Understanding the Scriptures
Tom: We’re continuing with our travels through the Gospel of John, and we selected this—to take, really, a lot of time on this, Dave. We’ve gone on with this for months, because it is the one place in the scriptures that the Gospel of Salvation appears over and over again. And for those who have not started reading the Bible, which we encourage all to do—it’s God’s Word! Hey, you can’t do any better than that. But if you’ve never started, we want you to begin with the Gospel of John.
And, Dave, we’re in chapter 7, and we’ll pick up with verse 13: “Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.” Now, to back up a little bit, Jesus had just had a discussion with His brothers—half-brothers—and they were going up to the feast, and He was going to come a little later.
Dave: Which they didn’t know.
Dave: Now, He came up secretly, and people were wondering, “Where is He?” But they...
Tom: They were arguing about it!
Dave: They were whispering, because they don’t want to talk about it openly for fear of the Jews. And Jews, of course, means the “religious authority.” Because they were out to get Him. There was a price on His head. Any they didn’t want to be identified with Him. Interesting.
Tom: Dave, it’s also interesting that the Jewish leaders were in fear of Jesus, to some degree...because of the people. On the other hand, many of the people were in fear of the leadership. Maybe that’s the way we are all, to some degree. The fear of man.
Dave: “The fear of man brings a snare,” the scripture says.
Tom: Verse 14: “Now, about the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?’”
Now He didn’t go through the... He didn’t become a scribe; He wasn’t sitting at the feet of Gamaliel or the other teachers, but He had an understanding, and He spoke with authority.
Dave: Yeah, when He was twelve years old, He was sitting in the temple asking the rabbis, the pharisees, questions, and listening to them and giving them answers that they didn’t have. But He didn’t have to go to school to learn this. He said He learned it “of His Father.” Of course, this is Jesus speaking as a man. And we cannot separate His manhood from His deity. God became a man. He is truly God and truly man. But that’s difficult for us to understand, but He has a wisdom and an authority that they don’t have. That they’ve never heard.
Tom: Dave...well, picking up with verse 16, Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent Me.” So this next verse, 17—you know, there’s some verses here in the gospel of John that I just love! I mean they just knock you right out of your chair. Verse 17: “If any man will do His will, He shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.”
Dave: It means He wills to do God’s will. It tells us that man does have a will—and we don’t want to get into that again, the whole Calvinist thing, and Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will, and the denial that man has a will, but...
Tom: We have some programs down the line when your book comes out. I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time...
Dave: Yeah, but here, it very clearly indicates that man has a will, but He’s not just talking to Christians. He’s not just talking to believers. He says, “If any man wills to do God’s will, you will know....” Now, that’s very similar to the promise in the Old Testament, where God says, “You will seek for Me and find Me, if you seek for Me with all your heart.” God says, “Let the wicked...” (Isaiah 55)... “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
So, Jesus is being criticized because He doesn’t have their degrees—didn’t go to their schools—and, Tom, I’m with you on verse 17, one of my favorite verses in all of scripture: Jesus says, “Anyone who is willing to do God’s will will know.” People say, like this lady that we read her statements about the Bible...
Dave: Right. Now, there are a lot of people who claim that they’re seeking God, searching for God, searching for truth, and so forth. Well, if they have not found God, I can say on the authority of the Word of God that they weren’t really sincere. They were seeking a God that would appeal to them, and this is this lady. Now, she had her own ideas of what God should say, and therefore, she didn’t like some of what the Bible said, and therefore she threw that out. But the Bible is very clear: anyone who really wants to know the true God because they want to do His will—not just intellectual curiosity: “Well, if You’re there, let me hear You in an audible voice.” No, someone who really wants to know the true God because they want to do His will, they want to be what He created them to be, they want to experience His purpose and life that He has for them, God says, “He will find Me. I will reveal Myself to you. I can’t reveal myself to you if you don’t really want to know Me.” And the Bible can’t speak to a person’s heart who does not want to hear what the Bible says. So, when we come to the Bible, we come to the Bible with an open heart. We don’t come to the Bible criticizing it and judging it by our standards—then we’ve become the authority.
No, the Bible has to be the authority over us, and so Jesus very clearly says, “You want to know whether what I’m saying is true, you want to know whether what I’m saying is really from God—well, if you are willing to do God’s will, you will know. He will reveal it to you.”
Tom: Dave, let me give you another application of that verse: As you know, in our staff meetings, we’ve been...we go through the scriptures. We have prayer time and Bible study, and we’re going through...
Dave: Each morning.
Tom: Yeah! We’re going through the epistles, and you read the epistles—right now we’re in Ephesians, and you’re reading that, and you think, “Well, what’s God have in mind for us? What’s God’s will?” Verse after verse the scriptures are telling us how we’re to act, what we’re to do. How we’re to be kind to one another. How we’re to treat each other. How we’re to deal with the situations and issues, and so on.
Now, the obligation for us—we could read that till we’re blue in the face, but if we’re willing to do what God’s Word says, we’ll find things like joy, peace, love, the fruit of the Spirit. We’ll find the things that please God, and so on. But we have to be willing.
Dave: Now, that’s what Jesus is saying, and, again, He says, “Whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself...(that’s the end of verse 17). Well, is this God’s Word? Or are we the interpreters? Peter says, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” We need pastors in pulpits who speak as the oracles of God. We need evangelists on radio and television who speak as the oracles of God.
Tom: Dave, you have to define that for us, because I know there are people out there saying, “Well, my pastor gets a word from the Lord every Sunday!”
Dave: (sighing) Yeah.
Tom: The Word. Now, I don’t want to get sidetracked here...
Dave: Well, is this someone’s opinion? Is this some vision or some idea someone got from their own heart? You could go back to Jeremiah:13:14, where he says, “The prophets speak from their own mind, their own imagination. But I haven’t spoken to them.”
Now, we know that God has spoken in His Word. Let’s stick to the Bible.
Tom: These are the oracles...
Dave: Right. Right. Let’s stick to God’s Word. Let us stand alone upon God’s Word. “Let God be true and every man a liar,” and let’s not make it up as go along. Let’s not try to come up with some new revelation, which some pastors are trying to do. But let us take the plain teaching of God’s Word, and let’s stick with it, and let’s present it in the power of the Holy Spirit, but from the Word of God. This is what Peter is talking about. And Jesus said, “I’m not...” (even Jesus is saying) “I’m not speaking from myself, from my own initiative, my own authority, but I’m speaking from the Father.” And, Tom, I’m speaking to my own heart. I’ll let the Lord speak to me. We need to be very careful that we stick to the Word of God and that what God says is what we echo.