Yet You Refuse to Come to Me (John 5 v 40)

Introduction

  • It is utterly amazing what people will believe
  • Radio station – telephone company cleaning dust from lines, plastic bags to avoid contamination
  • Read stars in paper; crop circles; lucky numbers, under ladders, wouldn’t buy a green car.
  • Religious sphere believe anything but the truth.
  • Of course unbelief not new – Time when Christ ministered – faced unbelief constantly, masses refused to come to Him to have life.
  • What about you today – have you come to Christ to have life?  Or are you still refusing Him?
  • In the early chapters of John we saw how the Lord worked faith in people’s lives.
  • But when we come to chapter 5 there is a change taking place – focus shifts to examine the rising opposition to Christ that will lead to His death.
  • The unbelievers were from the ranks of the religious people – leaders, people who knew Bibles, went to church, fastidious about keeping the commandments.
  • Bitter controversy has arisen with the religious establishment because of Christ’s claims of deity, v17,22,23.
  • And you can almost hear in the background of the events of our section the people screaming, “prove it, prove it?”
  • Jesus then in this section takes his listeners into a courtroom and accuses them of refusing to believe in Him.
  • And His whole accusation and words to them are so revealing as BB Warfield wrote, “here we have laid bare the springs, nature and deeds of unbelief.” P93 Faith and Life
  • Christ like an expert surgeon peels away the façade of their religion to reveal the unbelief of their stony hearts – yet you refuse to come to me to have life .
  • But He does that not to inflict pain for the sake of it, to get at them, but according to v32 that, they may be saved.
  • And if any who listen feel His piercing today – His purpose is exactly the same, that you may be saved.  Let’s look at some factors that lie behind their refusing of the gospel.

1.  A Refusal in Light of the Clear Evidence

  • The Lord Jesus Christ has made it abundantly clear in his words and activities that He is the Messiah.
  • And it is against the protests of the religious to prove it that the Lord wheels in one expert witness after another into the court room of this section.
  • Of course His own testimony ought to be enough – but in v31 He lovingly and graciously lays aside His right and puts Himself under the law of the people – that one witness not enough.
  • The first witness that He calls is John the Baptist v32-35.  The Jews had taken his ministry seriously – they went to hear him – but their interest was just like moths to a light – once switched off they disappeared.
  • They had had such good clear gospel preaching but refused to believe – isn’t that the case with many today – maybe so for some who listen to day.
  • Jesus then calls the expert witness of the miracles that he performed v36 – this he says is weightier evidence – seen His power, knew what the OT said – but still unbelief.
  • Isn’t that still the case – greatest miracle of all – the resurrection has happened – yet people still do not believe in Jesus Christ.
  • Miracle of seeing someone’s life changed by the gospel.
  • And if that wasn’t enough unbelief is in the face of the Father’s testimony v37 And the Father who sent Me has himself testified concerning me .
  • And the Lord Jesus is reminding them that on hearing Him they had heard the Father – but they didn’t want this God.
  • Then added to that another strand of evidence was before them – the Scriptures v39 You diligently study the Scriptures .  Some translations have this as a question – others as statement – same greek word for both – decide by context.
  • The point that the Lord is making is the same – these were men who poured over their Bibles, could have told you number of verses, words, letters – but they hadn’t7 seen the wood for the trees – they had missed the whole point of the Bible, they had missed the whole point of the commandments of Moses that they revered so much.
  • And isn’t that still the same with many today – ask how do you get to heaven?  Keep the commandments they say, live a good life, don’t do anyone any harm, do what Moses told us to do.
  • And just as for these Jews Moses is the accuser – for the whole purpose of the commandments – to show us that we cannot keep them, never good enough, always fall short, Christ alone that saves.
  • Can we see what a horrible thing unbelief is – there is all this evidence to hand – yet the situation is still the same v40 yet you refuse to come to Me to have life .
  • These Jews and unbelievers today are inexcusable in their refusal to come to Christ.  There is all this light shining and they are still in the dark.
  • So unbelief is not because of lack of evidence.  Why in light of all these expert witnesses do people still refuse Christ?

2.  A Refusal because of Human Pride

  • Jesus has been acting as it were as a defendant stating His case and the evidence for who He was and what He was doing.
  • But He then turns prosecutor and sets out why they have refused to accept Him v44 how can you believe if you accept praise from another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God ?
  • You see their whole system of religion was based around self, they didn’t v42 have love in their hearts for God .  Rather they had love in their hearts for self, for man.
  • V43 Jesus is saying that He had come in His Father’s name and was rejected yet so ironically others come in their own name but they accept them.
  • Their thinking was all upside down, back to front.  TV awash these days with car boot sales and money in the attic, antique auctions – two extremes – someone has a piece that is of great value and they don’t realise don’t treat it as such, others have things they think are of great value only to find as nothing
  • And that is the same to this day with sinful man – all muddled up as to what is of value and what isn’t he rates self and human reasoning far above what God has to say.
  • We find this in so many areas of life – TV ratings for soaps booming and church attendance declining – would rather have the ideas of man rather than the ideas of God.
  • People would rather read the paper than the Bible.
  • Would rather spend life grooming their bodies and never care for their souls.
  • And the root of that is human pride – man prefers the praise of man rather than the council of God.
  • Man so busy boasting – world of mutual congratulation, and as world admires itself more and more it adores God less and less. The more we think of man said MLJ the less we think of God .
  • The fallen human mind so marred by sin it can’t work out what is of value – someone comes in God’s name – rejected, someone comes in man’s name – welcomed.
  • And at the root of all of that is that sinful human pride.
  • These men were experts in the Bible v39 studied it diligently – poured over it, took pride in what they could recount of it; fastidious about law keeping so filled with pride that they couldn’t see that they never kept it at all.
  • You think that by them you possess eternal life – thought – that was there problem – own reasoning was what mattered, wouldn’t listen to what reading.
  • Such a dangerous thing in any other area of life – doing some electrical wiring recently in caravan – check wiring diagram repeatedly, doubled checked what wires went where, even though thought I knew – would trust my thoughts.
  • They loved to do religious things to get praise from one another – oh what a wonderful person.
  • Regarded men as the final judge rather than God.
  • It was appearance that mattered – what a farce – if truth of hearts been seen like some X rated movie.
  • BB Warfield said of this, the habit of being religious for the eye of men is deadly to true religion .  Faith and Life p100.
  • Same can be true of religious unconverted today – take pride in their church going, fact that theire family belonged to church for generations, givings, Bibles and at the root – all after is praise of man, that others think well of them.
  • Could that be anyone here today, any who listen – Christ sees heart, your pride in some religious activity – but never fallen before Christ and listened to Him, you are making no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God.
  • Not even asking the questions – just thinking – I am all right.
  • Oh the ugliness of the fallen human heart – wedded to his sin.
  • So many say well you know I have this and that problem about the gospel, perhaps I will think of it later – Jesus peels back that façade and says I see you – you love your darling sins too much, you love self and praise of man.
  • But we ask again – why does man think like this, is there a deeper reason for refusing the gospel?

3. A Refusal Rooted in a Stony Heart

  • Look at the Lord’s key note in this address – yet you refuse to come to me .
  • Jesus is saying – there is nothing wrong with all the evidence and everything wrong with the human heart.
  • Richard Cameron that great Covenanter preacher and leader said when preaching on this said of belief in Christ, there is nothing that corrupt nature has such a reluctancy to and prejudice against than this .
  • Man’s problem with regards the gospel is that he won’t come, he cannot come because he will not come.
  • The heart of man’s problem is the problem of his heart.
  • The Bible says that we are spiritually dead, that we have hearts that are dead spiritually.  When Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus he reminded them in 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live .
  • You remember the background to these words of Christ.  This has all come on the heels of the healing of the man by the pool.
  • And he was an illustration, a visual aid of the spiritual situation these religious people were in and all are in by nature.
  • You remember he was paralysed, he had no power to be up and get well.
  • And then Christ comes and breaks in to his inability and brings life.
  • And that is what men and women are like spiritually – willing cripples – no power to trust Christ, in fact no desire of our selves to do so – dead stony hearts – you refuse to come to me to have life .
  • And this friends is the sad truth of unbelievers throughout the ages – refuse to come to Christ
  • Same in time of Isaiah, who spoke not only of his day but this gospel age – who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed.  Paul faced it, history of the church – refuse to come to Christ.
  • Christians friends we need to realise this in our evangelism – they refuse to come to Him – that is the sinful reaction of man to Christ – dead to it, impotent.
  • Maybe some of us can remember how it was in those days when we refused to come to Him, how smug and self-righteous, smiled inanely at the preaching of the word – we refused to come.
  • But Christ never allows man to hide behind this, say ah well I am spiritually dead, not my fault.
  • Christ considers man responsible and saying all these things that men and women come to senses and be saved.
  • What awful words – yet you refuse to come to me to have life .
  • And if you are not a Christian today – when you go home I want you to stand in front of a mirror and say these words that God might open you ears and that you might hear how horrible, how rebellious, how foolish – I refuse to come to Christ to have life.  Say it aloud, say it in your heart now that you might be shocked.
  • Maybe someone says – oh I know that I need to come to Christ – but I dare not come – the cost would be so great for me.
  • My friend the truth is that you dare not refuse – your life hangs as a slender thread over the gaping jaws of hell and if that cord should snap your opportunity to accept the gospel will have passed and the agonies of hell will be yours for ever and ever – and this sermon be an added dimension of the torment.

4. A Refusal of the Greatest Offer Ever

  • You and I sometimes have great offers come our way – my be we have regrets of not taking up some offer
  • But there is no offer like the offer of the gospel – it is rich beyond compare – Jesus summarises it in one word – life.
  • And that is what is offered to sinners in the gospel – life – so many aspects to this:
  • A useful life – now without Christ – your life lacks that one thing that brings purpose to life, everything.  You remember what Paul said to his friend Philemon about the conversion of the slave Onesimus – formerly he was useful but now he has become useful.
  • Without Christ your life lacks usefulness, lacks direction, lacks purpose, meaningless – he gives life – so that even the most mundane tasks rise to tasks of real value.
  • Many people struggle to find the meaning of life – what all about – glorify God – only do that when in Christ.
  • The life that is offered is spiritual life.  Paul says in Romans 5:18 – the result of one act of righteousness (the cross) was justification that brings life for all men .
  • That is the life that many refuse – that you are refusing today – to be declared right with God – that is what is on offer today – that glistening jewel in the crown – the thing we don’t have and can’t get for ourselves – the very thing sinners are refusing.
  • Life now and life eternal – what riches are on offer.
  • But friends think of the person that the sinner is refusing – me says Christ – think of Him.
  • Let me show you Him for a few moments – there he is the eternal son who has left the glory of heaven, taken form of a man, allowed men to nail him to a cross, look at him – his face so bruised, the spittle of rough roman soldiers mingles with the blood that drips from his temples, his eyes red with weeping – his appearance so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness; you can count all his bones; his hands, feet, side founts of blood, see Him – this is the Son of the Most High and he has died a criminal death for sinners like you.
  • And I ask you – is it nothing to you, do you continue to refuse His blood ransom.  I want you to write down the words – I refuse Him and sign it with your name – that your conscience may be stirred and your turn.
  • But look again at this Christ – not on that cross any more.  He now sits in heaven at the father’s right hand, clothed in majesty most bright, ruling all things by His powerful right hand, gathering in his church, send out the message, guiding your life that you might hear these words today.  See Him his arms are yet open wide, promising save to the uttermost all who will call on Him, in no wise cast out.
  • But look again and see this Christ – now it is a future day – coming revealed from heaven with blazing fire, sword of justice in his right hand, clouds are giving way ,every knee is bowing and every tongue confessing – and the saints are rejoicing in him, marvelling and the refusers being cast into the pit of hell body and soul.
  • What madness to refuse Christ – can you think of any good reason why you will not come?  Is the reason that you hope to find salvation in some other way like these Jews – no other way.
  • Is the reason some darling sin – loving it more than own soul.
  • Is it some cost that you know will lie before you – is anything more costly than your soul.
  • Maybe someone saying – come later – I say why not now – all he is asking is to come to Him, to give up own efforts and rely on Christ himself to save your from the wrath to come.
  • You may not have another opportunity to come to Him.  Every time you hear this word and don’t come you are more likely to be dammed to hell for ever as the callous of unbelief hardens around you.
  • There is only one thing that you must say to Jesus Christ this day – I will come, He is worthy of my trust, the only one who can save me from my sin, I will I will, by His infinite grace I will come.
  • Tell him now this moment, Lord I have been refusing you, I don’t want to any longer, save me, open my eyes, give me new life, enable me to believe.
  • As a minister of the gospel I offer the Saviour to you today. You who thus far have neglected Him, refused to come, you who have known long since but thus far refused, you for who the shadows from long, will you take him, you little children of the covenant.
  • You who have so mess up your life, you whose life twisted and marred by sin – come to Him
  • The voice of the church calls to you  the bride of Christ says, the believers here say,  come.
  • But more than that – to him who has ears to hear the Saviour Himself says come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  He calls you today to believe in him, turn from sin.
  • One of the last sermons that Richard Cameron preached was in these very words, his voice echoes through the ages to you today – will ye take Him, will ye take Him.