THE POOL AT BETHESADA, #31
"And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?" (JOH 5:5-6)
The scene introduced in this part of the chapter before us is indeed a very pathetic one. The background is the pool of Bethesda (which stands for mercy), around which lied a great multitude of impotent folk, and not one of them recognized the Great Physician. Here they lie before the pool of mercy and they did not recognize the Author (or well say the source) whereby mercy was to be obtained.
Look with me in PSA 85:10. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Where did this take place but in the perfect sacrifice of Christ? The Great Physician, who was the Author of mercy, was standing in their very midst and they did not recognize Him.
As our text reveals, Jesus addressed one of the most helpless ones, asking if he was willing to be made whole. Has it ever entered your mind where the true malady of sin lies? It lies in the rebellion of the human heart. The greatest separation that could ever take place, that took place in the Garden of Eden, is on account of rebellion. The question was whether he was willing to be made whole or not. The question comes to each one of us: Are we willing to be made whole? Are we willing to come back into unconditional surrender to the will of God? Are we willing to have the disease and the malady of rebellion broken? Are we willing?
The question Jesus asked was, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Mans will has become corrupted by reason of the fall. See how Jesus admonishes Jerusalem in MAT 23:37. See the admonishment that stands before a rebellious human race.
He says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (MAT 23:37)
The barrier that stands between a sinner and salvation is "and ye would not!" Are we going to say that the atonement is limited and that we have inability and that we are going to wait until God does some miracle? The charge that our Blessed Saviour lays upon you and I is how often He would have gathered us, "even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
What has to be dealt with then is the heart of rebellion that is in every human being as a result of the fall. This "and ye would not" is highlighted with an exclamation mark! When the Lord Jesus said that, He said it with exclamation. He exclaimed before the people of Jerusalem, "and ye would not!" Theres the separation between you and God. If you, as a sinner, are still separated from God it is because of your rebellion. It is because "ye would not!" This "would not" is marked with an exclamation point.
This is the very disease that causes the impotence. When we see these impotent folk - the lame, the blind all their blindness is centered in one thing: their rebellion. They will not. The source and the fountain of our corruption is the rebellion that was seeded in the heart of man in Paradise.
It is this impotence in a spiritual sense of those who are waiting around the Pool of Bethesda. How many people today are waiting for God to show mercy yet are not willing to surrender to His will? How many people today have a religion? They are willing to be saved in their own way, but are not willing to conform to Gods way.
Jesus said when He began to proclaim the gospel, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (MAT 4:17b) He began to preach the good news of the gospel of the kingdom. What does that mean? The good news is that the door is open that you and I can again come under the kingship of Christ. What is it that keeps us out? "Ye would not." It is that rebellion that is seeded in the heart of man by nature.
JOH 5:2-3 says, "Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water."
They were waiting for the Lord to do something. They were not willing to rise and to take up their bed. Do you know what that bed is? It is their bed of ease. We are so fastened to this bed of ease in the world that we are not willing to arise and take up our bed and walk under the kingship of Christ.
There is great significance in the place where these impotent folk lay. The sheep gate was the gate through which the Sacrificial Lamb was to enter. They are waiting for the Sacrificial Lamb. How many people today are relying on the sacrifice of Christ that all they have to do is accept the Lord Jesus Christ; theyre saved and from now on theyre eternally secure regardless of what they do? That gospel comes right out of the pit of hell. They are not willing to leave their beds of ease. Choosing instead to wait at the sheep gate, wait to be under the sacrifice for one reason: to escape the consequences of sin. Theyre not willing to rise and to walk under the kingship of Christ.
That is where the pool of Bethesda, that is, grace and mercy, was found. It was by the sheep gate where the Sacrificial Lamb was to enter, and thats where we are to find mercy. We are to find mercy in that sacrifice of Christ.
See what John the Baptist said to the Pharisees in JOH 1:29. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
The Lord Jesus Christ was that Sacrificial Lamb. He entered at the sheep gate and He was at the pool of Bethesda where they are lying withered and halt, and yet they didnt recognize the Lamb of God.
There is nothing trivial in the Word of God. There is also significance in "Bethesda, having five porches." The number "five," as used in Scripture, immediately arrests our attention unto grace, or undeserved favor. The number five is used throughout Scripture. I am going to use just a few of the illustrations to show you what I mean, but it is a symbol of undeserved favor or of mercy.
See how Joseph showed special favor to his brother Benjamin in GEN 43:34. "And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin's mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him." He was shown special favor and his "mess was five times."
This is repeated in GEN 45:22. "To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment." The number five symbolizes special favor, undeserved favor.
The fifth clause in the Lords Prayer is, "Give us this day our daily bread." (MAT 6:11) Again, it is undeserved favor.
The fifth commandment is the only one that contains a promise. Look at EPH 6:1-2. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise."
So we see that the number five symbolizes special favor.
We see that there are five porches. They are waiting for undeserved favor. It is the place of grace and mercy. It is at the sheep gate where the sacrificial Lamb was to enter. There they lie. We see the blessed harmony with five porches, (that is, undeserved favor) around the pool of mercy and of grace, by the sheep gate, awaiting the entrance of "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (JOH 1:29) This is the scene that we have at the pool of Bethesda. It was in these five porches that we see the multitude of impotent folk waiting by the sheep gate.
JOH 5:3 says, "In these [that is, in these five porches] lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water." Theyre all waiting. This is the condition that portrays Adams fallen race by nature.
ROM 5:6 shows us that, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." This is the condition of Adams fallen race. They are helpless. They are blind spiritually. They are halt and they are withered. They are halt, in other words, crippled, unable to walk: they are unable to arise in their own strength and to get up and walk. Their hands are withered, they are not able to do what the Lord commands them to do.
These conditions of being blind, halt, and withered are not our spiritual disease. You and I by nature are halt. We are blind. Our hands are withered. That is not the spiritual disease, but they are the symptoms.
Its just like today. We hear so much about sodomy and all the judgment that God has placed upon the human race. Sodomy was not the sin of Sodom: it was the symptom of their sin. Their sin was, as we see in ROM 1:25-26, that they "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections "
This halt condition, this blindness, is not the spiritual disease; it is the symptoms of it. Spiritual disease is the rebellion that was seeded in our heart in the Garden of Eden. The disease is what Jesus exclaimed: that "ye would not!"
This impotence of the will disables the soul from walking in the will of our God. It is the impotence of our will. You and I by nature are not willing, and there lies our disease. See how this impotence of the will is what disables us from being able to walk in the will of God.
ROM 8:7-8 says, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [Do you see where the will, the carnal mind, is the root of our problem?] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
Do you see where the impotency comes from? It comes from that carnal mind which is at enmity with God, and therefore, theyre not able. That is why we are not able to walk according to the will of God because of the enmity and the rebellion and the hatred that is in our hearts by nature.
These spiritual disabilities of being blind, halt, and withered explains the attitude of the multitudes today: making merry as they hasten down the broad road to destruction. Where is their delight? They are at enmity with God and their delights are among the things of this world. Their hearts are being satisfied and theyre being fed with the things of carnal reason and of sin. Theyre content with the things that displease God. They have no pleasure in doing His will. Therefore,they will not that He should reign as king over them.
See the awful plight of spiritual blindness that we read of in PRO 4:19. "The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble." See where the blindness comes from. The blindness is the fruit of, or the result of, their disease and their disease is that they "would not."
It is in the walk of the wicked - their way, their walk of life - where darkness dwells. "The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble." Their desires are not for the things that please the Lord.
See the next symptom of the dreadful disease "and ye would not!" They are "halt," that is, they are limping, they are lame, they are crippled, and they are unable to walk. They are unable to do what pleases the Lord.
Where does our inability lie? It lies in our rebellion because we are not willing to sacrifice the things that please the flesh. When our attitude becomes altered, when the Holy Spirit gives us a new desire, when we become renewed in the spirit of our mind, then we put off the old man and we put on the new. But our problem is we are lame, we are limping. Why? We are walking in darkness because we are walking in sin.
How can one who is blinded by the tinsel of this world walk in the straight and narrow way? We are halt, we are crippled, we are unable to walk in the straight and the narrow way and our inability is in our attitude. It is in the fact that we are at enmity with God by nature; therefore we cannot do His will.
LAM 3:51 says, "Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city."
Do you understand what that means? We walk in the way of wickedness. As we walk in the way of wickedness, then the darkness comes upon our soul, and "Mine eye affecteth mine heart." That which is pleasing to the eye is what the heart cherishes, and what the eye seeds into the heart become the issues which control our will. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (PRO 4:23)
Do you see what the problem is? The issues that control our mind, the issues that control our heart, the things that keep us busy, the conversation of our heart, are the result of our blindness because we walk in the way of wickedness, because of the enmity in our heart against God by nature. Therein lies our impotence.
When the eye is blinded with evil, the will becomes lame and the whole heart is filled with darkness. Theres the impotence of man by nature. We see how the eye is blinded with evil in LUK 11:34. "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness."
Do you see where our blindness comes from? It is from our evil desires. It is from our wrong attitude. It is because we will not that this Man should reign as king over us.
If such a one (as we are all by nature) is to come to Christ, he must indeed be drawn. This is the impotent condition that we see as we all lie before the pool of Bethesda. There we are before the pool of mercy, at the sheep gate, right where the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world enters in with undeserved favor, and there we lie in such an impotent condition that we are not able to rise; we are not able to take up our bed of ease; we are not able to walk in the way of the kingdom.
Until we are drawn, we will remain there. We can talk to one of our closest friends, we can beseech them in the most earnest manner, but it will fall on deaf ears until it pleases the Father to draw them. "No man can come to me [Do you see the impotence?], except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (JOH 6:44)
"No man can come to me," we cannot arise and walk until the Holy Spirit comes with the power of the Word in our heart and renews us in the spirit of our mind. What a picture of natural man: blind eyes, crippled feet, and paralyzed hands, unable to see, unable to walk, and unable to work. What a true picture our text gives of the condition our Saviour finds us in when He comes with the call of grace.
JOH 5:5 says, "And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years."
Do you know what that "thirty and eight years" is telling us? Its pointing to the forty years in the wilderness: thirty-eight years after Mount Sinai, when they came into the Promised Land. The law had been charged to their hearts yet they stayed there their entire lives totally helpless, impotent, because they needed a change of heart. It is only by the grace of God and by the gift of the Holy Spirit that we become renewed in the spirit of our mind.
Look at Verse 6. "When Jesus saw him lie [Jesus knows: He knows every heart, He knows the thoughts and the intents of every heart, and He knows the condition of the heart.], and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?" Thats really the first message of the gospel. The first message of the gospel is "Repent." In other words, will you be made whole, are you willing to see, are you willing to rise and to walk under His kingship? It is the first message of the gospel.
When we become drawn by the call of grace, our incurable disease, "and ye would not," is healed by the power of the Word. Grace begins when that "would not" is healed.
In PHI 2:13 we see, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." That healing balm, that very first effect of the blood of Christ upon the heart, is that our will is broken. That rebellion is broken "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
When the spiritual eyesight is restored, the first thing Jesus directs our attention to, as the attention of the Samaritan woman, is "If thou knewest the gift of God." (JOH 4:10)
When the Lord restores our spiritual eyesight, He begins to convince us, He begins to persuade us with a revelation of the gift of God. The love of the Father in giving His Son, how the Father is so displeased with sin that He would rather that His own Son came down to bear the penalty of that sin than to let one sin go unpunished. We start to see the sinfulness of sin and see how wroth the Father is with sin. We begin to see that it was these sins that caused the separation between God and us and see that our impotence is on account of that sin. That is when the Lord comes with His Holy Spirit and begins to open our understanding of the gospel, and our eyesight is restored.
He says to the woman of Samaria, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." (JOH 4:10)
Our blessed Saviour does not refuse salvation to any who seek it, but it is most noteworthy that among this whole multitude of impotent folk waiting in the five porches (that is, in the place of undeserved favor) there was not one that cried out for mercy. Isnt that most remarkable? The Lord Jesus addressed one personally. They were able to understand because they could hear, but they still never recognized the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." There is nothing recorded that any one of them cried out for mercy. They were waiting before the pool of mercy at the sheep gate, where the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" entered, yet when Jesus said, "take up thy bed and walk" there is no record that any other cried out for mercy.
Herein we see the absolute sovereignty of God. Have you ever thought about a family that has been raised completely outside of the church, outside of the gospel, and they see one member of their family called by grace? That one member of their family can come back and proclaim the gospel and what a terrific thing it is when they are delivered from the power of sin. They have found healing in the Lord Jesus Christ, but not one of them will call out for mercy until the Lord draws them and opens their eyes to see the sinfulness of their sin. The Lord must come and work His grace in their heart. We see such absolute sovereignty of God in our salvation. Then the wonder of salvation is not so much why God hated Esau, but that He loved Jacob. Thats the wonder: in the deceitfulness and the corruption of our own heart, what was there in me that the Lord chose to draw me out of that power of darkness, out of the power of sin, and to give me the grace that I might arise and take up my bed and follow? See such a wonder of His sovereign grace.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." (EPH 1:3-4)
He has chosen us. He has allowed those who are filthy to be filthy still. They can be our own brothers, our own sisters, our own fathers, or our own mothers. They can be our own children. What a wonder of grace, in His sovereign love, that He has said, "he hath chosen us [you] in him before the foundation of the world, that we [you] should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." (EPH 1:4-5)
Theres such a wonder in that blessed, electing love of God to see how He condescends to come down and take one who is going on in sin, draw them, open their eyes, quicken them, give them a new desire, and make them willing that He should reign over them.
So many misunderstand the doctrine of predestination. Ive heard so many people argue that it would be so unjust of God to choose you to go to heaven while they have to go to hell. What they overlook is that He chose me that I should be holy and that I should be without blame before Him in love. Have they ever stopped to realize that it is because they will not? Wheres the injustice in God? They will not be holy. How can they charge God with injustice because they are not willing to be made holy?
ROM 8:29 says, "For whom he did foreknow [those He loved from eternity], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Can you show me one person that can come to you and say, "God has forbidden me to become conformed to the image of His Son! I have to continue living in sin!"? The problem lies in that they would not. Then they will charge God with injustice because they would not. There isnt one soul that has ever come to the foot of the cross pleading to be delivered from the power of sin that was not delivered.
Even when Jesus asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?" the man evidenced no faith. Even when the Lord begins the work of grace in the human heart there is many times resistance. They will not until God makes them willing. Even when the call of mercy comes home with power to the heart, even when the Word of God comes home with authority in the heart, there is still resistance until God breaks the rebellion.
We read in JOH 5:7, "The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me."
Hes going to rationalize. He did not answer the question that Christ asked him. He asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?" and here he replies with his human reasoning, talking about what man can do. He cannot see the power of the Word. He cannot understand the call of mercy. He cannot understand the will of God.
"While I am coming, another steppeth down before me." Even then this man was still rationalizing and did not answer Jesus question. The question was "Wilt thou be made whole?" and he didnt answer it. He circumvented the question and keeps his human rationale.
There is nothing in any man to explain why God has singled him out to work in him both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Theres nothing in any man that will understand this until the Lord opens their eyes to see.
This man would have aborted Gods plan of salvation (you and I would forfeit the plan of salvation and we would abort it, we would resist it) if the Lord didnt come irresistibly.
JOH 5:8 says, "Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." While he was resisting, while he was still rationalizing, the Lord Jesus responded by saying, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."
In the illustration that Christ gives us of the Prodigal Son, what was his planned repentance? "I will arise, and I will go to my father, and I will say unto him ." The first part of our plan is to arise; get off this bed of ease.
Even after the Lord had led Naaman, the leper, to the Prophet of Israel, he would have returned to Syria a leper if God had not intervened. It is all grace. Even after God comes and begins to draw us, our rebellion would still cause it to miscarry if the Lord would allow it. The Lord teaches us this, and its all centered in one problem: that incurable disease " and ye would not!"
See what we recognize here with Naaman, the leper. 2 KI 5 explains how the Lord was first. He showed the man he was a leper. The Lord gave him a little maid to give him the message of the Prophet of Israel. The Lord, in His sovereign grace, inclined the man, and by faith he arose and went. He came to the king of Israel and to the Prophet of Israel, but even then, even after he had exercised faith, and even after he had obeyed by faith, he still would have destroyed himself if the Lord had not intervened.
2KI 5:10-11 says, "And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought [He used his human rationale. He had figured out how it was supposed to work, and it didnt happen that way. He wanted to be saved in his own way, and became angry when it didnt follow his preconceived notions and said], He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper."
Naaman was wrong. He would have aborted his salvation even at that point, even after he had exercised faith, even after he had believed in the Prophet of Israel.
Naaman was, as it were, at the pool of Bethesda. He was at the very gate of salvation. He was right at the very point. There was only one thing he had left to do and that was to obey. While we obey, the miracle is performed. The Lord (when He begins grace in our heart) breaks our rebellion, and we start to obey. Naaman had to obey. He was, as it were, right at the pool of Bethesda, by the sheep gate, and yet he was not healed of the dreadful disease that Jesus spoke of to Jerusalem, " and ye would not!" That disease clings to us.
How did the Lord make him to will and to do of His good pleasure? He sent men to reason with his logic! Do you know what the gospel message is for? By the foolishness of preaching He will save some. Why? He sends the ministers of the gospel to reason with your logic, to proclaim the truth and cause your mind to yield to the command.
Look at 2KI 5:13. "And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?"
Do you see how they were reasoning with him? He thought that he could go to Damascus and that those rivers were just as good as Jordan. He never saw the significance of Jordan. Jordan is a symbol of death. When he goes in to bathe in Jordan, hes writing "death" on sin, "death" on self, "death" on all the things and the pleasures of this world.
The number seven means "as many times as necessary." The number seven in Scripture is a symbol of "as many times as necessary." It could be three and it could be five hundred. In other words, you keep dipping in Jordan until everything of self has been washed away, has been marked "death." That was the command.
Did you know that the word faith means "persuasion"? The Lord sends His gospel to persuade you. As he became persuaded, he obeyed. "And ye would not" was washed away of his own free will. He wasnt carried into the river. He wasnt pushed into the river. The Lord didnt drag him into the river. He left all his chariots and all his horses and all his changes of raiment and all his silver and gold. He left it all on the bank and of his own free will he stepped into the waters of Jordan and marked "death" seven times: death to self, death to this world, death to sin, and he was clean. That is so remarkable! It was when that "and ye would not" was washed away that his leprosy was gone.
"Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." (2KI 5:14)
How does Christ persuade sinners? ROM 10:16-17 says, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel. [Do you see where the missing link is in the gospel today?] For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? [They dont believe. They havent believed the report. They have not submitted to come into subjection to the King of Kings.] So then faith [meaning persuasion] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
As the Word of God comes into the heart with authority, we become persuaded. It was by the power of the Word that this impotent man was persuaded. It was by the Word of God, the Word of Jesus Christ. He said, "Rise," and He spoke with authority. It was by the power of the Word that "Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." (JOH 5:8) It is when there is authority in the Word that we start recognizing the authority of the name of Jesus.
JOH 5:9 says, "And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath."
The Lord Jesus takes the initiative. If you and I were to bring any healing in ourselves, we would come just exactly as far as Naaman did. When it came to leaving everything behind, when it came to obeying the gospel and stepping into Jordan and marking "death" on everything, then Jesus would have to proclaim about us, "ye would not!" It is when the Word, the authority of the Word, comes in and persuades us that we come under subjection to the gospel, that we are willing to obey the gospel. We have to see that it was the Lord Jesus who takes the initiative. You and I would go, like Naaman, and return to Syria a leper. Even after we have believed, and acted upon our faith, and even after we have come to Christ, when it comes to that unconditional surrender, many are offended and return to their old way.
"And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?" (JOH 5:5-6)
Mercy began with Christ. It all began with the work of grace. The Lord began, the Lord carried it on, and the Lord brought it to perfection. What a wonder of grace, if we see how the Lord has worked this grace in our hearts.
He asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Thats the question He asks every one of us. Are we willing to be made whole? Like Naaman, are we willing to leave our horses and our chariots and all of our gold and silver on the bank of the river? Are we willing to step into the Jordan of death and mark "death" on all that pertains to this life? When Jesus asks you, "Wilt thou be made whole," He is asking if you are willing to "Rise" and "walk" according to His Word. That is what Hes asking you. Are you willing?
It was Jesus who pronounced the life-giving sovereign command, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." (JOH 5:8) It was the authority of the King; it was the power of His Word that went home to the soul. "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."
In Jesus command, "Rise," we must recognize the authority with which He spoke, and as we obey enabling grace is granted to walk according to His Word. As we obey, as we begin to arise, as we are willing to put it all on the altar, as we are willing to give it all over and we are willing to obey, the Lord sees that contrition of heart and then comes enabling grace. He enables us to walk in the way of His commandments.
You and I must recognize the authority of His Word, which says in 1JO 3:23, "And this is his commandment [Its speaking of the commandment of the Father.], That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment."
Ive explained before what it means to "believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." That means to understand the authority that is connected with that Name because of His obedience. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow " (PHI 2:9-10)
When the LORD, the Father of heaven and earth, says, "this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." He is saying that we must stand in awe and holy reverence of the authority with which He speaks.
What is His commandment? "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." That is the first and the highest commandment that the blessed Saviour, King of Kings, gives to you and I. The commandment of the gospel is to love one another as He has loved us.
What does it mean to love one another? What is the first step? It is self-denial. Do you see where it begins? It begins with the Spirit of Christ. It means you put your neighbor and your fellow man ahead of you. Thats what Naaman found out when he stepped into the waters of Jordan, writing "death" upon self. We start to understand what it is to prefer others ahead of ourselves. You love one another as He has loved you.
How did He love you and me? He came from His throne in heaven, He came down upon this sinful earth, and He stepped under the wrath of His Father that you and I deserved. Do we love one another as He loved us? Thats the first command of the gospel.
Do you see why it takes grace? It takes self-denial. It takes crucifying that old man of sin. It takes grace to be able to arise and take up our bed. We like to lie on a place where it is comfortable for the flesh, but we must arise and walk. We must walk under the authority of the King of Kings. His first commandment is to "love one another as he gave us commandment."
With enabling grace granted there was no thought of failure in obeying the command "Take up thy bed and walk." There was no thought of a failure. This is what you and I have to understand. When the glory that comes with that divine command in our heart and soul to rise up, there is no thought of failure. We dont have to say, "Yeah, but it has to be given!" and keep hanging back. When we receive that enabling grace, we obey that command.
Think of how many take but a few feeble steps. Theres the command, "Rise, take up your bed, and walk," and theyll get up and take a few feeble steps and then through unbelief theyll return to their beds. Jesus specific command was "and walk." That means to continue to the end. Walk under the law of love.
How many people start out showing so much love until the very first little thing offends them, and they become contentious and fall right back. They are not obeying the gospel command of love. The first time they become offended, bitterness settles into their heart and they are not able to make the sacrifice of crucifying self, allowing self to go down and pushing the next man forward.
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." (2PE 2:20-22)
Those are dreadful thoughts. For those who have risen up and begun to walk and then to fall back, thats a terrible, terrible thing. It would have been better if they hadnt known the way.
There are duties to be faced of which we have had no previous experience. You and I have never had any previous experience, while we are walking in sin, of what the duties are that we need to do to obey the gospel: the duty of writing "death" on self. Nobody has ever heard that as they walk in sin. Everyone is going to do what is for their own honor and for their own gain and for their own self. Anybody that crosses their path is not a friend.
But when grace comes in the heart, we start to understand that we heap coals of love upon their heads, we feed our enemy as we heap coals of fire on their heads. Those coals of fire are not coals of vengeance because love is a vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love. It is those coals of love that we heap on their head for one purpose: to reason with their logic that they might realize, to see, and to understand that in responding with love to what they have done to you, you want to melt their bitterness. You bring them to the point that you reason with their logic and they start listening to the Word of God; they become persuaded.
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (ROM 10:17) What we speak with our heels preaches much louder than what we speak with our mouth.
We dont see and realize these duties until we begin, by faith, to walk by faith and not by sight.
JOH 5:9 says, "And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath." When the power of the Word comes in the heart, immediately, we must arise, take up our bed and walk. Amen.
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