According to my Bible Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6. (Now if you are wondering why I said, “my Bible,” it is for the same reason that the Apostle Paul spoke of “my gospel.” If you don’t understand that, then get in touch with me and I will endeavor to explain it to you.) The Hebrew writer wrote, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Heb. 13:8.
Now if logic is reasonable, then simple logic demonstrates that the “way” is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. It also follows that the “truth” is the same yesterday, today, and forever, as is “the life.” Dispensationalists must cry, “NO!” They say this is the dispensation of the Spirit and things were different prior to the coming of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost back in the first century.
In Matthew 11:11 Jesus states, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Reading this verse in context you will find that Jesus was saying, “a greater prophet.” (See Matthew 11:9.) This is surely one of the most misunderstood and misconstrued verses in all of scripture. John Wesley, quotes some unknown ancient writer as follows: “One Perfect in the law, as John was, is inferior to one who is baptized into the death of Christ. For this is the kingdom of heaven, even to be buried with Christ, and to be raised up together with him. John was greater than all who had been then born of women, but he was cut off before the kingdom of heaven was given.” Wesley then interjects what “he seems to mean.” Further on Wesley states that, “It may farther mean...” (You can find the entire quote in Wesley’s notes on the New Testament which is found on page 40 in my copy.)
I am glad Wesley did not give his absolute sanction to what the ancient author wrote, for the author thoroughly misunderstood and misconstrued Matthew 11:11. To properly understand this verse about John the Baptist compare it to the story of the seventy that Jesus sent forth with instructions to, “heal the sick...and say unto them , The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” When they returned to Jesus they were rejoicing, saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” Jesus replied, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20.
In the final analysis, to be the greatest prophet, as John Baptist was, and to have power over demons is not what really matters. What matters is, is that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And this is precisely what Jesus meant by his comment concerning John in Matthew 11:11. Jesus, while saying that John was the greatest prophet ever born of woman, was in no way saying that John the Baptist was not in the kingdom of heaven.
Consider the following:
For he [John the Baptist] shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb...And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, (Elijah). Luke 1:15 & 17a.
If being filled with the Holy Ghost does not place one in the
The same could be said of Elijah and Elisha, who received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. What spirit was that if not the Holy Spirit? The first chapter of Luke tells us that Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, (vs.41) and Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost. Luke 1:67. I could go on and on, but why bother; either you will listen to sound reasoning, common sense, or you won’t.
Why do we have so much trouble with accepting truth? Jesus said He is the truth. He spoke of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth. John, in his first epistle, said that “the Spirit is truth.” We are to be lovers of truth, walk in the truth, know the truth, do things for the truth’s sake and the truth is to dwell in us, according to John’s second epistle.
So again, why do we have so much trouble accepting truth? Well first and foremost, since the fall of Adam, this world has never been a friend to truth. Galileo was condemned as a heretic for saying the sun was stationary and that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, after observing his grandmother’s tea kettle, was laughed at. Alexander Graham Bell and his telephone were laughed at. Do you hear anybody laughing now? John Huss was burnt at the stake for preaching against practices of the established church. John Wycliffe was the first to translate the Bible into English. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his Bible translation that 44 years after Wycliffe’s death he ordered his bones dug up, crushed, and scattered in the river. Any message, true or false, that challenges the status quo will meet with extreme opposition.
Ecclesiastical organizations of today (translate as church denominations) operate in the same fashion as the secular authorities always have. They do not wish to, or intend to tolerate dissent. Amos said, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” What evidently brought this about? Amos simply looked around at his nation and saw the ungodly mess; just as you would see today if you dared to take an honest look at what is going on in your family, community, nation and world.
And so Amos preached! The result? Amaziah, the priest of the established order, went to the king, Jeroboam, and accused him of conspiracy (a popular charge today by secular authorities who can’t find any real crime committed by those whose activities they don’t like) and said, “the land is not able to bear all his words.” Of course the established order was so upset by Jesus that He was nailed to a cross. Paul was imprisoned and probably beheaded and Peter is said to have been crucified upside down. In 17th century England George Fox took a look at the state of the established church and decided that you could shoot a gun ten miles in any direction and never hit a Christian. He called their churches steeple-houses and the priests, professors. He began to travel about and preach the truth. For his efforts he was persecuted, beaten and jailed more times than anyone has been able to count.
In the next century in that same
Francis Asbury, the first bishop of Methodism in
In order to be fair to Christians, and more specifically, Christian ministers I must state that we are not to be swept with every wind of doctrine. We should not give up established beliefs willy nilly. At the same time, we should be easily entreated. We have “the mind of Christ” and “an unction from the Holy One, and [we] know all things.” But we don’t trust the unction from the Holy One for we must check to see what John Calvin, John Wesley, John Knox, and Johnny Appleseed had to say about it. We call the Bible the Word of God and claim to be Spirit led but we can’t follow the Spirit’s leadings or accept the plain message of scripture for in actuality the only thing we believe and trust is our theology and/or the articles of religion (doctrines) of our own particular denomination.
Someone has said, “In the history of culture, Galileo stands as a symbol of the battle against authority for freedom of inquiry.” That battle rages yet. Which side of the battle you are on is entirely up to you.
I can’t leave this discussion just yet for no doubt some will say that the kingdom of heaven came with the institution of the new covenant (or new testament) and that the Hebrew writer reminds us that “a testament is of force after men (in this case, Christ) are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” I am sure this statement was germane to the argument that the Hebrew writer was making but it is also true that Christ is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Thus the
I am also aware of John 7:39 which states, (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.).” Properly understood, this scripture is speaking of those who were following Jesus while He was here on earth. They were looking to Him to institute the
It might be argued by some that this is a big to-do about very little, but if we build on false premises (doctrines) they lead to gross errors. The truth is not complicated. The authorities (politicians, lawyers, scientists and theologians) make it so to protect their turf? Egads, why do we believe all this tripe? We fuss about water baptism, bread and wine (or grape juice) and what have you. You say, Jesus commanded us to be baptized with water and to partake of communion. No He didn’t, and the Bible doesn’t say that; you have just been taught that. If we would just step back for a minute and look, we would see quite clearly just how ridiculous it is to suppose that an all knowing, almighty, loving God could be the least bit interested in these things. We would also see clearly that He has been endeavoring to give us His Spirit in all ages. To suggest otherwise is to make God out to be some heinous monster. Well then, what is God interested in? Well “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Now that’s not too complicated is it?