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Avoid Being Modern Pharisees and Missing Out on the Lord’s Return
By Liu Xin
After a summer storm, Ke Min opens the window and immediately a cool breeze comes into the room, dispersing the stuffy atmosphere in it. Ke Min goes back to the living room and sits down, and hears that Li Xuemei and Chen Jiajia are talking about the film The Passion of the Christ.
Chen Jiajia: Every time I watch this film, I can’t help but be overcome with emotion. The Jewish chief priests and scribes had served God in the temple for many generations, and had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah, but when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, they were actually unable to recognize that He was the coming Messiah foretold in the prophecies, and even nailed Him to the cross.
Ke Min: Jiajia, if we were the Jewish people who were born two thousand years ago, we could have failed to acknowledge the Lord Jesus and even resisted Him, too.
Li Xuemei: You’re right. I remember the Lord: “This is an evil generation” (Luke 11:29). In such an evil age, we all live in sin, so if He returned today, how could we not resist Him?
Chen Jiajia: But there’s one thing I don’t understand.
Ke Min: What is it? Tell us and we can discuss it together.
Chen Jiajia: The Romans didn’t acknowledge the Lord Jesus because they didn’t believe in God, yet the Jewish people had believed in God for many generations, especially the Jewish scribes and Pharisees who knew the Old Testament very well and preached the gospel in all places. But when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, they didn’t acknowledge Him and even nailed Him to the cross. I really can’t understand why this happened.
Li Xuemei: I also feel confused about this. The Jewish people read the Old Testament since they were young, and from the prophecy in it they knew the Savior Messiah would come to save them. Furthermore, when the Lord Jesus came, they saw that the work and words of the Lord Jesus shook up all of Judea and that the Lord displayed many signs and wonders, such as feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, restoring sight to the blind, allowing the paralyzed to walk, resurrecting a dead man, and so forth. The Lord Jesus’ work and words are full of authority and power, which cannot be attained by anyone. Seeing this, those who had a little bit of a seeking heart would identify that the Lord Jesus was exactly the coming Messiah. However, the Jewish people not only did not acknowledge the Lord Jesus, but also resisted and condemned Him. It’s really unbelievable.
Ke Min: I also couldn’t see through this problem until I read a book recently, which answers this question very clearly. Let’s take a look at it together.
Ke Min: “The Jewish Pharisees used the law of Moses to condemn Jesus. They did not seek compatibility with the Jesus of that time, but diligently followed the law to the letter, to the extent that they ultimately nailed the innocent Jesus to the cross, having charged Him with not following the law of the Old Testament and not being the Messiah. What was their essence? Was it not that they didn’t seek the way of compatibility with the truth? They obsessed over each and every word of the Scripture, while paying no heed to My will and the steps and methods of My work. They were not people who sought the truth, but people who rigidly followed the words of Scripture; they were not people who believed in God, but people who believed in the Bible. Essentially, they were watchdogs of the Bible. In order to safeguard the interests of the Bible, and uphold the dignity of the Bible, and protect the reputation of the Bible, they went so far as to nail the merciful Jesus onto the cross. This they did merely for the sake of defending the Bible, and for the sake of maintaining the status of each and every word of the Bible in people’s hearts. So they preferred to forsake their future and the sin offering to condemn Jesus, who did not conform to the doctrine of Scripture, to death” (“You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ”). “Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? … They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah, and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous?” (“When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth”).
Ke Min: It is recorded in the Holy Bible that when the Lord Jesus did His work, He performed many signs and wonders and bestowed much grace upon man, which shocked all of Judea. Many people followed the Lord Jesus. But faced with the fact of the Lord Jesus’ work, the majority of the Jewish people, especially those top leaders of the Jewish faith, had no desire to seek or investigate it, no matter how much authority His words had, or how significant the influence His work had on people of those days. They only blindly clung to the letters in the Bible, and held the view that they wouldn’t acknowledge or accept the One to come unless He was called the Messiah; they charged the Lord Jesus with violating the law of Moses; they treated God’s work based on their arrogant nature, delimiting God’s work within the Bible and within their own notions and imaginations. With such attitude, how could they receive the revelations of the Holy Spirit and recognize that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah? They were too arrogant and held on to their own notions and imaginations, so they always used the Bible to delimit God’s work and ultimately nailed the Lord to the cross, committing a heinous crime of resisting God.
Li Xuemei: Thank the Lord! The words in this book explain the root of the problem, which cannot be said by ordinary people. The Jewish people of those days learned that the Messiah would come from the prophecy in the Old Testament. But they were waiting for the Messiah merely based on the literal meaning of the prophecy. So when the Lord Jesus arrived, the Jewish people measured the work of the Lord Jesus with the letters in the Old Testament and didn’t accept the fact of God’s work at all. It is because the Jewish people used the Old Testament to define God’s work that they didn’t acknowledge the Lord Jesus.
Ke Min: You are right. God said: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). God’s work is marvelous, which no one can see through. The Jewish people used the Bible to define God and His work, not allowing God’s work to go beyond the Bible. Believing in God in such way, they could only end up resisting God.
Chen Jiajia: After hearing your fellowship, I remember a scene in The Passion of the Christ: The Jewish people of those days defined and condemned the Lord Jesus using the Old Testament. It was recorded in the Gospel of John chapter 19. Let me read it: “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate said to them, Take you him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (John 19:6-7). The Jewish people had never investigated the work and words of the Lord Jesus, but rigidly followed the words in the Old Testament, thinking that as long as God’s work exceeded the scope of the Old Testament, they wouldn’t accept it. They would rather lose God’s salvation than lose the Bible. Just as the words in this book reveal: “They preferred to forsake their future and the sin offering to condemn Jesus, who did not conform to the doctrine of Scripture, to death.”
Li Xuemei: Yes. There is also a story recorded in the Bible: The Lord Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath, for which the Jewish Pharisees denied that the Lord Jesus had come from God and condemned Him with the laws of the Old Testament. When that blind man told the Pharisees that it was the Lord Jesus who restored his sight, the Pharisees said: “This man is not of God, because he keeps not the” (John 9:16). And they reviled the blind: “You are his disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from where he is” (John 9:28-29). From these two passages, we can see that the Jewish people only acknowledged and believed in the Bible. If God’s work and words were not recorded in the Bible, they wouldn’t acknowledge or accept them. Thank the Lord! The confusion I had for many years is finally solved.
Chen Jiajia: Thanks be to the Lord! Now I understand why the Jewish people didn’t acknowledge the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. Sister Ke, this book is indeed an extraordinary one, which resolves what we have been confused about for many years with only a few words. The Jewish people had waited for the coming of the Messiah every day; but when the Messiah really did come, they didn’t know Him and even condemned and resisted Him. This is worth pondering and we should take it as a warning.
Li Xuemei: Yes, this really is a warning for us. During these years, what we talk about most in the church is the return of the Lord Jesus. Now, the prophecies of the Lord Jesus’ return in the Holy Bible have basically been fulfilled. And the priests and elders often preach that the Lord is at our doorstep. But we haven’t welcomed the Lord. What’s really going on? Sister Ke, what does the book say about this problem?
Ke Min: The book indeed mentions this. Let’s take a look at it: “Since man believes in God, he must closely follow the footsteps of God, step-by-step; he should ‘follow the Lamb wherever He goes.’ Only these are the people who seek the true way, only they are the ones who know the work of the Holy Spirit” (“God’s Work and Man’s Practice”). “As such, since we are searching for the footprints of God, we must search for God’s will, for the words of God, for the utterances of God—for where there are the new words of God, there is the voice of God, and where there are the footsteps of God, there are the deeds of God. Where there is the expression of God, there is the appearance of God, and where there is the appearance of God, there exists the truth, the way, and the life. While seeking the footprints of God, you ignored the words that ‘God is the truth, the way, and the life.’ So when many people receive the truth, they do not believe that they have found the footprints of God and much less acknowledge the appearance of God. What a serious error that is! The appearance of God cannot be reconciled with the conceptions of man, much less can God appear at the behest of man. God makes His own choices and has His own plans when He does His work; moreover, He has His own objectives, and His own methods. It is not necessary for Him to discuss the work He does with man or to seek the advice of man, much less notify each and every person of His work. This is the disposition of God and, moreover, should be recognized by everyone. If you desire to witness the appearance of God, if you wish to follow the footprints of God, then you must first transcend your own conceptions. You must not demand that God do this or that, much less should you place Him within your own confines and limit Him to your own conceptions. Instead, you should ask how you should seek the footprints of God, how you should accept the appearance of God, and how you should submit to the new work of God; that is what should be done by man. Since man is not the truth, and is not possessed of the truth, man should seek, accept, and obey” (“The Appearance of God Has Brought a New Age”).
These words point out a clear way for us to welcome the Lord: We should listen out for God’s words and utterance with our heart. If we hear someone preaching that the Lord Jesus has returned or that the Lord has uttered words somewhere, we should seek carefully and investigate humbly. Only in this way can we welcome the Lord. What’s more, these words also tell us that we should closely follow the footsteps of God step-by-step, seek and obey no matter how God does His work, and never make the same mistake as the Jewish people—defining God within our own conceptions and delimiting God’s work to the Bible. The Jewish people looked forward to the coming of the Messiah yet nailed the Messiah who had come—the Savior Jesus, to the cross; today we’re yearning for the return of the Lord Jesus, but will we delimit God within the Bible and thus miss the opportunity to welcome the Lord? It depends on our own choice.
Chen Jiajia: Thank the Lord! Now I understand: To search for the footprints of God and welcome the return of the Lord, we should not rely on the limited words in the Bible or our own notions and conceptions. Instead, we should listen out for God’s voice, because where there is the expression of God, there is the appearance of God. This is the most accurate way to measure God’s work and the Lord’s return.
They three continued to fellowship amidst cheers and laughter …
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