True Belief, True Hope

John 8.37-47

37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet jyou seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard lfrom your father.”

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

[TALK] Story about Danny Akin & the church

Dr. Akin spitting some fire, just as Jesus did in our text.

It’s a big deal when we claim to believe one thing, but practice something else. Let’s deal with that a bit today.

Theme: Christ Alone Purifies our Hearts and Beliefs

They are challenging Christ based on their belief in the promises that Abraham will bring them

We’ve been dealing with the Pharisees lately, the religious jewish leaders.

I don’t like picking on the Pharisees.

Easy targets aren’t worth hitting

Favorite christian villains, like nazis & zombies.

“Oh, so & so is a pharisee. They have so many rules.”

I want to avoid making judgement calls about the Pharisees, because then we’ll miss the point of the text. We’ll miss what they represent.

Not naming names but “Someone” kept saying I’d talk about Abraham

Who is Abraham?

The father of the jewish people but not just that.

“The father of the promise”

A long time ago in a middle eastern country far, far away...

Not bad beliefs to adhere to, but not playing out correctly

To practice proper belief, judge yourself

Belief & Conviction aren’t inherently good or bad; it’s what we do with them.

It is good to have belief & conviction; it is good to hope for something.

The question is : Does your belief lead to hope & joy, or depression & condemnation?

What are other areas we hold to strong belief?

Politics - Good

I stand before a congregation of Republicans and Democrats

Political Belief in how the world should look, and trust in other people that they’ll make the world like that

Family- Good

Can cause unity

“They are supposed to love us”

“We are supposed to have one”

What happens when these beliefs are distorted?

Politics - Bad

When the current/previous president does something you don’t like, what does that belief turn to? Joy that God is greater, or anger on social media?

Family - Bad

Belief that you should begin dating everyone you can find?

Hurt by someone who should have loved you, and that distorts things.

Belief that you can’t trust anyone

Lamenting that you can’t find anyone? Lead yourself into depression.

Belief that marriage is evil?

Belief & Conviction aren’t wrong; it’s what you do with them.

Belief should lead to hope, not despair

Belief should lead to hope, not condemnation

The church & the seminary president

Beliefs seemingly weren’t bad, but not playing out correctly

They didn’t want a pastor, they wanted a ministry whipping boy. Someone to do ministry for them & make them happy.

As pastors, Ephesians 4 tells us we are supposed to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.

Deacons are “exemplary servants.”

They don’t do the work for you, they help you to do the work better.

Let’s make sure at Refuge we actually want elders & deacons, not ministry whipping boys

One of the greatest threats to our church is the belief that someone else will do her work.

Yet to do nothing is to abandon the mission that Christ gave us.

Evaluate our beliefs: what is the church for?

As Christians, we must judge everything we believe in light of the identity of Christ.

Does this belief lead me away from Christ? Or toward Him?

Belief is like a crutch. Good belief helps us to stand when we are weak.

When intense personal suffering hits...

The job is lost

The loved one betrays us

The baby is miscarried

Right belief will help us to stand.

God still loves me

He will provide for me

Take this one day at a time.

What crutch are you standing on? Can it support you?

Belief is like a crutch. Good belief helps us to stand. But bad belief is a casket we lay dying in.

How does Jesus respond to them in the text?

Abraham is our Father

“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did…”

You do what Abraham never did

This was not right belief. So convinced they were right, they intended to kill a man.

To evaluate your heart, judge yourself

““If God were your Father, you would love me, for tI came from God and uI am here. vI came not of my own accord, but whe sent me. 43 xWhy do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot ybear to hear my word. 44 zYou are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

When you practice good belief publically but hold to an impure heart privately, your belief isn’t good; it’s false. You don’t actually believe it.

Not only that, but what you believe privately reveals your character.

Out of the mouth the heart speaks. How you speak privately is who you are.

How you think is who you are.

In the text, they say they are descendants of Abraham, ready to receive his blessings. But their heart motives reveal who they really belong to.

They claim to want the promise of Abraham, but they desire the promise of the devil.

They want the promises, but they also want to lie & kill.

In our story, the church claims to want biblical leadership, but their desire is the leadership of the devil.

Romans 9.6-8: “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”

Children of the promise, not children of the flesh

Just because you’re born a jew, doesn’t mean you belong to God’s promise.

Just because you’re born to a family of believers, doesn’t mean you belong to God’s promise.

These pharisees are of the flesh, not the promise

This church is of the flesh, not the promise

Our heart betrays what promises we really believe in our lives

If your heart is bad, it will always betray you. What is in darkness will always come to light. (Luke 8.17)

When you offer someone forgiveness but still treat them with condemnation, even privately, your heart has betrayed you.

When a close relationship says they love you but lashes out like violent clockwork whenever they’re displeased with you, their heart has betrayed them.

When you respond with anger toward something a public figure has done, your heart has betrayed where your hope really lies.

These things are not reconcilable with the christian faith. The heart here does not line up with we claim to believe.

Christian Maturity comes not only from how you love your friends, but especially how you treat your enemies.

As humans we hold to belief in light of our character

To have right belief & motives, see Jesus judged

At this point, to be clear, we’re not going after the Pharisees.

Was Jesus a danger to their promises?

No, He came to fulfill them!

If we focus on the pharisees, we miss sight of the most important thing here.

When Jesus was dying out on the cross. When he looked out gasping for breath, continuing to choke, eyes burning from sweat & blood who did He see?

Did He see the Pharisees?

He saw you and I. We’re not innocent in this.

Every false belief we lean on is a sin against the character of a perfect, loving God.

Every impurity in our heart is a sin against a perfect God who sent His son to call us back into community with Him.

Yet we choose falsehood over the truth of who Jesus is.

Every sin we commit is us calling for the death of Jesus. Exactly the same as the pharisees of our text.

The rest of this here is for the believers in the room.

How hypocritical of us.

We claim to be His followers, but our hearts say otherwise.

Do you guys get it? We go about day by day claiming to believe in the promises of God. That Jesus is our hope & resurrection.

We say that with our lips.

But every time we sin & choose something over God, our heart is revealed.

Was it Jesus we have faith in? Or the lies of Satan? The lies of our flesh?

Because of that, we act out of our character, and we demand the death of Christ, because we refuse to give up our favorite sins.

You turn Christ into a whipping boy, every time you succumb to your lusts and pretend it’s all a secret. That everything is hunky dory because no one knows, and no one is getting hurt by your problem.

You turn Christ into a whipping boy, every time you choose to believe the world’s ending because your political party is or isn’t in power. You deny that Christ holds the world in His hands, not Trump. Not Obama. No one.

Hebrews 9.27-28 “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Stop choosing sin and acting like everything is fine. Christ only dies once. Quit acting like that doesn’t matter.

He is still coming to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. Not those who don’t care.

That’s our fire & brimstone for today. I’m a bad pastor if I can’t offer you any hope.

But you know what guys? He did it for us anyways. In our text, He saw the jews who believe. He got in their faces here. And He chose to die on an old, rugged cross that their belief would be made right.

He chose to die on a cross, that even in the moments where our hearts distort & pervert our beliefs, His Spirit would fix our hearts.

Romans 8.11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Christ didn’t abandon them, as they lied to His face & wanted to kill Him. Nor does He abandon us.

If you are a believer, Christ will never abandon you.

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” - Titus 3.5

Here’s the promise these guys really needed. Not land & a nation, but heart change.

The promise they should have known from the OT:

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”-Ezekiel 36.26-27

[Call Band back up]

Christ has promised you heart change.

True christianity isn’t another mask to hide behind; there can be no hypocrisy in true christianity.

It’s a genuine change of a cold, dead heart into something living & breathing.

It’s the freedom to know that you don’t have to pretend you’re ok. You’re not. You don’t have to be a hypocrite. But Christ has fixed that, is fixing that and will fix that.

Do you believe Christ came to do this work? That as the son of God He came into our world to redeem us back to God.

That is the Gospel. That is the truth that He speaks of throughout our passage.

Believe in this and be saved. And experience the joy & heart change that only Christ can bring to us.

[Pray]

Father, please give us new hearts. That with the Spirit you have so graciously given us, change us. Take what is dead and bring it to life. Take what is false, and replace it with truth. Take what is hidden and bring it to light. Not to punish us, but to bring us the joy that can only come from relationship with You. To bring us the joy that can only come because it was purchased for us by Christ. Heal us, make us new, and bring glory to Yourself through the works you do in us. For Your glory and our joy. Amen.