17 March 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ Believed isn't always the same as believing

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, [then] you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. "I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. "I speak the things which I have seen with [My] Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from [your] father."
They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. "Why do you not understand what I am saying? [It is] because you cannot hear My word. "You are of [your] father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [nature], for he is a liar and the father of lies. "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. "Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear [them], because you are not of God."
The Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. "But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets [also]; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.' "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out [to be]?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw [it] and was glad." So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. 
We do our children... we do ourselves... we do others... a disservice when we insist that "once I believed" is all and enough. 

Now... before you begin to stone me with words, hear me out... first.

This passage starts with Jesus saying, "If you continue..." to those Jews who "believed" and ends with those very same Jews ready to stone the Savior.

And it isn't like the word translated "believed" means some sort of half-hearted, emotional in-the-moment response. It can mean either "persuading oneself" or it can have a "sacred significance of being persuaded by the Lord." In fact, according to the concordance, it is "only the context..." that reveals if faith "is self-serving (without sacred meaning), or it is the kind of believing that leads to/proceeds from God's inbirthing of faith.

One comment I'd make here is that it in this instance, it was the LORD, in person, doing the persuading... the talking... the teaching... in the previous passage that resulted in Jews who "had believed." So in once sense, that criteria of sacred significance.

So what do I think this means?

While I'm not trying to say that I think faith in Christ, salvation, can be lost... I am pretty sure that belief must grow with increasing knowledge and experience of God; it must not become static.

Because when kids grow up and begin to see the realities of life in a fallen world, live the realities of life with a fallen body, try and fight daily against the realities of a fallen nature, someone who just believed once... if I don't keep on believin'... one of these days, I just might find myself with a stone in my hand... ready to hurl it at the One I used to call Savior.

The thing is... believing is work. It involves trusting God, choosing His Word, studying to understand His ways, obeying even when I don't understand, tying that metaphorical knot and hanging on for all I'm worth when it seems like giving up and letting go would be so much less confrontational... so much less work.

How can that be? 
Yes. Salvation is a gift simply to be received. 
On the other hand, 
believing day in and day out is hard work, grace-enabled work, that isn't blink-or-the-eye achieved.

What are you having to work at today... to keep on believin'? 
So that you can keep on believin'?

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 4470 - 4500)

Gammie and Gampy up for the weekend

Nadia made homemade pizza

my boy is home for Spring Break

he even made his super early in the morning shuttle ride to the airport and all flight connections went smoothly

finished reading a really good book

kids getting closer to healthy again

harmonica player at one of our partnering churches that made me smile

field trip to see the butterflies

butterfly landing on little hand

looking forward to seeing a movie... soon

fun with Google translate

writing ideas starting to flow again

finishing studying through acts

continuing to study through the book of John

a week of work

potatoes, leeks, mushrooms and the yumminess you can make when you mix that all together


melting snow

seeing the grass again

to do list done

Monday at home with my sick little guy

puzzle games and challenges

sleeping so sound that I didn't wake up

having them run home for lunch for breathing treatments seems a pain, but it does mean I get to see them during the day

friendly youth group guys in a church we visited

last week of upwards basketball

baskets made, screens set, rebounds made and lots of learning happening

Aunt Carol up for the basketball games on Friday night

ibuprofen for fevers and really sore throats

salt to make salt water to gargle with

enjoying the current seasons of Amazing Race and Survivor!

Ten most recent posts in this series: 
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.


  1. "writing ideas starting to flow again"... oh that is a good one! Definitely something to be thankful for! :)

    1. hey frances - so glad you popped in to say hi today.


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