Vol. IX — No. 15 April 14, 1968


The Christ of the Gospels—the Christ of Our Salvation—the Christ We Worship Is

John 8:46-59

Which of you convinceth (convicts) me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

In Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, Fellow Redeemed:

“Whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:15. That direct question Jesus once asked His disciples after He had solicited from them a report on the popular opinions concerning Him. “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” Matthew 22:42. Those questions Jesus directed to His enemies the last day of His public ministry in the temple.

These are not academic questions. They are rather very personal questions that lay bare the hearts of all who give answer. How a man answers these questions concerning Christ will reveal whether he is a believer or unbeliever, whether he is on the road to eternal damnation or eternal salvation. “What think ye of Christ?” That question is relevant for each individual upon earth. His eternal weal or woe depends upon the way he answers it.

Modern churchmen have concerned themselves with the answering of this question. Books have been written on the quest for the historical Jesus. The “demythologizing” school of theologians has sought to answer the question by stripping away all that is supernatural in order to get down to the real Jesus. But these efforts have resulted in but a caricature of Christ—unbelief’s answer to the question, “What think ye of Christ?” It is as though men were playing the popular television identification game that ends in the question, “Will the real Jesus stand up?” He has stood up and revealed Himself in the Gospel. The question, “What think ye of Christ?”, has been answered by the Spirit of God in the four Gospels. The Few verses of our text give us an amazingly clear description of Christ. It is to be read, accepted, believed, trusted, confessed, defended. Let us strengthen our Faith by hearing and believing that the—


I. The only absolutely sinless man.

What other man could challenge His enemies as did Jesus: “which of you convinceth me of sin?” “Which one of you can convict me of sin?” “Which one of you can prove me guilty of sin?” Despite the fact that His enemies had been shadowing Him for years, watching His every move and listening to His every word, they could not find a single utterance or a single deed that in any way violated the law of God. When the Jews wanted to condemn Him, they had to suborn witnesses to perjure themselves. Again and again Pilate pronounced Him innocent—after his initial examination of Jesus, after Jesus had been returned by Herod, after the Jews chose Barabbas and demanded the crucifixion of Jesus and again when Pilate finally did sentence Jesus to death. Innocent He was—not only in the sight of man, but also in the sight of God. Here is the one man among men, who was like unto every other man with one exception—he was without sin. Here is the only perfect man that ever walked this earth. To know this, to believe this, to Confess this is to know the real Jesus. To deny it is to blaspheme the Christ of man’s salvation!

The Christ of the Gospels, of our salvation, whom we worship is—

II. The One those of God hear.

“If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” Jesus testified then as He does now through His Word. Even as men today refuse to believe Him, so they refused in those days. Jesus responded to the unbelief of His audience by making a general statement, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” Our Lord spoke as the Word made flesh, as the very mouthpiece of God. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, who claims to be “of God,” will hear not just the sound of His words, but will hear inwardly, will perceive and will believe. The Jews experienced no such hearing for the simple reason that they were not “of God,” but of their father, the devil.

Do you feel the impact of these words? Think of men in pulpits, teachers in classrooms, people in pews who imagine that they have liberty to read and hear the Bible and accept what they will and disgard what they dislike. Think of the churchmen who do the devil’s work of inserting question marks behind this and that word of our Lord. Think of the leaders who value their own opinions and interpretations over the clear, naked word of the Lord. Our Lord analyzes and describes them all accurately: “They are not of God!” How is it with you? Are you secretly among such? God forbid! God grant that all of us are among the few who hear with the ear, perceive with the mind and believe with the heart. For only those who so hear the word of the Lord are “of God.”

The real Jesus is consistently—

III. The One who honors God and must be honored as God.

The Jews responded to Jesus’ word with slander. They called Him a Samaritan and accused Him of having a devil. The Lord quietly responded, “I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.” On the positive side our Lord testifies that He was seeking the honor of His Father. He honored His Father by doing the will of Him that sent Him, being obedient even unto death. The Father judged His Son as righteous by raising Him up on the third day. In contrast the Jews were dishonoring Jesus and so dishonoring the Father whom they claimed to honor.

Let us realize that this same dishonoring Jesus while trying to honor God continues today. It continues within churches that want to bear the name Christian and it is done by people who want to call themselves Christian. The ecumenical movement and the many semi-religious, non-sectarian organizations that have mushroomed in our land insist that their members acknowledge and believe in a Supreme Being. They imagine that they are thereby honoring God, whereas they are in fact dishonoring Jesus by making acceptance of him optional. There is no Supreme Being, except in the imagination of those who have deceived themselves, who says, “Here is My Son. Take Him or leave Him. It makes no difference to Me!” The only God who exists is the God who says, “This is My Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Honor Him as God, and you honor Me. Dishonor Him and you dishonor Me.” Let us by word, by deed, by our associations and disassociations honor the Lord Jesus as God, for He has honored His Father in the interest of our salvation.

In the midst of His rebukes directed towards the unbelieving Jews Jesus reveals Himself as—

IV. The One who gives victory over death.

In certain assurance of the truth Jesus proclaimed, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” Jesus was speaking of death in its final and ultimate meaning as permanent separation from God. Physical death is either the prelude to such a final separation of body and soul from God in hell or physical death is but a sleep that is a transition to eternal life in glory. Our Lord assures His disciples and His enemies that anyone who keeps, that is, hears, accepts, believes, confesses and guards His words or sayings shall never experience death in its final and ultimate sense. Such a one shall share in the Lord’s victory over death.

The Jews insisted on misunderstanding. They referred to Abraham who had died centuries before. Did Jesus perchance believe Himself to be greater than Father Abraham? The doubts continue to this day. People still make themselves believe that they can reject Christ and still gain the victory over death. That is impossible. The Christ of our salvation is the only One who can give victory over death.

He is also—

V. The only One who knows the Father.

The Jews challenged Jesus: “Do you think you are greater than Abraham?” Jesus responded by speaking most intimately of the Father as honoring Him—the same God that the unbelieving Jews claimed as their God. Then comes another word of condemnation: “Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.” The Greek language has two different words for our English word “know.” When Jesus says that He knows the Father, the word that He uses indicates an intuitive knowledge rather than a knowledge gained by experience. We know the Father because the Son, our Lord Jesus, has revealed His Father to us in the Word. This experiential knowledge of the Father the unbelieving Jews didn’t have because they rejected God’s Son. Anyone and everyone who rejects Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God does not and cannot know the Father, no matter how much he speaks and writes about God. Such a man is simply the victim of his own unbelief. But Jesus has more than experiential knowledge of the Father. He has intuitive knowledge, for He spent eternity in the bosom of the Father. He was face to face with the Father. He came from the Father. He is one with the Father. This is the Christ of the Gospels, the Christ of our salvation, the Christ we worship—the only One who knows the Father in such an intimate, thorough, personal way.

He is also—

VI. The one Person who is divinely and eternally preexistent.

The Jews were trying to belittle Jesus by comparing Him with Abraham. Jesus startled them by testifying, “Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” Abraham rejoiced in the promise of a Savior to come from his seed, and he saw that day when after a quarter of a century of waiting Isaac, the son of the promise and its bearer, was born. Again the Jews insisted on misunderstanding: “Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

No other person can say that. We all have existed in the wombs of our mothers before birth. Jesus also experienced that. But He lived for years, for centuries before His conception, yea from all eternity. For He is God’s Son come in the flesh. This is the real Jesus—not a man conceived and born as other men that live and die and so pass away. No, the real Jesus is the divinely and eternally preexistent Son of God, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, who is without beginning and without end but who also had a day of birth and a day of death. Here is the Son of God and the Son of man. Do accept Him as such, for any other Jesus is the product of man’s unbelief.

It was with a vicious response of unbelief that the Jews greeted these words of Jesus, and so He became—

VII. The target for stones.

“Then took they up stones to cast at him.” He testified of the truth; they responded with murderous actions. Herod tried to kill Him as an infant. His townsmen tried to push Him off the cliff after His first sermon. His countrymen tried to stone Him. They finally shouted death by crucifixion down upon Him.

So it was, and so it continues! Anyone and everyone who denies that Jesus was without sin, who refuses to hear and believe His words, who refuses to honor Him as God, who refuses to believe that victory over death comes only through faith in Him, who denies that Jesus has divine knowledge of the Father, who rejects Jesus as the eternally preexistent Son of God—is guilty of picking up stones and throwing them at Jesus with murderous intentions. The churches are full of such stone-throwers. But let us be among those who bow our heads and worship Him as Lord of all! Amen.

—Pastor Paul F. Nolting

Preached - March 31, 1968
Holy Trinity Independent
Evangelical Lutheran Church
West Columbia, South Carolina

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