THE REAL MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE

Dean Inge said once, “If you marry the spirit of your generation you may be a widow in the next.”

I fear that this may be a clear and present danger into which certain denominations are falling headlong if they do not deal with the lust that preachers and churches have in coddling the culture and spirit of the age instead of exposing it’s evil and offering Christ as the remedy for sin. 

Why are some ministries and churches working so hard to be like Jezebel who painted her face to impress the world that does not know or love Christ (2 Kings 9:30)? If Jesus Christ is not relevant in and of himself, dear friends, you can be sure that is not a gospel message you are hearing. Christ is alive now! He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13: 8) . That is genuine relevancy and a no frills, plain vanilla gospel.

During the 1960 Olympics (held strangely enough in Rome, Italy) the Saturday Evening Post featured a cartoon showing a runner carrying a message of victory. He came stumbling and gasping into the palace and fell prostrate before the King. He had a puzzled look on his face and he mumbled, “I’ve forgotten the message!”   All that effort and he forgot the message!

We are making much effort but it is becoming evident that we have forgotten the message. The reformation reminded Rome many years before the forgotten message of justification by grace alone through faith alone through Christ alone. God forbid that the church with all its resources and opportunities forget the message of the gospel! What is that message?

Jesus Christ is the real message of the Bible.

He is the Word of God speaking to man (John 1:1). Not just an idea, a concept, a philosophy, a way of living or a religion. He is God’s Word personified. God in these last days has spoken to us in final and full revelation in his Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Patriarchs and prophets spoke for God in the Old Testament piecing together symbols and types but God has spoken clearly for himself in his only beloved and begotten Son Jesus Christ.

Paul says that “the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…” (Heb. 10:1). Christ was hidden in the Old Testament’s pages and was revealed in the New Testament.  As I first learned it,

“The New in the Old concealed, the Old in the New revealed.”

Jesus insisted that he was the true message of scripture with those that seemed to revere scripture but he knew did not love him (John 5:42)! “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.“ (John 5:39-40).  Imagine possessing such a reverence for scripture as they examined, studied and memorized it with admirable enthusiasm! They should be commended and imitated as far as that goes. Yet somehow the Word was not in them and the result was that they marginalized the message of the Bible by their traditions (Mk. 7:13) and they had no love for the Author in their hearts. That terrifies me! It causes me to examine my heart and pray with Augustine, “Grant what thou commandest and then command what thou wilt!”

We should also realize that Christ is the subject of his own teaching. He says, “learn of me.” (Mt 11:29). The apostle referred to this when he talked about how they learned Christ (Eph. 4:20). He says, “Let me teach you about me.”  How does Christ teach us about himself today?   He does it by those things, “written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45). The whole purpose of the Bible is to lead people to Christ!

“Christ is the end of the law.” (Rom 10:4) meaning Christ is the goal and fulfillment of the scriptures. God had him in view when he gave his law. The law was put in charge of us to bring us to Christ. “The law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.” (Rom. 7:12) and it tutored us about the nature and attributes of God and his perfect law which we see in his Son Jesus (Gal. 3:24).  We have a dire need to know all the doctrines of the Bible and a working knowledge of scripture, but has it lead us to Jesus? Is what we are learning leading us to praying? Does our theology birth and nurture affection and desire for communion with Christ?  Is the knowledge we have producing a growing love for Christ? Or is it all and end in itself?  Ah, it is Christ that fulfills the righteousness of the law in us (Rom 8:3) by his saving grace and pours the love of God in our hearts (Rom 5:5).  Obedience for us is not forced or coerced but willing. That desire to commune and obey is refreshed and cultivated by the scriptures true message, its wonderful theme, Jesus.

There are so many that take the truths of scripture and teach it like a science class. Then you have others who make micro-wave meals and junk food. This is not serving manna from heaven.  When scripture is read, studied and preached with understanding the Holy Spirit lights up the scripture with Christ.  This is not about commercialized religion where they try to sell you what you already own. It is not about a sterile religion clinically tested by egg heads in religious laboratories. It is about God speaking to men and women by the Lord Jesus Christ! You do not need man’s keys, principles, steps formulas or methods. The way has been made open into the holiest place, where Christ stands in the presence of God for us, speaking to us through the both the Older and Newer Covenants. When we read and ponder the truth of scripture, God’s voice speaks to us through those writings and they all cry out, “This is my beloved son, hear him!” (Luke 9:35).

The Mud and Water of the Gospel

healing_of_the_blind_man_jekelNotice that beautiful phrase: “And Jesus passed by.” Did you see it? Oh how I long for you to see him passing by you right now. Jesus the Messiah, God in the flesh, the same one Moses saw when, “the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Ex 34:6). Jesus passed by this man, stopped what he was doing and stooped down to help him. 

 

There were many beggars, many blind people but he did not stop for them. But he stopped for this man! Why? Grace! The Sovereign grace of God! He says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Rom 9: 15-16ESV). Will Jesus pass by you? Will he see you  and where you are at and help you with his presence and power? There are those in the church who wonder why they do not experience more of the presence of God.  Like Jeremiah we feel like God is a visiting guest staying only for a night (Jer. 14:8). I think we need the mud and water of the gospel!

 

Oh, I would like to pray like Elisha, “O LORD, please open the eyes of these people that they may see the son of Man, Jesus Christ walking in the midst of his church” (see 2 Kings 6:15-17; Rev. 1: 12, 13). There are people that do not realize that Jesus is passing your way! Throughout your life he lifted you to his cheek. Like a doting parent he taught you how to walk, leading you gently by the hand but you did not know or even care he led you through life with gentle cords of kindness and love (Hosea 11:1-4). Ah we are truly God chosen frozen! We need a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit! In our services have we forgotten that Jesus is walking down the aisle moving through every seat, touching people at the altar who are praying!  He says he desires the works of God to be seen in our lives! All it takes is some gospel mud and water!

 

Ah, but we want Jesus Christ to come to us on our terms! We want something that will blow us up, shake us up, and fire us up! At one time God told Elijah, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12).  The Lord was not in the show! He was in a whisper, a gentle sound of quiet stillness! Ah, that is where we miss it! The man in our story was not deaf! He could hear the words of the still, small calming voice of the Savior! This man was not blown up, shaken up, or fired up! But after some spittle, a little mud, and washing his face in a pool he could see!  But the voice of Jesus is so powerful a whisper can make all the difference. Do you hear his whispers?  By God’s grace you may not see everything that is being told you tonight but you can hear it. All it takes is some mud and water of the gospel!

 

“He saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus saw this man and he sees those who are lost in darkness. The blind man did not once ask Jesus for sight! This shows again salvation is not finding God or knowing God but God finding us and knowing us (Gal 4:9)! You have not been looking for him because you have no eyes to see! How helpless people are without Christ! The Bible says they are “without strength” (Rom 5:6) to repent (Prov. 5:22), have faith (Mt. 13:58) and pray (Isa. 64:7),  it is like they are curled up in a fetal position unable even to help themselves! They cannot even purse their lips to whisper a prayer for what they really need! But Jesus saw him!  He sees you are the very person he has been looking for to put his forgiving love on display. Dr. Jesus only comes for the sick, not the healthy!  But just one look from Jesus, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” (Isa. 35:5).

 

We are clear that the context of the story is that this man or his family’s sin did not bring this blindness upon him, but this scripture is a case and point for those who are spiritually blind. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Eph 4:18). This man was born into a world of darkness and those who do not know Christ are living in complete spiritual blindness.  Many of you have taken the life God has given you and live a life of blindly sinning against him. You cannot even find him because you have no eyes. But the Alpha and Omega, The beginning and the End, the First and the Last, he who is “Everything” has passed your way tonight, and he is looking for you. He has eyes that penetrate the thickest darkness and can restore sight in this simple place of prayer by the simple mud and water of the gospel.

 

The most brilliant light cannot be seen by a corpse. You cannot see the beautiful shadow of the Son of God if you are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). The Bible says that there is a darkness that is so dark it can be felt (Ex 10:21-23).  It is a gloomy thick darkness that chokes the atmosphere of your life. “A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.” (Job 10:22). Do you have a spiritual pulse? Oh it is the work of God to pass by you in this dead condition and he will say, “Live!” (Ezek 16:6). Even now if in your heart you are saying, “Let me live!” there is already a spiritual pulse in your life. Even now you are coming to life by the presence of Christ and the simple mud and water of the gospel!

 

Then it is amazing grace that God has shown you to hear Jesus whisper your name.  To hear the sweet voice of Jesus whisper in your ears as He says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world! I must work the works of him that sent me, night cometh when no man can work.”  Christ’s life and ministry were like the sunrise that blossoms into a noon time sun on the whole world and his death would be like the sunset and then night. The Father set a time for Jesus to come who arose like “the Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2).

 

Oh that is the mercy of God if you can hear his voice even now! I pray he will speak the word to your heart. You cannot run from his smiling face, His face full of pity and compassion for you. He can find you wherever you are at this very moment. The word of God, the Bible, is living and powerful and that is why God is talking this way to you at this moment. He can speak the word “Let there be light!” and that light can penetrate into the darkest life in less time than it takes to say those words! 

 

He whispers to you “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph 5:14). The word that he speaks is like, “a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts!” (2 Peter 1:19).  That dark place means, “A parched, squalid, dirty, dark, neglected murky” place (Vincent)! Oh like the first star in the morning he will rise into the darkest night of your life- that is the beginning of what we call illumination (Heb 10:32). It is a special work of God that imbues (soaks and make a soul rich) in the light of salvation (Thayer). In a moment that midnight darkness will see at first the glimmer of the bright and morning star Jesus Christ and as he comes closer your soul will be turn into a noonday of mercy and grace. Only then can you really say, “I was blind but now I see!” It is all because of the Mud and Water of the Gospel! 

 

The text goes on to say, “When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”  There are many interpretations about the clay and spittle. He created eyes in him like when God created Adam from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7). I especially like what ancient Christian father taught, “For he spat in a human fashion, yet his spittle was charged with deity, for therewith he caused the eyes of the man born blind…to receive sight” (Athanasius). 

I think if Jesus used some kind of medicine the religious people would have started selling it on their cable networks! But the simplicity of the spittle, clay and pool are found in the preaching of the gospel!  The gospel offers life from the dead and sight for those who will respond to his voice! All the motivational speaking, relevant preaching cannot give life like the ancient message of the Bible. It is never out of date.  Sometimes gospel spittle, smearing some gospel mud, and telling people to get to the gospel pool is what it takes! Because it shows that the power is not in the mud and the water but in Christ! God is the Savior not us! 

 

Jesus ordered that blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam, Shiloam or Shiloh. It was a mikvah or a ritual bath designed for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. Isaiah reproaches the men of his time, that they despise the softly flowing waters of Siloam and preferred the rapid and impetuous streams of the world (Isaiah 8:6). They want loud entertaining religious shows not quiet cleansing pools. What is the sense of being religious if you are stained or defiled with sin! Christ wants to cleanse you from sin!

 

The mikvah also points to the bridal bath.  Paul refers to the bride of Christ the church and that Christ died for he “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Eph 5:26). This is a type of going to that pool and washing yourself in the Word of God, you hear it and read it and it washes and cleanses you from sin (John 17:17). When Christ commanded him to go and wash when he washed he found out that, “The commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes!” (Ps 19:8). 

 

The meaning of Siloam is Sent. It refers not to a pool but the Sent One of which the Bible says, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen 49:10).  It is not where you are sent but who is sent to you. True Christian faith is not just being sent to something or somewhere but it is God sending Christ to us-it’s the theme of the entire Bible. At this moment, we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would come and make your life a new creation. He is simply coming to you using the mud and water of the gospel to open your eyes!