Archive for July, 2007
Chapter 8 of John’s Gospel
John chapter 8 is an incredible chapter. What’s more, what we learn about Jesus is that he was, actually, quite intolerant. As I see it, too few people want to actually listen to and read about the Jesus of the Scripture. The mantra going around nowadays is that Christians have to behave like the world: We must be accepting of all religions, and all people regardless of their persistence in sinful activities, and all forms of belief and unbelief, and all teachings about Scripture, and all ‘scripture.’ The mantra supposes one thing (falsely): That Christians are claiming to be perfect. So, built on that premise the logic goes like this: Christians assume they are perfect and claim that they alone know the way to salvation, it can be adequately demonstrated that they are not, in fact, perfect; therefore, Christians are not in sole possession of the way to salvation. But that’s not what Christians are saying at all.
What Christians are saying is that, in fact, we are all guilty before a Holy God. We don’t begin with ourselves and work outward from there. We begin with a Holy God and work down. We don’t compare ourselves to ourselves or even others in the vain hope that we might be a little better than our neighbor and therefore merit God’s attention. We begin with the premise that God is Holy, that He has revealed Himself to us in Jesus, and that, because He has done so, we are accountable to Him and His standard. Furthermore, Christians do not claim to be ‘in sole possession of the way to salvation.’ What we claim, rather, is that in Christ, and Christ alone, there is salvation—regardless of whether we happen to ‘possess’ it or not. Salvation belongs to Christ. He is the beginning and the end of all things.
In John 8, the people said: “We are Abraham’s descendants!” They thought that by a mere horizontal relationship they were guaranteed some special consideration. (Maybe they were before Jesus came.) When Jesus came to earth, all that went out the window: “So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus makes the claim that until we have been set free by the Son, we are still slaves of sin. That means everyone. This means that until a person comes under the Sovereign emancipation of Jesus Christ they are, essentially, little more than an atheist, or, Jesus’ words: Children of their father, the devil. And those who belong to their father the devil are happy to do his desires (8:44). I think to state it any other way is to tell a lie and those who lie cannot possibly belong to anyone other than the father of lies.
Now I know all this sounds rather harsh, mean, intolerant, angry, and judgmental. But there is something to bear in mind: I’m not the one saying it! These aren’t my words. I didn’t invent them. I didn’t create them. I didn’t write them down for someone and ask that person to go and preach them. These words, in fact, belong to God: “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me…If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:28, 51). This is what God said! If I reject what Jesus said, or change it, or lie about it, I am rejecting the very Word of God and inviting all sorts of judgment on myself. I don’t have any right to say something other than what Scripture says. Jesus could not say anything other than what He had heard in the Father’s presence. I don’t see how a Christian, thus informed, can fail to do any less.
So here’s what happened. At the beginning of John 8 Jesus met a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. When it was all said and done, Jesus said: Neither do I condemn you; however, that was not all he said: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” There was sin involved, but Jesus demonstrates in those verses the sort of, what I call, intolerant compassion that does, at times, fail the church. In other words, he was merciful to a sinful person, but he demanded her allegiance by calling her out of her life of sin. There is sin and it is not tolerated at all.
That’s a lot of heavy stuff but Jesus warns us. There will come a time when people will look for him and no longer find him and they will die in their sins. If you desire to be set free from the bonds and shackles of sin, this can only happen in Jesus. That’s all that the Christian is saying. And, sadly, for those who refuse Jesus there remains little but his judgment; not mine. And according to this passage of John: His judgment is always right.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
He is speaking here of glory. He was pointing to the cross: “The nature of that glorification, of course, is not in the public display some might have appreciated, but in the ignominy of the cross and consequent return to the glory the Son enjoyed with the Father before the world began (17:5)” (DA Carson, The Gospel According to John, 356). And Jesus has said earlier, “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what please him.”
Isn’t that ironic? Jesus comes right out and says: I’m not doing any of these things for my own sake, for my own glory, but for that of the Father who sent me. And at this, they were ready to not believe him, and they were ready to kill him. Isn’t it ironic how, when someone is doing the right thing, the first thing to be question is their motives? Now, if Jesus had been doing all these things for his own sake, to lift himself up, to make himself look good, to gather a crowd around himself, to ‘make himself a public figure’ (7:1-10), the people would have flocked to him in droves. The would have hung on his every word. They would have obeyed any word he said. But here he is doing everything he does for the sake of the Father and people are bent on his destruction. Ironic.
But there is a greater irony involved here too. Jesus has been saying that Abraham rejoiced at the thought of his day, that is, Jesus’ day. And these folks, Abraham lovers that they were, were rejecting the very One that Abraham had been looking forward to. Thus they prove themselves out of line with Abraham. Thus they prove that they really wanted nothing to do with Abraham or the things that Abraham was looking forward to (see Hebrews 11:8-12). It is somewhat amazing that Jesus here says that Abraham ‘saw it’ (Jesus’ day), and it sets a precedent in John’s Gospel. John will say later, in chapter 12: “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” So Jesus was not entirely unknown to these OT people and yet their testimony about Jesus offends people and escapes their grasp.
Briefly, this should cause us to look at the Old Testament in perhaps a new light. If Jesus is saying that those characters from days gone by looked to his arrival, and ‘saw’ him, then perhaps it is true that their life stories, recorded in the Old Testament, are also testimonies to Jesus. I should hope so since Jesus, elsewhere, and after his resurrection, took the disciples on a whirlwind tour through the Psalms, the Prophets, and the Law and showed how they testified to Him (see Luke 24).
There is, perhaps, another irony here. Jesus said, “If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you.” What is ironic about this is that people are often so willing and ready to believe the lie. It is strange how these people he spoke with that day would have tolerated a liar but they would not tolerate the truth. He said as much in verse 45: “Yet because I tell you the truth, you don’t believe me!” Would they have believed him if he had spoken to them lies about himself, about God, about his mission? Why are human beings so prone to living and believing the lie? Why are people so prone to listening to the voice of the devil, the Father of Lies? Why are people so in tune with lies, and so terrified and offended by the truth? The more I think about this stuff, the more I think that perhaps we are incapable of hearing and understanding what Jesus said. However…
Make no mistake about it: They understood what Jesus was saying! He said, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I Am!” At this, they wanted to stone him. Carson notes, “That the Jews take up stones to kill him presupposes that they understand these words as some kind of blasphemous claim to deity” (commentary, 358). They understood: still they refused to believe. This is the final irony. There are many people who perfectly understand what Christians are saying about Jesus and what Jesus said about himself: We say, “He is God”; Jesus said, “I Am God.” Jesus echoes Isaiah’s thoughts: “I, the Lord—with the first of them and with the last—I am he” (Isaiah 41:4).
Jesus took these things, the things Abraham saw or looked forward to (‘the Day of the Lord’), the ‘I Am He’ statements of the Lord, and he not merely applied them to himself, but announced that these things were talking about him to begin with. He was their embodiment, their fulfillment; it was He that spoke them to begin with! This offends people, even today.
People seem to want this sort of Jesus who embodies compassion, empathy, and some vague, unthinking version of tolerance. But it is never clearly defined by those who say such things how Jesus embodied or exemplified such things himself. Jesus was compassionate (See John 6:1-15), but when they followed him around, hoping for more bread, he announced, rather intolerantly, “I am the Bread of Life. Come to me to have life. Work for bread that endures to eternal life. No one comes to the Father but by Me,” and so on and so forth. So, can a case be made, from Scripture, that Jesus was in fact a tolerant individual in the sense that he never challenged people’s preconceptions and idols? Did Jesus tolerate the presence of atheists and God-haters and the demon-possessed? Or did Jesus call them to the same repentance that he called the thief, egomaniac, and adulterer to? I think Jesus very much did have a great deal of empathy for people but he did not neglect to show them the solution: Himself! What is compassion for the sake of compassion? But if I show compassion in the Name of Jesus then I follow His example: I’m not doing it so that I will feel good about myself, or so that people will honor me, but so that the Name of Jesus will be glorified!
The Christian message is essentially no different and the response of folks is no different either. Christians are still accused of being unsympathetic, intolerant, judgmental, and un-compassionate. Christians are supposed to ‘open their minds’ and hear the plight of the atheist who had a bad day in church as a child and consequently rejected Jesus, and anyone who follows Jesus. The implication seems to be, “We’d rather you lie to us.” That is, people would rather the Christian evangelist tell a lie about Jesus instead of the truth. I can talk about Jesus the healer, the forgiver, the feeder, or the empathizer; but I am forbidden to talk about Jesus the God, the Demander of Holiness, the Purveyor of Righteousness, the King, the Crucified, the One who calls sinners to repentance. If I, as a Christian, give a poor, hungry atheist a piece of bread, I am a good soldier in the atheists eyes. But if I happen to mention to the atheist that God loves him and calls him to repentance and salvation in the Name of Jesus Christ the Crucified and Resurrected, then I have overstepped the boundaries of etiquette. Then I am intolerant and judgmental! On the one hand, I’m empathetic and compassionate: “Feed the poor! Clothe the Naked! Slake the thirst of the drought stricken! But, don’t you dare mention the God in whose Name you do those things!” On the other hand, “Don’t tell us the truth about your God that we reject. We’ve no use for such intolerance.”
It is sad really that this is the response, but I hardly think the Christian is being intolerant for telling the truth. And I hardly think the Christian is unsympathetic because she does what she does in Jesus’ Name. And I hardly think the Christian judgmental when he suggests that people need to do more than merely listen to this Jesus or inanely ‘follow his example.’ But I also fully expect that, as Jesus said, if we do the things he did, speak the truth about him, people will respond the same way to us as they did to him: unbelief, incredulously, and with stones.
Soli Deo Gloria!
this link is from the Christian Post RSS feed I have below, but it is so vitally important that I’m putting an extra link to it here. Remember…
“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”–Hebrews 13:3
“I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!”–John 16:33
Pray for our brothers in Christ who suffer while we blog. Forgive us Lord! Have Mercy on those who go ahead of us. Forgive those who transgress against you Lord, who lift their hands against your anointed ones, against the Lord Jesus. I pray for their courage to stand the test. I pray the Spirit be a powerful witness to the murdering unbelievers. I pray in all things Christ be glorified and exalted through these faithful believers. May their testimony be honored among the unbelieving. May your word spread rapidly among them. Amen.
I have been posting here daily meditations on John’s Gospel for a couple of months now. These meditations have coincided with sermons I have been preaching at the church I serve. Very few people, as far as I can tell, have dared to read and post comments on these meditations. However, it is beautiful Irony that as soon as I started commenting about homsexuals and atheists all sorts of readers came crawling out of the woodwork (or out of the matrix) to comment on my thoughts. This proves one of two things.
First, it might prove that I have a few more readers than I actually thought I had.
Second, it proves that people are more interested in scandal, controversy, and defending their own indefensible positions than they are in an actual discussion of the Word of God. I find it amazing that all the atheists who have replied to my posts have been very concerned that I have challenged the meaningfulness of their faith. They think they should be allowed in churches to preach their gospel, they have insulted me, they have invited me to their webpages to read abou their thoughts. They think they have more of a right to be heard than I do.
Yet, not one of them has, despite all their efforts to have me be more open minded and understanding of them, not one of them has asked anything about the Christian Gospel, or been any more open minded than they have required of me. Not one has asked me about what the Bible says or bothered to engage my theological and biblical arguments for truth, Christ-exclusivism, or Scripturally warranted morality and righteousness. No, instead they have resorted to ridiculous comments like: Your logic cannot be defeated because it is a faith based logic and who can challenge ‘faith’ (as if faith were some meaningless, invisible string I hold on to with no credible historical witness).
So, here I’ll wait. I’ll wait for all the unhappy atheists who think they deserve a chance to be heard to open their own closed minds and engage me in a discussion of God’s Word and Christian faith. And takers?
PS–the same thought applies to homosexuals who wish to engage in a biblical discussion of the merits of their, uh, ‘position’ (no pun intended). But, let’s talk about Scripture and see if homosexuality or atheism or relativism or Islam or any of these affronts to the Gospel of Christ, and see if they stand up to scrutiny of God’s Word, logic, or the very nature of things.
I’m grateful that people are reading what I have to say even if others are saying similar things and even if there are people disagreeing with my thoughts. I’d like to make a point or two about my conern with an atheist visiting the Willow Creek Church at the invitation of one of their pastors.
First, I am not, I repeat, not, advocating that Christians never have conversations with atheists, homosexuals, or the Beelzebub himself. No that’s not it at all. I’m a big fan of conversation, I’m a big fan of dialogue, I’m a big fan of debate. In fact, I think more Christians ought to talk with folks like that than talk with each other. Frankly, I’d rather sit and talk with an atheist than with a Christian sometimes. There might be fruit from the one that will not be from the other. One of my favorite conversations right now involves some rather difficult Christians who think other Christians should avoid Harry Potter like the plague or like atheists. I don’t like talking with such closed minded people; they are boring and only have one argument. But an atheist or a Darwinist, oh, that would be pure delight!
Second, I am not, I repeat, not, an advocate of allowing just any person who writes a book and has a blog to come into the church and speak to church folks. What I mean is this, just because a person has a point of view, their name on a dust jacket, and a rather loyal following at wordpress or blogspot doesn’t mean they are automatically credentialed (sp) to stand behind a pulpit or in front of a church and judge that church or tell that church what they think about the church (even Willow Creek), even an informal gathering of Willow Creek. It is beyond silly and downright inept. I don’t respect the pastor for being so open-minded, so relevant, so cutting edge, so wise and learned. I think he is a fool for inviting someone who necessarily disagrees with him to stand in the pulpit and preach a Gospel other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Paul said something about this in Galatians). What right does an unbeliever have to stand behind a pulpit or a lecturn and teach the people of God anything? Seriously, that is my real issue here and it should raise a lot of red, green, purple, and yellow flags for others too.
Third, what can an Atheist teach the church about the church that the church can’t learn by reading what God said about the church? If I am a business man about to start a business why would I solicit an opinion from someone who a) doesn’t believe in my business, b) has no vested interest in my business (doesn’t care if it succeeds or fails) and c) is not an integral part of my business? Really, that’s like God asking me what I think of the way He conducts the universe or the multiverse. It’s like an ant shaking his head at me when I accidentally wreck his mound. Frankly, the opinions of people who are not members of the church matter not a bit. The Church is not a country club where we are attempting to make everyone comfortable. The Church is the Body of Christ. Do you think Jesus sits around twiddling his thumbs all day while he waits to learn what the next important atheist says about his body? Do you think the Sovereign Lord is really concerned about what unbelievers think of his people when his people use words like ‘repent’, ‘sin’, ‘lost’, ‘hell’, and ‘judgment’? But if the church in fact took time to read Scripture, the Church wouldn’t need to solicit the opinion of an unbeliever. It’s kind of like a bridge engineer asking for the opinion of a cupcake maker: It’s irrelevant. Oh, and it won’t help make the bridge any better–unless Betty Crocker has a new recipe involving Gorilla Glue or something like that.
Fourth, that is the difference between a church and coffee shop. If that church wants to have this conversation at a coffee shop, more power to them. If they want to pay him to recite his blather, friendly or not, super. But not in the church. The church should be more interested in what God has to say about the Church (Read Revelation 2-3 for a pretty good, insightful analysis of the church). So, if an atheist is upset because the church calls unbelievers ‘lost’ (I saw that in a review of the friendlyatheists book at amazon.com), well what of it? Should I tell the atheist, in order to make him feel better, that he is found? Well, then I would be quite the liar wouldn’t I? Instead, I should call Bible things by Bible names: And the Bible says that those who refuse Christ are lost. It matters little if such language offends people; it is the truth.
Fifth, the bottom line to the friendlyatheist is this: he’s in the business of selling his book (after all, his gig at Willow Creek evidently included a book signing). Someday, if he ends up saved, then his conversation and point of view might be relevant to a church: And what a testimony it would be! In the meantime, to invite him in, give him time to promote his views, is ridiculous, and perhaps blasphemous. (Maybe the next time I say something about evolution to my congregation I’ll see if I can’t get Richard Dawkins to come in, and, just to be fair, give the opposing point of view. After all, he matters, or so he has told us. It must suck to be an atheist and have to constantly be going around the world, and publishing books, and giving speeches, in an effort to convince people that they matter and are relevant.)
So, finally, my criticism is of the Willow Creek Church, not the friendly atheist. If I were him, I’d do the same thing. I’d be there in a heartbeat. (I’ll bet he got paid to be there too, but I don’t know for certain. I can’t imagine his time is free, but if I’m wrong, accept my apology.) But the funny thing about the Scripture is this. Jesus went to sinners. Paul went to the synogogue, or the Hall of Tyrranus, or to Caesar, or to wherever. Jesus told us to go and make disciples. But I have yet to read anywhere in the New Testament where it says that the Church should invite in those who don’t believe just so the church can be told what the church is doing wrong or so that the church can get some insight and have some dialogue. I think if the church would read Scripture, we would hear plenty from the Lord Jesus himself about what we are doing wrong and how to fix it. As far as I can tell, the opinion of atheists is irrelevant, meaningless, and, to be sure, might not even really exist.
Thanks to all who have read and responded. Please do so some more.
I have been noting in some of these posts that there is an assault being mounted by the unrighteous of this world against Christ. But it’s more than a mere assault (which I’m certain Christ will withstand) and more like an evangelistic crusade. Atheists are doing it, consider this quote by Richard Dawkins which I nipped from another website:
“If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down… Of course, dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods that took centuries to mature. Among the more effective immunological devices is a dire warning to avoid even opening a book like this, which is surely a work of Satan.” (From The God Delusion at http://michaelkrahn.com/blog/richard-dawkins/)
Even atheists are recruiting.
Well, homosexuals are recruiting too. This is from a website called Out of Context (http://www.outofcontext.us/index.htm). The author, John Rumple, wrote this in a devotional he titled “God Made Me Gay.”
- Right now, gay people know what it’s like to live as the “unclean” and unlovable outsiders, and can therefore reach out to others in society who are also in this position.
- Two people of the same sex share a unique and special bond, often living as equals in Christ in a way that counters the patriarchal, domineering relationships still fostered by some versions of Christianity.
- Gay people often have gifts and sensitivities that others do not (this may stereotype to some extent, but stereotypes usually contain some truth!).
- Gay people appreciate the ironies of life, the irreconcilable complexities, and thus learn to appreciate God’s mysterious greatness and the constant need for a humble faith.
- Gay people live as counters to the idolization of one type of person (has your church ever made you feel that you weren’t “acceptable” until you looked, talked, and acted like a straight person living in the 1950s?).
- Gay people possess perspectives, insights, and wisdom that can only come from their unique experience of life in this world.
Is this last sentence for real? So, the gist of this is simple: If you want to have special insights, perspectives, live outside the 1950′s (I would counter that homsexuals are living in the pre-dawn days of Sodom and Gomorrah), and all this other stuff, then all one has to do is become gay. And, certainly, none of us non-gay people have any idea what it’s like to be ‘unclean’ because Christ came down and saved us while we were pristine and none of us have any idea what it means to struggle with sin in our lives because we have already been made perfect! The best way, he seems to be saying, to understand the things of this world and of God, is by living in a wholly sinful, physically relationship with another man. And those who do not, or object, are abusers, malcontents, and serious misusers of the Scripture! Really? Is this meant to be taken as credible scholarship and insight into the Holy Word of God??
I’ll take my risks that that perspective is one I don’t need or desire.
So he’s recruting too. He wants, like so many other homosexuals, full inclusion in all aspects of life and, worse, the church and will be profoundly unhappy until all churches follow the likes of certain other denominations that have made homosexuality a part of their creed.
Is it really necessary to become a homsexual in order to be a sensitive man (or do we want that sort of sensitivity?)? But even so, it’s that last sentence that really got to me: Gay people possess perspectives, insights, and wisdom that can only come from their unique experience of life in this world. If that is not a recruiting phrase, nothing is, because who wants to be known as un-insightful, unwise (The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom), and un-perspectivized (I made that word up)?
But, so that no one thinks I invented this, let’s hear from the apostle:
9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
The only way this verse does not mean what it says is if it is relativized to be applicable to only those Paul wrote to in Corinth.
I don’t personally know anyone who says that homsexuals should be beaten or abused or ridiculed or taunted or treated as second class citizens. And the States of this United States will, sadly, continue to take rights away from folks in order to make new rights for others. I can vote to change it but not much else.
But the Church? The Scripture? The Scripture is not ours to manipulate to our ends and the church, the Body of Christ, of which Christ Jesus Himself is the Head, is not ours to contaminate. And, worse, using Scripture to justify something God has explicitely decreed sinful, is, well, sinful. This is wrong, and this fella who is trying desparately to bring about, in his own words, ‘the full inclusion of gay people into the Body of Christ, is wrong for suggesting it. He wants to ‘. . . to end the abuse of gay people by conservative Christians though education, dialogue, and building community in Christ.’ But what he does not understand from the Scripture he claims to adore is that there is no fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, good and evil. He mistakes protecting and maintaining the purity of the church for ‘abuse’.
I’ll say it this way: There can be no community of Christ where Scripture is distorted and taken, by their own admission, ‘out of context’, where sin is tolerated, advocated, and practiced, and where such unrepentant folks seek to do away with Christ’s Cross by refusing to repent of sin and bring their lives into full submission to Christ Jesus.
Paul said it: There is no fellowship between Christ and Belial. Now, if the apostle would not allow Christians to marry pagans in a heterosexual context, what on earth would possess someone to think Paul would tolerate homsexual marriage or even relationships? (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) No. There can be no fellowship, no Christian community, where this sort of activity is tolerated and promoted as something from God. There will be no ‘community of Christ’ consisting of the righteous and the unrighteous. And if it does happen: It will not be of God’s ordaining, nor will it have his blessing. It’s Christ’s church. Dare we challenge Him?
This is a matter Scripture and it’s sufficiency and interpretation. My issue here is not with the author of ‘out of context’ as a person, but with his attempt to use Scripture to justify a wholly unjustifiable position. This is not bashing, or abuse. This is the maintaining and protecting of the Church, the Word of God, and the sanctity of Marriage.
Someone left a reply to one of my posts and I visited his web page. He has a link at his blog to another blog: The Friendly Atheist, who happens to be a teacher in Illinois (You can access his site here: http://friendlyatheist.com/2007/07/26/my-willow-creek-appearance/.)
Anyhow, the reason I post the link is not so you can become an atheist but because the fella who posts at the friendlyatheist.com was, evidently, invited to speak at the Willow Creek Community Church. He wrote:
Last night, I was invited by Pastor Randy Frazee to speak with him at Willow Creek Community Church. I had a great time and was treated really well by everyone there. It was even more fun to hear Willow Creekers (?) tell me stories about their own atheist/Christian interactions during the book signing afterward. [This evidently took place on July 25, 2007.]
Well, isn’t that nice! Instead of gathering a group of seekers and telling them about the Gospel, they gathered some seekers and told them about atheism. The reply comments at this blog are quite telling. I knew there was something about Willow Creek I liked!
Listen, I get the point, but isn’t this just a little (or a lot) absurd? Is it necessary to hear from an atheist what he does and doesn’t like about church and Christians? Are we then supposed to change to please him and other atheists in the (vain) hope that they might suddenly, because we are more friendly, have better window dressings, or less emphasis on actually believing in something, start worshiping God? Am I the only one who sees something seriously wrong with this? Isn’t this just ‘atheism evangelism’?
I have not posted anything with respect to mormonism at this or my other blog. However, I came across this debate featuring Albert Mohler and Orson Card. I thought you might like to have a heave at it, especially in light of the fact that one of the current presidental contenders/pretenders is a Mormon. Have fun! Let me know what you think.
Oh, also, check out Albert Mohler’s blog at http://www.albertmohler.com/ As soon as I can, I’m going to add a feed from his site. For some reason, some of the controls don’t function properly from my home pc. In the meantime, use this link.
The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” 49“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets.
Who do you think you are?” Crazy! Downright crazy! That’s what they said about Jesus. And there seems to be no indication that they were going to change their minds just because he challenged their assessment. He has been telling them ‘to make a right judgment’ but they were rather unwilling to listen. So they continued on in their insults. Jesus couldn’t possibly be telling the truth, they say, because for one he was a nasty Samaritan and for two he was possessed by the very father of those accusing him, the devil. But notice what Jesus does: He stays on task. He doesn’t change his message just because some malcontents accuse him demon-possession. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” This through them over the edge and convinced them of his maniacal personality. To their question, “Are you greater than our Father Abraham?” Jesus doesn’t provide an answer. Instead, Jesus points to Abraham as one who understood what they did not: “He rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” But not so these folks; they refused to believe in Jesus. They refused to act like the father (Abraham) they were claiming.
In preparation for writing this short meditation on these few verses, I listened to an 18 minute interview/debate between a man named Richard Dawkins and another man named David Quinn. (Follow this link http://religionandatheism.wordpress.com/2007/07/25/debate-richard-dawkins-vs-david-quinn/ if you wish to listen yourself.) I don’t know David Quinn, but, having read much of his writing, I do know Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is a rather brilliant writer. His ability with the pen is second to none. He wields his pen deftly and aims his quill as if it were an arrow on a bow. But for all his genius, for all his brilliance, for all his wit, he remains hopelessly atheistic and a tireless opponent of all things theistic, and specifically Christian (although he is also, likely, opposed to Jews and Muslims too). Here is a portion of the debate, which begins as an interview, between the radio host, Ryan Tubridy and Dawkins:
Tubridy: So Richard Dawkins here you go again, up to your old tricks. In your most recent book, The God Delusion. Let’s just talk about the word if you don’t mind, the word delusion, so put it into context. Why did you pick that word?
Dawkins: Well the word delusion means a falsehood which is widely believed, and I think that is true of religion. It is remarkably widely believed, it’s as though almost all of the population or a substantial proportion of the population believed that they had been abducted by aliens in flying saucers. You’d call that a delusion. I think God is a similar delusion.
Tubridy: And would it be fair to say you equate God with say, the imaginary friend, the bogeyman, or the fairies at the end of the garden?
Dawkins: Well I think He’s just as probable to exist, yes, and I do discuss all those things especially the imaginary friend which I think is an interesting psychological phenomenon in childhood and that may possibly have something to do with the appeal of religion.
Tubridy: So take us through that little bit about the imaginary friend factor.
Dawkins: Many young children have an imaginary friend. Christopher Robin had Binker. A little girl who wrote to me had a little purple man. And the girl with the little purple man actually saw him. She seemed to hallucinate him. He appeared with a little tinkling bell. And, he was very, very real to her although in a sense she knew he wasn’t real. I suspect that something like that is going on with people who claim to have heard God or seen God or hear the voice of God.
Tubridy: And we’re back to delusion again. Do you think that anyone who believes in God, anyone of any religion, is deluded? Is that the bottom line with your argument Richard?
Dawkins: Well there is a sophisticated form of religion which, well one form of it is Einstein’s which wasn’t really a religion at all. Einstein used the word God a great deal, but he didn’t mean a personal God. He didn’t mean a being who could listen to your prayers or forgive your sins. He just meant it as a kind of poetic way of describing the deep unknowns, the deep uncertainties at the root of the universe. Then there are deists who believe in a kind of God, a kind of personal God who set the universe going, a sort of physicist God, but then did no more and certainly doesn’t listen to your thoughts. He has no personal interest in humans at all. I don’t think that I would use a word like delusions for, certainly not for Einstein, no I don’t think I would for a deist either. I think I would reserve the word delusion for real theists who actually think they talk to God and think God talks to them.
Tubridy: You have a very interesting description in The God Delusion of the Old Testament God. Do you want to give us that description or will I give it to you back?
Dawkins: Have you got it in front of you?
Tubridy: Yes I have.
Dawkins: Well why don’t you read it out then.
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. 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. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
It appears, taking these words at face value, that there are only two options available to people. On the one hand, some clearly belong to God. On the other hand, some clearly belong to the devil. Within those two ownerships are people content to carry out the will of their respective father. On the one hand, if God is our Father, then we love Jesus. On the other hand, if the devil is our father, then we are hell-bent on murder. Within those two fatherhoods, there are two languages. On the one hand, if God is your Father, you can understand Jesus—the truth. On the other hand, if the devil is your father, you understand his language—which is lies. If you belong to God, you are able to hear what God says, it makes sense, and it is your life. If you don’t belong to God, you cannot hear what Jesus is saying, it makes no sense, and is, in fact, the very reason why you don’t believe (45). If you belong to God, you carry out God’s will and you, like Jesus, always do what pleases him (8:29). If you belong to the devil, then you want always to carry out your father’s desire (44). It’s a tough life.
But that is what Jesus is saying. He said it specifically to people who were listening to him that day—people who were challenging his authority to determine who is and who is not a true disciple. Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.’ Here are the things he is saying.
If we are truly his disciple, then we will hear and listen and understand and obey his commands, his teachings. If we are not, well, we’re not simply doing our own will. Those things that humans do contrary to the will of God are the terrible will of the devil; his desires. So frankly this means that many people in this world are serious trouble because they are doing the desires of their father, the devil. This means anything contrary to the will of God, anything that doesn’t please him, is the desire of the devil; that is, not that he wills it or commands it, but that he is ‘happy’ when people are disobedient to the will God. Whatever that means.
I’ll leave off that point for now that I might jump on another point. Jesus said, ‘Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.’ What was it about the truth that so offended people and turned them away from Jesus? If we always say the truth will people always turn away? I think yes. Why? Because Jesus has said that some people only hear and understand the language of their father, the devil, which is lies. The truth is, some folks simply cannot understand truth.
There is this ongoing assault on truth in this world. It is reminiscent of the Ministry of Truth in 1984 which was really dedicated the propagation of lies. There is an undercurrent even in the church nowadays. There are many who say that we should be careful when we make claims about truth because, in their words, we can’t really know the truth. I think that is wrong precisely because it is like saying we cannot know Jesus, the embodiment of truth. But anything less than the truth is a lie, and thus ultimately the work of the devil. There is no room for the work of the devil inside the church. In other words, there is no room in the church for anything other than the truth, and no room for anyone in the church who is not for the truth. This is what Jesus will say later, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (18:37b).
Philip Ryken is right: “Today the foundations are under attack. It would be hard to think of even a single major doctrine of the Christian faith that is not under attack in these postmodern times…But no attack is more fundamental that the attack on truth itself, the assault on the very claim that some things are true and others are false” (Philip Ryken, Only One Way, 83-84)
Another author, quoted by Ryken puts only slightly more bluntly:
“A solid sense of truth is foundering in America at large. Vaporized by critical theories, obscured by clouds of euphemism and jargon, outpaced by humor and hype, overlooked for style and image, and eroded by advertising, truth in America is anything but marching on…With magnificent exceptions, evangelicals reflect this truth-decay and reinforce it…Contemporary evangelicals are no longer people of truth.” (Os Guinness, No God but God, 18, as quoted by Philip Ryken, Only One Way, 84).
In another book by Guinness, Time For Truth, he writes of the assault on truth and the rather insidious manner in which the assault takes place:
“Not only the possibility but the worthwhileness of truth and virtue are emptied of meaning. Whatever someone may profess, things are always other than they pretend, darker and murkier than they make out. Our proper response, we are taught, should be to view every claim with a sense of irony, interpret everything with suspicion, and pursue ‘truth’ and ‘virtue’ with the central agenda of unmasking and dismantling them.” (32)
David F. Wells is even, perhaps, more unappealing to those truth dismantlers in the church. His book, No Place For Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology, is a scathing, damning rebuke of the no-truth generation of ‘theologians’ and ‘preachers’ manning the lecterns of Christian based colleges and universities and, more specifically, the pulpits of churches. In fact, he begins with the church (p. 6)—and mustn’t he? All those little children who are sent off to bible college each fall have had their primary education in things of God by the church: little felt Jesus’ and Pauls, happy stories of arks and ‘fitting’ the battle of Jericho, and such like. But how many go to college armed already with a degree in theology because their preacher cared that they know Scripture more than how to deal with a bad break-up? He writes,
“Outside is a world that ignores what is most important to Christians and that is in fact now organizing itself on the basis of that rejection. Within the larger society, secularism seems natural because it gives plausibility; within that same society, Christian faith seems odd, and the context strips it of truthfulness. The bias of our experience in the modern world tilts heavily against a perception that the Christian faith is true and equally heavily toward a perception that secularism is truth.” (p. 87)
You can see that this is a big problem in our world. But if Jesus says, ‘you don’t believe me because I preach the truth’ (45), he also asks, ‘If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?’ (46). It must have something to do with the one to whom we belong. If we belong to the devil, well, ‘You belong to your father the devil and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.’ Or we embrace the truth that is embodied in Jesus Christ. There can be no two ways about it and this is very limiting. But we see in this world the results of those who belong to their father the devil. We see their work: they are liars, they spread lies, they foment aggression and hatred based on lies. Sadly, there’s a lot devil manipulation going on in the pulpits of American churches today.
This is why, in my humble opinion, it is becoming every more imperative for preachers of the gospel to preach the truth of Jesus. Jesus said he was not ‘here on my own, but the Father sent me.’ God wanted us to know the truth and sent the Truth in Jesus Christ. What right does a preacher have to say something that is contradictory to what Jesus said and taught? John wrote it earlier, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The front lines against the assault on truth, against teh assault on Christ himself, is the church. The church must continue to bear arms against this assault: Our weapon is the Word of God. There must be preachers who are willing to risk it all, that is, risk that people might not believe, that they might reject Christ, that their churches may not be as large, and preach the truth. We must educate our young people before they go off to college and the university and the seminary (places where, with some exceptions, lies are continuing to be taught in the name of academic freedom). I’m calling for the church to preach the truth, not that I have a right to make the call, but for the sake of those to whom we are preaching: The lies must be countered because when lies prevail, God is diminished; when lies take over, God is finished. When lies are our native tongue, then we belong to the devil, not God.
Of course this doesn’t mean that God somehow vanishes or goes away or that his will is thwarted—May it Never Be! One could equally say that God’s will is done in the very rejection of truth in Christ. But there is something to be said about God’s rejection of us as well. As Wells writes, it’s a two way street: “A Culture for whom God is no longer present believes everything…When we believe nothing, we open the doors to believing anything. And the same is truth within the precincts of the Christian faith” (p. 9). When lies are propped up and purported to be truth—why would God ‘hang around’? God’s will will, indeed, be done. We cannot thwart it, but we reject it and Him at our own peril. When we accept the lie, we reject the truth. And then what is left? What is left when truth is gone? What is left when God has, ultimately, rejected us? Why wouldn’t people want to believe the truth when Jesus spoke it? Probably because people, ultimately, love the lie.
I’ll close with Wells:
Soli Deo Gloria!
Here’s news for you. Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
Pray God have mercy on those who rise up against Him and His Anointed One.
This following is from a website called davidfoster.tv. There are also comments on these points at www.alittleleaven.com and www.slideoflaodicea.com. I thought it would be fun to join the fray and add my two cents:
Mr. Foster wrote:
If I were looking for a church to attend in the morning, here is what I’d look for:
- When I enter do I hear laughter?
- Are people greeting me as a job or a joy?
- Does the place look like they were expecting me?
- Are people buzzing as they greet each other?
- Is there spirited music playing as people gather?
- Does the music move me?
- Do the people on stage look real and engaged?
- Are the announcements short, strategic, and to the point?
- Is there a printed outline with Scripture already printed on it?
- Does the pastor smile?
- Does the message title promise a relevant topic I am interested in?
- Does the pastor speak with humility and authority?
- Do I feel the presence of God?
- Are people listening and engaged?
- Is the service no more than 71 minutes?
- Does it pass by fast?
Did you notice that God is not mentioned until number 13? Others have referred to this as the most ‘self-centered’ me message ever. What does 71 minutes have to do with anything? Concerning number 11, if the message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t it necessarily relevant topic that we should be interested in? In other words, it should be Scripture that is preached, theologically, not a relevant topic. ‘Relevant-ism’ is overused word and rather meaningless insofar as the cross is concerned. It’s a catch word by which people nowadays determine who is worth and not worth listening to. Too many, in an effort to be relevant, have misused, abused of disused God’s Word (See R Warren among others). And laughter? Yes, I agree we need a theology of laughter in the church. If a person is on stage (7), how can they look anything but real? Who cares if the music (6) moves me as long as it glorifies God? Who cares if the pastor smiles? Maybe the pastor is having a bad day and cannot smile. Maybe his message concerning sin, judgement and the call to repentance from sin is no laughing matter.
I could go on an on, but I’d rather say this concerning what should be looked for a in church. First, are there people? If there are no people, there’s probably no church. Second, since (I assume he is talking about a worship gathering) it is a worship time, is there reverence, humility, and reading of Scripture? Third, does that Preacher (I assume that there are more than one pastor, so I’m guessing there is a preacher) preach a message from Scripture? Does he carefully exegete his passage and speak under the authority of God and in the power of the Spirit? Fourth, are announcements avoided because they are delivered in other ways so as not to detract from the worship of God? Fifth, is there prayer? How much time during worship is devoted to simply praying to God? Sixth, is there a public reading of Scripture? Seventh, are the children, while full of joy, respectful during times of worship and silence? Are the adults? Eighth, is the Lord’s Supper being offered, publically, to all believers? Ninth, is there a time of silent reflection and meditation? Not all worship is loud and obnoxious: It can also be quiet and reflective. Tenth, are visitors welcomed and greeted in the Name of the Lord? Eleventh, is there singing of joyful hymns and choruses to the Name of the Lord? Twelfth, is the Gospel clearly, plainly explained? Thirteenth, is there an invitation offered to all the Lord would call? Fourteenth, is the cross of Jesus visible, proclaimed, and lived by those who are already claiming Christ? Fifteenth, is Christ, and Christ alone, proclaimed, preached, and revealed to the people? Sixteenth, do the people look like they are expecting the Lord Jesus to show up at any minute? I should think that would be paramount to expecting any human being to show up. Who, after all, is the worship for: Me or God?
Those are some things I think folks, Christian or not, ought to look for when entering a church building to worship the Almighty King and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here’s a blurb about a book Foster wrote:
“Filled with firsthand discoveries that often put Foster at odds with his peers, this book exposes myths and half-truths found in organized religion today. Foster boasts that “God loves you as you are, not as you ought to be,” and shows an exciting Christian life does not have to be an oxymoron. He dares Christians to be what they were made to be – renegades for God.”
My question is this: If God does indeed love us just as we are and not as we ought to be, then why does God work so hard at changing us (a process called sanctification, See John 17) and recreating us in the image of Christ (Colossians 3:9-11), calling us to repentance, and in general telling us that our previous lives were empty, shallow, hopeless, sinful, and meaningless?
Christianity is not about ‘excitement’ even if there are times when life happens to be rather joyful. There is more to Christian joy than fleeting sexual arousal. There is a deeper sense of joy that comes from being made free and complete in Christ. There’s more to say about this later.
This picture is of the proposed memorial honoring the heroes of Flight 93. You are not going to believe this story posted by World Net Daily:
Where is the outrage? This is beyond stupid, beyond belief, beyond comprehension.
Also check this companion article:
And this one:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39“Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
Remember that verse 30 says, “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.” Now verse 31 picks up, “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said…” The following conversation then is spoken to those who had put their faith in him. He begins to challenge their beliefs right from the start; and oh, what a challenge it is!
This is a significant development. I remember one time, just after I baptized someone, saying to them, ‘Well, now the tough part begins.’ He was shocked and looked at me and just said, ‘what?’ It wasn’t too long after that that he stopped worshiping altogether. Immediately, Mark tells us, after Jesus was baptized the Spirit drove him out into the desert where he was tempted by the devil. I believe the point here is that life does not automatically become a bed of rose petals after we become a Christian or after we have some sort of faith or belief in Jesus. I think that faith is going to be challenged right from the start.
Trouble is, that’s not how it works in the church of today. I think we have tended to do things quite the wrong way in the church because we are afraid that if people face trials right away then they might run away. I’m not suggesting that the church need bother set up any such ‘trials’ or ‘troubles’. Each day has enough trouble of its own. What I am suggesting is that the church ought not be afraid of the truth that people will face difficulties in this world, in Christ, and they need to cling tightly to Jesus. Jesus makes it clear: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” Does he mean that only those who persevere through all the muck will be truly considered his disciples? Is he saying that there is something more than a one time placing of faith? Bruce wrote, “The power of what he said had already moved some of his hearers to believe in him, but discipleship is something continuous; it is a way of life.” (196)
Is there something to be said about what we believe? Is there something to be said about what we believe about Jesus? “If you hold to my teaching…” It is necessary, thus, to find ourselves persevering in the Word of Jesus—His teaching. Does this exclude all other teachers? Well, no. But, it does mean that all teaching must fall into direct compliance with the teaching of Jesus. I refer to professor Bruce again,
A true disciple has an affinity for his teacher’s instruction and accepts it, not blindly, but intelligently. The teacher’s instruction becomes the disciple’s rule of faith and practice. What Jesus taught was the truth; his disciples, by paying heed to him, received the truth. False belief holds the minds of men and women in bondage; truth liberates them. Truth by its very nature cannot be imposed by external compulsion, nor can it be validated by anything other than itself. One either sees the truth for what it is, or one does not. When we bear in mind the meaning of ‘truth’ in this Gospel, where the concept finds its embodiment in Jesus himself, it follows that for his disciples to know the truth ‘they must not only hear his words: they must in some sort of way be united with him who is the truth’ (FF Bruce, The Gospel of John, 196-197; at the end Bruce quotes CH Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 178).
Their response to Jesus’ statement is a bit strange. “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say we shall be set free?” Well, they might well have forgotten Egypt and Babylon, but we’ll forgive that much because Jesus goes on to point out to them that regardless of where they live or who they serve they are still slaves in need of freedom. “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Jesus was specifically working to free them from what they were truly enslaved to: the flesh; themselves. And he goes on to point out to them that they will never truly be free by merely being Abraham’s descendants: That’s not enough. Your ancestry is not enough to break those shackles that hold you in place.
They were so incensed at this notion that they were ready to kill him and they had been trying at nearly every chance they could get. His time was not yet come yet. Furthermore, Jesus points out, this message is not from him. He did not ‘invent’ it, so to speak. It was from the Father. The eternal God of the universe, the One who called Abraham, this is His decree. Jesus keeps saying in these verses: ‘hold to my teaching,’ ‘you have no room for my word,’ ‘I’m telling you what I heard in the Father’s presence,’ and ‘…a man who told you the truth I heard from God.’ He keeps on telling them over and over and over again: Listen to what I’m saying. Now my question is this: how can people truly be set free if we do not, in fact, say the same things? And who will listen if we do? There are scores upon scores of prophets in this world and there are multitudes upon multitudes who listen to them. But who will preach Christ Jesus’ Words? Who will preach Christ Jesus?
No one will be set free apart from Jesus: If the Son Sets you Free, you will be free indeed. But he also said, “The truth will set you free.” I understand there to be more than a mere congruance between Jesus and truth: They are One and the Same. Those who wish to be set free will hear and listen and obey the Word of Christ. Those who do not will continue listening to everyone but Jesus. Jesus indicates that it is an either or proposition: His Word or not; freedom or slavery; truth or lies; children of Abraham or children of the devil (v 41, 44); true sons or illegitimate children. There is no middle ground. And it is time for those preachers in the church who advocate a middle ground to repent and preach the truth.
So what are we to do? The current fun way of doing things involves a slackening of obedience to the Word of Christ. Don’t get me wrong: Many people are saying many things about Jesus and they are using a lot of Scripture to back it up. But there is an incongruence between what they are saying, how they are using Scripture, and what the Bible actually says about Jesus, Sin, Grace, and judgment. In other words, their preaching is far more practical than it is theological. This is a problem. Our ambition is to be in line with the Biblical Christ. So again we arrive at this position: There is no other way to the Father except the way the Father revealed. Jesus is the embodiment of Truth; Jesus is the Revelation of God.
Jesus couldn’t get this into their heads though. So offended were they by Jesus’ words that they were ready to kill him to do away with his words. In our subtle culture of middle-grounders many preachers have done the same exact thing. But where these unbelievers in John succeeded in killing Jesus physically, many in our world have killed Jesus theologically or at least reduced or minimized his necessity, supremacy, and authority. There is no need for a Savior when there is no sin; there is no need for freedom when don’t recognize that we are slaves. If those in the church are content with a mere historical connection (such as these were with Abraham) then they will not be set free. Jesus was saying that more than a historical connection is needed: we need a theological connection. God has built the theological bridge in Christ Jesus. And it is sad to say, but there are many preachers who are profoundly missing this point in their efforts to be practical and relevant.
In the end, He says they are illegitmate children. They protest: “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus point out, however, that they were quite wrong. Do you see here that Jesus has the right to make such a judgment? Do you see that it is Jesus who determines the legitimacy of our claims of sonship? It will be Jesus who makes the announcement of who we belong to. We are really his disciples if we follow him (v 12), believe in him (v 24), hold to his teaching (v 31), do the things of Abraham (v 39), and love him (v 42). The only other option is to kill him. But death will not change Jesus’ point; in fact, he says that His death will only prove it all the more (v 27-29).
Soli Deo Gloria!