May 31st, 2020
Message Text: John 7:14-24
Call to Worship: Psalm 119:65-72 (Teth)
Aux. text: 1 Corinthians 2:10b-16
Service Orientation: Nobody teaches like God. You want real wisdom, instruction, knowledge, and discernment? . . . Submit to God’s teaching.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. — John 14:26
- (v. 14) [Jesus went up…temple.] This means the outer court of the temple, where pious Jews were in the habit of assembling in order to hear the doctors of the law and others, and to discuss religious subjects. This is the place where our Lord was, when Joseph and Mary found Him, at twelve years of age, “in the temple” (Lk 2:46). It was probably a large open courtyard, with piazzas or verandas around it, for shelter against heat and cold. (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 20)
- (v. 14) John doesn’t tell us exactly what He taught. But knowing the Lord’s methods and pattern, we can be fairly sure it was a remarkable exposition of the feast itself, displaying unusual knowledge and insight to the OT passages relating to it. (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on John, 127)
- (v. 15) According to Tholuck, it was a rule of the Talmud, “that no man could appear as a teacher who had not for some years been a colleague of a Rabbi.” (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 21)
- (v. 15) False prophets invariably proclaim their own musings to attract followers and secure personal gain. Their goal is not to feed the flock, but to fleece it. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 292)
- (v. 19) The double denunciation, aimed at the leaders, comes like a thunderbolt and a lightning flash. It shows that Jesus was at this very moment reading the hearts of these men. He knew that while they tried to pose as the guardians of the law of Moses, a law which is summarized in the one word love, they had hatred and murder in their hearts (cf. 5:18). (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John 7-21, 12)
(v. 19) Here Christ completely turns the tables upon them. They were saying that He was unlettered, and now He charges them with having the letter of the Law, but failing to render obedience to it. They professed to be the disciples of Moses, and yet there they were with murder in their hearts, because He had healed a man on the Sabbath. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 387)
- (v. 20) Unaware of the murderous plans of a few, many in the crowd were driven to the conclusion that He was demon-possessed, thereby suffering paranoid delusions. In their thinking, then, everything else Jesus had taught must be discounted as the product of a demonic and deranged thinker. If we are correct in this reading, we see a vivid illustration of the blinding effect some persons have upon others. (Joseph Dongell, John, A Commentary for Bible Students, 107-8)
- (v. 20) In the Synoptic Gospels we frequently meet with cases of demon possession, but there are none in John. But John mentions a number of accusations, like this present one, that Jesus is demon-possessed and that this is the explanation of what he says (8:48-52; 10:20-21). The accusation is made, of course, in the Synoptics also (Mk 3:22, etc.). (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 361)
- (v. 20) It seems that this statement came from the common people who had gathered in Jerusalem at that time; it does not stand to reason that the rulers would have made such a statement, because they knew they were “going about” to kill Him! (Oliver B. Greene, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 1, 413)
(v. 21) No Rabbi ever made a statement on his own authority. He always began: “There is a teaching that. . .” He then went on to cite quotations and authorities for every statement he made. And here was this Galilaean carpenter, a man with no training whatever, daring to quote and to expound Moses to them. (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 239)
- (v. 22) Now circumcision is two things. It is medical attention to one part of a man’s body; and the body has actually two hundred and forty-eight parts. (That was the Jewish reckoning.) Further, circumcision is a kind of mutilation; it is actually taking something from the body. How can you in reason blame me for making a man’s body whole when you allow yourselves to mutilate it on the Sabbath day? (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 242)
- (v. 23) Jesus spoke of his healing the invalid at the pool of Bethesda, which he did on the Sabbath the last time he was in Judea. That healing had influenced the Jews’ plans to murder him (5:9, 10, 16-18). (Gary P. Baumler, The People’s Bible: John, 114)
- (v. 24) At first sight, it may appear that Jesus’ words in verse 24 contradict his teaching in Mt 7:1. Upon careful reflection, however, we find consistency. In the sermon beginning in Mt 7:1 (“Do not judge, or you too will be judged”), Jesus preached against judgmentalism, the act of condemning others by comparing them to our own ‘superior” behavior. Such self-righteousness would not fit with kingdom values. This teaching condemns false judgment based on outward appearances (superficial, physical interpretations). Right judgment demands moral and biblical discernment in order to make a wise choice. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 157-8)
The question to be answered is . . . What is Jesus revealing about Himself and the Law in this passage?
Answer: Jesus shows us that God is greater than any human teacher. But to have the discernment necessary to embrace this teaching one must have pure motives. Impure motives cloud our judgment. It especially clouds our ability to righteously apply the hierarchy of laws built within the Law.
His mastery of Scripture surely amazed them, as it had earlier to those who heard the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 7:28-29), those in His hometown of Nazareth (13:54), and those in Capernaum (Mk 1:22). His preaching would even astound the temple police sent to arrest Him (vv. 45-46). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 289)
The differences between human opinions concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father’s teaching about him are another example. The present chapter of John’s Gospel is full of such human opinions. We find some calling Jesus “a good man” (v. 12). This is the most impossible view of all. Some call Christ a “deceiver” (v. 12). Others were willing to call him a “prophet” (v. 40). Some said he was possessed by a demon, another way of saying that he was crazy (v. 20). Some felt that he was very courageous (v. 26) and that he was what we would call a “spellbinder” (v. 46). The truth of the matter is that Jesus is God. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 562)
The Word for the Day is . . . Teach
There should be no disconnect between spiritual and intellectual pursuits. The mind and soul are not enemies. They are allies. I don’t think you can be spiritual, in the truest sense of the word, without being intellectual. And I don’t think you can be intellectual, in the truest sense of the word, without being spiritual. As the mind expands, so does the soul. (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 103)
What does Jesus teach us?:
- God is the Greatest Teacher. (Jn 7:14-16; see also: Ex 4:15; 1Kgs 8:36; 2 Chr 6:27; Neh 9:20; Job 36:22; Ps 19:1-2; 25:4-5, 8-9; 27:11; 32:8; 71:17; 78:1; 143:8-10; Prv 2:1-8; Isa 2:3; 54:13; Jer 9:23-24; Mt 7:28-29; 16:16-17; Mk 1:21-22, 27; 11:17-18; 12:14; Lk 2:47; 4:31-32, 36; 24:45; Jn 3:2, 34; 5:30, 36; 6:44-45, 57; 8:26-28, 38-40; 12:49-50; 14:9-10, 24, 26; 17:8, 14; Acts 4:13; 1 Cor 1:25; 2:4-5; 1 Thess 4:8-9; 2 Tm 3:16)
False teachers use their own material. True teachers from God teach God’s Word (Mic 3:3, 11; Isa 56:11; Ez 34:2-3; Rom 16:18; Phil 3:19; 1 Tm 6:5; Ti 1:11; 2 Pt 2:3, 14-15; Acts 8:18-19; Jude 11)
Let his enemies take note of this fact; namely, that in rejecting him and his message they are rejecting God himself (cf. 4:34; 5:23, 24, 30; Mt 10:40). (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John 7-21, 10)
Jesus was also different from the OT prophets, even though they, like Him, were sent from God and proclaimed His truth. But whereas they said, “Thus says the Lord” (e.g. Isa 7:7; Jer 2:2; Ez 2:4; Amos 1:3; Obad 1:1; Mic 2:3; Nah 1:12; Hag 1:2; Zech 1:3; Mal 1:4), Jesus authoritatively declared, “I say to you” (e.g. Jn 5:24; 6:32, 53; 8:51, 58; Mt 5:18, 20, 22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44; 6:2, 5; 8:11; 10:15; 11:22, 24; 17:12; 19:9; 21:43; 23:36; Mk 10:15; 11:24; Lk 13:35; 18:17, 29-30). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 290)
Life is the classroom; God is the teacher; skinned and bruised egos are the price for learning. (Dr. Chris Thurman; The Lies We Believe, 145)
To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it. (A. W. Tozer; The Knowledge of the Holy, 115)
It is dangerous to suggest that arrival at God’s truth can be attained only after years of study needing a trained academic mind. God is not so unloving, so unjust, as to have weighted faith in favor of the intellectuals. The spiritually robust man does not need to plough through even one volume of Gifford Lectures before he can confidently recite the Apostles’ Creed. (Harry Blamires; The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think?, 123)
Those who have abandoned themselves to God always lead mysterious lives and receive from him exceptional and miraculous gifts by means of the most ordinary, natural and chance experiences in which there appears to be nothing unusual. The simplest sermon, the most banal conversations, the least erudite books become a source of knowledge and wisdom to these souls by virtue of God’s purpose. This is why they carefully pick up the crumbs which clever minds tread under foot, for to them everything is precious and a source of enrichment. (Ken Gire; The Reflective Life, 25)
On the occasion of Jesus’ transfiguration, the Father spoke audibly about His Son: “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Lk 9:35). The Father Himself attested to the authority of the teaching of Jesus, that His doctrine was true and, as Jesus claimed here, there was no mixture of unrighteousness in it. (R.C. Sproul, John: An Expositional Commentary, 127)
The age did not prize originality. The rabbinic method was to cite authorities for all important statements. So Jesus did not claim to be the originator of his message. It does not stem from any earthly source. It stems from him who sent him. (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 359)
In any age, where there is a religious hierarchy, there is also a strong prejudice against the unauthorized, unlicensed minister, who serves God without denominational approval. Yet a man who listens to the Spirit of God, whose heart is fired by that Spirit, is more learned and approved than the best seminarian who lacks God’s counsel within his spirit. (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on John, 128)
As the critics saw it, there were only two possibilities: either, Jesus must have been enrolled as a regular student in a rabbinical school; or else, he is simply spouting his own ideas. And whereas they knew that the first of these alternatives was definitely “out,” the second must be the truth. So Jesus answered them and said, My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. Not taught by man, nor self-taught, but instructed by God himself, that was his answer. (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John 7-21, 10)
The man most used of God last century–Mr. C. H. Spurgeon–was a graduate of no Bible Institute! We do not say that God has not used the Bible schools to help many who have gone there; we do not say there may not be such which He is using today. But what we do say is, that such schools are not an imperative necessity. You have the same Bible to hand that they have; and you have the same Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. God may be pleased to use human instruments in instructing and enlightening you, or He may give you the far greater honor and privilege of teaching you directly. That is for you to ascertain. Your first duty is to humbly and diligently look to HIM, wait on Him for guidance, seek His will, and the sure promise is, “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (Ps 25:9). (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 384)
For the reason why the Heavenly Father determined that his Son should go out of a mechanic’s workshop, rather than from the schools of the scribes, was, that the origin of the gospel might be more manifest, that none might think that it had been fabricated on the earth, or imagine that any human being was the author of it. Thus also Christ chose ignorant and uneducated men to be his apostles, and permitted them to remain three years in gross ignorance, that, having instructed them in a single instant, he might bring them forward as new men, and even as angels who had just come down from heaven. (Calvin’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, 289)
We see by what method he procures authority for his doctrine. It is by referring it to God as its Author. We see also on what ground, and for what reason, he demands that he shall be heard. It is, because the Father sent him to teach. Both of these things ought to be possessed by every man who takes upon himself the office of a teacher, and wishes that he should be believed. (Calvin’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, 290)
Jesus wanted His audience to understand that what He was saying was not something He had thought up, the product of His own mind; what He proclaimed was the Word and doctrine of Jehovah God. Here again is shown His inseparable union with God the Father. He did not speak as a rabbi nor as one of the apostles; He spoke the Word of the living God; He WAS the Word, tabernacling in flesh. (Oliver B. Greene, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 1, 410-1)
To do God’s will is not just a matter of faith, but a matter of the heart being in harmony with God in all things, being wholly surrendered to Him. If the Jews had believed that the message Jesus gave was from God, they would have understood that His voice was the voice of God speaking to men–and such learning was not obtainable in the theological schools of the rabbis. (Oliver B. Greene, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 1, 411)
The person who is not called of God and led by the Spirit speaks from himself, for himself, and exalts himself. True believers can recognize this immediately. Those who are born of God will know whether or not a minister is speaking from God or from his own understanding and ability. A man who has a reasonable education can prepare and deliver a sermon, perhaps delivering it well; but that is not necessarily preaching the Gospel. (Oliver B. Greene, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 1, 412)
Since they could not refute Jesus’ teaching, they questioned His credentials–challenging His authority to teach because He lacked an authorized education and legitimate right to teach. The implication was that His words should be disregarded as merely the opinion of a self-styled intruder who had no true connection to the established and authoritative fraternity of teachers. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 289)
God promised concerning the great prophet that he would put his words into his mouth (Dt 28:18), to which Christ seems here to refer. Note, It is the comfort of those who embrace Christ’s doctrine, and the condemnation of those who reject it, that it is a divine doctrine; it is of God and not of man. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Vol. V, 966)
There is more in Christianity than can be gathered from books or teachers. A blind man may learn the theory of light. But open his eyes and he is in a new world. “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord” (Isa 54:13). Though one may have had the best instructors, yet if he is not taught of the Lord, he is not prepared to teach others the way of salvation. The captain who understands navigation, in approaching a strange coast, gives the control of the ship into the hands of the pilot who knows the channel. An unlettered man who enjoys religion is a much safer spiritual guide than an uncovered theologian. One cannot teach what he does not comprehend. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but if he is destitute of the Spirit of God he cannot comprehend the things of God. If he thinks he can it only makes matters worse. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor. 2:14). (B.T. Roberts; Fishers Of Men, 35-6)
We may also see the difference between the views of human beings and the truth of God in regard to the doctrine of Scripture. What is the Bible? Many will answer that the Bible is a record of man’s seeking after God and of his views about God–if indeed they do not say something worse. But God tells us that the Bible is his word about man and to man in his lost condition. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 561)
Instead of seeking to honor God, false teachers seek honor for themselves. Jesus castigated the scribes and Pharisees as those who “do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men” (Mt 23:5-7), and “for appearance’s sake offer long prayers” (Lk 20:47). False teachers are “those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh” (Gal 6:12) and “boast according to the flesh” (2 Cor 11:18). Like Diotrephes, they love the place of prominence (3 Jn 9). But those whose goal is to “be honored by men. . . have their reward in full” (Mt 6:2; cf. vv. 5, 16). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 293)
Jesus, however, never sought His own glory (cf. 5:41; 8:50), since He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28), for He is “gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29; cf. 2 Cor 10:1). “Although He existed in the form of God,” Paul wrote, Jesus “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8; cf. 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pt 2:24). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 293)
The Source of Jesus’ teaching cannot be compared with any Rabbi, however wise he may be. And His doctrine does not originate within Himself. It is God Himself, the One who sent Him, whose truth He is opening to them. Therefore, He does not speak for Himself, because He is not seeking His own glory. He speaks this truth out of a life of obedience to His Father’s will. His words are righteous, God’s speech lived out among men. So there is an integrity and authenticity about what He says. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 145-6)
- Pure motives encourage divine discernment. (Jn 7:17-19; see also: Ps 36:9; 111:10; 119:34, 100, 130; Prv 1:7, 29; 9:10; 28:5; Isa 30:21; Hos 14:9; Mt 6:22; 7:24-25; Jn 3:21; 7:17; 8:31; 12:46; 14:23-24; Acts 5:32; 7:53; 1 Cor 1:18; 2:10-16; Gal 5:17; Eph 4:18; Jam 3:17)
His hearers had raised the question of his competence as a teacher. He raises the question of their competence as hearers. (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 360)
The fundamental condition for obtaining spiritual knowledge is a genuine heart-desire to carry out the revealed will of God in our lives. Wherever the heart is right God gives the capacity to apprehend His truth. If the heart be not right, wherein would be the value of knowing God’s truth? God will not grant light on His Word unless we are truly anxious to walk according to that light. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 385)
“True knowledge of God is born out of obedience.” —John Calvin (Eugene H. Peterson; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction discipleship in an Instant Society, 156)
We learn more by five minutes’ obedience than by ten years’ study. —Oswald Chambers (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 6/26)
God does not give assurance in spiritual things merely to satisfy curiosity. He does not teach divine truth to those who will not live by it. However, if a man determines in advance that he will live by it–that he is serious with God–then God will disclose the truths of his Word to him. In particular, he will disclose the truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ to those who determine that they will follow him. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 563)
If there be a readiness to do the will of God, the capacity for discerning God’s message will follow. Whoever has that readiness of heart will recognize in the teaching of Jesus a message which authenticates itself to spiritual perception and conscience as the truth. Truth must ultimately be self-authenticating; it cannot appeal to any authority external to itself: “great is truth and mighty above all things”. (F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, 175-6)
The central clue to this passage is verse 17: if anyone wants to do God’s will, they will know whether the teaching which Jesus is giving comes from God, or whether he’s just making it up to boost his own position and reputation. If, that is, somebody really intends to do God’s will when they discover it, then it will become clear to them that Jesus really is from God. (N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part One, 96-7)
If there be no true desire to obey the will of God as expressed in his Word, true knowledge (both intellectual and experiential) will not be found. (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John 7-21, 10)
Spiritual understanding is not produced solely by learning facts or procedures, but rather it depends on obedience to known truth. Obedience to God’s known will develops discernment between falsehood and truth. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 84)
There is no one, said Emerson, who would not have been an entirely different being had he been born ten years earlier or later than he was. Well may we pray for that Holy Spirit, promised to guide us; and that of his mercy he will grant us the priceless gift of a discerning, honest, open mind, so that we may not be misled into mistaking our prejudices and customs for principle and our conventions for the eternal and unalterable laws of God. (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 584-5)
The Jews expected the outward appearance of the Messiah to be pompous and magnificent, and attended with all the ceremonies of secular grandeur; and, judging from first to last a continual mistake, for the kingdom of Christ was not to be of this world, nor to come with observation. If a divine power accompanied him, and God bore him witness, and the scriptures were fulfilled in him, though his appearance was ever so mean, they ought to receive him, and to judge by faith, and not by the sight of the eye. See Isa 11:3, and 1 Sm 16:7. Christ and his doctrine and doings desire nothing but righteous judgment; if truth and justice may but pass the sentence, Christ and his cause will carry the day. We must not judge concerning any by their outward appearance, but by their titles, the figure they make in the world, and their fluttering show, but by their intrinsic worth, and the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit in them. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Vol. V, 969)
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit. Among the things of the Spirit to which the natural man is most averse is God’s estimate of sin, which is difficult even for a Christian to accept and appreciate. This is why believers are to exhort each other daily, “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13). Now if sin can deceive a believer, how much more deceitful is it to an unbeliever? If a man with 20-20 vision cannot discern an object at which he is gazing, how shall one born blind see it? Because of the deceitful nature of sin, the unregenerate world cannot comprehend. (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Freedom, 27)
Jesus claimed nothing of his own. He wasn’t self-taught or educated in schools. Everything he taught and did came from his Father in heaven. Anyone who chooses to do God’s will soon finds out that Jesus’ teachings come from God. Choosing to do God’s will means believing in Jesus (6:29, 40). (Gary P. Baumler, The People’s Bible: John, 113)
Doing good is the only sure proof of spiritual life. Knowledge without practice is the character of the devil.” (J.C. Ryle; John: Vol. 3, 29)
What was the principle that guided Eric Liddell’s Christian life, whether competing in the Olympics or serving on the mission field in China? In 1942, the last full year of his internment, he published a book called, Prayers for Daily Use. In it he wrote about obedience as the key to knowing God:
“OBEDIENCE to God’s will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight. It is not willingness to know, but willingness to DO (obey) God’s will that brings certainty.” (Foresee; Vol. 32, No. 4, July/August 1999)
Jn 7:17 literally reads, “If any man is willing to do His [God’s] will, he shall know.” This explains why the Jewish leaders did not understand Jesus’ teachings; they had stubborn wills and would not submit to him (Jn 5:40). (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 113)
An enlightened and educated mind is no guarantee of a pure heart or a sanctified will. Some of the world’s worst criminals have been highly intelligent and well-educated people. (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 114)
In so many ways I can’t explain, fasting puts me in a position to not only hear from God but to be formed by God. It takes me to a place where I feel a heightened sense of vulnerability and a diminished sense of power. I’ve come to believe that equates to a certain availability to hear and obey God.
My experience is that when I surround myself with all of the things that make me comfortable, I require little if any power from God. Surrounded with everything I think I need, involved with my own means, methods, strategies, and plans, I become a product of my own will and wisdom. (Pete Wilson, Empty Promises, 178)
Our Scriptures teach us that if you know what you are supposed to do and you don’t do it, then you sin (Jam 4:17). In other words, when we stock up on knowledge without applying it to our lives, we are actually sinning. You would think that learning more about God would be a good thing…and it can be. But when we gain knowledge about God without responding to Him or assimilating His truth into our lives, then it is not a good thing. According to the Bible, it’s sin. (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 156-7)
We learn, furthermore, that God tests men’s sincerity by making obedience part of the process by which religious knowledge is obtained. Are we really willing to do God’s will so far as we know it? If we are, God will take care that our knowledge is increased. If we are not willing to do His will, we show clearly that we do not want to be God’s servants. Our hearts and not our heads are in fault. (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 23)
There is a tension underlying false discernment, an anxiety that pressures the mind to make a judgment. True discernment emerges out of a tranquil and pure heart, one that is almost surprised by the wisdom and grace in the voice of Christ. Remember, our thoughts will always be colored by the attitudes of our hearts. Jesus said, “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Mt 12:34). He also said, “Out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts” (Mk 7:21). Again He said, “the pure in heart…shall see God” (Mt 5:8). From the heart the mouth speaks, the eyes see, and the mind thinks. In fact, Prv 4:23 (NKJV) tells us to diligently guard our hearts for “out of [the heart] spring the issues of life.”
Life, as we perceive it, is based upon the condition of our heart. This is very important because the gifts of the Spirit must pass through our hearts before they are presented to the world around us. In other words, if our hearts are not right, the gifts will not be right either.
When the heart has unrest it cannot hear from God. Therefore, we must learn to mistrust our judgment when our heart is bitter, angry, ambitious or harboring strife for any reason. The Scriptures tell us to “let the peace of Christ rule [act as arbiter] in [our] hearts” (Col 3:15). To hear clearly from God, we must first have peace. (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 81-2)
Is it not clear…that through self-knowledge men come to much good, and through self-deception to much harm? For those who know themselves, know what things are expedient for themselves and discern their own powers and limitations. —Xenophon (Richard M. Gamble, The Great Tradition, 29)
It teaches that one secret of getting the key of knowledge, is to practice honestly what we know, and that if we conscientiously use the light that we now have, we shall soon find more light coming down into our minds.–In short, there is a sense in which it is true, that by doing we shall come to knowing. (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 15-6)
Whatever some may say about their inability to find out truth, you will rarely find one of them who does not know better than he practices. Then if he is sincere, let him begin here at once. Let him humbly use what little knowledge he has got, and God will soon give him more.–“If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Mt 6:22). (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 16)
There are two ways of increasing the power of falling water: rise the dam. Or lower the channel. So you will always find that the lower you humble yourself, the more power you will have with God and men. Obey the Spirit, and more of the Spirit will be given you. “And we are his witnesses of these things and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32). To those that obey the drawings of the Spirit, the fullness is given. (B.T. Roberts; Fishers Of Men, 62)
There are some who would have us believe that tough, demanding teachers and an uncompromising commitment to excellence are not compatible with the concept of a loving, caring, redemptive community, which we also expect a Christian college to be. This is an example of the kind of flabby thinking that keeps Christians from being optimally prepared to meet the challenges of representing Christ effectively in an alien environment. This is the kind of thinking that makes excuses. Nowhere in Scripture, in the Old or New Testament, do we see God calling us to be anything but our best. Certainly our colleges—which are also His colleges—should operate on the same principle. (Bob Briner; Roaring Lambs: A Gentle Plan to Radically Change Your World, 158-9)
The British preacher F. W. Robertson said that “obedience is the organ of spiritual knowledge.” (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 113)
The Lord’s challenge to the crowd was simple: If they would humble themselves before God’s Word (wherein His will is revealed) to know and obey it, they would come to a sure realization that His teaching was true. That challenge still stands two millennia later. The assurance promised in this verse is available to all genuine believers. Such confidence comes through the Holy Spirit, who confirms the truth about Christ to the willing heart (1 Jn 2:20, 27), both internally, through His testimony (1 Cor 2:10-15; cf. Rom 8:16), and externally, through manifestations that demonstrate the truth of the gospel (Jn 3:2; 5:36; 10:38; Acts 2:22). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 290-1)
Are we speaking the truth, or are we only doing it to boost our own status, prestige or wealth? Many times in the history of the church people have accused preachers and teachers of the latter, and sometimes they have been proved right. Verse 17 is important here, too: people often accuse Christians of advancing their own ideas rather than God’s when the people concerned don’t really want to hear what God has to say to them. Blaming the church is a convenient way of ignoring God’s costly and demanding call. (N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part One, 99)
When we try to trace our love for God in Christ to its source, we discover that it resulted from the contemplation of the facts of the gospel and from our interpretation of the significance of these facts. Nevertheless, we hasten to add: knowledge as such never produces love. It results in love when the Holy Spirit applies this knowledge to the heart; i.e., when he creates in the heart a response to the love of Christ, the knowledge of which is already present in the mind. Now this love, in turn, expresses itself in deeds of obedience: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The fundamental relation between the three is, therefore: a. knowledge, b. love, c. obedience. cf. Jn 17:26; 14:15. (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John 7-21, 10-11)
Would these men make the law their standard? Well, then, the law would condemn them. They would use the law to attempt to prove that Jesus Christ was a sinner, but even while they were doing it the law would condemn them for their hatred and murderous designs. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 566-7)
III. Righteousness demands knowing the hierarchy within the Law. (Jn 7:22-24; see also: Ex 1:15-21; Mt 12:3-8; 22:36-40; Mk 2:23-28; 12:28; Lk 6:1-5; Bk of Gal)
Their consideration for the outward letter of the Law (as shown in their concern for circumcision) contrasts sharply with their carelessness about the deeper things to which the Law points (as shown in their attitude toward Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath). Their values are wrong. They are superficial. They do not understand the meaning of the law they profess to honor, and therefore they do not recognize that the authority of Jesus is the very authority of God. (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 358)
He was not arguing simply that a repressive law be liberalized. Nor was he adopting an antisabbatarian attitude, opposing the whole institution. He pointed out that his action fulfilled the purpose of the original institution. Had his opponents understood the implications of the Mosaic provision for circumcision on the Sabbath they would have seen that deeds of mercy such as he has just done were not merely permissible but obligatory. (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 362)
Later rabbinic teaching generally concurs that, granted the lesser premise that circumcision (which “perfects” but one member of the human body) supersedes the Sabbath commandment, the saving of the entire body transcends it all the more. A saying attributed to R. Eliezer (A.D. 90) reads: “now if on account of a single limb of a person, they override the prohibitions of the Sabbath on account of [the saving of] the whole of him?” (t. Šabb. 15:16). R. Eleazar B. Azariah (A.D. 100) judged similarly: “If circumcision, which affects but one only of the two hundred and forty-eight members of the human body, suspends the Sabbath, how much more shall [the saving of] the whole body suspend the Sabbath!” (b. Yoma 85b; cf. Mek. Ex 31:13). (Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Ill. Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 2, 76)
Jesus argued that if a rite were permitted that marked purification by affecting only one member of the body, why should he not be allowed to make the entire man whole on the Sabbath? The translation “stop judging” correctly implies that his enemies should cease making superficial pronouncements on his work and that they should evaluate it objectively. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 84)
Did God give the law to condemn? Does God take delight in the law’s verdict upon sinful humanity? The answer is that the law was given to point men and women to Christ. The law was not given with the thought that anyone would ever keep it as a way of salvation. The law was a standard given in order to convince men of their true and hopeless condition so that they might turn from their own efforts at salvation and come to God for grace. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 568)
The reference to circumcision on the Sabbath shows that the issue of healing on the Sabbath was central to Jesus’ controversy with the Jewish rulers. So, no doubt, the “one miracle” refers to the healing of the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (Jn 5:1-18), which initiated the hostile criticism of “the Jews.” (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 84)
He demonstrated from their own practices that they would overrule a law when two ceremonial laws came into conflict. But the Jewish leaders were so engrossed with their regulations about Sabbath-keeping that they failed to see the true intent of Jesus’ actions. They judged his actions by mere appearances and failed to make a right judgment. Their superficial but tenacious adherence to their own traditions would cause them to miss the Messiah, to whom their Scriptures pointed. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 157)
Jesus argues that if the sabbath law may rightly be suspended for the removal of a small piece of tissue from one part of the body, it cannot be wrong to heal a man’s whole body on the sabbath day. This type of argument, in fact, was used by some rabbis to justify medical treatment in a case of urgency on the sabbath, but Jesus uses it to justify an act of healing whether the case is urgent or not. (F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, 177)
Why did Jesus bring this up? The law of Moses required that every infant boy be circumcised exactly eight days after birth (Lv 12:3). But what if the day of circumcision fell on the Sabbath? Did Moses require that it be postponed? No, not only did the law of Moses allow circumcision on the Sabbath day, it required circumcision on the Sabbath day. If the law of Moses required that the sign of a person’s wellness be given on the Sabbath day, how could the Jewish leaders object when Jesus healed a man completely on the Sabbath day? This was classic ad hominem argumentation, not in the abusive sense but in one logical sense. Jesus took the foolishness of His critics to its logical conclusion and showed that He was not the One who was violating Moses, they were. In so doing, He showed that despite their great knowledge and their academic credentials, they remained ignorant of the things of God. (R.C. Sproul, John: An Expositional Commentary, 128)
To keep the law of Moses you circumcise upon the sabbath, although that law lays it down that no work should be allowed to break in on the sabbatical rest and calm. Why then are you angry with me, because in exercising the right of discrimination between a less and a more, as you yourselves habitually do in that matter of circumcision, I have judged that to heal a suffering fellow man, to give him back fullness of life upon the sabbath, is a thing far nearer the heart and will of God, a much more real and vital obedience to his demands upon me, than to preserve a rigid and immaculate abstinence from work upon that day?” (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 583-4)
The law says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Gal 3:10; cf. Dt 27:26). If salvation could come by any law, it would come by God’s law. God’s law is perfect. But no one keeps it. Hence, its very perfection condemns us. Christ’s first point was an important one. Anyone trusting in the law will be condemned by the law. If we are to be saved, salvation must come by a different road entirely. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 567)
So binding did they regard the command to circumcise on the eight day (Lv 12:3) that they held this to override the Sabbath (cf. Mishnah, Shab. 18:3; 19:1, 2; Ned. 3:11). Thus, though they would scrupulously avoid all manner of things that even remotely looked like work lest the Sabbath be profaned, they had no hesitation in carrying out the ritual requirement of circumcision on that day. Had they understood the significance of what they were doing they would have seen that a practice that overrode the Sabbath in order to provide for the ceremonial needs of a man justified the overriding of the Sabbath in order to provide for the bodily healing of a man. (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 362)
The laws of the sabbath forbid work, and you have interpreted that to mean every kind of activity except that which is absolutely necessary to save life. Technically, this should exclude circumcision. Yet you permit it, and it is right that you do. Moreover, notice that circumcision is a form of mutilation. How hypocritical then for you to blame me for curing a man’s body, making it whole, when you for the sake of religion actually mutilate it on the seventh day!” (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 567-8)
Worship Point: Your worship increases your knowledge about God and your knowledge refines your worship. Worship the God Who created you and seeks to teach you to be more than an animal or a machine. God wants to teach you to be partakers of the divine nature and thus fully human. (Gn 1:27; 9:6; Isa 55:8-9; Jn 19:5; 2 Cor 2 4:4; Pt 1:4)
The means of worship influences the worshipers’ apprehension of God. So, Christian corporate worship both requires and shapes our understanding of the Bible’s teaching about God. The doctrine of God informs our corporate worship, and, in turn, our corporate worship refines our practical comprehension and embrace of the doctrine of God. It is true, of course, that worship in all of life impacts our corporate worship. Those who do not “present [their] bodies a living and holy sacrifice” are both unprepared to enter into the fullness of corporate worship as it is envisioned in the world and are not expressing one of its principal intended ethical effects. In fact, the person in whom there is an experiential dissonance between activity in gathered worship and worship in the rest of life is in danger of creating a parallel but juxtaposed life, the breeding ground of a fatal spiritual hypocrisy. (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 52-3)
That is the trouble with the world, it does not know God. And the world will never be interested in the Christian message until it has some knowledge of God.
Oh, the church has been blind to this. She has been trying to attract people to herself for fifty years and more, putting on popular programmes, dramas, music, this that and the other, trying to entice people, especially young people, but they do not come. Of course not. They never will come until they know the name of the Lord, and then they will come. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Revival, 309-10)
Now we must not worship without study, for ignorant worship is of limited value and can be very dangerous. We may develop “a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:1-2) and do great harm to ourselves and others. But worship must be added to study to complete the renewal of our mind through a willing absorption in the radiant person who is worthy of all praise. Study without worship is also dangerous, and the people of Jesus constantly suffer from its effects, especially in academic settings. To handle the things of God without worship is always to falsify them. (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 362-3)
Education is an altar which is now thronged by a multitude of idolatrous worshipers. That, no doubt, is one reason why God’s curse has fallen on almost all our seats of learning. He is jealous of His glory, and anything which enters into competition with Himself He blights and withers. An unholy valuation of human learning, which supplants humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit is, perhaps, the chief reason why God’s presence and blessing have long since departed from the vast majority of our centers of Christian education. And in the judgment of the writer, there is an immediate and grave danger that we may shortly witness the same tragedy in connection with our Bible Schools and Bible Institutes. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 382-3)
We alone of living beings have to cooperate in making ourselves, in gaining for ourselves true existence.
Even certain common idioms show our awareness of this truth. G.K. Chesterton once observed that you might slap a man on the shoulder who was drinking too heavily and say, “Be a man!”, but it would be pointless to tell a recalcitrant crocodile to “be a crocodile.” It can’t fail to be a crocodile. But we can fail to be men and women, fail to be human. For the human being is made in God’s image to love and serve his maker and his fellows. And if a thing fails of its essential purpose, it fails to exist. A fire which fails to burn is not a fire. A seat which collapses when you sit on it is for practical purposes no longer a seat.
That is why we need education while animals do not. A lamb will skip about on its legs soon after it is born. A human baby needs two or more years and a good deal of patient tuition to get to that stage. We have heard how a child brought up in India among wolves walked naturally on all fours. It is within the choice of any of us to walk or not to walk. A lamb separated from its mother and its flock and brought up as a domestic pet might make a very nice tame companion, but it would not begin to walk on two legs, even if you tried to teach it. Nor would it forget its bleating and learn to speak. Men and women can virtually turn into animals, but even faithful and friendly dogs and horses stop well short of turning into human beings. The better they are as dogs and horses, the more we like them.
And the more human beings are, the more we approve of them. Education is, or ought to be, the process that turns us into fully human beings. Which means that it will try to turn us into the beings God made us to be.
It is a grave thing to say, but “secular education” is a contradiction in terms. True education would try to mold us in the image of Christ. It would insist that no progress in any sphere of knowledge or activity can be a substitute for learning to know, to love, and to serve God. And such knowledge, such love, and such service are the gifts of grace. “By Grace ye are saved,” St. Paul said. By grace alone can we become human.
That is why civilization is now in danger of returning to the jungle. (Harry Blamires; Christian Truth, 71-2)
Gospel Application: Christ fulfills God’s lessons we failed. We will never make righteous judgements about anything significant unless or until we submit to God’s teaching. Being “in Christ” empowers us to do this as well as credits Christ’s righteousness to us. (Prv 3:7; 26:5; 26:12, 16; 28:11; Isa 5:21; 53:6)
If I am the problem, what is the solution? If you educate me, you will get a smart sinner. If you discipline me, you will get a disciplined sinner. If you refine me, I become a refined sinner. If you give me more religion, I will be a religious sinner. Whatever you do with me, you cannot change what I am, and what I am is the problem. (Don Matzat; Christ Esteem, 71)
What the world needs is not knowledge; it is not teaching; it is not information; it is not medical treatment; it is not psychotherapy; it is not social progress; it is not punishment, even. It is none of these things.
What men and women need is a new heart, a new nature, a nature that will hate darkness and love the light, instead of loving the darkness and hating the light. They need an entire renovation, and, blessed be the name of God, it is the very thing that God offers in and through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Son of God came and took unto himself human nature. He united it to himself in order that he night give us that nature. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; God’s Way, Not Ours: Isaiah 1, 67)
The aim of disciplines in the spiritual life–and, specifically, in the following of Christ–is the transformation of the total state of the soul. It is the renewal of the whole person from the inside, involving differences in thought, feeling, and character that may never be manifest in outward behavior at all. This is what Paul has in mind when he speaks of putting off the old man and putting on the new, “renewed to resemble in knowledge the one who created us…” (Colossians 3:10).
The genius of the moral teachings of Jesus and his first students was his insistence that you cannot keep the law by trying not to break the law. That will only make a Pharisee of you and sink you into layers of hypocrisy. Instead, you have to be transformed in the functions of the soul so that the deeds of the law are a natural outflow of who you have become. This is spiritual formation in the Christian way, and it must always be kept in mind when we consider Jesus’s teachings about various behaviors–in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere.
For example, his famous teaching about turning the other cheek. If all you intend is to do that, you will find you can do it with a heart still full of bitterness and vengefulness. If, on the other hand, you become a person who has the interior character of Christ, remaining appropriately vulnerable will be done as a matter of course, and you will not think of it as a big deal. (Dallas Willard; The Great Omission, 152)
The Law of Moses was made to reveal sin, not to save. The Jews had perverted it to be the means of salvation, and refused to be indicted by it and driven to the mercy of God in the Messiah Jesus. No matter how they studied and endeavored to apply the Law, it was clear they failed. They refused to allow the Law to do its intended work of convicting them and humbling them and driving them to repentance and faith in Jesus. He was the end of the Law (Rom 10:4). But they were so far from understanding the Law’s purpose that they rejected the only One who could deliver them from the Law’s condemnation and sought to kill Him. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 295)
Two great enemies obtained dominion over man when Adam sinned–the world and self. Of the world Christ says, “The Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” (Jh 14:17). Worldliness is the great hindrance that keeps believers from living a spiritual life. Of self Christ said, “Let him deny himself” (Mk 8:34). Self, in all its forms–self-will, self-pleasing, self-confidence–renders life in the power of the Spirit impossible. (Andrew Murray, Receiving Power from God, 27)
They want to weigh up Jesus’ teaching, and then they’ll decide whether he’s been sent by God or not. That would be all very well if they were, so to speak, neutral observers; but there is no neutrality when you’re faced with prophecy, or national crises, or huge challenges to an entire way of life. In their weighing up of Jesus, many of them have settled it in their minds that there are certain things which they do not want God to be saying to them; and if Jesus says those things, then they will rule him out of consideration right away. (N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part One, 97)
We turn to the death of Jesus Christ, and we find the same variation. Some say that the cross was a tragedy; others, an example of brave suffering. The Bible teaches that the cross was the place of vicarious sacrifice, that Jesus died there for sinful men, and that from before the foundation of the world this great sacrifice was planned as the means by which God would save those whom he had previously determined to save. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 562)
Spiritual Challenge: Let God the Holy Spirit teach you. Rid your heart and mind of anything that prevents you from discerning, embracing, and applying God’s lessons. (Prv 3:5-6; 4:23; 14:12; 16:25; Isa 55:8-9; Mt 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-9; Lk 8:4-8; 1 Cor 1:18-2:16; 5:7; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; Jam 1:21; 1 Pt 2:1)
Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. —G.K. Chesterton.
It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance. —Tom Stowell
Because the author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit (2 Pt 1:21), resides within each child of God (1 Cor 3:16), he or she is in a unique position to receive God’s illumination (1 Cor 2:9-11). The Spirit of truth not only provides insights that permeate the head, but also provides illumination that penetrates the heart.
Clearly, however, the Holy Spirit does not supplant the scrupulous study of Scripture. Rather, He provides us with insights that can only be spiritually discerned. In this way the Holy Spirit helps us to exegete (draw out of) rather than eisegete (read into) Scripture. He only illumines what is in the text; illumination does not go beyond the text. (Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity In Crisis, 221)
Real assurance rests on a sound understanding of salvation, a sound understanding of justification, a sound understanding of sanctification, and a sound understanding of ourselves. In all these matters we have the comfort and assistance of the Holy Spirit who illumines the text of Scripture for us. (R.C. Sproul; Doubt and Assurance, 53)
. . . to think that people today are incapable of understanding Christian truth of having their minds transformed is to underestimate the Holy Spirit and the power of God. (Gene Edward Veith Jr.; Postmodern Times, 228)
They prided themselves on being disciples of Moses (9:28; cf. 5:45; Mt 23:2), yet their treatment of Jesus was an outrage before the God who gave the Law and sent His Son to deliver them from its curse (cf. Mt 23:2-4; Rom 2:23-24). Specifically, they were seeking to murder the Lord, proving themselves to be blasphemous and unworthy descendants not only of Moses, but also of Abraham (8:40). They were blind to the truth of their own Scriptures, as Jesus indicated on several occasions (cf. Jn 5:39; Lk 16:29; 24:27). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 295)
The simpler I become, the freer my mind becomes for spiritual understanding and discernment. (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 117)
If you are relying on a preacher to be fed, I fear for you. Listening to a sermon is second-hand knowledge. It is learning based on someone else’s words or experiences. A sermon is no replacement for first-hand knowledge. You’ve got to see it and hear it and experience it for yourself. It’s not enough to hear the truth. You have to own it. Or more accurately, it has to own you. Honestly, I’d rather have people hear one word from the Lord than a thousand of my sermons. And that happens when you open your Bible and start reading. —Mark Batterson (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 11/10)
Spiritual Challenge Questions:
- What steps can we take to allow God to become our teacher? What means of grace enhance this opportunity?
- What role do our pre-suppositions, or our beliefs and way of thinking; play in our discernment of being educated, of truth and of reality? How do pure motives assist in reliable discernment?
- What examples from the Bible can you think of where God’s people used discernment to implement the hierarchy of the Law and thus obey God?
- What does today’s memory verse teach us about the role of the Holy Spirit in our education?
So What?: Anybody can produce an educated fool. Only a teacher congruent with God’s values and lessons can produce an educated human who partakes of the Divine nature. (1 Kgs 4:29; Prv 1:22-23; 2:1-8; 8:10; 16:16, 22; 24:3; Isa 48:17; Jer 31:31-34; Dn 1:17-20; 1 Cor 1:18-2:16; 2 Tm 3:16-17; 2 Pt 1:4)
If anyone is to have genuine spiritual insight he must become what he world calls ‘a fool’. True wisdom is found in renouncing ‘the wisdom of this world’ (cf. 2:14–15). ( Leon Morris; 1 Corinthians, 68)
God has allowed a great era of pagan learning before Christ’s coming so that humans might see the insufficiency of their own wisdom. (George Marsden; Edwards, 199)
History teaches us that when a barbarian race confronts a sleeping culture, the barbarian always wins. —Arnold Toynbee (George Barna, The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators, 106)
Our humanity is trapped by moral adolescents. We have too many men of science, too few men of God. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, and power without conscience. —General Omar Bradley (Myron S. Augsburger; The Christ-Shaped Conscience, 111)
In 1920, in his book Outline of History, H.G. Wells praised belief in human progress. In 1933, in The Shape of Things to Come, appalled by the selfishness and violence of European nations, Wells believed the only hope was for intellectuals to seize control and run a compulsory educational program stressing peace and justice and equity. In 1945, in A Mind at the End of Its Tether, he wrote, “Homo sapiens, as he has been pleased to call himself, is…played out.” (Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods, Introduction xx-xxi)
Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? Do you put this down to the mere mechanical fact that the press and the radio and so on have made propaganda much easier to distribute over a wide area? Or do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible? (Richard M. Gamble, The Great Tradition, 603)
If I learn my ABCs, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect penmanship, but have not been taught how to communicate with the Designer of all language, I have not been educated.
If I can deliver an eloquent speech and persuade with my stunning logic, but have not been instructed in God’s wisdom, I have not been educated.
If I have read Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis and can discuss their writing with keen insight, but have not read the greatest of books–the Bible–and have no knowledge of its personal importance, I have not been educated.
If I have memorized addition facts multiplication tables, and chemical formulas, but have never been disciplined to hide God’s Word in my heart, I have not been educated.
If I can explain the law of gravity and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but have never been instructed in the unchangeable laws of the One Who orders our universe, I have not been educated.
If I can classify animals by their family, genus and species, and can write a lengthy scientific paper that wins an award, but have not been introduced to the Maker’s purpose for all creation, I have not been educated.
If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution, but have not learned the hand of God in the history of our Country, I have not been educated.
If I can play the piano, the violin, six other instruments, and can write music that moves listeners to tears, but have not been taught to listen to the Director of the universe and worship Him, I have not been educated.
If I can run races, star in a team sport, and do 100 pushups without stopping, but have never been shown how to bend my spirit to do God’s will, I have not been educated.
If I can identify a Picasso, describe the style of Da Vinci, and even paint a portrait that gains acclaim, but have not learned that all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God, I have not been educated.
If I graduate with perfect grades and am accepted at the finest university with a full scholarship, but have not been guided into a career of God’s choosing for me, I have not been educated.
If I become a good citizen, voting at each election and fighting for what is moral and right, but have no understanding of humanity’s sinfulness and hopelessness without Christ, I have not been educated.
However, if one day I see the world as God sees it, and come to know Him, Whom to know is life eternal, and glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me, then, I have been educated! (Carolyn Caines, To Be Educated)
The kingdom of God always appears upside down to the human perspective. We think it’s strange to die in order to live, or to give in order to receive, or to serve in order to lead. Solomon captures the perpetual enigma of our looking-glass values just as Jesus describes them in the Sermon on the Mount. He insists we should embrace sorrow over laughter, rebukes over praise, the long way instead of the short, and today instead of yesterday.
The truth is that it’s not the kingdom of God that is upside down–it’s the world. It’s not the Word of God that turns life inside out–it’s the world that has reversed all the equations that God designed for our lives. (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 189)
Is not the great defect of our education today–a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned–that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning. (Richard M. Gamble, The Great Tradition, 604)
Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Proverbs 2, 3). Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein. (Harvard 1636 Student Guidelines)
the Holy Spirit . . . will teach you all things
— John 14:26