“The Belief, Vision and Joy of a Quiet Heart”, from Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones

 

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“Let Your Heart Not be Troubled” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones ​(1899 – 1981)

The greatest need of men and women in this world, is the need for a “quiet heart” – peace of mind, peace of heart, tranquility.  We are all restless and disturbed… there is unhappiness in us, and it is produced by many different issues – illness, accident, disappointment, financial loss, business trouble, illness of a child or loved one, death of someone close to us, war, political chaos economic collapse, etc.  Just when we think everything is going well, something suddenly happens, and our whole world begins to shake and crumble.  The supreme problem is that of trying to face these things and to achieve a “quiet heart” – that is the purpose for the gospel.

  • Some say people should just “refuse to think” about their problems, in hopes that they will somehow just go away – “if you’re foolish enough to think in this world, then it is not surprising that you are unhappy.”
  • Others say be like the animals and “go back to nature” and all will be well.
  • Others believe in “escapism” – we should fill up our lives with as much as we can – entertainments, etc.
  • Others espouse the philosophy of “optimism” – things will eventually evolve into a better life; though there are temporary setbacks, ultimately, things will get better (many try this approach).
  • Then there are those who embrace a philosophy of “fatalism” – what will be will be; all the thinking and worrying isn’t going to affect it in the least; the trouble with people is that they persist in thinking.
  • Next is the “psychological method” – it attempts a kind of positive thinking approach to problem-solving – peace of mind is the objective, not necessarily a change in circumstances; we just need to think of beautiful and pleasant thoughts.
  • Then there is the attitude of “stoicism” – they say the one thing we must watch is our “feelings;” our trouble is that we all tend to be controlled by our feelings; therefore, we must become scientific, be objective, and control our emotions.
  • Yet another is “mysticism” – this is espoused by the cults and religions like Christian Science, Buddhism and Hinduism – they advocate going into the heart of the universe, losing themselves in the spirit that is at the back of everything.

In the final analysis, all of the foregoing attempts to deal with painful reality are “pessimistic and hopeless” – the actual truth about them is that they are so afraid of life that they dare not think about it; and that is the most profound pessimism I know.  So all these views, at best, are devised just to help the individual get through – they simply help us postpone our problems; they do not resolve them, and none of these approaches give us real joy or satisfaction.  The greatest criticism is that they all leave the problem up to the individual. 

Only the gospel can meet and satisfy our deepest need – Read the stories of the apostles, the martyrs and the first confessors.  It worked for them, and it continues to work today. What seems to be so entirely different about the gospel, is that it always faces facts, it is always realistic, it never conceals anything.  Other teachings and philosophies try to hide the worst from us.  The gospel commends itself to me because of its “truth.”  It says, “in the world we shall have tribulation… there will be wars and rumors of wars” (Jn 16:33; Mt 24:6). 

My problem is not my physical flesh, it’s in my spirit.  I want an explanation of why it is in the position that it is.  There has been one in this world who said to us, “Let not your heart be troubled… believe in Me,” which means, “Come to Me, tell Me your troubles, tell Me all about your difficulty about God, the difficulty of prayer, the difficulty about your weak will and failure.”  Whatever it is that makes you restless – go to God about it.  He is the one who loves you so much, He went to the cross for you.  Said Jesus, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

Believe in the Son of God, who has removed every barrier between you and God and who can give you rest and peace here and now.

Believe in God

– that is the first thing we must do when we are really in a difficult situation. The trouble with us is that we always tend to aim at the “problem” directly, and we always look for some immediate consolation and resolution.

Illustration:  when a man becomes “ill” he generally is not inter-ested in his “disease” as such; what he is really interested in is the “suffering” that he has to endure because of the illness, which is perfectly natural.   A man who sins suffers remorse; he has agony of mind, and the one thing he wants is to get rid of the agony.  But what he really needs is much more than immediate comfort.  Anything that merely gives us RELIEF from the “unpleasant symptoms” of our disease or from our agony of mind is not enough – what we should always be interested in, in every realm, is HEALTH.

It is at this point that we come across the great differentiating characteristic of the Bible – All other methods are simply concerned with giving us “immediate relief” from pain; they are all drugs in some shape or form; they just have one interest – to relieve us.  Many people come to God in that way, expecting to have some “temporary relief of pain;” something that can make them “happy.”

But the Bible teaches us that happiness and joy and peace and the absence of pain and trouble are always “by-products” – the result of something else.  Notice what Jesus did “not” say: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after happiness!”  NO!  He said, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall   be filled.” (Mt 5:6).  

In other words, if you make happiness your one aim and object in life, it is certain you will never find it; but if you make righteousness as your main aim, Jesus says, you will be filled with happiness!  It will follow.

We must always begin with “Believing in God.”  But what does that really mean?  To have a troubled heart means that you are “not believing in God aright.”  There is something wrong in your belief.  The questions to ask are these:  “Is your heart at rest as you look at yourself and contemplate the state of the world?”  “Is there peace in your soul as you look to the future?”  When we read Hebrews 11 and take a walk through that gallery of heroes of the faith, we see men and women who lived in this world exactly as we do.  Yet, they triumphed.

They had a joy, a peace and a happiness that all the things they had to endure could not disturb.  Why were they able to do this?  What was their secret?  Hebrews gives us the key – “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6).  First, we must “BELIEVE IN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.”  People who do not “believe in God” try to produce a kind of peace by not thinking at all.  Obviously, that is not the solution.  Refusing to think just evades the problem.  And a “quiet heart” is unattainable.  “There is no peace, says God, to the wicked” (Is 57:21) – the wicked are “those who do not truly believe in God.”

God controls everything – He is the only Sovereign.  Nothing happens apart from Him.  We must believe that He is able to do everything, that nothing is too hard for Him.  Abraham believed that God was able to raise Isaac up from the dead, if need be (Heb 11:19).  Mary believed “nothing was impossible  for God.”  Obviously our hearts cannot be quiet until our minds are satisfied – so the Bible answers our minds by telling us things about God to satisfy us intellectually.

You might be experiencing a “peace” right now as you read these biblical comments I have written – even though your heart was troubled a few moments ago – God is instructing your heart with the “truth” and is ushering in His peace.  God created this world, and at the fall of man sin entered into the human family, and that is the origin and explanation and source of all our ills and troubles.  Ultimately, that is a critical part of our belief in God.

Scripture goes on to tell us that God is still in His world;

He has not turned His back upon it; He is not allowing it to sin itself into utter hopelessness.  He tells us that if we “live His way of life” we will be blessed; if we don’t, we will be cursed (Deut 11:27-29).  God loves humanity so much, He entered into our sinful world in the person of Jesus Christ to reconcile sinful man to Himself.  This meant he went to the cross to die  for our sins, and pay the penalty for our sin.  He was buried, and rose again on the third day, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father ever making intercession for us.

By placing our “faith” in His atoning work on the cross, we experience His forgiveness, become His children, and receive eternal life. God in His sovereignty continues to direct and superintend the course of events throughout the universe. . . He allows even cataclysmic things to happen, yet nothing is outside His control.  In the fullness of time God will draw the curtain on human history.  He will allow things to go on until a certain fixed point, but a day is coming when He will bring it all to a close.  There will be an end of time… He will judge the whole world and all its people… then He will destroy all evil… and then He will make “a new heaven and a new earth” wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet 3:13).

God will have fulfilled His old promise of restoring order out of chaos, giving universal blessing to those who belong to Him.  The vital question for each of us is this:  Do we believe that?  This is part of what it means to “believe in God.”  To believe in God means that we must believe implicitly in the “promises of God” – believing God means obeying God. 

If you really “believe in God,” anything that may happen to you, ultimately, will drive you nearer  to God, and anything that drives you nearer to Him is a “good thing” for you.  When something goes “wrong” it drives us to our knees – “It is good for me that I have been afflicted,” said the psalmist; “before  I was afflicted I went astray”  (Ps 119:67, 71).  God sometimes has to chasten us in order to draw us a little nearer to Himself.  Whatever happens to you, whatever may be your experience, He has promised “He  will never leave or forsake you” (Heb 13:5).  Thus, “believing God” means we are ready to commit our-selves and our affairs into His almighty, loving arms. 

The men and women of Hebrews chapter 11 risked everything upon that belief.  Moses forsook the courts of Egypt and all his privileged position.  Why?  He believed God and had implicit faith and trust in Him.  To believe God means an utter, implicit confidence in what He has said about Himself, and in what He has said about what He will do.  It means casting yourself entirely upon that promise (Prv 3:5-6).  “Let not your heart be troubled” in effect is this: “You find it hard and difficult to believe in Me?  Believe in Me. Trust Me.”

The great need and the quest of all mankind is for a “quiet heart” – “peace.”  Many people camouflage their troubled souls by appearing to be supremely happy and carefree.  How is “true peace” obtained?  The biblical method is that we turn our focus from our “troubles” and start with “God.”  “Let not your heart be troubled” – Why?  “Believe in God.”  Our problem is we are too immersed in the world; too preoccupied with it. What the Bible does for us is drag our attention away from the immediate scene to God – this is not escapism.   This is radically different from the numerous psychotherapeutic methods that focus on psychoanalyzing your past (sometimes for years!); the Bible simply recognizes that man’s fundamental need is GOD.  When you have got a problem, you take it to the “Author of problem-solving” – GOD.

Jesus is absolutely essential for obtaining a quiet heart

– if He has “resurrection power,” He has enough power to quiet the little storm in your life.  Furthermore, He has placed “His Spirit” in you to do the work –

He has been placed in you to comfort you, to help you, and instruct you; so, going elsewhere for help is senseless; it’s like using a “band-aid” for heart surgery.  It should also be encouraging for us to go to God for help, because He abounds in loving kindness, and is mindful of our weaknesses and our frailties – “God gives us grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).  Jesus said, “He that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn 6:37).  “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” 

When you encounter troubles in life, you must learn to take your eyes off the problem and turn to God. 

The problem with us is that with our limited perspective, we let our problems and life overwhelm us – we need to step back from our “piecemeal view of life” and see the bigger picture; having a “whole view of life” is critically important.

Start with Paul’s argument in Romans 8:32 – “He that spared not His  own Son, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”  Do not rush at your problem – step back and get God’s perspective.  Just as in science you go from the “known” to the “unknown,” in life   you start further back with “certain postulates.”  Scripture gives us three main propositions for dealing with life’s problems:

1.   Life in this world can only be viewed truly in the light of “the next world –

“Let not your heart be troubled… in My Father’s house are many mansions.”  Once more, this is a question of “perspective.”  Here we are in this difficult, troubled world of ours, wondering what is going to happen – stop and look at the bigger picture!  Life in this world is temporary and transitory.  Life is nothing but a great journey;  we are simply “sojourners” in this life, pilgrims and strangers, travelers (Heb 13:14).  Further-more, life is also full of uncertainty, accidents, trials and tribulations – life is a kind of existence in which you never know what is going to happen next.

No security can be obtained (nor is it promised) in this life – therefore, to live for this life only, and to rely upon it or anything in it, deliberately court disappointment; that (is why the twentieth century was such an unhappy one  “Here we have no continuing city” (Heb 13:14).  The Bible tells us “why” this is the case – it is all because of “sin” – sin makes us try to be independent of God; we think we can get along without Him.  It is as if we are saying, “if only we could abolish death (and science is trying hard to do so), then we could make a perfect world!”

2.   The most important thing for us to concentrate on is “the life of the soul –

We live in a world that is passing away, but we don’t know when it will end.  The Bible tells us there is something in us that is bigger than life in this world – it is imperishable – and it is called “the soul.”  The soul is what matters – not the external life, but the “inner life.”  Jesus said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul” (Mt 10:28).  Therefore, concentrate on the life of the soul.  Remember the story of the rich, young ruler – God said to Him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Lk 12:19-20).  It is the soul that matters.

3.   The main function and purpose of life in this world is to prepare us for “the next life” 

That does not mean that we turn our back on this world, or that we despise life here, or that you resign yourself to life in a monastery – no, we are to live life to the maximum, but never forgetting that the main object of life in this world is to prepare us for “the next life.”  That is the whole philosophy of the Bible.  We are “looking for a city whose builder and maker is God” – we are “strangers and pilgrims in this life” (Heb 11:10, 13).  Look at how our Lord lived His life – “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb 12:2).  His focus was upon eternity.  The same can be said for the Apostle Paul – “For me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21).

Jesus said, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.”  “Believe in Me.” “Your soul” is the one thing that matters – that is the secret of a quiet heart.  Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”    (Mt 16:26).  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you,  so be certain of your eternal inheritance (Jn 14:2).  Remember Paul’s words, “Nothing can separate you from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:38-39).

A day is coming when we will “leave this world” and everything else behind,

-so it is only my soul, my eternal destiny, my relationship to God that matters.  The gospel is not about reforming people or making this world a better place, it is about giving people a “new birth,” a new life, a new beginning.  The effect of the gospel is to enable us to see the nature of life in this world, and to bring us to see that what really matters for us is our soul. 

There is a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of light, and these two king-doms are here together in this world – ultimately these two kingdoms will meet, and then there will be an end (at the Second Coming).  Everything that is evil and belongs to Satan and his kingdom will be destroyed, and God will make a “new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet 3:13).

If you want rest and peace and a quiet heart in the midst of the darkness, confusion and uncertainty of this world, you will not find it by trusting in ideas on the reformation of this world, for all these things are being falsified before your eyes – you will only find peace in the assurance that “nothing” will ever separate you from the love of God or His presence in your life.  The Christian message is not about international relations or world peace – it is about “knowing God and enjoying Him for all eternity!” 

Again, this does not mean that we are indifferent to the world –

as Christians we should be concerned about the world – but rather than fixing our attention upon the world and this life, we need to focus on knowing Christ and those things that are eternal (Col 3:1-4).  The Lord Jesus said, “Believe in Me;” that is, “believe  in what I am going to do; take the right view of life as a pilgrimage to eternity; believe that I am coming back to receive you to Myself; believe this, and whatever may happen, know that your eternity is safe!”  

And till He returns, “continue to carry out the work He has called us to do.”

When “Hudson Taylor” died, they found in his Bible a piece of paper he used as a kind of bookmark. As he read his Bible, he moved this piece of paper every day.  On it was written this prayer –

Lord Jesus make Thyself to me,
A living bright reality,
More present to faith’s vision keen
Than any outward object seen;
More near, more intimately nigh
Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.

~ Martin LLoyd Jones preached these sermons in 1951 at “Westminster Chapel” in London – These were difficult times for Britain… WWII was not long over… people were still anxious and fearful.  These sermons were intended to comfort, strengthen and build-up Christians in their faith.  Jesus said, “Let not your heart  be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (Jn 14:1) – the disciples became troubled when they heard Jesus would be leaving them; they had never met anybody like Him before, and now He would be going away – they were filled with alarm and concern, and their hearts were deeply troubled.

From: the Book: “LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
​(1899 – 1981)

“Come and See” by Tim Keller, be Amazed at His Grace.

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Come and See by Timothy Keller

‘We need to remember that all those who wrote the New Testament or provided the material for it were trained by Jesus.’ In his book After Heaven, Robert Wuthnow says the watchword of Americans today is spiritual. People say, ‘I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious. I am searching for spiritual reality, but I don’t expect to find it in religious institutions or sets of dogmas.’ What Wuthnow articulates so well here is Americans’ combined rejection of the idea that secular science and reason alone can give us meaning in life or a life worth living’ that their real interest is in the supernatural and in the eternal. They don’t want to go back to the perceived creativity-stifling, smug moralism of ‘traditional religion,’ so they say, ‘Ah, the new spirituality, not the old traditional religion.’

In John 1:35-51, we see the account of how Jesus Christ met his first disciples. We see something offered to us that is neither the new spirituality nor the old traditional religion. It’s not a vague or general sense of spiritual well-being or a new set of rules. It’s an encounter with a living Person.

I have chosen this biblical passage because there are patterns here. If you want to find this spiritual reality through Jesus—this man who bridges the gap between spirituality and religion, and who offers us something different from either the new spirituality or the old traditional religion—then you need to see what the key is. The key is this repeated phrase: ‘Come and see.’ What does that mean? Let’s look at it together.

‘Come and See’ Means ‘Come and Think: Examine the Evidence’

The first time ‘Come and see’ happens, the disciples are kind of nervous. They were just told Jesus is this incredible person, so they follow. He says, ‘What do you want?’ What they want is to know if what they have heard is really true.

Jesus doesn’t demand belief at the moment. He doesn’t say, ‘Well, let me tell you who I am and how I demand obedience.’ He says, ‘Come and get to know me. Come and see how I live. Come and see how I speak. Come and see what I do.’ The second time we see ‘Come and see’ in the Gospel passage is when Philip says to his friend, Nathanael, ‘I found the Messiah.’

Nathanael responds with a valid question. Everybody at that time knew the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem, out of the line of David. So Nathanael looks at Philip and says, ‘He is from Galilee. He is from Nazareth. How could he be the Messiah?’ Philip’s answer is to say, ‘Let’s go find out. Come and see.’

The question we ask today is: ‘How could there be a loving and merciful God when the world is the way it is with all the injustice?’ This is another valid question, so let’s see how Jesus would answer it.

He doesn’t define the ‘new spirituality’ by saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe. Figure out what works for you.’ Although that would be convenient—no critical thinking, no assessment—instead he says, ‘Come and think.’ He does not say to you what traditional religion has often said: ‘Don’t question. Just believe what we’re telling you because we’ve told you.’ No, Jesus says, ‘Come and think.’ How different this is from either the neo-spirituality or old religion.

Although the Gospel writer was addressing people who lived two thousand years ago, those people were in the same boat as we are today. How can they go and look at Jesus? How can they listen to him? How can they look at the evidence of what he said and how he lived? Here is the answer: ‘The next day John [the Baptist] was there.’ When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look”’

There are two important points here. All through the first chapter of John, we’re told that John the Baptist saw and said. The Greek word used here means essentially, ‘I was actually there. I really saw this, and now my testimony is admissible evidence in court.’ John the Baptist is not talking about an inward experience. He’s not talking about an impression. John is saying, ‘I’m seeing this.’

As we read this passage, we see it has the marks of an eyewitness account. It says they saw where he was staying and they spent the day with him until the tenth hour, which is 4:00 pm.

In Reynolds Price’s introduction to his book Three Gospels, he makes the interesting point that in the ancient world, fictional narratives such as epics, legends, and myths never used details.

You don’t see, ‘Oedipus went to see the Oracle at Delphi, and she came out around 4:00.’ Our Gospel passage, however, states, ‘The next day,’ not ‘Once upon a time.’ Price says that when you see such detail, it means that the author is signaling the reader that this is a legal testimony, not an urban legend. This is John’s way of saying, ‘This is an eyewitness account. I’m showing you exactly what he said and did. If you read my account, you will be able to come and see and examine the evidence the way we did.’

How can you come and see? Read the account of the Gospels. Then you will have to decide whether you believe these were deliberate, intricate lies by people who died for those lies, or that a human being was the Creator God who came to earth to save us. But there is nothing in the middle that is warranted.

The only way you know you’ve come and seen is if you have a position that, frankly, is extremely hard. It’s very hard to believe that a human being would be God, and it’s very hard to believe that this incredible movement and these incredible people, who died for this, consciously and deliberately told us lies about it. You have to decide which one is easier for you to believe, but don’t you dare stand in the middle. If you have, it means you haven’t come and seen.

‘Come and See’ Means ‘Come and Follow: Change Your Life’

The word come means that I move from where I am to here. I make a change. The reason Jesus says ‘Come’ is because he wants them to follow. He doesn’t just want them to believe.

The text gets that across in a couple of ways, but here is the best one. In John 1:29, the Baptist says to his disciples, ‘Look, the Lamb of God.’ It’s not until verse 35 that they actually follow. This is a way for us to see the difference. When John the Baptist told his disciples ‘This is the Messiah,’ surely they believed, but they weren’t ‘followers’ until they actually began to follow Jesus.

That’s the difference between being just a person who ascribes to beliefs, who says, ‘Oh, I like Jesus. I believe in Jesus. I’m trying to follow Jesus,’ and knowing Jesus personally and becoming a follower, a disciple. Now how does that happen in your life? In verse 51, Jesus says, ‘I tell you the truth.’ What the Gospel writer tells us he really says is, ‘Amen, amen.’ The word amen is an Aramaic word that means, ‘This is true.’ Every commentator and historian, anybody who knows ancient cultures, knows this is a unique usage of it. As one commentator puts it, ‘Jesus Christ’s use of amen to introduce his own words is without analogy in all of Judaism and among any other New Testament writers.’ Amen was only used to affirm and approve and accredit the words of another.’

For example, when someone was preaching in the synagogue, the elders would stand up. When they were all done, they would say, ‘Amen.’ Why? That was their way of saying, ‘We’ve checked out what this person says with our understanding of the Scripture, and it’s true.’ Maybe all the people would say, ‘Amen.’

Of course, Jesus Christ made it even harder for us because he affirms the Bible. It’s not that just his words printed in red in your Bible are the ones we have to obey. Jesus himself says, ‘The Scriptures shall not be broken. Not a jot or a tittle will pass away until all is fulfilled.’ We need to remember that all those who wrote the New Testament or provided the material for it were trained by Jesus. If you want to come and see and believe—that is, investigate the evidence—all you have to do is believe that the Bible is reliable reporting. But if you want to be a disciple and if you want to know Jesus personally, you have to be willing to listen to what the Word of God says, whether you like it or not.

Personal following without an infallible Bible is impossible. If you read the words of Jesus and say ‘That’s great’ about some things and ‘I can’t believe that; that’s primitive’ about others, what kind of Jesus do you have at the end of your reading? You have a Jesus of your own heart’s making. You think you’re following Jesus, but you’re following your own heart under the guise of following Jesus.

Unless Jesus compels you to say, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to listen to this. I’m going to wrestle with this. I’m going to submit to this even where I hate it’, if you don’t have that, then you don’t have a personal Jesus.

Come and See’ Means ‘Process This with Friends’

What’s really interesting about this encounter in the Gospel account is that John the Baptist leads Andrew and the other person, whoever it is, to Jesus. Andrew leads his brother Peter to Jesus. Philip leads Nathanael to Jesus. When Philip says, ‘Come and see,’ what he means is, ‘Let’s go together. Let’s figure this out.’ This is a very important point. While there are exceptions, the general rule is that the way to find Jesus is almost always through someone you know. In this case, it was a friend who had already found Jesus.

Christianity is not a philosophy through some great teacher by which you can save yourself. No, Christianity is an encounter with a Person, and we see in the Bible that people find Jesus through their friends. After being introduced to Jesus, then we need friends who are a couple of steps ahead of us spiritually to help us in our walk.

There are some of you who have already experienced the blessing of having found Jesus through friends. Some of you have a lot to offer, but you’re not finding anybody for Jesus. If you want to know how you can finally be effective and really be helpful to people, then look at the Gospel text. There are three things we see here.

1. First, patience. John the Baptist says repeatedly, ‘Look, the Lamb of God.’ Finally, they follow Jesus. You have to be patient. Who knows how many times you have to say ‘Look’ before they follow.

2. Second, courage. Philip says, ‘We found the Messiah, and here he is.’ Nathanael asks him a tough question that he has no idea how to answer. Isn’t this the reason why we’re all such chickens? Aren’t we afraid of being asked a question we don’t know the answer to? But the way to get good at answering those questions is practice by floundering and blowing it for years. Unless you’re willing, unless you have the courage to do that, you’re never going to be effective.

3. Third, confident humility. What does Philip do when he gets the total stump question of ‘Isn’t the Messiah supposed to be from Bethlehem?’ He says, ‘I don’t know. Let’s talk about it. Let’s study. Let’s go talk to him. Let’s go look.’ There is a humility here because he takes Nathanael seriously enough to say, ‘We do need to think about this, and I don’t know the answer.’ But he also has the confidence to say, ‘If you come, you will see.’

‘Come and See’ Means ‘Come and Wonder’

When Nathanael meets Jesus, Jesus says, ‘You believe because.’ You will see greater things than you can imagine. ‘Come and see’ means come and wonder. I am calling you into an adventure so wonderful that it is beyond your imagination.’ How does he do this?

First of all, he calls us to the wondrous adventure of personal transformation. I’ll put it to you this way. Do you remember ever meeting somebody you suddenly realized really understood you? It could have been a counselor, a new friend, or an older, wiser person. It could have been somebody you were falling in love with. Why was it so heady and addicting? I’ll tell you why. To begin with, you’re excited about the possibility of finally being able to figure yourself out.

We’re all riddles to ourselves. ‘Why do I do what I do? Why do I feel what I feel?’ You’re also excited that this wise person, this person you love and respect, thinks about you, considers you significant enough to think of you, to ponder you, to consider you. The two together, the prospect of new information and that incredible affirmation, just blow you through the roof. But even this kind of revelation and fulfillment has its boundaries—ultimately, you always find there is a limit to how much that person really knows you and loves you.

When Nathanael walks up to Jesus, he is blown away by something no rabbi ever has done or ever will do. Jesus says to him, ‘Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile’ (KJV). What Jesus is talking about is his character. He uses a word that means unpretentious and transparent. Nathanael looks at him and says, ‘You nailed me. Yeah, I am that kind of person. I’m plain spoken. I’m kind of blunt. How do you know me?’ Then Jesus says, ‘Know you? I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael’s eyes get as big as saucers. He says, ‘How could you’? How could any’? You are the Messiah!’

What does that mean? I don’t know. We don’t know. That’s one of the marks of an eyewitness account. But I’ll tell you, it was something so private, so significant, so absolutely impossible that any human being could know that Nathanael is astounded. ‘This is not just somebody who knows me somewhat; he knows me completely.’

That’s not the only reason he is blown away. Jesus Christ is not just saying, ‘I know you.’ He is praising him, even though Nathanael doesn’t know him. Isn’t that astounding? Jesus Christ knows you to the bottom and praises you to the skies. There has never been a Counselor like this. There has never been a friend like this. There has never been a lover like this. This is the Wonderful Counselor. This is the friend you’ve always been looking for. When God comes and calls you in love, by his call he makes you what he calls you.

First, Jesus says, ‘Nathanael, I will give you greater things than that. You have no idea what you’re going to become, transformed by my love.’ Second, Jesus talks about an upward journey, an outward journey. He says, ‘Verily, verily I say to you, you will see heaven open and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ What he is saying here is astounding.

In the Old Testament story of Jacob, Jacob was running through the desert, fleeing for his life, despairing that he had lost God, that he had lost everything. Going to sleep for the night, he dreams of a ladder on which angels were ascending and descending.

Jesus Christ says to Nathanael, ‘Let me tell you something beyond your imagination. I am the gate of heaven Jacob saw. That was not just a dream; that was a promise. I am the way through that wall into that cosmic reality that is behind this world.’ What does it mean? It means that story is about him. It means all the stories in the Old Testament are about him.

When John the Baptist says, ‘Look, the Lamb of God,’ what is he saying? He is referring to that night long ago in Egypt when the angel of death passed over those who had blood on their doorframes. For those who didn’t have the blood of the lamb on their doors, the firstborn of that house died. John the Baptist says, ‘Jesus is that slain Lamb. That story was about him, about his life, about his death.’

But it goes beyond that. When Jesus Christ says, ‘I am the door and the gateway into the cosmic reality behind everything,’ he is not just saying, ‘All the biblical stories are about me.’ He is saying, ‘All the stories are about me.’ Jesus says, ‘My story is the story to which all the other stories are pointing. Therefore, the stories are true. You can know me, and this same cosmic power from that cosmic, glorious center will come into your life. You will be in the story. Evil spells will be broken. I am the reality to which all the legends point.’

‘Come and see’ means you can get in. ‘Come and see’ means I can’t even begin to describe what is going to happen in your life if you come and follow him.

You say, ‘Okay, I have to change my life, right? Obey the Bible, right?’ You’re excited. You’re ready. ‘I have to tell my friends about Jesus. I have to study the Bible.’

No. The key to getting in is not to do anything. Jesus does not say, ‘I’m at the top of the ladder.’ He doesn’t say, ‘Angels are ascending and descending to the Son of Man.’ He doesn’t say, ‘If you try really hard, you can ascend.’ No, you can’t. Psalm 24 says, ‘Who shall ascend into the presence of God? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.’

How are we ever going to get up there? Jesus says, ‘I am the ladder. I came down to bring you to God. I lived the life you should have lived, died the death you should have died. Trust in me. If you do, you get in.’

Come and see. Think. Come and see. Follow. Come and see with friends. ‘Come and see’ means be amazed at his grace. He can’t wait to show you what he is going to do for you. Come and see.

Timothy Keller

Source: Modern Reformation Magazine; Who Is Jesus? VOL 24; ISSUE 6, 10/31/2015

“Mercy Grants from Moments Felled” sacred prose from LWillows

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Lifting prayer beyond my sight
Into Heaven’s holy might.
Here I send from inside heart’s pew,
This the vow, my trust in You.

Mercy grants from moments felled,
Surrendered, lost; the storms left quelled.
Wind whispers rendered- plead for me,
left all at the foot of thy Holy Tree.

© 2018 Linda Willows

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
-Romans 8:26

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
-Psalm 9:10