Last week, in AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA, Part 5,
Jesus outlined beyond a doubt that He is God’s Son, and His teachings
are clear: When we honor Jesus by believing in His teachings, we are
honoring God. By the same token, when we deny Jesus' divinity, when we
do not believe His teachings on this subject, we dishonor God!
We live in a world where everyone holds to different beliefs. We are admonished to be tolerant towards those beliefs, but they often differ from Jesus' teachings on His own divinity. What do we do? These are often good, peace-loving people. They don't ask anything of us, why should we be trying to change them?
Jesus addresses this in His Pool of Bethesda discourse: "...whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24 NIV)
This is very clear, friends. Jesus is serious! Believing in the divinity of our Lord and Savior is the difference between life and death!
When God really wants us to pay attention, He repeats Himself, and Jesus goes on to repeat Himself in the next few verses: "I tell you the Truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man." (John 5:25-27 NIV)
The Bible speaks of our life of sin as "death". Consider the following text from the book of Isaiah: "We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places." (Isa 59:9-10 NKJV)
But Jesus promises life to those who are spiritual dead: "...a time...has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live." (John 5:26 NIV)
The secret to that life? "...those who hear will live"!
Does this seem strange to you?
Apparently it did to the people of the day, for He continues: "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out -- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." (John 5:28-29 NIV)
And just what constitutes this "doing good"?
Jesus has already answered this: "those who hear will live"! Doing good means to hear what Jesus is teaching, believe in Him as the Son of God, and accept His gift of Salvation!
That is the reward, friends! We will rise to live!
So what about our friends of other beliefs? The ones we are admonished to be tolerant of?
Jesus' teachings are also clear: "...and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."
But, you say, they are good people!
Jesus has already made the point clear: "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." (John 5:23b NIV)
It doesn't matter how loving and peaceful people of different beliefs are. If they do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, they do not honor God, and "Those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."
Is that what you want for your friends? That they rise to be condemned?
I don't know about you, but that isn't what I want!
I have recently been in contact with a lovely non-Christian person via email. This person has a heart of gold, but is also solidly closed to Christianity. What am I to do? Do I practice tolerance? Respect this person's beliefs and leave this person alone? Or do I try to bring this person to truth?
If I have any love of Christ in me, I must do the later! I cannot leave one of God’s children ignorant to His Truth! For if I do, he or she "will rise to be condemned"!
But this doesn't mean that I must continually "bother" this person with Truth (for that is how this person sees presentation of Truth). What it means is that I continue to pray for this person, and I stay in tune with God, doing what He tells me to do, when He tells me to do it. But most certainly I do not just sit back and "tolerate".
But the people of Jesus' day still weren’t convinced about the divinity of Jesus Christ, and neither are our friends who have different beliefs. After all, if Joe Blow off the street says he is God's Son, would we believe him? If a false prophet arises and teaches us that if we don't believe his teachings, we are dishonoring God, do we switch our loyalties from Jesus to him?
And let's face it: This is likely exactly what the people of Jesus' day thought, and Jesus does not stop His discourse here. Instead He goes on to provide even further proof that He is God's Son. If you are interested in seeing what this "further proof" is, join us next week for the final part of At the Pool of Bethesda, Part 7: Testimonies About Jesus!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire "At the Pool of Bethesda" mini-series, please click here.)