by Mike Ratliff
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now and I am working. 18 Because of this, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him not only because he was breaking the Sabbath, but also he was calling God his own Father making himself equal with God. (John 5:17, 18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
Earlier today I listened to a Muslim apologist on a Dividing Line podcast from last week as he attempted to show that Jesus could not be God because he never claimed deity for himself and was nothing more than a prophet. I have yet to hear any “non-Christian apologist,” while attacking the deity of Christ, attempt to address the passages we have been studying in the Gospel of John. However, they do quote a lot of liberal, so-called Christian scholars and attempt to interpret Sacred Scripture through the lens of a man-centered world-view that is slanted toward the religion to which they belong. Jesus our Lord in his incarnation was very different from how he has often been “cast” over the last 2000 years or so.
As soon as man-centered religiosity enters in to the schema, everything changes. For instance, the Gospel is no longer the Good News which is to be proclaimed, but is now something we share or live or be. Jesus is not God the Son, the Second person of the Holy Trinity, but is a product that we can “try.” I’m sure you have seen the sales slogan, “Try Jesus!” Another is the focus of the Gospel away from the glory of God in election and why it is good news and how those who are in Christ are sinners whom God did everything to save from his wrath from beginning to end for his own glory. Instead, we get another message that God loves all people to the utmost and that includes those he failed to save who are going to burn in hell for eternity. That is why some who hold to that view have abandoned the doctrine of hell and now are Universalists.
I have studied the Bible cover to cover and I absolutely do not find in there where these people get this. Instead, I find a Sovereign God who works out his sovereign plan according to his perfect will and there is resurrection coming followed by judgment.
In this post we will finish John 5. We will look at John 5:30-47. I translated these verses from the NA27 text.
30 “I am not able to do from myself. As I hear I judge and my judgment is just because I do not seek my will but the will of the one who sent me.” 31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies about me, and I know that the testimony which he testifies about me is true. 33 You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony I receive is not from man, but these things I say that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp burning and shining and you chose to exult for a time in his light. 36 But I have testimony greater than John’s; for the works which the Father has given that I should finish them–these works which I do–testify about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice nor have you ever seen him. 38 You do not have his word abiding in you because you do not believe the one whom he sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you presume in this to have eternal life. 40 And you do not want to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men, 42 but I know you, that the love of God you do not have in yourselves. 43 I have come in the name of my Father, and you have not received me. If another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How are you able to believe receiving glory from one another and the glory from the only God you do not seek? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; the one accusing you is Moses in whom you have hoped. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would have believed me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:30-47 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
What Jesus was talking about here about witnesses and testimony to the veracity of who he really is, that is, Christ the Messiah, is to show to those accusing him that they had no case against him for heresy or for breaking the Law of Moses. In v30, he summarized all he had said earlier about his equality with God. Jesus claimed that the judgment he exercised was because everything he did was dependent upon the Father’s word and will. How often do so-called Christian leaders in our time attempt to justify their ministries by seeing how well they line up with what people want? Not our Lord!
From vv31-47 our Lord lists four witnesses that establish the truthfulness of his ministry and who he claimed to be. The background for this is from Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15 where witnesses were to establish the facts of a matter. Our Lord’s 4 witnesses are John the Baptist vv32-35; Jesus’ Works vv35, 36; the Father vv37, 38; and the Old Testament Scriptures vv39-47.
The signs and wonders that our Lord did were never used like the charlatans do nowadays in an attempt to draw large numbers of suckers in order to fleece them of their money. No, our Lord used healing the sick, raising the dead, and making the blind see as witnesses to his deity and messiahship. In John 6, for example, our Lord rebukes those who seek the signs and miracles.
Not very long ago there were some “Emergent” or “Purpose Driven” types who posted something somewhere and it was being passed around like it was “wisdom from God” quoting John 5:39 then pointing to those of us who hold to expository preaching as being necessary and that the Gospel is to be proclaimed because it is a message of Good News from God himself, not something we can be or do, et cetera; saying that Jesus himself taught that what we are holding to was hypocritical. We need to give that Bible stuff up and just all become Jesus followers instead, like them…
Here is the ESV rendering of John 5:39,40:
 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,  yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 ESV)
Here is the NASB rendering of John 5:39, 40:
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 NASB)
Here is the NA27 text of John 5:39, 30:
39 ἐραυνᾶτε τὰς γραφάς, ὅτι ὑμεῖς δοκεῖτε ἐν αὐταῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον ἔχειν· καὶ ἐκεῖναί εἰσιν αἱ μαρτυροῦσαι περὶ ἐμοῦ· 40 καὶ οὐ θέλετε ἐλθεῖν πρός με ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχητε.
Here is my translation of John 5:39, 40:
39 You search the Scriptures because you presume in this to have eternal life. 40 And you do not want to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39,40 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
The word I translated as “presume” is the verb δοκεῖτε (dokeite), which is the present tense, indicative mood, active voice case of δοκέω (dokeō), “to think, imagine, consider, appear. Expresses the subjective mental estimate or opinion which men form about a matter.” This verb case is talking about action taking place concurrently. So, I looked at the context of what Jesus was saying. He was contrasting where real salvation is found, which is in him alone, from where these men were looking for it. Wherever they were looking it was wrong because they were rejecting our Lord. They did study the scripture, but it was without Christ. Later, a few verses later, he tells them plainly that if they really believed Moses then they would not reject him, but they rejected him so they really didn’t believe Moses. They may have put on a show of studying the Scriptures, but it was with wrong motives and it was not God-centered, but man-centered. Therefore, I translated δοκεῖτε as “presume.”
Sadly, how many man-centered ministries in our time are on that same broad path? No wonder the visible church is under God’s judgment and is in darkness.
Soli Deo Gloria!