Our reading for Wednesday, June 19, 2019 is John 10:22-30.
Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” NIV
A question came up a couple of weeks ago at our Monday afternoon Bible Study regarding the meaning behind our use of the label Liberal and Conservative when referencing the Bible. There are many differing labels we use and unless we are on the same page regarding what we mean we struggle with understanding one another. The label “Conservative” really pertains to politics rather than theology.
It is more common to speak in terms of Evangelical or Orthodox belief. In matters concerning the Bible, Evangelicals are committed to a high view of Scripture where the Bible is taken more literally and is considered the final authority for all matters of faith and practice in the Christian’s life. I say “more literally” because Evangelicals stress the Bible should be interpreted historically, grammatically, and contextually. It acknowledges that God’s purposes expressed through human words and experiences must always be understood with care as what we read can easily be misinterpreted.
A Liberal view of Scripture limits the authoritative value of the Bible. It may be inspired but contains errors in values proclaimed as truth. Human reasoning is emphasized as necessary to glean the values of what we read in the Bible. The virgin birth of Jesus and his physical resurrection, or any sense of the miraculous is ruled out and Jesus was as exemplary moral teacher historically there are other “inspired” persons we need to consider alongside Jesus and our understanding of what he taught is shaped by the perceptions of persons who believed he was God.
Now my definition of both positions is very limited and there are shades of belief in between my flawed summary held by various persons. And I want to clarify that Evangelicals can be very liberal in their application of grace and concern for social justice. The reason I mention this is due to Jesus’ reference to the miracles he performed as serving as evidence for his identity. The traditional followers and leaders of the Jewish faith confronted Jesus requesting that he state clearly who he felt he was.
Jesus responded that he had at numerous times revealed his identity but we must admit that Jesus never came out and declared he was the Christ, the promised Messiah the Jewish faith expected, or God in human flesh. Jesus gave hints to his identity such as “I and the Father are one” and whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” or “before Abraham was I am.” Jesus felt these were sufficient because if people were observing and listening they would have come to the conclusion he was God’s “only” Son and the promised Savior of the world.
Today, many people ask the same question the Jews asked Jesus that day; they want to hear it plainly who Jesus is but now as then the appropriation of faith in Christ requires a leap of faith on our part just as much as our confidence in the Bible as God’s Word. We have strong evidence for both faith in the Bible and in our profession of who Jesus is but ultimately is comes down to a conscious decision of faith to trust both.
Human reasoning by itself is flawed, corrupted by human frailty and self-interest (sin) and science has proven itself disappointing, flawed and incomplete. New discoveries reveal older concepts possess errors and science often describes the how but lacks any basis for discerning the moral use of scientific defined truth. Science and human reasoning can leave us with more questions than answers and as Francis Schafer wrote will lead us to “line of despair.” (Francis A. Schafer: A Christian Worldview, volume 1, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Ill, 1982) This despair is evident in the present failure of science, technology or human reason in “saving” our world.
Whether it is the findings of science, human reason or religious belief our confidence is discovered by an act of faith. Jesus said that the Jews who asked him for a clear definitive statement of his identity should have had sufficient evidence for believing and following him as Savior and Lord. They simply did not “hear his voice” and were not “his sheep.” Please consider whether it was because they did not hear his voice that they were not his sheep, or was it because they were not his sheep that they could not hear his voice. Trust in God and Jesus will always require a decision on our part.
I have reasons for believing the Bible is inspired and authoritative as much as I do in Jesus as my Savior and Lord, but I first had to trust in what was revealed to me and decide to listen and follow. How do you or I come to that place of trust? Only God’s Holy Spirit can lead us to the place of trust. If you are not completely sold out to Jesus today I pray the Spirit will lead you to that place where you truly listen to his voice and have the courage to trust his Word. When you do so you never have to worry he will lose you for Jesus promised that those who truly come to him will never be lost – we are found forever.