Tag Archives: blasphemy

BY THEIR WORKS

BY THEIR WORKS

“‘If He called them “gods”, to whom the Word of God came — and Scripture cannot be set aside — what about the one whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son?’ Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.’

“‘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 in the Father.’ Again, they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp.” John 10:35-39 NIV.

There is only one way to recognise the nature of a tree — by its fruit. There is no doubt that an apple tree is an apple tree when it bears apples or an orange tree is an orange tree when it bears oranges, though it may look like a lemon tree or some other citrus tree. 

The Pharisees refused to accept Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God because they insisted that the works He did, although He did the things that reflected the nature of His Father, were evil because He did them on the Sabbath, as though it were the day, not the nature of the deed that made His miracles evil!

Unfortunately for them, their very accusation revealed the nature of their “tree”. Their fruit was so rotten that they called evil good and good evil. Jesus warned, “‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.'” Matthew 7:15, 16a NIV.

If the fruit of Jesus’ life matched the nature of His Father, then He must surely be His Son, since a son contains the genes and perpetuates his father’s nature into the next generation. In Psalm 82:6, God called the Israelites ‘gods’ because they were to reveal the nature of their God to the world as His sons, His gracious, compassionate, slow-to-anger and abounding-in-love-and-faithfulness nature, yet the Pharisees were anything but like the God they claimed as their Father.

Jesus set great store on works because works reveal the nature of the person just as fruit reveals the nature of a tree. In his letter, James picks up on this theme, showing his readers that a true believer is identified by his works as Abraham was by his. To the Hebrew mind, there was no such thing as believing without acting on that belief. Believing in Jesus was meaningless unless it issued in obedience to Him.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the Romans and Galatians, contended for faith apart from works as a way of salvation. The Judaisers — a Jewish sect of believers in Jesus — insisted that Gentiles be circumcised first before they could become believers. To Paul, that meant that the death of Jesus was insufficient to reconcile a wayward son to the Father and, for him, that was unthinkable. Yes, the death of Jesus is sufficient to deal with our sin and to restore us to fellowship with the Father. There is nothing we can do to add to the sufficiency of His work on the cross.

James, on the other hand, recognised that good works — tsidaqah, which isfulfilling our duty to God by sharing our resources with people less fortunate than we are, caring for the alien, the widow and the orphan and helping the weak and oppressed — are a fruit of our confession of faith in Jesus. We reveal our oneness with Him when we do what He did just as He revealed His oneness with the Father by doing what the Father wanted Him to do.

For all their big talk, the Pharisees and religious leaders made it glaringly obvious that they were of their father, the devil, because they were doing his works, not the works of the Father. “‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.'”  John 8:44 NIV.

That is quite an indictment!

How important it is to show our connection with Jesus by doing what He did and living like He lived, just as He lived out His connection with the Father by the way He treated people. It is not only what we say that reveals our connection to Jesus but also the way we live. Let’s make sure that our fruit is the fruit of the Spirit and not the deeds of the flesh.

We are known by our works more than by our words!

Acknowledgement

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

TELL IT WITH YOUR LIFE

TELL IT WITH YOUR LIFE

“Again, His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'” John 10:31-33 NIV.

How nonchalant could Jesus be? Almost with tongue in cheek He challenged them. ‘For which of the good works I did are you wanting to stone me?’

Slowly but steadily the case for blasphemy was building against Him — unless, of course, He was telling the truth. If the Jews had had their way, they would have stoned Him there and then, but for one thing — it was not His time.

As far as they were concerned, He was guilty and didn’t even need a trial. Unlike Nicodemus and the blind man He had recently healed, they refused to recognise the Father as the source of the miracles Jesus performed. He was evil because He “broke” their Sabbath rules by healing on the Sabbath and then compounded His guilt by claiming to do His good works through God. What more evidence did they need?

Unfortunately for them, their action only compounded their guilt and not the other way around. Jesus had already indicted them for being blind. It was their wilful blindness that exposed their guilt because they refused to recognise Him for who He was. They had the Scriptures; they knew the Scriptures, but they chose not to believe Him although it was clear that He was the one the Scriptures pointed to from Genesis 1.

For Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world, He had to be innocent of all sin, and especially the sins of law-breaker and blasphemer of which He sworn enemies accused Him so that His death would be a perfect substitute for sinners. 

“Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, ‘I have said you are “gods”?'” John 10:34 NIV.

What is the point of this quote from Psalm 82:6? In Hebrew rabbinic teaching, this is called a remez — a hint. It is a portion of a portion of Scripture that makes no sense outside the context of the whole portion. Psalm 82 is an indictment of God’s people for their idolatry. They followed the gods of the surrounding nations and became like them — cruel, unjust, and oppressors.

God’s law taught them to treat all people with dignity because they were all created in the His image. They were to reflect the nature of their God by the way they treated their fellow men.

“God presides in the great assembly; He renders judgment among the “gods”: ‘How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. The “gods” know nothing. They walk about in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High,’ but you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.'” Psalm 82:1-7 NIV.

If the religious leaders knew their Scriptures, they would have understood that Jesus was turning their accusation back on them. They were accusing Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Son of God which He evidenced by doing what God required of a son.

They were supposed to be sons of the Most High by being generous and merciful, yet their very behaviour negated their claim. Like their ancestors, their lives displayed who their “god” was — their selfish and greedy selves. They were “gods” in the sense that they were being what their “god” was and doing what their “god” did. For all the vehemence of their accusations, their words did not stick because their behaviour spoke louder than their voices.

Instead of the case building against Jesus, it was building against His accusers. The day would come when they would put the final nail in their own coffins and the judgment of God would fall on them and their children. “His blood be on us and on our children.” Matthew 27:25 NIV.

Who is your God? Tell it with your life, as well as with your lips!

Acknowledgement

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – DON’T BAD-MOUTH GOD

DON’T BAD-MOUTH GOD

“‘If you bad-mouth the Son of Man out of misunderstanding or ignorance, that can be overlooked. But if you’re knowingly attacking God Himself, taking aim at the Holy Spirit, that won’t be overlooked.'” Luke 12:10.

So-called ‘blasphemy’ against the Holy Spirit is called the unpardonable sin. There are believers who are concerned about whether or not they have unwittingly committed ‘the unpardonable sin’, but this is not possible. When they can’t ‘feel’ God’s presence, they assume that God has left them but, again, this is not possible. God does not come and go according to the way we feel.

What did Jesus mean by blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? In the context of His conflict with the Pharisees, because He offended their religious scruples and refused to comply with their religious demands, they accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the devil. Jesus pointed out the fallacy of their thinking. How can Satan throw out Satan and his kingdom still remain intact? The idea is ridiculous.

But their accusations had a far more sinister implication. Character assassination does not make the truth go away. Jesus wasn’t bothered about their attack on Him but He was concerned about its implications for them.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry is crucial to human beings. Jesus came to reveal the Father. His death on the cross was the final and fullest revelation of God’s attitude to us. His love took Him to the ultimate self-sacrifice on the cross to rescue us from our chosen foolish destiny on the trash heap of wasted potential.

However, what Jesus did for us is of no value to us without the Holy Spirit’s ministry in us. It is not that the Holy Spirit is more important than Jesus. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. It is the Spirit’s work to apply what Jesus did for us, to our hearts. Without Him we remain spiritually ignorant and dead. He is the one who lives in us to make the presence and work of Jesus real to us.

The Holy Spirit’s work in the unbeliever is to convict of sin. He moves the sinner towards Jesus. He awakens the conscience and enlivens our dead spirits through the faith that He provides. He opens our understanding and reveals Jesus to us through the Word of God. He is the Spirit of sonship. Without His work in us we can never understand or experience who we are and the place we have in God’s family as His sons and daughters.

If we deny or reject the work of the Holy Spirit, what have we that will lead us to salvation through Jesus? We are completely cut off from God because God the Father has given the Spirit to us as the link between us and Himself.

Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus issued such a serious warning? If we repudiate the Holy Spirit and attribute to the devil what He is doing, we place ourselves outside any possibility of receiving God’s grace and being prepared for a life in the presence of God in the eternal realm.   

 

The Heartbeat Of Jesus

THE HEARTBEAT OF JESUS

Everything we have talked about so far leads us to one thing – the heartbeat of Jesus. We cannot leave this study without exploring as deeply as we can, what made Him tick. Who was this man, Jesus? What was His essence? If we are to get anywhere near to what He modelled, we must explore and discover Him.

I want to make it as simple as I can by examining His relationships on every level, beginning with His place in the Trinity as the Son and going on to all the people He interacted with on earth, both friends and enemies. How did He relate to them; how did He treat them and how did He come across to them?

How did Jesus relate to the Father?

Let’s start at the beginning. Jesus said:

I and the Father are one. (John 10: 30)

That was a very bold statement to make and one which His opponents obviously understood, judging by their reaction.

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ (John 10: 31-33)

What was the oneness He was talking about?

 “When a Torah scribe asked Yeshua which was the foremost commandment in the Law of Moses, he quoted the Shema and its appended command:

The most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’. (Mark 12: 29-30)

“He added the command to love one’s neighbour found in Leviticus 19:18 as a corollary of loving God.

“The scribe responded by affirming Yeshua’s answer. Then he shifted focus to what seems to be a veiled reference to monotheism — perhaps to tempt Yeshua to make a statement about his identity. 

‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but Him.’ (v. 32)

“Yeshua didn’t take the bait. Instead, “When Yeshua saw that he had answered wisely [about the command to love], he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’ ” (v. 34).

“Yeshua didn’t take this discussion of the Shema as an opportunity to affirm a theoretical compound unity in the Godhead or his place in it. Rather, he pointed the scribe to the extraordinary passage in Psalm 110:1, which speaks of a “Lord” who sits next to YHVH.

YHVH said to my LORD [Adon], Sit at my right hand, Until I put your enemies beneath your feet.

“Then Yeshua tested him with an exegetical question about that Lord’s identity: “How is it that the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? [Ps 110:1] David himself calls him ‘Lord’: and so in what sense is he his son?” (Mark 12:35-37).

“The scribe and his theological comrades apparently could not, or dare not, answer Yeshua. Instead, “No one was able to answer him a word . . .” (Matt 22:46).

“Yeshua’s diverting attention from the Shema to Psalm 110:1 is a significant move. In fact, Psalm 110:1 is the most quoted Hebrew text in the NT, more than Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22. He set the exegetical agenda for all his followers — and for Israel.

“In essence, Psalm 110:1 is the other Shema in Hebrew Scripture, the one that completes the revelation of the one God to his people and to all peoples on earth.

“Yeshua’s shift of emphasis could become a vision-changing lesson for modern interpreters to follow his example — instead of the example of their teachers and rabbis.

“The statement by Yeshua, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), begs to be interpreted in light of this discussion of echad. In context, it seems clear that he was affirming a unity of purpose, will, and power with God the Father. His Father, who is “greater than all” (John 10: 29), had given him authority and divine power to keep all his sheep safe within the protected sphere of eternal life. He asked his Father that his disciples “may all be one, just as we are one” (John 17: 21-22). What all their unity may be, it does not mean they become united into the one Deity, as in New Age pantheistic religion.

Notwithstanding the accusations of the Jerusalem theologians that Yeshua, “being a man, [made himself] out to be God” (v. 33), he stood his ground that, as “Son of God” (v. 36), the Father was “in” him — not that he was God the Father.” (“Echad” in the Shema” by Paul Sumner).

(For a more thorough discussion of the meaning of echad, see Paul Sumner’s article:

http://www.hebrew-streams.org/works/hebrew/echad.html – retrieved in May 2015).

What did unity with the Father mean to Jesus?

Jesus’s claim to be one with the Father was not about equality with the Father as His right. He renounced that right when He became the Son, and lived on earth in a Father/Son relationship. In fact He delighted in His subordination to the Father. He made no bones about His submission and obedience to the Father, even to the point of embracing the Father’s plan that He become the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

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All Hell Let Loose!

ALL HELL LET LOOSE!

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked Him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus, ‘and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more testimonies?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned Him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at Him; they blindfolded Him, struck Him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took Him and beat Him. (Mark 14: 60-65)

That did it! Jesus used two loaded titles in response to the high priest’s taunt. In his glaringly illegal question – an accused person could not be found guilty on his own testimony – the high priest bated Him to indict Himself.

“Here is what the Jewish scholar Maimonides wrote in his book: “We have it as a fundamental principle of our jurisprudence, that no one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be used against him unless properly attested by two other witnesses” (“Sanhedrin” IV, 2)”   

http://www.lesiecleavenir.fr/pdf/Twelve%20Reasons%20Why%20Jesus%20Trial%20Was%20Illegal.pdf (retrieved on 05/09/2015).

Look at the titles Jesus used of Himself: “I am” and “Son of Man”. No Jew would miss the implications. “Are you crazy, Jesus? Why did you have to use those words?” That really set the cat among the pigeons!

Jesus identified Himself to the Sanhedrin as the same God whom Moses met at the burning bush, the “I AM”. Moses, the man they revered more than any other of their Old Testament heroes! The debates Jesus had with the religious leaders often raged around what Moses said versus what Jesus, as a rabbi with authority said, which held more weight than what Moses said because He spoke with the authority of God, which they refused to recognise.

“The Son of Man”! They could not miss the implications of that title either. It was an outright and unmistakeable use of a Messianic title according to Daniel 7:13.

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will never pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

This is the moment when the true colours of the Sanhedrin were revealed. How could a dignified court of law, under the authority of the high priest who was God’s representative on earth, permit such unruly and barbaric behaviour? This was not about the guilt or innocence of an accused man. This was about the venomous hatred these men had towards Jesus because everything He said and did was an accusation against them. He was already guilty long before they arrested Him, guilty not of being a wrongdoer but guilty of being everything He said He was and, at the same time, showing them up for who they were. There was nothing anyone could say that could prove Him otherwise.

Their charge against Him was blasphemy but it would not hold water in the eyes of Rome. From a Jewish point of view, as far as the Sanhedrin was concerned, He was guilty, regardless of the evidence. And for that He must die. But they had to get Rome on their side by accusing Him of something serious enough to be punishable by execution. Blasphemy was not on their books.  All Rome was interested in was anything that became a threat to their rule in their vassal states.

Having satisfied their phoney justice, it was time to take their case to Pilate to ratify their sentence of death and leave the Romans to carry it out their way. . .

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Watch this space. My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), companion volume to Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master, will soon be on the bookshelves.

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