by Mike Ratliff
38 You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. (John 5:38 NASB)
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 “ I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
31 “ If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true.
33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. (John 5:30-35 NASB)
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.
33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
36 But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. (John 5:35-36 NASB)
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 And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. 38 You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. (John 5:37-38 NASB)
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? Believers in the Lord Jesus, those whom God has removed the heart of stone and replaced with a heart of flesh and 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 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. 41 I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, 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 is from the one and only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39-47 NASB)
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 to not study 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 listen to many of Dr. James White’s debates. The ones with other 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 for How 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!