What Does It Take? John 2:23-25

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25.

The wording of this passage indicates that while many believed in Him because of the signs which He did, it was not a saving faith but a superficial one.

Walk out onto the street sometime and ask anyone if they believe that Jesus is God’s Son. You might even try this in front of a church after any meeting.

The answers you receive may be everything from the ignorant, like, “I am god.” to the naïve, “Yes, god is in all of us. Or, “There are many paths to god.” but many may say, “Yes I believe Jesus is the Son of God.”

“Do you go to church?”
“UM, no, I do not believe in organized religion.”
“Well, have you read all or part of the Bible?”
“Yes, I have read some, and I liked the stories about King David and Jesus, but none of it made much sense; especially the ‘so and so begot so and so stuff.’”
“Would you be interested in attending a Bible study where those things can be explained to you?”
“Well, I am pretty busy at work right now and I do not think I could make it; besides I have been talking to some Buddhists and they seem to have some interesting ideas.”

You see it is possible to believe in Jesus without having accepted Him as savior. Even more extraordinary is the fact that they believed on His name after seeing the signs (or attesting miracles) that He did.

These miracles were His credentials telling Israel that He is the long awaited Messiah, amazingly all of this fell on deaf ears. This can be explained by the parable of the sower.

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.” Luke 8:5.

There is more to this parable, but Jesus explains this part in this way.

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” Luke 8:11-12.

I believe these were not all doomed to hell, but their hearts were not open to God at that time. A person’s priorities in life can change over time and the trials of life, raising a family, or in some life altering crisis they may see eternity stretched out before them and serious thoughts will arise in their hearts.

Regardless of how we look at it, these were cold hearts in the passage about the sower and those who saw the signs during Passover. For this reason, Jesus would often call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

If one has no interest in God they should be prepared to be robbed by the devil, because that is what he does.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.” James 4:7-8.

Note also that it is said, “…many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.” These signs were not identified and though John is often called the book of the seven signs, these were not among the seven.

The seven signs in the gospel of John were picked specifically to confirm Jesus’ claims as Messiah and God, they were not all the miracles that He did.

“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” John 21:25.

Powerful statement is it not?

It says in verse 24 that because Jesus knew their hearts, because He knew what was in man, He did not commit Himself to them.

Little wonder since Jesus was there before the flood when He:

“…saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5.

We must recall, over and over that Jesus is not like a man who stepped off the curb and got hit by a truck. Jesus gave Himself as an offering for sin. There is no force on earth that could have nailed Him to the cross if He had not allowed it.

Knowing that those who saw the signs and believed had only a superficial belief, the Lord knew they had no interest in becoming His disciples. So He carried the matter no further.

There is another danger dealing with unbelievers, and that is one of becoming entangled in their machinations. Certain types of “friends” or followers are drawn to the rich, powerful, or famous. There is a difference between them and your true friends.

Anyone can have false friends, whether you are pastor of a small church, supervise a mailroom, a Bible study, are popular, or are a friend of a friend.

Often folks are drawn to you by what they perceive you are, not necessarily what you think you are. With the false friend the desired benefit is for themselves, not you.

There are those who wish to bask in the glow of who this great person is, receiving glory just by relationship.

“Oh, yes, I know you; you are a friend of so and so. Waiter! Show this man to table number one.”

The name droppers are of this sort; a movie star was once talking about Sir Lawrence Olivier and though the gist of the interview is forgotten the stars statement went something like this:

“Larry can be a great friend once he gets to know you.”

Not, Sir Lawrence or Lawrence, but Larry. To what purpose would one use such a familiar address to the media other than to enhance one’s own status, “Larry and I are like this.”

Other “friends” befriend a person so they can influence whatever this person says or does. Oftentimes they will guide a person to take risks that they will profit from without having to take the fall if anything goes wrong.

Or they will help set up policy that they can take credit for; again, if it fails it is the other guy who gets blamed. They may become a “friend” because they think they are smarter than this influential person and want to guide them.

Many of these “friends” are just stupid opportunist, for lack of a better word.

One man decided to start a church and though he was not well versed in Scripture, he was quite charismatic and had those around him who knew their Bible and were willing to help him.

But he was befriended by sycophants who influenced his decisions though they knew nothing of Christ’s church. Ignorant and desiring only bragging rights, they helped destroy the church within three or four years.

The real tragedy concerns those who sat in the pews week after week and starved to death for lack of being fed from the word of God. This sort of thing is much more common than you might think.

On a similar vein is the “friend” who is interested in your money, property, or to be included in your will, or just to take over your life.

As one comic said, “With friends like this, who needs enemies.”

This brings us to the true friend; the one who stays with you when the money, fame, and power are gone, the one who cares for you just because you are you. Their advice is to help you, not advance their agenda; advice you can trust, whether you like it or not.

It is the hearts of men that the Lord knew and understood. As we will see later on, many followed Him for the food, and many may have believed through the signs and wonders but it was not saving faith.

“As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18.

Consider carefully the first phrase, “There is none righteous, no, not one…” This is all inclusive including you and me, no exceptions.

Christians have told me, “But I have always loved God, even as a child.” In view of the above phrase and the second one in verse 11, “…there is none who seeks after God”; I have had a lot of difficulty reconciling the statement, “I have always loved God.”

However, seeing that the people in Jerusalem could see the signs and believe without saving faith, perhaps there is a satisfactory answer to the statement, “I have always loved God.”

I cannot say this to my friends’ because there is an element of condemnation, but I want to help others here if they are considering this question.

Scripture tells us.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…” Romans 5:12.

It can be said then that we were all dead from the beginning, for even children sin. However, the blood of Christ covers children until they reach the age of accountability when they can make a reasonable choice to reject God.

However we are told:

“Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” Ecclesiastes 7:29.

There was nothing wrong with the way God made us; it is the sin nature, the self-centered me that wants our own desires that impels us to seek a way to gratify our desires.

So then, we find that, “There is none righteous…” and that, “They have all gone out of the way…”

Since we were made upright by God, and we do have a conscience:

“… (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)…” Romans 2:13-15.

It is possible to love, or desire God; but, “…there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way…” we do not seek God; He seeks us and finds us wandering the wilderness.

We do not seek Him because we have an image of Him, made the way we want Him to be in our heart. He is a benevolent God who approves of the things we do because the things we do are right in our own sight.

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits.” Proverbs 16:2.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25.

The phrase, “…there is none who does good, no, not one.” Does not apply to us because we do good. But it is we who decide what good is.

As a result we do good to those we deem worthy and ignore those we decide are unworthy. While God, it seems, has a different idea as to what is good.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10.

Our doing good comes through our own prejudices, out of our own flesh, not from a holy God.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8.

Whether a person is a Christian or not, it can often be said, “Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

Just think the things that come out of the mouth can be as ruinous or deadly as the poison of an asp!

Adolph Hitler with his charismatic delivery and his words turned a whole nation to do evil. Out of his mouth came the destruction of his country and the death of millions of innocent victims.

In conclusion it can be said that in spite of always believing in God and loving Him, even from childhood, the sin nature ensured that their love never came to obedience to God.

Having established their own righteousness they believed they were pleasing God. As a result it can be said confidently, “There is none who seeks after God.” I include myself in this group who always loved God.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21.

The key word here is practice; “those who practice such things…” unbelievers practice these things without conscience.

The believer may fall into the trap of doing some of them, but the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin, and hopefully they would, with His help, stop such sinful behavior.

Many of those who have always believed in God and then accepted Christ as their savior had practiced such things and made their life a shambles, in spite of their love for God.

What does it take? Signs and wonders, testimonies as to the changed lives of Christians, can one be argued into the kingdom of heaven? The Bible tells us.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17.

God’s word is a powerful inducement, yet there is another element, as we will see in John chapter three.

What Does it Take? John 2:23-25 taken from godisrevealed.com posted 6-27-12, updated on 6-18-17.

Scripture taken from the New King James version; copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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