Originally titled, The Highlighting Sermon this message is concerns how we are to walk the walk.
The graphic element to this message can be found here: How Jesus Walked
The Highlighting Sermon
Today we’ll do a sermon of sermons. The title would be “The Highlighting Sermon.” You don’t have to use my color of highlighter or my style of highlighter. I’m not trying to make a highlighting rule. Originally I was praying about what to teach on and I wanted to get back to the core of the cross—to refresh everybody and go through the book of John. At first I thought about preaching a sermon on it, but then I said, “No, we’ll just go through and everyone can highlight the scriptures and then go back before the Lord themselves.” Don’t lose sight of it, because it’s easy to do so. In Psalm 119 the writer prayed, “Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.” We’re always off doing our own thing, sometimes it’s a religious thing or a spiritual thing. I spoke to somebody before church about the need to write a particular person in a certain fashion. She turned to me and said, “I just need to get it in my head, I need to do this.” It’s not a matter of getting it into your head; it’s a matter of what’s in the heart, and what the Holy Spirit has been working.
Highlight this or do whatever you do to mark in your Bible because if everything we look at is not in place, then nothing will work. We’ll try to mock it and go through the motions of it, but it won’t work because:
John 12:25 – The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
If you’re unwilling to hate your life, where you go, what you do, what you say, what you believe, and your doctrines—if you’re not willing to hate those things—then everything we look at will be impossible to live. You’ll fail every single time. You’ll be rebuked by the Spirit or by other people—or worse—you’ll set a false example of Jesus Christ that is contrary to the love of God. Without the Holy Spirit and the humility that comes from the cross, this will come across as self-righteous and arrogant. Then you will begin to think that everything you do comes from God and that somehow you represent Him wherever you go in a super spiritual kind of way.
So we want to go through the Book of John, starting in John chapter 1. As you read through the Book of John, you will find initially there aren’t too many statements by Jesus or scriptures of Jesus’ dependence upon the Father. But as He moves closer to the cross toward the end of the Book of John, it resounds that Jesus Christ is totally dependent upon the Father for everything. He gets His life from God.
John 1:4 – In him was life . . .
That’s what we’re talking about here. If you want to find your life in Jesus Christ, as Jesus said, you have to lose your life. In Jesus Christ is the life that you live. When we pray from our own effort, study Scripture on our own, live moral lives, by our own strength, or go about our daily business apart from the strength of Jesus Christ—that’s death. It’s death that is praying, it’s death that’s earning a living, it’s death doing all those things. You can look at your neighbors and see that. But how many people claim to be in Jesus Christ who really don’t know Jesus as life? In Him is life, Scripture says, and that life was the light of men. The life that is in Jesus Christ allows us to know what to do, what to say, and how to say it. He has an answer for every man or circumstance that comes our way to show us the Scriptures that we should speak or live.
How many times do we find ourselves in situations where we don’t know that to do? It’s because we’re not dead enough to self to hear from the Holy Spirit what to do. If you look at the life of Jesus Christ, you’ll notice he was never in a situation wondering what He would do or how He should handle it. He had such a dependence upon God, such a death to who He was and His life, that He could handle every situation. That happened from the first time Jesus went to His hometown and they wanted to throw Him off a cliff. He just walked through the crowd. It was just no big deal at all. He knew exactly what to do.
Let’s look at Jesus Christ and see where He got His life. It’s easy to lose track of this. We get busy doing religious things, studying sermons, and looking at new issues and sins we need to repent of, that we forget—unless we’re led of the Holy Spirit—we don’t have life and don’t belong to Him.
So let’s jump to Chapter 4. You can highlight chapter 4, verse 34.
John 4:34 – “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
You have to hate what you want to do and learn from God what He desires for you to do. Not in the way that most people do it—they like to pick and choose when they’ll hear from God what they should do. But Jesus says His food, which sustains Him, and gives Him life and strength, is to do the will of God and to finish the work that God gave Him to do. And again, this will resound more as we move through the Book of John.
John 4:34 – “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
We see here within Jesus a total absence of self. He didn’t say, “I have this ministry work to do,” or “This is what I choose to do. He said, “This is what God gave Me to do and I will finish that work and complete it.” So every morning you should get up and say, “What I live for, what I long to eat and savor, and what I want to hold on to, is to find out what God wants me to do today and to finish that work.” Then when you go to bed at night you should go to bed, lay your head on your pillow, and say, “I finished the work God gave me to do today.” Every day we don’t know what that work is, means that we need to die more and more to self very quickly. Because the life that’s hidden in Jesus Christ is a life that can go to bed at night saying, “This is who God wanted me to talk to, this is how God wanted me to answer these people, this is how He wanted me to serve, this is the work God gave me to do and I finished that work.” If we don’t discover that, we will miss the life of Christ. We’ll really run around doing work out of guilt. A lot of you live a guilt-offering kind of life. You really don’t know what God wants you to do, so you just run around doing things to feel good and noble about what you’re doing. But it’s not the life that’s in Jesus Christ; it doesn’t come from the joy or peace that’s in Jesus Christ; it comes because you know you need to do right things. But because you’re unwilling or unable to hear from God what you should do, you substitute it with all kinds of all other things.
John 5:17 – Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
Now some of Scriptures are more significant than others but when we put them all together you will see a life of complete surrender and sacrifice. As long as God works, Jesus Christ works. When God gives Him the work, He completes the work. He never stops doing what God calls Him to do. He doesn’t say, “Okay, I will go on vacation, then I’ll do some other things, and then I’ll come back and seek God.” Every single hour of every single day Jesus Christ looks and asks the Father, “What do You want Me to do,” and “What are You doing?” Then He gives Himself fully to that work. And that’s the goal for us; to be totally dead to self when we’re doing exactly what God calls us to do. We can find that to be our joy. And we need to wrestle through so that we do find it to be a joy. And we need to know what we’re wrestling for—to know God’s will.
John 5:19 – Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth—”
And this is the life that’s in Jesus Christ and us.
John 5:19 – …the Son can do nothing by himself.
Can you really say that? When you get up in the morning, if the Holy Spirit is not in your prayers, are you unable to pray? Do you know those times when the Holy Spirit hides His face from you and you do not have the strength or the energy to pray? Jesus says He can do nothing by Himself. He can only do what He sees His Father doing. Because whatever the Father does, the Son also does.
If God were to get silent—indeed, He may have gotten silent in our lives, but we just keep doing the same things we did before—it might look religious, it might look like the message of the cross, it might like look like a crucified life, but it is us doing the work. We really have not died enough to self that when the Father stops working we’re not able to work, or when His face is hidden from us because of our sins or self, then we’re unable to work. Instead, we continue on and push forward because we’ve learned to ignore His voice. We continue to hold on to our own strength and energy, and so we’re able to do what we want to do. We don’t really sense whether God is there or not. We’ve trained ourselves to be mockers and make ourselves feel better. We’re gods unto ourselves, but we do it in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ again repeats the same thing.
John 5:30 – By myself I can do nothing. . .
What is one of the things that God wants to work by way of the cross? It is a sense of complete weakness and dependence upon God. So when you get up in the morning, you really do have it in your heart that you can do nothing by yourself. You can’t do a single thing. You can’t repent. You can’t change. You can’t preach. You can’t pick up the phone. You can’t love your children. You can’t serve your husband. There’s nothing you can do apart from the living God. If His Holy Spirit doesn’t inspire, and strengthen, and grant you the truth and the grace, you should not be able to function.
John 5:30 – By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear. . .
Jesus Christ doesn’t speak one word against or for somebody unless He hears from God. How quickly we make judgments about other people—about our brothers and sisters or people in the world. We hear it all the time when we say things like, “I know they’ll respond to the gospel,” or “They won’t respond” or “They’re this way” or “They’re that way.” We haven’t heard from God to say those things. But Jesus Christ says He only judges as He hears from the Father. And just because He hears it that doesn’t mean He repeats it. Many times God wants to tell us things about other individuals but He cannot because the first thing we do is go out and blab what we know. So we don’t know how to love them; we don’t know how to respond to them; we don’t know how to speak to them; instead we hear the judgment then we act of our own accord.
John 5:30 – I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just. . .
And why is His judgment just? Why is it correct? Why is it on target?
John 5:30 – . . . for I seek not to please myself. . .
We want to judge other people to feel more spiritual ourselves, or because they irritate us, or their sins are so vile in our viewpoint that we want them judged. So we’re willing to speak. We have to learn to wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to us before we open our mouths. I don’t care if you see somebody stealing! You don’t open your mouth or have an evaluation that says they are a thief until the Holy Spirit tells you they are a thief. And then when the Holy Spirit reveals it, you need to be so dead to self that you’re not pleasing yourself, so you don’t open your mouth and declare them to be a thief until Jesus Christ works that through you. That’s how dead to self we need to become. The love can then flow. There’s many times in the body that I can see that somebody is in sin and God tells me they are in sin, but I’m not supposed to speak to them about that sin. Maybe I’m supposed to pray for them or watch God deliver them from that sin, or wait until the opportune time until their heart is soft enough to repent. The same thing applies even in the world that we seek to love. How many times we speak and it’s slander, judgment, or just arrogance?
John 5:30 – By myself I can do nothing. . .
When it comes to judgment we need to resolve and ask God to put the cross in us that we will not speak, judge, or say a word that we have not heard from the Holy Spirit.
John 5:30 – I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
If you can’t hear the Holy Spirit on daily things in your life, then don’t begin to pronounce judgments about other people. Wait until you’re dead enough to self so that you can hear, and then speak only as God leads.
John 5:36 – I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.
Again Jesus finishing the work God gave Him to do. That very work. It’s like He emphasizes that. He didn’t do it in the name of the Father. He’s not working like most churches that have a ministry work that they want to do and so they do it and tack on the name of Jesus. Instead the Father came to Jesus and said, “This is the work that I have for You to do, and this is how I want this work completed,” and Jesus Christ was obedient and finished the work. Every single day you get up and seek the living God in your quiet time, God wants to come to you and say, “Here is the work that I have for you to do. And here is the work I want you to complete.” And then He looks for obedience. How many days do we waste not knowing what God wants us to do yet, we don’t even fall into bed under conviction and the end of the day? There have been a lot of days that God has said, “Here is the work I want you to do,” and by the end of the day I fall into bed under conviction because I didn’t complete the work He gave me to do. Or I did it with such a sinful attitude, or I did it so much in the flesh that I failed at it. And so the conviction is real and honest and a lot of us don’t even know that. A lot of us go to bed seeking rest and hoping that we did the will of God. Jesus was dead enough to self, He didn’t seek to please Himself, so when the Father gave Him the work to do, when He went to bed at night, He knew He had completed the work God gave Him to do. There are plenty of things for you to do in Jesus Christ. Even if God comes to you and says, “Today I want you just wait and listen for Me, I don’t want you to do a single thing,” that’s the work He’s given you to do. This is the heart of what it means to live the crucified life. If we can do everything else above this, we’re still sinners, we’re still vile. This is the very beginning.
Over and over again Jesus repeats the same thing.
John 6:38 – For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
This is what a quiet time is supposed to be; going in before God and asking, “God, what is Your will? Then I’ll go and perform that will.” It has to be at least a choice. And if you’re really honest with the struggle you go through, there’ll be a lot of days you don’t want to say the words even, let alone deal with the idea and the concept. Many days I can feel my flesh welling up where I do not even want to say the words, “I’ll do Your will.” Or I can hear my flesh screaming, “No, I don’t want to do that will” and “I won’t perform that will. I don’t like that will!” And it rebels and kicks and screams.
Woe unto the man who doesn’t even find this to be a wrestling ground in his life. This is the core of the cross. It’s going into the garden little by little before you get to the cross. Jesus Christ couldn’t have died on the cross had He not been doing this little by little. We see this reflected through John. Don’t think you will be able to lay down your life and sacrifice in some grand way if you can’t get into the prayer closet and in your heart say, “Okay, God, I want to do Your will. Tell me what that will is for this hour,” and at least wrestle out an honest battle. At least say, “This is what God wants me to do but I am unable to do that will. “Don’t make excuses, justify, whitewash, or make it appear spiritual when you’re doing something else. Admit the truth. Say, “This is what God wanted me to do and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even desire to do it and I pray that God delivers me from it.” Wrestle it out before the Lord until it becomes a source of joy to do the will of the Father. This is the small seed of faith and the small trust in God that God can put to work.
This is one of my favorite passages, you’ve probably heard me quote it a couple of times.
John 6:63 – The Spirit gives life…
In Jesus Christ is life and that’s where it’s hidden.
John 6:63 – …the flesh counts for nothing.
You need to ask the Holy Spirit to make this real in your life: You can pray a million times in the flesh and a million times zero is still zero. You can read Scriptures backwards and forwards and know the Greek and the Hebrew, go to Bible college, have the certificates, and preach to multitudes but if it’s all done in the power of the flesh, then it’s zero. It’s more than a zero, it’s really in the way. Because every time we do something scriptural in the power of the flesh we deceive ourselves. If I’m able to do something I read in Scripture and I look back knowing I performed that Scripture, I deceive myself in thinking I’ve accomplished something. It’s only the cross that can convince me that what I did was zero. You didn’t do this in the power of the Holy Spirit. You didn’t do it by way of the cross. You did it by your own human effort—what you’re able to do, your perseverance, your wisdom, and your strength. Such things are the opposite of the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ waits until we get burned out. That’s why Paul said he despaired even of life so that he might be dependent upon Jesus Christ.
God waits for your perseverance to run dry. God says, “Okay, I’ll put you in this situation,” and He seeks to wear us down or He just lets us go. It’s like a child having a temper tantrum; you stop and wait until he’s worn out, then you can talk to him. When he’s finally worn out, then you might be able to reason with the child. In the same way God says, “Okay, fine. You want to pray and fast. Go ahead and do that for the next three weeks. Do whatever you want to do.” Usually through people don’t come to the end of self. They’re unwilling to let go in terms of pride or maybe they don’t really want to even hate their own life and so they don’t fall to the ground and say, “Okay, God, I couldn’t do this. This is worthless. This is hopeless.” And then God can come in and give life. Instead they find renewal of strength. They pick up another self-help book or they go on to another topic or issue in Jesus Christ. Or they begin to study some other aspect of the Trinity or whatever excites their flesh, and they go for that again and again. And eventually they just wear themselves out in their sin until they die. When you find yourself being worn out, humble yourself before God and get very quiet. Scripture says even youths feel tired and weary. Many times I just fall before the Lord worn out and weary and then wait on Him to renew my strength. But I pray like the Psalms that God renews me according to His Law. Not just renew me. I’m glad I’m worn out. I’m glad I came to the end of self. I wish I had more perseverance by the Holy Spirit. But when He renews me I pray that it’s according to Scripture and according to His Word. When I finally get tired of my humor, tired of my conversation, tired of who I am; when I’m worn out with my human effort, then hopefully He can come in by the Holy Spirit and give life.
John 6:63 – The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing.
If, in your flesh, you reach out to somebody it’s nothing. If you pray for them it’s nothing. Ask God to make the Holy Spirit and the cross so real in your life that you know this to be true and you know the difference. A lot of you don’t know the difference right now, you don’t know when you’re stepping out in self-effort and when you’re in the Holy Spirit. There isn’t enough of a contrast yet. You guess, you hope in the Spirit, but you don’t know when you’ve stepped out and moved too far. I didn’t either in the beginning. There are times now when I begin to move a certain direction or I’ll give you a suggestion while we’ll be working on a project, and I’m usually about a half a step beyond what I’m supposed to do. But at least there’s a contrast now. Before it would have taken me six months or a year to see that I was in my own effort or my own wisdom.
John 7:6 – Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.”
Whenever you want to pray, wherever you want to go and eat dinner, or whatever you want to do, any time is right for you no matter what you choose to do. The cross says that we choose nothing we want to do. The cross tells us that any time I choose is the wrong time. But Jesus states a very obvious thing for our sinful nature, “. . . the right time for me has not yet come.” In other words, “God has not sent me to do the work. It is not His timing to go to the feast. But for you any time is right.” Verse 8 says:
John 7:8 – You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.
As you walk and follow the Holy Spirit have you ever said these words? Have you ever said, “It’s not the right time for me to go and do this thing?” We’re talking about a feast here, we’re talking about a festival of the Jews. We’re not talking about going to a party or something sinful, we’re talking about holy worship before God. And Jesus Christ said the time was not right for Him to go.
When have you stopped in your tracks and sensed in the Holy Spirit that it’s just not the right moment for you to go and do something, whether lunch, dinner, prayer, or whatever. When was the last time that you went to get a quiet time and on the way the Holy Spirit said, “You will not be able to get a quiet time today, I’ve got something else for you to do.”? Or you set off to go do something else and God says, “I need you to get a quiet time.” For us any time is right. We set our schedules and our plans in motion. But not so with Jesus, He didn’t even go to a dinner party unless the Holy Spirit sent Him to go to the dinner party. He wouldn’t go to McDonalds for lunch unless the Holy Spirit sent Him to McDonalds. Jesus Christ would not have chosen which restaurant He wanted to go to for lunch, He would have asked the Holy Spirit, ”Which restaurant do You want Me to go to?”
Brothers and sisters, this is the goal. This sounds like a very oppressive message to a lot of people. And in the beginning it is a fearful message. When a child learns to walk, he takes those first steps and has to hold on to furniture. He stumbles and falls. Eventually as you grow and eventually as the mind of Christ comes, a lot of things come easier. You don’t to have to sit there and pray for three or four days about where to go to lunch. In the beginning you will have to pray about where to go to lunch and what to do. But that’s what Jesus Christ did and that’s the message—because that’s where life is. There is no greater joy than being at the right restaurant or the right place at the right time that Jesus Christ sends you. When the flesh is finally dead and not in control, there is no telling what glorious things He has for you to do and people to talk to.
John 7:16 – Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own.”
Jesus Christ will seek to crucify all the sermons you have listened to, all the books you have read—even ones I’ve published—and He’ll seek to put to death. He doesn’t want you to just repeat what you’ve been taught. He wants to inspire you by the Holy Spirit. He wants to take the things that are of Him, whether in a book, the Bible, or in prayer, and He wants to make them alive. But when you speak there must be that sense that God has taught you the things you’re declaring. Your mind and logic must be so dead to self that when you teach somebody else, you can feel the Holy Spirit empowering you and moving it along. Most people just mock what they’ve been taught.
“My teaching is not my own,” Jesus said. He didn’t make it up or put it together. He didn’t go to the First University of Heaven and study different things about angels and then come down here to teach us. It comes from God. Jesus emphasized that God sent Him. “I didn’t choose; this isn’t My will or My teaching. This all comes from the Father.” Look at what He said in verse 17 and highlight this for yourself.
John 7:17 – If anyone chooses…
That’s all of us in this room. If you just choose to do so. If you go back in the prayer closet, get on your knees and say, “Okay, God, I want to do Your will,” you’ll discover something. You’ll discover that what I’m telling you is absolutely true. Not because you heard it from a pulpit but because you heard it from His Spirit.
John 7:17 – If anyone chooses to do God’s will…
And that’s the key. A lot of us don’t really choose to do God’s will. We choose to be religious, we choose to follow doctrine, but we don’t choose to do His will. Because His will is something you discover hour by hour, minute by minute. You see, when you go to medical school to become a doctor and you get your degree. Then you can be a doctor and do whatever you want to do within the realms of that degree. That doctor doesn’t have to check in with the university every five minutes and ask, “Should I operate on this patient?” or “What should I do over here?” He makes his decisions and diagnoses the sickness and treatment. But not so with Jesus Christ, He’s hooked in to the Father, He’s one with the Father, and whatever the Father works and moves through Him, that’s what comes out. It should be the same for us.
John 7:17 – If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out…
You will discover this yourself. People don’t discover this truth because they don’t choose to do God’s will.
John 7:17 – If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
How will they find out? Because they will hear directly from the Father. The whole purpose and goal of the cross is to make us one with the living God. To be in perfect fellowship with Him as Jesus is one with the Father. You will hear His voice. You will feel His power. You will know the working of His grace in your life. You will know there is a distinction between you and what he works in you. You will know the difference between the old man and the new man. You will sense the aliveness of the Holy Spirit working all these things and granting His power, if you choose to do His will, if you allow Him to deal with your sin, if you allow Him to crucify you and put you to death.
John 7:17 – If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
Most of us just speak on our own. Somebody contacts us and we think we know what to say. Around here you can learn a lot of scripture in a very short period of time so slinging scripture back at people comes easily. We don’t necessarily triumph over others because we’re so full of the Holy Spirit in the circumstance; we just know scriptures they don’t know. Then they’re befuddled because they didn’t know a certain scripture was in the Bible. It doesn’t mean we’re full of the Holy Spirit or that we spoke according to the power of the Holy Spirit.
John 7:17 – He will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
Verse 18 talks about the true motive.
John 7:18 – He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself.
We use the tough scriptures to gain honor and attention for ourselves. Jesus Christ didn’t ask for more of the Holy Spirit or more of God’s wisdom to bring glory to Himself, or even to triumph over His enemies. He was just dead to self and God was able to work.
John 7:28 – Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from.
Look at what he said.
John 7:28 – I am not here on my own.
Almost everybody in this room is not here because they chose to be here. We discovered at least enough of grace to know that. I wouldn’t be here if He gave me a choice, I guarantee it. I’m glad I’m here, and I rejoice in the Lord, but I did not choose to come here. In fact, I requested a different assignment. (Laughter)
John 7:29 – I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.
Jesus Christ over and over again said, “He sent Me, I didn’t come on My own.” It’s like He repeated it until He was blue in the face! In fact, I highlight all these passages in my Bible in blue.
John 7:33 – I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.
“He sent me. I didn’t come on my own. I didn’t choose to be here.” If you’re going to be led of the Holy Spirit, please understand that you will be led where you do not want to go. God won’t ask, “Hey, what have you got in mind today? What would you like to do for Me?” God will come to you and say, “Okay, this is the agenda for the day, this is the plan.” He might only give you the next ten minutes. Why should He give you the whole day if you won’t pay attention to the first ten minutes? First of all, if He came to us with the whole day, we’d say, “Okay, I like to do this one—I think I’ll go here first.” And then we mess everything up. We want to go where He sends us to go and do whatever we should do. I’ll be glad when Malcolm calls me one day and says, “You know, God told me I’m not supposed to work in the order room today.” We might wrestle it out a little bit and have a discussion, but at least it would be a worthwhile debate.
John 7:37-38 – On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
As the scriptures say, this is what it really means to believe in Jesus Christ. This is the heart of the message of the cross—being dead enough to self to hear from the Holy Spirit on the smallest of things.
John 8:16 – But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father who sent me.
The loss of His plans, His agenda, His strength, and His energy. He only goes where God sends Him. So don’t be surprised when you get up in the morning and you’ve got fields to mow, but God says, “You’re not going to mow a single field.” Or one of your employees who’s full of the Holy Spirit calls you and says, “I won’t be there to mow today. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, I’m just going to hang here.” And then we’ll watch an interesting debate happen.
John 8:18 – I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.
Do you think Jesus Christ is trying to make a point?
John 8:26 – I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.
I will put this in worldly terms—Jesus Christ has His opinions in the Lord. He says, “I’ve got much to say. I’d like to tell you guys a lot of things, but the Father hasn’t told Me to tell you those things.” I’m the same way. There are a lot of things I’d like to tell a lot of people right now. But I haven’t heard the Father, nor have I been given permission to even entertain telling them any of the things I’m thinking. In my case, of course, I could be dead wrong. But in Jesus, even though His judgments are just, perfect, and pure, the Father has not told Him to say those things. How quickly we confess sin, or point out sins in other people, but not because we’ve heard the Father, or because the Holy Spirit is speaking and working. We have all kinds of motivations. I don’t even have time to go into all the different reasons why we would speak or declare things. If we speak, it must be because the Holy Spirit works in all of the situations.
John 8:28 – So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man…”
We’re back to the cross again. When you have looked clearly with great care at Jesus Christ crucified, you’ll be convinced that the flesh has no power, that it’s wicked and vile.
John 8:28 – So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be…”
Now look at what He said again…
John 8:28 – …and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
How many doctrines and bad teachings could be taken care of in the church if every pastor, elder, and leader said, “I won’t teach a doctrine or say a single thing until I have heard from God that it’s true. I will let God crucify my thoughts, opinions, and ideas of what I think Scripture says and I won’t speak another word until I am sure the Holy Spirit has told me these things are true.”? See how serious that makes those who are teachers? Because when you stand up here at the pulpit, you represent the very words of God. And you don’t want to deviate or be shallow in anything you present. You don’t want to go too far in anything. You want to be right in the center and the heart of God. It takes away a lot of joking that comes from the pulpit.
John 8:28-29 – …I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me.
We see here repeated over and over again that when you’re in this kind of obedience, the Father is with you every step of the way. If you want the Father’s peace, then you need this kind of surrender. If you want a sense of forgiveness of sins, or a true sense of guilt for sin, then you have to walk this way with the Father.
John 8:29 – The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do…
Let us not deceive ourselves. The reason we cannot hear God or hear Him correctly is because we can’t say this:
John 8:29 – For I always do what pleases him.
Scripture says Jesus Christ had the Spirit without limit because He always, all the time, even in His sleep, always did what pleased the Father. Many of us go home at night and we count ourselves blessed if we did two things that we knew were of God. The crucified life means always doing what pleases God at every moment. Not guessing at His will but knowing His will and accomplishing it.
To sit down at the computer and to know that what you’re working on is what has God has called you to work on. And when He tells you to stop in the middle of a project—and I know how hard it is when you don’t want to let go of that project—and He says, “Go do something else,” you obey. To do what pleases the Father at every juncture. Brothers and sisters, this passage alone ought to take care of any pride or any self-righteousness that dwells within us.
I’ll be working in my office on something that I consider important or certainly something that I enjoy doing in the Lord, and somebody comes in my office. I’ve been interrupted so many times, and I feel irritation and frustration welling up because I can’t do what I want to do. Instead I should ask, “Father, am I supposed to close the door, or am I supposed to turn and give this person my full attention? What is your will? What pleases you?”
John 8:42 – Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.”
Again Jesus said,
John 8:42 – I have not come on my own; but he sent me.
Over and over through the Book of John, the same theme resounds. “This wasn’t my initiative, my plans, or anything else. He sent me to do this work and I’m doing His work.”
John 8:43 – But why is my language not clear to you?
Jesus spoke about the fact that we want to please somebody else. When I can’t hear God’s voice, or when I stumble in that voice, it’s because I want to please somebody else besides God. I want to please myself. And if I persevere long enough and hard enough in terms of doing what I want to do, I will wind up following the Devil. When you tune out the voice of God, guess who’s right there to speak to you? The Devil will mock that voice you’ve just been listening to. Initially he will give you all kinds of things that look the same. Ananias and Sapphira found that out.
John 9:4 – As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.
Again, “He sent Me. I’m walking in that light, and I understand what it is He wants Me to do.” Do you know what God wants you to do?
A lot of our anxieties and turmoil come because we just don’t know, and so we’re tossed back and forth by the circumstances. A woman who lives with a non-believing husband must know when she should come to church and when she should stay home. She must hear God’s voice telling her, “Now is the time for you to stay at home,” or “Now is the time for you to leave.” When you know that you’ve heard from God, the peace comes. Then you can rest. The job of a pastor and a teacher is to teach you to be dead enough to self so that you can hear and be obedient. Not to give you solutions for the moment. In the beginning, people need more help—just like a child learning to walk. You help them walk along but when they’re 16 they shouldn’t need help anymore. When they’re 25 they should be men able to run in the things of God.
John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
Notice the most intimate of fellowship.
John 10:15 – …just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.
You see what the cross tries to work—Jesus was one with the Father and dependent on everything from God. The goal of the crucified life, the reason for the cross in your life is that we might be one with the Father as Jesus Christ was one with the Father.
John 10:18 – No one takes it from me…
He’s talking about His life–
John 10:18 – …but I lay it down of my own accord.
He surrendered His life and that was His choice. We each have our life, our dreams, and spiritual concepts of things, and either we’ll lay them down before God or we’ll keep carrying them around.
John 10:18 – I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.
Now look at this.
John 10:18 – This command I received from my Father.
He didn’t even come up with the decision about laying down His life or picking up His life Himself. He heard that command from God. “You have the authority to do this,” God told Jesus.
They had a relationship; they were one. But that didn’t mean Jesus would choose what He wanted to do with His life. He couldn’t choose this command or decide that He had freedom to do something. Everybody talks about the freedom in Jesus Christ to do all kinds of things. Jesus had a command from the Father. Everything He had He received from the Father.
John 10:30 – I and the Father are one.
In order for you to be one with God like this you have to die. The flesh must go.
John 10:38 – Believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.
This is the goal of the cross. Again, toward the end of the Book of John, we see more of an emphasis upon the cross and being one with the Father.
John 11:9 – Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light.”
You will know what to do and you will not stumble in that which God calls you to do when you die enough to self to hear from the Holy Spirit. It’s not an easy process—giving up your will—but you must at least get in the battle and fight it out.
Most of us continue to stumble over and over again in basic things of doing God’s will because we haven’t died to ourselves and what we want to do. We’re still trying to fit the message of the cross in with our own life and it will never happen. It will never be completed, you will always fail.
John 11:26 – Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
The church emphasizes belief in Jesus, but what did Jesus say in verse 26? “And whoever lives…”
Whoever lives in Jesus Christ like this, whoever picks up his cross to the point that he hears from the Holy Spirit, and totally depends upon the Father, will live. But we have to eat the food from Him. It’s the heart of the message of the cross.
John 12:49 shows us this light of life. It says:
John 12:49 – For I did not speak of my own accord…
He didn’t come with His own opinion, His own agenda, His own energy, and then spoke. How many of you do that? You’ll go back to Scripture, and in your own strength and reasoning you come back and speak. It was just you, in your own strength, repeating what you’ve learned because you want something spiritual, or whatever the fleshly motivation.
John 12:49 – For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me…
Again, the emphasis is upon God sending Him.
John 12:49 – …commanded me what to say…
He commanded. It was not an option. God came to Jesus Christ and said, “This is what I want You to declare to the people. This is the teaching.” Now remember, if you choose God’s will, you will hear God command you to speak certain things to certain people. There’s no greater joy in the Holy Spirit—it will cost you your life, but there is no greater joy! You may be stoned to death but when you know what God wants you to say and you declare that thing to somebody, maybe they’ll repent and maybe they won’t. But you know what God commanded you to say, and there is life and joy in that.
That’s why at times when you’re sharing with people I’ll ask you, “Is this in your heart?” Is self dead enough so that you’re hearing this from the Holy Spirit, or are you just mocking back what I’m telling you? Are you trying to get out of the situation, or will it make you feel better that you’ve finally got this situation over with? When I ask you if this is in your heart, I mean, do you feel and sense, some measure the course of action we’re discussing is from the Holy Spirit? Can you say “Amen” to it?
John 12:50 – …the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. (Emphasis added)
My rules can’t help with how to say things. When we talk about things and I say, “Well, why don’t you say this,” and we go back and forth determining what God wants you to say, and I’ll say, “Be loving about it,” or “Be firm about it,” and you’ll go out and do it. But if you’re in your flesh, you’ll definitely come back with a bad report.
Jesus Christ was not only told what to say but how to declare it. Scripture says a wounded brother is more unyielding that a fortified city. We have to know how to declare as well as what to declare. You have to be dead to self for that to happen.
John 12:50 – I know that his command leads to eternal life.
That command is eternal life. Knowing what to say and how to say it has eternal life wrapped up in it because in Jesus Christ is life. When you fellowship with everybody in heaven don’t you want the power of God and all of His love, purity, and righteousness flowing through you and that person flowing it back to you? I don’t want God to say, “Okay, I’ll leave you guys to your own devices to figure out how to love one another up here.” That’s what’s happening down here. In heaven everybody is in harmony with one another because God commands what to say and how to say it.
To a lot of people this sounds like being a robot but that’s a lie. In Jesus Christ is life. This is life! If I could love my wife perfectly as God would work and will that, saying the right things in the right way, I’d be the perfect husband.
John 12:50 – I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say…
This has to be your goal. Listen to what Jesus said.
John 12:50 – So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.
If we take away no other scripture today, let’s do this one next week. So when we come back together I’ll ask all of you, “Did you only say what the Father told you to say this week? You didn’t say anything any more than He wanted you to say? Did you say it exactly how He wanted you to say it?” This is how we’re supposed to talk to one another. Note in your margin 1 Peter 4:11. We should be speaking the very words of Christ to one another. When people turn to you ask them, “Did you speak the very words of God,” or “Are you speaking new Scripture?” In a sense we’re supposed to be. It’s not really new Scripture, but it’s supposed to be the very words of Christ.
John 14:10 – Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?
He’s trying to say, “Look at My life, look at how I conduct Myself. Look at how different it is. Don’t you realize there’s something very significant about the way I do all these things?”
John 14:10 – The words I say to you are not just my own.
Notice how Jesus totally agrees with God. Look, if God comes to me and says, “Tim, these are the words I want you to declare,” guess what? I’m thrilled with those words. I don’t go to God and say, “You know, I think it could come out better if we said it this way,” or, “What about if we take this word out over here?” God knows the perfect words. I don’t have to go hunting to find any more perfect words.
So Jesus is saying, “They’re not just My own words, this is My heart. I’m in agreement with everything God tells Me to do.” It’s not like I’m just repeating this, but that inside, I don’t really want to say it. A lot of you are to that point—you’ll agree with me as far as what you need to say, but you’re not too thrilled about saying it. That’s just more of your flesh that has to die. We should want to jump up and down inside because God has given us the words. That is good stuff! Whether it be a kindness to the person in their viewpoint or not.
John 14:10 – The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
Again, is it God in you doing the work, or are you working for God?
You want to be so dead to self that if God stopped working you’d drop dead. What does the world do? God’s not in their lives, He’s not working, but they continue to work. They continue to speak, and talk, voice opinions, and do all kinds of things. They are independent of God. The cross makes us totally dependent upon God. We want to be so dead to self, and the old man so crucified that if we fell into sin and all of a sudden God removed His Holy Spirit, we’d just drop dead.
That’s how dependent Jesus Christ was upon the Father. Because as the Father worked, it just flowed through Him; He was an empty vessel.
Put in your margins to look it up later: 1 Corinthians 15:10, and Philippians 2:13. Paul said he worked harder than everybody else, yet it wasn’t him that worked but God’s grace. Chapter 14, verse 20 says:
John 14:20 – On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
The cross brings a realization that we need to be one with the Father in everything.
John 14:20 – On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
You will feel and sense, you will know that unity because self has been crucified. Right now you may not feel much of that unity but the goal is, as you die to self, you’ll sense that you really are one with the Father and with Jesus Christ.
Jesus said the same thing in verse 24.
John 14:24 – He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own.
You see, we tend to look at teaching in terms of doctrine, don’t we? The Holy Spirit, Trinity, all those kinds of issues. But look at what Jesus just said.
John 14:24 – He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.
And what is His teaching?
John 14:24 – These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Over and over again in the Book of John the message of the cross jumps out at us. “I heard this from the Father; He sent Me to tell it to you; I lost My life before I ever got here; I declare to you the truth.”
When you’re on the phone talking to somebody about the Gospel, you want to be so dead to self that as you speak, you hear from the Father what to say to them. That’s why Paul said, “Pray that when I open my mouth words will be given me to speak.” He was totally dependent upon God. He was obedient so when he opened his mouth God gave him the words.
Yeah, it’s frustrating, and you will feel weak. Don’t expect this to be comfortable; God has to keep you weak. I’ll tell you one good reason why. If God came to you ahead of time and said, “Okay, here are the words I want you to declare,” by the time we get to the person we will go into “spin control” with the whole thing. Depending on your flesh, if you’re a tough kind of person you will spin it in such a way that you mow them down. If you like things a little easier, by the time you talk to them you will spin it in such a soft fashion that they won’t even know what you’re talking about. So God leaves us dependent upon Him so that when we open our mouth it’s His love that wells up and His words that come forth. But we don’t like that feeling of dependence upon the Father. We don’t like feeling weak. It’s called a life of faith. We don’t like making mistakes—and we will make many. But eventually there will come a time when you open your mouth to say something and later think, “I don’t believe I said that.” Of course, everybody will be able to say, “No, you didn’t say that. It was God speaking through you.”
John 14:31 – …but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
The whole purpose of the cross was to demonstrate that Jesus Christ would always do what the Father commanded and count it all a joy. As Romans 12 puts it, God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.
But God expects you to wrestle and suffer—Jesus did that in the garden. What He doesn’t like is people whining, grumbling, and complaining about it. The world must learn, and we must show them, that this is exciting stuff. This is the life that’s hidden in Jesus Christ. We don’t do anything, think anything, going anywhere, or have fun, unless the Father has worked His rich life. I don’t want anything else! I don’t want God leaving me to my emotions. I was a gloomy person that nobody wanted to hang around. Don’t leave me to myself. This is life.
John 16:13 – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
Let’s see how the Holy Spirit speaks.
John 16:13 – He will not speak on his own;
Where have we heard this before? He didn’t come with His own opinions, His own ideas, or what He experienced. The Holy Spirit’s not up in heaven deciding what to go tell people. He doesn’t speak on His own. He allows God to work life.
John 16:13-14 – He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
There’s a loss of self completely within the Holy Spirit. So often people claim to speak by the so-called voice of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Holy Spirit, but it all points back to them. It’s so full of self; they’re just liars. The Holy Spirit is not even that kind of spirit, He speaks only what He hears. He has no self-concept.
We want to be able to say this on a daily basis when we die to self:
John 17:4 – I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
When a mother gets up early in the morning, she should hear from God how to raise her children. She should hear on an hourly basis what God has called her to do for that hour. And when she goes to bed at night and tucks her children in, she must know that she can tell God she’s completed the work He gave her to do.
If we’re not aiming for this goal, we live a lie. Every husband must know that God wants to work within him a selfless love for his wife and to present her perfect in Jesus Christ and do all that God calls him to do to finish that work. When he comes in to offer his prayers at church, he must know in his heart and be clean in his conscience. And he must be able to say before the Lord that he has completed the work that God gave him to do. We should all die like Paul died, saying, “I have completed the race. I have finished it. I was faithful.”
Don’t let weeks go by not knowing what God has called you to do. I know a lot of these things are right in our face because of just how we live. You need to start hearing from the Holy Spirit’s voice on a daily and hourly basis what God has called you to do. Yes, a struggle will come because you will hear the Holy Spirit tell you to do one thing but you want to do another. And let me tell you, even if your flesh agrees, once you hear from the Holy Spirit what to do you will still rebel against it. Try it with a child. Tell him to do something that he wants to do but because you’re telling him, he won’t want to do it.
John 17:7 – Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.
You have to come to understand that.
John 17:8 – For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.
That’s the difference between a spiritual man and an unspiritual man. The unspiritual man might hear the words that God wants him to have in his life, but he won’t accept them. The difference between a good heart and a bad heart is simply this: God brings certain words and commands for our life and things that we should do and we either listen and accept them or refuse them. An impure heart takes God’s words and says, “Okay, I agree with them. They’re good, I accept them,” but then twists God’s word into his own plans and schemes.
But since Jesus Christ was perfect He only did what the Father called Him to do. When He heard what the Father wanted Him to do He was able to do it. I want verse 2 to be true about each of our lives.
John 17:7 – Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.
A lot of people know this intellectually, and a lot of people refuse this intellectually, but the man who decides to walk by the Holy Spirit will discover that what I’m telling you is the absolute Gospel truth.
John 17:8 – For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.
You will discover God’s words to be life and the greatest of joy. Even the prophet that ate the Word of the Lord said it was honey in his mouth; it turned his stomach sour but it tasted good. They are the words of life. In Him is life even though the world doesn’t recognize it as life. The last part of verse 11 says:
John 17:11 – …so that they may be one as we are one.
Jesus Christ attempts to work this in your life, so that you will be perfectly united with the living God. And you think that will be easy? Jesus Christ had to leave heaven and be crucified to even offer the possibility that it might happen. How much more humility do you think He needs to work in order for it to happen in your life? The little rebukes we give to one another have all been minor in this body. No matter how mean you think I might have been on occasion, or how mean someone else has been, let me tell you it’s mild compared to the baptismal fire that Jesus Christ would long to work in your heart. If it took all of that for Jesus Christ just to even work a measure of salvation for some to possibly respond to Him, how much more humility should we allow God to work in our life that we might hear His voice, know those words, and be able to perform that which He calls us to do? If in Him is hidden that life and we know that to be true, then how much more should we expect Him to discipline us, correct us, bring conviction, and to work that life? But if you debate or run from those in the body who fellowship with you—whether right or wrong—if the attitude of defensiveness or pouting springs up, how will the Holy Spirit ever be able to work this kind of fellowship?
John 17:18 – As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
Jesus Christ will come to us and say, “This is what I want you to do today. This is who I want you to speak to today. I do not want you to talk to this other person today. These are the words I want you to speak and how I want you to speak them. This is how you should love them. This is where you should go.” Jesus Christ said, “As I was sent into the world, so I am sending you into the world.” We should be of one heart and one mind. We have the same Holy Spirit. We must begin with an attitude that says, “I have come to do Your will.” And when God crucifies us and seeks to put us to death, we should not to fight, struggle, whine, complain, run from it, or look for something easier to live. We should not manipulate, scheme, or have excuses and justifications. We should not head off on another course or offer some other logical reason, or avoid it. We need to submit to it humbly and let Him crucify us, that we might hear His voice.
And when you hear His voice or you think you hear His voice, step out but don’t be surprised if you hear wrong or you can’t perform it. Goodness gracious, why would we expect anything else than that? There’s a lot of self in us that needs to die.
John 17:20 – My prayer is not for them alone…
Don’t think this is just for the disciples. Look at what He says in verse 21.
John 17:21 – …that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
The cross seeks to produce this kind of unity with the living God. Hearing God’s voice is our utmost duty and our utmost joy. It was the purpose and the reason for the cross.
That’s why Scripture declares we have a greater covenant than Moses, who talked to God face to face. Moses only got to talk to God face to face—we get to hear His voice in our hearts. Most of us don’t count that a privilege because we haven’t died enough to self to know it to be true. Our faith is either so shallow that we never experience it or our love for self is so great, we’re unwilling to give up when He does seek to whisper to us.
If we miss this, brothers and sisters, we are just slaves, not sons. Slaves hear the voice of the Master but sons have His heart. Verse 22 says,
John 17:22 – I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.
Let the world see us one with the Father. Let our children see that we’re one with God. Most of the time children grow up despising their parents because they can manipulate them and talk around them; they don’t see a life of power. They don’t see someone they shouldn’t really mess with. They don’t see there’s a wisdom far beyond them. Their children should be saying, “You know I can’t get by with this because God is on their side.” Children don’t see a love that goes beyond the next-door neighbor. They don’t see a love that springs from heaven. But parents are religious—in fact films today make sport of the religious parents—they’re always abusive and always bad. Because the world hasn’t seen a group of people one with the Father like it should. Above all the doctrines we have and the works that God has given us, He wants us to hear His voice. The whole purpose in the work that He gives you is so that you might cry out to listen.
So many of you say to me, “I just have to get this in my head.” No, you have to die. This has to be your life. There aren’t enough rules to live the Christian life. You wouldn’t be able to perform one-tenth of them even if we outlined them all.
The disciples learned this lesson well as they watched Jesus. As you read through the Gospels, look at the life of Jesus and ask God to work it within you. Then you will hear the words in verse 21. You’ll hear them not because you read them, not because they’re ink on paper, or because some brother or sister tells you that you need to claim them, but because God spoke them.
John 20:21 – Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!”
How many would like to hear just those words?
John 20:21 – Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.
If you want that peace, then you have to walk as Jesus walked, as 1 John says. We have to hear His voice, we have to surrender and give up self. We at least have to start by saying, “I haven’t come to please me. I came to do Your will. Talk to me, God. Tell me what it is You want. And when I kick and I scream and when I ask for something else, don’t give up.”
I often pray what the Psalmist prays, he says, “Do not despise the work of your hands.” When I look at my life and how incomplete I am as far as what I’m able to live and even when I hear what God tells me to do, I ask God, “Don’t stop telling me what I should do. I know I stumble and I miss all kind of things You call me to do, but don’t despise the work of Your hands. Don’t just throw up Your hands and go, “Why bother anymore?” He’d have every right to do so. He’d have every reason and justification to do so. He puts forth all this effort and all this work. He gives doctrine; He gives light; He gives life; He gives blessings; He gives grace; He speaks; He forgives; and He grants me grace. All these things He pours out. And I look at my obedience—and lack of—and say, “God don’t despise. Don’t give up and don’t stop.” And I say with the thief on the cross, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, we ask for a most holy thing, to be able to fellowship, to be with You, to be one as Jesus was one with You. When we look at our lives and our hearts, Father, we pray the impossible. But Father, we don’t stop by just looking at our hearts and your life, we look to Your face, Oh Lord, and we know that You call things that are not as though they are. You’re able to work these things if we just come humbly before You, Father. Work them, O Lord, and deliver us from ourselves that we might fellowship with You, that we might be one, as Jesus is one. That we might be with other saints, Father, who are one with You. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.