Bible

The Word of God

The opening verses of the Gospel of John are important and significant to me. Though I believed in the existence of God from my youth, I had a nebulous, vague sense of God.

Throughout my teen and college years, I wandered in the darkness of my ignorance and whatever the world around me had to offer. I write about this in more detail in my book, but the short of it is—I was lost in my own darkness.

Re-framing John 3:16

Communicating the truth of God's Word can come in many different forms—conversation, tracts, Bible studies, preaching, biblical storying, blogs, and more. As mentioned last week, holding up a placard or sign with a Scripture reference isn't very useful.

The important thing is choosing a way that fits the person we're talking to and the situation at hand. Only using one approach or method forces people to fit into our grid, as if one-size-fits-all.

Beyond John 3:16

When we hear something over and over, we tune it out at some level. It becomes too familiar, or we tune it out because we don't want to hear it.

This is what children do with their parents. "Are you listening to what I'm telling you?" Um, that would be no! When we hear an ad or announcement repeated ad nauseam, we tune it out as a means of self-preservation.

Perhaps this is why people are indifferent to the good news of God's redemption. They either tune it out because it's redundant and repetitive, or they just don't want to hear it. Then again, it could be something quite different.

I Have Come

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An age-old question for people is, "What does God want from me?" People have offered sacrifices and kept various rituals throughout human history in attempts to please God, or various gods. Some of these efforts are extreme and others are more philosophical in nature.

Religion—including Christianity—is mostly comprised of efforts to please God or lead a life that pleases God. This might range from trying to appease God's wrath to seeing God as a benign and distant ruler of heaven.

Jesus answered this question once and for all, yet many of us misunderstand it. Christian believers who are well-versed in what the Bible says, understand that Jesus died to abolish the power and penalty of sin once for all.

But many Christians continue to try and live in some form of obedience to God through prescribed efforts at goodness. The obedience God is looking for isn't accomplished through external acts of goodness, it goes deeper than that.

Scripture

For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said, “‘You did not want sacrifices and offerings, but you prepared a body for me. You did not approve of burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin.’

Then I said, ‘I have come! (It is written about me in the scroll of the book.) I have come to do what you want, my God.’ ” [vss 5-7]

In this passage Christ first said, “You did not want sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin. You did not approve of them.” (These are the sacrifices that Moses’ Teachings require people to offer.)

Then Christ says, “I have come to do what you want.” He did away with sacrifices in order to establish the obedience that God wants. [vss 8-9]

(Hebrews 10:5-9 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

I have come to do what you want, my God

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • Why do you think we're told what is said in the Psalms [Ps 40:6-8] was from Christ?

  • What are we told in this text is the purpose for Christ's coming?

  • Where is this illustrated by Jesus in the gospels? [hint– look towards the end]

  • Why did the sacrifices need to be set aside to "establish... obedience..." that God wants?

Reflection...

What type of obedience is God looking for? The answer is shown by His Son Jesus, the Messiah (Christ), the savior of the world. Jesus came to do the Father's will not His own. As it says, "I have come to do what you want, my God."

This is made clear by the Lord's struggle in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-46), where Jesus asks three times if "this cup" of suffering could be set aside. Each time, Jesus submitted His will to the Father.

This is our illustration, our example for the obedience God wants. Not external acts of goodness but the surrender of our lives to Him.

Jesus' once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross brings a freedom from the impossible burden of perfect obedience required under the Law. God is not requiring acts of obedience we can do for Him but calling us into a relationship of trust (faith).

This relationship of trust is an ongoing internal and spiritual work enabled by God's Spirit dwelling in us as believers. This is what Jesus meant about denying yourself and taking up your cross in order to follow Him (Matt 16:24).

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Do you have the same heart attitude of Jesus as His in the garden of Gethsemane?

  • Are you willing to lay down your own wants and desires to do what God desires of you?

  • Are you willing to trust in Jesus' once-and-for-all sacrifice to be sufficient for your sin?

  • How are you learning to trust the Lord and surrender your will to Him?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Better Things

What's your image of God? Do you envision Him as a kindly grandfather, or do you imagine Him being a strict disciplinarian?

Our family of origin and how we were raised can have a positive or negative effect on our relationship with God. I've seen this to be true in people's lives over and over as a pastor and missionary.