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Do You Believe?

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(3/29) Welcome to Palm Sunday 2015. Today we remember a day in the life of our Lord Jesus that took place about 1985 years ago give or take a year. Because we are studying the writings of John letís look at Johns account of this day. (John 12:12-19), The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! ĎBlessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!í The King of Israel!" 14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkeyís colt."16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"

This day began as a day of hope and expectation by many of the people around Jerusalem. They expected that Jesus was about to proclaim Himself as the Conquering Messiah. They thought He would over throw the Romans, and restore the glory of Davidís Kingdom to Israel. Why? Well there were several reasons. First, He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and had done a lot more than that. The miracles that Jesus did were meant to show that He is the Messiah who had been promised. Look back with me at Isaiah chs. 29:17-24, and 35:1-8

Is it not yet a very little while Till Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,

And the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest? 18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. 19 The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel. 20 For the terrible one is brought to nothing, The scornful one is consumed, all who watch for iniquity are cut off 1 Who make a man an offender by a word, And lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, And turn aside the just by empty words. 22 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: "Jacob shall not now be ashamed, Nor shall his face now grow pale; 23 But when he sees his children, The work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name,

And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel. 24 These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine." And then Isaiah 35:1-8

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; 2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,

Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,

The excellency of our God. 3 Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear!

Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God;

He will come and save you." 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.7 The parched ground shall become a pool,

And the thirsty land springs of water; In the habitation of jackals, where each lay, There shall be grass with reeds and rushes. 8 A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, Shall not go astray.

Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. He had opened the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf and given speech to the mute, cast out demons, feed thousands, and now at this Passover there was the expectation of a New Kingdom. Jesus rode on a colt of a donkey just like Zachariah 9:9 said the King would when He came to Jerusalem. This would be an awesome Passover and a new deliverance.

But not everyone was excited. The religious leaders believed that this would be the beginning of the end for Jerusalem and their prosperity. They began seriously to plan to put an end to Jesusí popularity and ministry. They needed to kill Him.

As we look back on this day in History, we remember that this day began what is called the Passion Week. Passion, not in the sense of an intense desire but of suffering. The Greek word for suffering is Pascho, from which we get the word passion. This week that began on Palm Sunday started the week of intense suffering for our Lord. Mentally, spiritually, and physically Jesus would suffer intense agony this week and on Friday would die at the hands of His creatures.

The suffering would actually start as Jesus began His Journey into the city, Look at Luke 19:41-44, 41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation." I remind you that this is the second time we are told that Jesus wept. The first time in John 11 at Lazarusí tomb, John uses a word that means to tear up. Much like you might do when you watch a sad movie or attend a funeral and see your friends grieving their loss. You tear up as you feel their pain. But the word here in Luke 19:41 means to bawl and wail, itís uncontrollable, shoulder shaking crying. His suffering began with the knowledge that people would reject Him and be lost and His beloved Jerusalem would be destroyed, as it indeed was 40 years after this week. Do you know that the heart of God breaks for those He loves, and gave His life for, yet will not believe in Him and be saved? They will choose to follow and believe Satanís lies instead of the truth of Jesus. And they would miss the eternal life He came to give to them. Do you remember Proverbs 14:12?

With that in mind, letís return to our study of 1 John and pick up with 5:1-12. Letís read it. Would you stand with me?

John is concerned that his readers know the truth about Jesus. His goal is the same as it was when He wrote the Gospel. He wants people to believe in Jesus and have His eternal life. Look at John 20:30-31, And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. By the end of the first century, a counterfeit Christianity called Gnosticism was spreading and leading people away from the simple truth of Jesus. Among the many lies of the cult was one that sad that Jesus was born and died as a man, not as God incarnate. They taught that the Christ Spirit came down on Jesus at His Baptism and left Him before the cross. He was born and died as just a man. John knew that that those who did not believe the truth of Jesus would not have eternal life, no matter how sincere they may be. There are 4 parts to this section:

The Believers, The Overcomers, The Witnesses, and The Gift of Eternal Life.

I. The Believers. John seems to be giving us a commentary of His Gospel and chapter 3 in particular, where we are introduced to the concept of being born again when Jesus meets Nicodemus. Jesus explained to Nick that no one can see or be part of Godís Kingdom without a new birth. Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Christ is not Jesusí name. It is His title. It means Messiah or the Anointed one. It is a reference to the promised Savior and future King God had promised to Israel. Notice that John uses the title Christ and the Son of God interchangeably (v. 5). It is absolutely necessary that you understand that to believe is not just an acceptance of a fact or facts. You can accept the truth of facts about Jesus and not be born again or born of God. This word for believe that John uses (about 50% of all its New Testament usages), means to place full trust or confidence in. Have you ever said to someone, "I believe in you?" You mean, I have full confidence or trust in you. To believe that Jesus is the Christ or the Son of God, which, BTW, means the visible presence of God, means that you have full confidence in who He is and what He has done. You are trusting in who He is and what He has done; that is He is God who died on a cross in your place, your propitiation, your substitute and then after 3 days rose again, satisfying the justice of God for our sins. Itís just like what you did a few minutes ago when you put your full trust and confidence in those chairs and sat down. When you put your trust and confidence in who Jesus is and what He did for us, God places His Holy Spirit in us and gives us life, new life, His very life, and we are born again. We are now Children of God, with the life of God in us. Isnít that awesome?

And notice what John says about this new life and the one who receives it:

A. He will love God, who adopted him or her and gave this new life and all that goes with it (v. 1). The greatest commandment is my greatest love.

B. He will love the other children of God (v.1b), because they are all family and all came into that family the same way. No one who is born again can seriously say, "I love God, but I donít love His family, His church." John has already told us that if you love God (4:20) you have to love the family or you are a liar and have not been born again. You are not born of God.

C. He or she will obey Godís commands. Look at verses 2-4. Our Lord Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. John is dealing with one in particular; that being, loving each other as we discussed last week. And here is the thing. When we are in love with the Father and the Son, loving each other is not a burden. It becomes our delight. Commandment keeping is a burden before we fall in Love with God and are adopted into His family. All we think about are rules. And we hate to have to abide by the rules. I heard Chuck Swindoll, refer to this, this way. When two people get married, they stand before the pastor or official and they take vows. They may write their own or recite what the pastor leads them in. But you have never heard anyone at the altar say, "love, honor, cherish, in sickness, and in health, richer or poorer, and forsaking all others cling to you only as long as we both shall liveÖ you have to be kidding, that is too hard, I canít do that, I wonít do that." When you love someone, obedience is not a burden, it is a delight. Being Godís means of touching a brother or sister is a blessing not a burden. And again, people will know beyond a doubt that you are born of God. You know what it means to believe.

II. You Become an Overcomer (vv. 4-6). This word overcomer, means to be victorious, a conqueror, and a winner. You have defeated as a super conqueror, the world. John wants us to know that the world and its system is dominated by Satan. Look at 4:4-6. The ones preaching lies; the cultists are of the world. They use worldly desires, worldly logic, and worldly philosophy to promote their lies. Because you have believed the truth and have the Holy Spirit in you have won this spiritual battle. Look at 5:18-19 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway (or the grip) of the wicked one.

Cp. that with the words of Paul that we looked last week Ephesians 2:1-3, And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. John reminds us that we have conquered the world and its desire to led us away from the truth and destroy us with lies and selfish ambition. While we still sin, we have stopped sinning as a lifestyle. We know and recognize that Satanís temptations are designed to destroy us. But with the power of God living is us we have the power to say no to temptation and yes to Godís will. How did we obtain that victory, by our faith, when we believed in the person and work of Jesus.

Look back at Romans 8:35-39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Do you get this? No matter what the world can do or try to do to us, we are the champions. We have won and we will win in the end, because we have His love and His life to enjoy forever. This is why there was a Palm Sunday and a Resurrection Sunday. So we can be winners. We have a peace and a joy and a hope that the world could never give us. We know what it means to be loved by our creator God and Father. Every time I hear that song by Queen, I think of these verses. "We are the Champions, my friend."

III. We have Three Witnesses, to Testify to these truths (vv. 6-9). Now I have to tell you that verse 7 and part of 8 of the KJV or NKJV only appear in about 3-4 manuscripts and just about everyone believes that they were added by a copyist but were not part of the original as thousands of others do not have it. The mission and victory of Jesus Christ that has resulted in our being born again and getting victory over the world is attested to by 3 witnesses. John refers to them as the water, the blood and the Holy Spirit.

A. The Water we believe refers to the beginning of Jesusí ministry or public appearance when He came to John to be baptized. He identified Himself there as participating in our humanity and the Father used that occasion to reveal to John that this is truly the Son of God and He is proud of His Son and the Holy Spirit visibly came upon Jesus. Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. (Matt.3) "And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

B. The Blood. Some think that this pertains to the Lordís Supper, but no, it refers to His death on the cross. Jesusí mission was to die as our substitute so we could be forgiven and be the winners. Listen to the words of Paul in Romans 3:23ff, 3 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Jesus identified with us at His baptism. He died for us when He shed His blood on the cross. Our Faith is well grounded. The Cross was place where the God-Man bled out and died paying for our sins so we could be forgiven by God. The cross is where Holiness and Love met, so you could be forgiven and have eternal life. Do You Believe in the Cross of Jesus Christ? (Go and see the Movie)

C. The Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that bears witness because the Spirit is Truth. The Holy Spirit tells us that this is all true. He opens our minds to the truth of the Bible that it was necessary for the Messiah to die for us in order for us to be saved and born again. He gives us the Witness of the Word of God, and He gives us the internal witness of a new heart and a changed life when we believe in Jesus. Old things pass away and all things become new. We recognize temptation and we have the power to walk away from it. We want to be pure, we want to be righteous, we want to sin less and we want to love our brothers and share grace with the world. How can we do that? The Holy Spirit! We know experientially that greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world. (1 John 4:4). These three are greater than any concocted story by a cultist or philosopher, or religionist. They are given by God so you will believe.

IV. The Gift of Eternal Life (Vv. 10-12) Notice a couple of things with me.

A. Eternal life is a gift (v.11). It is given as a gift by God. You cannot pay for or repay God for this gift. He wants to give to give to anyone who will repent and receive it.

B. This Gift of Life is in His Son (vv. 11-12). You cannot have eternal life apart from the Son. You cannot just say I believe in God. James reminds us that the devil believes in God. You must believe what the Bible says about the Son and you must believe and trust with full confidence, and resting in who the Son is and what He has done. If you believe anything less than that Jesus is fully God incarnate, and that He died for you on a cross and rose again, you cannot have His life. I remind you that no other religion and no cult in the world believes this about Jesus.

C. If you believe this about Jesus you have life, You will not die. Heaven is yours. Physical death becomes the door to meeting your Father and Brother face to face. Heaven will be glorious.

D. If you do not have Jesus you do not have life. There is no heaven. This life is the best there is for you. You have only hell to look forward to. Whatever hell may be, it will be dark and lonely, and void of all goodness, love, and all peace, and it will be forever. You must believe!

This week. This passion week of Jesus that began on Palm Sunday was for the purpose of giving you eternal life. A life that begins new right now and lasts forever. Perhaps we should take these next few moments and pray.

1st. Pray about your relationship with God. Have you been born again, really?

2nd Pray for your family and friends that have not believed what God has testified to about His Son. Take them to see the movie Do You Believe? This is one of the most open to listening times of the year. Ask your Father for an opportunity to tell them the truth about how to be born again and have the gift if eternal life.

If this life lesson has challenged, encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.

Easter Sunday we will conclude this Study of 1 John with The Assurance of Our Faith.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman