Reliable Testimony

We have gotten used to deception. We brace ourselves when advertisers push misleading claims about their products. We roll our eyes when politicians make campaign promises. Teachers learn to sniff out plagiarism in students’ written work. We hear about job seekers who submit inaccurate professional resumes. Justice is undermined when courtroom witnesses commit perjury. We are angered by social media and news networks that promote unfounded conspiracy theories and outright lies.

Jesus’ detractors in the religious community accused him of deception. They were so offended by his astounding claims that they wanted to have him killed. They said that “he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).

Jesus did not deny this. In fact, he bluntly stated that he was doing the works of God (John 5:16-17). He said that God had entrusted all ultimate judgment to him (John 5:22, 27). He claimed equal honor with God (John 5:23). He even claimed to have the power of God to raise the dead (John 5:25-26). There is no way around it. Jesus claimed to be the divine Son of God.

Was Jesus lying? Was he a religious con man preying on the gullibility of simple people? Was he a self-deceived, crazy man who thought he had come from God to save the world? Or was he who he said he was? Jesus faced those who accosted him and offered them three trustworthy witnesses to support his claim to deity. Their testimony is reliable.

John the forerunner

In this debate, Jesus had every right to defend himself against his accusers, But since they had already shown that they did not accept his word, he accommodated himself to them and said, “If you won’t listen to me, listen to John the Baptizer.” He was the prophet sent from God to prepare the nation Israel for the coming of the Messiah.

John was like a notary public who certified Jesus’ ministry to the people. “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth” (John 5:33). In the beginning of Jesus’ ministry John was the one who bore witness to the true light so that all people might believe (John 1:7). He was not the light, but was a “light bearer” to project the light that was Jesus (John 1:8, 5:35).

Jesus knew the people were impressed by the ministry of John. His testimony about Jesus was reliable.

Jesus’ miracles

Jesus said that the works that he had been sent to earth to do, including his miraculous signs, were even “weightier” testimony than that of John (John 5:36). The fourth gospel records seven special miracles of Jesus which were selected to confirm the faith of those who would read about them and be led to believe on Jesus as Savior. Each miracle reveals his divine authority and supernatural power.

His miracles were exceptional events outside the normal laws of nature. They could not be ignored. Jesus exhibited these miraculous signs over and over again. They pose a challenge. His works require us to make a decision about him. Was Jesus a religious charlatan, deliberately deceiving the people? Was he like a witch doctor performing miracles by the power of the devil? Or was he who he claimed to be? A response is called for.

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you my have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

The testimony of God: the Scriptures

“The Father who has sent me has testified concerning me,” Jesus said (John 5:37). When was that? You may recall that there was a voice from heaven that spoke when Jesus was baptized: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). In addition to that single event, there is the more permanent witness of the scriptures, the written Word of God.

The people with Jesus in John chapter 5 had not witnessed his baptism or heard the voice from heaven. But they had heard the scriptures read in their synagogues every Sabbath day. The religious scholars had studied the scriptures meticulously all their lives. Yet they failed to recognize and acknowledge that the Scriptures testify about Jesus. “These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:37-40).

The Scriptures are God’s book. He inspired their writing by his Holy Spirit. When we read the Bible God is speaking. The Bible is a truthful and trustworthy report concerning Jesus.

Our world is awash in deception. We are not always sure whom to believe. So here are three witnesses about Jesus, all of them reliable: John, the Lord’s miracles, and the written word of God himself. Jesus calls our attention to them to strengthen our faith in him.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

Water for a Thirsty Soul

I remember a time when I was seriously thirsty. I was exhausted after a long day’s hike on the Appalachian Trail. I had camped near what my map said was a reliable water source. The spring was dry. The story is longer but it ends well. The Lord mercifully took care of me by sending some fellow hikers along who shared their supply of water and Gatorade. What a relief!

Jesus was tired and thirsty when he and his disciples stopped near a town in Samaria. The disciples went to buy food and Jesus waited beside Jacob’s well, the village water supply.

Presently, a woman came to draw water from the well. Jesus crossed two cultural barriers and asked her if she would give him a drink. She was a woman and she was a Samaritan. John 4:9 makes clear that traditionally, Jews did not associate with Samaritans. So Jesus defied custom when he, as a Jewish man, asked her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink.

She was puzzled and asked Jesus, “How can you ask me for a drink?” He answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). “Living water” refers to a flowing spring, a never-ending, abundant supply.

Then the Lord went further and said that anyone who drinks from the water that he gives “will never thirst” (John 4:13). It will be a spring that wells up to eternal life. To “drink” is to believe in Jesus. As he said on another occasion,
“If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, streams of living water shall flow from within him” (John 7:37).

A conversation ensued which resulted in Jesus telling her that he is the Messiah, the Christ of God. He is the Savior who has the divine authority to promise eternal life. As a result of this conversation, she and many others put their faith in Jesus as “the Savior of the world” (John 4:39-42).

The famous British journalist Malcomb Muggeridge described his conversion to faith in Christ in terms of receiving this living water. Formerly a Marxist, a cynic and a skeptic he achieved worldwide notoriety for his pungent critiques of Western civilization. His faith in Jesus Christ transformed him into a Christian apologist and outspoken witness. Later in his life he wrote:

“I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me on the streets — that’s fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Inland Revenue — that’s success. Furnished with money and a little fame even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions — that’s pleasure. It may happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact upon our time — that’s fulfillment. Yet I say to you, and I beg you to believe me, multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing — less than nothing, a positive impediment — measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who or what they are.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner


The Lamb of God

The recent celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus has me thinking of the reason for it all. It is found in the words of John the Baptizer as Jesus began his ministry. He pointed to Jesus and declared, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:28).

What was John thinking? Possibly he was recalling the time when Abraham and Isaac traveled to Mount Moriah to make a sacrifice to God. The story has recently been re-told in a film, “His Only Son,” released by Angel Studios. The movie depicts Isaac’s question, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham’s answer was, “God himself will provide the lamb for the offering, my son” (Genesis 22:7-8).

The film captured the ambivalence, the pathos, and the emotional anguish in the heart of Father Abraham. This was because God was testing his faith by asking him to do the unthinkable and sacrifice his own son. Against all human instinct and logic, Abraham was about to carry out this strange command of God. But then God intervened and did indeed provide a suitable sacrifice, a young ram caught in a thicket, to take the place of Isaac.

Abraham spoke more prophecy than he knew when he uttered the words, “God himself will provide the lamb.” Was John thinking of this story we he called Jesus the Lamb of God?

Or was John thinking of the Exodus of the Hebrew people from their captivity in Egypt? This was commemorated every springtime by the Jews in the Festival of Passover. Every Jewish family was to observe the feast with the sacrifice of a yearling lamb without physical defect. Every year the Jewish father would explain the story of the nation’s deliverance and protection when God judged Egypt for their oppression of his chosen people.

The Hebrews were to smear the blood of the lamb on the lintel and the doorposts of their dwellings. Through Moses the prophet God had told them, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” No plague, no destruction, “will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Exodus 12:13). It was the blood of those sacrificial lambs that shielded the Israelites from death and judgment.

Undoubtedly, John was thinking of the prophet Isaiah’s words, referring to Messiah, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). No Jew living at that time would have doubted that these words, and all of Isaiah 53, referred to Messiah, upon whom the Lord would lay “the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

John the Baptizer said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” His words are as relevant today as they were when they were spoken. This is because He takes away sin. Sin is anything that stands between us and a holy God. Sin is failure to do and be what God requires. Sin is doing what God forbids. The Lamb, Jesus, is able to take our sins away, to remove them, to expunge them, to cancel them, to forgive them,

This is a really happy promise. It involves the gift of eternal life, a clear conscience and peace of mind. How is this possible? How can one man, Jesus of Nazareth, take away our sin? The answer lies in his worth or value. He was perfect in the sight of God, without sin. Quoting Isaiah 53, the apostle Peter said of Jesus, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Peter said that Jesus was “a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19).

He could take away sins because as the Lamb of God he was sacrificed for sinners. That is the message of Good Friday and Easter. This sacrifice has infinite value because he himself has infinite value as the Son of God. Like John the Baptizer, I invite you to “look” trustingly to him, to Jesus.

I do not ask you to join, or to pay, or to perform, but only to believe in Him. Look only to Him, not to a preacher, or to a church, or to yourself. Look nowhere else, to no one else, and to nothing else. Only He can take away our sin and make us right with God.

Isaac Watts wrote the following words over 300 years ago:

“Not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain/ could give the guilty conscience peace or wash away our stain./ But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, takes all our sins away,/ a sacrifice of nobler name, and richer blood than they.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner

God’s Love on Display

On this Good Friday, I invite you to think with me about how Jesus, the Son of God, gave his life to rescue sinners and reconcile them to God. This was God’s love on display. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

“Powerless” means helpless. After the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995, scores of injured people lay amid the rubble of concrete slabs, steel rebar and rising water. Helpless. Awaiting rescue. Romans 5 says that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was for those who were helpless to save themselves.

Paul’s text is an unflattering description of humanity. “Ungodly” means irreverent, people without serious thoughts of God. “Sinners” are those who by nature and by choice violate God’s law. “Enemies” means that Jesus died for those who were alienated and rebellious against God’s rule in their lives. According to the New Testament, that is us, all of us.

How did God respond? He responded with love. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God put his love on display on Good Friday. As you read in the gospels the gory descriptions of the Lord’s sufferings: the mock trial, the false accusations, the beatings, the thorns, the nails, the spear, remember that it was love that carried him through it.

The message of Holy Week is not just a sentimental story. It tells us how we may experience God’s love. Romans 5:9-10 expresses this in three weighty theological words. Through faith in Christ we may be (1) “justified by his blood.” That means to be declared right with God, and secure in that position.

(2) Then, believers are declared to be “reconciled to God through the death of his Son.” This assures a peaceful, harmonious relationship with God.

(3) The third word is “saved.” It means to be rescued, delivered from the wrath of God’s final judgment. “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” He died so that we could be justified before God, reconciled to God, and saved from the wrath of God.

If you are asking, “How may I know it was for me that he died?” I can tell you. If you are willing to admit that you are helpless before God, indifferent toward God, alienated from God, and in God’s eyes, a sinner, then I have good news. It was for people just like you that Christ died.

This may be hard to admit to yourself and to God, but it is a necessary first step. Confess your sin to God and express your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Ask him to be your savior and begin to follow him as your Lord. Then Romans 5:1 will be true of you: “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Good Friday was God’s love on display.

Pastor Randy Faulkner