Well greetings friends. This is Herbert W Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.
Suppose that Jesus Christ were to walk into your church, just like He walked into the Temple or the synagogues more than 1900 years ago, looking just like any other common man. Suppose that you heard Him teaching doctrines that were directly contrary to, and antagonistic to, those believed by your church. Would you believe Him; or would you believe your church today?
Suppose that your pastor, and other ministers and higher officials of your church from other cities, were in your church arguing and disputing with this young man of about 32 years of age. Would you be sure whether He was the Christ? Would you accept Him? Would you believe Him?
Suppose you found them becoming rather angry with Him and telling Him that He was wrong in His beliefs. Who would you believe: your pastor, your ministers, the higher officials of your church? Or would you believe the Messiah, Jesus Christ, if He were here — and how would you know whether He was? Whose side would you be on?
Why of course you'd say, "We'd believe Christ," if such an experience as this were possible, if such a thing could happen today. But, my friends, would you? You think you would. But would you?
You know that the scribes and the Pharisees of over 1900 years ago said, "If we had lived back in the days of our fathers, we would have never rejected the messages of the prophets. We would never have stoned and killed the prophets like our forefathers did." (Matthew 23:30 KJV paraphrased)
And yet they crucified Christ. They said, "If we had lived back in the day of these men that rejected that prophets, we wouldn't have rejected them. We wouldn't have stoned them and killed them like our fathers did." But they did. They crucified the greatest prophet of all, the very Son of God, Jesus Christ.
And, my friends, if you're believing now in what is popularly taught today instead of the very Word of God and what Jesus Christ said as we have it recorded in the Bible, you would be one that would cry out for the very blood of Christ, if He were here. You would be one that would reject Him if He were here in person.
And you can tell exactly what you would do by what you do do when He sends His own servant, His own one that He has called to proclaim His Word exactly as He spoke it, when it is so contrary to that which you have been brought up to believe. What are you doing with it now? That's exactly what you would do with it if Christ were here in person.
Now we'd been going through the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We have been astonished to see that what He taught, what Jesus taught, the example that He set, the customs that He followed were diametrically contrary to those that are being accepted and taught and believed and followed by the churches of this day and age — and by the people of this day and age — by a professed Christianity today.
He had been teaching in the Temple. Here it was on the morrow after the ending of the Feast of Tabernacles. He had stayed another day and He was talking to the people. Many believed on Him. They accepted Him as the Messiah, as the Son of God, the Savior of the world. But they didn't believe what He said.
And He called them liars; and He called them a lot of things because they did not believe His Word. They would not believe His teaching. And then they got sarcastic and accused Him of different things and called Him names.
Then He went out of the Temple. And as He passed along He saw this young man that was blind from birth. And He healed this young man to let the work of God be illustrated in him. We'd been covering that the past two or three broadcasts now.
The Genuine Body of Christ And Jesus had said that while He was in the world, He was the light of the world (John 9:5). And we saw how He said that His disciples would be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). He left the world. He went to heaven.
But the same spirit that was in Him, that spoke through Him, that gave Him the knowledge of what He spoke, the power that was in Him with which He did all of His wonderful works and His miracles, that same power, that same spirit came into His disciples, who now became apostles, and they, now, became the body of Christ, the body through whom God worked.
God worked in the human body of Jesus Christ while He was on earth. During that time He was the light of the world, now His apostles. And then His Church as it grew became the light of the world — His Church, but not a professing, counterfeit church my friends.
And I tell you, in this day and age there's so much of the counterfeit that the genuine is rather hard to find. And it behooves every one of us to read our Bibles as we never did before. You'll be shocked; you'll be surprised; you'll be astounded, dumbfounded. But it's better to know the truth and to know what you're going to do with it. And if you reject it, you would reject Christ if He were here.
Now we've been going through this experience. This young man had gone his way after he was healed. And others wanted to know what happened, and who did it, and how it happened, and all about it, because he was healed on the Sabbath day. And they were teaching that that was all wrong — that broke their man-made rules about the Sabbath. It didn't break the law of God in any manner at all. But they had begun to set up laws of their own.
Now, my friends, God's laws, especially His spiritual law, God's law is immutable. It is inexorable, it is a law like the law of gravity, like the laws of physics and of chemistry, laws that are in motion, laws that are living, laws that have been actually set in motion by forces and energies. Man can't change them; man can't alter them.
You know, my friends, if Christ were here today and would enter into the popular churches, the great, fine churches, or most any of the churches today, even some of the humble ones, they would reject Him. They would look on Him the same way.
He would come preaching doctrines diametrically contrary to those believed in these churches. He would come absolutely telling them how wrong they are about the customs that they follow, and that they practice. And He would upbraid them for that, for their unbelief and their unrighteousness, and following the ways and the precepts of men. And they would reject Him. They would be very indignant at Him, of course they would.
So "...The man replied to them, "Well this is amazing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he has opened my eyes! God, we know, does not listen to sinners; he listens to anyone who is devout and who obeys his will..." (John 9:30-31 Moffatt Translation)
Now I want to read that to you in the King James Translation. Here's what this young man said to them. Now "...We know [he said] that God heareth not sinners..." (John 9:31)
God Hears The Obedient I want to dwell on that again just a moment. We had come to that in the preceding program. But listen: you read back in Isaiah that... "God's hand is not short that it can't do what you ask him when you pray. God's ear isn't deaf that he can't hear you at all [God is very good of hearing you know]. But your sins have separated between you and God so that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2 KJV paraphrased)
Now this is true. This young man knew the truth the Bible teaches: that God will not hear sinners. But the minute you repent of that rebellion against God, the minute you repent of your transgressions against the will of God and the law of God, the minute you come to God by and through Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then God begins to hear, because you're no longer a sinner at heart. Now you have changed at heart from a sinner to one who's obedient. And God will begin to hear. And the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse you from all sin and all past guilt. And now you can become reconciled to God. And the wall of partition that you have set up by your stubborn rebellion, that you have set up to separate you from God — now that is gone. And now there is nothing between you and God. And now God will hear you.
Now this man said. "...If any man be a worshipper of God and doeth his will, him he heareth." (John 9:31)
And again there is the scripture in the New Testament that goes along with the one of faith. Jesus said, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29). But you can't take just one scripture; you have to take them all. "And what things soever we ask of him we receive, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John 3:22). That's why!
Now people that won't listen to God, that won't obey God, that do not keep His commandments, just don't get their prayers answered from God at all. So this man said, "...we know [and they knew that] that God heareth not sinners:..."
I wonder why they don't all know that today. Today they think that God will hear anybody that just professes Christ. They can still remain sinners. They haven't repented of sin. They still remain sinners. They just want to say, "I accept Christ; I profess Christ; I acknowledge Christ," and they think that God hears them. God does not hear anyone until that person repents.
And I don't care how much you have gone forward and shaken the hand of the preacher; I don't care how many times you've been baptized in water; I don't care how much you profess to believe; if you have not repented of your sin, God the Father has never heard you! You are cut off from Him — and you always have been from the time you committed your first sin. And you are no more saved than that proverbial jackrabbit.
"Now we know that God heareth not sinners [yes we know that. Do you know it?]: and if any man be a worshipper of God, AND [and also — something else] DOETH HIS WILL, him God hears. Since the world began it was not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind [this man said]." (John 9:31-32 KJV paraphrased)
I'll go back to the Moffatt translation because it's a little plainer English. I don't use the Moffatt Translation because it's any more accurate because, frankly, I don't think it is. But it is a little easier to understand.
"It is unheard of [as Moffatt translates that] it is unheard of since the world began that anyone should open a blind man's eyes. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." And they retorted [and so now notice how people can always come back. They couldn't answer that question. So now they got him for his insolence to them on a charge that he was trying to tell them something], They retorted, "And so you would teach us — you, born in utter depravity!" Then they expelled him [they cast him out of the church. They expelled him] Jesus heard that they had expelled him, and on meeting him he said, "You believe in the Son of man [that is He asked that as a question]?" (John 9:32-35 Moffatt Translation paraphrased)
Now I think Moffatt has changed that a little. Let's get that in the King James Translation.
"Jesus heard that they had cast him out [excommunicated, or expelled him]; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? And he answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he [this young man that had been healed, now, of the blindness] he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him [he didn't even know that this was the Christ until this minute]. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and they which see might be made blind." (John 9:35-39 KJV)
Spiritual Sight Can you understand that my friends? I have heard of men who were physically blind who said, not had been born blind, but who had become blind, and who said that they had to lose their eyesight in order to be able to see. And now they came, finally, to see the spiritual things. They had finally come to the place of real repentance and surrender to God, and where they began to really believe God. And they very much preferred that kind of sight that they now had, spiritually, to the physical sight they had had before, valuable as physical eyesight really is.
But "...Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see..." (John 9:39) That those who have never been able to understand could be able to understand.
My friends, so many say, "Well I just can't understand the Bible." Well that's up to you. You can understand the Bible if you are willing. It's a matter of willingness, because the Bible is profitable to correct us, reprove us, and to rebuke us, and instruct us in righteousness. (II Timothy 3:16)
And the carnal mind doesn't like righteousness, because that's the law and the way of God! And the carnal mind is enmity against God, and it can't be obedient to God at all (Romans 8:7). And so the carnal mind cannot understand the spiritual things
Your carnal mind can understand knowledge only through the five senses: that which it can see, or taste, or smell, or feel, or hear. And you can't conceive spirit by any one of those processes whatsoever. Spirit must be revealed — I mean spiritual truth, spiritual knowledge, spiritual things.
And Jesus came that we might know the truth and repent, that we might, through Him, be reconciled to God and receive the spirit of God to enlighten our minds that we can begin to see that which we could not see before.
"And that they which see [who have good physical eyesight] might be made blind [in other words, they're going to be blinded, some of them, because they're unwilling to see the truth]. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and they said unto him, Are we blind also? And Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin." (John 9:39-41 KJV)
Now there is a matter, a little case, where I think it is better translated in the Moffatt. Now let me read that to you as Moffatt translates that.
The Pharisees said, "...are we [born] blind?" And Jesus said, "If you were [born] blind, you would not be guilty..." (John 9:40-41 Moffatt Translation)
Now it isn't that you have not committed sin. Sin is sin: it's "...the transgression of the law..." (I John 3:4). But the thing is God does not impute it UNTIL the time that He opens your eyes to see and to know. And then He holds you accountable. "...if we sin wilfully AFTER the knowledge of sin has come, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries [as you read over in Hebrews]." (Hebrews 10:26-27 KJV).
Now "If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But as it is you claim to have sight [you claim to see; you claim to understand] — So [Jesus said] your sin remains" (John 9:41 James Moffatt Translation). And the penalty is death — which is coming on them.
And He said to them another time that: "...you shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob...in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out." (Luke 13:28 KJV paraphrased)
And if you know when that'll be — that'll be AFTER the Great White Throne Judgment — at the very last resurrection. When those men, who have said that they could see, they said they understood and yet they rejected the very Savior Himself, they rejected His message, they refused to obey God, or to yield their stubborn wills to Him — they had their chance, and they are going to come up in that resurrection. They're going to see the lake of fire yawning for them and coming upon them. And they'll see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of God and they themselves cast out!
The True Shepherd Now we come to the tenth chapter.
"Verily, verily [Jesus said] I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber [now what is the door; and what is the way of entry? The sheepfold here is merely the type of the kingdom of God — of salvation]. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [now the shepherd goes in by the door and leads the sheep and the sheep follow right in through]. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and he leadeth them out." (John 10:1-3 KJV)
Now I just wondered, in the Moffatt translation, how he called that 'porter.' I hadn't remembered, and it's 'gatekeeper.'
"Truly, truly I tell you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs up somewhere else, he is a thief and a robber; he who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice." (John 10:1-3 Moffatt Translation)
And incidentally, 'gate' is a better word in modern English than 'door,' because a door you think of as in a house, and you don't imagine the sheep coming into your parlor or your beautiful drawing room or living room or something of that sort, do you? But 'gate' is the thing that would lead into the corral of the sheep.
"And the gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice; he calls his sheep by name and he leads them out. When he has brought all his sheep outside, he goes in front of them, and the sheep follow him, because they knew his voice; they will not follow a stranger..." (John 10:3-5 Moffatt Translation)
Now he doesn't drive them. He leads and they follow. And there it is again. Christ leads; He does not drive anyone. If you notice: Jesus Christ never once forced anyone to agree with Him or to believe what He preached.
And God has never done that to any man since the beginning of time, except in the case of where God is calling a man to a specific mission. Like Jonah, for instance, that was called for the mission of going over to warn Nineveh. Jonah tried to run away and God collared him, as we might say. And in the vernacular, He collared him and yanked him back. In other words He made him go.
But in the case of an ordinary call merely to salvation, God will not force anyone. I know of no example when He has ever just forced anyone. God will sometimes bring about circumstances in our lives to bring us to a place where we're willing to submit and turn to Him. But, as we say, He just does not cram His religion down our throats. He has made it available.
Listen my friends, the truth of God, and the reward of the Christian, which is eternal life in the kingdom of God, is so great and so wonderful and so desirable, that if anyone doesn't want it, if anyone doesn't just hunger and thirst for it, and prefer it to all of the glitter and the glamour of this world's alluring pleasures, and its counterfeits, he isn't worthy of it. Why should God try to get him to take it? Just when you stop to think about it that way, why should He?
Free To Choose Well God never has, and it would defeat His purpose if He did. It is very necessary for the very purpose of God that we be free moral agents, and that we either accept or reject the truth of God of our own free will, not being forced one way or the other.
You're as free as the air to reject, my friends, everything you hear me preach on this program. I preach the truth of God. You can accept it; it's very precious. It's more valuable to you as if someone would will you a half-billion dollars — five hundred million dollars! Which would you rather have? I'll tell you I think ninety-nine out of every hundred of you would take that five hundred million dollars if you had your choice between taking that and taking the truth which your hear on this program, because the majority don't like it!
The truth you hear on this program is not popular. It cuts right against the ways of this world. It cuts against human custom, human passion, human desire, human impulse, the ways that this world is going and the way of human thinking and the way of carnality, which is enmity, or antagonistic, toward God and the law of God.
Now Jesus led. He didn't force anybody. His sheep can follow Him, or not, as they like. But His sheep know His voice and they follow Him — His sheep do, and the others will not.
Well let's read on — verse four:
"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them [He never drives them], and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice..." (John 10:4)
They recognize it. Now my friends among you, among the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of you that are hearing my voice right now, there are a very few, there are some of you that recognize, not the tone of my voice, but you recognize the voice in the sense that you recognize the truth that is spoken. You recognize it as the Word of God! You are His sheep and you recognize the voice and you follow! But the others somehow don't recognize it.
You know the majority didn't recognize Christ when He was here. They weren't sure He was the Messiah. They didn't recognize Him. But His sheep know His voice! Do you know it? Are you one of the precious few that are called? Well many are called, but few are chosen, but it's a comparative few that are called in this time and this day. It may be many in number, but it's few in percentage.
"Now a stranger will they not follow, but they will flee from him" (John 10:5 KJV paraphrased)
And if God has opened your mind to understand the truth, if you recognize the truth you hear on this program, no one can possibly attract you and cause you to follow them with false doctrines — they just can't do it! It is not possible to deceive the very elect. Satan would deceive the very elect if it were possible, as Jesus said in Matthew 24 (verse 24). It just is not possible.
But the majority are just not of that fold. They are not the sheep of the true shepherd. They don't recognize the voice. They don't recognize the truth. They will follow the strangers. They follow the wolves in the sheep's clothing; they follow the false leaders.
But the true sheep... "A stranger they will not follow. They'll flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them, but they understood not what things which he spake unto them. And then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep." (John 10:5-7 KJV)
Let's get that now in the Moffatt translation.
"Truly, truly, He said, I tell you I am the shepherd of the sheep [I thought it didn't quite coincide, and Moffatt has, well he explains the reason in the Greek language, as it was originally written, for that change from the word, 'door,' to the word, 'shepherd'], all who ever came before Me have been thieves and robbers." (John 10:7-8 Moffatt Translation)
False Christs and Preachers Now do you know that there were many that claimed to be the Christ that had appeared before Him? Did you know that back in the days of Nimrod, and right after Nimrod died, that his wife, Semiramis, tried to deify him and set up an illegitimate child of his, and claimed it was the son of Nimrod who had gone up and become the sun in the sky, and was the son and had gone back up to the sun, and claimed that he was the Christ, and the Christ-child?
And she made herself a counterfeit Madonna, and the worship of mother and child started then. And she got that whole thing started, and had pictures taken out of her, they drew pictures in those days, way, way back there just about four generations this side of the flood. And since she was so much larger, she completely overshadowed the child and, finally, she had them worshipping her and forgetting all about the child. Maybe you know where a lot of that sort of thing came from. That's where it originated.
Now there had been many, in many different languages in the different nations, they had their false Messiahs and their false Christs way back before the true Christ ever came, way back there, there were many of them.
And so He said, "All that ever came before Me have been thieves and robbers — but the sheep would not listen to them. (I am the Gate; whoever enters in by me will be saved, and he will go in and out and find pasture.) The thief only comes to steal, and to slay, and to destroy: [but] I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:8-10 Moffatt Translation paraphrased)
And there it is, my friends, the false preachers and the false prophets that mislead the people are doing it for selfish motives and for what they can get out of it every time. They preach what the people want to hear; they preach what is popular, because they think they can make more money doing it. And they're in it as a business; they're in it to feed themselves.
And you would be surprised if you knew what I have learned since I got into the ministry how many there are that are false ministers, and that are merely preaching as a means of earning a living — feeding themselves and not feeding the flock.
Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. But people don't believe they can have the abundant life following Him, they have lost sight of the truth. And yet you cannot have life, and have it abundantly, any other way!