Decision Making – Choosing God’s Will in Wisdom

As Christians, we are often faced with making difficult personal, family or even church based decisions.
• Sometimes the correct choices are to be found explicitly in God’s word.
• However, sometimes they aren’t.
• And in these cases, Gary Friesen’s book, Decision Making and the Will of God, provides us with some much needed insight.
• He outlines 4 principals which he argues can free us up to be much better decision makers for God’s kingdom.
• This lesson is based largely on his book as well as J.P. Moreland’s The Kingdom Triangle; Dallas Willard’s Renovation of the Heart; and Sam Storm’s The Beginners Guide to Spiritual Gifts.

The Four Principals Outlined:
(1) “Where God commands, we must obey” (chapter 8).
• Here God provides Moral Guidance
• Here God may also provide Special Guidance
• Moral Guidance and Special Guidance express God’s Moral Will for us.
• God’s Moral Will is “all the commands in the Bible” – Friesen.
(2) “Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose” (chapter 9).
(3) “Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose” (chapters 10-11).
• Here, God provides Wisdom Guidance
Wisdom Guidance ultimately results in expressing God’s Moral Will for us.
(4) “When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good” (chapters 12-13).
• Here, God provides Sovereign Guidance
Sovereign Guidance expresses God’s Sovereign Will for us.
• God’s Sovereign Will is His “secret plan that works all things together” for His good purposes.
    o Certain—it will be fulfilled
    o Detailed—includes all things
    o Hidden—except when revealed by prophecy
    o Supreme—without violating human responsibility or making God the author of sin
    o Perfect—working all things together for God’s glory and our good

I will briefly cover all 4, but will spend most of our time on (3) Wisdom Guidance.
• First, however, let’s begin with number (1) above.


When God commands through either His Moral Guidance or His Special Guidance, we must obey.
• It is the de facto right thing to do.
• And therefore becomes our moral obligation.
• Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Moral Guidance:
A) Exodus 20:13–16 (ESV) — 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
• Just (4) of the Ten Commandments demonstrate the nature and breadth of God’s Moral Guidance.

Special Guidance:
B) Acts 16:7 (ESV) — 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
• God, in some supernatural way, made His will known to Paul.
• Paul was not to go to Bithynia.
• Paul was thus morally obligated through this Special Guidance to obey.

There really isn’t much else to be said on this topic.
• It is plainly obvious that if God provides specific commands or direction through Moral Guidance and/or Special Guidance, we have no moral freedom – to obey is the right decision and to disobey is the wrong one.
• He has revealed His Moral Will to us and there is no more discussion.

However, what about those decisions we face where God doesn’t give specific Moral or Special Guidance?
• In these cases, we have some latitude of freedom in our decision making.


The below graphic will help us to visualize the freedom the Christian has in the decision making process.

This circle illustrates that the freedom we have to decide exists within the purposes of God’s Sovereign Will (within which is His Sovereign Guidance) and within the restraints of His Moral Will (Moral and Special Guidance).
• There are many biblical examples of this; let’s look at just a few.

A) Genesis 2:16–17 (ESV) — 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
• Here God has made known to him His Sovereign Will in the form of a command which obligates Adam and Eve morally.
• The command is simply, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat”.
• However, they have freedom to choose from every other tree as they see fit.

B) Deuteronomy 14:26 (ESV) — 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.
• Here, within the restrictions God outlined on clean and unclean foods, the Israelites can eat, “whatever you desire”.

C) 1 Corinthians 7:39–40 (ESV) — 39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
• Paul advises Corinth that the widow can remarry, “whom she wishes”.
• He suggests, however, that the wise choice may be to remain unmarried.

So we have some freedom to make decisions.
• 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV) — 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
• However, God has placed some restrictions on us.
• As revealed in our graphic, our freedom is contained by God’s Moral and Special Guidance (as previously discussed) and by His Wisdom and Sovereign Guidance.
• Let’s examine God’s Wisdom Guidance.


So what is wisdom (in context of decision making)?
• James 3:17 (ESV) — 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
• It is “knowledge of God’s word and a pious mode of life” – TDNT.
• It is that which “God imparts to those who are close to God” – BDAG.
• It is “good judgment in the face of Christian demands” – BDAG.
• Gary Friesen sums these up by suggesting that wisdom “enables us not only to live life morally, but to live it skillfully”
• Finally, A.W. Tozer puts it very simply when he says wisdom is “sanctified common sense”.

Are we commanded to us Wisdom Guidance in our decision making?
• Ephesians 5:15–16 (ESV) — 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
• Colossians 4:5 (ESV) — 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
• Ecclesiastes 2:13 (ESV) — 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly
• Ecclesiastes 10:10 (ESV) — 10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.
    o These verses demonstrate that we are to use wisdom in a variety of contexts.
    o So, wisdom is something we are commanded to use and so are morally obligated to use.
    o Interestingly, in this sense, it is part of God’s Moral Will (the 2nd circle in our graphic).

How does God give it to us?
• (1) We need to ask for it.
    o Colossians 1:9 (ESV) — 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
    o I call this “Seeking Christ’s Living Water
• (2) Life of the Mind – obviously we must learn, study and grasp the truths of scripture and acquire a “thoughtful Christian worldview” – J.P. Moreland.
    o I call this “Knowing Christ’s Living Water
• (3) Heart/Spirit/Will – we must cultivate our “inner life, developing emotional intimacy with God, engaging in classic spiritual formation practices” such as prayer, worship, service, self-sacrifice, fasting, etc. – Dallas Willard.
    o I call this “Drinking Christ’s Living Water
• (4) Relationship with the Holy Spirit – we must learn “to live in and use the Spirit’s power and the authority of the Kingdom of God, developing a supernatural lifestyle, receiving answers to prayer, learning to effectively pray” thereby growing in our ability to “hear God’s voice through impressions, prophetic words of knowledge and wisdom, dreams and visions” – J.P. Moreland.
    o I call this “Sourcing Christ’s Living Water

BTW – It must be emphasized that intent alone to grow as a believer and increase in wisdom will only lead to failure.
• Because as we try in our own power with only our good intentions, we will wonder why we are making very little progress and will become disillusioned, disconnected and plagued by doubt.
• However, the four points above provide us with the means, in Christ, to flourish in our Christian walk!

Clearly, then, God’s Wisdom Guidance does not come by osmosis.
• Sure, simply being born again provides us with insights far superior to the world.
• But, God’s wisdom is “deep and wide” and we are called to jump in and dive deep.
• And because we are called on to use God’s Wisdom Guidance, we are morally obligated to seek it through the ways just outlined.
• Not to do so is to reject God’s Moral Guidance.

So how do we use God’s Wisdom Guidance when we have “freedom and responsibility to choose”?
• Paul gives us excellent advice on this in 1 Corinthians.
• 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV) — 23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

Friesen, in his exegesis of this verse, tells us that, “In the area of freedom, the believer’s goal is to make wise decisions on the basis of spiritual usefulness”.
• So in the freedom we have to decide, we are to find the choices that “build up” and that are “helpful” in our Christian lives.

To really get at the meaning of Paul’s words, it will help to define the words Paul uses for “helpful” and “build up”.
HELPFUL – to be advantageous, help, confer a benefit, be profitable/useful – BDAG.
BUILD UP – to help improve ability to function in living responsibly and effectively, strengthen, build up, make more able – BDAG.

So if we insert these meanings into Paul’s verse, I think the way we are to use God’s Wisdom Guidance in the freedom we have to decide becomes crystal clear.
• 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV) — 23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are [advantageous, useful or confer a benefit]. “All things are lawful,” but not all things [improve ability to function in living responsibly and effectively or make more able].
• So a decision made using God’s Wisdom Guidance is one that chooses the option that is the most advantageous, useful or confers the highest benefit to our Christian walk.
• And it is the one that improves one’s ability to live responsibly and make one more able to be a Christ-centered Christian.

Biblical Examples of using God’s Wisdom Guidance:
1 Thessalonians 3:1–2 (NIV) — 1 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best [choose as better] to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,
Philippians 2:25–26 (NIV) — 25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.
1 Corinthians 16:3–4 (ESV) — 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
2 Samuel 18:1–3 (ESV) — 1 Then David mustered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.” 3 But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. Therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.” 4 The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.” So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands.


As we have said, God’s Sovereign Will is:
• Certain—it will be fulfilled
• Detailed—includes all things
• Hidden—except when revealed by prophecy
• Supreme—without violating human responsibility or making God the author of sin
• Perfect—working all things together for God’s glory and our good

It would take an entire month to discuss the Scriptural foundations that outline the nature of God’s Sovereign Will.
• So instead, I want to briefly discuss what its implications are for our decision making when we do have freedom to decide – the center of the graphic discussed earlier.
• Even though it is hidden from us, it still, nevertheless, provides us with Sovereign Guidance.
    o Romans 11:33–34 (ESV) — 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

Examples of God’s Sovereign Guidance:
Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Psalm 37:4 (ESV) — 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Romans 8:28 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Job 23:10 (ESV) — 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Implications of God’s Sovereign Guidance:
The 4 principals of decision making are how God provides for us a “framework that enables us to avoid making the wrong choice but provides a range of ‘right’ choices” – Friesen.
• And within this protective framework God “has created room for creativity and development.”
• Yet, because of God’s Sovereign Will and its Guidance, we have no need to angst over every decision we have within the center circle of our graphic.
• And though we are morally obligated to make wise decisions (as outlined).
• We also know that we can’t thwart God’s Sovereign Will with our decision making.
• This means that the pressure of trying to control final outcomes is off of us.
• As a result, the decision making process is no longer about us.
• It is about God’s Sovereignty over the decision we have made in Wisdom, as informed by our trust in Him and the Guidance(s) He has provided.

Proverbs 2:1–6 (ESV) — 1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.


John 10:34-36 – The Divine Council, Sons of Man, Coregent and Jesus

Last week we understood Jesus’ quote of Psalm 82:6 through what is called the “human” approach.
• In other words, the “gods” in Psalm 82:6 were human judges.

However, after a lot of reading and research, I feel we also have to look at what I call the “heavenly” approach.
• In other words, the “gods” in Psalm 82:6 aren’t humans but some sort of heavenly beings.
• My main source for this is the work of Michael Heiser – The Divine Council.
• The work of Richard Bauckham and general sources like the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary were also very helpful.

Our Second Look will lead us to answer 3 questions.
What is the divine council?
Who are the “gods”?
How do these change the meaning of John 10?
    o And related to this change in meaning, who is the coregent of the divine council?

The main text we will be referencing is Psalm 82:1-7 which gives us the full context of Jesus’ quote in John 10:34-36.

Psalm 82 (ESV) — 1 God [“elohim” – referring to singular God] has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods [“elohim” – referring to plural gods] he holds judgment: 2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Keeping this text always in view, let’s answer our first question.
What is the divine council?


To begin with, our text in Psalm 82 demonstrates that the divine council is a place in which God exercises judgment.
• “in the midst of the gods he holds judgment” (vs. 1)

Additionally, we have more examples of the divine council, also known as the “host of heaven”, in 1 Kings, Job and in other verses from the Psalms.
• 1 Kings 22:19–21 (ESV) — 19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’
• Job 1:6 (ESV) — 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan [the accuser] also came among them.
• Job 2:1 (ESV) — 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan [the accuser] also came among them to present himself before the LORD.
• Psalm 89:5–7 (ESV) — 5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 6 For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, 7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?

From these four examples we see the following:
• In the 1 Kings texts, we see God consulting with the council from His throne.
• The prophet Micaiah tells us that, “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him” (vs. 19).
• Micaiah then reveals to us that God and the council, the “host of heaven”, were discussing how to deal with Ahab.
• In the Job texts, we see the council convening before God with “the accuser”.
• In the first instance God offers up Job to the accuser as a test.
• In the second instance, Job had passed the first test, and “the accuser” requests a second go at Job.
• In the Psalm text, we see the council as a place where its members praise and fear the Lord.

So to summarize what we know of the divine council:
• (1) It is a place in which judgments are made
• (2) It is a place in which the affairs of men are discussed
• (3) It is a place in which interventions in the life of men are orchestrated.
• (4) It is a place in which “the accuser” has access.
• (5) It is a place in which the Lord is feared and praised because none are like him.

The divine council also has a bureaucratic structure.
• “In the divine council…Yahweh was the supreme authority over a divine bureaucracy that included a second tier of lesser ‘elohim’, and a third tier of ‘mal’akim’” – Michael Heiser.
• “Mal’akim” is the Hebrew word for angels.
But what are the elohim?

This is where we move on to our second question.
Who are the “elohim” that are members of the divine council?


The word “elohim” is actually the plural form of “eloah”.
• In our main text from Psalm 82, the verse 1 “elohim” is the word for both “God” and “gods”.
• And interestingly, it is this plural form which is used over 2000 times in the OT to refer to God as in God of Israel.
• Yet, as we just saw, “elohim” is also the same word that refers to the members of the heavenly host or divine council.
• The referent, “God of Israel” or “gods”, is determined by context – Heiser.
• Also, the “elohim” members of the divine council are commonly referred to as “beney elohim” which helps clarify the referent as “sons of god” and not the “God of Israel”.

Let’s look at a number of the Scriptural references to these “elohim” or “beney elohim”.
• “in the midst of the gods he holds judgment” – Psalm 82:1
• “I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you’” – Psalm 82:6
• “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him” – 1 Kings 22:19
• “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD” – JOB 1:6 AND 2:1
• “and all the sons of God shouted for joy” – Job 38:7
• “‘Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?’” – Exodus 15:11

So before we can get an idea of who these “elohim” are, let’s see what they can’t be.

Are they angels?
• Now as we have already suggested, we know that angels are not in view here because the Hebrew word for angel is “mal’akim” – Heiser.
• Remember, we are dealing with the word “elohim”.

Are they members of the Trinity – Father, Son, Spirit?
• Our text from Psalm 82 rules this out because we see that these “elohim” have some problems.
• (1) they “judge unjustly” and “show partiality to the wicked” (vs. 2).
• (2) they are told they “shall die” (vs. 7).

Are they human judges and rulers?
• Again, our text in Psalm 82 seems to be problematic for this view.
• (1) It makes no sense that God would tell humans, “like men you shall die” (vs. 7).
• (2) There is no scriptural precedent that God oversees a council of humans that “governs the nations of the earth” - Heiser.
• (3) In fact, elsewhere we have in scripture a description of the divine council as existing before humans were created.
     o Job 38:4–7 (ESV) — 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Are the “elohim” and the divine council just metaphorical?
When we look at the three following verses with a metaphorical view in mind we face some logical inconsistencies.
• Exodus 15:11 (ESV) — 11 “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
• Psalm 29:1 (ESV) — 1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
• Psalm 97:7 (NLT) — 7 Those who worship idols are disgraced— all who brag about their worthless gods— for every god must bow to him.

The inconsistencies:
• (1) “… if Moses is comparing Yahweh to beings that don’t exist, how is Yahweh glorified. To have Moses ‘really’ saying ‘Who is like you, O Yahweh, among the beings that aren’t real’ is to judge God’s greatness by nothing. We’re greater than something that doesn’t exist! So is a microbe”…this is “tantamount to comparing Yahweh with Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, or some fictional literary character” – Michael Heiser.
• (2) And given number one, Psalm 29:1 has the psalmist telling “Spiderman” to worship the Lord.
• (3) And from Psalm 97:7, we even see a distinction made between “idols” and the “elohim” that “must bow to him” - Heiser.

So, in answer to our 2nd question, the “gods” are:
• (1) Spiritual beings created by God. See Psa 148:1-5; Psa 33:6; Neh 9:6 (cp. Psa 29:1)
• (2) Appointed by God to oversee the cosmos.
• (3) Apparently capable of botching this oversight.
• (4) In existence before the creation of the earth.
• (5) And because they were created by God they are inferior to Him.
    o It is important to note that “the worship of [them] was forbidden in Hebrew tradition (Deut 4:19; 17:3; cf Jer 8:2, etc.)” – AYBD.

Now we can move on to answering our third question.
How do the divine council and the sons of god change how we see John 10:34-36?
    o And lead us to the OT concept of the coregent?


Remember, last week we took the view that Jesus is not arguing his divinity.
• He was refuting the Jews’ poor hermeneutic; they really shouldn’t have had a problem with His use of the word “god” given the “human” view of Psalm 82:6-7.
• Jesus’ hermeneutical rebuke enabled Him merely to appeal to His works – the evidence for His claims – the working of God in the history of Israel.
• But, interestingly, all the commentators we looked at couldn’t, at the end of the day, escape the fact that Jesus’ divinity was presupposed in John 10 (though they never really said why).

But, taking the “heavenly” view of the “sons of god” and the divine council we can say the following (M. Heiser):
• (1) Jesus’ hermeneutically shows that other non-human, “elohim” exist.
• (2) These “elohim” are called “sons of god”.
• (3) Jesus’ is also an “elohim” and thus a member of the divine council.
• (4) However, given Jesus’ words in 10:30, “I and the Father are one”, and in verse 38, “the Father is in me and I am in the Father”, His status as a “son of god” and member of the divine council is categorically different than that of the other “sons of god”.
    o In fact, Jesus is Ruler and Creator of the other elohim.
• (5) It is categorically different because He “is connecting himself to the council coregency. In effect, he equates himself as coregent to the lord of the council, Yahweh himself” – M. Heiser.
• (6) Given this view, the blasphemy charge “now makes good sense” as compared to our discussion last week where it seemed a little forced.
    o See note below about prophets of Israel.

What is this coregent business?
• We just said that Jesus in essence identified Himself as the coregent of the council.
    o He did this by saying He is the “son of god” but is also “one” with God in action and is “in the Father”.
    o For the Jew and the OT, the only “elohim” that was part of the divine council yet “in the Father” was the coregent.
    o The coregent was often described in the OT as “Wisdom” and “the Word of the Lord” - Heiser.

Coregent As the Word:
Genesis 15:1–6 (ESV) — 1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
• Here we have “the word of the Lord” first coming to Abram in a vision.
• Then “the word of the Lord came to him” and actually “brought him outside” and spoke to Abram.
• And then we see that Abram believed in the “word of the Lord” as “the LORD”, YHWH.

Coregent As Wisdom:
Proverbs 8:29–31 (ESV) — 29 when he [YHWH – vs. 22] assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him [I, as in Wisdom was beside YHWH], like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.
• Here we have the Wisdom of God, the coregent, described as being “beside him”, YHWH.
• This is incredibly significant for understanding Jesus identity in John’s Gospel.
• To see why, we need to look at John 1:18.

In John 1:18, John describes Jesus as having the same relationship with God as Proverbs 8:30 does.
• John 1:18 (ESV) — 18 No one has ever seen God; the only [monogenes (begotten)] God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
    o “beside him” and “at the Father’s side” mean the same thing
• Literally, we are told that Jesus is “in the bosom of the father” – Heiser.
• But more than that, Jesus is the “monogenes” as in the “unique” or “one of a kind” God who is “in the bosom of the father”.
• And remember, John already told us in John 1:1 that Jesus is the Word.
• What this means is that the Gospel of John is clearly expressing the Jewish understanding of the coregent and telling us in John’s words in John 1 and Jesus’ words in John 10 that Jesus is the coregent of the OT; the one who is in the Father!

BTW - We learned in our lesson on John 8:12-20, that Jesus is exalted and sits at the right hand of God – this also identifies Him as coregent (Psalm 110:1) Ruler and Creator.
• It is also worth noting that the New Testament links all of the following “coregent figures with Jesus” – Hesiner.
• “Jesus is the Word (John 1:1; cf. Genesis 15:1-6; Jeremiah 1:1-10), the incarnated Glory (John 1:14; 17:5; 24; cf. Ezekiel 1:26-27; Exodus 24:9-11; 33:7-34:5; Isaiah 6), and Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24; cf. Luke 11:49-51 and Matthew 23:34-36). He was given/bears the Name (John 17:6-12; Revelation 19:12-16) and was thought to be the delivering Angel (Jude 5; cf. Exodus 23:20-23; Judges 2:1-5)” – Heiser.
• “Such identifications would mean that Jesus is in the Israelite Godhead” – Heiser.
• The significance of this is that, “Jewish writers committed to monotheism, even upon pain of death, could accept that there was a council of elohim in Psalm 82 and that there was a second power in heaven [the coregent] who ‘was Yahweh but wasn’t Yahweh the Father’” – Heiser.

All of this is something the audience would have understood and found to be highly offensive and blasphemous for Jesus to associate Himself with.
• But there is more!

We saw last week that Jesus sought to bring the attention of the Jews back to His actions.
• “believe the works, that you many know and understand” (John 10:38)
• Given the “heavenly” view we have been discussing, we now see that He was doing this in His role as coregent.
• Therefore, Jesus’ desire to highlight His works as evidence of His identity becomes even more significant than it was under the “human” view.

Why is this?
• Simply because, “In his particular actions for his people, YHWH shows that he is God” – Nathan MacDonald.
• And Jesus has just told us that he participates in the “particular action” of securing our salvation with the Father.
    o A philosophical side note – YHWH is not the unique Creator and Ruler because of His actions, “but Israel recognizes this uniqueness only through what he does for Israel” – Bauckham.
• Isaiah 43:12–13 (ESV) — 12 I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God. 13 Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”
    o OT description of YHWH securing the salvation of Israel.
• This meshes perfectly with Jesus’ argument in John 10:30 – He and the Father are one (one in action).
    o John 10:28–29 (ESV) — 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
• Therefore, Jesus’ work or action in Israel’s redemptive history in John 10 demonstrates that He is claiming to be the coregent YHWH of Israel.

Lesson for Us:
I think it becomes plainly obvious that this “heavenly” view presents us with a Jesus who is so much more than the Jesus of the “human” view.
• As a result, our text in John 10:34-36 makes much more sense.
• Without the “heavenly” view we have “Jesus being charged with blasphemy for asserting he had been commissioned by God” – Heiser.
• “Every prophet in Israel could make this claim” and “they were not accused of blasphemy for claiming a commission” – Heiser.
    o Remember, last week we had to assume on the mortal view that Jesus must have said something that wasn’t included in the text to illicit the charge of blasphemy.
• This view also gives us a Jesus who was clearly present in the Old Testament – coregent, Wisdom, Word of the Lord, etc.
• This view also gives us a firmly grounded Jewish foundation to accommodate the NT revelation of the Trinity.
    o “…the necessary concepts and categories were in place” – Heiser.
• And these last two are a powerful answer to the critic that claims that Jesus as God and the Trinity are all 1st or 2nd century inventions influenced by Greek philosophical thought.
    o “The key conceptual elements are certifiably Israelite” – Heiser.

For more reading on these topics, here are two papers on the subject from Dr. Michael Heiser - Jesus Quotation of Psalm 82:6 and You've Seen One Elohim You've Seen Them All - A Critique of Mormonism's Use of Psalm 82.


John 10:30 & 34-36 – Divinity, Hermeneutics and Inerrancy

Over the last three weeks we have examined four things in John 10.
• The symbolism behind the sheep, shepherd, sheepfold, watchman, thieves, wolves and robbers.
• The implication of Jesus’ words for both the believers (sheep) and unbelievers (thieves, robbers, wolves).
• The implication of Jesus’ works for believers and unbelievers.
• And the tendency of unbelievers (and even believers) to divorce Jesus words from His works.

In today’s lesson, we deal with the texts that we skipped.
• Specifically, we will look at three very important topics that Jesus brings to our attention.
    o His divinity
    o His hermeneutics
    o His view of Inerrancy


John 10:30 (ESV) — 30 I and the Father are one.

The implications of this statement are powerful and wide-ranging.
• I want to deal with just two of them.
• (1) It’s often overlooked meaning in context
• (2) It’s relationship to the Jewish Shema

Meaning in Context:
This is a fascinating study that revolves around the meaning of the Greek word for “one”.
• There are two words used in Greek for “one” – “heis” and “hen”.
• Their meanings are as follows:
    o “heis” – “a single thing” – DBL; “single person or thing” – BDAG.
    o “hen” – “under the control of, under the influence of, in close association with” – BDAG.
• In other words, “hen” is “one in action, not in person” – Beasley-Murray.
• Interestingly, the word in our text today for “one” is “hen”.

What does this mean for our text?
• So, in line with Jesus’ apologetic for His ministry in John 5, Jesus is telling us here that He and the Father are “one in action” – Beasley-Murray.
• D.A. Carson says simply, “Jesus and His Father are perfectly one in action…what Jesus does the Father does”.
• And Jesus Himself says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

In the context of John 10, what is the action that Jesus and the Father are one in?
• The action is the preservation of our salvation.
• Jesus says of Himself in vs. 28, “no one will snatch them out of my hand”.
• And He says of His Father in vs. 29, “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”.
• In other words, Jesus and the Father are unified in eternity in their securing our eternity.

But does this verse speak to the Deity of Christ as we so often us it to do?
• D.A. Carson says it, “does not affirm complete identity”.
• Kostenberger says it is, “not an affirmation of complete identity”.
• Beasley-Murray says its purpose is to show the “functional unity of the Son and the Father”.

However, all of these men also concede that given the greater context of the entirety of John’s Gospel, “some kind of metaphysical [identity] unity is presupposed” – D.A. Carson.
• Or, as Kostenberger puts it, “an ontological [nature of being] unity between Jesus and the Father seems presupposed”.

And so with respect to the presuppositions of deity behind this verse, Kostenberger and Richard Bauckham point out that what they see is a clear allusion to the Jewish Shema.
• Let’s briefly explore this connection.
• And this connection may be why the Jew’s sought to stone Him for blasphemy.

The Shema:
What is the Shema?
• Deuteronomy 6:4 (ESV) — 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

What is Jesus purpose in alluding to the Shema in verse 30 (Bauckman’s take)?
• Bauckham seems to be saying that Jesus chose His words carefully in light of the Shema.
• He calls Jesus choice of words here a “necessary adaptation of language”.
• As we have seen, the “one” in verse 30 allows for a distinction to be made between the person of the Father and the person of Jesus.
    o They are not one person.
• Theirs is a unity that “does not erase their difference”.
• This distinction allows for Jesus and the Father to be separate persons, but one in identity as God.
• Bauckham says this is how Jesus includes Himself in the Jewish Shema.
• God is one God, one in identity as Ruler and Creator of the universe.
• But God is different persons – the Father and the Son in our text.
• “Jesus’ claim to oneness with the Father amounts to including Himself with His Father in the unique identity of the one God as understood in Jewish monotheism” – Bauckham.
• And this means that a Jew can affirm Jesus as God without compromising the Shema!


John 10:34–36 (ESV) — 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Before we go any further, it seems that at some point in this discourse with the Jews, Jesus made reference to Himself as the “Son of God”.
• This, along with His allusion to the Shema, would explain why the Jews sought to stone Him in verse 31.
• And it would explain why Jesus says here that this is the reason they had previously accused Him of blasphemy.

Moving on, let’s see how Jesus rebukes them with a proper hermeneutic.

Jesus Refutes – Hermeneutics 101:
The Jews told Jesus, as we discussed last week, that they sought to stone Him not because of His works but because of his words – “you, being a man, make yourself God” (vs. 33).
• So obviously they took offense that Jesus used the word “God” to refer to Himself – “I am the Son of God”.
• Jesus responds to their accusation with a little Bible interpretation lesson.

To get at what Jesus is saying, we need a little semantic range background on the word for “god”.
• The Hebrew word “elohim” or Greek “theos” has numerous meanings.
• For example, it can mean “God”; “idol”; “mighty one”; “judge”; “great”; “ruler”; “heavenly being”; etc.
• In other words, it does not always mean “the God” and is used to refer to people who are “judges” or “rulers”.
• BTW – It is for this reason that we know Jesus is not using this line of reasoning as an argument for His deity.
    o If He were, His “argumentation would be without merit” – D.A. Carson.
    o “I’m God because men who weren’t God were called God” – makes no sense.

It must be pointed out here that there is a completely different way to understand Jesus' quote from Psalm 82 and it is a view that does advocate that Jesus is arguing for His divinity.
• The key to this approach is how one understands "elohim".
• I will cover this approach next week.

Knowing this about how “god” is used in the OT, Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6-7.
• Psalm 82:6–7 (ESV) — 6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
• He then asks the Jews, “If he called them god”, why do you call me a blasphemer “because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
• His logic is pretty simple (D.A Carson).
    o (1) “Scripture proves that the word ‘god’ is legitimately used to refer to others than God himself.”
    o (2) “If there are others whom God (the author of Scripture) can address as ‘god’ and ‘sons of the Most High’ (i.e. sons of God).”
    o (3) “On what biblical basis should anyone object when Jesus says, I am God’s Son?”
• And, given the works He has done through the Father, “how much more can he whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world be so termed?” – Beasley-Murray.
• “If the word ‘gods’ can be used of mere men because of their function—if judges can be called gods—then how much more should I be called God in the full sense since I have received a unique commissioning and exercise unique power?” – James Boice.

So what is the point:
• Remember, they never contested His works.
• Their beef was with His words.
• And, here Jesus shows them that given the use of the word “god” in Scripture, they really shouldn’t have a problem with His words either.
• But, so as not to discount the Jews understanding of Jesus’ claim, D.A. Carson points out:
    o (1) They are “partly right (he does make himself equal with God)”
    o (2) They are “partly wrong (this fact does not establish a competing God)” - blasphemy
    o (3) They are “profoundly mistaken (they have not grasped the drift of their own Scriptures)”
• In other words, their misuse of Scripture with the word “god” is only the beginning of their errant relationship with God’s word – in its written and incarnate forms.
• Finally, Jesus’ hermeneutical rebuke enables Him, once again, to appeal to His works – the evidence for His claims.
    o This gives Him some “breathing space” between Him and the violent mob (D.A. Carson).

Speaking of God’s word and error – Jesus has something to say about that too in John 10.


John 10:35 (ESV) — 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken

We see in verse 35 that Jesus’ argument about the usage of the word “god” hinged on His declaration that “Scripture cannot be broken”.
• So what exactly is Jesus saying about Scripture with this comment?

The Greek word for “broken” in our text is “lyo”.
• When Jesus says that Scripture cannot be “lyo”, He is saying that it cannot be annulled, abolished, invalidated, destroyed or dissolved – BDAG.
• Or, put another way, He is saying that Scripture cannot be “proved false” – D.A. Carson.

Two other uses in Scripture can help us see this meaning.
1) Matthew 5:17 (ESV) — 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”.
• Jesus didn’t come to destroy, dissolve, falsify or annul Scripture under His new covenant of grace.
• If He did, this would indicate that the Law (God’s word) was now invalid.
• This is why Jesus stressed He came to “fulfill them”.
• The importance of this is that Jesus came to fulfill what was true.
• For if He fulfilled what was false, He did nothing.
• So in relation to our text today, “Scripture cannot be broken”, in part, because Jesus is its fulfillment.

2) 1 John 3:8 (ESV) — 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
• This verse contrasts beautifully the difference between fulfilling what is true and cannot be broken (God’s Law) vs. destroying (“lyo”) what is a lie and deceit (Devil’s work).
• This implies, then, that from God’s perspective there is a quality about that which “cannot be broken” and that which Jesus came to “destroy”.
• So in relation to our text today, that quality has to do with origins.
• “Scripture cannot be broken” because it has its origin in God; it is His Law.
• Those things which are “of the devil” such as sin and the “works of the devil”, on the other hand, will be destroyed (“lyo”) because they have their origins in a rebellion from God and His Law.

So, if we remember nothing else from today’s lesson, we must remember that Jesus viewed Scripture as inerrant.
• He did so because its origin was God and He was its fulfillment.
• And so the claim of many liberal scholars that the Doctrine of Inerrancy is a modern invention is complete nonsense.
    o For more on this, visit this link.
• BTW - for a thorough treatment on the meaning of inerrancy, see the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

Lessons for Us:
• Jesus is one in action with the Father.
• Jesus can be worshipped as God in the context of the Shema – 3 persons but 1 identity.
• Hermeneutics matters – we have to be careful.
    o Mishandling verse 30 is an example.
• Jesus considered God’s word incapable of being destroyed, invalidated, annulled or proved false.
    o We call this Biblical Inerrancy.


John 10:31-39 – Words & Works – Part II

Review using Last Week’s Intro:
• For two and a half years, Jesus had sought to convey to the Jews His identity and the reason for His incarnation.
• He had done so through at least two ways.
    o His works – signs and wonders
    o His words – teaching
• Both His works and His words pointed to His ministry as being sanctioned and authorized by God the Father and to His identity as the Son of God.

As with last week, we are confronted with some powerful implications for the believer and unbeliever with respect to Jesus’ works and His words.
• Last week we dealt with Jesus’ WORDS, so today we will deal with the implication of His WORKS to the believer/unbeliever.

John 10:31–33 and 37-39 (ESV) — 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” – AND – 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.


John 10:31–33 (ESV) — 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

We saw last week that the Jews asked Jesus to speak plainly about His identity.
• His response was “I told you” and it didn’t matter because still “you do not believe” (John 10:25).
• He then went on to explain why they didn’t believe in spite of both His words and His works.

In today’s text, we witness the action that results from the Jews’ unbelief.
• (1) They write Jesus off as a blasphemer.
• (2) They try to stone Him after He spoke plainly again and declared that He “and the Father are one” (vs. 30).
    o We will deal with the significance of this verse 30 next week.

Jesus’ response to the Jews’ attempt to stone Him is interesting.
• And it is here where we dig into the relationship of Jesus’ works to the unbeliever.
• His response turns the Jew’s question about His words into one about His works.
• Jesus says in verse 32, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?

Works and the Unbeliever:
The Jews make a remarkable statement – “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you” (vs. 32).
• Jesus’ plain words weren’t enough to convince and today we see His works weren’t enough for them either.
• This is another beautiful example of the irony that is so prevalent in John’s Gospel.
• Clearly, because of His works they should have fallen at His feet in worship.
• But here they not only blow them off, but they seek to divorce them entirely from Jesus’ words.
    o “Your good works are fine, but Your words are blasphemous”

What are the Jews missing concerning Jesus’ works that they would so easily dismiss them from the equation?
• They are missing the purpose of His works!
• Luke 7:20–23 (ESV) — 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
• Jesus quotes Isaiah to John’s disciples that they may know the purpose of His works.
• Jesus’ works declare that He is “the one who is to come”.

John’s Gospel also made abundantly clear the purpose of Jesus’ works.
• John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John’s Gospel also makes clear that this purpose finds fulfillment.
• John 1:48–49 (ESV) — 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
• John 2:11 (ESV) — 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
• John 3:2 (ESV) — 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
• John 7:31 (ESV) — 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

But the unbeliever, those not part of the flock, not drawn, taught and given by the Father responds differently.
• They do not see the purpose in Jesus’ works.
• John 12:37 (ESV) — 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,
• John 6:30 (ESV) — 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?
    o Here they even belittle Jesus’ works as insufficient.

So, in spite of the fact that Jesus’ works so powerfully attest to His identity and His relationship with the Father as prophesied:
• The unbelieving Jews are completely unable to see and acknowledge this fact.
• In our text today, they dismiss the significance of His works.
• In fact, they appear to only be concerned with the content of His words.
• And it’s no wonder, because Jesus’ words divorced from His works make little sense.
    o By one’s fruit you will know him.
• His works are an essential part of the divine, supernatural context of His ministry.
• So without that context, to claim He is one with the Father is a little crazy.
• No wonder they accuse Him of blaspheme.

So really there are at least three ironies in our text today.
• (1) The Jews are so oblivious to His works and what they point to.
• (2) That they refuse to see His words in context of His works.
• (3) Which leads to an accusation based on His words that Jesus reveals to be hermeneutically groundless.
    o We will see how He did this next week in verse 34-36.

Now let’s look at Jesus’ response to the Jews ironic errors.


John 10:37–39 (ESV) — 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

Jesus follows up his hermeneutics lesson (next week) by restoring what the Jews had sought to divide.
• He reunites His words with His works.
• He argues that His words should be heard and understood in the context of His works.
• The Father’s Jesus is a Jesus whose ministry and authenticity is united in His words AND His works.
• From Jesus’ perspective, both His Words given to Him by the Father and His Works authorized to be performed by the Father are a clear and unambiguous witness to His identity.
• And His words and works are as inseparable from each other as He is from the Father.
    o They demonstrate why He is one with the Father.

Jesus demonstrates the necessity of uniting His words and works in two ways.
• (1) He argues that His words are believable because His works are from the Father.
• (2) So united are they that He then stakes their belief in Him on this claim and gives them permission to not believe His words if His works aren’t from the Father.
    o He is not asking them to believe blindly.
    o The reasons to believe in Him are plentiful.
    o And, remember, the works are a fulfillment of prophecy.

Jesus does this very same thing in a passage from Matthew.
• He links His words to His works and unites them in His authority as the Son of Man, the Father’s Jesus.
• Matthew 9:2–8 (ESV) — 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

And finally, in response to the Jews error, Jesus demonstrates a deep love for the unbelievers with one last plea.
• He knows these Jews were not hearing and following Him.
    o John 10:27 (ESV) — 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
• So He makes one final plea for them to believe – a plea of love, grace and mercy.
• Even though His words and works validate each other and therefore Him.
• He implores them to, in spite their reaction to His words; believe in His relationship with the Father because of His works.
    o This is the spurious faith we talked about some time ago.
• This gesture, I believe, fits beautifully with Jesus’ words from another passage in Matthew and expresses Jesus’ desire that all would be saved.
• Matthew 23:37 (ESV) — 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

But His finally plea fell on rocky ground.
• Their response was merely to have Him arrested.
And the reason for their rejection?
    o See last week’s lesson.

Lessons for Us:
I can’t help but wonder how often people today do what the unbelieving Jews did and what Jesus is trying to correct here.
• That is to say, divorce Jesus works from His words.

Before I give two specific examples of this divorce, I need to point out a generalized occurrence of it within our conservative evangelical circles.
• We have a habit of esteeming highly the word of God, as we should, but at the expense of the subjective work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
• Scripture clearly teaches that the believer is energized by the Spirit to do works that glorify God and benefit the church and its flock.
• We CE’s, however, wrongly shy away from pursuing and teaching about these gifts.

Example 1 of this Divorce in Action by the Atheist:
Speaking of the Sermon on the Mount atheist Geoff Crocker argues (Unbelievable 17 Sep 2011, 32:39) that what Jesus speaks to it is not “based upon on anything absolute” but “based upon a statement of the intrinsic attraction of the virtues of justice, of the virtues of mercy, of the virtues of love themselves”.
• In other words, the Sermon on the Mount does not find its real meaning in the fact that it was spoken by someone who performed supernatural works, claimed to be fulfillment of OT prophecy, and operated His ministry at the direction and authority of God the Father.
• Its real meaning is simply in Jesus’ eloquent delivery of virtues that are celebrated by all reasonable people on the planet.

This is absolute nonsense and can only be said if Jesus’ words are dismissed and divorced from the supernatural (works).
• “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – What is heaven? a work of God
• “they shall see God” – How do we see God? A work of God
• “they shall be called sons of God” – How are we made sons of God? A work of God
• “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” – What is the fulfillment of the law? A work of God
• “be liable to the hell of fire” – What is hell? A rejection of the work of God
• And these examples are only from the first 17 verses.

Example 2 of this Divorce in Action by the Christian (Unbelievable 4/16/11 & 8/27/11):
Bart Ehrman and Mike Licona have encountered each other a number of times to debate the resurrection.
• With respect to the resurrection, Bart Ehrman argues that miracles are “outside of the realm of what history can show”.
• In other words, an appeal to the supernatural is outside of the discipline of history; it is not in the “historian’s toolbox”.
    o This is classic David Hume enlightenment stuff
    o But Hume, by the way, was honest about the grounding problems for reason that arise from this, Ehrman is not.
• So whatever Jesus said or did, history cannot confirm any of it was supernatural.
• So you can believe Jesus was raised by God from the dead, but this is not historical.
• This means, of course, that it is myth.

Mike Licona, for sake of argument, concedes this point to Ehrman and as a result is left with the following statement:
• “Let’s put it this way. If the historical evidence is good enough to show that Jesus rose from the dead, we’ll just not call it a miracle. We’ll just say, ‘well we don’t know how He was raised. We don’t know the nature of the body He was in’”… “You want to leave the cause of the resurrection a question mark? I’m fine with that.”

The result is that the resurrection becomes the “inference to the best explanation” that accounts for the events surrounding the resurrection, not a supernatural act of God.
• It is divorced from its entire prophetic and eschatological context.
• Now, we know Mike Licona is a conservative evangelical Christian who writes and debates powerfully for the historicity of a supernatural resurrection.
• But one has to ask, what is gained by doing what the unbelieving Jews did?
• What is gained by divorcing Jesus from His works?
• If the resurrection was not a supernaturally caused work of God, what good is it?
    o   Resurrection as just an “inference to the best explanation” can’t help Bart Ehrman.
    o   In fact, Ehrman could call Licona’s bluff, concede the resurrection and then say “now what?”
    o   This is because Ehrman doesn’t even have to jettison his naturalist worldview to do this.
    o   This is why, for me, the resurrection is powerless divorced from its supernatural context.

Jesus doesn’t seem to appeal to the unbeliever in this way in our text.
• His appeal to them IS the supernatural – His works.
• He urges them to believe because His works clearly indicate that He is one with the Father and operates under the authority of the Father.

From Jesus’ perspective, as we have seen the past two weeks, it is the Father that draws and gives the unbeliever and it is the Father who authorizes and ordains Jesus’ works.
• The common denominator is a WORK of the Father.
• The Father saves (a supernatural act) and the Father authorizes Jesus works (a supernatural act).
• So in appealing to His works, Jesus is appealing to the Father!
• It is an appeal to the Father to
    o (1) Draw the unbeliever via Jesus works (a supernatural act)
    o (2) Perform a supernatural act in the life of the unbeliever.
• There really is nothing more right to appeal to.
• Jesus truly is seeking to “tell us plainly” this fact.

So though the unbeliever has no choice but to reject the works of God…the believer has no excuse to do so.
• We should preach, teach, and argue for BOTH just as Jesus did.
• Do not shy away from the supernatural, the very thing that saved you.


John 10:22-29 – Works and Works – Part I

For two and a half years, Jesus had sought to convey to the Jews His identity and the reason for His incarnation.
• He had done so through at least two ways.
    o His works
    o His words – teaching
• Both His works and His words pointed to His ministry as being sanctioned and authorized by God the Father and to His identity as the Son of God.

In our text today, we are confronted with some powerful implications for the believer and unbeliever with respect to Jesus’ works and His words.
• Over the next two weeks, we will seek to understand what the implications are.
• And I think we will see that these 22 verses are some of the most powerful in all of Scripture.
• James Boice suggests that in these verses we get, “the most highly condensed statements of the doctrines of grace in the entire Gospel”.

In Part I, we will deal with the relationship of Jesus’ WORDS to the believer/unbeliever.


John 10:22–29 (ESV) — 22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

A note about the context of this discussion:
• This encounter with the Jews took place in December.
• We are less than 6 months from Jesus’ crucifixion.
• The Feast of Dedication “celebrated the rededication of the temple in December 164 B.C. after its desecration by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes and the successful Maccabean revolt” – Kostenberger.

Today we will deal with verses 22-29.
• Next week we will contend with verses 30-42.
• I want to pay special attention to Jesus words in verses 25 and 27.

1) “I told you, and you do not believe” (vs. 25):
The Jews gather around Jesus at the temple mount and request, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly”.
• And Jesus tells them plainly, “I told you, and you do not believe”.
• In other words, He has taught them with words and they have rejected His teaching.
• He doesn’t stop there, however.
• He goes on to explain, interestingly, not why they should now believe, but why they don’t believe!
• This is exactly what Jesus did in John 6.

John is clearly seeking to convey something to us about Jesus’ reason for highlighting the reason for unbelief.
No doubt, the question was asked then and is asked now, if Jesus was/is the Messiah the Christ and God incarnate, why did so many Jews reject Him?

Logically, it seems we are left with 2 choices.
• (1) Jesus’ words in John 6 and John 10 were a later addition to the text which were fabricated in order to explain why so many Jews rejected Jesus.
• (2) Or, Jesus is speaking the truth. He is teaching us about the sovereignty and work of God in the context of belief/unbelief because He sees it as what fundamentally makes the difference between the two.

As just mentioned, Jesus had previously contrasted the believer, the one who trusts in the Father’s Jesus, with the unbeliever, the one who rejects the Father’s Jesus, in John 6.
• And in our text he also does this.
• These instances are worth digging into so that we might understand what Jesus is saying about the sovereignty of God the Father and unbelief.

John 6 – A Similar Example:
Our similar example is the interaction with the crowd at Capernaum in John 6.
• Jesus had fed the 5000 and then crossed the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum.
• Much of the crowd followed Him.
• He told them, “you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves” (John 6:26).
• He went on to teach them that the bread that matters is the bread of life that only He gives.
• They ask Him what they must do for this bread.
• He said the real work of God is to “believe in him whom he has sent” (vs. 29).
• They “do not believe” (vs. 36) in Him and continue to challenge Him throughout the encounter.
• His response to their unbelief – “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe” (vs. 36).
• His explanation for their unbelief – “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (vs. 37).
• And again – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
• And again – “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45).
    o This is clearly a “hearing” quite different from just an audible hearing
    o And, the origins of this hearing are with the Father and not Jesus

And in our text today, Jesus also explains the unbelief of the Jews in relation to a work of God the Father.
• This brings us to the 2nd verse I want to focus on – vs. 27.

2) “Hear My Voice” (vs. 27):
John 6:26-27 (ESV) — 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
• And in vs. 29, Jesus elaborates, echoing His words in John 6, when He says that those that hear His voice were given to Him by His Father, “who has given then to me”.
    o This “giving” presumably occurs after they have “heard and learned from the Father” (John 6:45).
• It is striking that the Wisdom literature of Proverbs tells us:
    o Proverbs 20:12 (ESV) — 12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both.
    o Our ability to hear audibly is attributed to God, and (in Jesus’ words) our ability to hear spiritually is attributed to God.

And so Jesus’ teaching in John 10 is the same as John 6 we just reviewed.
• Those that believe are those that are the beneficiaries of a work of God which frees them from the limitations of their moral deficiency, depravity and inability to “hear” Jesus Christ.
• The unbelievers then, in Jesus’ own words, are those that have not heard, learned, been drawn or given by the Father.

What this means:
The implication of this is that we can’t just “hear” Jesus’ words or “see” Jesus’ signs AND THEN, in our own capacity, realize our need for Him and thus desire to trust in Him as Savior.
• We simply do not have the moral ability to do so.
• There simply does not exist a neutral ground from which mankind can decide yea or nay based on a rational consideration of the work and words of Jesus Christ.
• Jesus, in John’s Gospel, is making this perfectly clear.
• A work of God is first necessary – a drawing, hearing, learning and giving.
• This is why is teaching us that the difference between the believer and unbeliever is to be found in this work of the Father.
    o Jesus is submitting to the will of, and giving glory to God the Father!

Our moral inability:
Jesus Himself acknowledged our moral inability to do this in John 2:24.
• John 2:24–25 (ESV) — 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
• Jesus did not “believe in” or “entrust” Himself to mankind because what was in them.

What is in man?
• Not one of us does good (Ps. 14:3).
• We have wicked and deceitful hearts (Jer. 17:9).
• We are dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1-2).
• We are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).
• We love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19-20).
• Our hearts are hard like stone (Ezek. 36:26; Eph. 4:18).
• We are unable to submit to God and are hostile towards God (Rom 8:7-8).
• We are unable to accept the gospel (Eph. 4:18; 1 Cor. 2:14).
• We are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord (John 6:44, 65; 1 Cor. 12:3).
• We are slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17).
• We are slaves of Satan (Eph. 2:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).
• No good thing dwells in us (Rom. 7:18).

If we look at it logically, it makes perfect sense that we can’t hear His words or see His signs AND THEN realize our need for Him and thus desire to trust in Him as Savior in our own ability (especially given our depravity).
• The existence of a need and having the desire to satisfy that need are not grounded in, or do not originate from, the thing that satisfies that need.

Let’s look at a simple example.

Why do we need water and why do we desire to satisfy that need by drinking it?
Is it because water exists?
• No, to say so would mean that to remove the existence of water would be to remove our need for water and desire for it.

Is it because we can rationally understand the physical and chemical properties of water and how it interacts with our body?
• No, to say so would mean that an infant or mentally handicapped person, who can do no such thing, has no need for water.

So why do we need water and why do we desire to satisfy our thirst?
• We need water because we have been made to need water.
• This need is part of what we are, not what water is.
• So because we have been made for water, we desire to seek out water and drink it.
• If we don’t we die.

The same holds for our need of Jesus and a desire to trust in Him as Savior.

Why do we need Jesus and desire to seek Him out?
Is it because Jesus walked in the flesh and performed signs and taught?
• No, to say so would mean that those in the OT or those that don’t’ encounter Christ have no need for Him.

Is it because we can rationally understand the life of Christ and how brilliant His teachings are?
• No, to say that would mean that Satan and his demons understand their need for Jesus and desire to satisfy that need through a relationship with Him.
• To say that would also mean that the infant or the mentally handicap person who cannot do these things has no need for Jesus.

So why do we seek after Jesus to meet a need we have for Him?
• We seek after Jesus and recognize our need for Him because we have been “born again” (John 3 & Ezekiel 36:26).
• We have been “remade” by a work of God to do so.
• God has taken our fallen, depraved, corrupt will that does not seek after God, and remade it to recognize our need for Jesus and pursue satisfaction of that need in Him.
• So, our need for Christ and our desire to trust in Him is grounded in, and originates in the work of God in our heart.
• If we don’t see this need and trust Jesus, we die.

So whatever else can be said, Jesus’ has told us “plainly” that the sovereignty of God explains the difference between believers and unbelievers.
So what are we to do at this intersection of human responsibility and God’s sovereignty?
• John MacArthur frames it this way, “From the perspective of human responsibility, the hostile Jews did not believe because they had deliberately rejected the truth. But from the standpoint of divine sovereignty, they did not believe because they were not of the Lord’s sheep, which were given Him by the Father. A full understanding of exactly how those two realities, human responsibility and divine sovereignty, work together lies beyond human comprehension; but there is no difficulty with them in the infinite mind of God”.

Why an understanding of the Father’s necessary work on our hearts should be a comfort and not a concern:
It means that our salvation is secure.
• Jesus tells us that, “no one will snatch them out of my hand” (vs. 28)
• The word for “snatch”, “harpazo”, means “to forcefully grab or seize so as to gain control”.
• Contrasted with the wolf from John 10:12 who “snatches” because the “hired hand” “leaves the sheep”, Jesus is saying that, as our shepherd, not only will He not flee, but none can seize or gain control of our eternal life from His hand.
• In fact, in vs. 29 He points out that our eternal life is not just in His hand but also in the Father’s hand.
• So as we look to the sovereign work of God to bring us to salvation in Christ, we also see a sovereign work of God secure it for all eternity.
    o Isaiah 43:13 (ESV) — 13 Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”
    o Wisdom of Solomon 3:1 (NRSV) — 1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.

Lesson for Us:
So what are we to do with God’s sovereignty?
• Praise Him and rest secure in the
    o (1) “realness” of our trust in Christ because it is grounded in a work of God.
    o (2) “security” of the eternity of our salvation because it is grounded in a work of God.
• This is why God’s sovereignty should be an awesome source of daily comfort for the believer.
• This should free us to be bold and confident in our walk.