There are many people who believe, and rightly so, that the Bible is the word of God. Consequently, they spend a considerable amount of time in the word. In fact, some have even read the Bible cover to cover multiple times, and can quote many, many passages of Scriptures. Is that a good thing? Absolutely. God wants us to be very familiar with His word. But is that all? Does God only require that we get familiar with His word without actually doing what it says?
Of course not.
In James 1:22-25, the Bible says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (NIV)
God demands more than just familiarity with His word. In John chapter 5 Jesus made this very clear to the religious leaders of His days.
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:39-47, NIV).
Isn’t that sad? Why would those learned leaders who were so familiar with the Scriptures not believe in Jesus? The Bible tells us why, and we will share some of the reasons with you.
BECAUSE JESUS CAME FROM A MODEST FAMILY
Jesus considered Himself a Prophet without honour. Because the people knew His humble background, they were not prepared to accept such a leader, even if that meant rejecting their long-awaited messiah.
In Matthew 13:54-57 NIV, the Bible says, 54 Coming to his hometown, he [Jesus] began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
They took offense at Jesus. Why?
Was it because Jesus didn’t teach as a great teacher? Not at all. In fact, they were astonished. They were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. They couldn’t deny that Jesus was no ordinary man. But, considering his humble and modest family of origin, the people rejected him. They took offence at him. (Matthew 13:5). Had Jesus come from a royal and noble family – things would have been different. Unfortunately, even today many people continue to reject Jesus for the same reason.
NO LOVE OF GOD IN THEIR HEARTS
In John 5:42, Jesus said to them, “I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.” The lack of God’s love in people’s hearts is so debilitating that even some who are very familiar with the word of God seem to find reasons to reject Jesus. It is evident that despite their knowledge, the word does not abide in them. (John 5:38). As Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible says, “If they had known God’s word, they would have recognized and received the true Word of God in Jesus Christ. The Jewish rulers might have known what the word of God said, but had made no place at all in their hearts for it to come alive.
THEY LOVE HUMAN PRAISE MORE THAN PRAISE FROM GOD
Unlike Jesus who did not seek glory from people (John 5:41) the religious leaders of His days did nothing but that. They craved human admiration instead of God’s. Many who believed in Jesus refused to confess faith in Him for that very same reason as John explains in John 12:42-43
“42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”
Again, Jesus continued to confront them saying, “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:43-44)
Those leaders couldn’t believe in Jesus because it would have made them unpopular with their peers. One commentator says that they were primarily in love with themselves; and their society was founded upon mutual flattery, mutual deceit, and mutual glory reflected among themselves. So, they definitely had no room for Jesus and His teaching.
In the same way that Jesus’ life of humility, His purity and justice, His love, and meekness infuriated the proud, arrogant, selfish and lustful religious leaders of His day, many today let their pride and arrogance get in the way. The devil is working hard to entrench each of these vices, to secure their passage to hell.
As you read this article, it is our prayer that you are not one of those people. We hope and pray that if you have already obeyed the gospel that you will remain faithful until the end so that you can have eternal life. And if you haven’t yet obeyed the gospel, may you diligently seek to know God’s will and more importantly do what God says so that you too can have eternal life.
In Mark 16:16 Jesus tells you exactly what you need to do to be saved. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and not to accuse anybody. He made this clear to those leaders in John 5:45 when he told them that their accuser was actually Moses on whom their hopes were set. Because, while they claimed to believe in what Moses wrote, they refused to come to Jesus, despite the fact that Moses told them to listen to Jesus. Tragically, and similar to the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day, many people still don’t believe in Jesus, and invent their own reasons for their rejecting the Lord. Without repentance and true obedience, this choice will cost them their eternal life.
We have seen some of the reasons why some people reject Jesus. And the reasons for rejecting Jesus in the first century are regrettably, similar to those who reject Him today.
The Jews that Christ addressed in John 5 were trusting for salvation in the law of Moses, and were blissfully ignorant of the law’s total ineffectiveness to save anyone. Today, some still ignore the fact that there is no salvation in the law of Moses. Many still ignore that Moses himself in Deuteronomy 18:15 told them to listen to Jesus.
Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Many still ignore the fact, or simply dismiss – that God himself, on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17) took away Moses and Elijah and left only Jesus, declaring: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” Mat. 17:5.
May God help those who are already in Christ (Galatians 3:27) to seek to please Him always so that we do not lose our eternal salvation. And for those who have not yet obeyed the gospel, may you seek to please God instead of men, by knowing and doing what the word of God says.