaching, when it makes no sense to us, we are alerted to the fact that we alienated from God, and our desires are those in actual opposition to His. We are lost, and desperately need a Savior.

3. “Why do you not believe me?…Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

That is a 3rd and definitive strike is it not? To fail to believe all He said and taught is proof we are not from God. And Jesus is unequivocal on that count. We cannot reject Him and His word and be right with God. Talk about exclusive!

That dire reality being the case, we are grateful then to go back to those 2 verses I cited at the top of this discussion. If you find yourself excluded under Jesus’ criteria here – then come to Him. Run to Him. All you who are weak and heavy laden in your sin.

Because He also adds: John 6:38-40 “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me…For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.

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