So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”
—John 7:16-17 ESV
The above passage has been stirring in me all weekend. It bothers me. A lot.
Jesus had a validity issue. When He tried to teach in the temple, the learned questioned how He knew what He knew. Jesus sought to tell them, but they weren’t responsive.
We live in an age that has made the mind the arbiter of all truth. We are rabid rationalists. Even when someone tries to stick a label of “emotional” on us, it peels off soon enough.
For many people, Christianity is all in their head or it is nowhere at all.
Clever arguments, a Ph.D. in biblical hermeneutics, and an iPod filled with Ravi Zacharias podcasts are the base material needed for being an apologist for Jesus today. The person who cannot tie together every last passage is seen as not qualified to talk Bible with anyone. An inability to look at Paul’s Letter to Philemon in light of the Hebrew captivity in Egypt or to spout every last occurrence of the concept of a hardened heart or to detail the finer points of New Testament infralapsarianism proves a person is not up to the task of living as a Christian and certainly cannot be trusted to be an evangelist or teacher.
But what does Jesus say will prove His words true in a person’s life?
Doing them. Not thinking. Doing.
Perhaps the reason we live in such a godless age is not because people don’t know the words of God but because so few do them. Jesus said that if people do the things God wills through His word, the validity will be self-evident.
Imagine if our evangelism of the lost and teaching to the found consisted more of telling people, “Here are the words of Jesus. Do them and you will know Him.” Imagine if our measure of the maturity of the believer was not how many Bible passages he or she had memorized but how many he or she actually practiced in real life.
We think we must construct systems of biblical logic to make a cage that cannot be escaped, a sort of ultra-secure fortress of rationalistic thought. But Jesus said that our proof is in doing what He says. That’s how the words are justified, because they are life and truth when lived.
All this teaching yet the proof is in the doing.
What if our Sunday Schools were more about doing the words of God? Would our understanding and retention of truth improve? Jesus says it will. Do we trust Him in this?
I don’t know when the Faith migrated from all parts of the whole person to reside solely in the head, with a trickle down into the heart when we’re really “feeling it.” But Jesus Himself says that’s not the way we should be. Instead, truth is in the living out of what He says.
That’s a paradigm shift of the highest order. I hope to see more of it in my lifetime.
8 thoughts on “Proving Jesus by Doing”
Well said Dan. Way too many people are thrilled and impressed by their biblical learning skills, but less so with what really counts: how is that truth lived in the day to day world?
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom…(1 Cor 1:22). The church has adopted the same mindset of the Greeks. We esteem cognitive learning and hire learned seminarians to teach us as if that would automatically translate to obedience in the lives of those who sit and spectate in the pews. I no longer attend Christian conferences as I have enough difficulty as it is obeying what I already know. I find it interesting that the Hebrew word “shema” not only means to hear and to listen but it also means to obey. One only hears if one is obedient. Contrast that with today’s gospel message which is reduced to hearing and believing only – minus the obedience part which contradicts the teaching of Heb 5:9.
Yes! The Incarnation of Word becoming flesh cannot be fully realized through the propositional logic of the rational mind. Christians understand the gospel best by living it and the world understands it best by seeing it lived. If we think that we can debate others into the kingdom by utilizing the same tactics of science and reasoning as evidence alone, than we will continue to fail as witnesses to the crucified and risen Lord.
Your point is also made in the parable of the wise man and the foolish man. Having sung the song as a kid, it took until a few years ago for me to actually see the point of the parable. The only difference between the wise man and the foolish man is that the wise man acts on the words of Jesus that he hears. The foolish man also hears, but doesn’t act. [Matt 7:24-27]
The verses you quoted above are very dear to my heart, but for a little different reason that yours. I believe that knowing “whether the teaching is from God” or from a man is the essence of discernment. Therefore, discernment comes to those whose heart is tuned to do God’s will. If we just hear it and don’t do it, then we won’t have discernment. No discernment means we can be deceived along with the rest of the world, which may partially account for the condition of much of today’s church.
In addition, I find comfort that if my “will is to do God’s will,” then I qualify. If it said that I always must actually “do” God’s will, I would fail miserably. Which leads back to Jesus’ exhortation to keep watching and praying because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. [Matt 26:41]
Great expanding, akaGaGa! Thanks. That “will” desire is my heart, too, as is the failing.
Jesus came to fulfil the will of God amongst flesh, that we may hear and do same. By this ‘magnetizing’ effect of Jesus’ ( God’s) principles of life on ours, the very peace of heaven yields fruits in the hearts and minds of men on earth, thus bringing heaven to earth.
Congratulationominous fact that there is the urgent need to
Please ignore my last sentence bro Dan, but I wanted to congratulate you on posting this brilliant piece. I also wanted to add that its high time the body of the lamb worldwide came to the certainty of thought that there is the need to shift from willfulling sinning to willfully handing over our woeful lives in exchange for a life coupled with the supreme Will of God in His Commandments.
Excellent post. James 1:22 may we not deceive ourselves but simply “do” God’s words.