Insights into the Gospel of John: Chapter 5

By Lloyd Ellefson

John 5 begins with Jesus going to Jerusalem, to a pool called Bethesda. Many infirm, blind, lame, and diseased people were lying around this pool because an angel came down and troubled the water on occasion; the one who was able to get into the water first at that time was healed of his disease.

Among all these sick people there was a man who had been waiting to be healed for many years, but he had no one to help him get down into the water. It was to this man that Jesus addressed His words, for he was a type of those who are totally unable to do anything for themselves. When Christ comes, He helps those who are in that state of inability!

In the healing process, Christ bypassed the waters - the only method of healing they were familiar with. Jesus just asked the man if he wished to be healed. The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up." All his thoughts were directed toward this one method of healing, for he didn't know of any other! But Jesus was not bound to a method, so He said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet, and walk." When the Jews saw him carrying his bed on the Sabbath, they were upset, and wanted to know who had told him to do this! But the man did not know who had healed him.

Later on this man had another encounter with Jesus. Jesus found him in the temple and said, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you." (v.14) When the man found out that it was Jesus who had healed him, he informed the Jews of this fact. Now their rage was directed at Jesus! Jesus had broken their Sabbath rule of rest by the work of healing a man and ordering him to carry his bed on the Sabbath! He deserved to die for this terrible sin of desecrating their Sabbath!

The true message of the Sabbath rest is different. It means coming into God's rest, recognizing that God has already made things, that He has cleared the way for His purposes to come to pass, and that they are already happening. We cannot make Him move any faster than He is moving. This is a spiritual principle, because everything has already been settled.

The Jews took Jesus to task for healing on the Sabbath. In reply Jesus said, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." (v.17) When, on the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished," it did not mean that He was finished working. We know that He is not finished with His work because He is still building up the body of Christ. He is strengthening us with His word; He is working constantly by His Spirit to bring us into an awareness, or consciousness of what our true being is. God has made provision for redeeming us from our delusion, deception, and our lack of awareness of the presence of God. Our redemption comes to us progressively.

God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all the time, yet most of mankind is unaware of His presence. This is what Paul emphasized when he spoke to the pagans on Mars Hill and said, "In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) They were totally unconscious of that fact, just as most people are today. In order for us to know that God is our being and our life, the knowledge of His presence has to come into our consciousness. At one time God overlooked this ignorance, but now He is calling all men everywhere to repent.

We need to become conscious of the presence of God, for this is the way He comes to us! He does not appear to us in our natural senses of seeing, hearing and touching, so we cannot know Him that way. Therefore the natural man cannot know Him, nor can he have a realization of His presence. This is beyond his ability! So God had to provide a way for us to receive a consciousness of Himself. He did this by giving us Christ. We can receive Christ because He has given us a spirit in which we can receive His Spirit. And His Spirit brings us into a consciousness of God. He was there all the time, but we were unaware of His presence! Since He is omnipresent, He does not come and go; He is always present!

Christ is with us always! This knowledge enables us to understand that all the preaching about the physical coming of Jesus to restore the world, etc., is the foolishness of carnal thinking. The only way that Christ (the Son of God) can come to us at this time is in our consciousness. When we become conscious of His presence and of His true nature, we suddenly get a revelation that He has made us one with Him; we become conscious of our true nature and being and recognize we are children of God, sons of God!

"For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." (v.18) When Jesus asked them why they wanted to kill Him, they replied it was not because of the good works that He had done, but because He had blasphemed in calling God His Father.

Christ's testimony was used as the basis for persecuting Him. This is also the basis for our persecution. The cross did not come at the beginning of Christ's life; it came as a result of having testified that God was His Father. He was crucified after He had been a good witness! He did not hold back any of the truth that the Father had given Him! As a Son, He identified with God being His Father; because of this mankind wanted Him out of the way, for it has no conception of this! So also our persecution and crucifixion are an indication that we have testified that God is our Father. The only way we can suffer with Christ is by being crucified to the world, and having the world crucify us.

"Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, `Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel." (vv.19-20)

The principle that the Son can do nothing of His own volition is contrary to our natural thinking. In the world people want power. The coming of the Holy Spirit is "dunameis" (dynamite), meaning power. We think this power will be inherently ours to do wonderful deeds for God. But no wonderful deeds for God are ever going to be done until we learn that, as the Son could do nothing of Himself, so we can do nothing of ourselves! When He says nothing, He means nothing! His total subjection to the Father was the essence of who Christ was!

Christ did not yield to His own ideas or desires. He was in total subjection to the Father; He understood what the Father was doing; He identified with Him completely. That is why the power and the authority of the Father could flow through Christ; that is why He could have victory in every situation! That is how God's power will flow through us, and we too will have victory in every situation!

Christ did no miracle on His own initiative. On God's side, the miracles were just a restoration of things to the way they were in the first place. To us that is a miracle, but not to God. Christ did none of these things in His own power. He said, "...but the Father abiding in Me does His works." (Jn. 14:10) Any works that are not initiated by the Father, are our own works. We cannot do His work out of ourselves either. The power we have in the Holy Spirit does not belong to us; it is ours in the Spirit and has to be used under His direction. We can experience it, but it is never ours to be used as we see fit.

"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes." (v.21) Before we can know anything about God we have to be raised out of the deadness of our carnal mind. It is asleep in Adam's sleep. This mind does not have any knowledge of true life and is unconscious of its true state. It needs to be raised out of its deadness. It is the Father who raises the dead - and this is a continuing process. Not all of our darkness is taken away at once. Since the Son only desires the Father's will, He can give life to whom He wills.

"For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son." (v.22) This is an interesting statement. How does this agree with the great white throne of Revelation 20:11? How does man's idea of God sitting on a great white throne in the sky, with everyone gathered before the judgment seat, agree with it? We'll have to take a different approach in order to understand this.

We think that God will judge people at some future time. However, we have to realize that wherever the presence of Christ is, the judgment of God is also present. Since Christ is the truth, He is constantly judging error by His presence. So if the presence of Christ is in us, the judgment of God is there also. Paul said, " you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2) We feel rather uncertain about that, even though man is judging man all the time. What a realization that God's judgment on the world is carried on by the saints! The way we live and speak testify to the presence of Christ in us, and this judges the world. God established this principle when He gave all judgment to His Son. Since believers form the body of Christ, judgment is given to the believers. Their judgment comes from the throne of God because their life is governed and guided by the Spirit.

Romans 2:1 says that man is not to judge others. "Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment..." This information is addressed to man - to the humanity that does the same things it judges as being wrong. Humanity has no business judging anything because Christ is not in them, and therefore they do not have the truth. When they accuse someone of judging, they themselves are judging that person. They are doing the very thing they are telling others not to do!

Judgment and condemnation have been so intertwined in our minds that we cannot differentiate between the two. We are unable to pronounce judgment without condemnation. But they are not the same! It is possible to have a clear, accurate judgment of evil and the things that are wrong in people, without condemning them!

God's judgment is through Christ Jesus. (Rom. 2:16) All judgment is given to the Son, the Christ who is in us. All judgment has been given to the Son, and there is no condemnation in Him. Therefore we can exercise judgment without condemnation. This is the kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise. People do not understand this, so they misjudge us. They think we are condemning along with our judging. But we can judge people, yet still have them in forgiveness. This is something we need to grow in!

"So that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent me, has eternal (or age-during) life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." Therefore life is a present reality! "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live." (vv.23-25) And that was said 2000 years ago!

The Son of God is a life-giving Spirit, and His voice came through Jesus Christ when He was here on this earth. Jesus said that if you hear His voice, you'll live. You have passed from death to life! There is a physical death and a spiritual death. Out of which death have you passed? Who are the dead who will hear the voice of the Son of God? They are those who are dead in trespasses and sins; they are dead in Adam, even though they are living on this earth. The Adamic man is in death. If those who are in the Adamic man will hear the voice of the Son of God, they will live.

Passing from death to life is called resurrection! When we are made alive in Christ we are resurrected, for Christ said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies." (Jn. 11:25) This is for the present time, because Jesus said that the hour is now. This life will not be terminated, for it is the same life that is in God. Jesus said, "My words are spirit and are life." If we can receive His words, we are receiving life in our spirit.

In Jn. 5:28 He said, "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice." This hour is coming; He does not say "it is now". At that time Jesus had not yet gone into the grave and descended and led captive a host of captives. At this time, not all who are in the tombs of their carnal minds have heard His voice, but an hour is coming when they will. So we are looking at two different resurrections.

"And will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." (v.29) In other words, these people have not really and truly been judged, because He said that those who have done good, will come forth to a resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to a resurrection of judgment. Everything that is not of God needs to be judged. Truth will judge all the good and the evil that people have committed.

The great sin is unbelief! When a man dies in his sins, He dies in unbelief. He who believes God, believes the truth (which is Christ) and receives life. He will not come into judgment. Sin means missing the mark. So if we miss the mark of knowing who God is, we will miss the mark of knowing who we are in Him! This is iniquity! When we miss the mark by not knowing who we are in Christ and who God is, we are in our iniquity and we will die in our sins. We will continue to be in the death of Adam until a judgment takes place.

The more our revelation of God increases, the less we will sin. If we do not understand who we are in Christ we will think we are still in the Adamic man and live in unbelief! As the Son of God comes to us with a revelation of who we are and who God is, our sins will diminish. When Christ says people will come into resurrection, it means they will be awakened and receive life. They will come into revelation knowledge and understand what it means to have life in Christ, and that they had been living in death and unbelief.

A positive confession does not bring life. I believe Paul is referring to this in 1 Thess. 5:3 where he says, "While they are saying, `Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly..." When the light of the day of the Lord comes, the children of darkness will continue to proclaim the message of a false peace and safety. This positive confession of peace and safety will not help them, for they are still in unbelief. They will be raised into judgment because they are not in Christ.

"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (v.30) Good judgment does not come from our own minds, regardless of how brilliant we may consider ourselves. Our judgment always differs from the Father's. Only as we lay down our own will and hear what the Father is saying, can we judge correctly.

The saints will judge the world, and the saints will judge angels. How can we judge angels? If we were together with a room full of angels and were asked to judge them, we'd be at a loss. We wouldn't know what they had done or what they had not done, so we wouldn't know how to proceed. This is not how we judge them.

Angels are messengers. There are two kinds of messengers: the messengers of Christ and the messengers of Satan. So when messengers come to us, we are to judge whether they are of Christ or of Satan. We judge them by their message. Saints should be able to judge whether it is a true message from Christ, or whether it is a false one from the adversary. To judge rightly we have to know that we are completely dependent on Jesus Christ and what He tells us. We need to listen to His judgment! Messages may be full of knowledge, emotion, excitement and religion, but if they lack life, they do not come in the Spirit of God. It is very important that we are able to judge where the messengers (angels) come from!

Messages are not to be judged by their content alone. People can say a lot of good things but that is not enough. Even the devil quoted Bible verses to Jesus when he tempted Him, but they were intended to lure Jesus into sin. So would you say those were good things? No, they were not; the spirit that quoted those verses was evil! Since the devil is a liar from the beginning and there is no truth in him, the Bible verses came out of an adverse and deceptive spirit. They were not meant to bring life, but death. Jesus recognized the evil intent of that message, so He did not listen to him.

As we grow in our knowledge of Christ, we learn to recognize the voice of the Son of God. Then we can distinguish the true shepherd's voice from the false voices. Sadly enough, many sincere Christians, even those who are filled with the Holy Spirit, cannot tell the difference between sermons that are given in subjection to the Spirit, and those that are only filled with man's knowledge and charisma. One is life-giving, and the other isn't. We must judge from what spirit it comes.

"If I alone testify of Myself, My testimony is not true." (v.31) Jesus was referring to a testimony given in court, where two witnesses are needed to validate a statement or event. As we view Christ's life, we marvel at how little He said about Himself. For example, when He joined two of His friends on the road to Emmaus, He did not elaborate on His crucifixion, His pain, His feelings on the cross, in the grave, and in His resurrection. Those things were not important to Him; He was excited about the fulfillment of what the Father had said! He wanted their minds to be opened to understand the scriptures! As He spoke the words given Him by the Father, the Christ was revealed to the disciples. The Father revealed the Son to them!

There is no need for us to tell people that we are sons of God, that we are Christs (His anointed ones), etc. We have to let God reveal who we are! As we portray His nature, His truth, and His Spirit, people will know whether we belong to God or not.

In John 7:17 Jesus said, "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself." This is a principle. There must first be a willingness to do the will of God regardless of the cost. This willingness on our part is necessary for us to have the ability to judge whether a message comes from the Spirit of God or not. The messages that come from God are to be obeyed.

Will we be in subjection to the Spirit or will we make our own choices and sit as God on the throne of our life? This is the great divide! People who want to decide for themselves whether or not something is of God are their own god. They are not in subjection to the Spirit, and therefore are not listening to God. Jesus relied completely on the Father for anything that needed to be said or done! He had a deep realization within Himself that the Father's witness was the true one! We need to receive the same realization.

The Jews judged Jesus by His words - and they did not like what He said. This proved they were antiChrist. In being antiChrist, they were also antiGod. Since Adam was antiGod, all his descendants are the same. This is the condition humanity was in when Jesus came. Christ is Spirit; man is flesh, and the flesh always strives against the Spirit. Christ draws His truth from the Father of spirits, while man draws his truth from creation and from the flesh. So Adam's truth is a delusion. The stronger a person believes in natural truth, the more deluded he becomes. People get so involved in natural truth that they cannot be persuaded to believe spiritual truth.

"You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish - the very works that I do - testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me." (vv.33-36) Jesus did not come to this world on His own initiative; He was a sent one from the Father.

John had received light, but Jesus was the greater light! John the Baptist was like a trumpet calling to repentance a people prepared by the law. The law had shown them that they could not attain to the righteousness of the law. Jesus receives us after the law has borne its fruit of repentance in us. We need to turn from the law and our own works, so we can receive the Spirit. Without His Spirit we cannot receive the Spirit's teaching.

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God sent His Son the second time. This time He came as the Holy Spirit of anointed truth to teach us all things! God, through Christ, is not condemning us and is not dealing with sin. To those who have repented and embraced the Spirit, He simply brings a revelation of who God is and who we are in Christ.

The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, for it cannot receive the things of the Spirit. The law is written on every man's heart. The world is under the law - the law of sin and death. It is very evident that God is not interfering with that - He does not stop wars nor does He do away with humanity's problems. God acts according to the principles which He has established! Therefore we need to adjust to His ways and live according to His laws - otherwise we'll be in trouble!

"And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form." (v.37) What a shock it must have been to the Jews to be told they had never heard from God! Didn't they pride themselves on being God's people and having the law of Moses?! But they had never heard the Father's voice! Their idea of God was totally wrong! Although they had heard about God, they didn't know Him! Their rejection of Christ, the perfect expression of God, proved Christ's statement to be true.

Jesus continued His indictment of them by saying, "You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent." (v.38) What a charge against them! Everything they had imagined about God was a conception of their carnal mind. They actually did not know anything about God! Christ came to show them a true image of God. In order to receive the true God, they couldn't retain their old ideas of God. If they wanted to know His teaching, they would have to let go of their old ideas, and desire only to do the will of God. This holds true for us as well!

God sent Christ, but the Jews did not believe it! Their ideas did not agree with God's declared truth. So Jesus said, "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." Jesus told them that they thought they had eternal life in the scriptures, but their supposition was false, for eternal life is in Christ!

The scriptures are a witness of Jesus Christ! Life is not in the scriptures, for they are just dead letter. The prophets were inspired to write, but once it was written down, it was brought out of the context of spiritual life, and put in a witness of letter. As long as that witness remains in the letter, it does not bring life; it kills. It keeps out the life of Christ that inspired it in the first place. Jesus said that eternal life is not in the scriptures! It is in Christ!

As we read the scriptures, the Spirit of God has to breathe His life into them and reveal their meaning to us. Without that, the scriptures are dead. Paul said we should serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. "But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." (Rom. 7:6) And in Rev. 2:29 it says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

We are to live by faith. We don't live by what God is going to do in the future. There are many ideas floating around as to how God is going to accomplish His work. We do not live by our faith, but by the faith that was once delivered to the saints! Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me." (Gal. 2:20) So we live by faith, and faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Christ's words have to be heard spiritually, because His words are spirit! We may read the scriptures but that does not necessarily mean that we are hearing His words. The things that God prepared for us have never entered the heart of man. (1 Cor. 2:9) In the natural, we all have mistaken ideas of spiritual things. When we put these mistaken ideas into practice, they become carnal activities for God.

"And you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (v.40) Life is only in Christ! Coming to Christ means leaving our old ideas and our love for the things of this world. That is why it is so difficult for people to come to Him. It is much easier to make substitutions, like going to church, doing good works, reading the scriptures, etc.

The book of John contains many direct quotations of Jesus. It teaches us so many things which we have never seen before. These lift us up and edify us! They reveal our foolish, carnal ideas; they destroy the idea that life is only for the future and not for the present. Christ is for today! Expressions like, "it's going to come about...God is going to do this or that ...we're on the verge of a new age," etc., indicate that we do not see what God is doing today! God is working today, even though we often see it only in retrospect. He is enough for today!

Christ is everything! He is all our sufficiency! Paul told the Thessalonians that he did not have to talk to them about times and seasons, for the ages have been made through Jesus Christ. (Heb. 1:2 - some translations read WORLD, but AGES is the correct translation of the Greek AION) Since Christ makes the ages, it is the Christ in us who makes the ages for us; He makes the ages we live in. So people presently living upon the earth can live in different ages. Some are living in the time before the law, some in the law, some in total rebellion outside the law, some in the earthy concept of Christ, and some in the spiritual concept of Christ. Some live in the complete darkness of their carnal minds while others live according to the degree of light they have received.

The light of Genesis 1:3 was the motivating force for producing everything. It brought about the divisions and the separations - the earth coming out of the sea, and the separation of the waters and the heavens - for the light of day and night did not come until the fourth day.

In Acts 2 we find that Peter talked about light. He was quoting from the prophet Joel, saying, "This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel." (Acts 2:16) Then he said that the sun and the moon will be clouded over - they will be turned to darkness. The sun and moon produce natural light. Joel was referring to the darkening of the carnal mind. New light had come in Jesus Christ, but the people did not recognize it. They only saw it as natural light, reflected light, and darkness, for they did not recognize the true light which had come in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said many tremendous things which brought new light to previous concepts. But they did not want to hear what He said. He said, "And you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves." (vv.40-42) These words are directed to us as well as to the Israelites.

God had dispersed the Israelites through the Babylonian captivity. The ten tribes were gone; He was through with them. Only Judah and Benjamin and a few priests were left when Jesus came. God had to keep that portion of Israel through which the fulfillment of His promise was to come - the promise that the Shiloh would come out of Judah. The lineage according to His promise to David had to be preserved. He also kept Benjamin because Jerusalem was His holy city.

In Matt. 21:43 Jesus said, "...the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a people (nation) producing the fruit of it." God is not bound to a natural nation. He is looking for people who are producing kingdom fruit, i.e., the nature of God. He takes those who were not a people and makes them His people! The following are some verses which enlighten us. "For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God...for you are not My people and I am not your God...I will call those who were not My people, `My people,'...and it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, `You are not My people,' there they shall be called sons of the living God." (1 Peter 2:10; Hosea 1:9; Rom. 9:25-26) God's people recognize His lordship; those who are living in the kingdom of God are obedient to the lordship of Christ.

This shows us the importance of realizing that Christ is Lord! God does not change. It is our realization of Him that has to change! If we don't receive a revelation of God's being, we won't realize what His true nature is. Then we will worship a false god - a god of our own making or choosing, a god of our own conceptions. Those are idols! Idolatry is covetousness; when we crave a god according to our own desires, we get an idol. Jesus came to destroy these idols and false images of God!

The spiritual man of Genesis 1 is an image of God! When God created man He said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." This man came out of the Word - and the Word is the Son of God. A son is always birthed, so the Son was birthed of God. God created a man. I believe this man is the Son of Man, the spiritual man who was clothed by the flesh of the natural man. The Son of Man was put to death; He was the lamb slain from the foundation or disruption of the world.

He came to this earth in the same manner as we, for He was born of a woman. However His flesh was different: it was never corrupted, nor did it see corruption. Yet it was manifested in the same way that we are manifested, i.e., He had to use His physical body to do His work.

Jesus trod the winepress of God alone. After about 3 1/2 years of ministering in Israel, no one stood with Jesus Christ at His crucifixion - nobody!ÿÿNo one in his natural state can ever stay with Jesus! The old man, that is the old humanity, the carnal nature, has to die so he can become a new creature in Christ. He has to be crucified - this does not refer to the physical body. If we want to follow Christ, we first have to follow Him through death and resurrection. There is no other way!

Christ was manifested on this earth in a physical body. After He was released from His physical body, He was given to us in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the place He prepared for us in the Father's house! He indwells us and is manifested through us. Just as Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and lived in union with the Father, so should we!

At this present time Jesus comes to us in the Holy Spirit. He is Yeshua, God's Savior, the Christ, the Anointed. He is completely spiritual! Jesus Christ, the spiritual man from heaven, took on humanity. The order is reversed in us. We, the formed Adam (humanity), receive the Christ, and are birthed into God's family. Being birthed into God's family is the greatest thing that can happen to us! It gives us a Father-son relationship and an incorruptible inheritance!

"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." (v.43) When people come in their own name, we welcome them, don't we? Posters promote people on the basis of their achievements for God, advertising them as prophets, miracle workers, teachers, healers, etc., causing people to come to hear them because of their reputation. Big names attract people. Those who do not understand spiritual realities are attracted to celebrities, to the natural man. This takes the glory away from God. Rev. 22:9 tells us to worship God! We are not to worship people.

There are two references in the scriptures which clearly point out that we have been brought into a Father-son relationship. Romans 8:15 and Gal. 4:6 tell us that when the Holy Spirit comes to us, we are going to cry "Abba! Father!" It does not say we will cry "Jesus". Together with Jesus we cry "Abba! Father!" because a union with the Son has taken place in us. This union brings us into the realization that we are sons of God. Our new relationship with God is expressed as we call Him our FATHER. It is the Spirit's teaching that brings us to this realization of oneness. This does not come about by reciting prayers or participating in rituals and forms.

Jesus often spoke in figurative language and in parables. He said, "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will speak no longer to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father." (Jn. 16:25) In Luke 8:10 Jesus said to His disciples, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables..." Everything is a parable to those who are not born into the kingdom of God. People may be very religious and accept the scriptures in their natural mind, but this does not mean they have the reality - they are still looking at things as in a parable. The reality only comes to the spiritual mind!

In John 16:23 Jesus referred to the time when the Holy Spirit would come to them. " that day you will not question Me about anything," Jesus said to His disciples. They would not be speaking to Jesus because He would be in them, motivating them to speak to the Father. In that day they would speak to the Father because Jesus would be one with them, and they would be joined to the Spirit of the Son; therefore they would cry FATHER. When we cry JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, we think of Him as being somewhere on the outside of us, and we don't know our union with Him.

Jesus taught the disciples about prayer. He told them that public prayer was not to be used to impress people. The Pharisees used long prayers and prayed in conspicuous places to impress others with their religiosity. We are not to follow that pattern. Prayer is for the inner room, for the closet. Prayer is meant to be prayed inwardly. He also taught them to address God as their Father. When He said, "Our Father", He was saying God is My Father and He is your Father. The Spirit brings us into a realization of our union with the Son, so we can pray to our Father!

Jesus Christ did not receive honor and glory from man, and He never will! Therefore we cannot make Him happy by praising Him - by saying all kinds of good things about Him. Our pattern for worship mostly comes from the Psalms in the Old Testament. That is where we have the timbrels, the singing of praises to the Lord, and the repetition. All this was given to natural man. The law and the prophets were until John the Baptist. Now we worship God in spirit. True worship consists of full submission to the Spirit of God!

This does not mean that we cannot use this form of worship. However, care must be taken that we are not overcome by fleshly emotions, for they do not praise God. The flesh cannot praise Him, so it should never dominate us. Moreover, the flesh lusts against the Spirit; so the more spiritual reality we have, the more the flesh will lust against us. Therefore we have to overcome the flesh and put it in subjection. We should never get out of moderation; we should always remain in the place where the Spirit predominates.

I believe that loud sobbing, yelling, crying and shaking, are signs that the flesh has taken over. The flesh is always in deception; this means people can think their praise of God is right, yet be deceived. Building big buildings or statues to the honor of Jesus does not honor Him. He does not receive honor from men! All our worship has to come out of the Spirit. Christ knows how thankful we are; He knows how much we love Him, how we worship the Father, and how far we are in our realization of who He is. We can only worship Him to the extent of our knowledge of Him and our submission to Him! The more revelation knowledge we have of God, and the greater our submission to Him, the deeper our worship becomes.

Another point we should heed is that of prophecy. In Rom. 12:6 Paul admonishes us to prophesy according to the proportion of our faith. To prophesy beyond our faith is hypocrisy. Prophecy has to do with the kingdom of God, not with carnality.

"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" (v.44) How do we receive glory from one another? We receive glory when we receive titles, like bishop, pastor, deacon, leader, etc. If we depend upon our titles and position, and take it upon ourselves to bring forth a ministry, we become a mediator of carnal things to people. How can a believer accept these honors and be a true leader? Receiving glory from people elevates us into a certain position and puts us into bondage to them. Consequently we listen to them instead of to God. By so doing, we are stunting the spiritual growth of people, because we are blocking the truth of the Spirit. Our ears are not tuned in to God, so we cannot hear Him. If we cannot hear God, we cannot really be believers.

Before we can have true ministry, we have to recognize that everything depends upon the Son. The Son's ministry is an expression of Himself! Humanity wants the ministry to make the son, while actually, it is the Son in you and me who makes the ministry!

"Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope." (v.45) Jesus does not accuse us to the Father; neither does the Spirit of Jesus Christ in us. Therefore it is not up to us to accuse people to God; the accuser is the law - it is Moses! He is the one who reveals our sin to us. The decalogue, or ten commandments, are written laws; they are letter, but Moses was the spirit of the commandments.

Jesus points this out to them by saying, "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (vv.46-47) For Christians, the message of the law is to bring us into a realization of the sin and delusion we formerly were in. Those who receive the message of the law will believe in Christ.

Jesus was speaking to the Jews who had their trust in the law, and said they were God's people. They thought they had a special ability to understand the law. To them Jesus said, "If you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me." If the Jews had believed Moses, they would have believed Him!

Though Israel did not believe Moses, they were trying to live according to the law, thinking that their idea of the law was right. But it was totally wrong! They were not using the law correctly. It was supposed to bring them the knowledge of sin; through this knowledge they were to realize their abundance of sin and recognize God's wrath on sin. Through the law they were to learn their complete inability to please God! It was given to take away all their confidence in themselves and all hope of ever being able to please God! It was to show them their need of a Savior; they needed someone to save them from their hopeless situation. While Israel thought they were embracing the law of Moses, they were actually rejecting it!

The Jews did not have the word abiding in them because they were unconverted; they were natural people. They are a showcase to demonstrate to the world that natural man cannot fulfill the things of the kingdom of God - the things God requires of him. Natural man cannot have faith or trust in God!

Israel trusted the neighboring armies to help them instead of trusting God. This is not only true of Israel, but of all natural humanity! It always trusts natural strength instead of God. But it cannot fulfill the things of God. We need to recognize that all the efforts of natural humanity are useless in the kingdom of God.

In Matt. 16:24 it says that we are to deny ourselves. The word "deny" actually means "disown". We are to disown ourselves. This is more than just denying ourselves food and pleasures; it means rejecting our old nature and turning away from every conception or idea of God which comes from that nature. He alone is the truth! To embrace truth, we have to turn away from what we thought was truth, but actually was error.

Jesus said that all who came before Him were thieves and robbers. (Jn. 10:8) They could not reveal truth on the level that Jesus revealed it. Jesus brought forth truth on a higher level than what was known as truth before He came. As we receive Christ, the truth, we discover that our so-called truth was a delusion. When we are delivered from our lies and delusions, we begin to grow in the truth that is in Jesus Christ. This is our calling!

Jesus has not called us to be His half-brothers and sisters; neither has He called us to half-heartedness! He has called us into the same union He has with the Father! As we receive a true conception of God, He will not only be Someone who rules over us, but the One who owns us! We breathe because of Him; we have our life in Him! We are totally unable to walk, think, or do anything without the grace of God. We are being conformed to the image of the Christ who said, "I can do nothing of Myself...I only do what the Father shows Me to do...I don't receive honor from man." What a glorious truth! Amen.

Return to "Insights into the Gospel of John" by Lloyd Ellefson

Archived Writings by Lloyd Ellefson