March 30, 2015

John 13:17 “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

I think this is actually one of the most important verses in the whole Bible. It is entirely possible to have a thorough knowledge of the Bible and not even be saved. James statement on this subject is actually better known. He calls knowing without doing “deceiving yourself.” (James 1:22) We even need to be careful how and why we go about doing. Matthew 7:21-23 is downright scary for a pastor like me: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” The whole point is that we are to be submitted to God as His agents to do His will, and not be trying to use His power to do our will. That’s what “magic” is all about, and why Harry Potter is entirely different from miracles. That’s also why Moses was disqualified from entering the Promised Land. He had been used by God to do many miraculous things that probably most of the people following him did not distinguish from magic, but when he used God’s power in his way, instead of in God’s way, to bring water from a rock, that was rebellion rather than obedience. (Numbers 20:6-12)

I am frequently reminded of this truth, precisely because I have such a knowledge of the Bible, and I have tripped up numerous times by feeling that was enough. God’s blessings come in submission and obedience, in doing what He says, which is why Paul tells us to “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) I can tell the Biblical narrative accurately and with assurance, but that does me no good if I’m not living it out myself. I desire to draw many into the family of God, but that will not happen if I’m striking the rock instead of speaking to it, so to speak. I need to listen to my own sermons, and do what I’ve said! I know that God’s ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts than my thoughts, (Isaiah 55:8-9) so I’d better not place my ways and thoughts ahead of His in my life. Even Jesus had to wrestle with this issue in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:39) I am to be fully submitted and obedient on every level. Only then will I receive all the blessings God intends for me.

Father, thank You for the service yesterday, and for the reminder that I can tell the Biblical narrative in a fairly compelling way. I pray that Your Word through me would indeed accomplish everything for which You send it, (Isaiah 55:11) building up the Body of Christ for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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