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“Do You Believe…?” (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 20, 2021 3:00 am

“Do You Believe…?” (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 20, 2021 3:00 am

The blind man in John 9 couldn’t understand why the Pharisees wouldn’t believe his story. The Pharisees couldn’t admit that Jesus was the Son of God—or maybe they just wouldn’t! Hear the full story when you join us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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There's a big difference between the words can't and won't. But, what stands in that gap is not a laughing matter, it can be a matter of life and death. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg contrasts a blind man who can't see with religious leaders who won't see in a message that begs the question, do you believe? We begin today in John chapter 9 verse 30. Leon Morris observes in the response of the man in verse 30 here, the man answered. He says, the man's chain of reasoning is pretty good for someone who'd been a beggar all his life and presumably a stranger to academic and forensic argument. And it is quite remarkable, isn't it?

This man has got some gristle to him, doesn't he? This man has got truth on his side. This man is not in any doubt at all as to what has taken place for him. And so, look at how he answers in verse 30. I'll paraphrase it for him. What he says to them is, I find this truly remarkable.

Your unbelief in face of the evidence is more of a miracle than my cure. And he jumps on the back of that, and he uses their same form of argumentation, pointing out, We know that God doesn't listen to sinners. Now, don't let that unsettle you if you are aware of the fact that you don't know God and you're aware of your sin.

What is being said here can be best understood—and I'll only give you one cross-reference, I could weigh you down with them, but I won't—Psalm 66 and verse 18. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened. The verse does not say, If I had sin in my heart, God wouldn't hear me.

No. If I had cherished sin in my heart, if I was committed to my sin, then God wouldn't listen to me. He says, We know that's true. God does not listen to the impenitent. He hears the cries of the penitent, but he does not listen to those who are willful in their unbelief and in their sin. Secondly, he does listen to the godly man who does his will. It's a kind of Matthew 6.33 statement.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. God does not listen to the cries of the impenitent, but he does listen to the cries of those who do his will. Thirdly, he says, No one has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.

If this man were not from God, he couldn't do anything. Now they knew that was the case, because they even, in the miraculous events that we have in the Old Testament, there is no record of any man opening the eyes of a man born blind. And so, with a simple logic and yet with a compelling logic, the man beats them at their own game, turns the tables on them, and says, You know, you're the ones who've been starting off with the premise, We know this, therefore that. We know this, therefore that.

He says, Let's do the same thing. We know that God does not listen to the cries of the impenitent. We know that God does listen to those who do his will. We know that there is no record of ever anybody having a man open a man's eyes. Therefore he says, Conclusion, deduction. If this man were not from God, he couldn't do anything. Now let's pause there for just a moment, because there's a lesson here for each of us in speaking to people concerning faith in Jesus Christ.

We may think that the high point in John chapter 9 is arguably verse 25, where he says, I don't know about what you know, but I do know what I know, and that is, I know that I was once blind and now I can see. I know my experience, I know what happened to me, and our friends walk away from us and say, Idiot. Because they would be able to say that they've had experiences of different things in different places and so on. Well then, what are we going to do at that point, you see? Well, this man is convinced of his testimony, but when push comes to shove and the challenge reaches for him, he is able to step up and say, Well, let's just think about this for a moment. And why don't we think about this too?

And have you considered that? And do you agree that this, this, and this leads to the deduction that? So his faith was resting in the experience of what Christ had done for him to this point, and he was absolutely without any doubt concerning it, but that wasn't the beginning and the end of his argument. Now what we discover is that they feel the sting of this. And in verse 34, they do the only thing they've got left to do, and that is they throw him out. Now you will notice they don't throw him out until they have given their own answer to the question with which the chapter began.

How did the chapter begin? Well, remember, with the disciples asking Jesus, Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? The Pharisees say, We know the answer to that question. The reason you were blind is because you were steeped in sin at birth.

You are a miserable sinner, that's what you are. How dare you lecture us? Don't you realize that we've gone to school for this? Don't you understand that we have the legacy, the historical background of Judaism on our side, and you, some upstart beggar from the streets here, thinks to come in and confront us? You see how the challenge of truth gets under the skin of those who know they don't know the very truth they are encountering? We ought not to be surprised when our friends and neighbors want eventually to throw us out. Frankly, we ought to get thrown out a lot more than we do many of us.

And the reason we're not thrown out, the reason we're accepted, may be because we are more represented by the fear of the parents than we are represented in the faith of the man once blind. We're ready to fudge the questions. Well, I don't know about that. Oh, I'm not so sure about that.

Well, maybe you could ask someone else about that. Come on, have the courage of your convictions. How dare you lecture us? You're gone. And they threw him out. Now let's just pause for a moment and think about this man. But when I got to this point in the story, I just sat for a fair while, saying to myself, what an incredible few hours or couple of days, however long, is recorded here it was in the life of this man. This is not an invented story.

This is an historical narrative. This is an encounter with Jesus. This is one of the signs that has been placed in the Gospels so that as a result of seeing the sign, men and women might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and then that by believing they might have life in his name. So this man stands as a sign to us of what it means to be spiritually blind and how we need Jesus to make us see in the same way that he needed Jesus to restore his physical sight. What did it mean for him?

He must have awakened to a fairly normal day, I would imagine. A routine for him would either to be led or to go by his routine path to his place of begging, and there he would sit and make the usual sounds and listen for the passersby in the hope that it would be a good day. Look at him as he sits there, having never seen the sun rise or set over the Sea of Galilee. Look at him as he is identified solely and specifically by his predicament. He is a blind man. He is a beggar. Was he aware, I asked myself, of his becoming the focus of the conversation, as in verse 2?

Because if you have friends who are blind, you know that their senses almost inevitably are heightened, their other senses—their sense of a fragrance, their sense of sound, their sense of hearing, their sense of touch, their sense of taste—they are able to teach those of us who can see a ton of stuff that we don't see even though we can see it. Therefore, it is not difficult for us to imagine that as the man sits there, his ears pick up stuff. Did he hear somebody say, Who sinned, this man or his parents? And did he say to himself, I wonder if they're asking about me? And then he says, Oh, they are asking about me. Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Oh, they are talking about me.

I wonder who they're asking. And then they answer, Neither this man sinned nor his parents. The blind man said, Well, that's fantastic.

But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. Can you imagine sitting there? Try and think yourself into it. You have been blind since your birth. You're sitting at the side of the road.

It's a new routine day. You're a beggar. And suddenly, you're the focal point of the conversation. And whoever it is that is answering says that this blindness, this blindness that I know, is there in order that the work of God might be displayed in his life. Can you imagine him saying, I wonder what that means?

I wonder what that is going to mean? And then he hears a spit. And then… And then whoever this individual is says to him, I'm gonna put this mud on your eyes.

Would you have said, Okay, go ahead? Unless you had heard the dialogue before, you see, the words of Christ give basis to the works of Christ. The work of Christ was an evidence of the word he had spoken. He had said, This is in order that the work of God might be displayed in his life. Now this is the work of God. The man submits to this and does as he's told, and he comes back seeing.

What an incredible story. And then to his parents. And then to the community.

All the confusion. And then to the religious leaders. He's a walking miracle. He's a challenge to the religious formalism. But in the attempts of the Pharisees to intimidate him, despite what he knows to be true, he gives as good as he got. Because these individuals, these religious formalists, couldn't, wouldn't believe their eyes. Don't tell me that you can't believe. Tell me that you won't believe. Tell me that you won't. Because there is enough evidence of the living God in creation and in your life and in your very sense of moral oughtness as to condemn you for your unbelief in God. There is not enough in nature to save you, but there is enough in nature to condemn you. Do not tell me you can't see.

Tell me you won't see. That is what is pointed out here. That is what is made so graphically clear. And John, in a summary statement a couple of chapters later, in John chapter 12, summarizes the response of these Jews. And he says in verse 37 of John 12, even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. They still would not believe in him. It wasn't the absence of evidence. It wasn't the absence of good evidence. It wasn't the compelling nature of the truth that they confronted.

They flat-out refused to believe in him. And he's been thrown out. Now what, he must have said to himself.

What do you do now? He knew what it was to operate as a blind man, but he had no track record as a seeing man. Oh, I pictured him in my mind's eye, walking away from this confrontation with the religious leaders. He would walk out into his community.

He was in the crowd, but his whole existence had been defined by his blindness. Walking down the street like a sheep without a shepherd, almost. Yeah, what he needed was a shepherd. Now look at verse 38, which is the end, and at the same time the beginning.

Was a long introduction, wasn't it? Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him… When he found him… See, Jesus is about to identify himself in the very next chapter. It's open on the page beside you as the good shepherd. What do shepherds do? They seek out sheep. Jesus is identified in Luke's Gospel chapter 19 as the Son of Man who came, seeking to save those that were lost. Unasked the man had been healed, unsought the man had been found. And Jesus finds him in order that he might confront him with this most important question. And when he found him, he said, Do you believe in the Son of Man? The question I want to leave in your mind—because this is the great question—do you believe in the Son of Man? Son of Man is a self-designation for Messiah, for the Christ, for the Savior.

Do you believe in Jesus? The nature of that belief, the significance of that belief, the sum and substance of that belief is far more than an intellectual awareness of the existence of a Jesus of Nazareth. It means the casting of myself upon. It means the relying of myself upon. It means entrusting all of my life and all of my eternity into the hands of Jesus of Nazareth, believing that he is the person that he claimed to be.

Do you believe? I conclude with this. Yesterday I managed to finish a book that has been part of my summer reading. Some of you have enjoyed down at the big screen place next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that amazing film Into Thin Air, which was directly tied to John Krakauer's book Into Thin Air, and another book that he wrote called Into the Wild. And I've been reading now for a couple of weeks Under the Banner of Heaven, which is Krakauer's exposé, as it turns out, of the radical fringes of fundamentalist Mormonism, and particularly the polygamist sects that spin around the circumference of things. But as he comes to the end of his book, after three hundred and thirty-four pages, he has a little section called Author's Remarks. And he says the genesis for this book was a desire to grasp the nature of religious belief. He said, I wanted to find out about religious belief, and since he was brought up in the West, and since he was brought up in a framework of Mormonism, he used Mormonism as the sort of template or the prism through which he considered religious belief. We might have wished that he had chosen Christianity or the New Testament, but anyway, that's what he did. And as he ends the book, he quotes someone who says that those who write about religion owe it to their readers to come clean about what their view of the world really is, to acknowledge where they stand in relationship to faith or in relationship to belief versus unbelief. And he said, Well, I think that that's fair, that one, as an author, has to come clean about one's own theological framework.

And then he said, So here is mine. I don't know what God is or what God had in mind when the universe was set in motion. In fact, I don't know if God even exists, although I confess that I sometimes find myself praying in times of great fear or despair or astonishment or at a display of unexpected beauty. And then he says, Although I don't know these things, accepting the essential inscrutability of existence… That's a great phrase, isn't it? Accepting the essential inscrutability of existence—in other words, the mystery of life itself, accepting the unanswered questions factor, accepting the inscrutability of existence itself—is surely preferable to its opposite, i.e., capitulating to the tyranny of intransigent unbelief. He says, I think I'm in a better position saying I don't know than if I'm in the position of saying I flat-out don't believe and I don't want to know. He said, I think this is the better of the two positions.

I think he's right, don't you? And then he closes, And if I remain in the dark about our purpose here and the meaning of eternity, I have nevertheless arrived at an understanding of a few more modest truths. Most of us fear death. Most of us yearn to comprehend how we got here and why.

Which is to say, most of us ache to know the love of our Creator, and we will no doubt feel that ache, most of us, for as long as we happen to be alive. I tell you, if he had put his telephone number just right underneath that, I had to call them yesterday afternoon, sitting on my back patio, and say, Hey, John, I loved your book. You're breaking my heart with the end.

You're killing me with your end. Have you ever considered this? Did you know that Jesus, John, can make blind men see?

Do you know that? Do you—never mind the person next to you—do you believe in the Son of Man? You may, even as you sit here, cry out to him, Lord Jesus Christ, I do believe. Help all of my unbelief. Alistair beg, with a question each of us must answer, Do you believe?

This is Truth for Life. Alistair will be back in a minute to close the program with prayer, so please keep listening. Maybe this question, Do you believe?, has you wondering, What exactly does it mean to follow Christ? I want to encourage you to visit slash thestory. You'll find there a helpful video presentation that explains how Jesus' sacrifice on the cross frees us from sin and brings salvation. God's saving grace is not anything we can earn on our own. It's a gift freely given to those who believe.

Again, visit slash thestory. The account in John chapter 9 of The Blind Man begins as Jesus restores that man's physical sight, but it does not end there. The Bible tells us that Jesus heard about this man's encounter with the Pharisees and went and found him. That is the heart of our Savior.

He came to seek and save the lost. That's also the subject of a book we're recommending this month. It's a book called Gentle and Lowly, and it's all about the love of Christ for us, even though we are sinful. In brief and easy to read chapters, this book Gentle and Lowly takes us into Scripture to reveal the compassion and patience of Christ. We'd love to send you a copy of the book Gentle and Lowly when you donate a gift of any amount. Visit slash donate or you can click on the book image you see in the mobile app.

Or call us at 888-588-7884. And while you're on the website, you may be interested in viewing a selection of Christ-centered resources we put together on subjects like aging well or dealing with the challenges of being a caregiver, finding peace in times of grief. We put this list together to offer you encouragement if you're dealing with any of these challenging end-of-life issues.

You'll find the list of books at slash hope. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Father, thank you that we're not left to our own devices when it comes to the Bible. Thank you that each of us, if we have a Bible, can at least go home and read John 9 again. Some of us need to read the whole of John's Gospel and to do so with the expectation and the simple prayer, Lord Jesus Christ, if you are real, show yourself to me. We pray, Lord, that you will bring us to genuine living faith in your Son Jesus. And may the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be our portion today and always. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine, hope you can join us again tomorrow as Alistair concludes the message we've heard today by making three observations about one significant question. Do you believe? The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-01 22:27:38 / 2024-01-01 22:36:21 / 9

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