God’s New Creation

John 12:23 “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.”

Philip and Andrew had just brought word to Jesus that certain Greeks or Gentiles were seeking Him at the feast. He had ministered to other Gentiles, but this is the first time that the Gentiles came specifically to seek Him instead of what He could do. Apparently, this was an added signal to Jesus that His time had come and that He could no longer confine His ministry to only the Jews. Therefore, He made statements about His death and glorification, that would break down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile.

There was a physical wall of partition that symbolized this division in the Jerusalem temple. The Gentiles could come into a designated area of the temple known as the court of the Gentiles, but a stone wall, about five feet high, stopped them from going further. A sign standing before the wall stated, “No man of another nation is to enter, and whosoever is caught will have himself to blame for his death!”

Many regulations and rules separated Jews and Gentiles for centuries. Christ’s work on the cross abolished that separation by removing the law and thus removing the barrier between these two groups. Instead of changing the Gentiles into Jews or the Jews into Gentiles, God made a brand new creation.

It’s like crossing a horse and a donkey. The result is not a horse or a donkey, but a brand new animal called a mule.

In the New Testament church there is no such thing as Jew or Gentile, bond or free, for God has created something absolutely new. It’s the “one new man,” the new creation in Christ Jesus, the church, Christ’s body, the fullness of Him, that filleth all in all… Ephesians 1:23. Remember who you are “in Him.”

Trust In Jesus As Your Savior

Matthew 19:16 “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

On the surface, it appears that this rich young ruler was “right on” in the way he approached Jesus and sought salvation. He ran, kneeled down to Jesus, and openly professed Him as a Good Master. What could be wrong with that?

First, he acknowledged Jesus as good but not as God. This is a pivotal point.

Every major religion of the world acknowledges that Jesus lived and will even admit that He definitely was a good man, but they won’t recognize Him as God. If Jesus was only a good man, He couldn’t save anybody. Jesus didn’t just come to show us the way to God. He was the way, the only way unto the Father.

No man could come unto the Father, but by Him… John 14:6. Jesus had made this point publicly many times before. This is the reason that Jesus responded to this young man’s question the way He did. Jesus was saying, “God is the only one who is good. You must accept me as God or not at all.” Jesus was either who He claimed to be or He was the biggest fraud that ever lived. He has to be one or the other. He cannot be both.

Second, he asked what he could do to produce salvation. He trusted in himself and believed he could accomplish whatever good work Jesus might request. This is completely opposed to the plan of salvation that Jesus came to bring.

Jesus obtained salvation for us through His substitution and He offers it to us as a free gift. All we must do is believe and receive. This rich young ruler wasn’t looking for a Savior. He was trying to be his own savior. This is the reason Jesus referred him back to the commandments. He either needed to keep all of the law perfectly or he needed a Savior. Jesus desired to turn this man from trusting in himself by showing him God’s perfect standard, which no one could keep, so that then he would trust in a Savior.

Our Resurrected Bodies

John 11:13 “Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.”

There are many scriptures where death is spoken of as sleep, however, the disciples thought Jesus was speaking of Lazarus simply resting. Jesus eventually clarifies their misunderstanding by using the word “death,” but that was not His first choice. This is because God’s perspective is different than ours. Death is final to natural man but not to God. There will be a resurrection.

In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul uses natural illustrations to explain the resurrection. He speaks of seeds that are buried in the ground and “die.” Then they are resurrected as a plant. The plant and the seed bear no resemblance but they are actually the same. The plant is just in a resurrected state. Likewise, our physical bodies will die but they will be resurrected just as surely as seeds produce plants.

In the same way that a seed is different than the plant that it produces, likewise our resurrected bodies will be different. Our glorified bodies will be very similar to our physical bodies in appearance. This can be said because of what the scriptures reveal about Jesus’ glorified body. He still looked human, He ate food, had the print of the nails in His hands and feet, and He said He had flesh and bones. Yet he could appear and disappear. Our resurrected bodies will be immortal (i.e. not subject to death). Our resurrected bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrected body.

In the same way that our present physical bodies are a miraculous creation, so our glorified resurrected bodies will have their own glory. We can rest assured that God never serves dessert first. If this physical body is wonderful, our resurrected body will be even better.

Like A Thief In The Night

Luke 17:24 “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.”

This scripture and the parallel scripture in Matthew 24:27 make it very clear that the second return of Jesus will be no secret to anyone. In Matthew’s account, it is especially clear that this statement about the lightning was made so that we wouldn’t be deceived by false Christs. Just as lightning is visible to everyone, so the second return of Jesus will be witnessed by the whole world. That’s the reason we don’t have to be fearful about missing His second coming and anxiously follow every report that Christ has come.

These verses completely destroy the claims of the Bahai religion and others who claim that Jesus has secretly come back the second time.

Just as Jesus had warned His disciples not to be deceived by false Christs because His second coming would be visible to everyone, He also explains that until the very day of His coming, the world will continue on its present course. People will not discern the signs of His coming just as the people during Noah’s day didn’t realize their impending judgment. This corresponds exactly with Jesus’ prophecies about His coming being like the appearance of a thief in the night. Jesus is emphasizing that the unbelievers will not recognize that He is coming until it is too late. He is stressing that His coming will take the world by surprise.

The Lord is pointing out the urgent need to be ready for His return. In the same way that a thief comes when people are the least prepared, so our Lord will return in a time when people are not looking for Him. There will be a condition of apathy in the latter days that will tend to lull even the faithful to sleep if they don’t take heed to His words. He urges us to be watchful so we will be prepared.

Give Thanks Daily

Luke 17:18 “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

Relatively few people who receive the goodness of the Lord return to give Him thanks for what He has done. That does not keep the Lord from doing what is right for us. He healed all ten of these lepers according to their request – not just the one who was thankful. However, there was only one out of the ten that was made “whole.”

The Lord desires that we prosper in spirit, soul, and body. He wants us to be whole – not just healed. Part of the reason God meets our physical needs is to prove to us His willingness and ability to meet our emotional and spiritual needs. The Lord is concerned about our temporal needs…Matthew 6:30, but He is even more concerned about our eternal needs. All of these lepers needed physical healing and the Lord was moved with compassion and met their need.

He was also desiring to meet their spiritual needs, but only one out of the ten came back for that.

Being unthankful is always a sign that self is exalting itself above God. A selfless person can be content with very little. A self-centered person cannot be satisfied. Thankfulness is a sign of humility and cultivating a life of thankfulness will help keep “self” in its proper place.

Thankfulness to the Lord for what He is and what He has done is a very important part of the Christian life. One of the many benefits of thanksgiving and praise is that they keep us from being “self” oriented.

Giving thanks is a totally unselfish action and is a key to relationship with the Father that makes us “whole” and not just “healed.”

Groaning In The Spirit

John 11:33 “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.”

 The Greek word that is translated “groaned” expresses that Jesus was deeply moved, but not necessarily with sorrow. It was more a groan of anger at Satan who had caused all the grief Jesus was seeing around Him. Jesus came to “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” … Hebrews 2:14, and He was grieved to see the pain that His enemy had inflicted on those He loved.

This is the type of groaning that the Holy Spirit does for us. It is not just the Holy Spirit sympathizing with us, but it is the Holy Spirit doing battle for us when we don’t know how to pray. In this case, it was the Holy Spirit doing battle through Jesus against death and the doubt of those present, that would have kept Lazarus in the grave.

Everyone who has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has or will have this happen to them. This groaning of the Holy Spirit is not just grief but a groan of anger and resistance against Satan’s devices in our lives. Many times Christians don’t discern this because they think it is just them grieved with their situation. But this is the Holy Spirit desiring to get into intercession with us against our problems.

Although the groaning is unutterable, you can discern it, and many times people react with audible groans or other outward acts. This has led to religious doctrines and traditions that are unscriptural and offensive to many people. There is nothing wrong with us reacting to the inner working of the Holy Spirit as long as we don’t confuse our reactions with the Holy Spirit’s actions. This intercession cannot be uttered. Any counterfeits that religion may have produced only serve to illustrate that there has to be a genuine. The genuine groaning in the Spirit is priceless.

Confess God’s Truth

John 11:14 “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”

Jesus spoke of Lazarus being asleep instead of dead because that is really a much better description. Death, to their carnal minds, would be final; whereas the word “sleep” would not. When the disciples misunderstood what He was saying, He clarified the situation by saying plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”

This looks like a contrary statement to what Jesus was going to do (raise Lazarus from the dead) and indeed it would have been if He had left it at that. But He went on to say in verse 15, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe;” This was referring to Lazarus being raised from the dead and it turned Jesus’ statement of a negative fact into a positive confession of faith.

Many people have been confused over this very issue. Many times people will refuse to speak of or acknowledge any situation that is contrary to a promise that God has given them. It is certainly desirable to avoid talking about our problems and there is scriptural precedent for this… 2 Kings 4:20, 26. In this very instance, Jesus avoided using a word to describe Lazarus’ situation that would have instilled fear into His disciples’ hearts. But when dealing with people who didn’t understand, He didn’t deny the natural facts.

A true, positive confession doesn’t deny natural truth. It just refuses to stop at the natural realm and speaks forth the greater spiritual truth. This is what Jesus did and we should follow His example. Therefore, it is not wrong to acknowledge a physical problem such as sickness just as long as we acknowledge to an equal or greater degree the spiritual truth, “by whose stripes ye were healed”… 1 Peter 2:24. Don’t deny that problems exist, just deny those problems the right to continue to exist in your life by confessing your faith in God.

Walk In The Light

John 11:9 “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.”

Jesus compares His decision to return to Judaea to a man traveling during the day. Daytime travel doesn’t guarantee a hazard-free trip but the light does allow us to see the hazards. At nighttime, it’s inevitable that we will stumble. Likewise, walking in the light of God’s direction doesn’t mean that there won’t be problems, but the alternative of “doing our own thing” (that is walking in darkness) is guaranteed to get us into trouble.

Jesus was obeying the leading of His Father to return to Judaea. He could see exactly what was going to take place and He was going to walk in the light that His Father had given Him. Our decisions should not be based on whether or not we will be hurt in some way as a result of our actions, but we must discern God’s will and do it regardless of the cost.

The misconception that, “if God is in it, there will be no problems” is not only wrong, but is dangerous. This kind of thinking has caused many people to “back off” from what God has told them to do when things don’t go the way they expected. Our problems do not come from God, therefore, we should not pray for problems and not embrace them as being “a blessing from God in disguise.” Furthermore, when trials come, we should not be shocked …1 Peter 4:12, and not let problems or the lack thereof confirm or deny God’s will for us.

Jesus died for each one of us. Each one of us ought to live for Him. Offering ourselves to God is not just a one-time deal. We have to die daily to our own desires. This has to be a living, ongoing commitment to the Lord.

Turn From Sin

John 11:5 “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”

It is interesting to note that special mention is made of Jesus loving Martha. This is after the incident recorded in Luke 10:38-42, where Martha is caught up with serving instead of worshipping Jesus and her priorities are still not in order. Jesus was not rebuking Martha but rather exhorting her for her own profit. When the Lord deals with problem areas in our lives, it is always for our profit – not punishment and we should not take it as rejection. This is one way to discern God’s correction from the devil’s condemnation.

God convicts us of sin but He doesn’t condemn us. Conviction is solely for our profit with no malice while condemnation includes punishment. Satan is the one who condemns the Christian, but the Holy Spirit has given us the power to escape that condemnation. The way the Lord convicts a believer is through the inner ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is always done in a positive manner that encourages us to turn from sin rather than the negative way of condemning us for having committed the sin.

A Christian who still walks in condemnation is being condemned by the devil or is condemning himself. Only those who are living in the power of the Holy Spirit escape condemnation. Compare this to the law of gravity. Gravity is a law that never quits exerting its power, but it can be overcome. Through the laws of aerodynamics man can actually fly and send space ships beyond Earth’s gravity. But it takes power to do this. If the power is shut off, the law of gravity is still at work and will cause the vehicle to fall.

Likewise, the law of sin and death still exists. If a Christian shuts off the power of the Spirit of life and begins to walk in the power of his own flesh, Satan will use this law of sin and death to condemn him and ensure he crashes. It’s not God who condemns us