Second Reformed Church

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Believe the Works" Sermon: John 10:31-42

“Believe the Works”
[John 10:31-42]
May 15, 2016 Second Reformed Church
            Over the past few weeks, we saw Jesus explain to the crowd that He is the Good Shepherd and the Door to the sheepfold – Jesus is the Only Way to salvation – and salvation is not by our works but by Jesus choosing to bring us into salvation, security, assurance, and green pastures. 
After this, the crowd asked Jesus to tell them straightforwardly if He was the Christ, and He explained to them that He has been telling them all along that He is the Christ – in fact, He is God the Son incarnate.  The reason they did not understand or believe Him was that they were not His sheep.
And we saw at the end of our text last week that even fine theologians differ on what Jesus meant by saying that He and the Father are One.  But there was no question on the day He said it – the Jews understood what He meant perfectly – He was saying that He is the God – the One God – of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – so they picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy – because, if Jesus was not God Himself, then what He was saying was a lie of the highest order and demanded the death penalty.  But Jesus is God.
We see, first, this morning, Jesus did the good works God sent Him to do.
“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?’
Jesus responded to their move to kill Him by asking them a question:
“I was sent to earth to do the will of My Father, and I have done the will of My Father.  All the good works I have done have been the good works that God the Father sent me to do.  Everything I have done has been according to the will of God the Father.  All the works I have done have been pleasing and glorifying to God the Father.  So, which one of those God-ordained, God-glorifying works are you going to stone Me to death?”
Do you feel the bite of His question?
“You say you are going to stone Me for blaspheming God, and everything I have done has been what God sent Me to do, and everything I have done has pleased God and glorified Him, so which of those good things are you going to put Me to death?”
The theologians say “orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy.”  Right belief leads to right action.  If we know God rightly, we will do those things that God wants us to do.  The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we will respond in doing those things that please Him.
John the Baptist said, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8, ESV).
In other words, if you have believed savingly in God through His Savior, then do not continue in the sin that you have been freed from, and, instead, do those good works that God calls you to.  Right knowledge and understanding of God leads to right action – to doing those things that are pleasing to God.
And Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20, ESV).
In other words, if someone says the right things, but persists in doing those things which are against God – if someone persists in sinning and saying that God’s Word is not true and that Jesus is somehow less that what the Scripture clearly reveals, we know that such a person is a thief and a liar, and not a believer at all.  The fruits reveal the tree; our works reveal our hearts and our true beliefs.
So, Jesus asked them, “You have seen Me do all these good works in accordance with the will of God and to the glory of God, for which one are you going to put me to death?”
Jesus pointed out the absurdity of what they were doing; Jesus bore the fruit – He did the good works – which showed that He was the obedient Son of God – in fact, He had done works which – by the Scripture they knew so well – would reveal to them that He is God in the flesh – that the proper response – the God-honoring, God-glorifying response was not to put Him to death, but to worship Him.
And so, by the Grace of God, our eyes have been opened, our hearts have been changed, the Gate to the sheepfold has been opened, and we have heard what Jesus has said and we have come to know all that He did for us and our salvation, and we have believed in Him.  So now, as people who believe in Jesus as our God and Savior, we are called, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to do those good works that we have been called to – those works which glorify God and give us joy in this life – no matter what the outcome might be.
Jesus did the good works the Father sent Him to do – and so will all we who believe in Him savingly.
Second, God has honored His Son.
“The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I said, you are gods”? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God”?’
The Jews responded that they were not going to kill Him for any of the good works that He did, but because He claimed to be God.  (Yet, what did the works prove about Jesus?)
So Jesus puts this argument to them:
“The Word of God says that God has called humans ‘gods.’”
In Psalm 82:6, we read: “I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;’” (Psalm 82:6, ESV).
What in the world is God talking about?
Psalm 82 is a Psalm of condemnation of the leadership of the nations.  God condemned the leaders of the nations for being unjust, neglecting the orphans, and turning the needy over to the wicked.  And God called the leaders “gods” – that is those of honored status, those of elevated status, those whom God had appointed to rule on earth in righteousness – and He told them that they would be punished and die like everyone else.
When God calls kings and princes and presidents and other leaders “gods,” He does not mean that they are divine, but that they have been given an honored or elevated status from which they are to carry out the will of God – they are representatives of God on earth – and in the case of Psalm 82, they failed miserably.
We might have heard of someone being referred to as “a god among men.”  The person who says that likely did not mean that the person is divine, but, rather, highly honored, blessed, elevated.
So, God has called humans “gods” because of the status and responsibility He has given to them, not because they are divine.
Then Jesus continued by saying, “If God calls humans ‘gods’ for the honored responsibility they have been given – and it is right and true that God does so, as it is recorded in the Word of God which has no errors and cannot err, then why do you call it blasphemy that I, Who have been sent to earth by the Father with a holy mission, tell you I am the Son of God?”
Do we understand?
Jesus argued, if God calls humans to whom He has given a position of honor “gods,” why should He, the most honored of God, not reveal Himself to be Who He is:  God the Son incarnate?
God has honored His Son.
If we believe that Jesus is God the Son incarnate, we will honor Him as well.
Are we upset when people use the Name of our God as a curse word?  Are we upset when they use His Name casually and condemn Him as nothing – a liar, a con-artist?
Do we have joy is speaking the Name of Jesus?  Do we tell others about Him?  Is He our life and joy?  Do we hold Him in high esteem?  Are we unashamed to talk to others about Him and what He has done?  Do we believe Him and pray to Him and sing praise to Him and glorify Him in all that we do?
God the Father has honored God the Son above all, how might we respond?
Third, believe what the works of Jesus say.
“’If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.”
Jesus said, “Look, if you can show that I am not doing the works of God, then do not believe Me when I tell you that I am God the Son incarnate.  However, even if you do not believe what I say, if I am doing the works of God, believe the works, and then you must conclude that God the Father and I are the same One God.”
“Don’t just believe what I say, see what My works are telling you.”
What did Jesus do?  He studied and taught the Word of God accurately.  He called people to repentance and to follow God’s Word.  He healed people in the Name of God.  He followed the Word of God perfectly and never sinned.  He is holy.
What do the works of Jesus say about Him?
The problem these Jews had was that the Good Shepherd had not opened the gate to the sheepfold for them – they were still dead in their sins and unable to see and believe in Jesus the Savior.  So, again, they sought to kill Him, but He escaped from them.
And we read this postscript:
“He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. And many came to him. And they said, ‘John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.”
Jesus sailed across the Jordan river and went back to the place where John had first been baptizing, and the people there remembered what John had done and what he had said about Jesus – and they recognized that everything John said about Jesus and what He would do was true.  And many believed in Him savingly.
What have you heard about Jesus?  What have you come to know about Him through hearing others talk about Him and through reading the Word of God yourself?
When you consider all that Jesus did – all that is recorded about Him in the Word of God – what do you think of Him?
What do His works tell you about Him?
What esteem do you give Him?
In what regard do you hold Him?
What shall you do in response?
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You for sending Your Son to live among us that we would see the works that He did and understand Who He is as You have been pleased to reveal Him to us in Your Word and by the intercession of the Holy Spirit.  Help us to be the people You have called us to be.  Send the Holy Spirit to fill us with conviction and boldness that we would live in a way that glorifies You and shows Your Son to the world.  For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

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