You must first believe in order to abide

by Mike Ratliff

38 καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. (John 5:38 NA28)

38 “And His Word you do not have abiding in you because He whom He sent, this one you do not believe.” (John 5:38 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In John 5:30-47 the apostle gives us several witnesses to establish the truthfulness and genuiness of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Our Lord Jesus presented these witnesses who testified to His identity as the Son to those who opposed Him. The first witness given is John the Baptist in vv32-35. The second witness is our Lord’s own words in vv 35, 36. The third witness is the Father in vv 37, 38. The fourth witness is the Old Testament Scriptures in vv 39-47. However, as is the case from this point to the end of John, those who most vehemently opposed our Lord and His ministry, refused to believe. 

30 Οὐ δύναμαι ἐγὼ ποιεῖν ἀπʼ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐδέν· καθὼς ἀκούω κρίνω, καὶ ἡ κρίσις ἡ ἐμὴ δικαία ἐστίν, *ὅτι οὐ ζητῶ τὸ θέλημα τὸ ἐμὸν ἀλλὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με.
31 Ἐὰν ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ, ἡ μαρτυρία μου οὐκ ἔστιν ἀληθής· 32 ἄλλος ἐστὶν ὁ μαρτυρῶν περὶ ἐμοῦ, καὶ οἶδα ὅτι ἀληθής ἐστιν ἡ μαρτυρία ἣν μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ. 33 ὑμεῖς ἀπεστάλκατε πρὸς Ἰωάννην, καὶ μεμαρτύρηκεν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ· 34 ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου τὴν μαρτυρίαν λαμβάνω, ἀλλὰ ταῦτα λέγω ἵνα ὑμεῖς σωθῆτε. 35 ἐκεῖνος ἦν ὁ λύχνος ὁ καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠθελήσατε ἀγαλλιαθῆναι πρὸς ὥραν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ αὐτοῦ. (John 5:30-35 NA28)

30 “I am not able to do from myself anything. 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 testifying 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 Not that the testimony I receive I receive is 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.” (John 5:30-35 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In vv30-31 our Lord reiterates His equality with God. He claimed that the judgment He exercised was because everything He did was dependent upon the Father’s Word and will. John the Baptist did testify about the verity of the Lord Jesus, but in reality it was God speaking through Him, which is exactly how God uses a prophet.

35 ἐκεῖνος ἦν ὁ λύχνος ὁ καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἠθελήσατε ἀγαλλιαθῆναι πρὸς ὥραν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ αὐτοῦ.
36 Ἐγὼ δὲ ἔχω τὴν μαρτυρίαν μείζω τοῦ Ἰωάννου· τὰ γὰρ ἔργα ἃ δέδωκέν μοι ὁ πατὴρ ἵνα τελειώσω αὐτά, αὐτὰ τὰ ἔργα ἃ ποιῶ μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ ὅτι ὁ πατήρ με ἀπέσταλκεν. (John 5:35-36 NA28)

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 to Me that I should finish, these works I do testify about me that the Father has Sent Me.” (John 5:35-36 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The miracles of Jesus were witness to His deity and messiahship. These miracles are the major signs recorded by John in his Gospel, to fulfill His purpose in John 20:30, 31. In all of His encounters with His enemies throughout the rest of His ministry, our Lord continued to point to His Works as the evidence of Who He was and the fact that those who refused to believe were indeed guilty for not doing so.

37 καὶ ὁ πέμψας με πατὴρ ἐκεῖνος μεμαρτύρηκεν περὶ ἐμοῦ. οὔτε φωνὴν αὐτοῦ πώποτε ἀκηκόατε οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε, 38 καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ὑμῖν μένοντα, ὅτι ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος, τούτῳ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε. (John 5:37-38 NA28)

37 “And having sent Me, the Father has testified about Me. Neither His voice have you heard nor His visage have you seen. 38 And His Word you do not have abiding in you because He whom He sent, this one you do not believe.” (John 5:37-38 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What an incredible statement by our Lord. Who hears God’s voice? It is only those who have God’s Word abiding in them. Who is that? The only one who hear God’s voice are true believers in the Lord Jesus, those from whom God has removed the heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh and He has put His Word in their hearts. These believe God and abide in Christ. No one else does. Those who believe also believe the testimony of the Father.

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.
41 Δόξαν παρὰ ἀνθρώπων οὐ λαμβάνω, 42 ἀλλʼ ἔγνωκα ὑμᾶς ὅτι τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς. 43 ἐγὼ ἐλήλυθα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου, καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετέ με· ἐὰν ἄλλος ἔλθῃ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τῷ ἰδίῳ, ἐκεῖνον λήμψεσθε. 44 πῶς δύνασθε ὑμεῖς πιστεῦσαι δόξαν παρὰ ἀλλήλων λαμβάνοντες, καὶ τὴν δόξαν τὴν παρὰ τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ οὐ ζητεῖτε;
45 Μὴ δοκεῖτε ὅτι ἐγὼ κατηγορήσω ὑμῶν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα· ἔστιν ὁ κατηγορῶν ὑμῶν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς ὃν ὑμεῖς ἠλπίκατε. 46 εἰ γὰρ ἐπιστεύετε Μωϋσεῖ, ἐπιστεύετε ἂν ἐμοί· περὶ γὰρ ἐμοῦ ἐκεῖνος ἔγραψεν. 47 εἰ δὲ τοῖς ἐκείνου γράμμασιν οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς τοῖς ἐμοῖς ῥήμασιν πιστεύσετε; (John 5:39-47 NA28)

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think to have eternal life in them and those are testifying about Me 40 and yet you do not want to come to me that you may have life.
41 Glory from men I do not receive, 42 but I have know you that that the love of God you do not have in yourselves. 43 I have come in the name of My Father and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that comes only from God?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is on accusing you, Moses, in whom you have hoped. 46 For if you were believing Moses, you would have believed Me; for concerning Me he wrote. 47 But his writings you do not believe, how will you believe My Words?” (John 5:39-47 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The study of Scripture does not by itself impart life. Instead, Scripture bears witness to our Lord Jesus Christ who gives life. Our Lord’s example is not a rebuke against studying the Bible, but to not do so as an end in itself. When we study the Bible it ought to result in genuine faith in Jesus followed by obedient action and transformed lives, not simply the accumulation of more Bible knowledge. I have listened to many of Dr. James White’s debates. The ones in which he debates professing Christians who contest Reformed Theology are the ones that are indicative of this example. These people have a modicum of Bible knowledge, but it is surface level at best. Their handling of the Bible is as a source of proof texts rather than as a deep well of God’s Word. They take passages out of context. They read parts of verses leaving out the parts that defeat their points. Dr. White opposes them by clearly exegeting the passages they misquote or misuse and then puts everything in the right context and shows from that the clear truth that requires no proof texting whatsoever. This proper handling of Scripture gives all the glory to God because it reveals Him exactly as Scripture portrays Him, not how religious human philosophy does. When we do this, the real Jesus is revealed as well instead of the pop culture Jesus that is pure fiction that is portrayed in much of what calls itself Christian, but isn’t.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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