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When Unbelief Investigates a Miracle

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 17, 2021 3:00 am

When Unbelief Investigates a Miracle

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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February 17, 2021 3:00 am

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This is the first thing to know about unbelief. That kind of unbelief that is willful and resistant is also possible starts intellectual becomes emotional then becomes verbal and ends up physically and unbelief. If press can go down that path had the last two decades. Millions of people have undergone the procedure fixing a common physical problem.

But there's another kind of vision problem that's much more serious and it's one that human hands can't begin to fix I'm talking about spiritual blindness. The question is what is the remedy what's the cure for spiritual blindness today on grace to you.

John MacArthur looks at what the Bible says about this in his current study, rediscovering the Christ of Scripture. Now here's John now open your Bible to the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John.

As you know, if you been with us in our study of the gospel of John. It's often called the gospel of belief or the gospel of believing because John gives us his purpose in writing at the end of the gospel as he begins to wrap up in chapter 20, he expresses the purpose for which he has written these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of God and that believing you may have life in his name from the first chapter on to the very end it talks about believing but we've also noted all the way along that it is also a gospel of unbelief and while it presents to us the truth concerning Christ in order that we might believe. It also chronicles the rejection of Jesus Christ we learn at the very beginning chapter 1 verse 11. He came into his own his own received him not.

It is a gospel of belief set in the context of unbelief. So we are always seeing John writing that you may believe and realizing that even as Christ comes to prove who he is, he is confronted by constant unbelief and that is still true today. God himself calls all men to believe in his son, but the vast majority do not in the vast majority did not. When his son was here walking in their midst. So while John's gospel is the gospel. The history that is designed to bring us to belief.

It is at the same time, a chronicle of unbelief and we've seen unbelief and number of forms. We we saw the bewildered kind of confused unbelief of Nicodemus, to whom Jesus said if I have told you earthly things and you believe not, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things.

We have also seen the demanding unbelief of the nobleman from Cano, to whom Jesus said unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe we saw another kind of belief the self-centered, hypocritical unbelief of the leaders of religion in Israel, to whom Jesus said because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me, we saw the blind unbelief of the Galileans who saw the miracles and still didn't believe in Jesus as you have seen, and do not believe belief and unbelief all the way through the gospel of John. There is even the mysterious unbelief of the brothers of Jesus, of whom it is said neither did his brothers believe in him.

But what stands out in this panoply of forms of unbelief is the willful truth, rejecting hardhearted unbelief of the Pharisees describes the chief priests and the rulers of religious Israel to whom Jesus said, I tell you the truth and you believe not you can in studying gospel of John put together a theology of unbelief. You can drop a very complete characterization of unbelief, but in this ninth chapter in particular, you get an insight into the character of willful, obstinate, stubborn unbelief you find in this chapter kind of the pathology of unbelief, its characteristics, its nature, it's its marks. This is a passage then that one can read as a narrative, you can just read the story. It's a wonderful story. A blind man born blind and of course Jesus meets him at the gate to the temple, gives him his site by creating two new eyes, but saliva in dirt makes a little mud puts it on his eyes tells him to go wash.

He does finding his way to the pool blind. He comes back. Seeing this incredible miracle is happened to very simple and and yet marvelous story that ends in verse 12 we went through that last time the man born blind can now see we follow that up starting in verse 13 and we begin to see the religious leaders, the Pharisees, in particular investigating a miracle they're going to investigate this dramatic demonstration of divine power, and as we watched as you can just read the story and the story is dramatic and dynamic on its own. But as we go through the story. What strikes me as I read through this story is. I see the character of unbelief. I see the nature of unbelief.

Now unbelief comes in many forms, but in all of its forms.

It demonstrates these kinds of components, so they're going to unfold for us. This is one of the I think one of the challenging things as we study the Bible is to make sure that we don't just read the history and maybe miss the revelation that it's giving to us. That's not immediately on the surface and and while as I said the story is enough to sustain our interest and have an impact on us if we if we look a little deeper and examine what's going on.

We begin to get a better understanding of how unbelief functions and how it operates and if you're wondering why that's important.

I want to tell you it's very important so that you know what to expect because your responsibilities to carry on the gospel ministry to preach Jesus Christ you're going to confront unbelief. Most all of the people to whom you give the gospel will rejected, you will your whole life confront unbelief and you need to know how unbelief operates. This is a narrative story so it's simple, it doesn't take a lot of explanations on some kind of a dense comprehensive compound argument of theology or anything it's just a story. So going to cover the story and try to extract out of it.

The characteristics of unbelief that can prepare us for what were going to face.

So primarily I would say this story instructs us on what to expect when we confront unbelievers. The characteristics of unbelief are exposed. There's a second feature here though that is historic it it's historic and it is this it is in this event, and in this conversation that the blind man has with these leaders that we see in graphic demonstration. The schism between Christianity and Judaism between if you will the church which is latent in these believers and the synagogue.

This is where Jews and Christians divide into two antagonistic separated realms and that comes out on the one hand, the Jews affirm Moses on the other hand, the believers affirm Christ and it is that division that has existed ever since.

Even to this very hour, so we will see that schism, which is perpetuated itself through history and will until Israel turns to see the Christ.

They rejected and embrace him for who he is and that will happen someday in the future, but the main lesson here is about unbelief are going to see how unbelief makes conclusions before it does examinations it's predisposed to its own viewpoint were going to see how unbelief establishes false standards were going to see how unbelief demands more and more evidence. But when it receives that evidence it doesn't respond as any appropriate person. Should any thinking person. So there's a kind of irrationality in unbelief. Unbelief does biased research.

It can look at facts and come to the complete wrong conclusion. Unbelief is self-centered, selfish, egocentric, all these things are part of unbelief but will try to break it down into some some words so often I'll throw some words that you may be some you haven't heard, first of all I want you to see that unbelief is inimical and inimical, you probably have and use that word today or any day for that matter, but it's a really good word and it means the hospital hospital. It means adverse. It means pernicious ill disposed could even be dangerous.

Unbelief is not benign. You need to understand that when you're dealing with unbelievers you're not dealing with some some benign reality. This is an aggressive attitude to take when you don't believe in the gospel and you don't believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You inevitably are hostile toward that. That is why is unbelievers who ultimately persecute Christians.

It is unbelievers religious unbelievers rejecting the gospel, who crucified Jesus by the hands of the Romans. It was unbelievers who persecuted the apostles and martyred almost all of them. It was unbelievers that were pouring out, threatening and slaughter against believers in the early chapters of acts it is unbelievers through all of human history, kill Christians, it is unbelievers today that massacre Christians in various parts of the world.

So unbelief is inimical. That is to say it is hostile it it poses a certain dangers. So you need to see that and understand that now already, the Pharisees have decided the Jesus is kind of a combination of demon possessed. Satan inspired and insane and they have essentially said that that's the mantra that the Pharisees have been parading around and articulating that that they have determined already.

While not all unbelievers are equally hostile unbelief in its own nature is hostile to the truth, and it may take many forms. It it may become aggressive to the point of the of injury attack or even execution martyrdom as we know through history so were going to learn about.

First of all, the inimical character of unbelief. Let's look at verse 13.

They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind now.

Who are they go back to verse eight, the neighbors and those who previously saw him as a beggar. The people who knew him when he was blind. The people who knew him when he was begging by the gate of the temple where Jesus met him. These people bring this man to the Pharisees even asked why did they bring them to the Pharisees.

There are a number of possibilities. Of course, and maybe it's a blending of all of them. First of all, maybe just some sort of simple need to get the Pharisees who were the religious leaders and the ones who supposedly knew the law knew the Scripture knew God could represent heaven to sort of sign off on how this happened met. Maybe they were looking for some theological explanation from the theological elites of Israel that is certainly within the realm of possibility and reason there their neighbors there folks that see him at the temple and and this is massive. This is incomprehensible to them because as the blind man says later in the story no one had ever heard of anyone being healed of blindness and he was right.

He knew his Old Testament. There's not one single healing of a blind man in the entire Old Testament. It was unheard of. He knew that. So this is remarkable. And maybe they just wanted to check off the Pharisees to find out how they viewed this and how they were going to explain it. It is also possible Nuance thing that just a little bit that the Pharisees had been continually discrediting Jesus continually saying that he has a demon.

He is insane he is of Satan. He is not of God. They had propounded this all the way along, they were seeking his death.

They had come to the place, according to verse 22, where the Sanhedrin had passed a law that if anyone confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, they would be on the synagogue thrown out of the synagogue band curse in the society. So, since the Pharisees had made this law that there there was a certain fear and concern on the parts of the people that they were going to have to figure out how this Jesus who could heal this blind man fit in to the purposes and plans of God when that's obviously divine power, but if we say he's the Messiah will get thrown out of the synagogue, so maybe they just needed some kind of further explanation why such a severe punishment for someone who wanted to affirm Jesus is another possibility. And this would be a more negative one and that is that they knew Jesus had broken the Sabbath. They knew that healing was not allowed on the Sabbath and they didn't mean miracle healing but medicinal healing. According to rabbinic law. If someone was sick. You couldn't do anything to make him better on the Sabbath, but if someone was dying. You could so you could sort of prevent him from dying but not make him well, but you are allowed to neutralize his his moment of dire straits, but not make them any better because that would be a violation Sabbath. So here, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.

What were they were perhaps going up report him to the Pharisees on the negative level because he broke the Sabbath. Furthermore, he had taken Clay spit in the clay, put it on the eyes of the man and you weren't allowed to do that because that was work on the Sabbath.

So Jesus had violated the Sabbath.

It seems to be in their mind because in verse 14 it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.

This is not necessarily still the Sabbath because they wouldn't have convened on the Sabbath but but they went back and told the Pharisees. It happened on the Sabbath, so that must've been part of the conversation he had then been guilty of working on the Sabbath and you know they had these ridiculous laws you couldn't fill a lamp with oil on the Sabbath. You couldn't light aware on the Sabbath, that if a man extinguished a lamp on the Sabbath to spare the lamp to save the oil and conserve the WIC he was guilty of violating the Sabbath.

So you couldn't light when you can blow one out petty ridiculous rules. There is even a rabbinical statute recorded by Maimonides, the that the historic Jew, specifically prohibiting the spreading of saliva on anyone on the Sabbath because they believed saliva had some kind of medicinal value and they were allowed to spread the saliva on the Sabbath.

According to Maimonides, so Jesus had done that they broken their Sabbath sought. There has to be that component in them coming to the Pharisees, so some of them are pharisaic disciples for sure some of them some of the neighbors and the people who knew what was going on, or have taken up the cause of the Pharisees.

They bought into their form of apostate Judaism, so they drag that the man who'd been born blind in front of the Pharisees and maybe some of them wanted an exclamation. Some of them wanted to know why the law against Amanda could do this but probably the most dominating reality was what we do about the violation of the Sabbath and that was what concerned them the most. By the way the Lord did whatever he wanted on the Sabbath because he says in Mark 228 on the Lord of the Sabbath on the Lord in the set of the Sabbath in John five. Remember verses 16 to 18 when he had healed the man at the pool on the Sabbath and they were after him because he did on the Sabbath and he said that my father works on the Sabbath and I work on the Sabbath. God doesn't rest on the Sabbath and I don't rest and they accused him of blasphemy because he made himself equal with God.

He paid no attention to theirs. Ridiculous rules that they had concocted to compound the Sabbath into a of the worst day of the week in the Mark 227. He said the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath was made to be a day of comfort and rest and joy and refreshment and they had turned it into an impossible ridiculous burden so he purposely violated their Sabbath. The laws that they had invented, not gods. Matthew 15 nine you have substituted the traditions of men for the commandments of God, so this is the issue they bring this man to the Pharisees verse 15. The Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight.

Why does it say again because the neighbors had asked him back in verse 10, the neighbors and the others in the people who who knew him were saying to him how then were your eyes open so again he has to answer the question, this time from the Pharisees, how he received his side.

He said to them, he applied clay to my eyes and I washed, and I see very straightforward, very simple answer. What else could he say that's all he knew the Pharisees they want to take the word of the neighbors didn't want take the word of the folks that are there. They want a first-person testimony so they asked the man that that the other folks testimony of what Manatt said was inadequate for them so they asked the man, the man gives him a simple straightforward answer which is verifiable by the way that the cryptic moment a lot of other conversation must've been going on with people saying we know he eat. We know him with no name we seem by the gate many days many months many years. Yes yes this is the man, but he needed to give the testimony himself and so the Pharisees asked him to and he does verse 16.

Therefore, some of the Pharisees were saying this man is not from God because he doesn't keep the Sabbath stop right there. At that point.

This is supposed to be an investigation which means the conclusion supposed to come at the end that this is the conclusion before the investigation this man meeting Jesus, they won't call him Jesus. The calling this man. This man and you'll see them do that repeatedly, this man then want to mention his name, but they've already made a conclusion. The conclusion is this man is not from God because he doesn't keep the Sabbath. This is their little sort of logical syllogism is a logical syllogism is a major premise or minor premise and the conclusion. The major premise. All people who are from God, keep the Sabbath minor premise. Jesus doesn't keep the Sabbath conclusion. Jesus is not from God. That's the syllogism doesn't keep their hairsplitting trifling ridiculous little rules on the Sabbath, but all people from God would these not from God couldn't be from God. So this is backwards, his unbelief would always reveal itself. We start with the conclusion and then reason backwards. The conclusion is, they reject him their hostile toward him. However, there is a group within the Pharisees that can't be so easily persuaded by this syllogism. They have their own syllogism and it shows up in the middle of her 16 others were saying, we assume others of the Pharisees. How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs. How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs.

They had their own logical syllogism and went like this. Only God can open blind eyes. Jesus opened the eyes of this man born blind. Conclusion Jesus is from God. Group A, it's the Sabbath issue group D. It's the supernatural issue group A is unmoved. We don't know about group D but we do know the end of verse 16. There was a division among but this kind of division was part of what was happening with Jesus below back to chapter 7.

In particular, you can go back and start in chapter 7, verse 40, and some say this, and some say that some say this, and some say that some say well know profits come in from here and there and as so there was a division among the people.

It says there was a division chapter 10 verse 19. There was a division Jesus brought authority brought division between people working to follow group A because they sort of take charge. They are the hardhearted unbelievers.

The deniers and the first thing we learn about them and we've covered it already is. They have made their conclusion and they are hostile toward anything that offends or anything that assaults that conclusion that this is the first thing to know about unbelief. That kind of unbelief that is willful and resistant is also possible. That's why we gave you the four steps of conflict starts intellectual becomes emotional then becomes verbal and ends up physical that's will happen in the story it starts is in discussion about facts. It then becomes emotional and the man starts sarcastically firing away at them and then it becomes them firing at him, reviling them and eventually physically throwing that those are the sequences of conflict and unbelief. If press can go down that path presents. So unbelief.

First of all, is inimical.

That is, it is hostile toward the truth you been listening to John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary and the featured Bible teacher here on grace to you.

The title of John's current study rediscovering the Christ of Scripture. Now John in closing today. You said that unbelief is hostile to the truth and if there is a truth that more people than anything else, are hostile to it seems to be the idea that Jesus is God and he is Lord of all.

So for that listener who knows people maybe people in his own family who reject the truth that Jesus is God what encouragement would you have for those listeners. How should they approach their conversations with their loved ones who reject the deity of Christ or the Lordship of Christ. Well it's the essential truth. Salvation comes to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said he will die in your sins to the Jews hand where I go, you'll never come. Why because you believe not on me. There is no salvation in any other name than the name of Jesus Christ. Understanding who Christ is and what he has done is necessary to eternal salvation.

No one who has a wrong view of Christ no one who fails to submit to Christ will ever escape hell so the gospel begins with Christ poses I'm determined to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified. So that's where all Christian witness begins. I want to help you with that. I'm looking right at a book titled the deity of Christ. That's that's the issue.

The deity of Christ and answers the question who he is and it shows you biblically. Details from the revelation of God in his word that make it unmistakably clear as to who Jesus Christ is and that is the foundational necessity to believe to be saved. The book the deity of Christ is based on the MacArthur New Testament commentary series and it pulls content from those commentaries and arranges them for easy understanding and even for study. So if you've never contacted Grace to you before, and that's most of you do that today and request the book the deity of Christ, 215 pages and will send you a copy free of charge. That's right free to anyone contacting us for the first time and just as for the book the deity of Christ. This is a great tool for anyone who wants to know Christ in a deeper more meaningful way. This book, the deity of Christ is our gift to you. If you've never contacted us before getting touch today. Call 855 grace or make your John's book titled the deity of Christ will help you better understand who Christ is what he accomplished, and why he's worthy of your worship and what he expects from again for a limited time, we will send you a free copy of the deity of Christ.

If you have never contacted us before. Just call our toll-free number 855 grace or go to our website Jide and while you're online. Make sure to take advantage of the thousands of free resources that can help you better understand God's word. You'll find previous broadcasts of this program.

Video clips of John's various conference and television appearances and the grace to you blog. You can also download all of John's sermons, free of charge in audio or transcript format. The address again. Jide now for John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you to watch grace to you television this Sunday. Check your local listings for channeling times and be here tomorrow as John continues his study rediscovering the Christ of Scripture with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to

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